Friday, February 28, 2014

Response to a Middle East Question

The Question:

What are the most critical threats in Iran for the US? Regime implosion, nuclear proliferation, regional destabilization? Like Tyler, who also focused on Israel, the situation in the Middle East begs the question of how sustainable is the non-resolution of the conflict with Palestinians and how the outcome of the Syrian civil war will affect regional balance.

The Response:

I do not see any of these as true critical threats to the U.S. Just because Israel claims that Iran wants nuclear weapons, it does not make it a proven fact. From all of the UN speeches, interviews and letters to American Presidents (Bush and Obama), there is nothing pointing to an ambition for nuclear weapons on behalf of the Itanian regime in my opinion. This is the same political trickery that Israel and AIPAC used to achieve sanctions and eventual regime removal from Iraq paid for by the American tax dollar and American blood. Sadly, the private sector went along with it because war and occupation equals profit.

Ahmadinejad's Letter to Bush (2006)

Ahmadinejad's Letter to Obama (2008)

Ahmadinejad's final UN speech (2012)

Hassan Rouhani's first UN speech (2013)

CBS report on Fatwa issued by Iran's Supremem Leader against Nuclear weapons:

As for the other two options, I do not thing regime implosion is not an high percentage threat to Iran. Even though the government of Iran is based on an Islamic constitution, it possesses quite a bit of democratic values to it (argumentively more than the representative democracy of the U.S.). I don't see how Iran can destablize the region because they are not the aggressors in the region, that role is held by Israel and sadly the United States who have removed regimes from Iraq and Afghanistan, have funded and armed opposition to the democratically elected government in Syria, funded multiple vying parties in Egypt since the ousting of Mubarak, and were major contributors to the removal of Ghaddafi in Libya. So, who is the aggressor in the region (regardless if that aggression is portrayed as spreading justice, freedom and democracy)? It doesn't look like Iran is a regional aggressor to me. How many states have they invaded? Iran signed the NPT long ago while Israel has never been held accoutable by the west to do so (and they do have nuclear weapons).

In response to the Israeli-Palestinian (so-called) conflict and Syria, the only respone I can provide is that the west allows Israel to break international laws in settlement building and ethnic cleansing, military occupation and the naval blockade of the Palestinian territories.....only to be protected by the American veto in the UNSC. Again, who is the agressor here? Why is the U.S. so interested in funding opposition to Assad in Syria? Because Assad's regime trades with Iran? It seems that it is all interconnected to maintaining regional hegemony.

2014 Amnesty International Report on Israeli aggression:

Israeli Human Rights Video confession of an IDF solider:

It is slightly difficult to determine rational foreign policy for the U.S. while the mainstream (force-fed) media distortion of facts impacts the public view and the Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress continuously exchange national integrity for individual political longevity and economic benefits.

J. Meeks

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Industrial Revolution and Civil War in the U.S.: From Slavery to Free Labor

Western Europe and the infant United States underwent an evolution in manufacturing methods during the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, which was caused by a wave of new technological developments.  During the first half of the nineteenth century “Americans imitated and adopted British inventions and technology” in areas of manufacturing, and early American capitalists from the northern states invested, imported and manufactured those new industrial technologies which created an evolution in American manufacturing and profiting.  The emerging technologies that developed from the industrial revolution increased manufacturing production levels and lowered the requirements of manual labor in Ante Bellum America, therefore reducing American slavery to an outdated mode of capitalist production that deterred maximized profiting.  These technological developments for industry created an unresolvable conflict between economic interests of northern American states and southern American states, which contributed to a terribly splintered two political party landscape in the domestic United States, and eventually led to the American Civil War and bloodshed.  The decades leading into the American Civil War were characterized by a technological quickening in the northern American states which served as an evolution stage for manufacturing and capitalist production that would eventually clash with the economic exploitation system of human slavery in the southern American states.  Inventions during the Industrial Revolution such as the cotton gin, the steam engine, the sewing machine, and the telegraph literally changed the manufacturing process, natural resource and product shipping, and business communication methods in the early United States.

