Jan 12, 2018 in Political

Historical Overview: The Thirty Years War

Historians around the world agree that history does repeat itself that is why many of them are always referring to the past in search of solutions applicable to present and future challenges, as well as a guide into the future. In this vein, Michael Klare describes what he calls a new and developing Thirty Years War, with similar outlines of the actual thirty years war from 1618 to 1648. The similarity between the two conflicts is that many will suffer, including people, entire corporations, countries, regions and even continents, like the suffering in the earlier conflict that is what Klare predicts to happen. Other similarities include the initiation of interventions, rearrangement of power structures, interminable and intermittent smaller wars and conflicts and extreme lawlessness as people seek to survive in a hostile environment. Moreover, the struggle will be one of a kind, like the earlier conflict involving major powers and signing a significant agreement like in Westphalia that will guide into the future.

The differences include the origins of the war, where the earlier conflict began as a religious war which compared to the Klare’s coming war will be an industrial war involving energy production and consumption. Unlike the interventions in the earlier conflict that were largely initiated by states the coming war’s intervention efforts will be largely negotiated by international bodies like the United Nations among others. In addition, this ring true for the theater of war, which compared to the earlier conflict’s use of military weapons, the coming war will be fought in courts and boardrooms. As Genest (2004) asserts, no single in the age of hydrogen bombs is worth of the risk of a full scale war. Moreover, unlike the rearrangement of powers involving gaining of independence and territory, the new power structures will involve a sharing of power between major states and major corporations.

Realism: Machiavelli, United States, Foreign Policy and Iran

Niccolò Machiavelli, the Italian politician, historian, diplomat, writer and philosopher is regarded by many people in a negative as well as in a positive light due to his writings concerning politics and power. His writing on The Prince mixes right and wrong intricately with his maxims and principles pointing out that leaders must safeguard their power and be ready to act immorally if needed, highlighting his realist perspective that sought separation of politics and ethics (Genest, 2004). From the documentary, The Prince, I do not agree with Machiavelli that it is better for the prince, in this case, the United States, to be parsimonious and feared, rather than generous and loved, but should be both, even though feared would be better than loved (Henriksen, 2011). Being parsimonious and feared would initiate a grouping of other powers to topple the United States while being loved and generous would make it lax and other countries always relying on it and sharing of powers on all levels, which is difficult to maintain in politics. 

Borrowing from Machiavelli’s principles and maxims, I agree with his analysis of leadership with regards to the U.S. foreign policy towards Iran. His maxims and principles with regards to the leadership in conquered free states advocates three main actions including ruining the country or installing colonies, which are not viable options, and installing a puppet regime, which U.S. tried as princes in this time were required to do (Gilbert, 1938). In relation to military and defense action, Machiavelli suggests that a state must be supported by strong military and sound laws, which when applied to the U.S.-Iran foreign relations; America is supported by UN demands for Iran’s stoppage to enrich with uranium their nuclear program. However, despite having a strong military, the circumstances which Machiavelli believes are optimal in any decision-making are not supportive of military action, due to a potential change in administrations as well as mixed loyalties internally on whether Iran should be attacked. 

Liberalism: Globalization, Politics and Terrorism

Globalization is tied to increased interdependence between states as well as regions where cooperation and mutuality in various areas, whether concerning benefits or problem solving, defines these relationships. From a negative point of view, these relationships create complexities in addressing negative actions such as terrorism, which is accompanied by great impacts in relation to the domestic political structures and global affairs. With regards to this, I believe that Keohane’s (2001) use of the phrase informal violence is a needed alternative to the term terrorism which he believes has become too politicized to be useful as an analytical term. Firstly, using the term informal violence instead of terrorism incorporates a combination of the informal and formal aspect, as in the actions of state and non-state actors that are recognized in law.

Secondly, this is despite the commanding terrorist actions from specific geographic spaces belonging to known countries, which are or may be against terrorism, making decisive action a complicated matter since rooting terrorists will affect those countries. Therefore, terrorism has become too politicized as usually shown in newspapers and television where the basic definition entails unjustifiable criminal acts that provoke terror in a state and done for various reasons and accompanied by profound negative consequences. Analytically, this presents problems where criminal acts and terrorism indicate a legal focus on the issue and no focus on influential factors such as globalization while restricting options for retaliation as the parties involved are located in sovereign geographical spaces. However, taking it as informal violence provides a framework for assessing the challenge broadly and comprehensively while increasing the state’s options in protecting its citizens against fear of cruelty, which Shklar (1984) asserts is a supreme right to be protected in threatening situations.

