Kali: Goddess of Death and Feminism

To say that Kali is the Hindu Goddess of Death is true, but not accurate. It begs the question: “Death of what?”


Grief-stricken nation still trying to figure out if Trump is the cancer or the chemo.

Why Ukraine Hurts So Much

The Russian invasion of Ukraine isn’t the only international crisis going on.  Indeed, it isn’t even the most significant.  But for Americans, it feels qualitatively worse than any other conflict in the past… Continue reading

An Unsanctioned Iran Is Scary—Nukes or Not

This article was published in full with the National Interest.   Click here to read the full article. — Anwar El Sadat’s historic 1977 trip to Jerusalem changed the political dynamics in the Middle East.… Continue reading

A Roadmap for Nuclear Negotiations with Iran

So what does all this China and USSR history say about the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West? The answer is below, and is the culmination of the previous three articles.  First,… Continue reading

What the USSR Teaches Us about Easing Iran Tensions

The year is 1991, mid-August.  The phone lines in Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev’s villa on the Black Sea are dead.  They’re coming.   Gorbachev gathers his family and warns them: “very dangerous events… Continue reading

What China Teaches Us about Easing Iran Tensions

Part II(a) of “Reconciliation with America: Iran, China, and USSR” — But what is the likelihood of an IRGC-led hardline coup?  The following section is an attempt to answer that question by looking… Continue reading

Pushing the Hardliners Too Hard

Part I of “Reconciliation with America: Iran, China, and USSR” — If Khamenei and Rouhani get closer to rapprochement with America, will the IRGC revolt? Abstract: Part I of this article provides the… Continue reading

That Smile: Rouhani Knows What He’s Doing

This article/interview was published six days after my piece below.  It is about the Iranian translator who has translated for all Iranian presidents since Rafsanjani, including Rouhani’s interview with CNN: http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/03/20790942-translator-for-iranian-presidents-gets-birds-eye-view-of-history — To Deny,… Continue reading

Where Are the Black Think Tankers? Commentary and Questions for Further Research

Commentary First and foremost, who the hell am I to conduct a study like this?  I’m a young professional in DC with a curious mind (read more About Me).  I also have some… Continue reading

Final Summit Report from the Inaugural G20 Think Tanks Conference

By following the link below, you can read the Final Report from the June 2012 G20 Foreign Policy Think Tanks Summit.  It was compiled primarily by myself and Chris Doherty, with the help… Continue reading

Where Are the Black Think Tankers? Methodology

This was an entirely open-source investigation.  I relied heavily on the webpages of the top ten think tanks as listed by Linktank in their 2011 report.  I divided my data into three categories:… Continue reading

Where Are the Black Think Tankers? Background

In June 2012, ambassadors, experts, thinkers, and academics from the G20 countries convened for the inaugural G20 Foreign Policy Think Tanks Summit.  The meeting was highly constructive amidst different philosophies and worldviews.  The… Continue reading

Where Are the Black Think Tankers? Findings: Graphs and Charts

This research consists of an open-source examination into the number of think tankers in Washington, DC’s top think tanks who are black—either African-American or African. This page contains my findings: the graphs and… Continue reading

So Much for the Pivot to Asia – A Response to Obama’s 2013 Address to the UNGA

In November 2011, then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton published a piece in Foreign Policy Magazine outlining America’s “Pivot to Asia.”  Here is how it began: As the war in Iraq winds down and… Continue reading

2009 West Springfield Valedictorian’s Address

I graduated from West Springfield High School in 2009. Here is the speech I gave on graduation day.  I recorded it on September 18, 2013, and you can listen along here: — When… Continue reading

The College Graduation Speech That Never Was

I was honored to be one of 15 or so undergrads in the College to have the chance to audition for Class Speaker at Penn’s 2013 Spring Graduation Ceremony and Commencement.  I wasn’t… Continue reading

Iranian Expatriates & Their Impact on the Islamic Republic of Iran: An Undergraduate Thesis in International Relations, Part VI

And here’s the final part: conclusions from my thesis on the Iranian Diaspora This quote was not included in my thesis, but it very clearly synthesizes my primary conclusion: “Western support of a… Continue reading

