Power & Technology – A Bromance?


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The relationship between technology and power is rather complex. There are numerous theories that technological advancement is the key to strength and prosperity – in parts of the world where such evolution did not occur, political institutions and therefore economies developed less (Diamond 1999). Technological evolution has especially revolutionized America’s modern military, as well as the military capabilities of other nations. Since today’s world no longer exhibits a Soviet Union, newer threats have emerged, particularly in the form of radical terrorism, but also by the assertiveness of China, Russia and India, who possess technologically advanced weaponry too.

World War II marked the beginning of a new age, with the creation of the nuclear bomb, as well as revolutions in aviation, mechanization and information (Krepinevitch 2006). There are various instances in history of major shifts in technology which almost coincide with changes in the nature of warfare. Perhaps America’s military and technological superiority have created the current scenario in which the only global hegemony, the US lacks a coherent “enemy” or “threat” in the form of a state. Rather, this modern counterforce is splintered into terrorist networks across the globe.

The modern technological shift has taken the form of unmanned drones, as well as long-distance warheads. Drones have enabled policymakers in the US to conduct military operations without employing any troops. A prime and often cited example of this is the use of US drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan both for surveillance and to eliminate targets – but this tactic has arguably not changed the trajectory of US policy. Rather, it has refined it by further exploiting the technological primitiveness of the opposition. Two other factors limit the vast influence which the Revolution in Miliary Affairs could affect policy – the accountability of American democracy & perhaps more ambiguously America’s moral idealism. Together, these two traditions have arguably helped to limit indiscriminate use of modern military means. Furthermore, the War in Iraq demonstrates how nation-states are willing to employ troops on the ground despite technology superiority over their enemies. Perhaps this implies that policy is less motivated by technological advancement and more by the threat of attack as well as economic interest.

Jared Diamond. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. WW Norton & Company (1999).

Andrew F. Krepinevich, “Cavalry to Computer: The Pattern of Military Revolutions,”The National Interest (Fall 1994), 37: 30-42. http://wwe.jstor.org/stable/42896863

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WATCH: KRIKOS – Haturrr Boy (Official Video)


KRIKOS’ has been heavy at work this year. In March, he released his second album, Checks & Balances, the sequel to Rise of the Eastern Son, his debut album. KRIKOS has made his mark as a producer for musical collective Colours of the Culture, but he continues to make a name for himself as a self-produced artist. Today, he offers the new video for his loose single #HaturrrBoy. He plans on releasing more new music and visuals throughout the year, with his third full album lined up to drop late this Summer 2016! That being said, we would love to have this video premiered or featured on your feed. If you are interested, we’ve provided the video link below as well as the single artwork, which is attached.

KRIKOS – Haturrr Boy (Trailer)


 

The full video for KRIKOS’ single “Haturrr Boy” drops on 5.25.16. Visit http://www.DannyKrikorian.com for updates & more music.

Filmed by Tray Zarc
Presented by Colours of the Culture
Hosted by Henao Contemporary Center
Produced by KRIKOS

What Is Terrorism?


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It has been difficult to form a concise definition of terrorism due to the emotions and political weight carried by the term. But since September 11th, 2001, the term has been used more frequently than before, both inside and outside political science, though sometimes perhaps incorrectly. Lumping tactics, attackers and fear together to define terrorism has been a disservice to the field of political science (Tilly 2004).

It is precisely this which causes bias in the literature and in society when assessing terrorism. Defining terrorism as a tactic reveals that it can and often is practiced by states and insurgents equally.

The more descriptive features, its psychological effect, organizational structure and ideological motive are not as distinct because other military tactics are arguably similar in this regard. The most distinct feature appears to be thetarget of terrorism. That civilian, or non-military (often political figures) populations are targeted, and not military units, is what makes this distinct in nature (Kydd & Walter 2006). This challenges the common perception of terrorism as a new phenomenon as well as one that is practiced only by random and scattered networks with unachievable objectives (Chaliand & Blin 2007). Furthermore, it allows analysts to place terror incidents within the contexts of international politics, instead of isolating them. More recently, the literature has focused heavily on the connection between Islamic radicalism and terrorism, but this ignores the vast instances of terrorism conducted by non-state actors as well as attacks motivated by irreligious purposes, in history and today.

States themselves against their own people or foreign civilians. Focusing on Islamic radicalism ignores the white supremacist network of terrorism, the nationalist spectrum of terrorism, and so forth. It also ignores the countless times in history that the Islamic World has suffered from the specter of terrorism. It could be argued that the US bomb on Japan in 1945 was a form of state terrorism, or that Israel’s disproportionate attack on Gaza in 2014 was a form of state terrorism. Furthermore, early attacks on Palestinians by Jewish militias were forms of terror, such as the Deir Yassin Massacre. This bias normalizes the perspective that Islam is inherently barbaric; and furthermore distracts from the more significant variables that cause violence in the Islamic world; foreign interventionism – which often manifests as state terror.

References:

Andrew Kydd and Barbara F. Walter, “The Strategies of Terrorism,” International Security, Summer 2006.

Charles Tilly. Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists. Sociological Theory, 2004. 22(1), 5-13.

Gerrard Chaliand & Arnaud Blin. The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to al Qaeda. University of California Press. 2007.

