2014 in Review

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Stephen Tierney: Is a Federal Britain Now Inevitable?     

This is a really good article looking at the the potential impacts of devo-max as outlined in the Smith Commission proposals for the future of Scottish devolution. The concept of a reconstituted House of Lords as a House of the Regions is in my opinion a key one if the Union is to be strengthened rather than weakened by the Smith Commission Proposals.

UK Constitutional Law Association

stierneyThe Smith Commission Reportissued today promises a restructuring of the United Kingdom which may prove to be more significant than the devolution settlement of 1997-98 itself; the acquisition of extensive tax and welfare powers would make Scotland one of the most autonomous regions in western Europe.

Notably the UK’s economic and fiscal coherence has hitherto been a key factor in allowing the asymmetrical and ad hoc nature of devolution to embed itself without any great disruption to the constitutional structures of the central state. With the dismantling of this system it seems that a tipping point might well be reached for our lop-sided and messy system of territorial government. The Smith Commission proposals, if implemented, will have knock-on consequences for several fundamental features of the UK constitution: parliamentary supremacy, the idea of the House of Commons as a national chamber for Britain, possibly the nature and composition of the…

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The Dis-United Kingdom? Devolution and the British State

In light of yesterday’s no vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum here is an article I wrote on the issue of devolution in the United Kingdom back in February. It is clear to me now that the only truly equitable and lasting territorial settlement for the nations of the United Kingdom lie in the establishment of a Federal system, with England or its regions given a true voice within the Union, equal to those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mooseington Press

Ian Howarth

The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote in the ‘Economist’ in 1996 that;

”The challenge facing us is that which devolutionconfronted the Victorian reformers of the last century who, almost uniquely, gave Britain democracy without revolution.  It is to take a working constitution, respect its strengths, and adapt it to modern demands for clear effective government while at the same time providing a greater democratic role for the people at large’ (cited in Richards & Smith, 2002: 235) This was the goal of Labours constitutional reforms after 1997; to modernise Britain’s highly centralised government structures and create a modern European state.  This was to be both centrally strong, while at the same time being regionally representative, giving a greater role to regional and national political aspirations under the overall structure of  the British Parliament, while also providing greater territorial security for the UK.

This approach to reforming…

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The Dis-United Kingdom? Devolution and the British State

Ian Howarth

The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote in the ‘Economist’ in 1996 that;

”The challenge facing us is that which devolutionconfronted the Victorian reformers of the last century who, almost uniquely, gave Britain democracy without revolution.  It is to take a working constitution, respect its strengths, and adapt it to modern demands for clear effective government while at the same time providing a greater democratic role for the people at large’ (cited in Richards & Smith, 2002: 235) This was the goal of Labours constitutional reforms after 1997; to modernise Britain’s highly centralised government structures and create a modern European state.  This was to be both centrally strong, while at the same time being regionally representative, giving a greater role to regional and national political aspirations under the overall structure of  the British Parliament, while also providing greater territorial security for the UK.

This approach to reforming the British State was motivated by the failure of both socialism, and neo-liberal Thatcherism.  Anthony Giddens argued that ‘Tony Blair’s election in 1997 [confirmed] the failure of socialism as an economic system of management.  Yet, rather than marking ‘the triumph of Margaret Thatcher’, it [confirmed] also the failure of Thatcherism, and neo-liberalism more generally.  Neo-liberalism was an attempt to respond to the new conditions in which we live – to the impact of globalisation and intensifying global economic competition.  It was deeply flawed, not least because of its paradoxical mix of economic libertarianism and moral traditionalism.  Thatcherism wanted to modernise the economy but ‘de-modernise’ other areas…It was the enemy of devolution, since Thatcher drained power away from local councils and other bodies to the central state.’  (Cited in Richards & Smith, 235, 236)  The failure of these approaches to the management of the British State meant that ‘When Labour was elected to power in 1997, a number of serious stresses existed in the unitary nature of the UK.  Labours response to regional demands and concern over democracy was a commitment in its 1997 manifesto to devolve greater power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and to England through the establishment of new English regional assemblies.’  (Richard & Smith, 2002: 250)

Labour’s reforms to the British constitution were partly in response to the demands of Britain’s modern political culture.  ‘The new political culture [of Britain] is sceptical of large bureaucracies and opposes political clientelism.  Many citizens see local and regional government as able to meet their needs more effectively than the nation state.’  (Richard & Smith, 2002: 238)  This translated itself into an ambitious programme of devolution with the Scotland Act (1998) the Government of Wales Act (1998), and the Northern Ireland Act (1998), all passing through parliament as part of Labours first legislative programme in two decades.

