1. Liberalism and Feminist theorist
Central to the theory and practice of Liberalism is the freedom of individuals to make choices that will result to social outcomes. This particular school of thought believes that “the purpose of society is the advance of freedom, equality, and human happiness” (Auster, 2007, LA reply section). It is important to note though that when one person chooses not to respect the freedom and rights of other people, this violates the concept and therefore could not be considered under Liberalism. The various forms of liberalism: economic, social and political, adopt the central tenet, albeit in different contexts.
Liberalism, throughout its main stages, has brought with it significant advantages. It resulted to the elimination of social hindrances, enabling equality for all men. Auster (2007) claims that during the classical liberalism stage, liberalism resulted to the “removal of traditional or arbitrary distinctions that were imposed on people” (Classical liberalism American-style section) resulting to limitations of state power. Through liberalism, the present-day society has freedom of speech and individuals have access to independent judiciary and public trial by jury. Liberalism also made free market accessible whilst augmenting constitutional government and legislatorial jurisdiction.
Various scholars claim that liberalism paved the way for feminism. Liberal feminism supports the view that men and women have equal rights and opportunities. Liberal feminists want to eradicate any barrier that hinders women to have the same rights and opportunities as men (Baehr, 2007). One of the best known proponents of Liberal Feminism is the British feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft. In her book, Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), she argued that the boundaries of liberalism should be extended to integrate women in the political formation of the liberal society.
Liberalism views are also often criticised especially by the conservative supporters. According to the conservatives, Liberalism results to irresponsible liberal quest of growth and material achievement. Indeed this is one of the significant drawbacks of Liberalism. Liberalism seemed to have allowed unguarded capitalism and hierarchy which now threatens to destroy the social fabric of our communities.
2. Institutions, Environment, & Human Rights
In my opinion, there is a need for an elected world body which sovereign states should be accountable to. I believe that there is currently the need to regulate governments and the concept of creating an elected world body should be explored. The role of inter-governmental organization is pivotal to maintaining international peace, human rights equality and environmental and economic sustainability of the world. A good example is the United Nations’ role in world affairs. The United Nations is central to the maintenance of international peace and security. It also promotes cooperation and international development among nations. (Heinbecker, 2011).
However, there is a need for the body which will regulate governments to be elected instead of appointed simply because I believe that an elected body will be less vulnerable to political pressure. Additionally, the election process guarantees a fairer way of creating the world body, giving all states the opportunity to join in. My view of an appointed body is that only powerful states will be able to have their say and therefore dictate the pace of the game, leaving the less powerful states under their control. Ideally, without considering other external factors, the election of the world body will ensure fair representation of nation states.
I also strongly believe that there is a necessity for world bodies or international institutions to possess power to effectively regulate states who clearly contravene world charter on environment and human rights. Looking at NATO summits, for instance, Ambassador Richard Williamson (2007) claims that:
“NATO summits have increasingly become pre-cooked photo opportunities in which incremental pre-negotiated statements are issued of little moment and of even less lasting impactthere is value in members of the club getting together and developing stronger personal bonds. But often the all too serious challenges confronting the Alliance are swept under the rug during these events, and the opportunity for progress on critical issues is lost” (para. 2).
There is no denying that the efforts of international institutions such as NATO, have been effective in combating atrocity crimes and environmental degradation, but more action and authority is needed from international institutions to ensure that we won’t witness events such as the “Killing Fields of Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Darfur” (Williamson, 2012, para. 4), also most recently, the ongoing crisis in Syria, which has killed thousands of innocent civilians, ever again.
The role of international institutions is pivotal however in order to be more effective and to safeguard nations and their citizens; they should possess the authority to impose restrictions on governments who are committing environmental and human atrocities.
3. Domestic challenges in foreign policy and political and economic tools of a nation
There are many factors that influence a nation’s foreign policy making. The most important of which and ones which said to create massive impacts are domestic factors. Hussain (2001) claims that “foreign policies are designed by the head of government with the aim of achieving complex domestic and international agendas” and “usually involves an elaborate series of steps where domestic politics plays an important role” (Intoduction section, para. 3).
Indeed, the domestic political environment of a state has a significant influence on the foreign policy decision-making. Heads of governments who are in charge of decisions, have the goal of staying in power and their primary obligation is to realize national expectations so therefore they are motivated to favour a foreign policy which is already accepted by the citizens at home. Heads of states also look at economic implications of a particular policy when making decisions, as mentioned previously, the ultimate obligation of a head of state is his/her own nation and therefore it is unlikely that a foreign policy which will have negative effect on the nation’s economy will be approved. When a nation is experiencing a national crisis, the foreign policy-making is also affected. Such was the case of George Bush in 2005, responding to hurricane Katrina which affected vast parts of the US. Tully (2005) claimed that “the president is trying to restore the credibility of an administration that seemed to falter in responding to the storm” and that his attention was drawn “away from foreign affairs, particularly the war in Iraq” (Introduction section, para. 1).
A nation, whether in the national or international arena, through its head of state, must utilize the political and economic tools that it posses to achieve its objectives. The political environment and situation in one country is imperative to the country’s development and relationship with other states. A strong political will can make or break a nation, as it strengthens policy, frameworks, international trade partners and cultural outlook. Hand in hand with political tools are the economic tools which a nation also has to exploit to realize its goals. Nations with strong economies are in a much stronger position to influence international trade policies which can have massive positive impact on the nation itself.
