VALDETARO | The Door to Iranian Democracy Is Still Open

Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a new dueling columns feature. In this feature, Michael Johns ’20 and Giancarlo Valdetaro ’21 debate, “Forty years after the Iranian Revolution, what posture should the U.S. take on the Islamic Republic?” Read the counterpart column here. A nation of over 80 million people, Iran has been a belligerent boogeyman for U.S. politicians to rail against ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and ensuing Iran Hostage Crisis. In the four decades since, the response to this initial attack on U.S. citizens and its continuing rhetorical accompaniments has ranged from aiding Iraq in a war against their Farsi-speaking neighbors to sending humanitarian aid to those same neighbors in the wake of a December 2003 earthquake. Today, as President Trump meets in Vietnam for a summit with the totalitarian leader of North Korea, another oppressive regime posing a nuclear threat to the U.S. and its allies across the globe, he and the U.S. foreign policy establishment should recognize that protecting Americans and liberating Iranians are not mutually exclusive aims. In fact, by rejoining the Iran deal, the U.S. can not only reduce the threat of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, but can drastically improve the chances of Iran’s population achieving the democracy they have so long deserved.

Botswana Past Pres. Has Hope in Obama

Festus Mogae, the former president of Botswana, said that Africans love President Barack Obama. They expect a lot from him, especially in encouraging African development of democratic governments, as well as helping to improve Africa’s economies and to respond to climate change.
In the talk in the Biotech Auditorium yesterday, Mogae said that he expects the Obama administration to create a “pro-democracy initiative — one that provides incentives to democratization in Africa.”
“If America believes democracy is good for Africa, it should put its money where its mouth is,” he said. “We want to be helped, not attacked militarily.”

Obama's Videographer Highlights Campaign

Last night, the Cornell Cinema did not screen a new film or an old classic, but rather a compilation of clips of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign accompanied by a personal presentation by the current White House videographer, Arun Chaudhary ’97. The Cornell alumnus, who was the director of field production for Barack Obama during his campaign, spoke of his experiences filming the then-presidential candidate, the thousands of clips he recorded and how his work evolved as Obama’s campaign spread across America.
During his lecture, Chaudhary emphasized the importance of “new media” and how the recordings that he and his team created helped introduce Obama to the public.

Trustees Discuss Cornell’s Future

In advance of their full meeting Friday, Cornell’s Board of Trustees met in committees yesterday to discuss a range of topics, including federal research funding and a re-examination of the University’s policy on conflicts of interest and standards of ethical conduct.
In accordance with New York State’s Open Meetings Law, several committees held open sessions yesterday before subsequently convening in closed sessions, which were not available to the media.
At the trustees’ Committee on Governmental Relations, Cornell’s office of government and community relations updated members about how the University will be impacted by recent federal legislation.

Expert Says U.S. Faces Crossroads

Along with the global economy, America’s reputation as the beacon of democracy is also facing critical crossroads, according to Tom Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.
Carothers, a leading democracy expert and author of the most cited article on democracy promotion in the English language, lectured on the future of “U.S. democracy promotion under the new Obama administration.”
“[Obama] wants to rebuild America’s reputation as a global partner, and show that the U.S. can work with other countries productively to solve problems,” Carothers said.[img_assist|nid=35879|title=It’s like this…|desc=Thomas Carothers lectured yesterday on the future of democracy under the Obama administration.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]

Obama's Campaign Manager Set to Speak at Convocation

David Plouffe, campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, will be this year’s convocation speaker, the Convocation Committee an­nounced at yesterday’s Student Assembly meeting.
Plouffe, whom Obama has referred to as “the unsung hero” of “the best political campaign in the history of the United States of America,” will address this year’s graduating class.
“Our committee sought an individual who has had a profound impact on the society that our class has been prepared to enter,” C.J. Slicklen ’09 stated in an e-mail yesterday. Slicklen is chair of the Convocation Committee and a Sun columnist.

Obama Deputy Explains Strategy

Steve Hildebrand, deputy national campaign director of President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, spilled the juicy secrets yesterday at Cornell that led to the biggest non-incumbent victory in American history.
Approximately 70 students gathered in McGraw Hall to hear Hildebrand speak about everything from his personal background to his team’s intricate campaign strategies and inside stories of political bigwigs.

[img_assist|nid=35591|title=Strategy session|desc=President Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand speaks with students yesterday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]

An A For Effort on the Housing Plan

The Obama Administration’s $275 billion Homeowner and Affordability Stability Plan is the first real, comprehensive effort by the federal government to address problems in the real estate market. The HOPE Now program supported by the Bush administration has been limited in its effectiveness to address the underlying problems of the mortgage market. The current plan claims that it will help seven to nine million families avoid foreclosure by restructuring and refinancing mortgages. However, this plan not only poses implementation problems, but also creates some perverse incentives for those in danger of delinquency and for those who are current on their mortgage payments.