Sunday, October 31, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
What came to mind after the event was all the time I had spent mulling over the concept of why and how a terrorist attack could take place after 9/11. What spurs such actions? After such an event happens, how should we as a nation and an individual react? I think, partially from my response, that it is important we respond calmly and collectively. To immediately spring up in hatred and whip out nuclear arsenals is a rash and naïve response. Rather, we should contemplate the motives for such actions and work from the bottom. For example, if an attack is stimulated by hatred towards the US occupying Afghanistan, wouldn’t it be best to negotiate around that? If we found ways to compromise with the Afghanis and in return they talk with local terrorist organizations, maybe the rates would go down. I would presume that the intensity of the attacks would go up if we ignore the grassroots issues and our own actions.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The threat of US dependence on foreign oil to our national security.
Currently, the United States spends around $1 billion dollars every day importing oil from abroad, increasing the national deficit and supporting unstable and potentially dangerous states. The reliance of the United States on foreign oil has very serious economic and militaristic implications, making it a portentous threat to United States' national security.
A recent report on the 2009 trade deficit in the United States found that increasing petroleum imports are steadily broadening the gap between our imports and exports, further augmenting our deficit. Recently, the US Census Bureau reported the United States' annual oil debt at $386 billion, significantly greater than even our debt owed to China ($266 billion). By reducing the United States' addiction to foreign oil, a significant portion of the national debt could be drastically reduced, which would help to repair the current budget deficit.
Additionally, United States imports oil from ten states currently on the State Department's Travel Warning List, all of which are described as having “long-term, protracted conditions that make [them] dangerous or unstable.” These states include, Algeria, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. In 2008, the United States imported approximately $150 billion dollars worth of oil from these “dangerous or unstable” countries, including Venezuela, which although is not on State Department's Travel Warning List, exhibits a distinct anti-American foreign policy. Because the United States has one of the world's highest oil demands, consuming around 23% of the world's annual petroleum production, the US drives up the price of oil, financing and sustaining unfriendly governments. Therefore, although the United States does not buy directly from numerous unfriendly states, such as Iran, these inimical states still benefit from the increased oil prices regardless of who the end buyer is. These unfriendly regimes, which the US purchases oil from and funds indirectly by increasing the value of oil, could become potentially dangerous to the security of the United States because of the steady economic support they are gaining, which allows hostile states the opportunity to increase their military spending, putting our own troops at greater risk.
What I mean by ‘threat’ is a scenario that is in our control that we ignore. Too many citizens hear and read about the harm we are causing but say, “Ehh, what harm could one more individual cause?” When millions say that, there is an obvious downfall. Too few citizens are willing to step up and take action, for it involves motivation. Millions opt for the car over their bikes and watch farmers spray chemicals into our water sources. Too many are too lazy to step up and make a difference. In reference to the domino effect, the trees, plants and animals are affected, which hinder their safety as well. More animals and plant species are threatened which in turn threaten the survival of the ecosystem. Common everyday products that we take for granted might be gone in years to come because their ingredients have disappeared.
When we allow the release of synthetic chemicals and gasses, it is our way of saying we have too little time to preserve our world. There isn’t enough time to treat the land and the animals fairly for we are too busy producing weapons for war. We have too little time to realize we are harming the health of the nation because millions are eating chemical-induced food. How is this not a threat to our well being?
To play devil’s advocate, one may question, “how does this affect our national security and is this really a threat?” Yes, it may not be as ‘primary’ as bombs or terrorism, but it slowly creeps up on us and when it attacks, it is hard to fight back. How can we fight thinning oxygen levels and a massive change in our environment when deforestation takes over? We won’t have any resources to take from and nothing to build a foundation. We are stuck. When this hits, those who think the environment is secondary will reconsider their prior assumptions.
Monday, October 25, 2010
*This is a reflection in response to Toby's most recent reflection.*
Specifically, Toby, I would like to reference your claim that the United States should limit its commitment to international organizations for the reason that the resulting commitment to international law would “undermine the Constitutional principles our nation was founded upon.” The United States Constitution would likely not conflict with any international regulations that the United States would be obligated to obey by committing itself to international organizations.
The United States Constitution creates only federal jurisdiction, meaning that the Constitution applies to only domestic issues and makes no explicit reference to the the norms the United States should follow when participating in the international community. Additionally, the US Constitution refers only to individuals, specifically citizens of the United States that within the borders of the United States (federal jurisdiction). Therefore, the claim that international regulations referencing maritime law would contradict the Constitution because they undermine the Constitutional right to property is false because Constitutional principles reference only individual citizens of the United States, not individual states.
