Monday, August 10, 2009

Final Entry

I find it very hard to figure out what my role in addressing and potentially putting an end to climate change could be. I don't think I am going to be able to to have my voice heard at any political rallies or things like that but what I can do is start by changing my own lifestyle. I am indeed a child of carboniferous capitalism. It is pretty much all I know I grew up on a farm, I lived in the country and everywhere I went was in a vehicle. Until about two years ago I had probably pretty much never so much as recycled something in my life.

So what I think I can do to help the cause of climate change would be to change my way of doing things. For example I live about eight blocks from a convenience store which I usually drive to from now on I will walk that distance. I also live about 3-5 miles from school and from work instead of driving there I could bike. When I purchase my own home I will hopefully be able to power at least some of it via solar power. My father runs a farm in Northfield, Mn and within the next couple years or so he plans to put in a wind turbine.

Also I think what I can do to help is spread the word, I think a lot of people just really don't know how bad things could get here in the next forty or fifty years and if they do know it could make all the difference. I will do my best to minimize carbon emissions and greenhouse gases and hopefully I will be buzzing around in a nice little solar or electric car within the next ten years.


Edkins, J., & Zehfuss M. (2009) Global Politics, A New Introduction. New York, U.S.A.

Barringer, Felicity (2008) Polar Bear is Made a Protected Species. New York Times

Mufson, Steven (2007) Climate Change Debate Hinges on Economics. The Washington Post

Erdman, Shelby Lin (2009) Glaciers a Canary in the Coal Mine of Global Warming. CNN

Plumer, Bradford Is There a "safe" Limit for Global Warming. Wall Street Journal

Associated Press (2009) UN Chief Paints Doomsday Climate Picture.

Anuradha, R.V. (2009) Legalities of Climate Change. Council on Foreign Relations

Climate Change

There is some good news about climate change and that is that energy and climate experts say that the world already has the technology and know-how for cutting back on greenhouse gases enough to slow the rise of the Earth's temperature. The problem is because of the immense cost of addressing global warming, congress so far will barely make a dent in the problem. Seems like money is always the problem, it's better to make money than to spend it, but in these trying times spending might just be the only sensible solution.

There are many problems and consequences that come along with climate change. We have talked about in class how certain areas that are below sea level will most likely be gone along with about 500 or more animal species going extinct. But one problem that could be very serious that does not get talked about much would be our drinking water supply. With the melting of the polar glaciers it causes the sea level to rise and with the rise of the sea level it could contaminate our fresh water springs and rivers from which we get our drinking water.

"The melt of glaciers is resulting in higher sea levels and affecting ecosystems and the rivers that emanate from these glaciers, Josberger said. "In terms of water supply available for people, Anchorage is fed by two glacially fed lakes. There are some very strong impacts that could happen." (CNN).

The biggest thing about global warming is that it is not an American issue and it isn't a North American issue, but it is in fact, a Global issue. Most technologies that could reduce greenhouse gases are not only expensive but would need to be embraced on a global scale (Washington Post). There are projections that are thought to be necessary by the year 2030 and they are as follows; 1 million wind turbines throughout the world, massive reforestation, billions of solar panels (enough to cover half of jersey), major retooling of the auto industry, and as many as 400 power plants need to be refitted with new and pricey equipment to trap carbon dioxide and store it under the ground (Washington Post).

When I process all of this information and look over it(and it's probably a lot easier for me to say but..) I just don't understand why we can't start taking action now. I mean the facts are all right there, now obviously we can't predict the future per say but I think we have a pretty good idea of what we are in store for in the future due to the rapid climate change. Last year world military spending amounted to about $1.4 trillion, of which the U.S. accounted for about half (FOXNEWS). We seem to have no problem spending money on weaponry and bombs to protect each other from each other, but what it all boils down to is that the weapons we have won't mean anything when half of the world's animals are dead, countries are under water, and our drinking supply is shorted.

There are some good things happening like the MEF ( The Declaration of the MAJOR ECONOMIES FORUM on Energy and Climate) which will follow up on the kyoto protocol which expires in 2012. MEF comprises of 17 developed and developing economies- Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the UK and the US. It is all in efforts to keep the Earth's temeperature from rising 2 degrees celsius of the pre-industrial average (Council on Foreign Relations).

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that climate change is the greatest challenge facing a world beset by crises and call on governments to reach a deal on the environment at a meeting in Denmark later this year. Ban said the world has "less than 10 years to halt (the) global rise in greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid catastrophic consequences for people and the planet." (FOXNEWS)

It is understandable that Climate Change can be a bit slow going in terms of slowing it down and rectifying the situation with all of the other problems and issues that are going on globally in the world today like the oil crisis, disease, hunger and the economy. With all of the figures which most clearly state that if something isn't done we are going to be living in a whole new world by 2050 something needs to be done quickly. 2050 is a mere forty years away so we cannot just leave global warming and climate change on the back bunner for much longer. Something needs to be done and done soon or the future of the world and the human race could very well be at stake.

How can I change the world

This is a challenging question to ask myself. How can I affect the world I live in. Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, and that statement alone sends chills down my spine, and encourages me to make something of myself. Before a change can occur, we need to change ourselves. That is what we all are doing everyday. I went to college to make a change in my life, to become more aware of the world. I could have decided any degree and I decided to follow in the footsteps of Picasso, Michelangelo, and Frida. I am receiving my degree in Art and Art History. Next, I need to find out how to use these skills I worked so hard on learning.

