Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Like Opello and Rosow mention in their book, The Nation-State and Global Order, there are three alternatives of nation-state: city-state, empire, and tribe. There should be various reasons why rule of nation-state is the most efficient form and best fit of all for the world of the present age. To mention one of them, nation-state is the most effective in dealing with physical territorial issues among the world. City-state is incapable of expanding its size because of its incapacity and inefficiency of governing bigger area. Empire and tribe mostly don’t have a sense of territoriality, since they don’t usually have defined territory of their jurisdiction. In the world complex and complicated like today’s world, they are not the most efficient forms of entities theoretically and practically, especially when it comes to dealing with physical territorial issues among entities.
Order and system are very crucial in civilizations and, even in ‘uncivilized’ the world of nature, there exist some type or form of order and system. There is no civilization without order and system and there always is civilization where order and system exist. As the humanity becomes more ‘civilized,’ and to become even more so, it requires of order and system or some sort. I think it is legitimate to say that civilization is mostly establishing order, system, or rules in society. In the same sense, it is critical that there should be a rule or standard agreed by all to keep things in order and to make the world politics work nicely with no confusion. Since the nation-state is the most sufficient and developed politico-military rule so far, it is, at all, agreeable that it should be the basic rule or qualification to have a voice in world politics. By recognizing one another as nation-states, which implies that they also recognize all of the characteristics of nation-state, there established are system and order that make the world coexist effectively. By making those groups on the same social or political level, as nation-states with the same kind of rights and authorities, it makes communication among them become much easier and effective communication brings less conflict amongst those parties.
In reality, however, there can be exceptions and situations in which this does not apply nicely. To name one of the examples, ethnical and cultural conflict can occur within a nation-state or between nation-states that were unconsciously established by stronger countries of the time without considering the nation-state’s tendency to be homogeneous (i.e. the case of some of African countries) In those cases, a sense of unity and national identity, which is one of the characteristics of nation-state, has failed and so it needs to alter or be flexible to fix the problem. In some cases or possible exceptions that could exist in the practical world, the rule of being organized into nation-states can be modified and fitted according to different cases.
Theoretically and ideally, the world should be organized into territorial sovereign nation-states by every mean. However it might require some modification or flexibility on some of the practical issues that can be faced in World Politics.
Sovereignty is efficient. No government can sustain a global let alone continental society because the territories are too large to govern. Look at Roman Empire for example. It was such a large and diverse civilization, but the problem is that it was too diverse. There were cultural differences that were rooted in the geography and the history of each region. But there is a difference between empires and nation states. The book The Nation State and Global Order by Opello and Rosow makes the statement that: “civilizations do not exercise politico- military power, nation states do... nation states ... will and always be the basic building blocks of the global order”. I agree with this statement because the nation- state model evokes a sense of purpose for its citizens. But it is different from civilizations because they(the civilizations) are spread over large amounts of land and the larger authority is often compromised by local capacity.
The emotion that sovereignty evokes is two-fold: a sense of unity and pride for the nation- state as well as freedom. Unity because the state is its own entity and a culture, however small, is rooted within the parameters of the nation-state. This could include nationalism. Also the nation state has symbols that speak volumes in my opinion because they are often reflections and reminders of past events in the nation-state such as the Ashoka chakra on the Indian flag or the Star of David on the Israeli flag. Freedom as well because outside your country, other countries’ laws do not affect you unless you are acting unlawful according to their laws in their territory. You are bound to one thing and that is your nation state’s laws. But to me, this gets eerie. To me, laws are influenced by ethics. However, often with nation states laws conflict with one another. Look at Sharia Law for example. In Saudi Arabia a woman who is convicted of adultery(sexual intercourse out of the realms of marriage) is stoned even if they have not because it is a man’s word against her’s. In comparison, in this country, adultery is a personal issue and the law is not involved. Sovereignty guards the differences of these laws. And I am not really sure how this makes me feel. I think that yes we need sovereign nation states, but I believe that the laws in some countries should be up for questioning. I do not like this idea of “that is your land” and “this is my land”. Often in conjunction to the relationship between nation states there is competition. Due to the expanding global economy, we are in this limbo. A spencerian global economy if you will. The strongest nation states whether it is economically or politico-military, wins. But I propose a new order of a global relationship. Nation states are, after all, built by humanity. And society is, after all, built by humanity. I think although we are a nation state there is fluidity beyond the model of a nation-state. We should not be go
verned by the nation state but we should be the governance of the nation state. It may be optimistic of me, but the fist of sovereignty should open up and reach out to others. We as humanity have the capacity to reach out through the nation state system and help those in a nation state, but not as a nation state. We shoul help other people as people. Although we govern through the nation state, we should let go that model when it comes to reaching to others.
