Sunday, March 24, 2013

National Defense and Global Security

I enjoyed Professor Olson's engaging lecture on National Defense and Global Security. It was interesting to see how people voted about various scenarios that lurk in the shadows of national defense. Making decisions that involve people's lives is a grave challenge that will weigh upon anyone's heart. Believing in your decision for the sake of protecting one's fellow citizens is something none of us have ever faced. Professor Olson has made those calls and I have immense respect for his service as well as the many others to whom we can't place a face or a name. However, on many issues of national defense I would most likely disagree with Professor Olson's opinion and that of the majority. My disagreement stems from many convictions some personal, some spiritual and some economical.

From one perspective, I view the issue of national defense through a lens of economical pragmatism that I is similar to the President Clinton's era. War and national defense are expensive. How expensive? It's not easy to nail down the exact figure but from various sources** the 2012 budget for national defense can be estimated  between 800 million - 1 TRILLION dollars without adding in the budget for "covert black-budget operations". 

1 TRILLION dollars.

Now I want you to think about this. You are married with two kids. Your family earns the median US household income of $50,000 usd. Your family is burdened with choice. You can either contribute $12,000 dollars per year to pay for the national defense budget or contribute that money to free university education for every child in the country.

War costs people. The average citizen must contribute $3,000 plus interest on the money borrowed to support the national defense budget. However, most young adults are graduating college with historic debt because they can't afford the phenomenal costs of college. How many people do you know have borrowed money to further their education? There are siginifcant opportunity costs to think about when one talks about National Security. While this issue of War and Defense is an impassioned argument, I ask you to not lose your logic in the heat of the moment. Please leave comment in the bottom.


I don't believe it is right for Americans to go outside our borders and fight an extrajudicial war. It is true Al-Qaeda on the tragic day of 9/11 killed innocent Americans. That act cannot be forgiven. But how can we justify the acts we commit as a country, when we invade other countries for the sake of revenge? When we commit drone strikes abroad and shrug off the collateral damage of killing innocent people, do we forget those acts reflect upon ALL of us. We live in a democracy and it up to us to participate. I can never spiritually condone the killing of an innocent person for the sake of revenge. That to me is playing God and that is not something with which I wish to wash my hands. It is easy to forget that terrorists are the minority and the only weapon they have is fear. I am not afraid. I will never be afraid. And I'm willing to defend my country right here at home. 


The Military Imbalance: How The U.S. Outspends The World

Our Insanely Big $1 Trillion National Security Budget

Military Budget of the U.S.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Strategic Issues Facing the Midddle East

Dr. Ayari and Dr. Ewers provided unique insight into the issues in the middle east. From Dr. Ayari we learned that corruption and ineffective governments can seriously impact a countries economic future as illustrated in the article about Tunisia. As a result, a growing segment of the youth population has no way to serve their own societies. Restless tensions eventually led to the Arab Spring uprising that pulsed throughout the region. However, since many countries in the middle east are blessed with vast oil abundance it affords them the wealth to maintain control as they provide the world's backbone for energy supply. From Dr. Ewers we learned how the wealthy middle eastern countries  ealize that change is the name of the game. He demonstrated how an economy reliant on a singular economic activity -oil- is a prone to dangerous swings in economic security which puts those at the head of government at risk. Therefore, these governments are rapidly deploying their economic cash reserves to create industries in their countries independent of oil.



Links to good reads?

post it in the comments

World Food Supply PT. II-


In addition to the World Food Security lecture, I wanted to include additional resources I've found helpful for understanding agriculture across the globe.

-short video by the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment illustrates the challenges the globe faces in food security

-Indian farmers are breaking records in rice yields without the help of conventional ag technologies

-how Belo Horizonte, Brazil came together as a city and a community to implement market reforms that allowed them to end hunger

-a 9 minute documentary filmed for the French Bon app├ętit exhibition is aimed at educating children about how to feed the world

-Over 130 countries consider insects an integral part of their diet. 

Silicon Valley tech company brings robotics to farming

Saturday, February 23, 2013

World Food Supply and It's Implications

There is enough food in the world, it is just very grossly distributed.

Dr. Murano and Dr. Richardson offered some very good food for thought at this weeks seminar. We are very lucky to live in a country where we don't have to give a second thought to going out and buying whatever we are craving at the moment.

There is such a large disparity between the amounts of food people have and don't have. I think that the core of this problem falls back to economics and politics. Economics and politics play such a big role in determining how food gets distributed to the global population. As Matthew mentioned during class, food should be a right and not a privilege. This seems like something that should be the natural way of things, but as Dr. Murano mentioned, it inevitably would become someone else's responsibility to provide for others happiness. What's your opinion on how food should be distributed and should it be a right to have food?

