Journal

Failing democracies and rationality

It is early, not too early, on the morning of the tenth of January.  I have been, unfortunately, neglecting this journal mostly because of time with friends and our extravagant journey’s.  Tomorrow morning, I head to Amsterdam.

The purpose of this entry is to recap events of yesterday, for there are surely many.  I am also writing about ideas and research thoughts that I have encountered over the last several days.  Due to time constraints, I will touch on eight or so topics of which I have had glimpses of enlightened thought.  I will then take a short break, but will resume my activity of yesterday.

On the seventh of January, I took down on paper some of my observations of recent trends in the contemporary world, and more specifically, within International Relations.  The pre-World War II era was supposed to entail the growth of democratic forms of government around the world.  While the countries of the world have adopted democracy on the face of things, the world has recently seen the notion of failing democracies.  These countries claim to be democracies, but for several reasons, primarily crooked elections, ‘true’ democracy has yet to flourish as past advocates of it would have liked.  The next paragraph will attempt to highlight failing democracies by evaluating what has gone wrong.

Pakistan is probably the biggest concern for the US and the West (Europe) regarding democratic safeguards in strategically imperative regions of the globe.  Pakistan has, on the surface, been seen as an ally in the War on Terror against the Taliban and insurgents in Afghanistan.  The assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and its potential negative consequences for Pakistan was, I believe, blown out of proportion.  Bhutto did represent democracy on the surface and in the public eye, but her past history proves that her ability to implement true democracy is questionable.  The most damage it had on the democratic advocate movement is perhaps in the realm of public relations.  The elections of Bhutto to counter Musharraf’s dictatorial rule would have, at least on the surface, looked good for Pakistan and democracy around the world, even if Bhutto failed to practice democracy as a Prime Minister.

What appears to be occurring is a lack of confidence in the democratic system regarding the validity of ‘free and fair’ elections.  Recent elections in both Georgia and Kenya signal in age that may curtail people’s’ discontent with the legitimacy of elections.  In what was the blueprint for any democracy, elections have come to be seen as an illegal way to seize power.  A key issue here is how these elections are being held, who is in control of the ballots, who is voting, etc.  If the current administration is in power while also having the ability to manipulate the outcomes of elections, the nation may not be a true democracy.  What is need is a neutral body to monitor voting and elections to ensure that power in in the hands of the people.

Switching topics of discussion now, I turn to an analysis of my first day of classes (01/08/08) of my second semester at the University of London.  In my morning class – Analytical Approaches to International Relations – class discussion in the last hour of class dealt specifically with rational choice theory.  I offered my own unique viewpoint to the class when I questioned the relevancy of rationality in the grand scheme of things.  Take the example of pre-Iraq of the War in 2003.  One could argue that the Iraqi government was acting rationally by allowing weapons inspectors from the United Nations to examine Iraq’s arsenal of weapons.  In allowing the inspection to happen, one can argue that the Iraqis were doing so because they aspired to avoid a military confrontation with the United States.  I believe that in allowing these inspectors to investigate within Iraq, the government was hoping that this cooperative behaviour itself would guarantee no military intervention.  This was their rationale.

But, as the issue manifested, their rationality was hopeless and irrelevant.  One can argue again that acting rationally, as one may think it of  as, is beneficial to one’s country.  What the war depicted, however, is that Iraqi cooperation did not guarantee peace.  One must take into account the motives of the adversary when making these political decisions.  Though military intervention was probably inevitable to start with, this specific example in which the necessity of acting rationally is questioned.

So, as is evident, class discussion was interesting and I was also heavily engaged with it both in my body and mind, but also verbally in class discussion.  Particularly, my ‘Politics of Globalization’ class seems to be stimulating, especially with the interest of this ‘phenomenon’ known as globalization.

01/09/08 Runnymede Hall – RHUL – 12:19pm

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