One of the first major problems that come to mind would be our reversion back to the times of empires and nomadic tribes. Without distinct borders and set governments, people around the world would be discontent. A need for “the better” would be prevalent as bands of people continuously travel in circles in search of a better home. Families would be uprooted on a weekly basis in order to find a more profitable area to settle. This turmoil would eventually leave an imprint on the children. One of the primary reasons why children are emotionally stable is that they have a consistent lifestyle, through friends, family and the neighborhood where they live. If there is a constant lack of these aspects, kids would become emotionally wrought. For example, families that are constantly on the move in search of a better place to live typically have children who are socially isolated and upset. When these “new kids” join our grade, we tend to perceive them as outsiders who we don’t wish to assimilate with. Now imagine that on a larger level. Imagine the social problems this would cause among various age groups around the world. The absence of rooted lives in set nations would result in drastic emotional problems.
Furthermore, sovereign nations pride themselves on being sound nations with unique governments, principles and ethics. For instance, the French pride themselves on their wine and cheese while the British have their queen. On a small scale these traits may seem rudimentary. Yet, as these unique qualities pile up, we begin to see the formation of distinctive nations. Sovereign states provide an identity and a home for those who settle there. As mentioned in Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World, there is a tradition that “Humans crave identifying with a group” (Foer 198). Whether this group is through a sport or a religion, it is an inherent quality to assimilate with a larger group of people. We crave to be around others that are similar to us and feel conflicting emotions when we are not. In this sense, by living in a world devoid of set countries, we are living in a homogeneous environment. We need to be together and feel apart of something greater than ourselves. Because of this, we have nation-states.
Monday, August 30, 2010
First, our visit to PEPFAR reminded me of how the US actively and voluntarilly gets involved in many of the global issues. I really respect that the US takes responsibility as one of the leading nations in the world and strive to solve those issues we have as one world, using its own resources. I believe this is one of many aspects that makes, with no doubt, the US one of the global leaders.
My experience with my first World Politics class was very interesting and challenging to me. As known, Asian education typically does not require a big part of student participation. I was quite impressed and challenged when I saw my fellow UC students, who I only thought as ordinary students, discussed the book with such logic and constructive perspectives. I really learned a lot from the discussion we had in class and it really did provide me with so many different points of views and ideas that challenge my perspective.
As I listened to my classmates/floormates debating, I also learned how my point of view toward the US as a foreigner, and theirs as the citizens of the country are different. I personally thought that the US is globalized as much as it is resistant to globalization. Like Tom said, the US is uniquely globalized already inside of its border, it doesn't feel the need of globalization that happens outside of its border or doesn't really care about it. I think it is because the basic desire of globalization is fully satisfied inside of the US, it doesn't really need to look outside of its border to fill the needs. Having been studying in the US for three years now, I've felt more and more strongly that the US is rather closed and apathetical towards the outside world, ironically, as much concerned as it is with global issues on bigger scales such as international commerce, environment, nuclear proliferation, etc.
This week, in conclusion, challenged me to learn to discuss and to form a constructive opinion, also how to accept and adapt different perspectives of others. I look forward to upcoming classes and what my classmates will bring forth and learning from it, and I hope I will do the same for them.
I deem June 26, 2010 as the day my shoulders ached ‘till I could not feel my arms anymore. I remember being crammed shoulder to shoulder with two portly men in Claddagh Irish Pub, a hole in the wall bar tucked into the hills of Pittsburgh. Beer was spilling onto my MARADONA powder blue Argentinean jersey as I was cheering on... not the United States but Ghana. Ghana of all teams. Ghana, a small country in the folds of North Western Africa. But I was not the only one dressed inappropriately for a US vs. Ghana soccer game on American soil. All around me, there were people in other jerseys: a green DOS SANTOS Mexican jersey, a RONALDO Royal Blue jersey. Looking back at that day, which team were we really supporting? I think I fell in love with the swift glide of the soccer ball regardless of which team had it. I was not the only one who was not cheering for America. When Ghana made a goal, Claddagh erupted in cheers, my shoulders smashed by the crowd as they danced against my withering body as the MARADONA jersey crumpled onto my skin.
