First Brexit, Now Poexit

First Brexit, Now Poexit

In light of recent controversial legal reforms, Poland has two options: face the consequences, or get out.

Poland may soon follow Britain's footsteps in departing the European Union. The premise for a possible Poexit surfaced after the nation had received sanctions from the European Commission (the EU's main administrative entity) due to recent controversial judicial reforms that occurred in the land.

The European Commission has stated the rightwing government's proposed legal reforms would introduce a "clear risk of a serious breach in the rule of law". Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, also voiced his concern over Poland's legal route. Timmermans stated the 13 laws embraced by the legal system over the past two years had made it so the Polish government "can systematically politically interfere with the composition, powers, the administration and the functioning" of the judiciary.

Despite the European Commission's sanctions, Polish Newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza claims the ruling party views these dealings as an "opportunity to spread dissatisfaction with the EU among Poles," and is "calling the European Commission's bluff." Poland's leadership is allowed to have their opinion, nevertheless, many state a Poexit would be catastrophic for the nation. As a result of Poland's actions, the country may face Article 7 of the Union Treaty, an article that would impose a consequence severe in political nature: Poland would be effectively stripped of its voting rights. Even Rzeczpospolita, a Polish Newspaper that often displayed its favor of the current government, has stated the present state of affairs is a fast car "speeding towards a wall for months now and has finally spectacularly crashed into it," and further stated that invoking Article 7 against Warsaw is "the first stone that could start an avalanche of catastrophic consequences" for Poland.

According to German Newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, "after Brexit, a Poexit could be the final consequence." The newspaper further stated that "if the majority in Poland no longer wants to abide by the law, then the country has to leave the EU. After Brexit, the EU could soon experience its next big tragedy. The country is likely to be as divided as the British before the Brexit decision."

Another German Newspaper Die Welt chimed in and labeled the European Commission's potential activation of Article 7 as the "nuclear option." Die Welt further stated that "never before has the strongest weapon in the EU's treaty been activated. If this happens, it will become painfully clear that the EU is, in fact, almost defenseless if a member state persistently refuses to obey." Lawyer Thomas Giegerich also relayed his opinion to Die Welt, claiming that "If Poland had not already been an EU member, it would not have been accepted at the moment."

In support of Poexit is Hungary, which stated it would veto any efforts of the EU to halt Poland from voting in Brussels. Balazs Hidveghi, press chief of Hungary's ruling Fidesz party, relayed a message to Magyar Hirlap Newspaper that the European Commission's action against Poland is "proof of Brussels' efforts to punish the countries that oppose the settlement of migrants in Europe and the mandatory resettlement quota scheme." Hidveghi also firmly stated that "Hungary rejects the EU's way of using legal procedures for exerting political pressure."

So the question remains: will Poland's government face the consequences it has brought onto itself? Or will pressure from the European Union soon prompt a Poexit? For now, the world will have to wait in see. However, one thing is for certain: the possibility of a Poexit is becoming more and more of a reality by the second.

Cover Image Credit: Politico

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If The U.S. Is A "Beacon Of Morality," Why Don't We Do Anything About Child Soldiers?

Child Soldiers International, War Child, and UNICEF are just a few organizations that accept time and donations that work toward making a difference.

Flashback to six years ago, and no one could stop talking about Joseph Kony. In case you were living under a rock in 2012, Joseph Kony was a Ugandan warlord, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which used child soldiers to terrorize civilians across Central Africa. He was brought to fame through the documentary “Kony 2012” as it caused an uproar throughout the United States.Although the media hype quickly died down, the United States Pentagon spent $800 million trying to hunt down Kony up until June of 2017.

Kony isn’t the first, nor will he be the last, person to use child soldiers. Today, child soldiers are predominantly used across the Middle East and Africa, with South Sudan having the largest concentration in Africa.

So, what exactly has the international community done about this global issue? Legislation like the Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child have been adopted and opened for signature. The Rome Statute of 1998 established the International Criminal Court in 2002, and recognized conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 as a war crime.