I believe that it is important to understand that art is going to be my vehicle for change. I do understand the importance that art can play in our world. If we look to more recent times with the 2008 Election, art was a huge form of Obama’s campaign. Artists came together and created music, art, and many other forms to show who they believe in. That in itself is a statement that art can be used for that vehicle of change.

I realize that I cannot change the world but I know that I can change someone’s life so that is what I am going to do. If I change enough individuals through my art, they would hopefully go on to change another life. This is the pay it forward method.

Whether I want to fight for an education reform, equal rights, poverty, or other issues, all I need to start with is a paintbrush and serving others. Those will be what I will do to make an impact in the world.


Fox, Dennis. (2001). Radical Dilemmas in the Anti-high-stakes-testing Movement. Radical Teacher


Gardner, S. (Jan. 2002). Forecasting and Managing Student Achievement on High-Stakes Tests. T.H.E. Journal

Haladyna, T. M. (2002). Essentials of Standardized Achievement Testing. Validity and Accountability. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Ormrod, J. E. (2003). Educational Psychology. Developing Learners.

Popham, W. J. (Feb. 2002). Right Task, Wrong Tool. American School Board Journal

My Role

As hard as it is for the U.S. to come up with a good solution and end to the problem with North Korea, I find it very difficult for me to have a significant role with this issue. For the matter of fact I did not even really know exactly what was going on before. However, now that I have learned more and feel that I am informed on the problem with North Korea there could be minor ways of me having a very small role.

One way I feel like I could have a minor role with North Korea is to keep up to date on what is going on. I feel like if I keep myself informed on the issue I will be a little less nervous as I was before. To continue to be up to date with this issue I will be an informed citizen and be able to make correct thoughts. If there should be someone else whom may not know what is going on, I will be able to inform him or her. I can take this issue as an example of the other scary global events that are happening and learn more about them as well.

Another minor role I believe I have this with issue is to have more of an understanding these kinds of large political issues. However, I may not fully understand why countries such as North Korea do these kind of extreme actions but I will perhaps understand how other countries deal with situations like this. I will still wonder why these extreme issues happen and why they are not so easily fixed. Therefore, taking time to learn about them and try to understand how tactful people in the political world have to be when handling such large problems will help me continue to learn.


Bleiker, Roland. Global Politics A New Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Benson, Pam. Levine, Adam. U.S. dismisses latest missile provocation by North Korea. 24 June 2009. 8 August 2009.

Fulghum, A. David. “Testing, Testing.” Aviation Week & Space Technology pg 22. Vol 170. No 22. 1 June 2009.

Haggard, Stephan. Noland, Marcus. “North Korea IN 2008 Twilight of the God?Asian Survey. Vol. 49, Issue 1. Pp. 98-106.

Reynolds, Paul. North Korea a problem for Obama. 6 April 2009. 8 August 2009.

Snyder, Scott. “Responses to North Korea’s Nuclear Test: Capitulation or Collective Action?” The Washington Quarterly. 30.4 pg. 33-43. 2007.

“North Korea conducts nuclear test”. 25 May 2009. 8 August 2009.

“Path of peace available to North Korea, Obama says”. 16 June 2009. 8 August 2009.

“North Korea”. 16 June 2009. 25 July 2009.

North Korea is a Potential Threat

To know when a country is a threat to any nation or the world it is a scary reality and there always has to be a plan on how to handle this reality. North Korea is exactly this kind of situation.

As time has gone on with the issue of North Korea’s threat with their nuclear activity it has come pretty close to answer if they are a threat to the U.S. It seems that they are looking like a threat to the U.S. Paul Reynolds, a World affairs correspondent of the BBC News website, said that “The reason that the U.S. and the North’s neighbors are so concerned is that, if one day North Korea makes a nuclear warhead capable of being carried on a ballistic missile and it develops that missile successfully, it will have become a fully fledged nuclear-armed state.” Back in April of 2009 the talks with the six-party about how to stop the Yongbyon plant and its plutonium plant had been temporarily on pause (Paul Reynolds, BBC News). During that time as well president Obama had his special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, to try to get the conversation with the six-party to get started up again (Paul Reynolds, BBC News). Even thought it looks like a great possibility of North Korea attacking the U.S. and its allies, there is still this notion of being unsure what they are going to exactly do. News reporter Paul Reynolds makes two good options what North Korea could do. The first one he comes up with is “It may want to dodge and weave its way past sanctions and talks, and one day develop a usable nuclear weapon and a missile that could deliver it.” The second one is “Or it may be content to hold the world’s attention while keep its options open and making concessions here and there, withdrawing them when it feels the need.”

During the second missile that North Korea had successfully launched President Obama had made a statement that North Korea’s nuclear activity is a severe danger to peace. Part of his exact statement was, “blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council” (BBC News). Continuing this statement Obama goes onto saying “The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants action by the international community. We have been and will continue working with our allies and partners in the six-party talks as well as other members of the UN Security Council in the days ahead” (BBC News).

Through out this time as well North Korea said it would keep under military threat towards South Korea and South Korea’s allies, which is primarily the U.S. (BBC News). It was reported that in April of 2009 Pyongyang backed out on the six-party talks about its nuclear program to show disapproval to the international criticism on North Korea’s test firing of rockets (BBC News).