Technology, Reduced Human Labor, Expanded Production

One of the best examples to illustrate the correlation between a new technology and reduced human labor requirements and increased supply and demand production is the cotton gin. The cotton gin, a machine for removing seeds from cotton, was invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney, and like all new technologies aimed at extracting natural resources, product manufacturing or methods of shipping, the technology of the cotton gin instantly reduced requirements for human labor and decreased the time required to efficiently remove cotton seeds.  Many historians have blamed the cotton gin on the increase of American slavery, but the two are not directly correlated.  The increase in American slavery was a reactionary trend due to the rising capitalist demand for cotton, which the new cotton gin machine could produce at much higher levels for manufacturing or consumption from purchasers.  After the creation of the “cotton gin, the yield of raw cotton doubled each decade after 1800” and the growing demand for cotton was quickly met through technologies such as “machines to spin and weave it and the steamboat to transport it”.  In previous textile manufacturing prior to the mass manufacturing of factory sewing machine, “the machines that were used were small and generally either hand-powered or powered by the wind or running water”, and this form of manufacturing was revolutionized by new technologies of the Industrial Revolution such as the steam engine.  

The rapidly transitioning manufacturing capabilities through new industrial technologies in the north soon began to conflict with traditional southern economic interests.  An example for illustrating the developing differences in economic interests between the industrializing northern Free states and the agricultural southern slave states can be seen in the fact that by the middle of the eighteenth century, the United States, mostly from the southern slave states, produced seventy-five percent of the world’s cotton while 72% of the manufacturing capabilities and technologies in the United States were consolidated in the northern states.  Northern states had begun the process of industrialization in the decades leading into the American Civil War as “British technology was copied in countless areas”.  While southern states remained reliant on agriculture and slavery, the northern “free states took the lead in population growth, manufacturing, property values, agriculture, railroads, canals, and commerce” due to the reproduction and dissemination of new industrialized technology.  One specific development of industrialized technology during the Industrial Revolution that strengthened industrial manufacturing and shipping capabilities of northern states was the process for converting pig iron into steel developed by Henry Bessemer.

Deterioration Factors between the American North and South

                With the economic interests of southern states dependent on agricultural extraction and exportation supported by the institution of slavery and the industrializing north growing stronger in manufacturing, the political two party system within the young United States began to polarize between north and south lines with the pro-industrialization Whig party representing the northern states and the agricultural pro-slavery Democrat party representing the southern states.  In addition to conflicting economic interests between north and south, the promotion of the manifest destiny ideology and the western territory acquired from Polk’s Mexican War ignited a regional political rupture as pro-industrial and pro-slavery forces clashed in Congress and at territorial election polls to determine whether future states developing from new territories would be introduced into Congress as slave states or free states, which in turn would impact the political power structure in Congress and jeopardize the economic interests  and future plans of northern or southern states.  As economic interests between the north and south continued to deepen, domestic political events, such as the Dred Scott decision and the fragmenting of the democratic party prior to the election of 1860, occurred which granted national momentum toward northern industrialism, abolition and the eventual splintering of the nation.  Prior to and after Lincoln’s election, the pro-industrial ideology of free labor was a major component of the Republican Party and the Lincoln political platform.

The North: Division of Labor and Free Labor

                As industrialized capitalists of the north accumulated efficient technological means of increased manufacturing, reducing the previous required amounts of human labor to achieve the same levels of capital profit, the concept of division of labor became more and more prevalent in the north.  Division of labor originated as a way for the capitalist to utilize “skilled, managerial workers who supervised an increasingly mechanized factory based on increasing subdivision of tasks that utilized relatively unskilled labor”.  The manufacturing technique of division of labor is a process first analyzed in-depth by Adam Smith in his book  A Wealth of Nations where the process is described as “a number of simpler tasks, each one of which is undertaken by a different individual who typically (but not necessarily) specializes in one task”.  With new Industrial Revolution technologies, which provided northern capitalists with the ability to mass manufacture, the division of labor method of capitalist manufacturing reduced American slavery to an outdated mode of capitalist exploitation in the eyes of northern capitalists, while the southern states, remaining predominantly agricultural and reliant on human slavery for agricultural exportation, saw a great threat in the 1860 Republican presidential candidate out of Illinois and the Republican platform of free labor.

