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BROWN | As the Amazon Burns, Brazil’s Political Nightmare Rages On

International outrage continues to grow over the massive destruction caused by forest fires currently burning across the vast Amazon rainforest. But much of the commentary in the West has failed to link the fires to Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, and his collaborationist allies among the Brazilian business and political elite who are encouraging illegal miners, farmers and ranchers to slash and burn whatever land they deem fit for industry. Bolsonaro and his henchmen are dedicated to the unchecked destruction of the Amazon and its indigenous peoples for short-term profit, and the new Brazilian government is in power thanks to the efforts of a group of reactionary elites who wished to ensure that the 2018 election would be sufficiently rigged in their favor. Western commentary has also largely ignored the human toll of the destruction of the Amazon, as Brazil’s indigenous peoples are engaged in a struggle for their very right to exist. On July 23, a leader of the Wajãpi people in the Northern Amazon was stabbed to death by illegal gold miners on protected ancestral lands, part of a trend of escalating land invasions and violence against indigenous populations.

Prof. Suzanne Mettler teaches GOVT 1111, the government department's flagship introductory course to American government and politics.

Cornell Prof. Suzanne Mettler Awarded Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship

Prof. Suzanne Mettler Ph.D. ’94, the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions in the Department of Government —  and a leading scholar in American political institutions — was among 167 scholars, artists and scientists awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation on April 16. The Guggenheim Fellowship program is intended to help scholars work with as much creative freedom as possible. This year roughly 3,000 people applied. It provides grants to selected individuals for six to twelve months of time, which they can spend in any matter they deem necessary to their research. Since its establishment in 1925 to 2018, the fellowship has awarded $360 million to 18,000 individuals.

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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.

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JOHNS | Reining In Iran’s Brutal Regime

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. An unidentified man was publicly hanged in the Iranian city of Kazeroon last month, one of thousands of Iranians executed on charges of homosexuality in the country since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran’s despotic legal system and practice of secret executions make it easy to underestimate the magnitude of Iran’s human rights abuses, which also have targeted political opponents and religious minorities. Yet, while numbers are hard to come by, human rights experts are nearly unanimous in placing Iran among the world’s worst human rights violators.

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JOHNS | Blame Big Government and Democrats’ Radicalism for High Political Stakes

Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a new dueling columns feature. In our very first feature, Michael Johns ’20 and Giancarlo Valdetaro ’21 debate, “How have the stakes of American politics risen so high?” Read the counterpart column here. In his State of the Union address last week, President Trump extended an invitation to members of Congress to set aside their differences and begin to work collaboratively — not on their respective Republican or Democratic agendas, but on “the agenda of the American people.”

“Many of us,” he argued, “campaigned on the same core promises: to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers; to rebuild and revitalize our Nation’s infrastructure; to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs; to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure; and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first.”

It is an important message, and yet one that sadly is poised to be ignored. Congress, for at least a decade now, has been entrenched in bitter, dysfunctional partisanship where success or failure is measured solely by political victory. In pursuit of this end, the well-being of the nation has too often become little more than a tertiary concern.