Although the Constitution should not be cited as a reason to reduce US involvement in international organizations, the current state of the United States as a hegemonic power means that over-involvement in organizations such as the United Nations could make the United States more vulnerable. Because the United States is a hegemonic power, any agreements made in the context of an international organization would likely benefit other state more than the US, effectively lessening the power of the United States in the international system, opening the door for additional threats to US security. Therefore, large US commitments to the world's international organizations threaten security because it threatens to change the status quo of the international system, not because international regulations contradict Constitutional law.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The media, in all of its dimensions, has succeeded in frightening the populace of terrorism in many ways: through the paper, the Internet, the TV etc…. An average American hears about terrorism through these media and can only conceptualize this idea in one way. It is only natural for a citizen to fear terrorism when they hear and see the end results of the crimes. Yet what America is lacking is the understanding of why terrorism happens. In order to be safe, we must understand. Why is there a need for terrorism and what spurs their actions? If we could recognize the root of the problem, wouldn’t we be able to attack it better? When solving any problem, ranging from a dispute with a friend to an international issue, it’s always best to figure out the ‘why.’
Security is not all about armies and guns; it’s mental as well, an aspect that should not be undermined. This is the sort of threat that creeps up behind us and attacks without warning and without our preparation. It’s important that we implement an understanding of the problem to secure the nation.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Although winning a game of Diplomatic Risk is an unequivocal occurrence due to definitively outlined state objectives, “winning” in the genuine world political system is not a clearly defined or common phenomenon because the goals of a state can be ambiguous. Additionally, it is impossible for a state to “win” at the game of international relations because political dealings between states never cease, meaning there is no prospect for victory, but rather a simple goal of success. This success (winning) on the world stage can be most simply boiled down to having the ability to exert hard and soft power to promote a foreign policy agenda that helps to maintain state sovereignty. However, there are many directions a state can take its foreign policy agenda, all of which help maintain sovereignty. Therefore, the ability of a state to use both hard and soft power when it deems necessary is the constant in “winning” at the game of world politics.
States need the ability to both shape the long-term preferences and attitudes of other states, as well as coerce them when necessary to be a successful player, and therefore winning, in the international system. Projecting soft power is a necessity for any influential world player because soft power allows a state to work towards long-term goals without using an exorbitant amount of resources to achieve them. Additionally, soft power is a far less aggressive political tool that can be used to further a policy agenda. For example, although United States and the majority of the Western World have the ability to dominate others, they also excel in projecting soft power through enterprises, churches, universities, and other institutions integrated into civil society. These organizations of civil society project elements of democratic philosophy and when integrated into other cultures through globalization, promote these components of liberal democracy, a goal clearly outlined in the current United States policy agenda. Additionally, the United States' cunning use of soft power is also what helped swing the Cold War in its favor. However, soft power is limited by its tendency to have diffuse effects and cannot be easily wielded to achieve specific outcomes, which is why hard power is the second required asset for a successful state. Although maintaining hard power capabilities is costly, it is significantly more durable than soft power. Military strength will always be a useful commodity in the world system, from maintaining and even expanding state borders to protecting and obtaining valuable resources. For example, the lofty military spending of the United States has given it control over various elements of world politics from the free flow of oil by protecting the Straight of Hormuz, one the most important energy bottlenecks, to the use of NATO resources, as NATO still depends on the leadership and muscle of the United States. Therefore, to be successful and winning in the international system, a state must be able to wield both soft and hard power in a significant amount in order to promote a foreign policy agenda efficiently.
Monday, October 18, 2010
This past week, Diplomatic Risk has definitely broke into my top-five board games list. I've always loved the original Risk, however Professor's Jackson's adaptation of the game to include strategies that use other International Relations theories beyond realism, has made the game exponentially more complex and subsequently more entertaining.
However, Professor Jackson's adaptation of the classic board game goes beyond simple entertainment. The game of Diplomatic Risk most importantly gave us a theoretical world stage to experiment with using different schools of international relations theory to achieve our individual goals. In essence, Diplomatic Risk was a “lab”, in which the class could apply what we had learned without participating in and altering the current international system. Additionally, the game makes vehemently clear how certain violent and non-violent conflicts evolved in the history of international relations, specifically the Cold War. Our game of Diplomatic Risk was full of questioning of motives and suspicion, which seemed to lead to distrust between several groups of states. Personally as diplomat and later head of state for the Red State, I grew very distrustful of the other world players after the religious uprising that formed the Brown State and lead to a new structure of alliances and enemies. This sudden change in pace and hierarchy of the game caused me to continually question the motives of even the simplest of actions in an attempt to pinpoint each state's goals, and lead me to take a more realistic stance compared to the rest of the world. However, as I was transitioning to a more realist approach to achieving my state's objectives, I witnessed other states utilizing both liberal and even constructivist tenets, which is what I believes gives this game its value. The variety of diplomatic strategies in combination with the classic military strategies of Risk give Diplomatic Risk its complex academic value while simultaneously providing intrinsic entertainment.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
A solution is that it is mandatory for the roles to switch throughout the days of the game. For one half of the class, two of the team members act as the secretary and diplomat. During the other half, the roles switch to two others. This way, all team members must be on their feet and attentive at all times. The same procedure would follow during the next class as well. In this sense, the game would be more inclusive and less geared towards those only playing an ‘official’ role.