On June 16th 2009 when President Obama and the leader of South Korea, Lee Myungbak spoke, Obama had said, “Allowing North Korea to develop nuclear weapons would destabilize Asia and threaten the world” (CNN). Obama had also mentioned that there is still a strong alliance between the U.S. and South Korea if North Korea should attack South Korea. He as well stated that North Korea could join the UN nations if they would end their nuclear activity (CNN). He thinks this could happen by him saying, “There is another path available to North Korea, a path that leads to peace and economic opportunity for North Korea” (CNN). During this time an un-named Security Council resolution happened, where it meant that the U.S. would forbid shipments to and from North Korea. Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. would make sure to keep this ban intact (CNN). With this resolution North Korea decided to protest it by saying they would enhance uranium and weaponize plutonium, which was reported by KCNA (CNN). It is reported that plutonium can be made into atomic bombs. After the U.S. had established this resolution, Japan had decided to follow along with it. On this day a Senate Armed Services Committee was told that the Pentagon planned to leave a certain amount of ground-based missiles in Alaska and California in case of any threat (CNN). Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said, “At the current time and into the immediate future, we think 30 silos and 44 missiles is sufficient for the threat we face.”

Now in the last couple of months the U.S. intelligence group does not think that North Korea means to launch a long-range missile in the close future (CNN). Japan had warned the U.S. that North Korea was going to launch a missile that was supposed to go near Hawaii on July 4th. With this news Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said he was going to put defensive protection around Hawaii (CNN). However, as it turns out nothing had happened with this possible missile being launched towards Hawaii. During the month of June 2009 there was another warning though made by North Korea which consisted of them saying they were going to only do short and medium range missile tests. The U.S. intelligence had said that the shorter-range missiles can be “roll out on a dime” but they had believed that the longer-range missile was not an immediate threat at the time (CNN). The U.S. intelligence had also said at that time that there is a concern that the shorter-range missile tests “could go wrong”. In the same month there had been recent reports that North Korea threatened to “wipe out” the U.S. if provoked (CNN). According to U.S. intelligence people they believe that North Korea will keep doing these missile tests and see how far they can get with this activity. One official had commented by saying that with the change of leadership in the U.S. it’s been a “big factor” (CNN). He also had said that he believes that with this change North Korea is “testing the new administration.”

With all of this information and events happening with North Korea there is now the issue on how to handle North Korea. There are ways that are good and or bad to handle a serious situation like this with North Korea. It is a matter of trying to choose the best solution to handle North Korea. It is also important to strategize on how going about the solution.

One of the solutions to this issue with North Korea could be confrontation. However, that is not the right way to go about handling the issue because it has been shown that being confrontational with North Korea has not made things better. It would also give North Korea’s regime a way to have legitimacy (Bleiker, p.470). In the confrontational approach there is the way of giving economic sanctions. There were economic sanctions that were given to North Korea by the UN Security Council in 2006. There is a problem with giving sanctions because it has been seen to be limited usage (Bleiker, p. 470). One of the biggest reasons why confrontation would not work with North Korea is because the natural way of conflicts. It is hard to know how North Korea perceives the military threats that have been given to them. There is a better way to handle the situation.

The better way to handle this situation is more on the theory of engagement. With the engagement approach to the North Korean issue it would bring a more peaceful result. Even South Korea has wanted to take this type of approach to try to solve things with North Korea. The start of this approach by South Korea was from their leader Kim Dae-jung in 1998. He was the one who wanted to have a co-operation with North Korea (Bleiker p. 471). After Kim’s time of ruling, Roh Moo-hyun, the next leader continued this idea. Now currently the leader, Lee Myung-bak, keeps this idea but has wanted to be more cautious.

The engagement theory also involves an emphasis on dialogue (Bleiker p. 472). Having dialogue creates both sides having to talk things out and to come to some negotiations. There was a success with this emphasis on dialogue in February 2007. During that time there was an agreement between North Korea, South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia, and Japan (Bleiker p.472). This agreement even allowed economic exchanges between all these countries with North Korea that had not been happening for a while. The engagement approach to North Korea would take some time but would bring better results of having an understanding between North Korea and the U.S. Roland Bleiker an author in the book Global Politics even said, “The engagement policy is based on the traditional liberal assumption that increased economic co-operation would eventually engender common interest and understanding.” Hopefully with the engagement approach things could eventually come to peaceful result and prevent North Korea to really use any nuclear weapons.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Role in Iranaian election

When it comes to the question of how I can I help in world politics? Also how I can do something about the Iranian election of 2009? Their honestly is not a lot that comes to mind. I feel as if one individual cannot produce much change. They need support of others to achieve something on a global level. I like this quote from Maja Zehfuss on this subject.
“ Because we are not alone in the world, having a clear idea about the right way forward almost always involves having ideas about what should do and what is good for them”(Zehfuss.2009)
This quote to me demonstrates to me is that all of us have opinions of the world and the politics that come with being human. Though, just because you have a strong position on a certain subject doesn’t mean you have to force it on someone.
Regarding the question of what I can do about the Iranian election, the answer is not much. Though I do believe that some sort of fraud took place through the research I have done there is not much I an American college student can do about this situation. It is ultimately up to the people of Iran, and their government officials. I do believe that the U.N. could step in, and do something, but any country stepping in could further damage relations with a country that isn’t really known as being very friendly. Especially regarding the relations the United States has with Iran at the current moment. All in all I wish I could do something because I feel like the regime in place are that of the fundamentalist type (even bordering on a dictatorship), but there isn’t much that I can do from a realistic standpoint.

