Friday, December 01, 2006

Blogging Experience

My blogs examined international crises and stories relative to my current major at USC. My first entry evaluated Iran’s decision to acquire nuclear capabilities, and the impact it would have on its ability to defend itself from a military intervention from the U.S. and other countries. The second entry reviewed North Korea’s isolation from the rest of the international community, as well as its defiance of international laws and norms. Both of these entries were supported with hyperlinks to pertinent academic websites and pictures that amplified the blog’s already appealing qualities. These two entries were followed by an explanation of international relations which included different approaches to the subject and hyperlinks to two scholarly blogs on which I commented.

The second essay and fourth entry into my blog explored the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of the most prominent non-profit organizations in the field of international relations. The blog looks at Carnegie’s award winning website and discusses the role of its multiple branches (Non-Proliferation site, Carnegie Center in Moscow, etc.). The essay explains how the organization was founded and what roles it is currently playing in international relations to build a safer future for people all around the world. The essay has links to all of Carnegie’s sites and pictures that showcase its site’s award winning appeal. The final entry into blogger proposes awarding scholar Noam Chomsky with an honorary degree from USC. The blog provides a plethora of support for Chomsky’s nomination, and links to his involvement in the analysis and critique of international relations.

I have thoroughly enjoyed using blogger as a way to share my interest in international relations with others through the internet. I have become one of more than 60 million people who use some form of blog on the internet. Blogging allows for a vast array of multimedia to be utilized in order to enhance an otherwise bland composition. In many ways blogging has been more difficult than just writing, but it has made the experience much more entertaining. I feel as though I could have done a better job with some of the essays by utilizing more hyperlinks and providing more evidence with my candidate for an honorary degree. Despite this, I am confident I have improved as a writer and I am now able to create a blog that is visually stunning, as well as provide support for my arguments with numerous hyperlinks to academic and scholarly sources. People who view my blog can experience an interactive essay that is visually captivating and supported with hyperlinks to various other websites. Blogging allows individuals to turn bland papers into a vivid experience. I truly enjoyed this class and hope to continue blogging in the future.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

USC 2007 Honorary Degree Recipient: Noam Chomsky

Over the past several years, the University of Southern California has bestowed upon individuals an honorary degree as a tribute to their dedication to advancing "expertise, social recognition, and service to clients and community". Past recipients include individuals such as Antonio Villaraigosa, the recently elected Mayor of Los Angeles, Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the moon, John Williams, the famous music composer, and John McCain, the current Senator of Arizona who has distinguished himself with his military service in Vietnam. Within the field of international relations, there appears to be no one suited better than Noam Chomsky to receive this award. Chomsky, a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has dedicated himself to attempting to preserve the "American ideals" of democracy and freedom by critiquing the United States domestic and international politics over the past 50 years. Although he has been a harsh critic of America's foreign policy, Chomsky is a firm believer that the United States has the potential to lead the world into a much more amicable future. His main accomplishment has been the ability to enlighten people about the real reasons military intervention by the United States and its allies has occurred.

One of the criteria that measures a candidates worthiness of an honorary degree is his or her craft. According to Mike W. Martin, "a life is more than outward events, and we understand persons only when we grasp the value commitments embedded in their motives, character, and worldview." Noam Chomsky commits himself to enlightening individuals throughout society to expose corruption and deceit, and cares little about economic gain and notoriety. There is little doubt that Mr. Chomsky possesses the "expertise, technical skill, theoretical understanding, creativity" necessary to warrant an honorary degree. What is most original about Noam Chomsky is his ability to sift through the U.S. government's deceptive ploys to misinform the American public( this may somehow relate to his career as a professor of linguistics at MIT). He believes the best way to learn about the current issues concerning foreign policy is to look at past events. By looking at declassified government documents, Chomsky affirms that there are similarities between past policy decisions and present. The war in Iraq, Chomsky postulates, is similar to past military interventions. Past interventions by the U.S. have been similarly been justified through faulty intelligence and misleading justification for the use of military force. During the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was called "the Hitler of the Middle East" by both George Bush, Sr., and Margaret Thatcher. They told the American public that the reason for intervening was to prevent Saddam from destroying Kuwait and other neighboring countries. Chomsky states that the real reason America was involved in the conflict was because of their oil investments in Kuwait. He also
states that "no U.S. elected official or mainstream media commentator has even hinted that our (U.S.) invasion of Panama was just as much a violation of national sovereignty as Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Respect for national sovereignty is an after-the-fact rationalization of Desert Storm, not a motive." The U.S. had already supplied Iraq with chemical and biological weapons in their war against Iran, and they had no intentions of stopping Saddam from becoming a regional powerhouse in the Middle East. Once the U.S. oil was at stake, the U.S. quickly compared the recent ally as a vicious devil. A few years earlier the U.S. had turned away when Saddam attempted to ethnically cleanse the Kurds to the north, but once U.S. oil was in danger President Bush quickly used the U.N. to pass a resolution to go to war with Iraq.