It is arguable that the first line of the Scotland Act (1998) represents the most significant shake up in the constitutional arrangements of the UK since the Act of Union (1701); it simply states that ‘There shall be a Scottish Parliament.’  (Scotland Act, 1998)  The autonomy from Westminster given to Scotland in the Act is the most developed form of devolution implemented under Labour’s 1997 constitutional reform programme.  This transfer of power recognises Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and former status as an independent nation state prior to the formal negotiated union of England (including Wales) and Scotland in 1707.  Scottish devolution transferred primary legislative powers in key areas of public concern like health, education, transport, the environment, and industry, from Westminster to Edinburgh.  This was accompanied by the ability of the Scottish parliament to raise and lower taxes, causing The Glasgow Herald to satirically comment that ‘freedom son?  [Is] the right to vary income tax by 3p in the pound.’  (Budge, Crewe, McKay & Newton 2001: 158)

Welsh devolution was not as extensive as Scotland’s.  The Welsh Assembly does not have the power to pass primary legislation even in it’s the central areas of competence, (economic development, health and social services, agriculture, environment, primary, middle and higher education).  The Assembly also does not have the tax raising powers of Scotland, with all major taxation decisions still residing at the Treasury in London and in the person of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer.

However, despite this, Welsh devolution is still a significant transfer of power, even if less so than that given to Edinburgh.  The Welsh Assembly has the flexibility to allocate central government funding to meet its concerns, for instance the Department of Health is given a set budget by the Treasury for Wales, this budget is placed under the control of the Welsh Assembly, and can be distributed to meet Welsh health needs rather than the policy targets set for England, as happened in the past when England and Wales were treated as a single administrative unit.  In Wales, this has meant free NHS prescriptions.  This demonstrates that although in its legislative remit the Welsh Assembly is far more constrained than the Scottish Parliament, it can pursue distinct Welsh polices for Wales.

The Welsh Assembly has reinvigorated Welsh democracy by breaking Labours monopoly on Welsh politics; particularly in South Wales where ‘Labour-dominated councils…were often…accused of corruption and nepotism.  The Welsh Assembly is open to wider influences and more party competition.’  (Budge, Crew, McKay & Newton, 2001: 148).  The Assembly has also recognised the distinct national heritage of the Welsh people, with the arguments of the 1980’s over Welsh integration and nationalism being replaced by the acceptance of Welsh as a national language (Welsh Language Act 1993) and the acceptance of Welsh culture as a legitimate curriculum subject in primary and secondary education.  The establishment of a Welsh centre of political power in Cardiff was the logical next step in the British states attempts to come to terms with its multinational makeup, and lessen the conflicts between its powerful unitary ministries in Westminster, with the demands and needs of the peripheries of the UK.

Devolution to the English regions did not occur.  The 2004 referenda on regional assemblies in the North East, North West and the Yorkshire and the Humber all led to resounding no votes from the public.  This only went to highlight the fact that the devolution project for England is in many ways far more complicated than those of Scotland, Wales, and even Northern Ireland.  This is because in England, a distinct non-fascist, English nationalism has not found expression politically at either county or national levels. Furthermore, regional identities while strong do not have a historic political heritage.  The English are English, and as such if devolution were to occur in England this would necessitate and English political identity.  Considering the overwhelming economic and demographic dominance that such a political identity would have within the United Kingdom it would represent a considerable challenge to the concept of a British government with any English First Minister commanding the interests of the vast majority of the British population.