                Northern Republicans “placed much emphasis on economic growth” and industrialization and the southern states feared government regulation and the prophetic forced abolition of slavery should Republicans take control of Congress or Lincoln win the presidency.  The Republican endorsed Free labor ideology, similar to competing capital in today’s free market competition while free labor centered on the competing worker, was advertised as an opportunity for wage earning workers to rise in the economic caste structure of an American north “strictly divided into two main groups, those who worked and those who profited from the work of others”.  In reality, free labor would also allow capitalists to hire skilled and non-skilled workers at the lowest wages, overwork workers under unhealthy factory conditions, and exploit children in the capitalist manufacturing process until later labor laws would be passed to address these issues.   The northern capitalist industrialist understood maximizing capitalist profits under mass industrial manufacturing.  A slave being forced to work without pay under forced bondage would never produce the same manufacturing results, work as hard without being consistently forced, or stay consistently engaged in labor over a long duration as an hourly wage-earner, who could be terminated at any time, that held the responsibility of placing nightly beans and bread on his family table compared to a slave whose only reward was watching a master live off his labor.  In addition, slave owners were required to feed and clothe their slaves, and deal with lost labor due to runaways, injuries and sicknesses which caused “considerable financial losses to their owners”.  Free labor and the division of that free labor would satisfy “the desire of the capitalist merchant to force higher output from his workers” compared to southern slave system, especially with the new system of free labor creating circumstances which promoted “intensive work in factory settings, individuals performing fragmented tasks, and the transformation of skilled work to unskilled”.

                Under the presidency of Lincoln, the Union also passed legislation that would structure the capitalist free labor market through the Legal Tender Act of 1862.  The usage of gold and silver for commodity exchanges and pay rates ended with this legislation, as “The Legal Tender Act authorized the federal government to print and use paper money” for payment to the expendable free labor force which would be completely implemented after the conclusion of the Civil War regardless of what might befall masses of freed slaves with no starting capital.  Prior to the Legal Tender Act, “the first U.S. income tax was imposed in July 1861, at 3 percent of all incomes over $800 up to 10 percent for incomes over $100,000”.

The South: Agriculture and Slavery

                As southern succession and the Civil War approached, “the population of the South had reached four million, with over one-third of that number enslaved” and the economic foundations of southern white society was reliant on the exports of cotton, sugar and rice by the enslavement free labor of American black slaves.  The political resistance in the south towards northern free labor and the possible abolition of slavery was led by the largest landowners, who “held the most political power, dominating public office” in the south, and supported by poor landless whites who feared competing with a population of freed slaves, many of whom possessed trades and apprenticeships, for a limited amount of jobs within society.  Possessing “only 13 percent of the nation's banks” prior to the Civil War, the south quickly fell behind the north in manufacturing and the accumulation of industrial technologies with the north manufacturing “17 times more cotton and woolen textiles than the South, 30 times more leather goods, 20 times more pig iron, and 32 times more firearms”, and this concentration of industrialized manufacturing would eventually guarantee a Union victory over the Confederacy in the Civil War, and ensure the victory of northern free wage labor and the abolition of American slavery.


                The Civil War and the Abolition of American slavery were not events that occurred as a result of moral sentiments in the United States.  These historical events within the United States were direct results of technological developments in capitalist manufacturing, an improved system of capitalist labor exploitation, and the conflicting economic interests of northern industrialists and agricultural southern slave owners.  The young United States had always followed the interests of capital, whether in the form of breaking with British rule, land acquisition and natural resources in the Mexican War, or the abolition of slavery to introduce a new system of free wage labor which could regenerate higher levels of capital profit through higher levels of manufacturing and production.  In closing, the American Civil War was a result of many combined political and social elements, but the original root of those various elements was the Industrial Revolution and the new manufacturing technologies which emerged during that time period to revolutionize capitalist production.      



[1]  Library of Congress.  “John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations”  United States Library of Congress Website.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[2]  U.S. National Archives.  2014.  “Teaching With Documents: Eli Whitney's Patent for the Cotton Gin”  Accessed February 20, 2014.

[3]  U.S. National Archives.  2014.  “Teaching With Documents: Eli Whitney's Patent for the Cotton Gin”  Accessed February 20, 2014.

[4]  Patricia Ryaby Backer.  “The Cause of the Industrial Revolution”  San Jose State University.  Accessed on February 22, 2014.

[5]   U.S. National Archives.  2014.  “Teaching With Documents: Eli Whitney's Patent for the Cotton Gin”  Accessed February 20, 2014.

[6]  Library of Congress.  “John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations”  United States Library of Congress Website.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[7]  Antonia Etheart.  “Lincoln, Labor and Liberation” Birmingham University Department of History.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[8]  Library of Congress.  “John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations”  United States Library of Congress Website.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[9]  Sukko Kim.  2006.  “Division of Labor and the Rise of Cities: Evidence from U.S. Industrialization, 1850-1880.”  National Bureau of Economic Research.  Accessed on February 20, 2014.

