IMF, World Bank.. Tools of Free Market Capitalism? (#9)

It seems as though institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank were set up to help countries in need.  Poor countries struggling to pay debts and feed their populations had nowhere to turn to.  Unfortunately, it appears that capitalism and capitalists have infiltrated all aspects of global society, from banking and politics to energy and food.  Even governments considered to be fully democratic are being convinced by the corporate world what they need and that in turn is pitched to the people as what they need.  People are seemingly left with little choice not matter where you live, you are bound to elect a leader influenced by money and corporations telling them what will be good for them.  These leaders try to tell us then what is good for us.  Similarly the IMF is taking extreme advantage of countries in need, slashing public programs, devaluing currency and selling off entire parts of the countries structure to private hands.  In the end the people suffer and are left with nothing while their country has been taken away from under them.  Citizens who have no influence on decisions a banks may make now have to pay the price, courtesy of the IMF.  The people are left with a country completely privatized, no public programs and government who will continue listening to big money.  Money continues to be funnelled to the wealthy.

Would it not make more sense to inject the economy with more money? more social spending and programs?  When I here of such extreme austerity measures like the ones recently in Greece I picture a sick person in a hospital bed and the IMF is at the bedside of the patient extracting every last drop of blood they can get before the person has no more blood.  What we should picture is a person being attended to, healing the wounds and allowing for no blood loss…you cant survive without blood.  They would need to be brought back to health, once this “person” is healthy and productive they have a better chance of paying off any debts.  But a person on life support and losing all their blood will not be able to repay any debts.  It is difficult to watch the extreme austerity measures imposed by the large capitalist world organizations.  Hopefully soon we can come to the realization that happy, healthy population will be a more productive one..obviously this is not taken into consideration by a capitalist mentality…unless it means they get money right now..

War and Strife – Croatia, War and Peackeepers (#8)

This documentary looks at the roll of peacekeepers during the conflict in Croatia in the 1990’s.  The UN peacekeeping force in Croatia and Bosnia at the time had to deal with the Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian forces as well as local populations.  This was a most difficult task and this documentary gives us a look into their situation.

The documentary is obviously viewed from a particular perspective, when watching this film, try to imagine why soldiers may have acted in the way that they did and what it must have been like for the peace keepers to try and be friends with two sides who had so much hate for each other.

The planets’ police force (#7)

Click the picture for the full article at PressTV

It seems as if Turkeys’ will to join the European Union, exceeds its will to make the right decision for its country.  I feel as though the EU frowns upon unfavourable moves that Turkey makes, but will wink, nod and brush shoulders with them when they go along with the “west”.  I am unconvinced that a radar system and missile defence system in Turkey and Eastern Europe is the answer for anything.  The message I get from this aggressive manoeuvre, is simply that the United States, through NATO is looking to heavily expand its military presence.  I can completely see how countries in the region perceive this as a threat… Say for example you live on a street with all modest houses, except there is a single house in the middle of the block thats bigger, everyone who lives on this block knows that this guy has more money and power than the rest.  So one day the richer more powerful guy on the block tells everyone else one day, “I have concern for everyones safety and my own, so I have taken it upon myself to install a street cameras in front of everyones house so we can keep track of intruders that might be lurking around, I also took it upon myself to install automatic machine guns that can pop up from underground and that I can control from the command centre in my basement..i will be the only one with access to the cameras and machine guns, but it is completely for your safety, trust me”

Would you want your neighbour controlling a camera and an automatic machine gun that is pointed and monitoring your premises at all times? ….I didn’t think so

So why should Russia, or Turkey, or any country in this region have to put up with a similar situation.  Since the end of World War 2 and even throughout the entire cold war such a radar and missile defence system was never installed or used, so why is it needed now? what purpose would it serve other than aggression? It is clearly militaristic and aggressive approach by NATO and the US for more control of a region.  It is clearly a step AWAY from peace, not going towards it.  Have we not learned anything from previous wars and acts of aggression?  Obviously not.