Noam Chomsky's first involvement with international relations came with his criticism of the Vietnam War. Chomsky revealed to the public that the United States was not entering the Vietnam war to stop the North Vietnamese, but rather had entered the war in order to prevent the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam from establishing its own independence. He postulates that the "fact simply does not exist in official American history; there is no such event in American history as the attack on South Vietnam. That's gone. Of course, It is a part of real history." He also pointed out the government's use of "dual rhetoric": saying one thing and doing something entirely different. This "dual rhetoric", according to Chomsky, has been used on almost every military intervention since post World War II. Chomsky's evidence lies in declassified government documents. It is here that he has been able to find evidence of the government pursuing its own agenda while keeping the American public naive as to what was really occurring. Chomsky's ability to reveal "the real American history" may upset some, and according to Freedman, could result in events similar to the protesting of Ted Turner and William F. Buckley's honorary degree if Chomsky were awarded. Students and faculty may be upset at his meeting with the leaders of Hezbollah or his assault on current American foreign policy. Although many people may not like Chomsky, he is more than qualified to receive an honorary degree from USC.

One such example is in the case of this is the 1954 Guatemala coup supported by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1944, the Guatemalan people overthrew dictator Jorge Ubico Castaneda and were about to hold democratic elections. The U.S. government saw this as a danger to the rest of Latin America. If leaders were democratically elected and adhered to the will of their people, this could undermine the U.S. national interest. Knowing that the U.S. would disapprove of their actions, Guatemala sought to defend themselves from an invasion by obtaining rifles from Czechoslovakia. The U.S. did in fact enter in Operation PBSUCCESS, which led to the overthrow of democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán and the installation of Castillo Armas. Chomsky points out that Castillo's oppression of the Guatemalan people was even more ruthless than that of former dictator General Jorge Ubico, and that the U.S. overthrow was condemned by the U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold and by Western Germany, a country that was typically supportive of U.S. military action.

Another similar incident that Chomsky has revealed in his book Imperial Ambitions was the 1982 invasion of Grenada. The Reagan Administration told the public that the invasion occurred because of Grenada's alignment with Cuba and the Soviet Union and for "greatly militarizing" the previously small and neutral country. Reagan also claimed that he was intervening for the safety of U.S. medical students at the St. George University School of Medicine, which Chomsky believes is "laughable". Chomsky revealed that the country of Grenada was simply constructing an airport for peaceful purposes with the aid of Cuba and Britain. This invasion came several days after the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Lebanon, which killed 240 U.S. marines. Reagan used this previous attack to justify the invasion and instill fear in the American people, making them believe that an airport in Grenada could undermine U.S. national security.

Reagan and his administration used the same tactics for justification in the U.S. support of the Nicaraguan Contras. Reagan claimed that Nicaragua was a severe threat to national security and instilled fear in American people by stating it was only a two days car drive away. Chomsky informs people that the U.S. government uses scare tactics to gain their support in foreign policy decision making. These decisions, more often than not, are in the interests of the elite bourgeois class and large corporations, but rarely do they reflect the interests of the common man. So in order for the government to gain support for its policy making, it must make the common man fear the target country or regime. This is why Chomsky has listed the U.S. as one of the top "terrorist states" in the world, because it uses its military might in order to achieve its political agenda.