[10]  Auburn University.  2005.  A Glossary of Political Economy Terms: Division of Labor.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[11]  Antonia Etheart.  “Lincoln, Labor and Liberation” Birmingham University Department of History.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[12]  Antonia Etheart.  “Lincoln, Labor and Liberation” Birmingham University Department of History.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[13]  Leah Glaser.  “United States Expansion, 1800-1860”  University of Virginia Miller Center of Public Affairs.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[14]  Patricia Ryaby Backer.  “The Cause of the Industrial Revolution”  San Jose State University.  Accessed on February 22, 2014.

[15]  Patricia Ryaby Backer.  “The Cause of the Industrial Revolution”  San Jose State University.  Accessed on February 22, 2014.

[16]  Benjamin Arrington.  “Industry and Economy during the Civil War”  National Park Service.  Accessed on February 22, 2014.

[17]  Benjamin Arrington.  “Industry and Economy during the Civil War”  National Park Service.  Accessed on February 22, 2014.

[18]  Leah Glaser.  “United States Expansion, 1800-1860”  University of Virginia Miller Center of Public Affairs.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[19]  Leah Glaser.  “United States Expansion, 1800-1860”  University of Virginia Miller Center of Public Affairs.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[20]  Leah Glaser.  “United States Expansion, 1800-1860”  University of Virginia Miller Center of Public Affairs.  Accessed on February 21, 2014.

[21]  Benjamin Arrington.  “Industry and Economy during the Civil War”  National Park Service.  Accessed on February 22, 2014.

[22]  Benjamin Arrington.  “Industry and Economy during the Civil War”  National Park Service.  Accessed on February 22, 2014.






Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Hierarchy: Great, Middle and Emerging States

According to Kenkel’s unoriginal model, middle powers are state actors that can influence the international stage in certain situations, and are usually steered by national interests while relying on multilateral organizations (IGOs and NGOs), multilateral trade relationships (trade blocs) and multilateral negotiations (2010).  If there are emerging states on the international stage, then it is only plausible to acknowledge that there are declining states as well.  Mexico, despite its large amounts of trade agreements and natural resources, is technically a declining middle power due to the effects of private sector exploitation through the North American Free Trade Agreement, government corruption and ineffectiveness, and “Mexico’s subordinate role to the U.S.” (Villarreal, 2012).  Mexico no longer impacts the international stage as a global actor, as it once did when it served as a link between “Third World countries and the United States” (Villarreal, 2012) during the bipolar Cold War years.  There is no longer bipolarity, balanced between two great powers, to the international stage under globalization as the great states influence and regulate the multi-national IGOs and NGOs, organizations such as the UN Security Council, the World Bank, the IMF, the World Trade Organization and NATO, which bind the middle and emerging states in their hierarchical positions on the international stage.  

While great state powers influence all levels of international areas and middle powers are considered as occasional global actors, states identified as emerging powers are labeled by Kenkel as regional actors (2010).  This is understandable from Kenkel’s point of view, because these emerging states are considered subset actors (2010).  Therefore, you have subset actors, emerging states, acting regionally under globalization and middle power states acting globally under globalization, with the great state (or states with the most accumulated capital and technology) controlling the IGOs and NGOs.   It was Kenkel himself that differentiated great states from middle and emerging states by explaining that great powers, such as the United States, can basically influence any international situation (2010).  Interestingly enough, Kenkel doesn’t acknowledge a category for private sector entities or private sector actors and, under globalization, leaves his analysis lacking.  After all, Kenkel’s theory is basically the same theory that Giovanni Botero used in the 16th century “when he divided the world into three different types of states – grandissime (empires), mezano (middle powers), and piccioli (small powers)” (Turner, 1903, p. 143).

The same consolidation of capital (and therefore technology) that has currently developed is nothing new.  It has been occurring within the borders of capitalist state entities for centuries, and now on an international model has created a global hierarchy of states:  great, middle, emerging.  The great power, with its mass capital and technology, influences all multilateral organizations, which are made up of the middle and emerging states who are constantly vying for better positioning.   

