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.