Another criteria for the honorary candidate is to demonstrate upstanding morals, which Chomsky has done by criticizing the U.S. for not living up to its own morals. One thing Chomsky is able to point out is the U.S. and its allies hypocrisies in international relations. Although the U.S. and Israel are key supporters of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, both have an absurd amount of nuclear warheads. Furthermore, Chomsky points out that it is dangerous for a country such as Israel to have nuclear weapons in a region as volatile as the Middle East because it will cause other neighboring states to acquire nuclear technology in order to protect themselves from their neighbors, thus lowering both of their security. This is what is known as a "security dilemma" in international relations. He believes that the U.S. is backing Israel because of the Jewish lobby in the U.S., which has been called the second largest lobby group in the U.S. behind the tobacco industry. Israel, Chomsky states, has the ability to wreak havoc upon the entire Middle East with little to no fear of repercussions because of its alliance with the U.S. Although the U.S. praises its small ally, Israel is not even a true democracy: religion and citizenship are intertwined. If an individual is not Jewish, he or she will be treated as a "second class" citizen. The country even promotes Jews from other parts of the world to move to Israel in order to increase the percentage of people who are Jewish in the country. Chomsky has stated that Israel is closer to a theology than it is to a democracy.

The U.S. is also a hypocrite when it comes to nuclear weapons. Iraq's so called nuclear weapons program never existed, yet it was used as a scare tactic in order to invade the country. The U.S. itself has over 2,000 tactical nuclear warheads, and has even begun creating a nuclear weapons program in space. This program could allow the U.S. to hit any target from space within a few minutes. This program has caused other nations such as Russia and China to create their own space weapons programs, which could lead to an all out nuclear war. Chomsky credits this to the U.S.'s short term versus long term thought process. In the short term, the U.S. may be winning the arms race, but in the long term, it has put itself and the rest of the world in much greater danger.

Critics of Chomsky believe that he is a pessimist who offers no real solutions to international problems. He is frequently dismissed as a "Utopian" that is out of touch with the real world. His response is that he offers solutions, but his solutions are not what the policy makers want. Chomsky believes that in order to stop terrorism, the U.S. must stop terrorizing the world. According to a BBC interview with Chomsky, all forms of human oppression throughout history have been chipped away at until they were defeated. One such institution that Chomsky supposes will change is the world economy. He credits the current new international economic order for enriching the top 20 percent of the world's population, while leaving the other 80 percent in poverty. According to Chomsky, a gradual shift will occur over time so that the lower 80 percent begins to move above the poverty line, similar to the gradual shift out of slavery. Chomsky feels that the economic institutions of the world today will eventually change so that people are no longer oppressed by transnational corporations and the bourgeois elite.

Given all of the presented evidence, one may think that Noam Chomsky despises the U.S. This is far from the case. Mr. Chomsky knows that the U.S. is capable of living up to its rhetoric and acting according to its philosophies. He wishes to see the U.S. shift towards policies that benefit not just the common man in the U.S., but the world. He believes by informing individuals of government cover-ups and supplying people with the truth, the U.S. can become a global leader in peace and prosperity. Noam sees a bright future, but knows that in order to achieve great things, one must first take small steps. Peaceful public demonstrations and fund raisers can help spread information and start a grass-roots change. He posits that if the general public becomes enlightened to information that is being kept secret, change will occur. Chomsky states he has already seen this change in modern times, in that there were no protests over the Vietnam War until several years after it began, while there were several protests around the country over the Iraq War prior during the first week of fighting.

