By: Aaron Daum
In the past month, a lot has gone on around the world – and I’m afraid that so much of it is going over our heads in this period where the media focuses so much on internal affairs that much of what goes on outside our borders, goes unnoticed. I want to make it the point of this article to highlight some of the biggest international events of the past month; the Catalan independence referendum, in Spain, and the downfall of the Iran nuclear deal after president Trump revoked his support for it (yes, I notice that one of these has to do with the US… it’s impossible to hear a story without our country being connected to it in this era of globalization.)
On to the news, we head first to Barcelona, capital of the highly-autonomous region of Catalonia in north-eastern Spain. On October 1st, the region voted overwhelmingly to secede from Spain, with 92 percent of voters saying “yes” to independence. The vote, however, is not without controversy – many are deeming the election invalid as turnout was only 43 percent – not enough of the total population to say for certain that the whole region would have voted the same way. Additionally, the Spanish government has invoked Article 155 of their constitution, allowing the national government to take control of a regional government in the case of a loosely defined “emergency.”
Spain, already headed towards economic shambles, does not want to lose one of its wealthiest regions; Catalonia accounts for approximately 20 percent of the country’s GDP. Catalan independence advocates cite their drastically different culture (most Catalonians speak Catalan – think of it as a midpoint between French and Spanish,) and the loss of precious tax dollars (Catalonia pays nearly 12 billion more to Spain than they receive,) as reasons to secede. Moving on to the Middle East, Iranians are in a state of backlash towards the president after he called for new terms, which highly favor the US, to be set in the Iran nuclear deal. In its current form, the deal lifts heavy sanctions off Iran’s shoulders, as long as they keep uranium stockpiles under a certain level and allow inspectors from Western countries (like our own) to routinely keep an eye on activity in nuclear plants.
The President has hinted that he may go as far as to completely disregard the deal, which would be bad for our country in the long term in a plethora of ways. First, and most obviously, breaking the treaty would obviously allow Iran a rigid but existing pathway to nuclear weapons which they could undoubtedly use against us (they would still face opposition from the UK and EU, but without America it would be much easier for Iran.) Additionally, breaking our promise to one country reduces our reliability in the eyes of other nations that we may need to organize agreements, critical to our safety, with in the future – namely North Korea. The Koreans are already unwilling to negotiate with Trump, and if we break a huge arms deal like this one, our credibility will drop even further. This behavior would also set a precedent for our future relationships with other countries, even our allies! If we show that we are unwilling to give up economic superiority in favor of our safety, this tells other nations a lot about how the Trump administration will act in the future, and other countries will likely be more reluctant to organize treaties and other deals with us.