UNIT: Why Comparative Politics?
David Cameron’s Dangerous Game: The Folly of Flirting with an EU Exit, Matthias Matthijs, Foreign Affairs, 2013
A British exit from the European Union is considered disastrous for the United Kingdom, as well as for the rest of Europe and the United States. Within the United Kingdom there is a dislike for Brussels, Belgium, on many fronts. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has not been successful in calculating and neutralizing the "restless Europeskeptic backbenchers." Cameron's actions differ from Margaret Thatcher, who was a driving force in the establishment of a European common market in the 1980s. Ironically, Churchill was one of the first European leaders to call for a United States of Europe. But it was DeGaulle who vetoed the United Kingdom's application to join the European Economic Community. DeGaulle had a grudge against Churchill, and thus is history made. Today many believe that real danger would be generated if the United Kingdom chooses to end its relationship with Europe.
Ukraine Declares One-Week Cease-Fire in Fight With Pro-Russia Rebels, Lucas I. Alpert and William Maudlin, Wall Street Journal, 2014
As this has gone to press, the cease-fire to put down a pro-Russia rebellion in the Ukraine has not held. There have been several planes that have been shot down over Ukraine, including the MH17 plane flying only civilians. Investigators had not been able to get to the crash site for over three weeks due to fighting and some mines placed in the ground.
Leaders Sound Alarm in General Assembly Debate on Unprecedented Mix of Challenges in Middle East, Taking 'Terror to a New Era and a New Level', United Nations Department of Public Information, 2014
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policy making and representative organ of the United Nations. Heads of State and ministerial levels of country representatives gathered in New York City for the Sixty Ninth General Assembly meeting of the United Nations. The General Assembly debates included a mix of global challenges, including terrorism and “pockets” of world hate, the Ebola crisis, climate change, the benefits of European integration, as well as recognizing the positive elements of the United Nations Charter and the importance of all coming together. Many delegates voiced concerns that were similar to each other. The 2014 General Assembly meeting was also to set the agenda for the General Assembly meeting of 2015. The Millennium Development Goals will expire in 2015, and a new global agenda will be implemented. It’s critical that this new, post-2015 agenda include concrete steps to eradicate extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030, and to deliver on the promise of sustainable development.
A Korea Whole and Free, Sue Mi Terry, Foreign Affairs, 2014
Despite extreme poverty, North Korea is very much alive, and a major threat to its southern neighbor. China's leaders may not like the current regime, but like the alternative far less. Contrary to popular belief, the author maintains a merger of North Korea and South Korea would not be a disaster. Despite the challenges a transition will entail, it is felt that all would benefit from the rise of a new Korea, whole and free.
UNIT: Studying Comparative Politics: Evaluating Theories, Learning from Cases, Generalizing Trends
German Spy Agency Searches for More Moles after U.S. Breach, Philip Oltermann, The Guardian, 2014
German's intelligence agency has reacted ti the continuing row over U.S. spying in Germany. The discovery of two suspected United States' spies on the German government's payroll triggered an official request for the CIA's station chief to leave.
Q & A: What Is This Iron Dome That Is Protecting Israel from Hamas Rockets? Michaela Dodge, The Daily Signal, 2014
The use of Iron Dome System is comprised of interceptors (Tamir) radars, and command and control systems. The system shoots down incoming rockets mid-air before they hit the target. Such saves lives, for many people are not hit by the Hamas rockets.
In Canada, a Fishing Town Faces Its End, Alistair MacDonald, The Wall Street Journal, 2014
Dwindling and aging population has resulted in small towns in the Western world resulting in resettlement options. The global fishing industry no longer exists, and many residents have been "forced" to leave, because they cannot find work. As one villager stated all that is left on the "island's rugged southern coast are gravestones."
