By Jed Boyle
TRUMP. The only thing the media knows what to talk about anymore. This year, however, there are elections for offices that affect the lives of everyday Americans more directly. Why doesn’t the media talk about this? Trump is important, but this is too. Thankfully, here is an overview of (in no order) seven interesting gubernatorial races this year.
Incumbent: Rick Scott (R) Term Limited
Democrat Andrew Gillum vs. Republican Ron DeSantis
Florida, Florida, Florida. It isn’t election night in Florida without a big close race. We’ll see what happens this year, but this is already a very polarizing race. The hard-right Trump-backed U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis scored a major victory over the establishment candidate Adam Putnam in the Republican primary. He has already caused controversy by telling Floridians not to “monkey this thing up” by electing his African-American opponent, Andrew Gillum -- something many people considered a racist dog whistle. Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, would be the first black governor in the state’s history if he wins. In August, the Sanders-backed progressive insurgent instantly became a national figure when he scored an upset victory over the centrist frontrunner Gwen Graham in the primary. Gillum has led in every poll since then, but an FBI investigation that has descended over Tallahassee) could make things interesting. The Mayor has ties to lobbyists that are being investigated by the FBI over corruption. Gillum has not been implicated in any wrongdoing whatsover, but if DeSantis really begins focusing on the corruption, Gillum relatively narrow lead could evaporate. Thankfully for Gillum, DeSantis seems to be running out of time to change the tone of the race less than 3 weeks before Florida votes.
Incumbent: Rick Snyder (R) Term Limited
Democrat Gretchen Whitmer vs. Republican Bill Schuette
Former Michigan House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer is trying to take the seat from the Republicans. Her opponent is Trump-backed Bill Schuette, the Attorney General of the state. At the center of this election is the Flint Water Crisis, which Rick Snyder and the Republican Party have faced a lot of anger from the people of Michigan over. Many have accused the governor of being extremely, even criminally, slow to react to the problems of the city of Flint. Expert say that Flint’s drinking water still is not clean enough to drink. Whitmer has also run a strong campaign, talking about the Flint Water Crisis and attacking Bill Schuette for not prosecuting the members of the Snyder Administration. She pledges to clean up drinking water by replacing lead service pipes, making sure the Great Lakes are clean, enter Michigan into the U.S. climate alliance, and to rely on science. Whitmer has led in every poll this year, mostly by double digits. Schuette has tied himself to Trump, who, despite narrowly carrying the state in 2016, has found his approval rating in the 30s. Many Republican are bucking him to endorse Whiter. Schuette has held a number of positions in Michigan since he was first elected a U.S. Representative in 1985, is seen as someone whose days in politics are largely over. Schuette is running out of time to close the gap, and besides Illinois (see below) may be the best opportunity for a Democratic pickup this year.
Incumbent: Jeff Colyer (R) Ran for election, defeated in primary
Democrat Laura Kelly vs Republican Kris Kobach
Sam Brownback, a Republican, was the incumbent until he resigned last January. Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer took his seat and was already running for the election. Shockingly, in the Republican Primary, Kansas Secretary of State and national figure Kris Kobach upset him in the primary by just over 100 votes. Kansas is a deep red state that voted for Trump by over 20 points. However, polls show Kobach ahead within the margin of error. Kobach has alienated many moderate republicans with his policy positions. He is known for being outspoken on hot button issues on immigration. He was the vice chair of a Trump-formed “voter fraud” comission that faced a number of lawsuits for allegedly atttempting to take minority voters off the voting rolls and was disbanded in January Also, an independent 2014 Senate candidate named Greg Orman is getting a substantial portion of the vote. He is running as a moderate, attempting to attract Republicans opposing Kobach, and Democrats worry he will attract potential Democatic voters. However, two former Republican Governors are endorsing Kelly, and independents tend to drop in the polls the closer to election day it gets. If Laura Kelly wins, she would be the third woman elected governor in Kansas.