This is compounded by both of the major political parties of England, Conservative and Labour, being British political organisations.  The Conservative party has traditionally been considered an ‘English Party’ however, in reality its political base is amongst the landed, capital interests of the upper and middle classes nationally, ultimately standing for the constitutional status quo, and the promotion of small government and big business.  The Conservatives opposed devolution in government and initially continued to do so in opposition, fearing the break-up of the union, they only accepted Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolution as a fact of life prior to the 2001 general election, and continue to oppose devolution to the English Regions, on the grounds of unnecessary bureaucracy, and the destruction of local government.

The Labour and Liberal Parties represent liberal, and working class constituencies, and the peripheral interests of regions like Scotland, and the Industrial North of England, with these two parties being as much parties of protest or opposition to the central authorities of the British state, as being based on class/religious cleavages.  Labour can be considered ‘…. as much a coalition of British peripheries against the centre as a class party.’  (Budge Crewe McKay & Newton, 2001: 157).  The Labour party’s roots are in the industrial heartlands of Northern England, Southern Wales and the densely populated Lothian, Stirling and Clydeside conurbation of Scotland running between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Labour party is further diversified in its religious cleavages with Roman Catholicism in Northern England and Scotland finding a political voice in the late 19th century and early 20th in the party, while ‘religious revivalism, spearheaded by…. radical protestant denominations opposed to the torpor and worldliness (as they saw it) of the Anglican State Church…[With its]…voiced demands for ‘disestablishment’…. expressed itself in support for progressive Liberalism and subsequently Labour and Nationalist Parties…’  (Budge, Crewe, McKay & Newton, 2001: 143,144).

The national appeal and roots of the two central parties of English politics means that English cultural, and political distinctions have been lost or over taken by more national social, economic and demographic interests across the Union, with Labour and Conservative party voters sharing the same interests and backgrounds across the country.

English politics as a result have been reduced to regional, county or civic levels, with it more resembling hometown loyalty than a greater national political voice.  This has led to England being described as the ‘dog that didn’t bark in the night’ considering its power and importance as the central economic, political and demographic entity of the UK.  ‘Within the United Kingdom, England is dominant.  It has a population of 47 million out of a total 56 million; the greater London area alone has a population of about 10 million.’  (Budge & Newton et al, 1997: 64)  The reality of England’s potential political power is partly responsible for moves toward reforming the structures of English governance, particularly in the Labour party.

The position of Scottish MP’s is a matter of controversy amongst the British/English press.  The ‘West Lothian question’ put first by Tam Dayell, could potentially lead to greater calls for the exclusion of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MP’s from matters of purely English concern.  The Conservative party has proposed the idea of a Grand English Committee of English MP’s to sit on these matters in the chamber of the House of Commons, while Liberal and Labour MP’s have argued for the exclusion of non-concerned parties from votes on English and or Welsh legislation.

Opponents to this position have responded by arguing that MP’s are members of the British Parliament, and that to stratify the rights of members is to lessen the significance of the institution.  Furthermore, to exclude MP’s from Commons debates would cause the alienation of the peripheries of the Union from the affairs of the most significant and dominant political entity of the Union, with events and legislative changes in England potentially having a significant effect on the internal affairs of the other nations.  Such alienation would more likely lead to the disintegration of the UK than the continued representation of these peripheries in English matters.

It is clear that some form of solution to this problem will be required.  The rights of British MP’s to have a voice in the affairs of England is essential considering its economic, and political importance in deciding the electoral outcome of general elections.  However, it is equally clear that English legislation should be determined by English representatives, and not by individuals who have no interests in the legislative outcomes.  Potentially House of Lords Reform could be an area where this could be addressed, or the establishment of a parliamentary protocol that created an understanding that MP’s would not vote on English matters unless thy deemed them to be of national importance.  Admittedly, the later suggestion is potentially open to much interpretation, but short of federalisation or an English parliament, which is unlikely, it is the most likely solution that the pragmatic British approach to constitutional reform will produce.

The constitutional changes brought about by devolution in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, have made the UK a more diverse political environment.  Administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast are more representative of its people’s demands and interests.  The central pillar of the British states authority, the sovereignty of parliament, remains unchallenged by devolution, parliament still ‘possesses, at least in theory, unrivalled and unchallengeable legislative authority.  Parliament can make or unmake any law it wishes; its powers are not checked by a codified or written constitution; there are no rival UK legislatures which can challenge its authority; and its laws outrank all other forms of English and Scottish law.’  (Heywood, 1997:129)  The Westminster Parliament stands at the centre of the new constitutional framework with all the institutions of devolution being established by Acts of Parliament, and therefore subordinate to the British State.

