Perspectives 4.8.10:Layout 1 4/15/10 7:41 PM Page 1
April 8, 2010 Mount Holyoke News
BY MARION MESSMER ’13 “You Russians only see the war on television and Experts fear, however, that if there will be further attacks in mainland Russia, Russ-
STAFF WRITER hear about it on the radio, and this is why you are quiet ian citizens will demand a rougher course of action, more aligned with Putin’s old poli-
and do not react to the atrocities that your bandit tics. With at least two further bombings in southern Russia after the attacks in Moscow
groups under Putin’s command carry out in the Caucasus. I promise you that the war will and with Doku Umarov’s threat of bringing the war into the cities, analysts fear that the
come to your streets, and you will feel it in your lives and under your skin.” This was the old unrest might have reinflamed.
grizzly message Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov conveyed two days after the suicide
bombings in Moscow.
One week ago, on March 29, two female suicide bombers detonated explosives in the
Moscow metro system. The two attacks were carried out during the morning rush hour
while the trains pulled into populated stations and the doors were just opened. 40 peo-
ple were killed and many others were severely injured.
Suicide attacks are not a new phenomenon in mainland Russia. The separatist ter-
rorist movement in Chechnya copied them from Arab fundamentalists in 2000, along with
the notion of a “global jihad.” The situation was believed to have relaxed after 2004, when
attacks remained in the southern provinces bordering on Chechnya and were concen-
trated on the Russian police there.
The concept of female suicide bombers is not new either. Since the early 2000s, many
young women from the Caucasus region have become suicide bombers. Whether or not
their motivation was religious is doubtful, though. Known as “black widows,” they de-
cided to carry out the attacks because their husbands had been killed by Russian secu-
In this case, the two young women happened to be black widows. One of them, the 17-
year-old Dzhanet Abdullayeva, had been married to an Islamist rebel leader who had
died on New Year’s Eve during a shootout between separatists and the Russian police.
Novoye Delo, a newspaper in Dagestan, reported that the couple met on the Internet
when Dzhanet was 16. The recruitment of young women is a common tactic in this move-
ment because it is easy to lure them into Islamist thought. The girls meet their husbands
on the Internet and get married at a young age because of the romantic ideal to marry a
hero who fights for a cause. If their husbands die, they either marry another rebel or be-
come black widows.
The recent attacks seem to have been a statement against Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin and his hard-line approach of dealing with the separatist movement. One bomb
exploded in the Lubyanka subway station, next to the headquarters of the Federal Secu-
rity Service (F.S.B.), the successor agency to the Soviet-era K.G.B. that was led by Putin
in the late 1990s.
President Dmitry Medvedev’s approach to the social unrest in southern Russia has
been a softer one. He appointed a new leader in Ingushetia, another Muslim region, who
agreed with him that violence would only lead to more violence. Medvedev believes that
first, and foremost, the root issues for terrorism in those regions—poverty, unemploy-
On 60th anniversary of
ment and low education levels—need to be resolved.
war, North and South
Korea face tensions
BY THU NGUYEN ’12 On March 26, South Korean warship, Cheonan, ex-
ASST. PERSPECTIVES EDITOR ploded near the Northern Limit Line with North Korea,
complicating the political situation in the peninsula. This
disaster occurred just before the 60th anniversary of the Korean War in June 2010. While
experts consider North Korea as a possible perpetrator of the attack, it is looking less and
less likely that the economically troubled country actually caused the disaster.
Three currently suspected causes of the explosion on the warship include a torpedo
used by a North Korean submarine, defects within Cheonan itself and a possible collision
with a North Korean mine from the Korean War or an unknown object. No matter what re- BY CHU WANG ’13 On Sept. 28, 2001, when Irish journalist Martin
ally caused the disaster, it surely poses questions about the South’s ability to prevent such STAFF WRITER O’Hagan and his wife walked home from a bar on Lur-
a large military loss, as Cheonan is known to have sailed this area multiple times before.
gan’s Market Street in Dublin, a car pulled over next to
The aftermath was too shocking for the South—Cheonan was split into two parts, and out
them. Suddenly, a gunman opened fire from within the car, shooting O'Hagan to
of the 104 people on the warship, 46 are still missing.
North and South Korea entered into an armistice, effectively halting violent activities
O’Hagan was the first journalist murdered because of his investigative work on
since 1953. However, complications have persisted between the two countries. The recent
the loyalist paramilitaries during Northern Ireland’s “The Troubles.” It was a pe-
incident in March recalls the 1987 North Korean attack on a South Korean passenger air-
riod of ethno-political tensions and violence between the Protestant unionists and
plane that killed all 115 passengers. As of now, doubts remain about a possible North Ko-
Catholic nationalists. Communities of Protestant unionists in support of the British
rean involvement in the Cheonan catastrophe, especially since North Korea disavowed
rule are to this day in conflict with Catholic nationalists seeking a united Ireland.
the armistice in May 2009.