One may ask "why is Mr. Chomsky more suited to receive an honorary degree than other left-wing intellects?". According to USC's Honorary Degree criteria, an individual is honored
"to elevate the university in the eyes of the world by honoring individuals who are widely known and highly regarded for achievements in their respective fields of endeavor." Chomsky is world renown for his discourses on international politics. He has written dozens of books analyzing the foreign policy and domestic politics of the United States, many of which have become best sellers. Chomsky has visited numerous countries throughout the world to support oppressed peoples. Prior to the Israeli-Lebanon conflict of 2006, he visited the leader of Hezbollah. Although this appeared like Chomsky was supporting terrorists, he believes that he was supporting a smaller group that was defending itself from the true terrorist of the Middle East: Israel. His commencement speech would inspire individuals to help others rather than seek out material wealth. Noam Chomsky fights for what he believes is right, regardless of what other critics may perceive him as. Being called a terrorist, traitor, and communist has not deterred him from trying to open the eyes of individuals. This makes Chomsky a true patriot.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: An Award Winning Website

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a non-profit and non-governmental institutional organization aimed at promoting peace in the international community through “active engagement” by the United States. This program was founded in 1910 by Andrew Carnegie in order to promote world peace. Carnegie thought that stronger international laws and organizations could lead to the complete elimination of war. Carnegie originally allocated 10 million dollars to 28 trustees to “hasten the abolition of international war, the foulest blot upon our civilization” and gave his trustees “the widest discretion as to the measures and policy they shall from time to time adopt” in order to prevent future wars. In 1993, the Carnegie Moscow Center was established in order to promote relations between the U.S., Russia, and former Soviet states. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s website recently won an award by the Web Awards for outstanding achievement in website development. The purpose of this site is to inform readers of current issues that are affecting nation-states and the steps that are being taken in order to promote peace, stability, and economic growth. The overall rhetorical structure of the site is to the reader’s reason. The intended audience for this site is most likely someone who is either actively involved in international relations or someone who has donated money to the Carnegie Endowment.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is great at providing the information viewers want while allowing them to easily access information and the history of the endowment. Navigating through the site is quite simple. The site contains links to almost every branch and organization affiliated with the Carnegie Endowment. There is a search bar in the upper-left corner that allows the viewer to look up any information or topic related to the site, which is superb for quick searches and retrieval of information. The website also utilizes an advanced search, which allows the viewer to search by keyword, author, or specific category. The site also utilizes drop menus, which aid in rapid information retrieval. One section of drop menus is specifically designed for an individual who is doing research. The “research” drop menus are separated into three distinct categories: topics (democracy, Islam, non-proliferation, nuclear weapons, Russian-U.S. relations, and terrorism), regions (Africa, Americas, Asia, Chechnya, China, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Russia and Eurasia, and Ukraine), and experts on specific areas of study. Experts can be searched alphabetically, by their specific program, or by their area of expertise. One expert that works for the Carnegie Endowment is David Bosco, who is senior editor of Foreign Policy magazine. From 1996 to 1998, he “served as a political analyst and journalist in Bosnia and Herzegovina and as deputy director of a joint United Nations-NATO project on refugee repatriation in Sarajevo”. The website has links to employment opportunities for individuals who wish to work for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Employment opportunities range from lower level database assistant to Senior Accountant. Another important link provides information on reserving the Carnegie Endowment Conference Center, as well as providing appropriate prices and contact information. The website has hyperlinks to the BBC in order to keep readers up to date with current international events. Reporters and journalists can contact the Carnegie Endowment in order to arrange interviews with experts or receive copies of research products. Another useful tool the website uses is email updates, in which the viewer can check if he or she wishes to receive e-newsletters. Carnegie Endowment sends e-newsletters directly to the reader’s email so that the information can be sent to them, rather than constantly returning to the website to get new information. A section of this site provides information on ordering specific books and monographs by providing information on the distributors, as well as phone numbers to contact the publishers directly. Reports, policy briefs, and working papers can be ordered in full text by emailing a request to