Incumbent: Bruce Rauner (R) Running
Democrat JB Pritzker vs Republican Bruce Rauner
In 2014, businessman Bruce Rauner shocked the politics of deep blue Illinois by ousting incumbent embattled Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. Instead of appearing bipartisan, however, Rauner has managed to alienate liberals, moderates, and conservatives. He is pro-choice and is in favor of gay rights, causing a Republican State Senator to form the Illinois Conservative Party and challenge Rauner. Both houses of the Illinois Legislature are held by the Democratic Party, and Illinois State House Speaker Mike Madigan is not known for cooperating with Rauner. Relations between Rauner and the State House are so bad, that from July 1 2015 to August 31 2017, Illinois had NO STATE BUDGET WHATSOEVER. The budget impasse That level of mismanagement has left the blame falling on Governor Rauner. Businessman JB Pritzker is the Democratic nominee. Both in 2014 and this year, Rauner has dumped millions of his vast personal fortune into his campaign. However, Pritzker is rich and is dumping his money into this race too. Rauner’s approval ratings are so dismal that he only won renomination by 3 points over a little-known challenger. He is down over 20 points in many polls, and Illinois is the best opportunity for a Democratic pickup.
Incumbent: Nathan Deal (R) Term Limited
Democrat Stacey Abrams vs Republican Brian Kemp
This race, much like Florida’s, is very polarizing. Stacey Abrams was the minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. If elected, she would be the first black female governor of any state. Secretary of State Brian Kemp is a Trump-backed hard right Republican who, oddly enough, had something called a “deportation bus” for rounding up illegal immigrants, and beat Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle by almost 40 points in the primary after being endorsed by Trump. For years, Democrats have tried to win statewide election by nominating moderate candidates who try to appeal to the coalition that elected Bill Clinton in 1992. However, Georgia has a rapidly expanding black population, a demographic that tends to often vote over 90% Democratic. Abrams believes the right approach is to energize them and other progressives throughout the state. Her policies are indeed very progressive in every category. Kemp is the exact opposite, far-right in every category. In mid-October, it came out that for the past eight years, Kemp (being the state’s chief election officer) removed hundreds of thousands of voters from the voter rolls, often in Democratic areas. The amount of voters removed total is likely greater than the margin of victory for the Republican candidate in the 2014 Georgia Gubernatorial Elections. The race is basically tied two weeks out. There’s also another complication - if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, it goes to a runoff in December.
Incumbent: Scott Walker (R) Running
Democrat Tony Evers vs Republican Scott Walker
Wisconsin has historically been a very progressive state that was a mostly Democratic bastion. However, in the Tea Party Wave of 2010, conservative Republican Scott Walker was elected and almost immediately began implementing very conservative policies. He survived a recall election in 2012 and was reelected in 2014. He was, for a time, a Republican frontrunner in 2016 before being overtaken by Donald Trump. Walker is popular among conservatives, but his overall approval rating is dismal. His Democartic opponent Tony Evers has a had a small but comfortable lead for most of the race. 2010 and 2014 were Republican years and Walker has had the benefit of large spending on behalf of his donors. This year, the Democratic base is energized and ready to take out Walker. The other major race is a senate race, where the Democrat is leading by double digits. That could help turnout Democratic voters as well. The state economy overall has done well and jobs have been created, but as usual, these gains have drastically benefited the wealthy and the jobs do not pay as well as the workers would like them too. Walker has curbed the power of unions in the state, and while that has boosted his profile among conservatives, many people say that he is due for a reckoning. Tony Evers is the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Wisconsin. Democrats have had good signs already, they’ve won back 2 state Senate seats in special elections and 1 state Supreme Court seat. This will be one of the most interesting races of the year.
Incumbent: Bill Walker (I) Running
Independent Bill Walker vs Republican Mike Dunleavy vs Democrat Mark Begich
2014 was a three-way race until Independent candidate Bill Walker formed a unity ticket with the Democrats and ousted the incumbent Republican governor. For a while, it looked like Walker would win a second term over Mike Dunleavy, the former state senator. However, former U.S. Senator Mark Begich jumped into the race right before the filing deadline. It became a three way race as Walker had been preparing to run as a Democrat in the primary. The Republican looked assured for victory. Walker’s hopes for reelection were complicated when his Lieutanent Governor Byron Mallot dropped out as allegations of unspecified inappropriate comments came out. Three days later, Walker dropped out of the race. Now Begich, due to attacks by Walker damaging him, is behind the Republican in the polls. However, the deficit is within the margin of error, and Walker has now endorsed Begich, which will give him a boost. The race is tight and the winner of the election is anyone’s guess.