From an American perspective, it is easy to justify the installation of this system for many reasons, of course their own safety: the US feels threatened by Russia, this gives the US better air control over the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but probably most importantly is the resource factor.  Strategically, this is a highly resource rich part of the globe, oil just to the southeast, minerals and water to the northeast.  But we cannot also forget that the Americans feel a strong sense of duty, they are the worlds “police” after all…but does the world really need another police officer? I guess nations are only actually sovereign when the US chooses, where was the worlds police force when the genocide in Rwanda happened? The murderous Khmer Rouge? The oppressive and brutal Burmese military Junta? The Serbian onslaught of Bosnians? Tell me where was the US during these atrocities? of course they showed up way too late or came up lame  , or didn’t show up at all.  Why did they not intervene? Maybe politically there was nothing to gain, and most likely there were no resources available and short and long term economic benefits would be unfavourable.

Where did the US intervene? Places where all of a sudden sovereignty was no longer an issue? Iraq, Iran? They already have a deal with Saudia Arabian for their oil, so no need to attack them..

The most popular slogans for US justification to itself and its people to unlawfully enter foreign and sovereign soil has been “saving the people” and “Stopping the tyrant”, “instilling western values”, “spreading democracy”, and “giving the people freedom” to name but a few.  It is quite evident from looking at the two very different international trespassing non trespassing scenarios that the worlds police force will only police when it is to their direct benefit. Period. Resources such as oil are highly coveted by the highest oil consumer on the planet, but there is much political benefit on the homefront from these resource expeditions as well ….  Next on the list will likely be water, watch out Canada! But not to worry Canada, you will be saved from the tyrant leader sooon!!! The Americans will safely lock down all “suspicious” sites in Canada and make they are contained and dealt with “properly”.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
― Dalai Lama


NGOs … Nuisance to Government Operations? (#6)

Click the picture for related article @ THE TIMES OF INDIA

Egypt –  “The activists – who worked at non-governmental organisations – were on trial for allegedly receiving illegal foreign funding and stirring up unrest.” BBC News

India – “The government intensified its drive against NGOs it suspects of being hostile to national interests” Times of India

West Bank“Reporters Without Borders cited a February 10 protest at Nabi Saleh, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, where it said: “Two Palestinian journalists were injured by tear gas grenades and rubber bullets fired by Israeli soldiers.” Associated Foreign Press

Pakistan – The CIA’s use of cover of humanitarian activity for this purpose casts doubt on intentions and integrity of all humanitarian actors in Pakistan, thereby undermining the international humanitarian community’s efforts to eradicate polio, provide critical health services and extend life-saving assistance during times of crisis like the floods seen in Pakistan over the past two years,” InterAction chief Samuel A. Worthington said.

Zimbabwe The party’s central committee report to the conference delegates claimed that there were about 2,500 NGOs operating in Zimbabwe and some of them were pushing a “regime change” agenda. New Zimbabwe

Canada – Greenpeace Canada’s executive director, Bruce Cox, said the government is trying to “intimidate and smear” legitimate, non-violent groups that threaten its interests. CTV NEWS

I could have added many many more articles where NGO’s all across the planet are causing huge headaches for governments from all over the world.  Non Governmental Organizations generally are humanitarian, environmental, rights and peace advocates.  If you read some of the articles above it is apparent that there are very real and serious issues to be dealt with, which due to neglect of domestic governments and or IGO’s have been left by the wayside.  When an NGOs work oversteps or interferes with the political agenda(s) of the political parties’ in the countries which they are working they are described as extremists, spies, threats, radical, fanatics, name but a few.  Even in Canada, Greenpeace has been labeled as extremist when it comes to oil…

But the India article brings up something that needs to be considered carefully.  Would the USA actually resort to using NGO’s as cover for operations in countries abroad?  After all, NGOs would have no ties to the government, so if anything came back to the US they could wash their hands of the situation.  It is well known that NGOs are an effective foreign policy tool for countries to utilize but, to use them as cover for covert or military style operations seems…just not right.  The international community has enough trouble trusting IGOs such as the various United Nations peacekeeping forces deployed all over the world.  It would be sad to see countries completely abandon the legitimate global organizations which fight aids and poverty in the name of political safety and or the security of capitalist interests.  Let’s hope that in the future, governments will be more transparent with their foreign policy intentions for the sake of world wide humanitarian aid.