Today, terrorist acts between the two groups still occur, reinforced by the political
However, North Korea may, in fact, have more domestic issues to deal with rather
battle between the Unionists and nationalist.
than preempting a costly attack that would likely place the country in a more complicated
Starting in the late 1960s, “The Troubles” consisted of numerous violent cam-
position in talks about its nuclear arms program. In December 2009, in an apparent move
paigns and terrorist attacks and took the lives of over 3,000 people. In 1998, a peace
to combat inflation, its government decided to revalue its currency, the won, by requiring
agreement was signed between the two groups and a peace wall erected in Belfast,
citizens to change 1000 won notes to ten won bills for a maximum of 100,000 old wons
the capital of Northern Ireland, to keep the rival Protestant and Catholic factions
(equivalent of about $40 at the time). Immediately, the won, which already traded at 3500
wons per dollar on the black market, depreciated 96 percent against the dollar, according
The religious opposition between the Catholics and the Protestants dates back
to 400 AD. Over the years, Protestants have constituted a significant percentage of
Realizing its mistake, the North Korean government raised the limit to 150,000 wons
the overall island population, and a majority in what is now Northern Ireland. Sec-
in cash and 500,000 wons in bank notes. In March 2010, Yonhap, a leading South Korean
tarian troubles ranged from minor disagreements to appalling acts of violence.
news agency, reported that the North has executed Pak Nam-gi, Director of the Planning
Until now, the Catholic extremists have carried out 26 incidences. Protestant ex-
and Finance Department, the one seemingly responsible for the disastrous currency
tremists, though less publicized, have also fought back fiercely.
change. However, this does not solve the problem at hand. Food prices soared, plunging
In the past few years, the British government has fought successfully against
North Korea into unprecedented economic hardship. Currently, for many North Koreans,
terrorism, leading to an 87 percent decline of terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland.
the Los Angeles Times reported, an egg costs a full week's salary. The reason for this un-
Recently the Irish government arrested Colleen LaRose and Jamie Paulin Ramirez,
expected inflation is that traders and suppliers face insurmountable difficulty acquiring
two American women, on the charges of having ties to the Northern Irish terror-
enough cash for their activities.
ism. Both women were released soon after it was confirmed that they were not a
As the North’s agenda requires more focus on domestic policy than ever (its leader
threat to anyone’s safety. Yet their arrest showed that despite the decline in ter-
Kim Jong Il is to visit China possibly for economic assistance), South Korea will probably
rorist attacks, the fear of violent acts will be present until conflicts between the
have trouble finding the cause and an explanation behind the Cheonan catastrophe. The
Catholic and the Protestant forces are solved. “Real peace will be achieved one
next Six-Party talk, with the possible participation of North Korea, which has historically
day,” as journalist Paul Williams said, “when we do not need a peace wall.”
focused on not only security and nuclear disarmament but also complex economic actions,
will surely further complicate the situation in the Korean peninsula.
Perspectives 4.8.10:Layout 1 4/15/10 7:41 PM Page 2
Is immigration next on Obama’s checklist?
April 8, 2010 G
Mount Holyoke News PERSPECTIVES 11
BY MAGDALENA GEORGIEVA ’10
Now that Congress passed the universal health care Sue Myrick blame the Obama administration for
bill, immigration, some might think, will be the next re- failing to enforce effective immigration laws. They
form on President Barack Obama’s checklist. Well, not so formed a Reclaim American Jobs Caucus that
fast. seeks to make the connection between unemploy-
Opposed to popular expectations, the U.S. immigra- ment rates and illegal immigration apparent. “The
tion system has remained a marginalized issue in the numbers are simple,” said Miller in a 2010 video re-
Obama administration. It was barely mentioned in the leased by NumbersUSA, a nonpartisan organization
President’s January 2010 State of the Union Address, a fighting to reduce immigration numbers. “At last es-
phenomenon that led to negative reactions by the U.S. eth- timate, there were more than eight million illegal im-
nic press. Though Obama has many times called for a migrants in the U.S. labor force,” he added. “And
comprehensive immigration reform, he hasn’t yet dis- there are more than 15 million unemployed American
cussed the topic extensively, a sign that his administra- citizens and legal immigrants.”
tion now has a different set of priorities—education and “I’m genuinely tickled at the idea that undocu-
health care, for instance. But with the passing of the mented people somehow have control over the unem-
Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, will the ployment rate,” said Daniela Pila ’12, who organized
priorities on Obama’s checklist change? Mount Holyoke international students in a spring break
“Now that the health care bill has passed, the ad- trip to Boston to explore U.S. immigration issues. Pila
ministration’s priorities will be the economy and job cre- believes that the unemployment rate in America is
ation,” said Donna Van Handle, Dean of International mostly related to the recent crash of the financial and
Students. When Obama finally addresses the immigra- real estate markets than to undocumented migrant
tion issue, Van Handle expects to see an opportunity workers. If Obama manages to address the immigration
for the estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. to reform by the end of the year, Pila expects to see changes
apply for citizenship. She hopes to see the path to per- in border control and tourist and student visas.
manent residency streamlined with a shorter wait pe- Yet the chances are that the Obama administration
riod for both legal and illegal aliens. won’t get to tackle immigration issues in the near future.
These seem to be the questions the Obama ad- Tensions around the recent health care bill, Pila noted,
ministration wants to address as well. According to will prevent the President from focusing on the much an-
the White House, Obama is in support of stronger ticipated immigration reform. “Since future bills will de-
border control, facilitating the legal immigration pend on how the healthcare bill will play out, it’s tough to
process and enforcing a law against employment of say that Obama will address immigration reform by the
illegal immigrants. As he said in a March 18 state- end of 2010, and to an extent, the end of his term,” she said.
ment, he is committed to “fix our broken immigra- Unity remains one of the fastest ways for Congress to
tion system.” march toward an effective immigration reform. As Van
But many are skeptical to Obama’s approach Handle said, both political parties need to work together
in tackling the U.S. immigration reform. Republi- to tackle this issue. “If such a bill is to be passed,” she said,
can representatives Lamar Smith, Gary Miller and “it will take a truly bipartisan effort.”