Māori rights in New Zealand. Poverty in Costa Rica’s rural areas. Greece’s possible withdrawal from the Euro Zone. In each country that we’ve visited this year, pressing topics such as these are a constant source of discussion, and not just among the locals. Many of our students have used their direct exposure to new countries and political systems to evolve their opinions on a myriad of issues: social, ecological, political, human rights, just to name just a few. Participation in academic simulations like the Model United Nations have also helped them formulate and enunciate their opinions through debate, a pastime that can now stretch into the wee hours of the morning (don’t call these millennials apathetic!).
During our New Zealand term, eleventh graders and self-confessed political junkies Paul and River started The Vandalist, a political-themed blog, as a project for their New Media Lab. The project’s goal? Present a new way of posing challenging new ideas and questions. In their words:
“This blog was created in order to give politically independent individuals a place to freely express and discuss their opinions whilst sharing them with the outside world. Rather than publishing academic essays, our aim is to produce short articles full of original and challenging ideas and questions. As a community, we do not take any stance towards any political direction or specific party, as each author has their own independent and developing political views, which they express in their articles.”
Since its launch in November, The Vandalist has also added two new contributors: 11th grader Sydney M. and 12th grader Joseph H. And while the opinions reflected in The Vandalist don’t necessarily reflect the views of THINK Global School, we wholeheartedly support their ambition and dedication to producing well-reasoned work. Below you can find the first part of The Vandalist’s most recent entry, a look at the ongoing crisis in Yemen. We encourage fellow teenagers (and adults) with keen viewpoints to visit The Vandalist often and engage with the editors in the comments section.
Morals in Middle Eastern foreign policy – Yemen and the proxy war
In an ideal world, a country’s foreign policy would be in perfect alignment with its ideology and ideals. In the case of the United States and the European Union that would be the promotion of freedom, democracy, and – most significantly – human rights. Sadly, this unsurprisingly has not been the clear primary objective in a multitude of cases: the Vietnam War, US-backed dictatorships in both Africa and South-America and many (yet not all) NATO interventions in the Middle-East. In the past weeks, we have seen yet another conflict of questionable morality unfold: the crisis in Yemen.
This week the UN-ambassador Jamal Benomar resigned, after a frustrating number of years in which he desperately tried to facilitate peace between the 3 warring Yemeni factions: the Houthis, a Shia militia backed by Iran, AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), al-Qaeda’s most dangerous branch (it claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks this January), and finally the ‘democratically’ elected Yemeni government, led by President Hadi. Mr. Hadi, who took over after his predecessor, Mr. Saleh, was ousted during the Arab Spring, fled the country earlier this year after his government had lost control of most of western Yemen, including the nation’s biggest city and capital, Sana’a.
In the end of March, Saudi-Arabia and Egypt launched Operation “Decisive Storm”, executed by a 10-nation Saudi-led coalition (including allies as distant as Pakistan and Morocco), which now carries out airstrikes…continue reading