Besides that one glitch, I felt the game was quite interesting and exciting. It was a great change in pace and a fun way to learn. I think it was a success, and hopefully another class will be devoted to a game like this in the future.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I was thoroughly disappointed with today's presenter. I disagree entirely with his claim that the music is secondary to the words in opera. It is the music that makes opera, opera! It's what differentiates opera from other styles of musical theater. Although there are a few individuals that agree with his point of view, the large majority of not only opera critics but opera goers enjoy opera for the unique role music plays. Not only does the music provide ambiance to a work, it provides the emotion. The continuous nature of opera music is also what makes an opera not only unique, but genius. The ability of a good opera writer to make the music feel as though it is all part of a single work is a skill that should be admired, not talked about as though it is secondary to the work of the librettist! In fact, often opera composers, including Richard Strauss, will take predetermined rhythms and chord structures to their librettist, and in some cases even write the entire musical accompaniment to an opera before even speaking a word to their librettist. It is the music and the writer's use of tension and the placement of the arias and recitatives within the opera that turns an opera into the emotional, dramatic roller coaster that tends to define it, which is why many composers agree that “the job of music is to get to the hearts of people, and the words to get to the brain” (Craig Armstrong). The music is the glue that binds together the words and action to create the full, rounded experience of witnessing an opera, which is why music can be what sends an opera into the history books to join the ranks of “Salome” or sink it into the ranks of the most unmemorable operas ever written. However, all of this is simply an opinion, so I encourage everyone to make their own on Tuesday. Just please be sure, do not ignore what the music is adding to the performance you are witnessing!
Today, I was outside the Davenport smoking a Parliament, a “gentlemen caller” was staring at me as though I was Boticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” without a single word. I rolled my eyes and turned my back to him. A lot of my guy friends here tell me that they feel like they do not want to make the first move. I laugh at them for their sense of a priori. You see, there is no such thing as the lack of the empirical when it comes to women. Honey, we make the most subtle first moves. Whether it is a pair of pearl earrings or a slight smile, we invite your approach. By the way, ladies, men are like mocking birds; they can not resist a single shiny object. So with that in mind, men think they are the ones attempting conquest when in reality, the conquest is nothing but an exchange for the better. Realist turned Liberal, if you will. And yes, that was an IR theory reference, for you SIS studentettes out there.
So if we have established the premise that there is no such thing as a priori in courting, we must invoke Alexander Wendt, a German social scholar who saw international relations as a forum for communication. So let us apply his argument to dating, shall we? Wendt loves talking about mirror theory as a solid form of communication. The mirror theory is based off of “the principle of identity formation is captured by the symbolic interactionist notion of the ‘looking glass self’ which asserts that the self is a reflection of an actor’s socialization”.
In other terms, if you illustrate interest by the way you smile, if he is interested, he will do so too. Communication works in such an egalitarian way here if done properly. You know what I am talking about: You in your confident stride attracts his gaze. You cause him to discreetly(or not so discreetly, sometimes they stumble. In that case, job well done, chika!) walk over and talk to you. Names are exchanged, and soon numbers. Just keep Wendt in mind that you cause him with your feminine mystique and confidence to come over. You call the shots, not him. And it is all in the subtle behaviors before the “first move” that cause them to go mad. So chin up, you never know whose watching. Secretly smile just knowing that they are.
One thing I was really surprised about was that the Consumer group actually went for keeping the taxes. I thought they would want to abolish it because it will let more foreign auto maker companies to import their cars to the U.S. for cheaper price so there will be more selections for them to choose from. However, they rather focused on creating jobs for Americans, protectivism and patriotism. They wanted more jobs for Americans, and protect their economy.
Something that I wasn't sure about was one of the Foreign Automakers points why we should abolish domestic content rules. Foreign Automakers aruged that abolishing domestic content rules will bring in a lot of foreign autoplants to the U.S. However, I find it rather contradictory. If we abolish the rules and they don't get taxed on stuff they import, they have to reason to build their plants here and buy parts that mare made in USA while there are cheaper labor and cheapor supplier are available overseas. Domestic Content Rules actually attract foreign companies to build their cars here in the U.S. which will bring in a lot of jobs for Americans. They will earn money then, spend them, and the economy will be stimulated.
