2011 World Politics question #14

Because of the classroom simulation these past few days we've been focusing a lot on trade, but we should not forget the complexity of encounter we were discussing before this. The relatively or comparatively easy thing about trade and investment is that everyone is presumptively the same, in the sense of having the same basic interests: producing more efficiently, and profiting more absolutely. I cannot help but wonder what Todorov would think of this presumptive uniformity, however, and that inclines me to ask: why does Todorov dedicate his book to an anonymous Mayan woman devoured by dogs? Does her story, and the overall story that Todorov tells, have any relevance for a world in which interest groups strike deals in which everyone benefits, at least economically?


2011 World Politics question #13

On p. 250, Todorov writes: "'The man who finds his country sweet is only a raw beginner; the man for whom each country is as his own is already strong; but only the man for whom the whole world is as a foreign country is perfect' (I myself, a Bulgarian living in France, borrow this quotation from Edward Said, a Palestinian living in the United States, who himself found it in Erich Auerbach, a German exiled in Turkey)." Is this in fact the best way to avoid genocide in cross-cultural encounters?


2011 World Politics question #12

In class we spent a while talking about the ambiguities of Cortes' understanding of the native people he encountered, and the tensions between his instrumental use of people and his understanding of them. Another figure whose understanding Todorov highlights is La Malinche herself, so the question is: does she understand either the native people or the Spanish conquistadors better than others do? Does her position between the two worlds enable her to see each more clearly?


2011 World Politics question #11

The question that Naeem Inayatullah asks in his chapter -- do states have a right to be wealthy? -- inverts our usual order of things, in which it's right and proper to ask about states deserving security but the wealth of states seems more like a naturally-occuring fact. So for this week's blog I want you to wrestle with Inayatullah's question: do states have a right to wealth? Do individuals?


2011 World Politics question #10

In our class discussion today we identified three salient characteristics of "wealth":

1) to be wealthy is to have capacity that goes beyond that needed for mere survival.

2) at a minimum, wealth comes in two varieties: the possession of material objects, and the enjoying of love/esteem/respect that leads to happiness. These two varieties are related in complex ways, but they are not the same thing.

3) whether or not you are wealthy depends a great deal on the set of others to which you are comparing yourself.

Most of our discussion centered on interpersonal comparisons. What changes would have to be made to scale this up the the international or global level? Do these three characteristics translate well? Does wealth require something else at the international or global level?


2011 World Politics question #9

According to various news outlets, and the United Nations, the 7 billionth person on the earth at the present time was born today. Is this a security issue? Discuss. Be clear what you mean by "security" in your answer.


2011 World Politics question #8

Since I didn't remember to get this one posted yesterday, you have until class on Thursday to post a response if you so choose.

This week's question concerns this report (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed--the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html) on a new study about the concentration of financial and market power in the world. Presuming that the report is accurate, is this kind of concentration a problem for world politics? Is it a problem for some states and not for others? Discuss. Reference IR theories as appropriate and as they generate insights.


2011 World Politics question #7

Supposing that #ows wins (for some definition of "winning" that you need to specify in your answer). How is the world different?


2011 World Politics question #6

Today in class we considered the question of what the US should do if faced with the sudden appearance of a spacecraft of unknown origin in Earth orbit. For the blog question this week, I'd like you to consider instead what the US -- and other countries, if you so choose -- would do in such circumstances. Use the IR theories we have been discussing to make the most plausible conjecture you can.


2011 World Politics question #5

Should a powerful country like the United States make democratization one of the goals of its foreign policy? Is the domestic regime of other states the kind of thing that a powerful state ought to worry about?


2011 World Politics question #4

Near the end of The Prince, Machiavelli comments that fortune accounts for about half of our actions; earlier in the text, he repeatedly points out occasions when someone would have succeeded except for fortune. Thus:

a) is Machiavelli right that so much of social and especially political life depends on fortune, and how would you know?
b) if half of life depends on fortune, what value is Machiavelli's advice to the would-be prince?


2011 World Politics question #3

In what ways does Diplomatic Risk seem to mirror actual world politics? in what ways does it differ? I'm not looking for an exhaustive catalog here; this week's blog question is more of an opportunity for you to reflect on the parallels and divergences between our game and what some have called the "great game."


on the ambiguities of "international recognition"

Apropos our class discussion on Thursday, this little gem from the New York Times:

"For Abkhazia, Recognition Is Coming Piece by Piece" http://nyti.ms/nnrCFh

So is it a country, or not? Discuss ;-)


2011 World Politics question #2

"Hurricanes are actors in world politics just like sovereign territorial states are. Hurricanes have names, commentators attribute motives and intentions to them, and they clearly affect state policies of all kinds -- just like other actors. Apparently, being 'sovereign' doesn't really matter in world politics." Discuss. Remember that the reading for this week, even though we didn't have class today because of the (public!) holiday, is a historical and conceptual account of the origins of state authority.


2011 World Politics question #1

Blog question #1 for 2011:

What is the most important issue in world politics, and why?

(Nothing like a simple little question to get us started.)