Monday, October 18, 2010

Why there is no such thing as the las pawn in the chess box

To say there is a winner on the real global stage(RISK doesn't count), is frankly, a naive statement. In my opinion, a nation-state is established to protect and govern her people while at the same time, ensuring that the nation-state is recognize and has peaceful relations with others. I do not think that states are inherently always going to be at war with one another. With that said, I do think that there are tensions that result in identity shift(constructivist, I know). See, states, they never really have a one defined goal. A nation-state has internal conflicts while dealing with the image other nation-states assume for it. Look at the US. How are we more of a winner than Sweden? I mean Sweden's citizens get free education all the way through college and wonderful health care benefits. But then the US assumes the title as global leader and this title is accepted by other countries. Yet in this nation, there are people who can not afford a simple surgery that could be detrimental their health. Who is the real winner? 

Why not both? Or why even establish a winner? When we are so interconnected. The US can not be a global leader until other nation-states accept it. When the US is the global leader, it does not need to dictate its positions. It can in fact just have its opinion or pass legislation, and the world will take notice. It does not matter if other countries will follow suit as much as its noticing the US and her voice. To illustrate, during President Ahmadinejad’s speech addressing the UN’s General Assembly in which he discussed The US and 9/11, the US walked out on the assembly. Right when the US delegates left, Israeli and EU delegates followed suite. 

So tell me, how can there be a winner when we are so interdependent and we are evolving into each other everyday.


  1. I'm not entirely sure that I completely agree with your post. It seems that we do exist as the "winner" in the world and it's not purely an assumption.

    There's a couple reasons I believe this. Due to numerous wars and various other factors, the U.S. has innovated its way to become the world's strongest economic and military power today. The post-Cold War world shifted the world from a bipolar structure to a unipolar one. While the U.S. does have a lower GDP than certain countries and may be lacking in the level of health care coverage when compared to other nations, that's simply due to its size. These other countries have a higher concentration of people who are covered by health care which is due to a smaller number of people within the country. The U.S. uniquely attracts people throughout the world. The fiscal capability of the U.S. has contributed to trends such as brain drain. The fiscal capability of the U.S. has allowed us to create institutions and organizations that utilize the world's best and brightest and brings together within the U.S.

    Additionally, these countries don't have the geopolitical influence the U.S. does. The U.S. has the ability to exert influence throughout the world. As a developed countries, we arguably (there are exceptions) don't require the services of other countries. Yes, there are significant and numerous benefits of interacting with other countries that have allowed us to exist with the status the U.S. has today, but the U.S. doesn't need these countries. There's functionally nothing a country could do if the U.S. backed out of a trade deal, didn't sign a treaty, etc. Military action would be unwise because the U.S. contains the largest military force out of any other country and has geographical advantages due to basis world wide. Sanctions or economic action would be functionally ineffective since they would probably hurt the country imposing the sanctions rather than help.

    A prime example of this is the recent deliberations regarding the South Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). The KORUS agreement would establish clear and improved trade between the U.S. and South Korea. The benefits of this to South Korea would be a contribution to their development, increased economic capabilities, and a quasi-economic alliance with the U.S. The benefits for the U.S. aren't as vital. The U.S. may potentially benefit economically from the agreement but it wouldn't be relevant enough to affect the economy. The potential benefits include an extension of soft power to Korea, the potential for a North-South unification, and a stronger South Korea which would be detrimental to North Korea.

    We are able to introduce policies such as KORUS FTA while advocating against nuclear proliferation in foreign countries, and simultaneously refusing to sign and ratify deals such as START. The reason for this is because the U.S. has the economic and military capabilities to exert power.

    I'm sure there may be exceptions or flaws in my logic but I would love to discuss them.

  2. Yes I would love to discuss them, Toby.

    Well fine as I have said in my blog post, the US is a global leader, but that does not necessarily mean its the winner. Look at my basic premise. I have said that in what the nation-state's purpose of "a nation-state is established to protect and govern her people while at the same time, ensuring that the nation-state is recognize and has peaceful relations with others". This being said, the global order to me is peaceful. Thus they work together and interdependent even though the US has the identity of a global leader. But the US now has all these responsibilities too. Like with PEPFAR the AIDs campaign. We, the US bolstered and supports the program with 50% of its funding while nations such as Botswana and India are given a lot of aid to combat HIV/AIDs from spreading. In this situation, who is the winner? The US for having the money to help other countries or Botswana. There is no winner. They are helping each other, and through this interdependence, both are evolving with each other hopefully for the betterment for humanity.

  3. I'm not really sure I understand your last comment.

    Do you believe that the U.S. is the global leader in the world? Or do you believe that its position is based purely on perception?

    Also, could you define what it means to be a winner?