The struggle to save Somalia (#5)


This latest update from the London Conference comes as bittersweet news for this broken nation.  Large portions of Somali territory are controlled by other nations or factions while the transitional government struggles to gain full control of it’s country.  Rather than having an elite group influence a situation for the better, I would say much the opposite, they are doing everything possible to stay neutral and have no influence.  This support for Somalia is completely counterfeit since the international community has acknowledged that  group of militants, the Al-Shabab who openly made an alliance with Al-Qaeda are still not worth committing military resources.  If Al-Qaeda was working with militants in any western world nation would there be calls for military action? Probably.  But not here, Hilary Clinton even said that “there was no case for that kind of action”.  Why is Somalia not worth committing more resources?  Does this situation in Somalia reinforce the idea that countries will only commit serious resources if there is a economic benefit for them?  It seems that for such strong words this group of elite leaders is lacking resolve.  Previous international interventions such as Iraq and Libya had vast resources at stake.  If Somalia had large oil and petroleum deposits, would we see a different story here?  Its difficult to believe that there would be no intervention.  The US most notably seems to fight for freedom and human rights whenever it seems convenient for them, but when they do not wish to get involved, than a nations sovereignty should not be metalled with.  Even though this conference had 50 plus nations, I bring up the US specifically since many countries seem to follow suit with their decisions, they have immense influence on the decisions of other countries.  Whether it be the IMF, the World Bank or NATO, the US seems to have most influence on everyone, so it is no wonder that the agreement at the London conference was less than abysmal.  It appears that the only people interested in resolving this issue is Africans themselves, committing 12000 troops to the cause with support from surrounding states.  Hopefully the international community will soon realize that their lack of initiative to influence change and commit serious resources to nations in desperate need will only serve the status quo.  This peaceful rhetoric by international leaders clearly shows where western powers ideals lay by carefully picking and choosing which conflicts to engage in.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad visits Latin America (#4)

Click the picture for the full article @ The Foreign Policy Association

In mid January the Iranian president Ahmadinejad made a visit to the Latin American countries Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela in a show of public diplomacy.  This trip is not only for securing business and security relationships, but it also sends a message to the United States and the West that Iran is alive, well and functioning.  The appearance of having allies so close to US soil was surely on the agenda of the Iranian president on this latest visit.  Crippling sanctions imposed by the US and the EU have left Iran with but little choice but to ensure economic stability and security for their country.  However the latest sanctions are no ordinary sanctions since they also come with the threat force with them.  Israel most notably has let their intentions be known that the “smart” sanctions are only a precursor to what would eventually be inevitable conflict.  Obviously this act of coercion towards Iran from western powers leaves them looking for new strategies in the international community.  Arguably western powers could say that even this visit to Latin America is only compounding Iranian provocations towards the west, in an escalation of aggressive behaviour towards the west.  It seems that if you are with the west, then Iran is deliberately escalating the situation by building a nuclear bomb.  If you are Iran, you are trying to provide nuclear energy for you’re country.  It is a situation which is extremely delicate and probably both sides of the argument have valid and invalid points.  However, in my opinion the US, Israel and Iran are each engaging in this situation from very realist perspectives.  Each  country is acting in it’s own self interest, America for Iran’s oil, Israel for it’s sovereignty and Iran for its nuclear ambitions.

It appears that Iran’s foreign policy is built upon a realist beliefs using a pluralist model of decision making.  However, Iran’s pluralist model of decision making likely does not resemble that of liberal states.  I would imagine Iran has several small contingents of elites and or ministers who would have their input taken into account.  As opposed to having a larger umbrella of groups to contend with such as multinational corporations, interest groups, and opposition parties.  In this way, it seems as though even though a pluralist model exists, it is simply in place to appease certain elites or for consultation.  So it may not be so simple to define after all, this is actually starting to look more like a Rational model of decision making.  Iran’s leader has identified the pressing issues, made clear cut decisions based on what he and his country needs, and is selecting, for now, the diplomatic routes which seem to make the most sense at this point in time.  Over the next few months it will be interesting to observe the shifts in foreign policy decision making as even the slightest alteration in policy could mean the difference between a violent or peaceful outcome. Let’s hope for the latter.