While Mexico has been identified as a declining state, Brazil is certainly a legitimate emerging state; the new Latin American girlfriend for international capital investment.  In fairness, it depends on how the government of Brazil handles the opportunity in currently finds itself in.  Certainly, it’s political past of military government rule has delayed Brazil’s emergence onto the global market long enough to be very beneficial for its current emergence.  Regional peacekeeping is one characteristic of an emerging state under the Kenkel model, and Brazil also plays the role of an emerging power on this level.  Increased involvement in UN peacekeeping missions has taken Brazilian contributions and influence outside of Latin America to an international level (possibly emerging into a middle power in the decades ahead).  Brazil’s increased involvement under MUNUSTAH (the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) is a perfect example (United Nations, 2014).  Between 2008 and 2011, peacekeeping contributions from Central and South American states have been consistent and “Brazil’s contribution has doubled, making up for smaller decreases by several other countries” (Gowen and Gleason, 2012, p. 13).  Although, these peacekeeping missions are usually aimed to enforce stability and globalization-friendly regime support (or building) in order to open the natural resources of an unstable area to the global market.


Gowan, Richard and Gleason, Megan.  2012.  UN Peacekeeping: The Next Five Years.  New York University Center on International Cooperation.  Accessed on February 19, 2014.

Kenkel, Kai. 2010. South America’s emerging power: Brazil as a peacekeeper. International Peacekeeping 17, no.5: 644-661

United Nations.  2014.  MINUSTAH United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.  Accessed on February 19, 2014.

Villarreal, Pablo. 2012. Mexico’s foreign policy: a new opportunity. The Wagner Review. 7 December 2012.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

U.S. Policy Paper on North Korea dated February 15, 2014 (Simulation)

