International relations - a subject that I very seriously considered taking at a master degree level. International relations to me is what a bowl of cream is to a kitty only it doesn't taste so sweet and is not as easy to swallow.

This week for my reading for the terrorism class I take, we had to read Samuel P Huntington's 'Clash of Civilizations'. Huntington was a political scientist born in 1927. I've posted a link for anyone daring enough to read about him. Anyway, the discussion in class revolved around the reading and how after the end of the Cold War, there was a shift in global politics and how Civilizations will come to fight each other in the future. When Huntington wrote this, it is assumed he meant the West against the rest or at least the West against the Middle East. Given that this paper was written in 1993 and we now witness in our time the War on terror and a very unconventional conflict at that, my standalone argument in class was that Huntington was a very clever chap since it is very bold for a political scientist to 'predict' future global politics and few rarely do. On the right is a picture of how World politics is shaping up. 

So International relations? How does each state get along with each other? Well, it seems they rarely ever do. Every country has had its 'glory days'. This was true of the English Empire which flourished due to its excellent naval technology. This was true of the Spanish and the French. Germany peaked in WW11 as did Japan. Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan have all had hugely successful campaigns as have China, India and Mongolia. Russia bankrupted itself in the Cold War and this leaves the only newest country of the lot...America. Since American history goes back only a few hundred years (not counting the Natives), America is the newest country to take the World stage as well as the most powerful country on the World stage. It seems as though America's 15 minutes of fame has been short lived. As more and more people grow to resent the World police, it is interesting to ask who is going to be next at the top of the pile after the Yanks? Huntington argued that the end of the Cold War was the end of history in terms of how international relations will be fought out. In the Cold War days, the Cold War wasn't so 'Cold'. On the contrary it was very 'warm'. At least when there are two powerful countries that dislike one another, you pick your side and stick to it. It is very easy to know where you stand when there are two teams facing off. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of America as the single most powerful country on the planet, suddenly not everyone wants to fall in line and follow this single leader. Iraq and Afghanistan is a good example of how America decided to police the Middle East and how many enemies it made from doing so. As history has shown, one all powerful country will always be challenged by another. China is predicted to be the next challenger.  

So many people probably ask what the hell does any of this have to do with me? you? My life? Your life etc. Well, in my lifetime I have seen the invasion of Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. I have seen the bombings of 9/11 and I have seen the Gulf and Falklands War. I have experienced the fear in my own Country with the 7/05 underground bombings. I have seen people from countries be racially abused and accused of being a terrorist. There have been mass genocides in Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia and Sudan. There has been the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall. 
These are just a few of the International conflicts and events that have surfaced during my lifetime. For anyone to say that it doesn't affect them or their daily lives, I would ask that they think again as my own personal belief is that we live in a time of uncertainty, fear and racially motivated actions. 

What next for the World? My brother said once that as human beings we are some of the most stupid animals on the planet. There is a higher purpose for humans and one day we might lay down our weapons, nukes, differences, beliefs and fight a higher cause...maybe actually try saving the planet, looking further into space, getting rid of poverty, curing more diseases and stop trying to kill one another in the fear of being killed ourselves. 

I follow international relations as close as I can. I know that in my lifetime I will see far worse than I have seen so far. This saddens me but with every human being, we can only keep on learning from our mistakes. Maybe the next big mistake that one nation makes will make everyone on this planet realise that we cannot keep on going the way that we are... 




    Adrian Jackson - hopeful. 


    March 2010



    A map of civilizations, based on Huntington's 'Clash of Civilizations'. Bright red = Japanese, dark red = Sinic, orange = Hindu, green = Islamic, medium-light blue = Orthodox, dark blue = Western, purple = Latin American, brown = African.