Iranian Expatriates & Their Impact on the Islamic Republic of Iran: An Undergraduate Thesis in International Relations, Part V

This is the fifth installment of my thesis, and it is the second of two research methods: historical tracing. — Tracing Iran’s Domestic Development Having discussed at length the Iranians outside of Iran,… Continue reading

Iranian Expatriates & Their Impact on Iran: An Undergraduate Thesis in International Relations, Part IV

In this, the fourth portion of my thesis, you’ll find the first of my two primary research methods: Mapping the Iranian Diaspora. — Mapping the Iranian Diaspora Pre-1979 Prior to the Islamic Revolution… Continue reading

Iranian Expatriates & Their Impact on Iran: An Undergraduate Thesis in International Relations, Part III

Here is the next portion from my thesis: The Research Design; Theoretical Framework and Methodology; and Hypotheses. — The Research Design When considering whether or not the Iranian Diaspora can impact the regime… Continue reading

The Special Relationship Isn’t Over

Following Parliament’s vote against military action in Syria, many declared the Special Relationship fatally wounded.  Historical analysis of the special relationship, however, suggests otherwise.  Not only has Britain abandoned us before (Vietnam and… Continue reading

FIGHTIN’ WORDS: America’s Rhetoric and Policies against Iran: Comparing the Bush and Obama Administrations

This was written under the supervision of Tally Helfont in the summer of 2010 at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.  It was then published by the Journal of Undergraduate International Studies (University of… Continue reading

Iranian Expatriates & Their Impact on Iran: An Undergraduate Thesis in International Relations, Part II

Here is the next chunk from my thesis: the Lit Review.  While there is a trove of information out there on immigration and individual countries’ responses to it, there is very little on… Continue reading

Iranian Expatriates & Their Impact on Iran: An Undergraduate Thesis in International Relations, Part I

In the next series of posts, I’ll be sharing portions of my senior thesis in International Relations.  It would not have been possible without the support of my adviser, Dr. Anna Viden, as… Continue reading

Two Accounts of the Outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War: The Economist vs. TIME

As I’ve mentioned before, courses on Iran at Penn were hard to come by.  Finally, in my final semester as an undergrad, Professor Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet–an Iranian expat and historian–offered NELC282: Iran, Iraq, and… Continue reading

Two Takes on Power in the Middle East: A Joint Book Review

Another book review for Dr. Vitalis’s PSCI211: Politics of the Contemporary Middle East, this piece evaluates two different books about power centralization in the Middle East.  Ironically, it was only during and after… Continue reading

The Lynch Menace: A Review of ‘The Arab Uprising’

In the Fall of 2012, I took Dr. Robert’s Vitalis’s course PSCI211: Politics of the Contemporary Middle East.  Dr. Vitalis is well-known at Penn for having…shall we say…a loud personality.  These are the… Continue reading

Drug Trafficking Part II: Cocaine and Cannabis Herb in North America

Here is the second part of my study of drug trafficking in my freshman year.  It focuses on the North American corridor, and for this reason focuses only on cocaine and marijuana (not… Continue reading

Drug Trafficking Part I: A Global Pandemic

In my very first semester at Penn, I took a freshman seminar on International Development, FRSM106, taught by Dr. Richard Estes.  By the end of it, each of us in the class had… Continue reading

Japanese Industrialization: A Critique

This is a debate speech that I wrote in the Spring of 2010 for HIST011: World History.  I didn’t much like the class, as each lecture felt disjointed from the others, and it… Continue reading

Is The US To Blame for WWII?

In this piece, I make a primitive argument that America’s loans to Germany during the interwar years are the direct cause of WWII (i.e., “but for” these loans, Hitler wouldn’t have been able… Continue reading

Churchill’s Relevance to College Students

Here’s another timed essay for my Writing Seminar with Dr. Paul Deveney.  As a reminder, I’m publishing these strictly timed, 30-min pieces as they were originally submitted (including typos). — Prompt: Why is Churchill… Continue reading

Churchill on King Alfonso XIII of Spain

I found this chapter in Great Contemporaries interesting primarily because I had never heard of this particular Spanish king.  It is yet another reminder that almost regardless of the subject, a good writer… Continue reading