4. Argument of Kings. Armed Conflict or Diplomacy
In my opinion, when all diplomatic processes are exhausted to prevent conflict, then force is the only inevitable and imperative solution. I believe that diplomacy should be the primary resolution to all kinds of conflict and there were, and still are, many instances that diplomacy has been effective and successful in preventing armed conflict.
The nature of conflict, diplomacy and victory has evolved over the centuries. “The ends for which we fight are changing; we fight amongst the people; our conflicts tend to be timeless; we fight so as not to lose the force; on each occasion new uses are found for old weapons; the sides are mostly non-state” (Rupert Smith as cited in Grossman 2011, page 3).
The process of diplomacy, especially in the international scene, has transformed simultaneously as the nature of armed conflict changed. There is now a presence of preventive diplomacy in international scale which involves a myriad of actors and roles that are not necessarily connected with nations involved in a particular conflict. Grossman cited Michael Lund, a practitioner-scholar, on his claims that “the present uncoordinated and patchy nature of preventive diplomacy reflects the absence of any accepted international conflict prevention regime or system of governance” (2011, p. 4).
In fact, this preventive diplomacy was well demonstrated when NATO in collaboration with the EU, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and United States, was able to avoid the looming war in Macedonia in 2001 (Grossman, 2011). The cooperation of the different organisations and individuals were instrumental in successfully stopping the Macedonian civil war.
Personally, I believe that armed conflict is unavoidable especially when diplomacy fails to prevent it. A good example is the failure of the Rambouillet Agreement, which started the Kosovo War. All efforts were made by ethnic-Albanian delegation with support from NATO to reach a peace agreement with the Republic of Yugoslavia but Belgrade rejected the proposal, forcing NATO to start the war.
Conflict has always been a part of human nature, and we will continue to have conflict. As conflict evolves, the ways we cope with it, also evolves. The diplomacy process these days are so interconnected and well thought out, that majority of the time, it is very successful in achieving its goal. Unfortunately, I don’t think that all circumstances can be solved diplomatically, and when diplomacy does not work anymore, the only solution left is armed conflict
5. Narcoterror. War on Drugs vs War on Terror
The term narcoterrorism was said to have been claimed by the former president of Peru, Fernando Belaunde in 1983 when he described the attacks made against Peru’s anti-narcotics police. Originally it was understood to imply the efforts of drug traffickers to influence a government through intimidation or to stop the implementation of anti-drug policies by use of violence. “Narcotics trade and terrorism have traditionally been treated as two separate and distinct threats within security discourse” (Corti & Swain, 2009, p.1). However, during the 1990s, research showed that there is a valid relationship between organised crime and terror groups. Groups such as FARC and ELN were identified as those who are engaged in drug-trafficking to provide funding to their operations, recruit new members and gain expertise. Since then, the term narcoterrorism has been used to denote terrorist groups which use narcotics trafficking to gain revenue. However, other scholars argue that the word, narcoterrorism, is still ambiguous and can imply several things. Its usage creates misunderstanding especially on the wars on drugs and terror. Understanding the terms in their context is important especially in making the distinction between the two wars, as I think the wrong understanding and usage of terms can blur initially well defined distinctions.
The US government is involved in both wars against terror and drugs. Albeit, it has been involved longer in the war against drugs, which others claim has failed. The distinction between the two wars is valid. The war on drugs is about the efforts of the US government in collaboration with other governments such as Colombia to eradicate large scale organised drug operation. Others claim the methods used in the war against drugs are ineffective and that the only solution to the problem is to legalize drugs, after all, it is only because illegal drugs command exorbitant prices that logically groups turn to drug trafficking because there is money involved in it. It’s a means to an end for most groups and if there happens to be another product which can command high prices, for instance stuffed animals, groups will pragmatically switch to that particular product to sustain their operations.
Afghanistan’s massive opium production is said to have financed Al Qaeda’s operation, although the 9/11 Commission Report claims that although the Taliban’s income come from drug trade it did not provide Al Qaeda the same purpose and that there is no substantial evidence that bin Laden was involved in drug trafficking (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, 2004). This suggests that even if drugs trafficking are associated with groups, it does not always mean that they go hand in hand. I believe this is why the US government made a distinction between the war on drugs and the war on terror. The war on terror may have analogies to the war on drugs, but they are completely different from one another.
It’s safe to say that the connection between narcotics trafficking and terrorist groups is economically related; therefore the methods utilized by the US government to tackle both wars should have differences and there are. The US made a clear distinction between the two wars because fundamentally, when the market for drugs ceases to be (although for now that seems an impossibility), they will look for other ways to sustain their operations. This distinction will certainly prove useful in the present and future policy framework. I strongly suspect that if the US government takes a different stance on their war against drugs, the distinction between the two wars will be a lot clearer.
Corti, D. & Swain, A. (2009). War on Drugs and War on Terror: Case of Afghanistan.
Peace and Conflict Review, 3(2). Retrieved from http://www.review.upeace.org/index.cfm?opcion=0&ejemplar=17&entrada=86
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (2004). The 9/11 commission report: Final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacksupon the United States. Retrieved from: http://www.911commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf
Reuter P., Kleiman, M. & Caulkins, J. (2002). The “War on Terror” and the “War on Drugs”: A Comparison. The Journal of the Federation of American Students, 5(2.
Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/faspir/2002/v55n2/waron.htm