Saturday, April 7, 2012

Shaping of World Politics

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The global scenario has experienced many profound changes in recent years, and has forced many people to rethink the terms in which they saw the way international relations work. The events have shaken many well-established schools of thought, and the way the world stage was perceived. With extensive globalization, and integration of previously well defined regions; both geographically and politically taking place, the globe is becoming an ever smaller community. Then there is the role of non state actors, such as International corporations, organized criminal enterprises and terrorist networks operating around the globe, who are not bound within the defined territories of sovereign countries. The widespread information revolution, the ease and freedom with which information can be accessed, shared and transmitted, has had a tremendous impact on almost everyone on this planet.

The question is whether all these recent changes have affected the nature of world politics. Is globalization good or bad? Were the problems associated with the globalization anticipated? If so, how are they explained, and is there a way around them?

The events of September 11 were just an eye-opener, an event which shows the reach of people who wish to cause massive destabilization. But it was not something that was considered impossible before. The point is that investigation revealed that the people who had plotted and executed this horrendous act had used sophisticated methods of communications and information relaying, and had obtained finances through means which were considered exotic not five years ago, if not impossible, but are now commonplace, and can be obtained by almost anyone, anywhere, the result of extensive “globalization” and breakdown of barriers.

Nowadays, with the press of a button, large sums of money can electronically be sent from, say Indonesia to Austria, in less than a second. And it is possible to remove traces of such transactions. This is an example of an information revolution, and such conveniences have helped everyone, from corporations which can now trade to previously inaccessible regions to some expatriates sending remittances back home. But since all these conveniences are available to almost everyone, naturally they are available to persons and organizations with not-so-innocent plans. International corporations can now make huge financial scams across borders, which may go unnoticed. Criminal enterprises/ terrorist organizations may use them to launder their “dirty” money and provide resources for their operations.

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The same thing can be said about the information revolution, which also does not respect physical boundaries between countries. There is no restriction over it, and enhanced means of communication enable almost every sort of knowledge to be available to practically everybody around the globe. This again allows it to enter the wrong hands. It is in the freedom of information; coupled with the ability to mobilize vast sums of money anywhere that terrorists possess the ultimate weapon, and that very thought is disconcerting.

But is the world prepared to meet this new challenge? That is the question of the new millennium. The traditional realist explanation that only states are the players in the international politics has suffered a massive attack. Now, multinational corporations are able to exert substantial influence on government policies, both within and outside the country. Terrorists commit horrible acts, and slither across different countries with ease. This makes them hard to trace, and hence, cope with. Thus, at this important juncture, it is very important to bring into consideration the impact of such, extra-state entities, entities which are not bound within states. Liberals consider the role of non state actors, but generally the ones which usually have states backing them, legal organizations. The role of these underground organizations is not given as much importance. It is true that some spheres were making noise about these new challenges such as Chalmers Johnson at UC Berkeley, who predicted that something like /11 would occur, a year before it happened. The whole world was caught unaware, and the culprits are still at large, slipping from one country to another, while the U.S uses traditional military to apprehend them. The very approach is wrong. Conventional military can be used against states, or particular separatist armies within a country, in situations such as civil war. The incursion of U.S military in Afghanistan helped take care of the civil war in the country which was not the primary mission. It did not finish of or defeat Al-Qaeda from there.

Many political scientists have adapted their explanations to take into account the effects of globalization. Thus we see liberal instituitionists advocating institutional co-operation, the democratic peace theorists emphasizing the lessening of wars as a result of globalization and widespread democracies. The there are collective security advocates and social constructivists. But all these ultimately form their theories on a nation state framework. Realism is largely viewed “not only as a statist ideology, largely out of touch with the globalizing tendencies which are occurring in world politics but also as a dangerous discourse which is the main obstacle to efforts to establish a new and more peaceful hegemonic discourse” But I think that realism is still the prevalent way the world politics functions on, because the world has and is having troubles adjusting itself to globalization. And so far, nations are the most prominent players in the game. I do incline towards what the globalist point of view as well. They are of the opinion that globalization is occurring even now, and they take into account some if not all the problems associated with globalization They also maintain that although inter-state wars are reduced, intra-state(civil) wars are on the rise. They are also of the opinion that states are losing their hold over economics within their boundaries, and especially the international aspects of the economies of individual countries. I would say they aren’t losing control, rather, influenced to quite a large extent by the corporate sector in the countries.

Evidence of this is found in one big example The European Union. The members hardly have control of their individual monetary and other economic policies, and there is free mobility of labor and capital within the countries. But that does not mean that individual countries have lost their individual identity. It was in the overall self interest of each and every country to engage in such endeavors.

Strong states are still powerful, and are not so affected by the economic aspect of globalization in my opinion. It is largely the relatively weaker states that are more affected. And as concerns institutions, they still stand with the blessings of the strong, globalization or no globalization.

So what I would say is that the way things are, realism prevails, where the strong exerts its influence over the week, and so far, nations are the actors. However, this must change, and bring into consideration the effects of the new challenges to world politics, that of none state actors. Thus, a mix of globalist-realism would pose a reasonable explanation to the world politics of the new millennium.

As far as terrorists are concerned, a highly mobile international counter-terrorist organization should be organized, with equal representation from all the countries, proper representation, unlike the U.N in which dominant strong countries can elbow their way around the weaker states. Fire must be treated with fire. This organization should have the full co-operation of all the countries and their intelligence resources and access to information. This organization must respect sovereignty of states, if that is not possible, a resolution should be passed in which by-vote war is formally declared on the country to be invaded. This organization must have access to all the resources that terrorists have and more. I do believe this would be a much better alternative than sending the military and bombing countries “back to stone age”, which solves nothing, rather, creates many more Osama Bin Ladens.

John Baylis and Steve Smith The Globalization of World Politics [nd Edition]

Chalmers Johnson Blowback The consequences of American Imperialism.

Class lectures by Dr. Ian Spears, University Of Windsor.

Samir Amin Unequal Development, 17

Samir Amin Eurocentrism, 188.

Harry Magdoff

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