Threats Against Idlib—And Humanity

The Syrian Civil War is reaching its breaking point in Idlib. That breaking point will determine whether the United States is still the symbol of peace and freedom, or a fraud.

Idlib Governorate. The last remaining rebel stronghold in war-ridden Syria and a continuous target of conflict and attack from the Syrian regime. But also a place that 2.9 million people call home.

The Syrian Civil War, a 6-year long, bloody conflict between the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian rebels, has been a fierce fight for political freedom and a new government. In 2011, a peaceful uprising from rebels wishing for increased independence from the Syrian government and a less corrupt government came in the form of a demonstration in Homs. But these minor demonstrations, as they were met with an unchanging regime, rapidly turned into massive protests. And the government was quick to respond with brutal shows of violence.

Soon, these peaceful protests had dissolved into a full-blown war. On June 12, 2012, the United Nations officially declared Syria to be in a state of civil war. A meaningful and nonviolent means of reform had been crushed by water cannons, tear gas, live fire, and the blindness of ignorance and greed.

The main ally of the Assad regime is Russia, who aided them in supply and also in actual conflict against the rebels, as maintaining the regime in Syria was key to their interests in the country. Meanwhile, the United States cautiously backed the rebels, providing them with military training and supplies, but rarely aiding them in conflict. However, the United States did launch occasional air-strikes against the Syrian regime, as part of their campaign against ISIS and the war against terrorism.

And now, it has all boiled down to Idlib, the city housing the last rebel stronghold opposing the oppressive regime.

The United States had warned Syria and its Russian allies—the first warning from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on September 1st, and the second warning from President of the United States Donald Trump, on September 4th—not to “recklessly attack” the city. The concern was the humanitarian issues that come with such a strike. The assault would endanger hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians living in the area and could displace as much as 700,000 Syrians. But only hours after the warning from President Trump, Russian planes struck western Idlib.

Earlier this year in July, the Syrian government and the rebels had come to a reconciliation agreement stating that the refugees would hand over their military hardware at the moment, as well as all their weaponry once ISIS was removed from southern Syria. Those who did not want to participate in this agreement was to be allowed to relocate to Idlib. Idlib was supposed to be a relatively safe haven. Yet the current debris of demolished buildings and civilian casualties say otherwise.

Secretary Pompeo said that the attack on Idlib was something that Syria and Russia had “agreed not to permit,” and that it should be viewed as an “escalation of an already dangerous conflict.” There are concerns that this perilous situation will escalate even further, with the possibility that the Syrian government will use chemical weapons against the rebels in Idlib.

But even after these warnings, Russia is still on the offensive. Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, told the Western nations not to “play with fire”, implying that Russia will not back down from this fight anytime soon.

A regime that destroys its own innocent civilians in the pursuit of complete dominance. A government indulged in its own corruption, sacrificing its people for extended power. A civil war that annihilates both buildings and dreams of a freer country alike, spreading authoritarianism under the cover of the word, “republic”. Conflict upon conflict, chaos upon chaos, placing yet another mark of radical violence onto history’s already marred face, and increasing doubt that any room for peace is left.

At this rate, not much will be left at all.  

Amid the rubble and dead bodies, there will still be people whose hearts remain unscarred and whose minds remain untwisted from the violent hatred they have experienced first-hand. There will still be people that will advocate for peace rather than combat. But, as the death rate continues to rise and people continue to lose their homes, these numbers will soon dwindle to an alarming few.

If this conflict continues to displace and harm mass amounts of innocent civilians, it must be stopped. And against the rising opposition, it is the duty of the United States, as a democratic country, to protect the lives and rights of these civilians until the fighting has come to an end.

– Lauren Cho (’22)

Featured Image: Abdurrazzak Sekirdy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Future of the U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy prepares to launch one of the most efficient and powerful aircraft carriers yet.

With the results of the recent U.S. presidential election shaking up the world, tensions are as high as ever. Numerous mechanical breakdowns in several of the U.S. Navy’s newest ships over the past few months haven’t helped either, resulting in ballooning maintenance and construction costs, not to mention postponed launch and christening dates. In order to reassure the rest of the world of the United States’ stability despite the chaos of the 2016 presidential election, the U.S. military must continue to stay strong, and no other force has a more global presence than the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Navy is ever expanding and improving in terms of numbers, technology, and firepower. Perhaps the most significant factor of the U.S. Navy’s dominance throughout the world’s oceans is the presence of extremely sophisticated and innovative aircraft carriers currently in operation. However, ever since the Cold War, the dominating aircraft carriers are nuclear-powered Nimitz-class supercarriers, albeit the largest capital ships in the world. With the White House seeking to continuously assert the presence of its fleets throughout the world, the U.S. Navy had to have come up with a new class of aircraft carrier sooner or later, and now we have it: the Gerald R. Ford class supercarrier.

Named after the 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, the Ford-class supercarriers follow the current trend of the U.S. Navy’s emphasis on smaller yet more efficient technology in an effort to reduce operation costs but increase performance yield tenfold.