Why Middle East Studies Missed the Arab Spring: The Myth of Authoritarian Stability, F. Gregory Gause III, Foreign Affairs, 2011
In the vein of "theory" meets "reality," the author uses the onset of the Arab Spring to flesh out Schmitter's first of fifteen points: It is difficult to predict democratization. As the author reminds us, few anticipated the Arab Spring. Yet, this is exactly why theory-building remains a fruitful exercise: Theory is not "dead," and theory-building demands the oversight be acknowledged, examined, and reconciled. Foremost among the oversight is the willingness to believe that the military will side with rulers; second is the underestimation of the role of economic development; third is the downplay of citizens' mobilization. Alongside these oversights, the author also notes the progress in Middle East studies that must be congratulated, including no longer explaining Arab in cultural terms, no longer using "old saws about how Islam is inimical to democracy," and acknowledging the popularity of democracy as a concept in the Arab world.
Few Good Choices for U.S. in Mideast, Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal, 2013
This region is much closer in a broad conflagration than most Americans realize. Sunnis are facing off against Shiites; secularists are acting out against Islamist, and it appears that Obama has limited leverage across a wide swath of lands in the Middle East. It continues to be a bloody turmoil that has been growing worse by the day. The president of the United States is being faced with hard questions that would have been unimaginable in decades past.
Making Modernity Work: The Reconciliation of Capitalism and Democracy, Gideon Rose, Foreign Affairs, 2012
In this historical account the author provides an overview of competing political economies. While protests within modern democratic states may seem to call into question support for capitalism or democracy, they also frequently bolster these institutions by attracting alienated groups to participate. Such participation and activism, may petition for policy change in economic redistribution within the existing political and economic regimes and not always revolutionary institutional change.
UNIT: Participating in Politics: Acting Within and Out of Institutional Frameworks
After The Scottish Referendum: A Constitutional Chain Reaction Unfolds, Charlie Jeffery, Discover Society, 2014
On September 18, 2014 Scotland held a referendum, as to whether or not it should be an independent country. There was great concern throughout the world that the projected vote was “too close to call.” However, Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence. With the results in from all 32 council areas, the "No" side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for "Yes." What does the future hold for all involved?
Recalibrating American Grand Strategy: Softening U.S. Policies Toward Iran in Order to Contain China, Samir Tata, Parameters, 2013
China's economic and military security is intertwined with its energy security. China became the world's largest energy consumer in 2009 and surpassed the United States as the largest importer of Persian Gulf oil in 2011. The United States has to rethink its strategy as it addresses the challenge of maintaining its primacy as a global power. It is recognized that as the world becomes increasingly multipolar the center of gravity has shifted to Asia. The national security objective of the United States is to counterbalance and contain a rising China that is determined to be the dominant economic, political, and military power in Asia. China, as the economic engine, is displacing Japan and the United States. In relation to purchasing power parity China is expected to be the world's largest economy by 2019.
This Fracking Zeal Overshadows the Perfect Energy Solution—Solar, Leonie Greene, The Guardian, 2014
Public support for fracking seems to be falling. The government’s enthusiasm for fracking sits in stark contrast to the actions on solar energy. Many emerging solar companies invested in good faith and are now set for a financial hit. At the present time, in England, the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s own opinion poll tracker shows solar enjoys its highest approval ratings ever at 85%. It has been researched that if the government can provide a steady framework, the solar industry can definitely be the cheapest low-carbon technology plus/minus by 2018. Today, there is a soaring international solar market. In the long run, government subsidies would not be needed.
Saudi Arabia's Family Feud, Simon Henderson, Foreign Policy, 2014
With threats building throughout the Middle East, and challenges to Saudi Arabia's self-appointed role as leader of the Islamic world, the Iraq battles, the nuclear issue with Iran, the Saudi leadership is being undermined. King Abdullah's action in promoting Prince Bandar and Prince Khalid may counter some of these Middle East threats, though the King will always be the key player.
The Protesters and the Public, Denis Volkov, Journal of Democracy, 2012
What is the effect of participation? Consider Russia, where Putin's political career appeared invulnerable. In Russia, protests in late 2011 and early 2012 showed the government that citizens demand that the government respond to the economic decline, as well as ensure greater economic distribution via the welfare state. Duma elections in September and subsequent street protests helped to relate popular preferences to a government that has been defined by top-down political control. Clearly, even in less-democratic countries, protests and social mobilization may occur. Do we know when and why?
