Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I agree that sovereignty protects differences in the regard of sovereign nations first and foremost protecting their nations rights and liberties. An example where leaders have used their power to execute actions to protect their nations differences or human rights is with China and France two year ago in the Beijing Olympics. The French President, Sarkozy, had implied that he would not take part in the opening ceremony for the Olympics being held in Beijing because of the human rights violations occurring in China. There had been violent confrontations between Tibetan protestors and the Chinese police recently that year. The French president believed that just as nations are obligated to uphold their citizen's rights, some also believed that they are obligated to intervene in another's domestic affairs. President Sarkozy has used the concept of France's sovereignty and his nation's influence to draw attention to the human rights issues in China specifically the problems with Tibet.

During our visit to the Museum of the American Indian I remember reading an exhibit about how sovereignty of the Seneca Nation of Indians helped to restore their culture and protect their cultural differences. Through this ability the Seneca Tribe operates on a $1.1 billion economy that employs more than 6,300 people. They have expanded to become one of the fastest growing and one of the largest employers in Western New York.

In Horizons, Rosenblum mentions race several times when describing characters. It is introduced subtly, when Ahni is described as "an unselected mix of Taiwan aboriginal, Han Chinese, and Polynesian genes" (p.13), and almost every person new to the viewpoint character is introduced similarly—"a geneselect Masai type" (p.14), "natural Mediterraneans" (p.147), "Scandinavian-euro mix" (p.212). Rosenblum emphasis at the beginning of the novel how those who have been living in this environment for several generations are notably different than the rest of humanity. Going back to Tordov’s desire for acknowledging the “other”. Even though sovereignty have the power to protect differences we still must always be aware of potential threat from the “other” to better guard against our nations own best interest.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reflection week 15

As the semester comes to a close, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic. I remember worrying during the summer about making friends within my UC, and thinking college would be a difficult transition. Now, I can’t believe it was even a concern. The beauty of being in this UC is that I’ve managed to find so many new friends, and although our floor has the dynamics of an incredibly dysfunctional family, you love your family no matter what. I’ve met so many amazing people at AU, and after my first semester, am so happy with my choice to come here. As sappy as it may sound, I honestly don’t know what I would have done without this floor and everyone on it. I cannot imagine going through my first semester without forming the relationships I have with my UC.

            As well as developing a greater appreciation for joining the UC, I’ve also come to realize what a perfect choice AU is for me. Over the course of the semester, it’s become more and more evident that AU was a really good decision, although I did doubt it at first. The School of International Service has so many options for study, and the joint program with Kogod caters to my future plans. Classes like World Politics this semester challenged my thinking and encouraged me to delve further into the subject matter, increasing my understanding and critical thinking abilities. The classes I was able to take as a freshman (World Politics, Cross Cultural Communications, etc.) further cemented my desire to continue with an International Service major.

            Overall, I’ve had a great first semester, facilitated mainly by World Politics and the UC environment, and am looking forward to continuing the World Politics experience next semester with the research project.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reflection Week 15

I can't believe that the end of the semester is already here and it feels as if I had done nothing, but the time has flown. Reflecting back on this semester, the most interesting, insightful, and meaningful discussion we had personally was the discussion on realism, liberalism, and constructivism. Although I do not remember the detail of many other discussion we had throughout the course, I can remember the podcasts and discussions we had on those three schools of thoughts. This is partly because it has challenged me to consider what kind of school of thought I would agree with the most. Throughout this part of our course, I have been carefully considering what my views and opinions are, and as I went through this process, the interesting fact was that I could see sense in all three, and basically agree with all three. However, after more careful consideration, I must say that I would incline more towards realist view of the world.

