Second Journal Responses
Second Journal Responses
Second Journal Responses
James Caroll on Contemporary Religion
Over the past few decades, religion has come under a lot of criticism because of inhuman acts that have been committed under the auspices of religion. The Catholic Church came under a lot of criticism for anti-Jewish sentiment following the holocaust and more recently, Islam has come under scrutiny following terrorist acts committed in the name of Allah by extremist groups. Carroll argues that one cause of this problem is that religions denigrate each other in their claims of faith. This is especially the case for religions “based on narratives of divine revelation”. However, religions are now being forced to scrutinize themselves. Carroll claims that this self-scrutiny within the religions could be beneficial to the international arena as it could be a source of peace.
Carroll makes a very good argument when he claims that religion could be a positive force in international affairs. One key thing missing in international affairs is peace. The world always seems to be on the edge. Some regions have seen intractable conflicts lasting decades. Examples include Central Africa, the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. If peace can be achieved on a larger scale in the universe, then the world will be moving forward. Religion can be a key instrument in the quest for peace. Most religions preach tolerance and peace as the key message, and this can be used to rally the world around the cause for peace (Adolf, 2009).
Religion can also be used as a platform for dialogue in the international arena. It is important to acknowledge that in reality religion also entails political power (Stiansen). Influential religious figures such as the Pope have a lot of political power and this power can be put to good use in the international arena. This has been the case before with a good example being Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s role in ending Apartheid in South Africa. Religion has also been a central issue in numerous peace negotiations. Examples include the Camp David Accords and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) and the Sudan government in Machakos.
Theories on Security
Liberalism is the best security theory for America’s foreign and defense policy. The core tenet in liberalism is the liberty of the individual. This fits in perfectly with the liberal democratic nature of domestic American politics. Spreading this ideology to the world would help improve security by creating a range of states that are all liberal, and place the same value in individual rights and freedoms as America does. Additionally, other tenets of liberalism conform to core American principles. These tenets are; the promotion of free trade, international cooperation and the protection of property rights (Schmidt, 2012).
Liberalism is synonymous with the spread of democracy. This is because political rights are a large part of the individual rights that are emphasized by liberals. Spreading democracy can be a strong defensive policy for the United States because it could bring democratic peace. The democratic peace theory ascertains that democracies that recognize each other tend to be reluctant to go to war with each other (Nielsen, 2012). Alternatively, authoritarian and totalitarian governments are far more likely to instigate conflict either with other dictatorial governments or with democratic governments. America’s recent past is testament to this. Military operations by the United States since the end of the Cold War have mostly been against authoritarian governments. Examples include the First and the Second Gulf Wars, the Afghanistan War and the intervention in Haiti.
America’s current expansionist approach has only helped to instigate other states into action as they attempt to counter what they perceive to be aggressive action (Schmidt, 2012). As America attempts to increase her political might, states such as Iran and North Korea engage in aggressive power seeking policy to counter the threat they see in the United States’ expansionist policy.
National Laws to Protect the Environment, Food Safety and Labor Standards
Increasing awareness on the global climate, along with the recent global economic recession, has led to a lot of scrutiny of the world’s free trade policies. Most of the criticism of free trade targets the detrimental effects that the system has on developing countries. Firstly, international corporations take advantage of free trade agreements to shift their bases of production to regions with cheap labor (Shah, 2006). The treatment of workers in these third world countries has been horrible. The publicized case of Nike’s treatment of its workers in Vietnam, China and Indonesia is a good example of this. Additionally, this practice takes away employment chances from people in the developed world. Trade systems should be changed to make sure that countries are able to prioritize the employment of their citizens and to protect their citizens from exploitation as workers.
Countries should also be able to create national laws to protect themselves from exploitation by rich countries. The richer countries are often seen to apply free trade policies that will protect them from their industries but allow them to take advantage of poorer states. For example, Europe and North America subsidize their farmers and make it hard for the developing countries to export food to them. States in the developing world, on the other hand, are often pressured to remove subsidies by the World Bank (Shah, 2006). Additionally, aid sent to the impact of aid sent to the third world is negated by subsidies in the first world and the debt in the third world. Lastly, allowing developing countries to develop their own laws to govern trade can help them achieve food security, as they will be able to prevent the influx of food imports form the developed world (Shah, 2006).
End of Poverty
The End of Poverty is a documentary by Phillipe Diaz that seeks to establish why there is so much poverty in the world despite the wealth in the developed world. The documentary traces the growth of poverty from the 15th century and the age of colonization. Through interviews with economists, politicians and historians, Diaz establishes that the poverty is the result of exploitation of the third world by the developed world. One thing that the documentary shows is that globalization has had a detrimental effect on the third world. The rapid globalization of the world has meant that developing states have found themselves competing with the developed world. The latter has an obvious advantage and continues to come up with different ways to exploit and profit from the third world, while allowing poverty to spread at an alarming rate.
The film portrays globalization in a negative way. It shows how the process of globalization has led to an increase in poverty due to exploitation of the third world by states in the developed world. Proponents for globalization would disagree with the documentary’s core views. This is because globalization has helped develop the world and brought along numerous technological advancements despite all the negative effects. Globalization has also fostered international cooperation by making communication between countries easier and encouraging the spread of cultures to foreign lands.
The Ecological Footprint
The Ecological Footprint is a documentary by Dr. Mathis Wackernagel that explains the concept of the ecological footprint. The documentary explains how the human race is affecting the environment. Dr. Wackernagel’s theory is that the biosphere in which we live is getting smaller as the human race advances technologically. He explains that the ecological footprint is an accounting tool, similar to what is used in economics, which can be used to keep track of the impact that the human race is having on the environment. The primary idea is that the human race is using resources on earth faster than they can replenish themselves and this is driving the world into “ecological bankruptcy”. Ecological bankruptcy is a situation similar to financial bankruptcy where the world literally runs out of resources as well as the space to produce more of the replenished resources.
The main solution that Dr. Wackernagel suggests is an accountability system that can be used to keep track of the amount of resources used per person, country and region. This system of accountability is what he calls the ecological footprint. The main idea is that this system can be used to show how much action needs to be taken to mitigate the degradation of the environment and possibly help reverse the effects of the degradation. The ecological footprint can be used to calculate the amount ecology that is left for use and this could help prevent ecological bankruptcy. The use of this accountability system could help the United States prevent the impending ecological disaster. Dr. Wackernagel explained that the world was already spending more money than it has and this is especially the case for the US. The nation’s lack of accountability in financial matters suggests that there is need to develop a system to ensure ecological accountability.
Adolf, A. (2009). Peace: A world history. Cambridge: Polity
Carroll, J. (2003). Why Religion Still Matters. Daedalus, 132(3), 9-13.
Nielsen, R. (2012, May 24). Theory of Peace. Retrieved from http://robertnielsen21.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/theory-of-peace/
Schmidt, B. (2012). Theories of U.S. Foreign Policy. In M. Cox and D. Stokes (Eds.), US Foreign Policy (pp. 5-20). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shah, A. (2006, March 31). Criticisms of Current Forms of Free Trade. Retrieved from http://www.globalissues.org/article/40/criticisms-of-current-forms-of-free-trade#ErodingWorkersRights
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