Churchill’s Egotism

This is the first piece I wrote for the Writing Seminar.  It uses two examples to argue that Churchill (prematurely) believed he was destined for greatness. — Winston Churchill undoubtedly changed the course… Continue reading

The Sum Is Greater Than The Parts

Another popular exercise in Dr. Deveney’s class was the timed essay.  Again, you will notice that his strict time limit promoted the brevity in our writings that he so espoused.  If memory serves,… Continue reading

Between the Lines: Churchill’s True Views of Shaw

In addition to Best’s biography, the other work we relied on in Dr. Deveney’s Winston Churchill Writing Seminar was a book by Churchill himself: Great Contemporaries.  Each chapter is a short biography of… Continue reading

Churchill’s Best Man: A Review of Geoffrey Best’s Churchill Biography

Here is another review that I wrote of Best’s biography. — Bias is everywhere.  A cursory glance at modern day pundit television proves as much.  The goal is not to avoid bias, but… Continue reading

The Road Not Taken & The Best Selection: Reviews of Geoffrey Best’s ‘Churchill: A Study in Greatness’

Dr. Deveney’s Churchill Writing Seminar centered around one biography of Churchill in particular, that of Geoffrey Best.  Two of our assignments for the class involved reviews of Best’s work, which you will find… Continue reading

Moments Make Men: Churchill and FDR’s “Special” Relationship

The final assignment in our Churchill Writing Seminar was a research project.  Below, you’ll find mine on the Special Relationship between the US and Britain during WWII.  In it, I critically examine Geoffrey… Continue reading

Letter to the Reader

The only mandatory class for all Penn graduates is the infamous Writing Seminar.  Most hate it.  But in the Spring of my freshman year, I registered for Paul Deveney’s course on Winston Churchill.… Continue reading

Iran-Pakistan Relations

This is my term paper for Dr. Spooner’s NELC281: Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  This extended research work delves into the history of diplomatic and economic ties between two Islamic republics: Iran and Pakistan.… Continue reading

Explaining the Rise of Islam in Pakistan

This is the third paper from Dr. Spooner’s class, NELC281: Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. — Prompt Given that Pakistan was established as a secular homeland for South Asian Muslims, how and why have… Continue reading

“We’re Tired of Revolution [in Iran]”

This is the second paper for Dr. Spooner’s class, NELC281: Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  It is a brief historical survey of Iran and the 1979 Revolution, followed by a discussion of political discontentedness… Continue reading

Islam and Afghanistan: A (Limited) Unifying Force

In my time at Penn, the more passionate I became about US/Iran relations, the more frustrated I grew with Penn’s course catalog.  Virtually every other country in the Middle East is studied in… Continue reading

Are the Sanctions Justified? Analyzing the Correlation between US Economic Sanctions against Iran & Iran’s Support for Terrorist Groups

In the Spring of 2012, I took Dr. Jim G. McGann’s PRAXIS course INTR 350: Research Methods.  The course is essentially a primer before Penn IR majors begin their senior thesis research.  It’s… Continue reading

Convergent Risk to Business and Government: Counterintelligence & Telecommunications Infrastructure

This was a final paper from the Spring of 2012 for INTR 290: Theory and Practice in Counterintelligence, taught by Professors Frank Plantan and Bruce Newsome. The class was amazing opportunity: 50% of… Continue reading

It’s the Economy, Stupid: European Edition

I wrote this paper for HIST 421: European International Relations with Prof Vanessa Ogle. In examining three periods of IR (multipolarity in the interwar years, bipolarity in the Cold War, and unipolarity since… Continue reading

Why did the US intervene in Libya but not Syria? Neoliberalism vs. Domestic Political Approach Theory

I wrote this paper for PSCI 150: Intro to IR in the fall of 2011 for Dr. Jessica Stanton’s class.  Like my piece on nuclear deterrence, this paper is pretty heavy on IR… Continue reading

Nuclear Deterrence from 1945-1960 (-today?): A Realist Perspective

This was a take-home essay I wrote for PSCI 151 – International Security, taught by Dr. Avery Goldstein at Penn in the 2011 spring semester. It discusses the themes of nuclear peace, deterrence,… Continue reading

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