The Third Wheel: Finding the Right Teeth – Jin Sol Park

On October 2013, the National Security Agency of the United States was blamed for intercepting more than 70 million phone calls in France between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013. In the process of consulting with France, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “lots of countries engage in intelligence activities to try to prevent terrorist attacks. This might not sound like a sincere apology. It is an illegal activity that victim states should check on. But in short, major powers all do it and we all know that we do it. Victim States should act on it not solely because of the spying incident itself but also because of the gullible image that victim states will receive when failing to act on it. This is a result of Relative-gain consideration and concern about cheating.

Mearsheimer point out Relative-gain consideration and concern about cheating as two major factors that inhibit cooperation between the states in his journal “The False Promise of International Institutions” These two factors do stand alone but they also create a vicious circle and repeats one another. Relative-gain consideration is an idea that states not only care about their own gain but also other’s states gain and compare their own gain with others. This behavior of the states causes excessive competition among them. States starts to get afraid of other states cheating. This weakens the trust among the states and as no states wants to be taken advantage of, states tend to focus more on security.

Here is a new element that effect major power relations today: mass media. Mass Media is a bridge that connects international conflicts to general people and their opinions. Development and wide-spread of mass media allowed citizens to be able to gain news easier and citizens to engage in an active participation on global governance. Mass media abled the task of the government: to check and balance other state’s power, to be shared with general citizens as well. This created more democratic environment for general people to have a say about national, international conflicts and institutions. However, after all, it also hinders cooperation of the states.

General population serve as a third party that governments and institutions have to take consideration of. It can be viewed positively in the cases when people have a similar goal and unite together in order to create a mass movement or become extra watcher for illegal activity. However, they do not always see the full picture of the situation due to the access to limited information. When many actors are trying to reach the common goal -peace- it is not always efficient to have 7 Billion participants in the conversation. Process and the result of the policy-making process or conflict resolutions should be humane, open and fair, but there always will be inevitable section of the population that will not compell with the result. Riots havealways existed but the wide usage of mass media definitely enabled a lot of information (but limited to) to more people who would have not been able to gain access without it. The point is that International Organizations have not been a collective system rather merely putting states in one place. Mass media is third wheeling, creating more confusion when original wheels, states, were still trying to figure out a way to cooperate with another. The solution to making stronger International Organizations that serve its original purpose, might arrive sooner if mass media and the people it brought along could rather blame but support and offer constructive criticism. Universal participation of the world can happen only when original wheels find its right teeth.


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