Although this website contains a plethora of information, its predominantly dull colors do not invoke excitement over the website. The Web Style Guide states that the “nonessential graphics should be minimal and undistracting”, which this site’s placid color scheme accomplishes. Carnegie Endowment’s site is consist with its colors, which the Web Style Guide believes gives the site “a consistent graphic identity that creates and then reinforces a distinct sense of ‘place’ and makes” the site more “memorable”. The site is also successful at stressing the important information through the use of a “consistent visual hierarchy” and the information is organized “logically and predictably”. Judging criteria from the Webby Awards states that sites with good structure and navigation allow you to “form a mental model of the information provided, where to find things, and what to expect when you click”. This is truly the case with Carnegie Endowment’s website, which contains hyperlinks to virtually anything the viewer is looking for. A link in the upper-right hand corner of all pages links the viewer back to the homepage. The website includes pictures that do not distract the reader from the information yet still complement the text. The website contains links to other sites affiliated with the Carnegie Endowment, such as the Carnegie Moscow Center, its nuclear non-proliferation site, and Foreign Policy, one of the world’s most popular foreign policy and economic policy magazines. The site utilizes both audio and visual components, which creates a much more stimulating website. Visitors to the site can watch or listen to international conferences through the use of Windows Media Player or QuickTime. Another link on the main page is the Group of 50, which the Carnegie Endowment co-sponsors. The Group of 50 is “composed of a select group of executives from some of the most important private sector companies in the Americas” in order to discuss more openness between businesses, as well as developing proposals aimed at solving the ongoing economic and political problems in the developing world. Carnegie Endowment’s website keeps viewers up to date with current events related to each program area. Only people invited to the Carnegie Endowment’s proceedings may attend, but individuals who can not attend the events at the Carnegie Center can search for transcripts, summaries, and audio clips associated with specific events. The creator of this website is Matrix Group International, Inc. According to its website, Matrix Group “creates Web solutions that fundamentally improve” a business. The web-based company created the websites for George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate
and Gardens, Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), and several others. There are few things that the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s website can do in order to enhance its website. Because the website is used primarily for research and information retrieval, any flashy colors or extremely complex media would distract readers from the seriousness of the site. Organization of the website is simple and easy to follow. Any specific information one is not able to find using the standard link buttons can be found using the search box. There are few enhancements that could be made to this site in order to improve its aesthetic qualities.

The Carnegie Endowment is important for several reasons. Non-governmental organizations like the Carnegie Endowment are becoming powerful actors in the international arena. Prior to institutions like this, states played the primary role in most aspects of international politics and economic aid. Now international organizations and non-governmental organizations like the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace can provide aid to economies, create learning institutions in impoverished areas, and peaceful approaches to resolving conflicts between states and other non-state actors. Non-governmental organizations are growing rapidly and are forcing governments to allow citizens to play a more active role in international politics. The Carnegie Endowment’s Foreign Policy magazine plays a critical role in assessing major current events. Some of the world’s leading political scientists analyze contemporary phenomenon and offer their opinion on what actions should be taken in order to create a more peaceful and stable international society. Although Foreign Policy focuses on promoting peace and stability, it may still recommend the U.S. using force if it is used through a multi-lateral institution such as the U.N. or N.A.T.O. and if force is used to combat an aggressive government or non-state actor (Foreign Policy advocated for the use of force in the former Yugoslavia in order to prevent an all out genocide). The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is playing an essential role in analyzing and developing policies for the U.S. to take in promoting global peace and security. The website is a great resource for the current nuclear crisis involving Iran’s desire to acquire nuclear capabilities, as well as North Korea’s decision to test its missiles. It is a wonderful place to find out current information on the United Nations, as well as the ongoing war in Iraq.

In a world where the international community is coming closer and closer together, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s website allows viewers to gain access to all the important political events that are occurring throughout the globe. Whether one is a realist, liberal internationalist, neo-conservative, or neo-Marxist, the Carnegie Endowment website has information that is pertinent to them. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace seeks to expand the awareness of international events, as well as promoting discussion and more peaceful resolutions to areas of conflict. The Carnegie Endowment has been successful in deterring states from engaging in armed conflict as well as substantially improving the economies of numerous developing nations. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and other non-governmental organizations around the world will continue to provide the necessary assistance to states and people in need.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

International Relations: Political interactions between states

The field of international relations has long been debated between scholars. One of the earliest theories to arise was that of realism, which believes that the international system is anarchic and that states can only guarantee their survival through military prowess. Realists believe states will do whatever is necessary to secure their national interests and protect their citizens from suspected threats. A more recently developed theory of international relations is that of liberal internationalism. Liberal internationalists believe a stable and peaceful international system can be developed through regional institutions such as the European Union and international organizations like the United Nations. Its roots are in the Western enlightenment, and assume that humans have the capacity to live in harmony with one another because of their ability to learn. Liberalism seeks to develop collective security, the idea that an attack on one state is an attack on all other states bound together through a treaty or organization.