There have been successes in individual countries like Somalia, and Afghanistan, but I think that it’s worth examining what exactly the United States has done.

Congress signed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) in 2008. The Act restricted military support to countries that were identified by the State Department as having recruited and used child soldiers in their militaries. However, the prohibitions can be waived in the name of U.S. national interest. In June of 2017, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was accused of breaching the act. The department recognized Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan as using child recruitment and conscription, yet Tillerson decided to exclude them from the list.

But why does any of this matter to you and me? If the United States is going to label itself as a moral beacon, then they’d better act like one. There seems to be a double standard at play in American foreign policy; protect human rights, as long as they serve American interests. Additionally, the United States is missing opportunities to make real change. Ever since the conclusion of World War I, it has been the responsibility of the United States to maintain the world order, and to be a guarantor of human rights. What kind of message does it send about the United States when we continue to send money to governments that use child soldiers?

The change starts now. My advice for soon to be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to do better. As the American public awaits for Tillerson to step out and Pompeo to step in, there are actions that we as citizens can take. Child Soldiers International, War Child, and UNICEF are just a few organizations that accept time and donations that work toward making a difference.

Whatever active role you chose to take, reading this article is a great first step. It is crucial to raise awareness and to become informed of issues that affect not just us, but the rest of humanity.

Cover Image Credit: Bimo Luki

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Nice Guys Finish Last Because It's Nice To Have Standards

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Nice guys have heard this grating phrase with patient ears before: you're a really nice guy. "Really" and "nice," a double superlative just for me? I know sarcasm isn't so nice but some might argue that it's the nicest sense of humor you could have. It's hard to gauge where someone's intentions lie and from a nice guy's perspective, it all seems lost on others he tries to connect with.

Nice is an adjective, passive in meaning. It's a sincere way of saying that you're a pushover, but the best kind of pushover. You're a human coat rack and the only thought you have is how helpful you're being holding up all those coats when the owners return and eventually come back for more help. Being nice doesn't help you, nor should it if you are being genuine.

Nice means being selfless. Granted the guy is being nice, it is not without his reasons. These reasons are inclusive, for both himself and whoever he is being nice to. There are no expectations except to be nice and nice in return. Nice means being kind. Nice means having standards.

I'm a nice guy, I always have been, and I don't plan on changing that. What sets me apart from the stereotype however is that I don't live with the expectation that people will reciprocate my kindness. I don't have the hopeless romantic mentality when I find out I'm in the exclusive club known as the friend zone.

Do I get offended when people are unkind or characterize and use me as the expendable "nice guy?" Yes, it hurts me to know people care only enough to get what they want or to make me another bullet point on their résumé. One thing that's saved me from many headaches and heartaches over time is this: I can control me.

I can still be nice even though the day isn't going to be. I choose not to let anyone steal my joy but that choice doesn't come from a selfish place. There are nice guys, the ones who are kind and unassuming.

Then there are Nice Guys, the ones who only measure out their kindness and behave enough to show you that they are capable of being an understanding, agreeable human being to achieve their desires through you, not with you.

Nice Guys give nice guys a bad name. I'm more of a middling nice guy, I don't blow over in the wind but I won't yell up a storm either. If you ask me a question, I will give an honest answer.

Not every nice guy is blissfully ignorant of the founded and unfounded cruelty in the world. We're not doormats for the mud you track, we're doors that close as easily as they open.

It's nice to be nice but if there is no self-worth, if there is any self-interest, then you're not being nice to yourself and you're not being nice to others for the right reasons.

People call him a nice guy to establish immediate and short-lived rapport for when it is convenient for them. Nice guys are acknowledged for what they are, not who they are. Nice isn't a commodity, it's a rarity, and when you have it, do not spare it too much or spend it too little. Just be nice, guys.

Nice is a quality that's less artificial than a charm or flirt and more natural than workplace decorum. Show how nice you could and should be, not how nice you would be.

Cover Image Credit: Spencer Selover

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