The social Matrix

The social Matrix

Friday, March 29, 2013


   Last week the Pew Research Center released its annual study on the media and raised concerns over the erosion of the public's trust in the media and the increasing political polarization of cable news. 
  According to the annual “State of the Media” report,  during a ten-week period in the last election cycle 14 percent of the coverage about Barack Obama on FOX News was positive. Similarly, three percent of the coverage of Mitt Romney’s campaign  on MSNBC was positive while 71 percent was negative. Furthermore, 75 percent of those sampled, viewed statements about each candidates’ character and record as negative. 
  The report quoted conservative blogger from Red State Erick Erickson and former George W Bush speech writer David Frum, who criticized the fringe elements of modern conservatism.
   The report comes at the same time that Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee  issued a statement reflecting on how the GOP can improve its  political identity. Interestingly, there is some evidence that the public tends to pay more attention to positive rather than negative news.
   The problem with the proliferation of negative attack ads was addressed by Neil Postman in his book "Amusing Ourselves to Death"

A person who has seen a million television commercials might well believe that all political problems have fast solutions through simple measures

  Frum and Erickson are correct. There are a plethora of conservatives who have damaged the reputation of the Republican party in the last election

   Since Obama’s election, prominent conservatives have used incendiary language to express their opinions about the new commander-in-chief.  Former Fox News host Glenn Beck, has brazenly stated that “the destruction of the West is happening” and that the new “Marxist” president is using “Fascism” to grow the government. Or in the words of almighty Rush Limbaugh Obama’s ideas are “Left-wing, socialism, fascism, Marxists” all rolled into one overarching view of government.
  In September of 2009, three years before the gun debate became a hot topic, a Newsmax contributor’s article was pulled after calling for a potential coup on the president.   
Later, In solidarity with South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, tea party members congregated at the National Mall, with a plethora of revealing signs that read:

And This 


       It isn't just media figures and tea party protesters making absurd statements about the president. The Queen of Crazy, Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), told her constituency to be armed and dangerous to defend against Obama’s energy policy and said that the government's volunteer program, Americorps, is nothing more than a series of “re-education camps.” With brilliant statements like this I wander why Bachmann didn’t clutch the nomination.  Bachmann is not alone in her astute political observations;  Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said Obama’s healthcare “Is going to absolutely kill grandma” Iowa republican Steven King said Al Qaeda is celebrating the victory of Barack Obama. Even after the election Michele Bachmann has the crazy dial to the max:

   In the world of conservative fanaticism, this is small. Arizona Congressman Trent Frank went all out crazy when he called Obama “enemy of humankind.” Obama has even been compared to Hitler.
 To be fair, not all of the ridiculous statements made about Obama has come from Conservatives, PUMA, a group of Hillary Clinton extreme supporters, started the rumor that president Obama was not born in America. In fact, it was this group that claimed Obama was a secret Muslim operative a Manchurian candidate planted to destroy America
  Of course, Democrats are not the only party with mutinous fringe groups. In the last CPAC gathering, Islamophobes Pamela Gellar and Robert Spencer claimed that CPAC has been infiltrated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.


      The most outlandish comparison to Obama is the anti-Christ. In 2008, an erroneous chain email was circulating the internet which stated that the description of the Anti-Christ in Revelations fits Obama. Moreover, some religious conspiracy theorist point to the Biblical verse Luke 10:18 as proof: “I beheld Satan as Lightening (Baraq) fall from Heaven.” Also it turns out that the day after Obama became president a winning lottery ticket emerged with the 666 as the winning numbers. 
            Fortunately, Obama does not completely fit the description of the Anti-Christ according to televangelist Pat Robertson. According to Robertson the Anti-Christ will create a world government by colluding with “Masons”, and “International Bankers.” (This is the same Pat Robertson who said former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, was  punished by God for relinquishing the Gaza Strip.)  

         Of course, not all the political polarization is coming from the Right. In fact, the same study also found that the left leaning cable news outlet MSNBC, opinion-based content overwhelm its hard news.  

  Interestingly, just as some anti-Obama fanatics have compared him to the Anti-Christ some Bush protesters have compared Bush to another biblical villain; Satan.  Offensive signs were ubiquitous during Bush’s inauguration: 


    Like Obama, Bush has received his fair share of comparisons to the German dictator.  Even Noble Peace Prize winner Betty Williams admitted she wanted to find some way to kill Bush non-violently. Not surprisingly, entertainer Harry Belafonte joined in the “I hate Bush” chorus when he said that Bush is a bigger terrorist than Osama Bin Laden.  