Critics of devolution argue devolution will hasten the break-up of the UK by allowing the legitimisation of nationalist claims to political autonomy, however supporters argue that ‘devolution [was] the only solution to the territorial crisis of the UK state, in that it promises to restore legitimate government and to stem the tide of rising nationalism.’  (Heywood, 1997: 132)  The current situation in Scotland which sees a nationalist pro-independence SNP government in power and campaigning for a Yes vote to independence in this year’s referendum would seem to have proven the early critics of devolution right.  However, in truth the likelihood of a Yes vote are low and the most likely outcome of the referendum is an increase in devolved powers for Scotland but the continuation of the British state none the less.

‘The British state has changed its territorial arrangements at many points in its history without disintegrating.’  (Richards & Smith, 2002: 57)  Devolution has addressed many of the constitutional problems that have been a source of tension in British politics for centuries, and in doing so has reinvigorated the political structure, providing diversity and representation to the people of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and London and maybe in time the English Regions.  It is admittedly like all British constitutional arrangements a mixed bag, with Rose’s unity without uniformity being as relevant in the modern British State as at any other time in its 300 year history.

 Bibliography:

Budge, Ian, Crew, Ivor, McKay, David, Newton, Ken (2001) ‘The New British Politics’ Longman, Harlow, Essex, Great Britain, pp.143-144, pp.148, pp.149, pp.157, pp.158

Budge, Ian & Newton, Kenneth (1997) ‘The Politics of the New Europe’ Longman, Harlow, Essex, Great Britain, pp.64

The Scotland Act (1998) Her Majesties Stationery Office; http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts1998/19980046.htm

Richards, David & Smith, Martin J. (2002) ‘Governance and Public Policy in the UK’ Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp.57, pp.235, pp.236, pp.238, pp.250

Heywood, Andrew (1997) ‘Politics’ Palgrave, Basingstoke Hampshire, Great Britain, pp.129, pp.132

Kennedy and US Foreign Policy during the Cold War

Mooseington Press

kennedy BreznevBy Ian Howarth

The Eisenhower administration that preceded the election of President Kennedy had continued the Containment policies adopted by President Truman during the early days of the Cold War. Containment involved limiting the spread of Communism to within its own spheres of influence. This was achieved by giving aid to anti-communist regimes and promoting capitalist/western values.  The arrival of the Kennedy administration, marked a significant development in US foreign policy, as can be seen in the rhetoric of his inauguration speech.

‘Let every nation know, whether it wish us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.  This much we pledge, and more…’

Extract from the Inauguration Speech of John F. Kennedy 20th January 1961 

Since 1945 the US had attempted to contain the Soviet…

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9-11 and the Re-focusing of International Society

international societyBy Ian Howarth

The terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 (9-11) represented a shift in the nature of international society from one based largely on economic interests to one based on notions of international security. As such 9-11 represented the most significant shake up in international relations since the end of the Cold War, acting as a massive catalyst for change in how international society is perceived by the developed world.

What do we mean by international society?  One simple definition of the concept given by Hedley Bull is that ‘a society of states exists when a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values, form a society in the sense that they conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another and share in the working of common institutions’ (Evans, & Newnham, 1998: 276).  Furthermore, international society is founded according to English school theorists such as Bull and Manning on ‘four key pillars international law, diplomacy, international organisations and the balance of power’ (Evans, & Newnham: 276), these four key pillars determine all the relationships between nations, and form modern international society, with the United Nations (UN), NATO and financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) representing common values and goals, and the security council representing the balance of power and implementing international law.

I do not believe international society was ever irrelevant, but that the events of 9-11 dramatically changed the nature of international society in the world, from the economic institutionally based form of international society of the 1990’s based largely around the common goals of the developed world in furthering globalisation, to a form of international society that is based on the need for global action against international terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Therefore in order to demonstrate this change in the nature and focus of the international community, I am going to explore the nature of international society before and after 9-11, and use the above definition to determine whether the ‘war against terror’ represents unilateralist actions by the world’s only superpower.  Or is it a combined effort by a majority of the world’s nations to combat a serious issue that threatens the security of all nations, and therefore the express will of international society.