By Erin Flaherty
If you’re an avid Facebook user, you’ve most definitely been exposed to Facebook’s advertisements. Maybe you’ve even noticed that many product advertisements that you’ve received are things you would consider buying. This is made possible by ad targeting, a system available to advertisers on Facebook that allows them to tailor their advertisements to people who meet certain demographic requirements. This may seem unproblematic until you consider advertisements that aren’t product placements, like job postings. The question that many are asking is: is it legal to target job-recruitment advertisements at specific groups?
On Facebook, advertisers have the ability to target advertisements to a certain demographic based on factors like location and other information included in your profile. Under said “other information” lies gender, meaning that through Facebook's ad system, advertisers can choose what gender will view their advertisements. This is where controversy surrounding job-ad targeting stems from: is it just or even legal to recruit based on gender?
Galen Sherwin, an ACLU lawyer, provides an answer to this question; she argues that this practice is indeed illegal. She brings up precedents, such as when the Supreme Court outlawed the use of phrases such as “Help wanted - men” in advertising for employment.. Sherwin argues that this policy should still apply to online advertising, claiming that “ the ads themselves are illegal, it’s been established for five decades.”
On the other hand, Facebook insists that they aren’t doing anything wrong, citing the Communications Decency Act, a law that protects media and internet companies from liability for content created by third parties. However, since Facebook created the ad-targeting technology, many argue that this would not be considered third-party content. Whether Facebook can be held liable for allowing companies to use ad targeting is still up in the air.
Although Facebook has recently taken away the ability for advertisers to target based on race, religion and national origin, advertisers still retain the ability to target based on gender, and Facebook has ignored most reports it has received on the issue. In fact, they still promote the use of gender specification in job-ad targeting, saying in a recent ad campaign that you can “target the people you want to reach” and listing gender as one of the possible attributes.
In late September, ACLU filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming that they are violating laws that “prohibit employers and employment agencies from engaging in sex discrimination (including discrimination based on gender identity) in employment advertising, recruitment, and hiring, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” In their lawsuit, they discuss the impact of social media on the hiring world, stating that “social media has become a primary means for big and small employers to identify, recruit, and hire workers, particularly through the use of targeted ads.” They specifically focus on the unfair advantage that this ad-targeting poses on women, mentioning several large corporations, like Uber, who specifically target males in their recruitment ads. Studies have shown that over 95% of Uber ads on Facebook are targeted at men.
However, a study done by Propublica over the past year shows that ad-targeting has been placing both men and women at a disadvantage in certain fields, as both are commonly targeted with ads that fit classic gender stereotypes. In their study, they found that women received job-ads about positions like civil rights investigator, counseling service provider and nursing jobs. Men, on the other hand, received employment ads about truck driving, trooper and software jobs.
In their lawsuit, ACLU also brings up the disadvantage that those who don’t identify as male or female are being placed at. When creating a Facebook account, you are required to select male or female as your gender. Afterwards, you can go into your profile settings and adjust this to “gender fluid” and select a pronoun that you would like to be used for instances like birthday posts. When selecting neutral pronouns, a birthday post notification would read “Wish them a happy birthday” instead of “Wish him” or “Wish her.” Those who select neutral pronouns and gender fluid don’t fall into either category of male or female under Facebook’s system, so when advertisers choose to target ads based on gender, these people will not see these ads at all.
Job ad-targeting isn’t seen by all as a negative. Some argue that one of the benefits of targeting job-ads based on gender is the ability it has to balance out imbalances in fields between men and women. For example, both T-Mobile and Boeing have used Facebook’s system to target engineering job ads at women. This comes off as a disadvantage if you subscribe to the idea that affirmative action is an unfair process. Those who support affirmative action would see this as a positive since it is a method for companies to even out gender imbalances.
When asked about the issue, Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said, “There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies. We look forward to defending our practices once we have an opportunity to review the complaint.” The idea of giving unequal opportunities to women is something that would go against the goals and values that Facebook states to have, as expressed by their 2018 diversity report where they boast that “the number of women at Facebook has increased 5X over the last five years.” Facebook’s reaction to this controversy will reflect what their true values are, and whether or not they believe they should be held accountable for the technology that they’ve created.
By Jonathan Nemetz
In July 2014, the internet was looking for the new trend of the summer and found it in an unlikely place: the ALS Association. The “ALS Ice Bucket challenge” became an online sensation, averaging 70,000 tweets about the challenge every day throughout August. Over the span of the challenge, politicians, celebrities, and many internet users posted 1.2 million videos on Facebook and raised an estimated $115 million USD for various ALS foundations.The Ice Bucket challenge brought lots of new attention to ALS, but also attention to how generosity may function in an increasingly social-media focused world.