     What members of the fringe should realize is that political affiliation does not always align with ideological values. Here are some examples:

    Liberals are typically presented as doves in the sphere of international affairs yet the truth is more complicated.  Obama has received praise from hawks like John Bolton, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain for expanding the drone program in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. In his first term, Obama used force to assassinate a North African dictator and the terrorist leader behind 9-11. Moreover, Clinton’s foreign policy became increasingly hawkish in the late 90s when the Project for the New America Century convinced the former president to attack the Sudan, Iraq and 
  Even in the realm of diplomacy there are noticeable differences. While neo-conservatives want to isolate Iran, the Reagan administration engaged the Iranian government during the Iran Contra Scandal. Likewise, during the cold war, Nixon extended an oil branch to China when he visited the communist leader Mao Zedong in an effort to promote bilateral relations. Moreover, foreign aid, an economic indicator of diplomacy, has increased under George Bush ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) from $7 Billion under Clinton to $19 Billion.  

  In the field of economics, Clinton demonstrated more frugality than both George W Bush and Ronald Reagan. Clinton raised the national debt by 36 percent, nearly one-third of the level raised by his successor.  While Clinton had a balanced budget, Reagan, who championed supply side economics, increased the budget deficit from 74 Billion in 1980 to 220 billion in 1986. Although the deficit has increased under the Obama administration Obama had adopted pro-capitalist policies such as extending Bush tax cuts, and lowering the corporate tax rate. He even considered himself to be a moderate republican

  Political nuance is also reflected in social policy as well. While Obama is known as the Deporter-in-Chief for deporting more illegals than his predecessor, Reagan was more lax with immigration

   During his second term in office Clinton became more socially conservative, by enacting DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act, getting tougher on crime, and placing more restrictions on welfare. In contrast, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, spearheaded key parts to the  civil rights legislation.  

   Additionally, the polarization of the media would make it seam as if liberals and conservatives are not capable of cooperating. However, there are many examples of individuals reaching across ideological boundaries to solve problems like intervening in Darfur, reforming the prison system, and reducing  poverty. Some examples include:  

1.      Pro-life candidate Rick Santorum and social liberal Jon Corzine worked together
3. Ted Kennedy, Chuck Colson and Frank Wolf

    Even large corporations such as Hewlett Packard, Dell, General Motors and other companies, who may have been accused for exploiting workers or abusing the environment by liberal organizations, have adopted left leaning policies such as advancing gay rights, and promoting sustainability. Some companies have even advocated in favor of affirmative action.

       Unfortunately, the media has led the citizenry to believe that every issue is evaluated based on a left-right paradigm. The Pew Research Study made other findings that might explain this.
   According to the study, many of the reports that came from the media during the campaign seamed to reiterate what the candidates where saying rather than challenge them. 

  A good example of the symbiotic relationship between the mainstream media and the government was illustrated on Al Jazeera: 

  Of course this is not the first time a president has used the media to propagate policies. When Woodrow Wilson was in power, the former president established the Committee on Public Information, to control information about the first World War.


   The problem is becoming more pronounced because the media does not have enough resources to filter all the information they receive from various interest groups due to budget constraints. Whatever, the reason may be, It is noteworthy to point out that a third of respondents in the study said they had abandon a news outlet. 

  According to scholars Michael Gurevitch and Jay G. Blumer, the function of the media should include facilitating dialogue from a diversity of viewpoints, educating citizens on social political issues, and holding government official accountable.
  Instead, the state of the media report, found that the media is becoming more polarized and that the public feels that the media does not scrutinize public officials enough nor is the media providing sufficient information on many issues.

 Of course Opinion-based news is nothing new. In fact, many people have used opinion leaders as a source of information for decades. There is nothing wrong with turning to political commentators to gain more insight into different issues. Conservatives have ever right to question and criticize Obama's healthcare plan just as Liberals had every right to question Bush's war in Iraq. 

  The main point is that many people on both sides of the spectrum only consume media that appeals to their ideology. Liberals and conservatives become so engulfed by their selective media outlets that they begin to lose any ambition for dissent within their own ideological group. Instead of using logic to address numerous issues, Ideologically driven news, as reflected during the Campaign, has created a political environment rich in ad hominem attacks, slippery Slope fallacies, and straw men rather than concrete facts and well-researched analysis.