*In order to see comment on realism, click the comment button at the bottom of the hyperlinked page.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

North Korea: The Hermit State

The recent missile tests by North Korea should come as no surprise. The isolationist state has had a history of defying international laws and regulations. In 2002 dictator Kim Jong-Il breached a 1994 agreement to not develop nuclear weapons by openly stating that his country was attempting to build a nuclear arsenal and by restricting inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the state's nuclear facilities. Many question the intentions of the rogue state’s nuclear armory, whether it is to be used offensively against others or to be used as a bargaining chip. Little intelligence has been gathered about North Korea because its leader has quarantined it from the outside world. It is believed that hundreds of thousands of people have starved to death over the past decade as a result of a major famine in the 1990’s, and that the government under Jong-Il has hundreds of thousands of political prisoners. These prisoners are routinely tortured, raped, starved, and killed. The little money that North Korea has is spent on building its military and funding Kim Jong-Il’s extravagant lifestyle. North Korea has been involved in illegal arms sales, international drug trafficking, and money laundering. The U.S.’s response under the Bush administration has been to cut off ties with the Stalinist-like regime and favor economic sanctions, while not ruling out military intervention. Others, like South Korea and the European Union, feel that the current sactions upon North Korea will only lead it to resorting to even drastic measures, such as a nuclear attack on Seoul or Japan, the U.S.’s main ally in the region. South Korean leader Roh Moo-Hyun believes that North Korea is scared and is using any means at its disposal to scare the international community into bargaining with it. He believes that the North’s Taepo-Dong 2 could not possibly reach the continental U.S. and that the weapons are being used entirely for “political purposes”. North Korea has been tied to arms sales with states such as Iran that sponsor terrorism, leading to the belief that a nuclear warhead could be sold to group like Al-Qaeda. The U.S. believes that allowing the regime to develop weapons could lead to a catastrophic event like September 11th, such as a nuclear attack on the U.S. soil.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Iran's Nuclear Dilemma: Possible Benefits of Acquiring Nuclear Capabilities

Although the recent decision by Iran to defy the international community by continuing with its uranium enrichment appears like a renegade act, Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons could bring peace and stability to a region plagued with war and violence. The theory of deterrence in international relations is that states that have nuclear weapons and are hostile towards each other are less likely to go to war. This “fear of retaliation” stems from a fear that the opposing state would respond with nuclear weapons. In 2000, India and Pakistan were on the verge of war over the disputed territory of Kashmir. It is now believed by many leading scholars that they did not allow the situation to escalate to warfare because both sides would risk a nuclear attack. Many social scientists believe that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, it would balance the sole nuclear power in the region, Israel. Others, like the United States, see Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons as a threat to international security. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran might cause a “security dilemma” in the Middle East. Neighboring states would possibly feel insecure over Iran’s nuclear might, encouraging them to develop a nuclear arsenal of their own. Some fear Iran’s nuclear capability will lead to complete chaos in the Middle East, and possibly to the development of a nuclear holocaust. Some experts believe that if a rogue state such as Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, their first act would be to try to wipe Israel "off the map". Iran has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and has said that it does not recognize Israel as a state. Yet Iran may be apprehensive in attacking Israel, which would result in a quick counter attack Israel, the U.S., and most of the member states of the U.N. Security Council. Iran is also quick to point out that “it has seen Iraq, which had no nuclear weapon, invaded, and North Korea, believed to have several, left untouched.” Obtaining nuclear weapons appears to benefit Iran more than it would prove to be a detriment. The U.S. would most likely refrain from threatening Iran if it acquired nuclear weapons, and would begin having direct talks with its former adversary. Ironically enough, Iran possessing nuclear weapons might lead to a much more secure Middle East.