Most recently, the basketball star LeBron James worked in tandem with the public school system in Akron, Ohio to open a new $8 million USD public school called “I Promise”. The school would provide free bikes, meals, and college tuition to its students. In an eleven minute speech at the highly publicized opening ceremony, James stressed the importance of helping at-risk children, and that his LeBron James Family Foundation would continue to search for ways to help areas that needed it most.
In recent years, social media has been used by celebrities to encourage donations, political action, and volunteer activism, all of it in vastly different causes ranging from climate change to sexism to extreme poverty. At the same time that celebrities have been making their donations a public event, companies have noticed the brand success of generosity, and have begun to take notes. Now celebrities and companies alike are joining with charities to promote their brands and their values, creating a new group of donors engaging in so called “Pop Philanthropy”.
Although the donations can be extremely helpful, and done in good faith, psychologists and economists have begun to worry about the effect that the public philanthropy of celebrities has had on the general population. One of the most alarming shifts in donations, to many, has been how celebrities shift donations focuses to sensational organisations and causes. Experts fear that people only give during crises, when giving year-round is the only way to prevent those crises in the first place. For instance, many developing nations receive vast amounts of free aid in response to disasters, but not the year round aid to develop their infrastructure to prevent the devastating effects that those can have.
A similar problem is faced by blood banks, which need blood when a disaster strikes, but more often end up with a massive surplus after the blood is needed. When a hurricane or earthquake occurs, people line up to donate blood to areas in danger, but it is often too late. Blood banks can only hold blood for 42 days, meaning that a month and a half after major disasters, blood banks end up throwing away blood by the gallons. Blood that would have saved lives, had it been donated before a catastrophe.
On average, celebrities tend to use their platforms in the wake of major disasters, creating a trend of reactive, rather than proactive charity. Although this is still admirable, it causes people to be less generous for other causes. When people donate to a charity that a celebrity has recommended, it fills up their “Moral checkbook”, making them less likely to donate in the future. And in the age of social-media, this can manifest in ways that provide no help at all. Some psychologists have shown that reposting the words of a celebrity, or publishing a post showing support for a cause, has the same effect on our brain as donating. This tricks people into thinking that they are doing good, without taking substantial action for that cause. Or, seeing celebrities donate can give the illusion that problems are being fixed, when lots of work is still needed.
The debate on whether or not celebrities have a positive impact on monetary donations may never be over. Of course, activism and donations rise when celebrities use their platforms for good, but the negative effects cannot be ignored. Yet perhaps the more important debate isn’t if someone can, but who and why. Now that companies are adopting the social media philanthropy of celebrities, exploitation of charities for corporate gain is also a new and emerging dilemma that charities face. Charities doing real good have to wonder if companies are manipulating their causes. Earlier this year, Nike donated $25,000 USD to Portlanders for Safe and Healthy Schools, an organization that helps to remove hazardous materials from Portland public schools, as well as modernizing their facilities. The donation came at the same time that the school board was looking into the sponsorship relationship that Nike had with the districts sports teams. Although $25,000 would only make up a very small portion of the organization's budget, it is enough to ask if Nike was trying to bribe the public with goodwill into supporting this sponsorship. And if Nike was using this donation to convince the school board to continue to allow the business relationship between Nike and the district’s athletic teams, should the company refuse such a potentially exploitive donation?
Entire businesses have also begun to sprout up in response to this new demand for public donations. The aptly named Pop Philanthropy, has started to capitalize on this trend, working with their clients to “Provide them with creative tactics that captures the attention of consumers…” as their site claims. Companies like Toms Shoes boast of “one for one” policies, where the purchase of one of their shoes or other products leads to a pair of shoes being given to a child in need. And although this promotion has garnered them lots of financial success, the actual impact has been limited. The company's founder claims that he wanted to allow more people to get an education by giving them shoes. However, the Toms brand is attempting to fix a problem that does not exist; fixing a lack of shoes to get people to school is far less effective than targeting poverty or discrimination. And in truth, the influx of free shoes can oftentimes crash local sectors of the economy that center around clothing. But despite these problems, the appearance of charity and generosity keeps Toms in business. People continue to buy their clothes thinking that making a difference is as simple and painless as buying a part of everyday life. The people who buy Toms are trying to do something good, and trying to feel as if they are doing something good. Unfortunately, doing something for the right reasons does not always correlate with the right outcomes.