    I think in the context of your example regarding the prevention/spread of HIV and AIDs, there are some unique benefits for the U.S. First is the spread of human rights and democratic ideals. Ensuring that people have the ability to rise from poverty and live healthy lives are vital facets of a democracy. Additionally, preventing the rampant spread of diseases is a security benefit for the U.S. because it deters the risk of these diseases spreading to the U.S. and other countries. Also, the foreign aid the U.S. gives allows underdeveloped countries to potentially become developed. This allows for the potential for future economic agreements and policies that are targeted at developing countries that are suffering due to systemic disease problems. To use Africa as an example, Africa is ripe with resources and land that could easily be harnessed to benefit both the U.S. and Africa. The problem is, a strong infrastructure doesn't currently exist to take advantage of this. Yes both the U.S. and Africa are helping each other while simultaneously "winning".

    Also, I'm not sure if the U.S. solely engages with countries for the betterment of humanity. If that were the case, there are opportunities worldwide in which the U.S. could engage to "better humanity". The U.S. could intervene in domestic issues such as internal conflict in Ireland, human rights abuses in North Korea, and hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. The thing is, the U.S. chooses not to because it wouldn't be of any strategic benefit to engage these issues. In fact, it's probably strategically beneficial not to engage these countries.

    I don't think that the concept of a "win" necessarily assumes a "loss" on another end. While there may be implications for certain policies that may result in a "win", there are unique benefits in these policies that may not better the entirety of humanity, but specifically the U.S.

  4. Exactly Toby what I am trying to say, if you read my argument, was that everyone is interdependent. Our question was IS THERE A WINNER ON THE GLOBAL STAGE. So I said there really wasn't a winner or a loser. Just dependence. And what I said was that states dont work JUST for their self interest BUT also HOPEFULLY for the betterment of humanity. READ MY ARGUMENT!!!!

  5. You claim that everyone is interdependent and that this precludes there from being a "winner" or a "loser" on a global stage, correct?

    No, states don't always work just in their self interest, but they often do. To say anything else is naive. Of course states work in their self interest and of course there are winners and losers when they do so. Your problem is that you define "winning/losing" so broadly, as if it was some sort of ambiguous term linked to poverty or happiness or something. It's really much simpler: winning and losing is defined as your success or failure in achieving your goals with respect to a specific issue.

    Examples abound of this, but I'll point a few out.

    1. China won when they forced Japan to circumvent their own laws to return a criminal to Chinese custody to prevent a larger row. China flexed its muscle and got someone else to do what it wanted.

    2. Syria won when they killed Rafik Hariri and got away with it. The Lebanese people lost. Syria flexed its muscle and exerted control over Lebanon and got them to do what they want.

    3. Israel won when they destroyed Osirak and halted WMD production in Iraq. Iraq lost.

    4. We are all interconnected, and as such it's possible for everyone to lose as happened when China played spoiler at Copenhagen.

    5. We are all interconnected, and as such it's possible for everyone to win as happened when we eradicated smallpox.

    Interdependence does not preclude there from being a victor or a loser. I just showed you 5 fairly recent examples off the top of my head with a clear winner and a clear loser -- with states operating in their own self interest. And I'm not even covering any wars; though you may argue that I'm focusing too much on violent action to which I reply: welcome to world politics.

  6. I guess I'm just a little confused about the warrants behind your argument. In the context of the U.S., what are examples of the U.S. acting purely for the betterment of humanity?

    Additionally, do you think the U.S. is dependent on other nations in order to sustain its position in the world?

  7. i said hopefully for the betterment of humanity. look, there is no such thing as a purely selfless act.

  8. there are obvious reasons where states worked in their own self interest. I can name so many. But I am saying that the interdependence can also bring us together and not divide us.

  9. But the thing is we are constantly working it out. When one state "wins" more scenarios and struggles are constructed. The basic principal of constructivism is that this interdependence takes constant work

  10. All well and good, but you're not really refuting anything I said. You said that there are no winners, and even implied that saying so was ignorant. But, by your own apparent admission, this is not the case.

    If you no longer stand by your previous comments, just say so -- your last three comments are otherwise quite confusing.

  11. No no what I am trying to say is that you have your point but there might be winners and losers and the surface due to single events but because of our interdependence, we are constantly working on it so if the US "wins" in a situation, another situation comes up. Sometimes we win at that, sometimes we lose. I can give several examples where we have not succeeded in our mission. But what I am trying to say is that I see your point but we are in constant pulls of interdependence so to say there is a GLOBAL WINNER is a silly statement. That is where I am coming from. As the basic tenets of constructivism illustrates that it takes work to stay interconnected. There is not a GLOBAL WINNER. There are global players that win at situations. But all in all, I do not think so. As I have given with my example of the US vs. Sweden. Who wins there? Both? Well then cool. But there is not ONE global winner. That is where I was coming from

  12. Well yes, I suppose if one has a macro enough view, there is no winner per se. Just as one cannot really "win" at life*, I don't suppose you can "win" in world politics if you're looking at it from such a standpoint. I, of course, disagree with the necessity and even wisdom of doing as such but I do understand your point now.

    *There are some exceptions, it is important to note.

  13. and i have noted them. but as I had set, there are no winners because what is there really to win?