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Robertson School of Government Newsletter – October 2020

In this issue:

  • Northeast Syria: A Rare Bloom of Religious Freedom in the Middle East by Kelsey Bohlender
  • Dean’s Corner
  • More from RSG Social Media
  • RSG Launches Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn
  • Running for President: Lessons from ‘88
  • How to save American higher education by Gerson Moreno-Riaño
  • Faculty Highlight: Dr. Eric Patterson
  • Student Highlight: Abiola Kazeem

Featured Media of the Month

Northeast Syria: A Rare Bloom of Religious Freedom in the Middle East

Kelsey Bohlender is an RSG student focusing on National Security Studies and an intern focusing on  international religious freedom with the Center for Religious Liberty in FRC’s Policy & Government Affairs Department. In this fascinating piece, she writes about how religious freedom is blooming in Northeast Syria. “A fragile flower has bloomed in the Middle East. It’s a rare specimen, requiring significant help to ensure the roots go deep and the plant survives. Miraculously, religious freedom has found fertile ground in a nation torn by war on a narrow strip of land between two enemies. The time to protect this tender shoot is now, before it falls victim to the prevailing winds so common in the region. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) has been a bastion of democratic success in the midst of chaos. It has proven a safe haven for Kurds, Yazidis, and Christians alike. Additionally, it has championed gender equality in a way rarely seen in the region.” Read more here Read more of this article here!

by Kelsey Bohlender

Dean’s Corner

Dear friends, As we sit on the precipice of another bi-annual federal election, one thing is certain – change for many people. The more incumbent politicians who are defeated by challengers, the greater the change. That change is obvious for the officials, but what about all of the staff that work in these offices. Every new congressperson can select from the staff who now find themselves without jobs or they may choose to bring in fresh faces to DC. As one party gains seats, there are more fresh faces for that party, and the other has more experienced workers from “The Hill” who are out of jobs. This makes for precarious employment situations for many who go into government. Many will look for jobs as lobbyists or at think tanks. Or perhaps they will take temporary employment while they help campaign with the next person who might need staffers. Many resumes will certainly be sent to circulate through DC. Some of those who find themselves out of work may even sign up to get that next degree to enhance their preparation and marketability for the openings that come in the next election. The Robertson School of Government would welcome them for sure. While it may sound like a difficult life working for a politician, the experience of working for and with the governmental and political processes in state capitals and in Washington itself is invaluable. Many opportunities will emerge for those individuals. Some may even take that experience and teach the next generation. But for all, the years spent working for the ideals they believe in should be something they can remember fondly and proudly. Sincerely, Stephen D. Perry, Ph.D. Interim Dean and Professor

More from RSG Social Media

Jonathan Mayhew: Colonial Pastor against Tyranny by Dr. Eric Patterson

Blind Politics: Breaking Down Virginia Amendment 1 with Brian Cannon

Blind Politics: The Politics of Persuasion vs. the Politics of Self-Expression 

Blind Politics: I Want Something Else, a Review of Third Parties in 2020 

Findings: State of Exception Set Point: COVID Perspectives Set Point: Unintentional Costs of Global COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Set Point: Interview with Toni Delancey Set Point: Interview with RSG Alumnus Latoya Haight

Recent Events:

RSG Launches Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin

In order to keep all of our wonderful RSG supporters up-to-date with our latest happenings, RSG is launching Facebook and Instagram accounts! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to hear all about our latest updates!

Running for President: Lessons from ‘88

On October 23, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson shared his experiences and lessons learned from his 1988 presidential campaign where he finished third in the Republican Primary. Dr. Robertson won five states in that election, which set the groundwork for the Christian Coalition. Dr. Pat Robertson During the event, Dr. Robertson discussed a wide array of topics, ranging from the obstacles he had to overcome during his campaign, why he believes that his campaign was instrumental in influencing the government – even up to today – and why having short and powerful campaign messages is important. He also spoke about why we shouldn’t let the views of our differing parties get in the way of unity as Americans. Students who attended the event via Zoom called it “very informative and a great way to see the contrast between politics then and politics now,” “a fantastic, wisdom-filled lecture,” and “insightful.” Dean Perry of the school of government also said, “I was so pleased with the way students engaged with Regent’s Chancellor 32 years after he ran for president. Many of them were not even born when he spent that time in the political spotlight. I have a feeling there were at least a few students who are now thinking about their own future campaigns for political office.”

How to save American higher education by Gerson Moreno-Riaño

Regent University’s executive vice president for academic affairs and professor of government, Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, recently published an op-ed about higher education in the Washington Examiner. In this piece, he examines how to save American higher education and considers how the nature of higher education has changed over the last several decades. “For decades, philosophers have argued that higher education’s value is rooted in its nurturing of the tolerant, democratic citizen, and that it should cultivate within students the requisite ‘habits of the heart’ to sustain our democratic way of life. This belief motivated the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement to publish A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future, which argued that ‘higher education has a distinctive role to play in the renewal of U.S. democracy’ as colleges are ‘the nation’s most valuable laboratories for civic learning and democratic engagement’ to develop inter alia the virtue of tolerance in students. “Unfortunately, as of late, something has gone wrong. Recent examples suddenly abound of intolerant and vicious college-educated individuals participating in the movement to destroy American democracy.”

Read the rest of this article here!

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Eric Patterson

Dr. Eric Patterson, a scholar at large and former dean at RSG gave a lecture at Pepperdine University Law School on war crimes. The October 26 lecture, entitled “What is the Point of a War Crimes Tribunal?” had two parts.  First, as a reserve officer of the U.S. Air Force and author on the law of armed conflict (though not a JAG), Patterson was asked to discuss the similarities and differences between military tribunals, military commissions, and civilian criminal proceedings.  He focused attention on military tribunals (e.g. courts martial) and recent headline cases, as well as the difference between military justice under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and international criminal proceedings, like the Nuremberg trials or the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The second half of Patterson’s lecture focused on the purpose of war crimes tribunals, with a focus on the cost, process, and outcomes of Rwanda’s three overlapping, post-genocide efforts at justice.  The first, the ICTR, lasted for the better part of two decades with only about ninety indictments, at an estimated overall cost of over $800 million.  Patterson discussed his deep skepticism that such a lengthy, dangerous (to the witnesses, not the criminals), and expensive process did much more than create a huge database of testimony, and little to assuage the suffering of survivors and victims’ families, much less help Rwanda become a more peaceful country. In contrast, Patterson – citing evidence from his books Ending Wars Well and Ethics Beyond War’s End — pointed to more direct efforts at transitional justice, including Rwanda’s formal justice system and its informal gacaca (“grass”) courts, which dealt with over a million criminal cases in about a decade.  The gacaca courts provided a mechanism for justice, restitution, punition, and the reintegration of some perpetrators back to their communities upon their admittance of guilt.  These juridical proceedings, however imperfect, promoted an enduring peace and security in Rwanda in a way that was much more practical and much more likely to establish social conciliation.

Student Highlight: Abiola Kazeem

Abiola Kazeem was interviewed by Dean Stephen Perry for her advice on what the public should know to be more informed about Government. Watch the video here!