The 1990’s were a decade of contrasts; they began full of hope and ended in many respects on 9-11 with terror and destruction in New York, Washington and a cornfield in Pensylvannia.  The hope that the decade began with was premised on the end of the cold war.  The collapse of the USSR was proceeded with the emancipation of Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany, and followed by the end of apartheid in South Africa, the liberation of Kuwait and George Bush (the elders) declaration of a ‘New World Order’ (Calvocoressi 2001: 67) with the three policemen the United Kingdom, France and primarily the United States ensuring freedom, prosperity and an end to tyranny and fear, all under the umbrella of the UN, IMF and other major international institutions, it seemed to represent a new era of more conciliatory international politics, based more on transnational interests compared to the old confrontational style of the cold war or the gunboat diplomacy of the age of empires.

To a certain extent this is what happened, but only for us fortunate few that lived in the developed world.  While the list of troubles facing the ‘west’ were shortened everyday with remarkable speed and twists in the course of history, the developing world where 80% of the human race lived failed to benefit from these geopolitical shifts in any significant way.  The proxy wars continued in Angola, and Algeria, only without their sponsors they were pretty much forgotten by the west.  Famine was still a continuing threat throughout sub-Saharan Africa, western corporate exploitation rose to new levels in South East Asia, and Islamic extremism let loose from its cold war bonds spread rapidly and brought down governments in Somalia and Afghanistan.

Within a short three years of George Bush’s declaration of the ‘New World Order’, there was a new order but it wasn’t what many had hoped for, the new order was not one based on international law, and human rights, but on economic imperatives and globalisation.  The new nature of international society was economics, profit and free trade.  Therefore when war broke out in the Balkans and there was genocide in Rwanda and Burundi, where were the policemen? The truth is that the west was more interested in economic interventions that could reap rewards, than costly military adventures in the Balkans.

Politicians and diplomats were more concerned with globalisation than genocide; the cry of the time was, emerging economies, Asian tigers, free markets, free movement of our people, and unlimited access to their resources, and was followed by, the digital revolution, dot-com millionaires, mobile phones, soaring stock markets, and budget airlines, the developed world had never had it so good.

In short two international societies emerged after the Cold War, a western developed international society based on the ideals of commerce and free trade, and an international society of the undeveloped world seeking aid and access to the global market, with World Trade Organization membership becoming the golden ticket, the way to move from one world to the other.  International society we began to believe was globalisation, the creation of a world market is for the benefit of all humanity.  The truth is that throughout the 1990’s we in the developed world where the money’s made and the decisions taken ignored 80% of our fellow man who continued to live in poverty, we pretended not to see the ‘1.3 billion human beings that live on less than a dollar a day’ (Australian Agency for International Development 13/11/2002), we ignored the fact that most of these Asian tigers were ruled by maniac dictators, and we ignored the fact that Saddam Hussein continued his rule and persecution in Iraq, and that India and Pakistan had gone nuclear without a blink from us, we comforted ourselves with talk of peace in northern Ireland and Israel, and of the debt limitation talks being held with western client country’s such as Morocco, and Indonesia.

My argument has been that the 1990’s despite their talk of a Global Village were a period where many of the real issues within international society were ignored, at the expense of a rich man’s club of wealthy nations and their wealthy citizens, it was a smoke screen, an illusion that we all believed and for a while it worked.  It was occasionally threatened by reality, the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania carried out by Al’ Queda for example, but after we’d blown up a deserted camp in Afghanistan and a Medicine factory in the Sudan we all felt better and carried on regardless.  However what 9-11 did was smash the screen and gate crash the party, we suddenly became aware of the rest of the world and the sorry state it was in.  We all watched our televisions stunned as the greatest nation on earth was sent into turmoil by four hijacked commercial airliners, and every one of us felt a cold shiver run down our spines, because we knew then what it all meant, the world was about to change, the good times were over.