My favorite image in How Soccer Explains the World is the scene on page 247 where half of the “Washington stadium might as well have been Tegucigalpa” because of all the Honduran supporters at the Honduras vs US game. What I find so fascinating by international sports following is that every American will not follow the American team. As Thomas said “Globalism is America”, I agree. Now let us use soccer as an allegory for the world, I would be team India. Although I was raised in this country, and I am “Americanized”, there is something about my father’s background that gets to me. He came to this country to make a name for himself and to be the bread winner for his family. America was the land of hope for him. But I think in response to his situation of moving to the first world, I can not forget where he is coming from and neither can he. That is the immigrant paradox: we love what this country has to offer us but at the same time, we can not forget where we are from. And for those who do not have that immigrant story, there is a sense of “moda” or fashion to it. The international scene seems “cosmopolitan” and “chic”. In one of the chapters of this book, Foer’s writing style changes. He grows even more excited when describing the Barcelona Soccer Team’s playing style and history. It is his favorite team. But why is it his favorite team? A part of it is their playing style but a part of it was their story. They were a team that was the voice of a movement for a sovereign nation- state. There was a sense sheer rebellion in the team. That sense of political rebellion is the sweet taste of defiance.
I think Americans often like the fashion of revolution or the success stories that are similar to the immigrant's story in this country. Like Maradona, my hero. This man, like several soccer players, came from the slums, from nothing. And now, he is everything. He reminds me so much of my father and his pursuit for achieving something so seemingly impossible. He is Pibe de Oro. The Golden Boy. He is the prince who conquered the world. This is what soccer is to me. This is what globalization is to me: the success stories, and the not so successful success stories all woven into the fabric of an ever changing jersey we wear.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Typically, I am not one who is capable of diving headlong into a foreign situation without feeling a bit uneasy. Yesterday was no exception. I felt that I was a bit hesitant to convey my interpretations of the text in front of a group of people I am not one hundred percent familiar with. I know that my comfort will grow over time as will my input in these discussions. It was a very comfortable environment and I enjoyed it greatly.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
As I stepped into the realm of World Politics, I was asked what the most important issue in World Politics is. Even a novice like me knows that the world of World Politics is boundless and comprehensive and has numerous things to focus on. The world has the issues of education, poverty, economy and what not on its hand, but the tension between nations which interfere in establishing world peace is the one which needs to be taken care of, requiring collaboration of the whole globe.
The ideological and military tension amongst nations has always been the unsolvable issue that comes up constantly. From the eyes of a person from the Korean Peninsula, who grew up in the middle of such tension, Korean Peninsula conflict is the example of one of the most important and urgent problems to solve. Growing up, I had to get used to occasional armed fight or threat, learning about starving fellow koreans in the North, and feeling of insecurity and precariousness. It creates a tension and insecurity not only to the Korean peninsula, but also to the neighboring countries, their alliances, and even the whole world. The issues tied to this matter are serious - nuclear proliferation, ideological conflict, poverty, economy, human rights and etc.
The tension between these two small countries has, by no means, small impact on the world of World Politics. Various small and big military or ideological clashes between nations will result in a massive dilemma for the world. It is urgent to find a way to loosen these tensions in order to provide world peace and more and more people to have freedom and the right to pursue happiness as human beings.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Colonization comes in many forms but maintains one core belief: that one’s lifestyle is better than another’s. It is impossible for a diverse world to exist when groups of people seek to impose a viewpoint on indigenous communities. Take modern day Iraq. Is it really our responsibility to uproot their lifestyle in force a nation to adapt to a foreign way of life? As we shamelessly watched their retaliations, have we not processed the fact that maybe this is not how they wish to operate? It is evident that not all foreign countries want to be identical to their ‘superior’ neighbors. In fact, the reason why there is such diversity in our world is due to a different perspective on religion and lifestyle. Most wish to leave it that way.
From the Native Americans back in 1492 to the Iraqis in modern day Iraq, these groups of people evidentially did not want to be colonized. In order to maintain an array of global politics, we must understand that it is not our position to act in a superior manner. It is not our position to alter their lifestyle. Rather, it is our job to negotiate fairly and respectfully with others who live a different standard of living, and wonder if it really is fair to claim one lifestyle is better than another. Thus, it will be possible to live in a world with diverse perspectives and a content environment.
BBC News: "Maldives: Paradise Soon To Be Lost"
CNN: "Sinking Island's Nationals Seek New Home"
New York Times: "If a Country Sinks Beneath the Sea, Is It Still a Country?"