Edkins, J., & Zehfuss, M. (2009) Global Politics, A New Introduction. New York, U.S.A.
Black, Ian (2009) Mir Hossein Mousavi Calls Iranian Government Illegitimate, The Guardian (UK).
Weisbrot, Mark (2009) Was the Iranian Election Stolen? Does it Matter?, Common (Washington, DC.)
Collins, Michael(2009) Iranian Election Fraud 2009- Who was the Real Target and Why? (Washington, DC.)
Beber & Scacco(2009) Irans election was fixed, says number crunchers. The Great Beyond. (UK)
Slackman, Michael(2009) Amid Crackdown, Iran admits Voting errors. New York Times. (Cairo, Egypt.)

More on the Iranian Election

In regards to the Iranian election some people are more certain that their was actual fraud. Journalist Michael Collins says,
“The council consists of six Islamic jurists appointed by the Supreme Leader of Iran and six from Majilis, Iran’s popularity elected parliament. They screen presidental canidates through background checks and a detailed written examination. Very few pass the test. Since 2004, the council has routinely rejected reform candidates. That’s the fraud. It couldn’t be more obvious.” ( Collins.2009)

Considering how difficult it is to ever become a candidate on the ballot in Iran. It is hard for me to believe a person like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is a holocaust denier, and very radical in his ways got onto the ballot for a second time. To me you could make an argument saying that Ahmadinejad’s regine is one of funamentalism.

“ Fundamentalism’ from an exclusively religious connotation and to associate it instead with any form of thought or idealology that is uncomprimising in its worldview and which represents itself as the sole source of truth or the only solution to global problems.” (Ali. 2009)

Looking at the reformist perspectives Ahmadinejad’s regime could fit into this from the fact that his way is the right way. Also, when they protested how he sent troops out to disrupt the protests, and put them to an end. You could say that this shows how his way is the only way. The fact that he denies the holocaust, and has even held confereces with other anti- semtic followers tells you a lot a bout his character.

Another example of Ahmadinejad’s regime would be looking at Max Weber’s defintation of a modern state.

“ a state is that human community which (successfully) lays claim to the monopoly of legitimate physical violence within a certain territory, this “territory” being another of the defining characteristics of the state.” ( Weber. 1994. Pg 310-311)

Here the used the power of being the state and stopping the protestors through physical brute force. Going into the numbers of the election there is a possibility of fraud occurring. Though, supports of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would disagree with this statement. Saying that fraud is impossible. If there was any fraud of any sort someone in the counting process would’ve said something. An example, of voting fraud from the blog The Great Beyond.

“They used the results published by the Ministry of the Interior and examined the last two digits of the votes reported for the four main candidates.

“The numbers look suspicious,” they report in the Washington Post.
There are far too many 7s, for a start, and not enough 5s. Such results would occur in fewer than four in 100 non-manipulated election results, they write.

That would not rule out Iran’s election being fair. But Scacco and Berber go further. They note that previous work has proven that humans have trouble generating “non-adjacent digits”, ie: 27 as opposed to 23, or 36 rather than 34. Non-manipulated results should be approximately 70% non-adjacent digits; Iran’s results are 62% non-adjacent.
The probability of that happening in a fair election is less than 4.2%, they write.” (Beber & Scacco. 2009)
According to these statistics there was a 96.8% of voting fraud that occurred in the 2009 election in Iran. The thing that is really disturbing to me is if these calculations are correct, how no one has stepped forward about the fraud. Also, if this was the case wouldn’t the U.N. step in, and appoint the candidate who actually won the election? Then, when you look at the cities in Iran and where the voting takes place the number of votes do not add up. Looking at an article from the New York Times journalist Michael Slackman says this,
Iran’s most powerful oversight council announced on Monday that the number of votes recorded in 50 cities exceeded the number of eligible voters there by three million, further tarnishing a presidential election that has set off the most sustained challenge to Iran’s leadership in 30 years.”( Slackman. 2009)
Looking at the most recent facts of the election it seems to me that the Iran election did have some fixing to it. The big question to me is why is no one doing anything about it?

Final Thoughts on World Politics

When it comes to me to think about what I can do to change the conflict that is occurring in Iran I am at a standstill. Jaques Derrida talks about confronting conflicts with aporia, which is when there is really no right way to approach a matter such as the civil unrest that is occupying the country of Iran. As one individual I cannot change the way the Iranian government operated nor do I wish to do so. Many Western sources, our president included, have condemned the practices of the Iranian government but who are we to judge another nations way of doing things. It is up to the civilians to decide if political change is needed. And perhaps we are just talking about using a problem-solving approach. Maybe the Iranian people do not want a complete overhaul of their political institution but some changes are needed in certain areas (such as more individual freedom and interaction with the West). But I do not think it is my right to decide what is best for others, since I think that this would be a rather fundamental approach to world politics. Rather, I think that it is important for me to say informed about what is occurring in the world (to read, and read often, to gather my information from a variety of different sources and then make an educated opinion about the current events in our world.
On the other hand however, much of what I have seen about the conflict in Iran has been documented, written about or filmed from a Western perspective. Wibben has discussed how individuals or groups of people write from a narrative, which is a portrayal of their beliefs and ideologies, and it may be that the conflict is talked about in a manner that portrays the Iranian government as the “Other” when the West is the “We.” Since the Iranian government has censored the media from writing about the current conflict, I was unable to find any writings about the current debates from somewhere other than a Westernized view. We (the West, the United States, and myself) may not see the current dynamics in Iran as something desirable and our belief may be to “liberate” these individuals (to send in humanitarian work, if the conditions warrant, and “help them” establish a more democratic government. However, I bring this up with some hesitation because as we have discussed in class, not much intervention is done without some others interest being involved in the situation.