Message delivered by Ms. Sahle Zewde on befalf of the Secretary General to the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to Palestine, Ban Ki-moon, World News Network and United Nations Press Office, 2014
The secretary-general of the United Nations has pleaded for the settlement between Hamas and Israel. He noted that as we face an increasingly volatile situation on the ground, and in the wider region negotiations and compromise are essential to achieve a viable long-term settlement to the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Will Congo's Rebels Finally Come in from the Cold? Ty McCormick, Foreign Policy, 2014
DRC's most notorious outlaws may finally be ready to end their 20-year was of rape and plunder. The Democratic Republic of Congo has stated its intentions to disarm. The significance is political, not military though there are some elements of the militia who want to hand over their weapons, others continue to terrorize and recruit additional fighters. However, some may want to throw down their weapons, it is still not safe.
The New Jihad, Margaret Coker, The Wall Street Journal, 2014
New generations of Islamist extremists see the Old Guard of al Qaeda as too passive. The rise of a self-declared caliph has exposed a theological battle between al Qaeda and its rebellious affiliate in Iraq. There are disillusioned Moslems in Western Europe vulnerable to radicalization by the Islamic state. The new jihadists want a leader who offers "promises of greatness."
The Famous Dutch (In)Tolerance, Jan Erk, Current History, 2011
This article provides one perspective on why legislatures should be representative: failing that, they may lead to "tyranny of the majority." This article makes the point regarding the Netherlands, where the far right Party of Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands has made discrimination acceptable. For instance, the PVV has brought anti-immigration views into the mainstream by coding them as anti-Islam and capitalizing on fears of terrorism and extremism. The success of the PVV, in turn, appears to increase the acceptability of negative stereotypical views against minorities and xenophobia. If this negativity seems harmless, think again: The massacre in another Scandinavian country—Norway—clearly emphasizes that the need to pay heed to what democracy means for majority and minorities.
UNIT: The Executive: Accountability and Responsiveness at the Top
The Future of U.S.-Chinese Relations: Conflict is a Choice, Not a Necessity, Henry A. Kissinger, Foreign Affairs, 2012
On January 19, 2011, the president of the United States and the president of China issued a statement proclaiming their shared commitment to a "positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S.-China relationship." Such has been the public commitment, although military and economic actions considered positive in the long run have been taking place. However, all is not peaceful and public dissension continues to balloon amidst a state of controversy that permanently exists at different levels. The clash of issues of supremacy between China and the United States is, in reality, inevitable. Dr. Henry Kissinger believes this is a choice, not a necessity. Do both nations need each other to balance an unstable state of global peace for both the West and the East? Such is for your determination. How do we create a global level playing field if this is to be a reality? From Dr. Kissinger's perspective, he has been striving to find "strategic concepts" that could be made to prevail over a history of conflict, mutual grievance, and fear.
Chile’s Middle Class Flexes Its Muscles, Patricio Navia, Current History, 2012
In democratic states, responsive executives respond to popular demand. In this article Chile's growing middle class seeks greater economic security and elected a president to effect change. Recent protests for state-supported education and an expanded social safety-net have caused the center-right coalition government to respond to public demand with a reformed social market economy.
U.S., China Hopeful of BIT after Talks Reignited, Chen Weihua, China Daily, 2013
The Bilateral Investment Treaty is considered a priority for the United States and China, for it will benefit the global economy as well. Such dialogue includes all states of investment and sectors. It is anticipated that the playing field will be leveled and provide new opportunities for American businesses.
Africa’s Turn: A Conversation with Macky Sall, Stuart Reid, Foreign Affairs, 2013
President of Senegal, Macky Sall, spoke with Foreign Affairs Senior Editor Stuart Reid in Dakar, June 2013, Senegal gained independence from France in 1960. It has been a bastion of stability and democracy on a continent that is limited, if it has had any success, where such stability is a regional exception. The state is secular; 90 percent of its population is Muslim. Macky Sall is optimistic about the fate of Africa, including the development of Chinese investment. Senegal offers economic growth and stability for Africa and those who invest in that country.