Class System Theory: Lenin, Imperialism and Capitalism

Lenin’s theory of imperialism was informed by past writings by the English economist and social-reformist John A. Hobson among others, whose book Imperialism: A Study, Lenin (1916) praises as providing a comprehensive description of the specific and main political and economic features of imperialism. Basically, he noted that capital was being concentrated on large monopolistic corporations, themselves, led by and integrated with a few financial oligarchies, where this concentration created inequality, while constraining demand levels. High productive capacity led to the insufficient demand, high prices of raw materials and hence few profits which evoked economic expansion by means of acquisition of new regions for investments and consumer markets as well as new sources of relatively cheap raw materials. Premised on the idea that the capitalist class defines and controls the nation politically, Lenin (1916) argued that capital as the major part of state machinery was utilized in order to colonize the periphery. The outcome led to the oppressed periphery labor producing raw materials and goods cheaply, rise of an affluent and elite class to consume the expensive goods and an undermined local industry that would ensure the periphery is dependent on the core’s investments, paving the way from capitalism to imperialism. Fundamentally, Lenin describes five basic features about the evolution of capitalism to imperialism; firstly, there is a concentration of production and capital in a way that creates monopolies that play a vital role in the state’s economic life. Secondly, there is a merging of industrial and bank capital, leading to the creation of financial oligarchies, and thirdly, the export of capital becomes highly important as compared to exportation of goods. Fourth, there is a formation of global monopolist capitalist associations, especially corporations that share the world among themselves, and fifth, complete territorial division of the globe among the largest capitalist powers is achieved, and an imperialist state is achieved.

Feminist Perspective: International Relations and Global Terrorism

According to Tickner (1999), a feminist perspective on international relations (IR) continues to remain outside the mainstream of traditional approaches to IR theory despite the proliferation of feminist perspectives and studies in the last decade. This, Genest (2004), avers that it is because of the modern feminist viewpoints on international relations being based on ontology and epistemology which are quite diverse as compared to those that inform the traditional IR theory such as realism among others. In this case, the state-centered and relatively structural approaches to global relations that define tradition IR theories do not fit in with the postmodern feminist perspective, which has largely been defined by an emphasis on gender. This is disapproved by Tickner (1997), who believes that this is a misunderstanding by other IR theorist who believe that they use different methodologies in order to understand and talk about different worlds, and hence remaining outside the mainstream of traditional approaches to IR theory.

With emphasis on gender subordination in global politics, a feminist analysis of global terrorism would differ from a realist; feminists view terrorism and security from a multidimensional perspective including all forms of violence and function of women in such matters. For realists, terrorism and security is described and viewed in terms of political or military action in defense of national sovereignty, including consideration to values and laws regarding negative outcomes for all parties in an antagonistic global environment. Furthermore, global terrorism will be viewed by the realists as a conflict that is contrary fragile global peace and involving many nations while feminists will focus more on details of gender in relation to power structures and localized peace efforts involving people and the community as shown by Tickner (2002). 

Political Culture Theory: Radical Islam versus Western Liberal Democracy

Islam is one of the major religions in the world with over one billion of followers around the globe, where the religion permeates, guides influences and governs almost all areas of Muslim life including politics and culture. Many Islamic societies have been slow in adapting towards modernity, which highlights their increased efforts towards modernity and democracy as almost ideal elements for national development. With terrorist attacks tied to Islam, whether radical or otherwise, I agree with Fukuyama’s contention that radical Islam does not constitute a serious alternative to the western democracy. Radical Islam is viewed as the agent of terrorism which brings forth negative outcomes to America, which is representative of modernity and further characterized by the institutions of capitalism and democracy (Genest, 2004). Considering that many Muslims favor the merging of liberal politics and personal consumption as compared to the religious conventions and rigid politics, it is safe to say that western liberal democracies will prevail against radical Islam.

The author provides a parallel with relation to the end of history since people will always look towards establishing better institutions, citing the fall of communism, and other forms of authoritarianism, acknowledges is the best viable alternative, that is, modernity. Furthermore, radical Islam stands for negative outcomes rejected by both Muslim and non-Muslims, considering that many were horrified by the events of September 11, perpetrated by radical Islamic fundamentalists. This demonstrates how and why Fukuyama would contend that radical Islam does not constitute a serious alternative to Western liberal democracy, which is supported by efforts of many countries around the world towards the achievement of modernity and democracy. Arguing from a cultural perspective as Fukuyama does, Al-Braizat (2002) agrees that it is plausible that liberal democracy triumphs in an attitudinal level, and in a cross-cultural context, even though he disagrees that Islam is resistant to modernity based on culture.

Human Nature/Cognitive Theory: Analysis of Soldiers of Conscience

The documentary Soldiers of Conscience produced by filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg, highlights the complex nature of the nexus between war and ethics as shown by soldiers who are inundated by decisions and actions that conflict their moral principles. From the documentary, I sympathize with the soldiers as they face difficult challenges in the necessity of war and circumstances prevailing, even though defined by their superiors. The pain and suffering experienced by fellow soldiers in the battlefront as well as the people in the occupied countries, whether from internal or external oppression further complicates the situation. It is for a reason that the soldiers view their occupation as somehow responsible for the situation despite their belief that their actions will bring positive change while on the other hand; the killing of fellow soldiers nullifies the tenet of loving one’s enemies.

With regards to the various tenets of human nature, especially where each individual is regarded as having specific goals and objectives that are meaningful to him/her, the documentary effectively supports those tenets as can be seen in Aidan Delgado’s interview. Moreover, the tenet that human behavior is strongly influenced by its present environment as well as the innate human desire for growth and change are well represented in the documentary. At present, sergeant Thomas Washington views the situation in war as to kill or be killed which inspires his participation in war at the present, despite some misgivings while Delgado seeks growth and change far away from the military (Weimberg & Ryan, 1999). Moreover, Aidan’s assertion that group dynamics did not reveal the reality of war highlights a tenet in social cognitive theory, where response consequences, in this case, group influence, increased the likelihood that the soldiers followed their orders to the letter despite their reservations.

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