Simma and Cassese argue that explanations to invade other countries may warrant a metaphysical account, insisting that it may not be legal but ethical to do so, but what we have discussed in class has be wondering what the real reasons would be for a nation to intervene in the situation. Huysmans argues using a realist approach that every country has some sort of interest or political agenda when offering aid to a country. For example, we discussed in class that the underlying reason why the United States may have invaded Iraq was presented to the people as metaphysical, to spread democracy to a country that is deserving of such freedoms (and the War on Terror) but, other agendas such as gaining access to one of the world’s largest oil reserves may have been another motive for the United States to invade Iraq.

When it comes to the big picture of global politics it is difficult for me to see what I can do as one individual. It seems that the problems are vast without any concrete solutions, but there are some things that I can do as one person to make changes that I want to see in the world even if they do not amount to a mass worldwide movement. Recently there has been a movement to go green and purchase locally grown and make products. This recent change has been in response to climate change (our contributions to living in a carboniferious capital society) and the costs of neo-liberalism. Before entering this course I was unaware of the reasons why people were choosing to commute eco-friendly and what the importance was of buying organic, locally grown products, but now I have begun to make the change. I think that it is important for me, as well as everyone who participates, to find alternative lifestyles if we do not agree with the current dynamics of our political society. These small changes in my lifestyle are the ways in which I can change the current geopolitical situation. And while they have nothing to do with the current events occurring in Iran, which I am completely dumbfounded on how to change as one individual, I know that what I am doing now will in some way (whether it be big or small) make our world better for future generations. And as this movement against climate change and capitalism grows just as Hobbes has argued in our text perhaps these changes will take on a life of their own and in several generations be the norm in which individuals live in our society.

Black, Ian (2009) Mir Hossein Mousavi Calls Iranian Government Illegitimate, The Guardian (UK).
Bruno, Greg (2009) Religion and Politics in Iran, Council on Foreign Relations.

Edkins, J., & Zehfuss, M. (2009) Global Politics, A New Introduction. New York, U.S.A.
Erlich, Reese (2009) Iran and Leftist Confusion, Common
Fathi, Nazila (2009) Iran’s President Praises Disputed Elections, The New York Times.
Godspeed, Peter (2009) Iran Faces Struggle for Power, The National Post (Canada).
Gwertzman, Bernard (2009) Iran’s Political Crisis Far from Over, Council on Foreign Relations.
Hardy, Roger (2009) Iran Vote Dispute Moves to Seminary, BBC News (UK).
Kian, Azadeh (1997) Women and Politics in Post-Islamic Iran: the Gender Conscious Drive to Change, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 24, 75-96.
Murphy, Brian (2009) North Korea and Iran Use Similar Script to Get Their Way, The Washington Post.
Sayah, Reza & Amanpour, Christiane (2009), Iranian Election could be Test for Women’s Rights, CNN.
Slackman, Michael (2009) Iran Protestors Take to Streets Despite Threats, The New York Times.

Iranian Analysis

The current depictions of events in Iran can be analyzed more deeply in a number of different ways, some questioning how the Islamic world can integrate into a world consumed by Western culture and others detailing how power structures work in a nation-state.
Much of what I have seen about the conflict in Iran has been illustrative of a country in turmoil over traditional vs. modern belief systems. The current government holds a very strong preference for religious affiliation within the political system while recent political candidates are in favor of less religious affiliation in the government, more freedom for all citizens (especially women) and more integration into the global market and adapting more Westernized views. Taking the perspective of Tariq Ali, I argue that the current political members may be working in a fundamentalist way; seeking to keep the current beliefs and ideologies of Iran intact without much Western interference.
In terms of the power struggle that is occurring in Iran with the government and its’ citizens there are number of different theoretical approaches that can be taken. According to Thomas Hobbes we should not look at power as existing from one source (whether it is the Iranian government or the citizens) rather, power is in and of itself. In other words, power is born when individuals buy into a socially bound contract and then combine to form a being greater than them. In the current example, power is a manifestation of all of the dynamics that are occurring in Iran presently. It is my opinion then that the struggle of power would not be occurring in Iran if it were not for the present government and the citizens that want some sort of political change. Had there not been a desire of change we would not be seeing the unrest that is currently being illustrated in the country.
Michel Foucault on the other hand, takes a different approach to power struggles. Instead of thinking of power manifesting in the government and the people either obeying or fighting for different representation, Foucault insists that power should be looked at as power relations. What this means is that in any given situation for event there is always going to be a struggle for power with one side getting what they want while the other side has to negotiate for the time being. Furthermore, this idea of power relations stresses that power is relative, just because one side has gotten what they wanted in one specific situation does not mean that the hold all the power forever instead, it is susceptible to change every time to parties do not agree on a particular issue.
The current illustration of power is relatable to the current situation in Iran in a number of ways. While the Iranian government may have been the party with more power for a number of years, the citizens have now decided that they do not want to obey or compromise. So while the protesting continues and the public defies the law it can be seen that the public has one this fight but the government is taking many more actions that question the power relations in the country. The Supreme Leader has issued a statement prohibiting any protesting, the police have been thought to injure and kill innocent protestors, the government has been accused of falsifying the conditions and treatment of the jailed protestors and even manipulating the death count and has even gone as far as the blame foreign influence on the cause of the nation’s unrest.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

