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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, March 2, 2024

Eli Striker


The Setonian
Column

The Strike Zone: China’s role in the Russia-Ukraine war

During the first year following the Feb. 24, 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, China maintained a neutral stance, as Beijing attempted to undercut democracy without provoking Western economic sanctions. However, China’s true stance in the war was put on full display in March of this year when President Xi Jinping visited President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and the two leaders signed an agreement that promised a stronger relationship and condemned American hegemony. Worryingly, Beijing has allegedly considered further expanding its trading repertoire with Moscow by selling weapons — including artillery shells and attack drones — to Russia. Arming Russia would officially end any pretense of Chinese neutrality and undoubtedly provoke a series of Western sanctions against Beijing. Instead, China should work to broker a realistic peace treaty with Russia and Ukraine, asserting itself as the world’s foremost diplomatic leader at a time when geopolitical tides are turning in favor of the developing world and the Global South.

The Setonian
Column

The Strike Zone: Brasilia — a modernist utopia?

Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, completed its construction in 1960 with the intent of using modernist architecture as a tool to forge a futuristic utopian society. The city was designed around urban planner Lucio Costa’s airplane-shaped “Plano Piloto.” A series of residential “superquadras” along the plane’s wings contained dwellings, hospitals and schools and were connected to government buildings in the airplane’s cockpit through central highways. Brasilia’s designers hoped to create an egalitarian city which could be inhabited by government ministers and blue-collar workers alike. 

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The Strike Zone: China’s hopes for Taiwanese reunification

In recent years, China has performed a series of threatening military exercises around the Taiwan Strait, leading to the United States demonstrating its commitment to defending Taiwan, a disputed island territory which mainland China claims as its own. Taiwan, now a democracy, became the headquarters of the Kuomintang, whom the Chinese Communist Party  defeated at the end of the Chinese civil war (1945–49).

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The Strike Zone: Mitigating the threat of Ukraine fatigue

Ukraine’s unyielding resistance to Vladimir Putin’s autocratic aggression has improved the country’s reputation on the international stage and led to a powerful alliance between Presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy. However, the greatest test of this partnership has yet to come. There is no end in sight to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and Ukraine’s military is highly dependent on U.S. aid. Although the Biden administration has supported Ukraine rhetorically and politically, it is not surprising that Ukrainian leaders may worry that American politicians will not support a foreign war indefinitely. This strategic partnership is currently at a high point after decades of ups and downs, but future military aid could be jeopardized by a lack of support on Capitol Hill. Therefore, Kyiv faces external pressure to achieve sustained military success, as they must prove to Washington that military support is a worthwhile investment.

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The Strike Zone: Beijing’s precarious position

By transitioning from a centrally planned, collectivist economy under Mao Zedong to a free market system of “capitalism with Chinese characteristics,” China has undergone an economic explosion since the late 1970s, and many scholars see the nation’s continued rise as inevitable. China’s GDP per capita is quickly rising, and its annual growth has long outpaced the United States’, leading to predictions that China’s GDP will overtake America’s by 2035.

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The Strike Zone: Urban China and the hukou system

During the last four decades, China has undergone a radical change, metamorphosing from a predominantly agrarian nation to a city-centric, economic powerhouse. The Chinese Communist Party has actively facilitated this trend of mass urbanization. 

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The Strike Zone: Critical art as resistance in Syria

The Assad dictatorship in Syria — led for 50 years by Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar — has been brutal, long-lasting and authoritarian. Even movements such as the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, which dethroned dictators in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, did little to dislodge Assad's iron grip on its civilians. The revolts prompted a still-ongoing civil war in Syria, in which millions of Syrians were forced to seek refuge, were externally displaced or perished from the violence. Tragically, the Assad regime has been the main perpetrator of human rights abuses throughout the war, abandoning its obligation to protect Syrian citizens. In her book, “Ambiguities of Domination,” Lisa Wedeen illustrates how this phenomenon reflects the politics of “as if."Per Wedeen, the Assad regime does not care about Syrian citizens, but it acts as if it cares in order to appear legitimate.Conversely, many Syrians do not necessarily support the Assad regime, but act as if they do to escape persecution.

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The Strike Zone: Gender and modernity in Middle Eastern music videos

Twentieth-century technological advances led to the modernization of Pan-Arabic music. Musicians utilized improved microphones to cultivate the sensation of “atifiyaa,” an artist-centric feeling of sentimentality and sensuality characteristic of modernist Egyptian music. Further technological changes led to the popularity of the cassette tape, which helped deviant underground music reach millions of Pan-Arabic listeners. Underground cassette tape recordings were utilized by Dana International, a transgender Mizrahi Jewish pop singer whose music generated controversy because of her sexual lyrics and provocative dancing. Modernist changes in musical style allow artists to push traditionally rigid boundaries of gender in Middle Eastern culture.

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The Strike Zone: Music and identity in Israel and Palestine

During the formation of Israel, aspects of two distinct cultural groups — European Ashkenazi Jewish people and Arabic Mizrahi Jewish people — were fused to form a shared national identity within the supposed Jewish homeland. However, Israeli society remains hierarchical; many Ashkenazi Jewish Israeli individuals have long suppressed both Mizrahi Jewish individuals and Palestinians, who claim indigeneity over much of Israel but have long been confined to the margins of Israeli society by the government.

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