  The state of the media report, offered some useful insight into the relationship between media and democracy. Unless the media undergoes serious reform, it will cease to become a conduit of critical information but instead turn into an oasis for entertainment and extremism.     

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lessons Learned from Iraq

   Last Wednesday the media marked the tenth anniversary of the Iraq war. Numerous news organizations chronicled the war's unfolding over the last decade. The Iraq war was set out to become the crown jewel of neo-conservative ideology, but  instead turned into one of the greatest foreign policy disasters in U.S. history.

  The united states invaded Iraq on march 23, 2003 under the pretense that Saddam Hussein possessed  weapons of mass destruction and that he might use terrorist groups like AL Qaeda to launch attacks against America. Moreover, Saddam needed to be removed from power because he was a threat to his people as a dictator and a threat to his neighbors including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, and Israel.

   Evidence eventually surfaced that proved these accusations were false. The liberal narrative that emerged from the war was that Bush purposely misled the American public to legitimize war with Iraq to secure lucrative oil contracts. Another liberal view is that Bush was behind 9-11.

Liberal commentators salivated with rage at the motivations for invading Iraq 

   It's easy to criticize the former president George W. Bush without knowing all the facts.

   Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the Intelligence community prepared a National Intelligence Estimate which investigated the former Iraqi dictator's WMD programs and concluded that "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons." In the 90s UN inspectors had stumbled upon thousands of bombs, shells and warheads containing "chemical agents."  The report stated that Saddam had a nuclear weapons program. Moreover, in 1995 Saddam admitted that he had a weapons program that included anthrax and botulinum toxin. 

   It was not just the American government who believed that Saddam had WMDs but numerous countries' intelligence agencies arrived at similar conclusions including Germany China and Russia. Huessin even confessed to FBI agents that he was pretending that he had WMDS to deter Iran. 

   I encourage skeptics to look at the testimony of Swedish diplomat Hans Blix to the United Nations in early 2003.  

   The intelligence community prepared the National Intelligence Estimate which investigated the former Iraqi dictator’s WMD programs and concluded that “Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons” and could potential obtain nukes.

   On October 11, 2002 the Senate (77 to 23) and the House (296 to 133) passed the resolution to invade Iraq, voting in favor of the resolution including politicians  such as Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. These are the same politicians appointed by the same president who opposed the Iraq war. Looking at the historical record it appears as if the left has a bad case of political amnesia when president Clinton made the same argument for overthrowing Saddam as his successor.  in 1998, Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox . A four-day bombing campaign along with Great Britain to curtail Saddam's WMD capabilities. 

    Clinton, executed the attacks unilaterally without UN permission. Noble Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela, criticized Clinton for this action. 

"The message they're sending is that any country which fears a veto from the UN can take unilateral action. that means they're introducing chaos into international affairs" 

Ironically, one of the countries opposing U.S. intervention in Iraq was Israel. 

The international and congressional consensus gave the impression that Saddam Huessin had WMDs.

  Of Course WMD's was not the only reason why the United States decided to invade Iraq. In the aftermath of 9-11. A fictitious relationship between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Huessin emerged, even though Saddam was a secular nationalist leader and Al Qaeda was a pan-jihadist terrorist network. However, Saddam did support other forms of regional terrorism including Abu Abbass, and Abu Nidal who killed 19 people in Europe.   Still, the 9-11 terrorist originated from Saudi Arabia, NOT Iraq. Furthermore, Iraq became a magnet for terrorists. 

  The third reason why the United States invaded Iraq was because Saddam was a brutal dictator. A Dictator's dictator. Saddam has a laundry list of human rights abuses including 

  •  Killing more than 140 Shia Muslims after a failed assassination attempt in 1982.  
  • Numerous prisoners were subjected to electrical shocks 
  • Women were raped by Iraqi police
  • In one case a women giving birth in prison was denied medical attention, which caused the baby to suffocate One women was denied medical care, the baby got stuck between the women's legs and died from suffocation. 
  • Saddam gassed thousands of Kurds. In 1988 as many as 10,000 Iraqis were gassed. 
  • Saddam scalded Iraqis with acid and cut out the tongue of political dissidents 

Furthermore, Saddam Hussein was in violation of 16 Security Council resolutions. 