I would not go into a detailed argument as to why realists views seem more adequate. This is partly because whatever argument one makes, there are always equally valid argument that others can make, and thus, no one can really decide what is the truth. This is a point that really made this course interesting. I like international relations and world politics, but I also enjoy thinking about philosophical question, and I believe philosophy has some place in world politics as well. The statement "no one can really decide what is the truth" is something that got me thinking beyond world politics. Is there really no objective truth? Can we decide if realism is the "right way" and liberalism is "wrong"? Although this topic is totally unrelated to world politics, it is nevertheless one of the most interesting questions from this course that got me really thinking besides the internal discussion about whether I would be a realist or a liberal. From class discussions and current media, as well as the social trend, I see people leaning more towards a subjective truth realm. I make this argument and you make another argument, we are different, but we are both right.

This was mentioned during our Todorov discussion; does difference justify believing in different things? Is truth something that people define, as someone hinted by saying that human rights were "established" by people after seeing so much cruelty? These are really philosophical questions and seem totally unrelated to world politics, but I must say that what we believe philosophically would definitely alter how we react and live our life as international scholars. Thus, besides learning about different schools of thoughts, I must say that this philosophical question of truth was one of the things from this course that really challenged me.

Final Reflection: Week 15

Woodrow Wilson once said that when examining relationships with other countries that “interests do not tie nations together; it sometimes separates them. But sympathy and understanding does unite them”. Looking back to August, my knowledge and understanding about world politics is vastly different than it is today. The UC seminar of world politics is one of the most well structured and orchestrated classes that freshman have the opportunity to take at American University. Unlike classes I took in high school, at my community college, World Politics (in the manner that Professor Jackson structured the course) challenged us as students to think on a completely new wavelength to say the least.

Liberalism, realism, constructivism are three terms that I merely bypassed in previous readings and never really gave much thought to how their meanings relate to the perspectives in the development of the international community. World politics required us as students to examine the little things in life that either we have grown up with or which have been too small to notice. One of my favorite books this year was “How Soccer Explains the World”. The author presented the material very well. He discussed the different cultural perspectives of soccer and used it as a tool to illustrate how each society used the barbaric sport to arguably define their culture. The opportunity to witness a DC United Soccer game in September was a great way for us to see how the readings and discussions in class are so relevant to the outside world. The University College was a great tool to experience these types of opportunities firsthand. Never before would I have imagined that over the course of the system I would have business cards from representatives at the European Union, the Department of States, or the World Bank.

However, what made the UC World Politics course so beneficial was our class discussion. Professor Jackson had a very interesting perceptive on a number of issues in international relations. Every day when he would walk into class we never knew what to expect. The example I remember the most was the scenario of a spaceship landing on the white house lawn. We were asked to think about the various ways the United States and the international community would respond to such a threat.

In the end what I will take away most from this class is the ability to think critically outside of my comfort zone and begin to analyze issues with an international and global mindset. The final simulation showed our class the troubling fact of development policy-there is no clear answer. The quote from Woodrow Wilson reminded me of our last class session in which the end of the individual interests of countries will always be apparent in international politics. However, in order to work towards achieving peace or conflict resolution, what is most beneficial as a member of the international community is an emphasis to sympathize with struggling countries and negotiate with them to come to an agreed upon solution for the betterment of global society. In the news today every issue can be tied to world politics. The recent bailout of Ireland by the European Union highlights the European Union’s understanding of the situation in which Ireland has found itself recently. Instead of resisting and ignoring the need that Ireland has, the EU has banded together and has agreed to bailout the country to prevent its further downfall (which would ultimately affect the other countries of Europe of course). The problems, conflicts, and struggles in world politics may never be solved, but by studying the issues we can understand how vital an analytical understanding is of the world around us in order to ensure the future welfare of our entire world.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sovereignty and Difference

I would definitely agree that sovereignty protects difference, but only under extreme conditions. Sovereignty is usually referred to as a state's power to act autonomously within its own territory, and under such definition, difference would be protected. However, from observation of the current global condition, we see differences being eliminated by the process of globalization, and people around the globe are becoming more similar to each other despite living in different sovereign countries. This is a definite proof that sovereignty may not protect difference, but I must say that the definition of sovereignty must be clearly delineated.