While some charities worry about what certain donors are trying to do, others are worrying about who those donors are in the first place. In 2015, an adult film company signed three separate $25,000 checks to foundations focused on researching breast cancer. However, the total $75,000 had first been turned down by several other charities, and when in 2014 it had donated to a testicular cancer foundation, the charity asked for the donor to remain anonymous. The same company also launched a line of branded clothing and other products whose proceeds would go to preventing domestic abuse.
As ridiculous as this is, it underlines an important relationship between publicity, charities, and social media. If donations are just donations, does every dollar count, or is a line drawn at some point between Nike and adult film companies? Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong answer for how charities and businesses should interact in an increasingly social media driven world. But as a consumer, ask yourself if buying this product is truly making the difference that you think it will. As a donor, ask yourself what led you to give or be active, was it an expert on the situation and its needs, or your favorite actor? The line between charities, celebrities, and businesses is one that is being redrawn, and one that may be hard to redraw in time.
By Kevin Tang
On April 3 this year, ABC aired the third episode of family sitcom Roseanne. In a brief scene, Roseanne and Dan Connor wake up on the couch, realizing that they missed Black-ish and Fresh off the Boat during their nap.
“We missed all the shows about black and Asian families,” Dan yawns.
Roseanne sardonically replies, “They’re just like us – there, now you’re all caught up.”
Unfolding at the volatile intersection of race and media representation, ABC’s Fresh off the Boat authentically captures the Asian-American experience. The show, which is loosely based off of its titular memoir published in 2013, follows the life of Eddie Huang, an adolescent who struggles with his identity after moving to suburban Orlando. Along the way, he and his family must overcome many obstacles as they try to make sense of the American Dream.
As Roseanne’s comments indicate, this show is needed more than ever before. In a time when racial diversity is being eroded by powerful media figures as well as government institutions, media representation of all minority groups is essential to champion their humanity and voices. Humorously charming, Fresh off the Boat unapologetically depicts a truly genuine Asian-American narrative, a story that is sorely lacking in modern media.
This visual Bildungsroman features numerous plots, each portraying unique and nuanced facets of Asian-American culture. Although the narratives often compete with one another, they seemingly weave into one cohesive story that authentically encapsulates universal truths about the immigrant experience.
Meet Eddie Huang – a teenage boy who, after living in the sleepy Chinatown streets of Washington D.C, suddenly finds himself in a predominately white public school. Eddie’s life is suddenly upended as he desperately grapples with his newfound awareness of his racial identity. After facing constant exclusion and snide remarks from his white classmates, he finds himself trapped in a role that conscripts him into certain stereotypes he is unwilling to bear. For instance, he paradoxically becomes both a “model minority” as well as a shambling English speaker. Attempting to fit in with his white classmates, Eddie soon internalizes the logic of his own discrimination and is caught in limbo between two worlds: one in which he eschews his rich Taiwanese culture and another in which he must obediently follow his parents. The constricting realities of his race intensifies, portraying an immensely relatable and sincere immigrant story.
At the same time, Fresh off the Boat also presents the struggles of Eddie’s parents. Louis Huang, Eddie’s father, too faces his own hurdles as he tries to achieve the American Dream. Owning a cowboy themed steakhouse called Cattleman’s Ranch, Louis is a cheery father who naïvely embraces all that is American. Meanwhile, Jessica Huang is a loud, abrasive “tiger mom” who takes it upon herself to educate her sons. Simultaneously, she masquerades as a typical American woman to befriend the army of blonde, rollerblading moms that rule the local neighborhoods.
Although each member of the Huang family share multifaceted but similar conflicts, they have different coping methods. From Jessica’s isolation from American culture to Eddie’s quiet solace in rap music, this family sitcom presents a distinctly Asian-American experience that accosts the audience with timely questions in 2018: What does it mean to assimilate? What does it mean to integrate? What does it mean to be American?
Renewed for its fifth season, this family sitcom has had resounding echoes throughout the media industry. In three years, Fresh off the Boat has already been nominated 20 times and won four awards. This success has energized Asian-American representation, from the surging 88rising mass media company to the recent movie Crazy Rich Asians. To the audience, these characters on the big screen empower many to become the protagonists of their own life. Eddie Huang talks like me. Looks like me. Feels like me.
