All posts by co6376a

International Organizations, In a World of Pessimism, The Optimist in Me is Going Down Swinging

I have always admired international organizations, and going into this class, I felt that they were necessary for world order and even proper in natural human progression. I confess that I have even nursed a desire for a true global government. Though in this class, I have seen a shattering of many of my lofty thoughts of many organizations. Many are inefficient and misguided, and most are weak, without the real power to enforce their own laws and guidelines. The UN in particular has been a let down in of so many cases. Even today, Ukraine and Syria being prime examples, the UN is powerless to impose any real will to stop these conflicts. However, on top of everything, I still believe that these types of IO’s are a good thing. Formed in the aftermath of arguably the most destructive conflict in human history, the UN, with other organization, still had a collective sprit in many cases, formed from years of war. That spirit has atrophied over time, and in so I belive has given in the false assumption that the UN, as well as other organizations, is in decline. I would argue that it is far from it, and that it is merely in a more natural state of progression than that of the post war days. In this case I think that contention within International Organizations is a sign of healthy debate in most cases (though admitably, in cases such as syria and Ukraine, it is not). As we saw in the Steil readings, States will try to get the best deal for themselves, such as the British and their empire during the war. The way that global governance works best is when all nations are faced with a threat that is so great that one stateor a group of states can cojol the rest of them into cooperation. This takes strong leadership in the international order, as well as the ability to placetate the major powers. IO’s have done amazing work in some areas, such as stopping smallpox, and attempting to educate the world. I believe that right now, the most oppertun issue that would work to this advantage would be the global climate change issue, which represents a threat to the entire planet. If the US were to get China on it’s side, than it might be able to force a new global system on the level of the Bretton Woods institutions, and create a global force against climate change. But I digress. To sum up, I think that while IO’s certainly have their problems, and progress is slow and not as satisfying as we would like, the world is gradually getting better, and while this class has shaken my confidence in them to an extant, it remains unbroken by and large.

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If There Was Ever an International Issue, it is Climate Change, and Stakes are Needed.

Of all the issues that the world faces, Climate change is arguably the biggest one that cannot be handled by any one state. However, as there is no higher power to compel states to act in the proper ways to combat it, there need to be proper sticks and carrots to coerce them into action. While there has been much talk about carrots, the world needs to focus more on sticks. In this case, I think that states, especially the ones with the largest capacity to affect climate change, such as the US, India, and China, need to have stakes in the game. If there were to be an independent international organization that were to collect a deposit from the major contributors to climate change. If the goal of the organization was enforcement of treaties about climate change, they could make the stipulation that if the States who signed on to these treaties either backed out of them or fell short of their commitments by a certain year, then that country would lose their deposit. That way, there would be a significant stick that would get state actors to step up and keep their commitments. Shame and lose of face are compelling sticks in the international system to be sure, though they are not enough for this huge issue.

Connor O’Brien: IOs should look to hire “Nutmeggers” and not “Texans.”

In the world of International Organizations, it is important to try to hire individuals whom you believe to be ready to serve the IO, and not their home country. However, it is also important to observe the environment when some people in the IO serve it’s interests, while others serve their state, as oppose to them all serving the IO or their own state.

Now, a good way that I like to conceptualize this is by comparing it to the states in America. Personally, I am from the great state of Connecticut. It’s a nice place, and we have nutmeg. Now I’ve lived there my entire life, and I have never heard of anyone ever say that they thought of themselves as Connecticutians or Nutmeggers rather than Americans, or have any real patriotism for Connecticut for that matter (though to be honest, calling oneself a Nutmegger is ridicules). Now on the other hand, of all the people I’ve met from Texas, a fair amount of them are deeply patriotic about Texas, and have frequently referred to themselves as Texans. So, if two groups of people from these states were to get together on a committee to discuss policy affecting these two states, arguably the committee would look at policy affecting Connecticut more objectively from a national standpoint than policy affecting Texas, as state patriotism might interfere. Please note that I’m exaggerating a tad for the sake of the example, I mean no disrespect to either state.

And so, in international organizations, we need not only be wary of a system in which all the members are in it for themselves, but rather a system in which that there are some who think of themselves as for the IO, and some who are just for their country. While this may sound similar or even slightly better, it means the IO cannot rely on conflicting state interests to cancel out one another. In this system, it makes it all the more desirable for states with high amounts of nationalism or control over their citizens in the IO to push their agenda more, as there will be less opposition to it. To try to rectify this, IO’s should be vary careful in their hiring process, especially in individuals coming from these types of countries. Also, while many foreign service departments of various states have methods in place to try and stop their members from “going native” IO’s might want to consider a similar policy, in only hiring, when practical, people with a global background, and not much evidence of excessive nationalism, patriotism, or indebtedness to their own state.

That being said, I believe that while I do not necessarily trust the heads of most IO to be serving their organizations with 100% loyalty, I think that the world is slowly moving in that direction. As I have said in the past, the global stage is a relatively new one in its current form. The creation of the UN is still in living memory, and the concept of a global citizenship is still quite young. I think that looking back on the progress that has been made to globalization and internationalism, within a few decades IO’s will be far more geared towards international interests than the staff’s member states, and that gradually, most “Texans” in IOs will become “Nutmeggers.”

Why the great powers are silent in Ukraine

In regards to whether the great powers are finding it harder to cooperate, I that that it is necessary to examine them more closely. For the past three centuries, the world has predominately been ruled by Europe or it’s colonies (and their successor states). There have of course been exceptions, and my mind floats to Japan first. When it defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese war, it marked a moment that other great powers were emerging from none european culturally dominated parts of the world. Indeed, since than, other states have emerged that are arguably great powers, such as India or China. But going back to my main point, for the last three centuries, Europe has been the seat of most of the major world powers, and as such the actions of one has always tied into the response of another. Trade relations, cultural exchanges, and the constant forming and reforming alliances over the years have proven this. Many great actions on the continent naturally warranted response, often militarily from many of the great powers. However, with the end of the second world war, and the fallback to the United States for military assistance, Europe has waned in it’s global political influence. Furthermore, with globalization, other great powers have emerged, and the reason they are not meddling in the Ukrainian crisis is clear: they don’t see any reason too. When Europe was the land of power, nearly every great power had to be ready to respond to another state, such as was the case in the napoleonic wars, or the World Wars. However, the other great powers of today are farther away, and do not have the same history, economic interdependence, or security reasons that European powers would have to get involved with this crisis. Without the same incentives, they have little reason to want to go against another global power in the region, such as the Crimean Crisis right now. Continue reading Why the great powers are silent in Ukraine