The College of Arts and Sciences' communications office works closely with Cornell's Media Relations Office. As the College's representatives to media, we connect faculty experts and thought leaders to local, regional, national and international media organizations.
Linda Glaser, Publicist
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Tricia Barry, Communications Director
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Current press statements from Arts & Sciences faculty:
U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement
USMCA changes little, but offers good optics for Trump campaign - Jan. 16, 2020
The United States Senate voted today to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), legislation replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement and updating trading policies between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The vote was bipartisan, with 89 senators voting for USMCA and 10 voting against.
Gustavo Flores-Macias is an associate professor of government at Cornell University and the former Director of Public Affairs in Mexico’s Consumer Protection Agency. He says that the USMCA only tweaks the existing trade framework, and new benefits to the U.S. economy will be limited and industry specific.
“The approval of the USMCA in the U.S. Senate gives president Donald Trump another victory in the political battle over trade. Now that both the U.S. Congress and the Mexican legislature have approved the agreement, ratification in Canada's parliament should not pose any complications.
“Since the USMCA brings only tweaks to the North American trade framework, rather than the wholesale transformation promised by President Trump, the economic benefits to the U.S. will be limited and concentrated in a handful of industries. However, the new agreement will give the president important political momentum toward November's election, since it allows him to claim credit for following through on his campaign promises and extracting better terms to advance U.S. interests abroad.
“The optics of the USMCA ratification, coupled with the progress to date on the U.S.-China trade deal, will be a powerful political tool to rally the president's base.”
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Booker Exits 2020 Race
Booker's exit won't depress 2020 turnout, but future is bright for the 'gifted politician' - Jan. 14, 2020
Cory Booker announced this week that he will end his presidential campaign, making the existing Democratic field less diverse.
Elizabeth Sanders, professor of government at Cornell University who studies American political development, says that Cory Booker leaving the presidential race won’t diminish voter turnout, and that the junior Senator from New Jersey has a bright future for another presidential run.
“Booker’s exit won’t depress turnout, as black Democrats tend to be very practical strategists; as is so often said in the media, they are intent on getting rid of Trump. Note the very practical and effective campaign of black women Democrats in the last Alabama Senate race.
“If a Democrat wins, Booker will end up in a government position, and go on from there to gather experience for his next run. He is a gifted politician, but hasn’t yet gathered as much visible national experience as a presidential candidate probably needs.”
Soleimani Irreplaceable to Iran
Soleimani irreplaceable as military mastermind to Iran, making Americans safer - Jan. 6, 2020
The killing of Qasem Soleimani, a critical figure in Iran’s military structure, has precipitated important questions about the future of U.S.-Iran relations as well as Iran’s position in the Middle East.
Barry Strauss, professor of history at Cornell University, is an expert on military strategy and is the former director of the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. He says that Soleimani’s charisma and skill as a leader will be difficult for Iran to replace, thereby making Americans safer.
“The killing of Qasem Soleimani probably will be a game-changer for Iran. Although not beyond reproach as a military commander, Soleimani was a masterful leader overall, the single most important force behind Iranian expansion, empire, and repression. Violent, ambitious men are not rare, but commanders who combine cunning and vision, battlefield courage with strategic skill, and who project charisma to the point of legend – such men are unusual indeed. Soleimani will be replaced with difficulty, if at all. Removing him weakens Iran considerably.
“Don’t be distracted by the trash talk and posturing coming from both sides of this conflict. The long-running, asymmetric war between the United States and Iran will continue, mostly on a low boil, largely outside of public view, occasionally with flare-ups and bold headlines. The killing of Soleimani raises the stakes for the Iranians and makes their task more difficult, deprived as they are of their charismatic military mastermind. It also thereby makes Americans safer. Nonetheless, it is not decisive so, unfortunately, the conflict goes on.”
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Trump threatens Iranian cultural sites
Trump’s threat to Iranian cultural sites ‘especially cruel’ - Jan. 6, 2020
In the aftermath of Qasem Soleimani’s killing, President Trump on Twitter threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites that are important to “the Iranian culture,” a threat that has drawn criticism and condemnation as “cultural cleansing” and an action in violation of international law.
Seema Golestaneh, professor of near Eastern studies at Cornell University, studies the anthropology of Islam and culture of Iran. She says threatening to attack cultural sites shows a lack of understanding of the Iranian peoples’ day-to-day lives.
"The threat to attack Iranian cultural sites is akin to threatening to bomb Notre Dame or the Sistine chapel. And to make such claims so cavalierly, without any regard for the deep emotional ties that people have with these sites, seems especially cruel.
“Some of these sites are not just tourist destinations but are still in heavy use and are woven into the fabric of their respective cities. For example, the bazaar of the Imam’s Square and the Khaju Bridge of Isfahan, which were built nearly four hundred years ago, are used by hundreds of thousands of people every day.
“The term ‘cultural heritage sites’ in a way seems to fall short to describe these places and things and their role in the popular imagination. They are ways of life, ways of understanding the self. The United States is a young country and perhaps it is hard to understand this deep affection. But outside of the loss of life, for Iranians, nothing could be more painful."
Lori Khatchadourian, associate professor of near Eastern studies, studies the relationship between imperialism and the vast world of material things. She says the threat to cultural sites is an "assault on science."
"President Trump’s threat to target Iranian cultural sites is deeply disturbing. The deliberate destruction of such sites would constitute not only a war crime and an abrogation of obligations under existing treaties, but yet another of the President’s assaults on science.
"We can assume that the 'very high level' and 'important' sites mentioned in the President’s tweet include Iran’s 22 cultural properties inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, comprised of both pre-Islamic and Islamic sites. Many of Iran’s archaeological sites are of extraordinary scholarly importance. They shed light on some of humanity’s earliest and most creative political experiments; they reveal the complex interconnections between East and West over millennia; and they stand as iconic exemplars in the history of art and architecture.
"The President tweeted that the sites on his list are 'important to Iran & the Iranian culture.' But this characterization grossly understates the significance of Iranian cultural heritage to the history of humanity."
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