I also learned lessons on presentation. It should be clear and to-the-point, and most importantly, TIME MATTERS. Our group failed to even get to the mainpoint because of the time management. I also learned to try different media to present what I am presenting, to interest my audience better.
Overall, it was a memorable experience and had a lot to learn from.
Monday, October 4, 2010
I think, from a realist view, one of the only reasons why we should pay attention to those that are marginalized is to build a philanthropist image in order to gain more power in the world of international relations. Also by doing so, we can keep the amount of discontentment down so that they won't revolt or what not. Thus it can be easy to keep the central power powerful. Even though those do not necessarily have powers, they can be dangerous and threatening to the stability of a state when the state fails to satisfy their very minimum level of need. If they acts as a whole group, those in power cannot have it under control and the marginalized's act as a whole can overpower those with power.
We also talked about how we can help the marginalized voice their opinions. From a Utopian point of view, we should seek to satisfy and take in everyone's desire and needs and equally distribute power as horizontal. Since usually, uneducated, low-income class have less or no power, some people suggested to give them more opportunity of education and so on, so that we can at least get closer to horizontal distribution of power.
In my opinion, that is totally unrealistic and impossible: e.g. the idea of socialism is wonderful-equal distribution of wealth, but the problem with it is that it is impossible to fully carry it out and practice as it is meant to be. If those marginalized people gained voice and power through education and wealth, they would ultimately become those WITH power and there would be newly-formed marginalized people. We will never be able to equalize power to everyone. There always will be people with power, and also people on the margins with less or no power at all. The best option we have is to figure out the efficient way to incorporate both sides into the world of IR.
At the end of our discussion last class, the question of when marginalized groups become dangerous to the stability of a state was brought up. A state's center of power becomes threatened by the marginalized when that marginalized population exhibits three distinct attributes: organization, lack of political access, and legitimacy in the eyes of a politically or economically powerful group, government, or icon. This phenomenon can be seen in the marginalized Islamic population of France.
Recently, the French state's security has been threatened by the Muslim population that the French attempted to push to the side of society. Although the marginalization of the French Islamic population is not a current development, recently they have become increasingly supported by the United States, in a US diplomatic effort to prevent the transformation of French “banlieues” into incubators for religious extremism. This recent diplomatic effort has in fact resulted in the opposite of the desired effect. The United States gave the Muslim French populations legitimacy, while at the same time the French were conducting systematic expulsions of certain minorities. The US respect given to this marginalized population allowed them to gain internal support and organize that support into recent opposition to the French rejection of Islamic culture in the forms of violent threats as well as political protests. Although the marginalized French Muslims exhibited both organization and political oppression, they did not become a threat to the stability of the French government until the United States provided the opportunity to claim support from a politically and economically powerful entity. Therefore, a state's center of political power is only threatened when a marginalized group is able to gain the support of an outside power to supplement its existing organization of political unrest within the group.
"Feeling Slighted by France, and Respected by U.S."
Sunday, October 3, 2010
When Cloth slips from Lips
Ringing in ears, gurgling of valley stream
Chiapas speaks her own language
the language of centuries old traditions
of wool skirts and clay births
but we were listening to fiesta bells, too.
We saw him hold you, want you
pull you to him
him holding papeles from Blankita towers
where was the blanket of corn?
she knew the language of maize
but now she sits in silence
lips sown shut and hands mangled
Rancheros kiss soft thighs
while we once braided your hair with ribbons.
Familia. Did you promise us bread?
We cast baskets for armas
we will never forget our reality.
We, children of the night have seen
mothers turned to stone
but now we have nothing to lose
ya basta, mama
the montañas are not our defense anymore
our voices will be heard.
I wrote the name CHIAPAS
on a piece of cloth
and tied it in my heart
we tie black cloth over our faces.
We the children of the night
are ready to ripen.
Chingadas, violated? I think not.
Ya basta, mama.
Friday, October 1, 2010
With this in mind, another question comes to light, if there really is a current international transition of power. Back in the 1900’s, a terrorist group was not much of a threat, and barely made an impact in comparison to the armies of Germany, France, England and the United States. It was all about the physical weapons and the physical tanks that could battle each other. A measure of power was calculated in how many soldiers were in the army and how powerful a nation’s machine guns were. Now, it is more than that. Power, war and threats are slowly becoming less physical and more cyber and psychological. Because Al-Qaida is able to instill this deep rooted fear in the government of France without possessing a physical army should raise a flag. Yes, terrorist groups do have weapons and their form of soldiers but much less so than a nation. The fact that these groups fight on a sly basis and come in unexpected ways really does make us think about where the power has gone to today. If we are beginning to be more afraid of a non-sovereign state than a sovereign state, things have definitely changed since the 1900’s. It is time to take into account these changes and adjust accordingly.