A Long Week

This week was a shortened week because of the holiday but it seemed to last forever. Mostly I suppose because I ended up spending all of Monday on campus studying with other students for the finance midterm this week, plus most of Saturday morning working on trade as well as finance… The midterm was okay, but I know I made some stupid mistakes that could’ve helped me against the harder questions. Oh well.

I’m taking 18 credit hours plus working 8 hours a week at GDA (Global Development Alliance). I have 5 classes, the Arabic one being an hour a day every weekday for 6 credits. I know a lot more vocab than the other students who are mostly sophomores. But I’m learning a ton and my Arabic has improved dramatically. I watched “The Kingdom” last night and enjoyed understanding the Arabic. A good movie, by the way…I thought it was fairly even-handed.

So I’m working really hard this semester and don’t have much free time which sort of sucks in terms of being able to go back and review material and study it deeper… I’m pretty sleep-deprived at the moment.

But if I consider what I’ve done so far versus where I thought I’d be a year ago, it’s amazing. I’m learning a fuckton in classes and have already been introduced to hundreds of contacts, all of whom are amazing people. I just got my access badge at USAID downtown in the Ronald Reagan Building, so I’m now meeting people at the major organization for US funding of international development… This is all after just over a month. It’s amazing. I’m so glad I came here!

I got an A- on my first globalization paper. I’m not sure how everyone else did but my sense is that our professor grades pretty easy. We had to analyze our first three books in terms of what factors contributed to the building of the empires discussed by the authors. What bothers me about the class is that the main talkers in our discussions all love to deconstruct the books and do not extrapolate anything from the books towards present day.

To me it seems blatantly obvious that Europe was and is the most mature competitive environment and has dealt with population/economic pressures to expand, the constant nature of anarchy and war, and all that… That it’s now dealing with international organizations and frameworks is not surprising given its past — and it’s just unfortunate that the US has not matured to a point (perhaps because of its somewhat isolated geographic position and relative safety and little population pressure) where it feels the UN is worth backing. I don’t know — we backed it before and hopefully we will back it again soon.

The other people in the class bother me when they critique the authors because they feel as though every book needs to be completely perfect and all-encompassing in order to be valid. To me this seems like a function of not enjoying reading or not doing enough independent reading to appreciate that authors all contribute one part of the puzzle and that you have to do a lot of your own research to put all those parts together…

In general I am hoping to meet more students like me. My sort of vision in this program is to see technology as a politically neutral factor in stirring the spread of liberties and economic growth. That is, technology is something few people won’t get behind, and it’s so crucial in many ways towards reducing poverty and improving communications and commerce. There aren’t any other students in my program approaching international development or foreign policy from this angle so I’m probably going to be branching out into the other masters’ programs classes here while continuing to build my hard skills which my program is extremely good at.

All I want is a crack at Google.org…

Anyway. Moving on. Last week I saw Bill Richardson speak on campus. Apparently all the candidates will be speaking here. Richardson gave his speech on the future of the US military and our role in Iraq. He advocated full withdrawal which is great to me. He is a very skilled government servicemember. A wise man. Along with Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, I just wish that the Democrats would say, “Look, we’re not even going to campaign against each other. We’re going to make Obama our man. Richardson will be his VP because he’s productive. Al Gore, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, et al will be members of our Dream Team cabinet. We have all these great leaders who have strong interests in certain areas, so we’re going to unite and change up the whole game.” I know this will never happen but there’s so many great figures who could accomplish a lot together.

Am I an idealist? A constructivist?

Richardson had to answer some stupid questions, none of which thank god came from foreign service school students (who asked very insightful questions). One business kid, a former platoon leader (i.e. officer) asked Richardson what would happen in Iraq if we pulled out immediately, predicting a vacuum of civil war atrocity. Richardson answered diplomatically, but to me the Democrats need to answer this question with boldness because the Republicans are killing them with it. To pre-suppose the future in Iraq after what we’ve already pre-supposed in the past for Iraq is absurd. Furthermore what makes people think that the US understands and can affect the sectarian conflict in Iraq? I would also like to prevent mass killings but clearly we have done little to stop it already, and the mere idea that the US is able to understand such bloodshed is just ridiculous. We are aliens in a foreign world when it comes to Iraq, and we still don’t understand — 4 years later — why Iraqis are the way they are. We’re clueless. We’re flailing our arms around in the dark.

The program is great because of all the different avenues for information. Besides all the job offers coming through, we also have students reporting on news from the Hill. For instance this week I heard about how the Turkish ambassador to the US was recalled home because Turkey objected to the US’s language of “genocide” regarding the Armenians. This seems like huge news — a collapse in diplomacy with one of our “allies”. It barely seemed to be covered in the news though.

Good for Al Gore, by the way, but look how conservatives reacted:

“As for Gore’s award, Limbaugh had a suggestion: “I call on Albert Arnold ‘Algore’ to redirect his Nobel Peace Prize to genuine agents of peace.”

“And who might that be? Army Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. troops in Iraq. “If there has ever been an engine of peace, it’s the United States military,” Limbaugh said, surely to the delight of his audience.”

That’s right. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Bring on that Orwellian world, Rush.

Our country is so at odds with the international community right now that it’s ridiculous… Would you PLEASE vote for Obama?

A final note… Monkey Pope is coming home and my former unit is deploying…best of luck and safety to them. And MP, see you soon, bro!