  Still, many political observers are skeptical of this rational because much of the human rights abuses carried out by Saddam were during the Iran Iraq war, when the historical record shows U.S. government favoring Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. 

   Reading the news reports would seam to suggest that Saddam and the United States government are eternal enemies. a Cursory glance at history shows otherwise. During the Kennedy administration, the Central Intelligence Agency used Saddam Huessin's anti-communist party to overthrow Abdul Karim El-Kassem. 

  Unfortunately the usurpation of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist party did not produce a more justice and equitable society. The Shia and Kurdish forces that took control in a post-Saddam Iraq have been accused of engaging in abductions, assassinations, and other "acts of intimidation." 

   Moreover, one of the reasons why Bradley Manning released classified documents to the public was because of the rampant police brutality. The Guardian reported that detainees were "shackled blindfolded, and hung by writs or ankles and whipped punched kicked and shocked." 

   Ayad Allawi, secular Shia Muslim, told the London newspaper the Observer, that the de facto Shia security forces have initiated "Death squads" and "Secret torture centers." At one time 173 detainees were found in a government building, some had been tortured or malnourished.

  Of course, the proliferation of WMDS, the spread of terrorism and the oppressive force of a dictator are global issues that require an international solution. In some cases military force can work to eliminate these problems. History has shown that an interventionist foreign policy can have mixed results. Notwithstanding  the international concerns over Iraq, the reckless and excessive use of force has deepened fault lines and made the Iraqi public more skeptical over the United States intentions.  


 The first example of this occurred before the Iraq war officially started when the London Times stumbled upon a government document known as the Downing Street Memos. The Downing Street memos,  reported that the United States in conjunction with the UK used 22,000 sorties to strike Iraq, hitting 391 targets. The Iraqi public vociferously protested the attacks to the UN. 

   Additionally, incidences such as the capture of Fallujah  (which was a target of a U.S. hell-fire missile killing 140 civilians during the Gulf War) Haditha and the murder of two Reuters reports as revealed in Wikileaks cables, severally damaged the United States reputation for providing security. 

   Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why it was difficult for Iraqis to take the U.S. government serious as a provider of security was because of private mercenaries. Journalist, Jeremy Scahill, chronicles the rise of private mercenaries in his book "Blackwater." 

   The problem with mercenaries reached its apex during the Nisour massacre which resulted in the death of 17 Iraqis by Blackwater operatives. Eyewitnesses said that Blackwater opened fire without being provoked. Although Blackwater denies this, there is other evidence suggesting this claim is true. Indeed, according to an investigation by representative Henry Waxman, member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, from 2005 until the time of the Nisour Square shooting, black water had "opened fire first" 80 percent of the time. 

   What makes it worse is the fact that there are many mercenaries fighters in Blackwater that are recruited from countries with horrendous human rights abuses. Employees at Blackwater can also avoid prosecution, because John Bremer has issued a decree known as Order 17 which absolves any blame or punishment the contractors might receive for their actions. 

   However, it should be noted that it is difficult to engage in combat operations when the majority of the population is located in urban areas (66 percent).

   The death of innocent civilians was just one of the obvious effects of war. The invasion of Iraq produced numerous unintended consequences.  Malnutrition doubled within less than two years after the occupation. Numerous checkpoints spread across the country has caused delays in the transportation of food and medical supplies, which caused inflation.

 According to a study from Brown University, the number of Iraqis living in slums had skyrocketed to 53 percent in 2011 from 17 percent before the war. In 2008 the UN  World Food Program issued a report that details concerns over food insecurity as well as other health concerns.

   Not all the social economic problems facing Iraq are a result of the Iraq War. Much of these problems stem from 12 years of sanctions.   The sanctions has led to a humanitarian crisis and a struggling economy. This has led numerous Iraqis to take refugee in religious institutions. Some of the consequences of the sanctions included: 

  • The downgrading of Iraq's ranking in the UN Human Development index from 126 to 174
  • a serve deterioration of the healthcare system
  • rise in the cost of imported goods 
  • UNICEF reported in 1999 that Iraq was ranked 188th out of 188 countries for having a high-rate of child mortality. 
  • These are just some of the ways the sanctions impacted Iraq

  In the book "Three Trillion Dollar war" Joesph E. Stiglitz describes the Humanitarian crisis: 
 "The Country's roads, schools hospitals homes and Museums have been destroyed and it's citizens have less access to electricity and water than before the war."

