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history of events in the twentieth century, one might surmise that the twenty-first may not be all that different. Why? Because human nature and the pursuit of self-interest has not changed from one century to the next. To explain what drives international relations, Joshua Goldstein provides a brief history of the world, in addition to information about the geographical features and the consequences of different nation's economies. (Goldstein, 2003) The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by relative peace in the world. The Franco-Prussian wars were at least three decades into the past. Nobody would envision that the worst horrors of a global scale wars were in the near future. In as much as Goldstein avers that the First World War was wholly unnecessary and it was, at least in its inception, a macho exercise (p. 37), one can believe that war is part of human nature.
After the two World Wars, one might assume that a state of peace might have existed engineered by those that did not want to ever revisit war. Even smaller skirmishes could be avoided since a lot of nations also became independent at the same time from their colonialist rulers. But towards the middle of the twentieth century, the seeds of the cold war that would last more than 40 years began to be sowed. Fascism and Nazism gave way to Communism. The Korean and Vietnam Wars were about one form of governmental system asserting ascendancy over the other. Goldstein illustrates how for the sake of expansion, the United States and the Soviet Union tried to expand their influences into nations all over the globe all the whole knowing that they might be supporting rogue rulers and despots.
The above two paragraphs help to illustrate human nature. Wars will be fought on different scales in different parts of the World. It comes from an innate sense in humans of trying to protect themselves from someone that might be different from them. In the United States, the specter of racism is always present in society. Mostly dormant, racism does occasionally rear its ugly head. The conflicts of Rwanda among the Hutus and Tutsi's show that even in cases of racial uniformity, people have no qualms about massacring millions of people. Currently, the religion of Islam has come under a lot of fire because of the misdeeds of some of its proponents and believers. But even among the Muslims, the Sunnis and Shiites have always been at war. Opinion mongers have hailed Christianity as the beacon of Peace. Several centuries ago, during the Golden Age of Islam, the Christian crusaders were considered savage marauders and the Muslims had the moral upper hand. In India, once in a while, Hindu-Muslim riots erupt in certain sections of the country.
The events of Northern Ireland between the Catholics and the Protestants indicate that even among Christianity, people (in modern times) will not hesitate to hurt.
The above illustrations were necessary to establish a pattern of human behavior. This behavior should be one of the most considered determinants in charting the future of the world in the twenty first century. The recent events of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, following the events of September 11, 2001, indicate that pre-emption might be the best strategy to stave of major conflicts. This pre-emption would be achieved by increasing the military strength of a nation. Though one would assume that this would not be wise, it is this recourse that has helped stave of the Cold War turning into World War Three. Constant vigilance is also necessary from every country that wants to remain safe from attacks of terrorism.
The twenty first century will see wars. At the present time, the struggle is for the minds and hearts for the Muslim World. If it is to regain its former glory, democracy has to be brought into the Muslims world. Consider the case for statehood for Palestine from Israel. While moral relativism can be argued ad nauseum, the nations that have this moral superiority, whether powerful or not, are ones that espouse democracy. Most of the people of Middle Eastern nations do not enjoy democracy. These citizens are either subjects of monarchies, or subject to the vagaries of tin-pot dictatorships, which, for all intents and purposes, could be considered monarchies. When the President of Syria died, his son who was being groomed for the position took his place. Without U.S. intervention, Saddam Hussein would have continued to win overwhelming majorities in farcical elections. Several years from now, there is no doubt that either Uday or Qusay (or both) would have taken over from him. During the 1990s, Afghanistan was considered the worst nation in the world. Except for the cartels of OPEC, there is no other infrastructure in Middle Eastern nations. Nations without oil import terrorism. Palestinian youth are imbued in the ideals of jihad or Holy War. They are not averse to strapping bombs on their person to achieve what is sold to them as the way to right all wrongs. The Palestinian constitution has in it a clause calling for the destruction of Israel. If one considers the constitutions of democratic nations there are rights akin to the U.S. Bill of Rights. The United States with the United Nations should fortify what the United States has started. Establish pockets of democracy. Imported infrastructure and improving economies would direct people onto the paths that veer away from the current thought. Thomas Friedman in an opinion article in the New York Times echoes this sentiment. He shows how the Indian Muslims, the second largest Muslim population in the world, are largely removed from the Middle Eastern Islamic mindset because they are part of a democracy. (p. 59) He also shows how Bangladesh has female leaders in the ruling and opposition parties (anathema to most Muslim countries) and the lives of the Muslims are on the upswing. In attempting to bring democracy to these regions, the strategy of setting up democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq would be important, because other surrounding nations can become democracies by copying the nations that are philosophically alike (Turkey is democratic) than by having democracy dictated to them by richer nations who are largely ignorant of the modes of thought in these regions. (p. 54)
In the twenty-first century, the United States should continue as a super power because of its policies. Its military might is also rooted in capitalism. Its democratic governance ensures that even people in the lowest strata of this class-based society are involved in its decision-making. Another strategy that the U.S. has adopted, that Western European developed nations should follow, is the fresh infusion of talent from other nations such that its research and development in different domains will be cutting edge. If complacency sets in among those entrenched, the potential competition comes from foreign nations because of the opportunities in education and high-level jobs that the U.S. Markets created. The H1-B visa program sustained the burgeoning technology industry of the last decade of the twentieth century.
Goldstein shows how the rise in China's strength mirrors the rise of Germany in the early to middle parts of the twentieth century. (p. 49) China's increasing military might should be cause for concern in the world. This is because this might is premised from power that rests in the hands of the few. China is a communist country that has atrocious human rights abuses. The cultural revolution of the 1960s showed how socialism and communism could destroy the lives of the weak. More than a million people died of starvation as a result of Mao's cultural revolution. At the Tiananmen Square, in Beijing, hundreds of protesting students were slaughtered. However, because of its rich history of an ancient civilization that created forerunners to a lot of modern technology, China is rich in intellectualism. They also are a cheap source of manufacture of products to be sold in the United States because of a differing wage structure. It is possible that in the very near future, China will become a super power of the likes of the U.S.S.R. And the United States will find itself in another Cold War. Increasing military might should be in the top five priorities for the United States. This will ensure that the United States will always remain ahead in the game. A few days ago, China demonstrated that it had joined the Space Age when it put its first man in orbit. China also has nuclear capabilities.
North Korea has emerged recently increased its belligerence averring that it had gone full steam ahead with improving its nuclear capabilities. All this while its populace starves while the dictator Kim Jong Il does nothing for the lot of his people. This belligerence should not go unnoticed. Goldstein shows how conservative, liberal and revolutionary modes of international relations coexist. It is imperative that both conservative and liberal modes be pursued. The conservative mode of military supremacy and the liberal ideals of economic balance…[continue]
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