World Police Final

So how can I, one man, attempt to promote change in the world? How can my actions be meaningful and helpful. It seems like such a daunting task. By the latest percentage of voting totals most Americans have seen to just throw in the towel. After reading the text, attending our class, and experiencing life in general I believe my attempt may be more along the lines of the critical theory discussed by Zehfuss (2009.) I'd like to try inaction as well as action. My idea comes from a booing crowd at a sports game that has always bothered me. When a rival team comes to your hometown stadium and are announced you have people who boo. I would relate those people to those that protest and picket over some political idea that they are against. Those boos that are heard by the rival team still generate an emotional response that can boost their efforts and energize them to compete harder then ever. Where as what if you just kept quiet? What if when they were announced there was deafening silence? There would be no catalyst to stimulate or excite them. However, when your team is announced you should shout as loud as you can. Let them know that you support them and every great play they make. Would it be possible to have success with that kind of an outlook? If you only supported and urged your friends and family to support the causes you agreed with besides picketing and making noise for those you don't agree with? If you focused your efforts not on picketing and booing would have a greater effect if you focused your efforts on cheering and supporting your side?

So how then can I encourage the idea that the world needs a democratically led world police? I think most would agree that the idea of the U.N. is a good idea. To that extent I'd like to support any politician that promotes strengthening that entity. Obviously all countries can't contribute the same amount financially or militarily to make it so the U.N. can have a strong military to defend its decisions. But I believe if it did, and if it worked the way we'd like it to work, the situation in North Korea would have been settled a long time ago. The world would have been able to move on to help other people in need with that situation solved. So I think it would be with action by inaction that is how I will attempt as one person to make a difference in the global economy. Whether it be by boycotting certain products or shouting loudly at a rally for a cause I care about. The silence towards the issues and products, however associated they are with countries that are not acting in the worlds best interests, should make the point where others try to use words and violence.


Lawrence Davidson. Arab Studies Quarterly. Belmont: Winter 2009. Vol. 31, Iss. 1/2; pg. 1, 10 pgs

Edkins, J., & Zehfuss, M. (2009) Global Politics, A New Introduction. New York, U.S.A.

Soloman, Jay (2009) Broader Issues on Table in Pyongyang, Wall Street Journal,

Holland, Steve (2009) White House says policy toward North Korea unchanged, The Washington Post,

Unknown Author, (2009) Freed US reporters safely back on home soil, The Standard,

Landler, Mark (2009) North Korea Says It Will Halt Talks and Restart Its Nuclear Program, The New York Times,

Findley, Paul (2008) The Proper U.S. Role in Pakistan, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Washington: Vol. 27, Iss. 2; pg. 14, 4 pgs

Davidson, Lawrence (2009) American Foreign Policy and the Rise of Islamic Politics, Arab Studies Quarterly. Belmont: Vol. 31, Iss. 1/2; pg. 1, 10 pgs,

Boot, Max (2003) America's Destiny Is to Police the World, Council on Foreign Relations,

Weisbrot, Mark (2001) Should America Police The World?, Common,

Friday, August 7, 2009

World Police Analysis

To analyze the topic of the U.S. being the world police we need to dig a little deeper into the idea of the use of a democratic account of law, and how this force would conduct itself.

With respect to the democratic account of law (Orford 2009)that our text discusses it seems apparent that the best way to police anything is with a democratic vote on how to handle military and humanitarian interventions. In order for a police force to be trusted and respected its actions cannot be the result of the interests of larger countries, or large world businesses. Some set up like the U.N. has to take the lead on making the decision on how to act. The U.N. has yet to have the make up a military force of its own to use to police matters but in the case against North Korea they have at least issued a list of economic sanctions against the country. These even targeted specific businesses (Landler 2009.) If anything these sanctions could slow the North Koreans ability to access the global financial system (Soloman 2009.)