At the end of the day, this witty family sitcom has broader, cultural implications that extend beyond Asian-Americans. With fierce vitality, Fresh off the Boat ruptures institutional whiteness that pervades our society as it comments on the universal immigrant experience. It shows society how racial minorities are pigeonholed into conflicting roles that constrict their individual agency. It shows society how they can understand the lived experiences of minorities. It shows society why the rich diversity of America matters.
Although shows like Blackish and Fresh off the Boat may have not yet solved issues of wealth inequality or under representation in government, they offer a powerful, visceral message of hope. They persistently chip away at the whiteness that is not only a cultural power but also a gatekeeper to economic and political power. And as Eddie once said, “You don't have to pretend to be someone else in order to belong.” With a scintillating message of solidarity among all communities of color, Fresh off the Boat will become an enduring cultural icon, leaving an indelible influence on our collective struggle for equality and social justice.
By Caroline Sha
During the week of September 11, 2018, Russia hosted its biggest war games since the Cold War. Called Vostok, these exercises included Russian soldiers as well as some Chinese troops showcasing the might and strategies of their militaries. Tanks rolled over the Eastern Siberian expanse while their drivers held a continuous salute; aircraft flew in formation in the blue sky; artillery was fired over vast distances; and soldiers flew drones and performed activities such as anti-terrorism drills. In total, there were 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks, 1,000 aircraft, and 80 boats participating. And that’s not even counting the 3,200 Chinese troops who also took part. To put all of these numbers in perspective, “that’s double the size of the British armed forces. It’s also twice the size of the last Vostok war games, held back in 2014”. Russia, it seems, remains the military superpower it has been for almost a century.
But what does this mean for international relations? What is Putin’s endgame in doing all of this? According to Moscow, these war games were held in order to practice joint operations in the east and to mobilize troops into Russia’s eastern edge. However, as the case always is with the Federation, there is more than one ulterior motive for their actions. One of those includes Putin’s desire to remobilize the army and to show the world that he is doing just that. Russia’s foreign policy has been one of continuous aggression since Putin took power. Take the war with Chechnya, the invasion of Crimea, and the continued support of Bashar al-Assad in Syria as the most prominent examples. Even more, just last year, in 2017, Russia held its Zapad (West) military games, which were the biggest in years. Though the Kremlin officially stated that only 12,700 troops participated, NATO claims more than 100,000 personnel were involved. They simulated an invasion on the Baltic States, a possible first action if war ever broke out between Russia and the EU. Though this newest development could seem alarming to some, it changes nothing for foreign relations; it does nothing more than revalidate the tension between Russia and the West.
That brings us to the question of why China would possibly want to get involved in all of this. One simple reason is that the Chinese army has a lot to learn from the Russian military. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the communist country’s armed forces, hasn’t seen real combat since the Vietnam War, which ended more than 40 years ago. Russia’s military, meanwhile, has recently fought in Syria and Ukraine, acquiring valuable experience that the PLA is sorely in need of. Still, the main explanation is that the communist state wishes to show its readiness to strengthen its ties with Russia as Sino-American ties deteriorate. Many in both Beijing and the United States fear that Donald Trump’s recent threats may cause a total trade war between the two superpowers. Even worse, Mike Pence, the vice president, has claimed that China is meddling with the midterm elections in order to get rid of the president, further souring relations. With both sides unlikely to back down, China must find another ally who could stand with them against the highly influential United States if things go completely south. However, this is most definitely not an indication that Russia and China are ready to fully cooperate with each other. The two, despite having a relatively close relationship, often find themselves extremely close to conflict, whether it be over influence over Central Asia or the Arctic. This supposed show of unity is another mirage covering up the fact that they are no closer to a traditional alliance than before. There is simply too much tension between these two neighbors and even fear of the United States won’t dissipate that.
In the end, however, Russia isn’t gearing up for any particular large-scale conflict. Putin has no intention of starting World War III and these exercises are just simple politics. Russia has always tried to misdirect the world, from the Cold War until now. It's unlikely that the Kremlin will translate this strategy to real action anytime soon, so there’s no need for a mass panic. But, that’s not to say that world leaders can relax and let this vast show of power go. In order to prevent disaster, it is important that NATO and every other country keep a careful eye on Russia. For in this ever changing and turbulent world, who knows what will actually happen? Old Putin may just surprise us all.