UNIT: The Legislature: Is Representation Also Representative?
Israel’s Unity Government: A Bid to Represent the Majority, Joshua Mitnick, Christian Science Monitor, 2012
This article problematizes minority control of government. Israel's parliamentary system has favored minority influences until recent elections. The "tyranny" of Israel's minority ultra-religious groups, once a product of the government's proportional representation system is now challenged by new electoral rules. Is this better for democracy, or should Israel now worry about the tyranny of majority rule?
The Quality of South Africa's Electoral Accountability, 1994-2014: Freedom, Flaws, and Food Parcels, Victoria Graham, Journal of Comparative Politics, 2014
South Africa has consolidated its democracy with five national and provincial elections. External observers have stated the elections were “free and fair.” The findings note that while logistical and other problems continue to persist there are challenges within the electoral process. Such seem to exist around the continued dominance of the ANC party, the lack of disclosure of private party funding and the lack of accountability.
Pakistan 2020: A Vision for Building a Better Future, Hassan Abbas, Asia Society, 2011
The Asia Society reported that in order to prevent Pakistan from further deterioration, the nation-state will require a long-term commitment from the governments of Pakistan, the United States, and other international stakeholders. Pakistan 2020 emphasizes that urgent adoption of remedial and innovative areas to confront the enormous challenges facing the nation will increase over time. There is a continuing crisis in Pakistan. Can Pakistan be stabilized?
UNIT: Unelected Government Office: Judiciary, Military, and Bureaucracy in Everyday Politics
The CIA’s New Black Bag is Digital, Matthew M. Aid, Foreign Policy, 2013
In the language of the U.S. intelligence community, surveillance of various actions can be known as a "black bag job" or a "surreptitious entry" operation. This kind of break-in is known inside the CIA and National Security Agency as an "off-net operation." The black bag operations are today's CIA clandestine service.
A Cautious Win in Egypt’s Power Struggle, Bob Bowker, The Drum Opinion, 2012
What does it mean when announcement that the news of the Egyptian president had dismissed two top military chiefs and retired commanders of the navy and air force is greeted with concerns of backlash from the military? Former Australian Ambassador to Egypt and Syria provides his insights into the events in Egypt. Importantly, the author explains why there is unlikely to be backlash: Even as the political role of the military appears diminished, there are reasons to expect that the military is far from marginalized. Indeed, the concessions to the military underscore the role that the military has played in the political transition in Egypt and continues to play as the sectarian counteraction to the religious dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
U.S, Army Learns Lessons in N. Korea-like War Game, Paul McLeary, Defense News, 2012
The Unified Quest war game conducted this year by Army planners "failed to achieve the operational agility" it needed to succeed. As one person stated, it was "largely due to the rigidity" of current deployment models. With all the training and the lessons learned, the director of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command questioned, ". . . what forces are adequate for the problem of loose nukes?"
What Caused the Economic Crisis? Jacob Weisberg, Slate, 2010
As the global economy continues to wrestle with recovery from the crisis of 2008–2009, it is useful to take stock of some of the explanations for the crisis—and to note the extent to which regulatory failure on the part of the bureaucracy played a role in it. As obstacles to regulation continue to overshadow reform, it is important to revisit the balance between free-market capitalism and social protection.
Rumors of Central Command’s Decline are Wishful Thinking, Richard L. Russell, Small Wars Journal, 2013
Central Command has had to mount a wide range of military interventions in the Middle East and South Asia over the last three decades. There is much history in Central Command of taking the lead in various military campaigns in the Middle East and waging war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The reports of Central Command's decline are exaggerated. The more we do in the Middle East and South Asia, the more will we be stabbed in our backs, reports the author.
The Revenge of Force Planning, Mackubin Thomas Owens, Foreign Policy Research Institute, 2014
Force planning is a logical process that flows from the choice of a strategy. To implement the strategy, the force planner must identify the strategic requirements. What are the military tasks required by the strategy? What are the obstacles? We not only have an uncertain security environment but face the adverse impact of declining defense resources. We face another challenge, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our opponents rely on asymmetric, low-tech tactics and networks of people rather than state of the art weapon systems. Operational challenges also “reflect they tyranny of distance” that U.S. forces must overcome to project power.