Even if we had a truly democratically led world police how would they go about conducting themselves? Stopping the North Koreans from continuing nuclear arms research is the goal. The confrontational approach (Bleiker 2009) seems to have its problems. If military action is used, people die. If sanctions are enforced it's usually the general populace who suffers. Also if we begin labeling the country as evil then the likely hood of negotiations begins to diminish and the prospect of war becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Bleiker mentions a preferable choice of engagement instead of confrontation. The Standard (2009) reported that very recently Bill Clinton was successful in negotiating the release of two U.S. journalists from captivity for crossing into North Korean territory from China. During those supposed humanitarian negotiations the topic of nuclear weapons was discussed. We've yet to see if this positive result to a dangerous situation will yield some positive actions by the North Koreans. If anything, Hillary Clinton has hopes that the North Koreans can see that they can have a positive relationship with the U.S. going forward (Holland 2009.) This seems like a more productive outcome. If that's the case does the world police then need to be thought of as superior negotiators first before they are thought of as a mighty military? For these negotiators to work they would need to respect the heads of state that they are speaking to and avoid any appearance of self righteousness (Findley 2008.) The U.S. may be able to help finance a military but I don't believe it could represent the strongest negotiators. An example would be the volatile middle east. Lawrence Davidson (2009) states, It is the militarism, neo-liberal economic interventionism, political subversion and immoral arming of the military and civilian thugs who presently run so many Middle Eastern countries, which has earned the U.S. the epithet of the "Great Satan." With a name like that the U.S. is clearly not the people to represent the globe in negotiations for a world police.

I would tend to believe that the world police, U.S. or not, needs to invest in negotiations first with a strong military to back up what was agreed upon. Negotiators would be sent out with an agenda based on an international council and not based off of one country's ideology or one global business's ideas. Hopefully the military would never have to be used as the decision of what to do in any given situation would not be based on anyone's fundamental ideas or interests but one that is best for those involved as well as the rest of the world.

What is to be done?

Your last entry is a chance to reflect on your role in relation to the big issues we face in the global arena. It’s not easy to figure this out, since these are such big issues that seem so distant and unrelated to our lives. And it’s pretty unlikely that any of us is going to sit down and try to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea, or try to persuade the Iranian government to recount the votes in their last election. But we are all part of global politics in various ways.

You can think about your role on a range of different “levels”: in your day-to-day actions and interactions, in your community, regionally, nationally, and globally. In your entry you might write about your role on one or more of these levels. There are also different realms we operate in: the political realm of voting or writing letters to Congress, the economic realm of buying things and working a job, the religious realm of participating in a spiritual community. In each of these there are different ways in which we participate in global politics.

One way to look at this in terms of how “political” you are. A number of you mentioned “not knowing much about politics” at the beginning of this course. But if we look at a basic definition of politics (used by Harold Lasswell)—the process of determining who gets what, where, when, and how—I’d say you all know plenty about politics. I would argue that we can’t help but know something about politics in that sense, since we can’t avoid being involved with the processes that determine who gets what, where, when, and how. Every day we make decisions about how to spend our time and money, we pursue careers, talk with friends and coworkers, consume resources, and live out a set of values.

So if we can’t help but be at least a little political, what kinds of goals do we have? What role do we have in relation to these big political issues like war, poverty, justice, and the global environment? I’d encourage you to think about what constitutes a “realistic” set of goals in regard to these issues, and I’d suggest that the goal should be somewhere between doing nothing (which is really impossible unless you’re dead) and achieving world peace or ending poverty (not going to happen). We can’t fix any of these problems in some final sense, but we can work on making things a bit better.

When we were looking at the impact of climate change in class, we sketched out two possible scenarios for the what the world looked like in 2050—one in which we worked hard on combating climate change and another where we did very little, and those two worlds looked significantly different. Neither scenarios involved utter chaos and catastrophe and neither one looked like paradise, but one looked better than the other (fewer species going extinct, less people dying from tropical diseases, fewer major storms, etc.) I think those are the kinds of trade-offs or alternative futures we have to work with here, and I hope you see that those the difference between those various outcomes is really important and that we therefore do need to engage on these issues.

I look forward to reading your thoughts and “narratives” about your role in the world, and sense of what it means to be a global citizen.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thoughts on the third blog entry

I've enjoyed reading through your various posts and seeing what you are learning about the topics you've chosen. They are all big topics and certainly part of the challenge is just figuring out the basic facts of the situation in each of your cases. It seems like it will be useful to continue your research (and gathering those 8 articles) to get a better grasp of the "back story" on the elections in Iran, the situation in N. Korea, the rise of China, and so on. Before doing any more of the blog entries I would make sure you have found those 8 articles and read them and see what story seems to be emerging about the situation.

For your third blog entry you should finish up that description and background (maybe half the blog, or so) and then turn to the theories and concepts from the book to see how they can help make sense of this case and provide a useful framework for it.

For most of your projects, it's pretty obvious what ideas or readings would be most useful: Ch. 3 on Climate Change, Ch. 19 on N. Korea, Ch. 18 on intervention and "policing the globe." Economic development is covered in various chapters and can be used to discuss the rise of China (as I see Mike has done in his last blog entry).

But it's often not easy to figure out exactly how to use these theories or concepts in a way that's really helpful in gaining a better understanding of global politics (and not just throwing in some fancy terms because they sound impressive). So do your best to explain how a particular theory is helpful for you in understanding a given situation.

For instance, in studying climate change I could see using the idea of neoliberalism and globalization (and could site 3 or 4 different places in the text book where these ideas are discussed). These help us understand how the free market has spread and become more important in global politics in the last 30 years, and this may have something to do with the increase in the level of global energy use and resource depletion as well. If the government is given a smaller role in the economy under neoliberal policies, that means it will have less control over businesses and industries (or individuals) when it comes to the environmental damage they are doing. This means that any global attempts at addressing climate change may run up against the whole set of neoliberal policies that have been so influential around the globe in recent years.

That's just one quick example, but I hope that helps. I'll post some guidelines for the fourth blog entry shortly.