I believe that if a state is absolutely sovereign, meaning no outside interference within its own borders and everything is domestic with no sovereignty infringement, then the difference would be protect. I believe that such absolute sovereignty would develop a sense of identity among people living under the same sovereign condition because they share a common background. This sense of identity, which can also be referred to, but not most accurately, as "national identity" would preserve the differences on a global stage. However, absolute sovereignty is something that is nonexistent in the global order.

Current global order is more about limited sovereignty in my opinion; states hold sovereign and autonomous power over key parts of the country, but it is not absolutely sovereign. Foreign companies come in and meddle in economics, and foreign diplomatic relations force states to sometimes act in a way no absolute sovereign country would act. This limited sovereignty that allows certain outside influence naturally leads to globalization as people around the globe share certain aspects of life, which kind of forms an identity and a connection wordwide.

To summarize, there is a difference between absolute and limited sovereignty and the degree to which they protect difference. However, I must also point out that absolute sovereignty would only be possible ideologically, because the inter-connectedness of the current world. What this leads to, is the fact that certain amount of difference is preserved under the limited sovereignty all countries hold, but some of their differences would be eliminated.

Final Reflection-Week 15

The final reflection. Honestly, in August, I didn’t think I would make it to this point. The challenges that loomed at the beginning of the semester seemed impassable. Here, standing on the other end, I can say that I made it. We made it, and we have the power to continue.
Class has been…interesting. While I hate the use of ellipsis, I must emphasize the pause that I am taking mentally when coming up with an adjective to describe this semester in Letts Formal Lounge. I can think of many classes where I wish I was back in bed, I’ll be honest. I can think of many classes walking away frustrated at the things that were said, including a lot of things that I said. Overall, World Politics has been an experience. Normally at the end of something that has lasted this long, I find myself nostalgic about the experience. However, I am not at this point. I can’t say I’m surprised. I value every lesson that I learned this semester, obviously. I learned more than I could fathom back in August. I feel, though, that with the rigorous course load I took this semester, it should be natural to be ready to progress.
The University College experience was a great way to assimilate into college life. It offered access to many great resources and opportunities. I can’t think of many other college freshmen, even here at AU who can say that in their first semester they’ve had private tours of the Pentagon, a Q & A session with a policy maker at the State Department, and access to the Delegation from the European Union twice. UC has opened up Washington DC to me, both through the classroom and through the lab. While there are moments I regret (getting out of bed for the National’s stadium tour, when I was very sick), I can’t think of a single thing that won’t pay off in the long run.
In other words, it’s been a great semester. I am excited for the end, and excited to see where this knowledge takes me.

Sovereignty, Differences and Security

To put it simply, yes, I do agree. The sovereignty of any nation helps people retain their own identities. While people may move away from their home nation, they always will retain their original identity. Expatriates manage to retain their own sovereignty while living in the country of another. In the future though, if genetic modification becomes widespread, it may become impossible to know who comes from what nation.
Currently, the world has an established means of retaining individual sovereignty protected by a nation. In the United States these rights materialize through our passports. A passport, in my mind, represents more than a means to gain access to other countries. Passports represent our belonging to something larger. With our passport, we identify with a nation that ensures our security. You can take your United States passport and gain access to any embassy overseas if there is unrest and your security is the responsibility of the government. Therefore, passports are of the difference that is protected by our sovereignty.
In the future though, with the advent of space colonies and genetic differences these concrete differences in our culture may become subtler. How should the world secure sovereignty? One interesting way that comes to mind could be in the security chips that are embedded in people. Those would in essence become the new passports and could protect us even more because they would be tied into our biometrics. The tie in with the biometrics has the potential to make us even more secure, sovereign, and protect our differences at a level that has never been seen before.