We Shall Return, Richard L. Russell, Foreign Policy, 2013
"Don't be too sure there won't be another U.S. war in the Middle East." Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets that, "in my opinion . . . if the president was to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa he should "have his head examined." Political and military trajectories in the Middle East are increasingly challenging the United States "Never say never."
Economy Slows “Due to Rebalancing”, Chen Jia, He Wei, and He Yini, China Daily, 2013
China's attitude to GDP growth is changing. Figures show a slowdown in China's growth that analysts say demonstrates the new leadership's determination to rebalance the economy. The chief economist in China with the U.S. bank stated that "the new government made it clear that it is willing to tolerate slower growth for better quality of growth. Economic restructuring is the priority task going ahead." If the Chinese economy is restructured in a real and sustainable way, the risk of a credit crisis will be averted.
Democracy in Cyberspace: What Information Technology Can and Cannot Do, Ian Bremmer, Foreign Affairs, 2010
The article provides a useful reminder that information technology only provides the information, not the actual participation that underpinned political openings in several countries. The article also echoes several others in this reader to point out the dark side of such mobilization and that authoritarian governments are also using information technology to their advantage.
UNIT: Global Trends: Institutional Change, Progress, and Threats
The Coming Wave, Larry Diamond, Journal of Democracy, 2012
While the political aftermath of the Arab Spring of 2011 continues to shape world politics, Diamond's article asks readers to also consider economic and political changes occurring in East Asia, a region that he identifies as ripe for democratization. With rising incomes, education, and increasingly democratic values, citizens in East Asia are likely to demand greater efficacy in their government. Right now, Japan and South Korea are the only consolidated democracies in the region, but Diamond notes liberalizing trends in other Asian state institutions.
Iran Press Report: Reactions to Developments in Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria, Mehrun Etebari, The Brookings Institution, 2013
Mehrun Etebari gives a definitive discussion of the events in the Middle East. The issues and reactions discuss the European Union's decision to add Hezbollah's military wing to its list of terrorist groups; the state of Zionism as the author sees it; deposed president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, and "where he had gone wrong." It is an insightful essay that gives a strong perspective to the present state of the Middle East as the author sees it. We have not witnessed such an analysis in the English and American journalistic reports.
A New Growth Paradigm, Vinod Thomas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2013
Vinod Thomas discusses the state of the Philippine economy amidst the climate-related disasters that have distressed media viewers and readers around the world. The Philippines has been the most vulnerable, suffering devastating floods and storms. The question Mr. Thomas raises is how the country can sustain its economic growth and yet "reverse the rise in poverty seen in the past decade."
Towards a Renewed Global Partnership for Development, Unknown, DESA News, 2013
The UN Secretary-General established the UN Task Team Post—2015 UN Development Agenda. The Team supports the multi-stakeholder consultations being led by member states on a post-2015 global development agenda. The March 2013, Volume 17, No. 03 identifies the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This team includes more than 60 UN agencies and international organizations that will provide analytical inputs to the post-2015 process.
Climate Change Is a Challenge for Sustainable Development, Rachel Kyte, World Bank, 2014
Climate change is the most significant challenge to achieving sustainable development. Each country needs to find its own ways to deal with uncertainties and find its best options for low-carbon growth and emissions reduction. Climate change increases the costs of development in the poorest countries. It will take combining efforts of development banks, financial institutions, export credit agencies and public budgets to meet the climate and development challenges.
2014: A Risky Year in Geopolitics? Ian Bremmer, The National Interest, 2014
The world tensions are volatile; there is no question the geopolitical security uncertainties demonstrate the erosion of global leadership in 2014. Further the international community perceives the United States foreign policy behavior as "unpredictable." Six of the world's largest emerging markets will hold national elections in 2014. It is recognized that many of these countries need to implement economic reforms in order to enhance productivity. Yet, growing middle classes across emerging markets are expecting more and better services as governments' capacity to deliver is diminishing.