Is the U.S. in Decline?


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The U.S. is arguably in a position it hasn’t been in before. This all happened after WWII. While American isolationism officially ended during the Spanish-American War, WWII marked a new era in American foreign policy – interventionism. After the Civil War, the US faced little domestic threats, and foreign threats were all but inexistent prior to the twentieth century. Somehow strangely, as the US became more entangled in foreign affairs, contrary to the warnings of its founders, so too, did America’s national security come more into question. The end of the Cold War, and the demise of the Soviet bloc, produced a new world order marked by US hegemony – a unipolar world. Up until this point, the US was largely focused on containing the USSR – this was largely an external threat. But the emergence of Islamic terrorism transformed an international issue into a national security dilemma for the US. But the US never went directly to war with the USSR, whereas it has embarked on military campaigns against Islamic radicals. On the contrary, the US hoped for the USSR to collapse from within, without direct confrontation. Perhaps this is why it dissolved. But the new security threat of Islamic terrorism has been approached directly, as with the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and now Syria. The US’ national security is more than ever threatened today. Do America’s post-WWII policy of interventionism and the emerging threat to its national security, evidenced by the rise of Islamic terror groups, coincide?

The rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the emergence of BRICS, Russia’s assertiveness in the Ukraine and Georgia, the economic crisis and the US’ increased military campaigns are arguably signs of a change in the “world order” (Schweller et al 2011). Perhaps it is too early to suggest that the US is in decline, considering its immense military might and wealth, but there is reason to believe that, since WWII, it has grown increasingly insecure. The military and economic growth of countries like Japan and China as well as the EU are further signs of relative decline (Huntington 1988). It isn’t absolute because the US remains the world’s super power by a long margin – but the growth rate of its competitors has surpassed its own. Based on its history, could it be argued that the US was militarily and economically most secure when its foreign policy was less characterized by interventionism?

 

Huntington, S. P. 1988. The US—Decline or Renewal?. Foreign affairs, 67(2): 76-96.

Schweller, Randall L., and Xiaoyu Pu. “After Unipolarity: China’s Visions of International Order in an Era of US Decline.” International Security 36(1): 41-72.

Mearsheimer’s Legacy: The Future of International Relations & Political Theory


International relations theory generally breaks up into three focuses – individual, state and international.

The prevailing schools focus on the state level, arguing that, based on the evolution of history, this is the unit of analysis in international politics.

John Mearsheimer whom perhaps is referenced less nowadays since his controversial piece on Israeli foreign politics argued from the realist perspective that US hegemony would be challenged due to “imperial overreach”.

The emergence of new powers (BRICS) and the souring of relations between western allies is further evidence of a new impasse in international politics. Are we facing a challenge to the unipolar order which has seen US domination for a half century?

Earlier this year Scotland debated exiting the UK. This failed. Now the UK is considering exiting the EU. Could this be affirming the predictions of Mearsheimer?

But are we committing the same fallacy done by political theorists in early history who analyzed from the perspective of empires? Is America not behaving as an ambitious empire? Could the world ever revert to an international system of empires, or are states the permanent fate of international political theory?

America’s internal politics largely contributes to its foreign policy, and vice versa, contrary to claims of isolationism, disentanglements and illusory self-dependence. Currently, America is witnessing an internal challenge to its tradition of ideological exclusivism which has prevented social, economic and political inclusion for all people, particularly minorities – individuals who might possess the capacity to influence US policy away from exclusivism both domestically and internationally. This change is the only chance America has at containing its imperial tendency – because that tendency has only been able to exist due to its domestic tradition of social inequality for minorities.

In political theory, there are assumptions nowadays that a “free market” only exists within capitalist ideology. The reality isn’t so simple – states form because cultures exist and need protection and preservation. Sometimes in history, I argue, one culture becomes domineering and expansive beyond sustainability, such as with the Romans, Greeks, Persians…even the English, French, the USSR and now America. The ideologies and cultures were distinct, but shared a common feature – political hubris – expanding beyond boundaries.

Ideologies are meant to distract from the international political reality which is less simplistic. Assuming the state is the prevailing political agent, I argue that cultural fanaticism, be it populistic or elitist, results in domestic and international imbalance of power. This causes instability and violence. Historically such endeavors were justified through ideologies promising various rewards or statuses – today that “religion” is accepting subservience to imperialism – the desire to disrupt the state system through imperial ambitions. The tactics are mischievous.

The idea that capitalism is responsible for American prosperity is ignorant of the involvement of the collectivist policies of the US government over time. Further it assumes that markets cannot exist smoothly without corporate lawlessness. In fact, true markets can only exist in healthy fashion when a given stage is culturally united and conscientious of its citizens needs. Because contrary to the naive wisdom of modern capitalist theorists, markets are influenced by more than just supply and demand but a range of social and political factors.

When all nations learn to contain their imperial ambitions and return to a state of international balance, there will be less ideological mania and political instability. What we need is a sort of global treaty of Westphalia that recognizes sovereignty an a moderate economic system that is decent.

While these complex assertions are difficult to digest or perhaps even to suggest, they certainly highlight The plight of a mixed economist and social constructivist seeking to make sense of an ideological, polarized and dogmatic world.