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PC: Official Website of the United States Navy

The new Bechtel A1B nuclear reactor was developed to replace the Nimitz-class A4W nuclear reactor. The design of the previous A4W reactor is limited in terms of maximum efficiency due to the extremely smaller amount of energy required by technology aboard the Nimitz-class carriers at the time, and the Bechtel A1B reactor is far more powerful than the A4W reactor, despite its smaller size, simpler design, and fewer crew requirements.

With two of these reactors installed on each Ford-class carrier, each capable of producing 300 MW (triple the 100 MW of the Nimitz-class A4W reactor), the Ford-class carrier will have no problem powering its onboard technology and then some. The modernization of the Bechtel A1B reactor led to lower maintenance, construction, manpower, and spatial requirements, and the resulting limits of the A4W reactor from revolutionized technological advances, requiring more energy, led to the A1B reactor’s excess energy production to ensure the application of unexpected technology to the Ford-class carriers.

Many majour structural changes and improvements were implemented to the Ford-class carriers as well. First and foremost, in order to improve the efficiency of aircraft launch times – critical to the performance of an aircraft carrier – the deck space for rearm and refuel stations was expanded, reducing the frequency that an aircraft will be relocated after landing and before relaunch. This lessens the number of crew required to accomplish these tasks, further reducing the overall size of the ship’s crew.

With the size of the Ford-class carrier’s crew diminished significantly due to these structural changes and automation of technology, the new aircraft carriers require less crew accommodations, and even wifi-enabled lounges are located here and there! Wifi for the win!

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PC: The Walking Tourists

Furthermore, the path of weapons from storage to the aircraft has been simplified; munitions will no longer cross into paths of aircraft movement, reducing traffic throughout the ship and decreasing the time to rearm aircraft to mere minutes.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers utilize Cold War-era steam-powered catapults for launching aircraft, and while they are extremely reliable, steam-powered catapults are also extremely inefficient and hard to control, limiting Nimitz-class steam-powered catapults to launching heavy aircraft; 21st-century UAVs are far too light and delicate to launch from these antique catapults, and so the Ford-class carriers utilize Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which is far easier to control and more efficient. With EMALS, the Ford-class carriers can launch both heavy and light aircraft, which ensures an increased versatility in the performance of these 21st-century supercarriers.

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PC: Next Big Future

With a far smaller crew than the Nimitz-class supercarrier, EMALS, new A1B reactors, and the ability to easily carry and launch 90 heavy and light aircraft, the revolutionary Gerald R. Ford-class supercarriers will further ensure the U.S. Navy’s survival and dominance in the world’s oceans for decades to come.

– Daniel Park (’17)

Featured Image: The Ford Class

Presidential Race 2016 – March Update

A quick update on the heated 2016 Presidential Race in America.

By now, we’ve probably all heard how complex the United States Presidential Election process is. Full of delegates, electoral colleges and swing states, voting in the US is far from self-explanatory. This article will walk through the complex process.

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Politico

The first thing to understand is that the United States has two main parties: the Democrats, or “left wing” politicians and the Republicans or the “right wing” politicians. (There are other parties, but rarely are discussed.) Each party will choose one presidential candidate in the primary elections. The primary elections for this year have already started (on February 1st in the state of Iowa). Each state has an allotted number of delegates based on their population size. These delegates act as votes for the primary hopefuls of either side. 

Each candidate needs a certain number of delegates to win: a Democratic candidate needs 2,383 while a Republican candidate only needs 1,237 delegates. Although the first two states to vote are inconsequential (because of the small amount of delegates they have), it holds a huge impact on the election. More often than not, those who win big in Iowa and New Hampshire also win primaries for its kick starts the campaign of the politician.

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Politico

Called “Super Tuesday” because a large majority of states vote on their primaries on this date, March 1, 2016 marked an important day in the 2016 Presidential election. March 15 (another important date), marks when half of all the delegates have already voted. By June 14, all the states have voted and the primary for each party will be decided. (PBS)

 

The primary will choose a vice president and the two opposing parties will continue to campaign until November 8, the date for voting for the new POTUS.

However, the individual votes casted will not directly determine the new president. Each state has a certain amount of electoral colleges (also dependant on the population of the state: for instance, California has 55 electoral colleges, while Maine only has three). Within each state, the candidate with the most votes will get all the electoral college votes for the entire state. This process is controversial, especially after the Bush vs. Gore presidential race in 2000, where Bush won by electoral colleges, but Gore won by popular vote.

Presidential hopefuls mainly campaign in the swing states. States such as California and Texas almost always will vote for a specific party (Democratic and Republican respectively), however, some states are not quite as black or white (or should I say blue or red). These states are the swing states, or states that are just as likely to vote Republican as they are Democratic and determine the winner of the election. 

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Pivot America

 

After all the electoral college votes are counted, the new president is determined and will be inaugurated on January, 20th of the following year. Then, in four years, the crazy process begins again, but may be slightly different. If the current president was only in for one term, they may choose to run again. This president, called an incumbent, generally runs unopposed (especially if they were popular). However, there are exceptions such as Reagan vs. Ford, Kennedy vs. Carter, and Buchanan vs. Bush. One might note, however, that in all of these cases, neither of the politicians won and the win went to the opposing party.

– Juyon Lee (’18)