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Full Schwartz Press: A weekly column by Zoe Schwartz; Bringing up Baby!

<by’s in the news!

OK, so I don’t have a human child (or one on the way…), but as a senior International Relations major this year, I do have a baby called Posc400, better known by its nickname: Comps. My topic? Fidel Castro. My objective? To determine the nature of Castro’s operational code, or political belief system, and test its constancy over time. My methodology? Quantitative analysis of Castro’s speeches and interviews from 1959 – 2006. I’ll spare the uninterested reader more details; however, I’m all for one-on-one chats with any Curious Georges who are intrigued by the data gathering and testing process (we can coordinate via Zimbra Collaboration Suite). My delivery date? I feel this baby kicking and apparently it’s due SOON!

Parenting magazine assures me that conflicting emotions and anxiety are normal for expectant mothers, and contributing source Lynn Westphal, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, encourages me to share my fears with people I trust. I’m guessing that she wouldn’t reckon the Carletonian readership among my core group of confidantes. But Lynn ain’t here, and after almost two terms together (“Full Schwartz Press” has been ballin’ since spring term ’07), I feel like we have established that kind of intimacy in our relationship.

On one hand, I’m looking forward to bringing new life – albeit in the form of a deceptively abiotic paper and poster presentation – into this world. Going back to the opening line of this column, it’s always exciting when something you’re studying in the classroom applies to the real world; seeing my Comps topic on the front page of Wednesday’s New York Times and featured on page A6 of yesterday’s Times is a case-in-point. Granted Castro’s presence in the international media is not unusual – for years, biographers, historians, journalists, and infamously the United States’ intelligence community have been fascinated by Fidel Castro’s personality and leadership. His staying power, revolutionary socialist rhetoric and policy, and engagement in world affairs all belie the realist assumption that small states do not exert influence on the international system. Further, rather than retreat from the world stage after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s foremost ideological and economic ally, Castro has remained unmoved.

Yet what struck me about the recent Times coverage is its complete absence of content: the article merely reiterated U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba has been for the past half-century. The article noted that President Bush was planning to give a speech condoning bro Raúl’s succession to the Fidel regime (by the way when did the act of preparation for a speech become newsworthy?). Yesterday’s news analysis of the speech itself reveals that the U.S. will continue to support the embargo (omg – really?), an ultimately ridiculous and failed foreign policy tool for weakening the island Bush calls a “tropical gulag”.

On the other hand, while the international relevance of my Comps topic is a source of great anticipation, I am ambivalent about the prospect of motherhood. There is so much to do and to learn about Castro, the Cuban government, economy, and society as well as its relation to the international system and outside actors. I don’t feel ready to be a parent as of 9th week this term.
To that end, I’m so grateful for, where I can find solace in more expert advice. According to Jennifer Niebyl, M.D., a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, despite my fears, the odds of a successful birth are in my favor. “Ninety-seven percent of babies are born healthy,” she reports.
Barring pregnancy complications, Baby Comps is on its way. Encouraging words of advice anyone?

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