Discussion of “End of development or age of development?”

“The article focuses on the significance of development to different countries of the world. It notes that there are two opposite sides of what development brings, such as modernity, and the other side regarding development as a failed project.” (End of development or age of development, Abstract)
Rapley, John (2008) took China as an example in this article and stated that although China has a very fast growth in economy, it also needs to deal with a lot of problems such as pollution and violence.
Have you ever questioned yourself that do you feel the real improvement of the world the development brings us? Or we are just stepping to the wrong way, which only increase conflicts among people, decrease the diversity of species, fading the color of our earth.
First of all, let’s see some of the figures that show the growth of Chinese economy.
1990 3.9% 1991 8.6% 1992 13.6% 1993 13.4% 1994 11.8% 1995 10.2% 1996 9.7%
1997 8.8% 1998 7.8% 1999 7.1% 2000 8.0% 2001 7.3% 2002 8% 2003 10.0% 2004 10.1% 2005 10.4% 2006 11.1% 2007 13% 2008 9%
The figures presented above are the percentage of growth of China’s GDP these years after market reforming. This is amazing because China even had remained a growth of 9 per cent in GDP during the economic downturn last year.
By the way, let me mention the graph we drew about Chinese development and its position in the world in the past 200 years. But here, I want to say at first that we probably made a mistake that we left the Opium War between China and Britain in 1840 out. I think Chinese economy once dropped to the bottom immediately after a series of wars from 1840 to the beginning of 20th century, especially the Opium War.
What caused that? We can conclude that British Industrial Revolution led Britain to industrialization, which practically bring a country prosperity and power. According to V. Spike Peterson in the Global Politics book, feudal markets were proved not to be efficient, which was changed by the later industrialization all around the world. As the same case, China is now still experiencing industrialization, which absolutely made China much stronger than before.
But of course it cannot settle all the problems. According to Rapley, John (2008), the informal section of Fiji’s economy prospered so rapidly that many people abandoned the traditional textiles industry. This can be some part of the cause of the crimes happened there. In other words, neoliberalism is not always the best. It also brings the differentiation of well-being, and poverty to a part of people. But that used to be one of the “unknown unknowns” before, which now becomes a “known known”.
Let’s come back to the issue focusing on China. Who is leading in China today? Of course, it is the only communist party. But it’s really hard to comment on the communist party, because we just can’t make a judgment easily that it is good or bad. Definitely, in politics, China is not as advanced as U.S. We are now under a revolutionary Communist regime, which limit people’s access to participating in dealing with politics. By contrast, just look at what U.S is doing. I still remember the day we visited the capital of Minnesota. There was a sentence written in Latin to the top of Lincoln’s portrait. It says the voice of people is the voice of god. But in China, we don’t even have right to speak freely. And the communist party in China is “doing pretty well” than any other parties in the world in influencing the citizens’ idea. They monopolize the media in China. We almost went crazy about the fact that they even had banned the Youtube in China since last year only because “someone was telling their dirty little secrets” there. But we should also appreciate the great job the communist party did in changing an old China into today’s huge economic entity in the world. You have to recognize it’s not easy for you to babysit 1.3 billion kids of that yellow earth.
The problems discussed in that article were undoubtedly reasonable. But poverty is not likely to be swept out right away. Although China has an inspiring large income in total, a lot of places there have many people who are still struggling on the survival standard. Let me tell you a story. I know Jack along with some of the UIC students attended a program arranged by UIC last year. They went to Guizhou province in China, where is in the center of south China. They taught classes there for primary school students. I think the people there may be some kind of the ones who only make $2 a day or less. The kids were eager to learn. They had to climb over mountains after mountains to reach the school on foot. But it was surprising that they got there very early like 5 o’clock in the morning. And it was not until the end of the program that the volunteers discovered the reason: they had no watches or clocks at home! Not to mention the TVs or any other thing made by modern technology. They just left for school every morning when the sun rises, so that it would not be possible for them to be late. I was so moved when I heard this story… Who is to blame? Should it be the mountains, the historical factors, people’s being simple and innocent? And what can we do? Will the poverty be wiped out by donating the limited amount of money to the poor? And what the hell the communist party is doing! This is one of the known knowns of the current China, but they are still unknown with the unknown method.
But such is life, such is the world today. As it is also implicated in U.S’s constitution, everyone is born equal. So why should we ignore those poor people, and consider our well-being as a kind of superiority?
However, it does take a long time. Poverty, environmental problems, violence, those are the endless issues we discuss nowadays in the world.
We don’t care what party will be taking charge of China. We only know that the current China is still blind to some degree. As a result, if we drive the party away immediately, there will be totally chaos, because wisdom only belongs to a group of us. We definitely need further development.
All in all, it seems like that Chinese age of development will never end. We all hope one day to see a strong China not only in GDP and population, but also in other real things that we can truly take pride of.
Source: Rapley, John, Progress in Development Studies; Apr2008, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p177-182, 6p
Reference: 1. Database, Academic Search Premier, retrieved from
2. Chinese GDP growth, retrieved from
3. V.Spike Peterson, Economics from feudal markets to industrialization, Global Politics, P271-P273
4. Michael Dillon, Unknown unknowns, Global Politics, P418
5. From Revolutionary Regime to Normal Governance: China's Long March toward Political Reform, Database, Academic Search Premier, retrieved from