Immediately after 9-11 George W. Bush declared a War against Terrorism, an international effort to eradicate Al’ Queda and international terrorism in general, that soon spread to focusing on the ‘axis of evil’ and WMD, in short the focus of the developed world shifted from the primarily economic drives of the 1990’s and moved to issues of international security.  Therefore, I reiterate my argument international society was relevant before 9-11 and still is, it has simply re-focused its attention and changed its priorities after a decade of neglecting the world outside it’s privileged borders.

At the time of this change the then British prime minister Tony Blair stated his belief in the importance of international society during a speech given at the Lord mayors banquet in London, he stated that “The interdependence of the modern world has never been clearer; the need for a common response never greater; the values of freedom, justice and tolerance of our diversity never more relevant; and the need to apply them fairly across the world never more urgent.” (Blair, Tony 2002).  This was a clear statement of the relevance of international society, from one of the early leaders of that new world order.

Initially this new approach saw the formation of what George W. Bush called a ‘coalition of the willing’ outside international organisations such as the UN or the IMF. However,  this coalition soon created its own legitimacy through its sheer size, and representation within international organizations, incorporating the war against terror into the agendas of organisations such as the UN (peacekeepers in Afghanistan) and the IMF, World Bank and the European Union.  Through such initiatives as tracking down bank accounts and freezing the financial assets of terrorists and their sponsors, and increasing pressure on other sources of income for terrorist organisations, such as human, and drug trafficking. In fact the irony here is that the process of globalisation that had so occupied the actions of the developed world for the past decade, proved useful in that as Thomas Biersteker states ‘the ease with which transnational actors can move funds across borders in the wake of financial market globalisation also has contradictory aspects, for the same technology that enables rapid movements of funds also enables enhanced surveillance and the possibility of tracking those funds…. global terrorism is a networked threat that invites a networked response, and the technology….is available’ (Booth & Dunne 2002: 76)

The actions of the United States since 9-11 were within the definitions of international society, for example in its campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan it organised a multi-national coalition of nations from the developed and developing world, including Islamic states, all with a common goal the destruction of Al’Qaeda and the Taliban.  It also took part in the formation of a post-Taliban government for Afghanistan with an international conference in Bonn and then the formation of an international stabilisation force for Kabul under the auspices of the UN and later NATO.  Since Afghanistan the USA and its allies within this new international society have used the instruments of this society to continue their war on terror and the battle against the ‘axis of evil’.

9-11 was a terrible event, 3056 (BBC News 2003) innocent people were killed by a band of religious fanatics, but on a daily basis more than that die from hunger, and curable disease, there is an Aids pandemic in Africa that threatens to bring anarchy to the continent, as it’s young are wiped out and its healthy population dwindles.  These are the underlying causes of 9-11, poverty, lack of hope, lack of a voice; only hopeless desperate people blow themselves up or fly into buildings.

The War on Terror, and the subsequent attack on the ‘axis of evil’ has in many ways created a new false illusion of security by ignoring the major underlying causes of 9-11.  Despite the progress in the war on terror, and the attempts to confront WMD and particularly nuclear proliferation, issues that were neglected throughout the 1990’s.  There is a lot that the international community is not doing, it is not confronting and dealing with the continuing and increasing bloodshed in Palestine, nor with global poverty, or with bad governance in the developing world.  In short we have begun to tackle some of the world’s major problems, but mostly we are attacking the symptoms and not dealing with the causes.  Corrupt oppressive regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Cambodia continue to gain western support despite their unquestionable involvements with international terrorism and the oppression of their own people.  The recent coup and collapse of the experiment in Islamic democracy in Egypt and the failure of the USA and other powers to truly condemn the military takeover is further evidence of the wests lack of dedication to the eradication of the root causes of international security concerns. Instead the west favours dealing in expediency and easy answers through the further oppression of an entire people.