  Still, the UN Human Development data for Arab States has shown mixed results for Iraq in the last decade. The GDP has fluctuated greatly.

Add caption

Interestingly, despite the mass exodus of the Iraqi Middle Class, the number of physicians to citizens has remained relatively the same (.6 per 1,000 citizens). 

Additionally the data shows that women's participation in society is mixed while the participation of women in the labor force has increased, Women have not increased their representation in politics as reflected in the Iraqi Parliament despite a 25 percent increase of the female population from 2000.

   Lastly, NGO workers should be careful lest they be seen as embedded with coalition forces. 


 Iraqis are not the only ones bearing the cost of the war. The Iraq war has caused U.S. tax payers over two trillion dollars. In fact, tax payers are stilling paying over $4.3 billion dollars in benefits, to more than 200,000 veterans from the last Iraq war. The current war has been largely financed by borrowing from other countries rather than through revenue. 

National Priorities Projects has outlined different ways the money could have been used domestically: 
  1. 8 million more housing unites 
  2. 15 million additional public school teachers 
  3. 530 million children receiving healthcare for one year
  4. 43 million students receiving a four-year scholarship to attend a state university.  

The cost of the war continues to grow

   For the last ten years news about the Iraq war was ubiquitous. Everyday it seamed as if there was an article about a bomb exploding in an Iraqi city. Although the world worked together to overthrow a brutal dictator, it created chaos in the process. While libertarians and Liberals continue to question Obama's drone policy it is important that the American public should question the politics of war and the culture of violence associated with it so that the country does not get tied down from another military quagmire.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Most Exciting Election this Year is in Africa


  Recently Kenyans went to the ballot box to elect a man that is wanted by the International Criminal Courts for crimes against humanity. Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the Jomo Kenyatta, leading figure for Kenya's independence, has won the second mutli-party presidential election.  

   Kenya is a country in a region with a distinct physical geography including tropical coastlines, deserts, fertile highlands, and alpine mountain ranges. It is a country that has been the access point to Africa for other regions of the world such as the Middle East and India. Archaeological sites have found human remains near Lake Turkana as old as three million years. Although Kenya has a long history, the geographically rich country has a short record of democratic evolution. 


     Kenya’s political system has evolved considerably since independence. This election season featured eight presidential candidates 237 Governors 244 senators 280 Women Representatives 2098 National Assembly representatives and 9886 County Assembly Representatives.
   10 million Kenyans showed up to the polls, A higher turnout rate (70 percent) than other African nations and some western countries. The high turnout rate shows that Kenyans are beginning to have more trust in the political institutions that reflect their interests. This is the first election that the debates were televised.


   Moreover, in 2010 Kenyans voted for a new constitution which limited and defined the functions of all three branches of the government as well as underwent a decentralization process to include 47 new counties.  The new constitution also expanded social, cultural and economic rights. This is a major shift away from the previous constitution drafted by the British during the pre-independence era that fostered an environment for weak political institutions to thrive.

   Despite the political advancements the Government of Kenya has made over the years there are still major issues that need to be resolved.


   In the aftermath of the last election in 2007 the Kenya National Council on  Human Rights conducted a detailed investigation on police brutality which stated that the police may have been involved in the extra-judicial execution of 500 people in a four month period, from June 2007 to October.
   The report called The Cry of Blood  which documented  massive crackdown which was in response to the Mungki gang violence that took place after the 2007 elections, Mwai Kibaki, vowed to crack down on the gang.
  The investigators collected reports from family, friends and eye witnesses that said that the suspects were taken arbitrarily, and had disappeared or were later found in a mortuary. Many of the autopsy reports by the pathologists have found multli-gun shot wounds that have drawn further suspicion.
The report outlined numerous anecdotes that illustrate police brutality:

  • Kimani Ruo was acquitted in the court of law, on charges of gang affiliation and was later approached by police and mysteriously disappeared but was later found dead.   
  • Mark Mwenesi, director of a youth program known as the Youth Empowerment center and an organizer for the Christian organization “World Vision” was killed after an altercation with the police after he denied any association with the “Mengaki” gang. 
  •    Many of the police officers bribed family members of the suspect in exchange for releasing them. The Police order men such as  Geoffrey Kung’u, a shoe  salesman, Jamleck Maina, truck driver,  to pay large sums of money or be executed. 
  •    One of the most graphic examples of police brutality occurred when the police viciously attacked Kagunda wa Mbui A mason, and father of eight children with wooden bats, and gun butts, for three hours. The police decide to apprehend the man because of his dreadlocks which they associated with gangs even though the Mbui said it was a part of his religious tradition. The man died after the police took him to a barbershop and forced him to get his haircut.


