• What is the real goal in Iran, democratization or denuclearization?

    Democracy can be seen as a process or as a product. The product does not always follow the process. It’s possible for a country to vote a radical, oppressive regime into office democratically. This is an idea that characterizes American diplomacy. The question is always, will this foster a democratic outcome?

    America has a past of providing financial, technical and arms support to undemocratic governments and guerillas to protect its national security or economic interests. This doesn’t necessarily mean that America is the antagonist. It’s more complex than that. Mutual benefit is necessary for sustainable diplomacy.

    The nuclear deal with Iran, the focus of Jeremi Suri’s most recent column, sounds simple: Iran will stop (or limit) its production of nuclear weapons if we trade with it. This means more economic opportunity for Iran and the protection of American national security interests.

    Both sides benefit, but the implications of this agreement must be considered. It’s not just about opening markets; it’s about changing the relationship between the United States and Iran. The United States can use this economic relationship as a carrot to encourage greater transparency in the Iranian government. It could also use it as a tool of coercion. The agreement opens a possibility for Iran to become dependent on trade with the U.S., or vice versa. This entanglement is likely to happen and will influence our actions and reactions to Iran.

    So then, through increased cooperation with Iran, are we trying to quell potentially dangerous nuclear activity or foster democratic values in the country? If the latter, are we concerned with the process or the product? We are walking a fine line between cooperation and control. Many times, we, as a country, have not been able to answer these questions, and as a result, we have seen undemocratic outcomes.

    The bottom line is, we need to cooperate with Iran. This deal marks a huge geopolitical realignment in the Middle East. It’s important, but in the right context. Western “moral self-righteousness and military force,” as Suri puts it, have produced unsatisfactory results before. We should maintain that U.S.-Iran “cooperation” remains just that — cooperation. And we can do so by being careful not to affront Iranian sovereignty in the future.  

    Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.

  • Pre-K improvements bill a step in the right direction

    On Wednesday, Texas House Bill 4 — otherwise known as the early education bill — passed with a 129-18 vote. The bill, filed by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, would give roughly $130 million in extra funding to schools across Texas if they implement certain improvements to their pre-kindergarten programs. Schools would have to adopt certain curriculum and teacher quality standards in their pre-kindergarten programs as well as a "parent engagement plan, " according to the Texas Tribune.  

    Huberty was reported as saying, "I want to make sure that we do the right thing for our little kids” when he was confronted by opposition that claimed the program sought to serve more children than those already eligible, namely disadvantaged children and those from military families. And even though education groups have criticized the plan for not going far enough because it did not make any attempt to restore a $200 million pre-K grant program lawmakers gutted in 2011, or require/fund a full-day pre-K program, the bill is still a step in the right direction.  

    When Gov. Greg Abbott took office in January, he named early education an emergency item for the legislative session — this bill is certainly a display of that sentiment, as well as a signal to representatives that measures will be taken to improve the reputation of Texas' education system as a whole. While the bill won't magically solve all of Texas' problems, it sets a much-needed precedent for academic accountability. If the correct measures are taken to prevent the expansion of government that skeptics predicted would be a result of the bill, there is the possibility for bipartisan unification in the Capitol — at least over education issues. 

    Berkeley is an associate editor.

  • Lewinsky TED talk highlights important issue in cyberbullying

    Monica Lewinsky, a name people would associate with a sex scandal with former President Bill Clinton, recently delivered an important speech about cyberbullying. In her speech, she indicated that because of the anonymity of the Internet, it is incredibly easy to say whatever people want to say when they want to say it, as if the same rules didn't apply that normal people have to follow in the real world. But what people say on the Internet can hurt, and ChildLine, a counseling service for children and young people, saw an 87 percent increase in contacts about cyberbullying from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013.  

    Of course, there are laws to protect us from malicious online actions. Kevin Christopher Bollaert, who operated a website called “revenge porn” that allows people to post explicit photos of others without their permission,was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison. Victims of Bollaert's website had to pay a certain amount of money to get their image removed. Punishment to the website owner may serve as a warning to those who want to profit from invading others' privacy. However, the problem lies not only with the creator, but with those who upload such videos as well.  

    Young people tend to care more about how other people see us than what we see ourselves. We constantly check how many likes we get on Facebook and rely on social approval to boost our self-esteem. It is dangerous, though. Most of us have not had extensive life experience at this point, so we are not mentally equipped to handle public shaming. 

    Last year, over 10 percent of UT students sought help at the Counseling and Mental Health Center. From 2009 to 2014, the number of students walking through their doors increased from 3,900 to 5,265. While this could be a sign of decreasing stigmatization of mental illness, it also shows that mental illness is still a serious problem. 

    Kathryn Redd, interim program director of CMHC, revealed the issues that students seek help with the most. The top three are stress, anxiety and depression, which can all be caused by cyberbullying.  

    Identifying a problem is critical. If you notice in yourself a change in behavior, eating habits or sleeping patterns, it is time to start assessing those symptoms and seek professional help if needed. CMHC provides individual counseling as well as a MindBody Lab where students can relax and listen to music. 

    If you are concerned about other students or staff, the behavior concerns advice line (512-232-5050) is the best resource. At the same time, let’s all work toward a friendly and supportive online environment, where, as Lewinsky said, everyone “speaks up with intention, not for attention."

    Liu is an associate editor.