International Society like our domestic societies contain the have and the have not’s, and in order to tackle the issues of international security in this new world order what the developed world really needs to do is spend a little money, for example at the start of the war on terror the ‘combined budgets of the Pentagon in 2001 was $1.6 trillion’ (Moore 2001: 170), that was an enormous amount money, yet every penny of it went on bombs, aircraft carriers and the biggest military machine the world had ever seen..  A fraction of that money could bring clean water and decent health care to the whole of the developing world, in fact it could have made the Marshall Plan look like a drop in the ocean if we had wanted it too. Imagine just for a moment what the whole of the developed world could do if it put its mind and wallet into it, a worldwide action plan to eradicate starvation, or bring decent education and health facilities to the majority of the world’s people.

The relevance of International Society has never been clearer; the problems that effect one nation and people soon spill over in an endless cycle of unforeseen consequences that can impact every one of us.  The failure of a government to provide for its citizens should be of the upmost concern to every other government.  The helplessness and despair that failed corrupt and/or autocratic regimes fosters only leads to violent unpredictable reactions.  This is the root of terrorism, and tackling this above all else is the sole true solution to creating a stable and secure international society for all humanity.

Bibliography:

Australian Agency for International Development accessed through the World Bank Group’s PovertyNet – Webguide – Bilateral Development Agencies: http://poverty.worldbank.org/webguide/category/3

BBC News Website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/september11

Blair, Tony; Speech to the Lord Mayors Banquet, 11th November 2002 http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page6534.asp

Booth, Ken and Dunne, Tim (2002) ‘Worlds in Collision Terror and the Future of Global Order’ Palgrave, Basingstoke, England, p76

Calvocoressi, Peter (2001) ‘World Politics 1945 – 2000’ Longman, Harlow, England p67

Evans, Graham, and Newnham, Jeffrey (1998) ‘The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations’ Penguin Books, London p276-277

Moore, Michael (2001) ‘Stupid White Men’ Penguin Books, London p168, 170

Stern, Geoffrey (2000)‘The Structure of International Society’ 2nd Edition, Pinter, London

Egypt: Bloody End To Democracy

By Ian Howarthbloody pyramid

The events that have been unfolding in Egypt over the last 24 hours have only added to the evidence that the 3rd July coup was in fact nothing more than a counter-revolutionary move by the Conservative old guard.  The removal from power of Hozni Murbarak in 2011 also saw the removal of the army from power in Egypt.  The election of Mohamed Morsi last year marked the first time since 1952 that a General had not been the Head of State.

On July 3rd the army took back what it believes is its own and not the birth-right of every Egyptian. The seizure of power led by General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi was the first step in re-establishing the armies’ brutal grip on the nation.  However, it has encountered far more opposition than it expected and in order to achieve its objectives has had to resort to extreme violence against the Muslim Brotherhood civilian protesters.

While it is true to say that Egypt is a country divided, it is the very fact that it is divided that makes this violent oppression of the Muslim Brotherhood so apaulling.  President Morsi was the democratically elected president of Egypt.  This is a point that we must not forget.  The constitutionally elected President of Egypt was removed from power in a military coup. The early hopes expressed by many that this coup was aimed at restoring a measure of secular balance to the states institutions have evaporated in the light of the use of deadly force against unarmed protesters. The violent suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood is the default position for the Egyptian military, who have spent the past five decades harassing, torturing and imprisoning its members.

The Army is seeking one thing and one thing only, the return of the powers and privileges that it enjoyed under the Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak regimes.  It will use any means necessary at securing these privileges and will crush any opposition.  General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi the leader of the coup is a virtual Murbarak clone, having completed the General Command and Staff Course at Aldershot in the UK, and the War Course at the US Army War College he is a product of the conflicted relationships that lie between western capitals and their declared desire to see a democratic Egypt.

The shockingly slow response of the US State Department and many other Western Powers in condemning the coup back in July demonstrates this hypocrisy. US interests are far better served by a compliant military dictatorship than a turbulent new democracy with an Islamist President.  The United States is the only foreign player that matters, and probably the only force left that could turn the tide back in favour of Democratic government in Egypt.  The US military grant to the Egyptian Army is worth $1.3 billion a year.  How can the leader of the free world continue to fund a military that murders its own people, will the cold interests of the US in the middle east trump the chance for a democratic future for Egypt.  The events of the past two months seem to suggest that the Obama Administration has no interest at all in saving Egyptian democracy, as such the violence will continue and Egyptian society will be subdued and silenced once again.