   Violence is nothing new to Kenya, since Kenya became a colonial outpost for the Anglo kingdom until Kenya’s independence 150,000 people were killed. The tension between the British and native population culminated to a violent apex during the Mau Mau uprising’s spearheaded by the Kikuyu tribe. The battle ended occupation and more than 12,000 Kenyans died. In 1946 the British governor stubbornly stated “This is our land and the Africans will have to deal with it.”

   There are parallels that can be drawn between ethnic clashes today and Britain’s “Scramble for Africa” policy fifty years ago. For example, when the British crown delineated boundaries for British East Africa (Kenya) it carved out territories close to Uganda that crossed ten cultural groups. Similarly, Queen Victoria moved the border between Kenya and Tanzania so that she can give her grandson Mt Kilimanjaro.  Given this history it’s not surprising why violence has erupted in the Rift Valley which is situated near the Uganda border.

  Ethnic divisions are also reflected in politics. For example, in 2010, the Luo, along with the Luhya and Somalis voted in favor of the new constitution while the Kalenjin voted against it. The manifestation of ethnic division surfaced again when presidential candidate  Raila Odinga tried to build a tribal coalition but couldn’t because of the animosity between Kikuyu  his base, the Luhya on the one side and the  and the Kelijan
on the other.


      Ethnic tension is not the only political impediment Kenya faces.
   Another major issue is corruption. In 2008, the Mars Group Kenya released a damning report that exposed the largest corruption scandal in the history, when 18 government contracts were rewarded to the Anglo Leasing and Financing Limited company, a company that did not exist.
   The report calculated that the money spent on these fictitious projects was equivalent to 68 percent of money needed for physical infrastructure projects and 37 times more expensive than governmental water projects that encompasses 65 percent of Kenya's land and could service more than 70 percent of the population. Two contracts alone ($2 Billion Kish) accounted for 1/4th of the Government of Kenya’s Health Budget.

   More recently, corruption charges have been levied against the presidential winner for using money to bribe voters. 

    The report found that none of the 18 contracts were documented for the Parliament to see as required under section 5 of the External Loans and Credit Act. The five year scandal (1997-2004) was the biggest corruption scandal in Kenya’s history and ended up costing the government 56 billion Kish ($2 Billion.)

Journalist John Githongo, observed that the projects did not start until the fictitious companies began to receive debt payments.

"The Implication of this was that the bogus financing companies used the Government's money to implement the projects and then proceeded to charge interest on what are in truth fictitious loans by the government to itself" Githongo said.

   This case study is part of a larger problem associated with African governments using parastals, and public corporation as part of a large patron-client system to set up an economy which benefits a burgeoning bureaucracy rather providing for the needs of average citizens.

 The recent presidential debate illuminated this issue further: 

   Domestic issues such as corruption and ethnic tensions are not the only issues that the Kenyatta will have to deal with. Another major issue is containing the spread of violence that is occurring within its neighboring state Somalia where the United States has increased is actively involved. North-East Kenya still has a large Somalia ethnic community that feels a greater loyalty to their ancestral homeland. 

   Currently, Kenya is hosting the largest population of Somali refugees. Amnesty International issued a report criticizing the east African country for its treatment of Somali refugees because the camps are akin to "open prisons" that restrict movement and are overcrowded.  Kenya's ability to manage the refugee population fleeing Somalia can boost its reputation to the international community in the same way that Jordan is recognized for its hospitality to Syrian, Palestinian refugees.

  According to the World Justice Project 2012 Rule of Law Index Kenya scored relatively low in the area of government accountability (ranks 75/97 "Limiting Government Powers") and corruption (91/97). However, Kenya has a better record on government transparency than its African counterparts (5/18).  This election season could give Kenya the opportunity to assert a stronger role in the continent which could potentially transform the country as the face of Africa to the rest of the world. However, if Uhuru Kenyatta  does not use this opportunity to make serious reforms, than Kenyans' aspirations and goals will turn into public cynicism which will have drastic consequences for the East African nation.