The world population is constantly increasing and the disparity in food distribution will continue to increase. What can we do to solve this problem? Will the global population ever be willing to accept GMOs? Norman Borlaug's used GMOs to save 3 billion lives. There is a very large disconnect in information about what goes into making a genetically modified organism, and I think this discontent will always exist so the question is how do we get people to accept something that has the potential to save billions of lives?

Are you willing to change your habits to help provide food for others?
Any other thoughts or questions?  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Strategic Issues Facing Europe

Having one of the largest economies in the global market, Europe is a key pillar of the global system and whatever happens to Europe in this upcoming year will alter the way the world functions right now on a global level. 

Dr. Pustay and Dr. Thornton gave some very good insight on what is going on in the European Union right now. With 27 countries currently in the Union, and more to be added soon, it amazes me how anything ever gets put through the policy/decision making system that Dr. Putsay showed us. How feasible do you guys think the European Union is on an economic and political level? Should they keep on accepting new countries even while they are in the situation they are in right now? 

There were a lot of issues brought up during the seminar including the debate about Turkey wanting to, or now not wanting to, join the Union, the unemployment crisis hitting Greece and Spain (with many other countries not far behind), and the rising old-age dependency ratio. What do you guys think will happen with the increasing unemployment rates? Will there be a clean-cut solution in the near future, or are we going to be seeing political upheavals and riots by the general population?  

Dr. Thornton brought up a nice tie-in with last weeks lecture about energy when she mentioned fracking. With all the enthusiasm about fracking right now, it is surprising that France has outlawed it completely. How do you think the other countries will react to the idea of fracking, and what will it mean for the European Union and world if they countries do start fracking on a large-scale basis? 

None the less, with everything negative going on with the European Union right now, there has been much good that has come from creating the European Union, as Dr. Pustay put it, when was the last time Germany invaded France? 

Thoughts or comments on the lecture? 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Energy Resources and the Environment

Energy is essential, directly or indirectly, for everything we do.

Dr. Maria Barufet and Dr. Zeissig provided a very informative and controversial seminar on world energy resources and the environment. Energy consumption and the environment are issues that need to be taken into consideration now because if action is not taken, there could be adverse effects on future generations. The discussion encompassed non-renewable resources (oil, gas, coal), and renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydrocarbon, nuclear) discussing how the expected usage rates will show little change in the future. Where do you all think the future of nonrenewable resources and fracking is headed? 

How do you guys think the increase of energy usage in developing countries will play into the global plan to decrease global warming?

Concerning the Keystone XL pipeline, I think that Dr. Zeissig made a pretty convincing point saying that it would be more efficient and safer for us to refine the oil here in the United States rather than sending it elsewhere. Even though both options still weigh down the promise to take global warming into consideration, I don't think we will be able to stop the construction of the pipeline. What are your guy's personal opinions on the Keystone XL pipeline? Do you think the US will be able to become a net importer of oil and not be dependent on foreign resources?  

Thoughts or questions on the seminar? 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Howdy Everyone!

Mr. Petty suggested starting a blog where we can all continue discussion of the seminar topics beyond seminar itself. Everyone always has their own perspective on the seminar topic and with limited time we often don't get around to everyone's questions and remarks. This blog can serve as an avenue to further discuss and relate the topics at hand.

So far we have had General Van Alstyne's presentation [1-17-2013] on Transformational Leadership and Mr. Bermudez's presentation [1-24-2013] on Global Economics and Market Implications.

Some points that interested me from General Van Alstyne's presentation were:

1. His emphasis on the situation rather than the leader. 

2. Be patient and speak at the right time. Know what point you want to make and realize that sometimes it is better to not make those points.

3. Leaders use framework.

All in all, I believe that Transformational Leadership is a two-way road between the leader and followers that cannot be learned overnight, but it is an ability we can learn to develop and identify. What are your guy's personal takes on leadership?


Mr. Bermudez's discussion of the global economy and how interwoven and dependent everyone is on everyone else definitely opened my eyes to what could possibly happen if one these powerhouses were to collapse. Also what are your thoughts on the fact that the US has become so dependent on other countries that it is literally impossible for it to become completely independent?

The three points that Mr. Bermudez left for us were:

1. We need to understand the world. We cannot ignore the world and unless we understand it, we will fail.

2. Be willing to lead and take hard decisions.

3. Always act with integrity.

What are your guy's thoughts and questions on these seminar topics?