Ikenberry, Mastanduno, and Wohlforth: Unipolarity (#3)

To what extent-and how-does the current “distinctive distribution of capabilities among state. . . matter for patterns of international politics”?

“The core contention is that polarity structures the horizon os states’ probable actions and reactions, narrowing the range of choice and providing subtle incentives or disincentives for certain types of behaviour”.  Indeed, as the textbook points out, there will be serious disincentives for Iran as long as they are perceived to be main nuclear weapons, even if they are not.  If Iran were to obtain nuclear capabilities, the US fears that it will impact the unipolarity spectrum out of their favour, even if slightly, it is enough of a tilt  to cause serious concern for the Americans (and Israelis for that matter).  The USA has the largest distribution of capabilities in the world, which leads directly to its influence on material resources.  The unipolar dominance on Americas control over distribution capabilities has the potential to cause unease amongst states who are opposed to certain moves it may make.  Increasingly, it has become apparent that Americas distribution of capabilities and status as the unipolar power is heavily reliant on the use of oil.  Oil runs their military and economy, without it, a major disruption to their system would occur.  Increasing their influence and policies over regions which disagree with them and also have oil could explain the reason for recent wars in Libya and Iraq.  It is quite obvious that even if a few key countries abstain from supplying the Americans with oil is cause for them to panic.  Lack of oil is a great threat to their distribution of capabilities as well as their unipolar position.  I would suspect countries like China, may encourage an unstable supply of oil to the US for the purpose of deflecting attention away from themselves.  From a Chinese point of of view, the more resources the Americans commit to ensuring their distribution of capabilities, including committing to military operations, the more time it gives China to emerge as a new bipolar power as well is increase their distribution of capabilities as well.


Allies or business partners? (#2)

Russia’s recent threat to veto any action against Syria in the UN is clearly a move to protect the business relationship between the two countries.  I don’t entirely believe Russia fits into any particular International Relations theory at any given time.  I do believe they change their stance from Liberal to Realist, Realist to Liberal and even switching between Radical and back again.  I think Russia depending on which country it is dealing with and which situation it is facing will change its stance.  Generally, I think they tend towards liberalism most often, and are doing so in this recent threat to veto.  Russia is clearly working in their own self interest in this situation.  The veto has no benefit really to any other country other than Russia.  It is well known that Russia and Syria have a long history of working together and Russia is know to be a major arms supplier of the Arab nation.  Russia is taking the stance here that since Syria is a sovereign nation other nations should not interfere in their affairs.  They believe that ultimately the government will be able to overcome the difficult times and that the good of the government will prevail.  Primarily though, Russia seeks to keep relations between the countries good, Russia and Syria have billions of dollars in business with each other every year.  They both would like to see the trade and open markets to stay open, not slapped with restrictions.  A similar argument could be made with Burma and China, a historical relationship which benefits a world power.  In the case of the USA and Iraq, the situation benefited the US to invade and since Iraq had no major allies and trading partners there was no objection from any major powers.  In this situation I feel Russia is definitely taking a liberal stance in hopes of maintaining its state interests in Syria.

Dialogue for the Greater Good (#1)

Jonas Store makes some excellent points in this TED talk.  It only makes sense that the resolution to major international and domestic conflicts will reach a true peace on the heels of meaningful and calculated dialogue.  I would further add to Mr.  Stores thoughts that dialogue between groups and nations must allow for concessions, probably on both sides of the table.  While getting to the table with groups to which we once pushed away is a great feat in itself.  An even greater feat would be for such negotiations to bear fruit.  The “Western powers” (and China) of the world usually enter negotiations with a zero sum stance, rarely allowing for any movement on demands.  The Western powers must be able to agree to variable sum situations which allow for more movement at the table.  So, Jonas’ point of getting to the table with “outlawed” groups or rogue states is very important, but it is also crucial to note the importance of political cooperation for the advancement of diplomacy with such groups and states as well.  Without meaningful dialogue between global players, the earth will continue to be a shifting dune of conflict based on ignorance, stubbornness and centralized state interests based on zero sum mentalities.  Such an alternative approach to International Relations is necessary for the development and implementation of new core concepts in the international community.


International Relations 1140

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