On February 13, 2014 Secretary of State John Kerry, while in Seoul with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, released a statement that the United States would not be drawn into empty talks and that the upcoming joint military drills between the United States and South Korea would not be derailed despite threats of retaliation from the North Korean regime, which are assumed to be aimed at procrastinating a return to multilateral negotiations concerning North Korean nuclear weapons development (Gordon & Sang-Hun, 2014).  It is vital for the current United States administration to take into consideration all constraining U.S. domestic and international factors, the vast array of current economic and political relations with the actor-states involved in the current regional situation with North Korea, and to consider an in-depth review of the top policy recommendations for moving forward in dealing with the containment of, and possible cooperation with, North Korea’s continued developing nuclear program which is currently without International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulation, and ensuring the security and interests of the United States and United States citizens.  There are three policy options being considered by the United States at this time:  1) A continued hardline policy focused on forcing North Korean compliance, 2) A middle of the road policy focusing on allowing international democracy to work unimpeded and allowing other states to take the lead on negotiations with North Korea, and 3) A policy of easing sanctions while promoting diplomacy and reconciliation with North Korea.  The long-term hardline position of the United States in dealing with North Korea has had little positive impact on achieving North Korean compliance over the past two decades.  The middle of the road policy option is the recommended policy option for current U.S.-North Korean crisis requirements, with the policy of reconciliation diplomacy and easing sanctions as a viable secondary option. 
North Korea is currently believed to possess somewhere between four to eight nuclear weapons and intelligence reports indicate that North Korea has successfully achieved short- to medium range missile capabilities (Kim, 2013).  Current intelligence reports indicate that North Korea has not managed to develop the required capability of miniaturization for nuclear devices required for missile delivery, nor does that state possess Intercontinental or long distance missile capabilities at this point (Kim, 2013).  The North Korean Regime has continuously denied pursuing and developing nuclear weapons against clear evidence showing the opposite and has violated multiple international agreements, most notably the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), while continuing to purposely disrupt the political and economic stability of the region.  These disruptions are usually aimed at regional U.S. allies as a retaliation for U.S. hardline positioning and sanctions.  During the two year span between 1992 and 1993, North Korea submitted a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, a requirement of the Nonproliferation Treaty which North Korea signed 7 years earlier in 1985, only to announce the intention of withdrawing from the NPT after discrepancies were discovered during IAEA inspections at North Korean sites.  As a result of the reported discrepancies, North Korea officially withdrew from the IAEA and has continued to conduct nuclear tests and missile launches since that time (Davenport, 2014). 
Since 2003, the United States has participated in several rounds of multilateral talks concerning Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions with fluctuating results and in 2005 North Korea reaffirmed its commitment to the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and agreed to terms with the U.S., China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia for promoting economic cooperation in the field of energy through economic investment and assistance on bilateral and multilateral levels (U.S. Department of State, 2005).   This specific historical example shows the possibility for promoting U.S.-North Korean reconciliation through the easing of sanctions, economic investment into North Korea, and the probability for diplomatic success should the United States reach out to North Korea.   
Despite hardline positions promoted as diplomatic efforts by the United States for two decades, North Korea has remained steadfast in non-compliance of NPT and IAEA regulations.  North Korea conducted tests on long range missiles in 2007 and 2009, and underground nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 (University of Illinois, 2011).  While the nuclear tests of 2007 and 2009 were considered failures for the North Korean regime, the underground nuclear test conducted in 2013 has been deemed a success, along with multiple missile tests in 2012 and 2013 aimed to provoke regional neighbors that are allied with the United States (Kim, 2013).  It is of importance for U.S. interests and allies to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, while at the same recognizing that the United States faces domestic and international constraints.
The first domestic constraint faced in any U.S. policy decision consideration toward applying pressure on North Korea would be the fact that 2014 is a congressional election year which offers the possibility that one of the two major U.S. political parties, both holding different stances on North Korea and foreign policy, could obtain control of the U.S. Congress.  This could result in drastic change or complete reversal in Congressional foreign policy, which could internationally portray the United States as a state in internal political disarray instead of a consolidated superpower with strong foreign policy direction.  A secondary domestic constraint is economic constraint and the frustration of the American people.  Due to a climbing national deficit and two decade-long failed military expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan which have lost the support of the American taxpayers, any political hardline stance toward North Korea that would require costly or long-term military action by the United States may not be favorable to the American people, and may not be in the economic or military interest of the state considering current budget cuts and military reductions, and these domestic constraints may be easily recognized by North Korean leadership and challenged.
The United States also faces international constraints when considering policies for bringing North Korea back to negotiations.  One of the most constraining areas on an international level concerning U.S. pressure toward North Korea is the key problematic issue that “North Korea has become more integrated with countries that are willing to trade on an unconditional basis, most notably China” (Haggard & Noland, 2011, p. 4).  It should be noted that despite previous sanctions and the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which placed an arms embargo and luxury items embargo on North Korea, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, “Chinese exports of luxury goods to North Korea have risen after each UN resolution” (Haggard & Noland, 2011, p. 84).  This economically-driven first international constraint leads to the second international constraint, which is the veto capability of China in the United Nations Security Council.  China is a “veto-holding member of the UNSC with increasing economic and political stakes in many of the regimes that the U.S. has targeted through the Council, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has the prerogative, and potentially the resolve, to prevent the U.S. from achieving its objective” (Wuthnow,2011, p. 3).
The United States has the option of three different policy directions to pursue toward bringing the North Korean regime back to negotiations.  The first policy option falls under the category of hard line forced compliance, and has been the unsuccessful policy utilized by the United States toward North Korea over the past two decades.  This is the least rational approach for the United States since unilateral military action aimed at North Korean non-compliance would risk economic and military requirements that the United States is in no position to provide; the majority of American taxpayers would not support such military actions after the long-term and expensive failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, and unilateral military action would risk regional escalation with China.
The second policy option would be a middle-of-the-road approach that would allow international democracy to run its natural course, and ultimately allow another state on the international stage to take the political lead in dealing with North Korea.  The United States could propose medium range to hardline sanctions before the United Nations Security Council to allow democratic vote or Chinese veto, and then quietly refocus American interests toward a declared higher priority situation on the international stage, or inward towards vital American domestic issues.  The absence of U.S. pressure would eventually create a political vacuum that would eventually cause other states with economic interests in the region to take the leading position in negotiations with North Korea.  A hiatus scenario would also provide the United States with time to heal from failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, and strengthen its economy before reengaging any hardline position toward North Korea should no other states fill the vacuum created by the political retrenchment of the United States.  The main problem with this scenario is that the Japanese and South Korean regimes, strong trade partners with the United States, look to the United States for security in the region, and are certain to apply political pressure on the United States concerning North Korean provocation in the possibility that no other state takes the lead in negotiating with North Korea.    
The third policy option would be to reduce sanctions and present a more energetic effort at reconciliation and sanctions relief instead of applying tougher sanctions and hard line positioning by the United States.  One example of failed excessive hardline agitation that caused a deterioration of prior negotiations with North Korea was the U.S. decision in 2009 to not remove North Korea’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism after terms could not be reached with North Korea on U.S. demands that all North Korean sites would be required to offer full access for inspections (Haggard & Noland, 2011, p. 44).  Threats and sanctions implemented by the United States have made little progress with North Korea over the past decade, and in the delicate economic and exhausted military conditioning of the United States, an approach of reconciliation, sanctions easing and investment is a rational secondary policy for accomplishing United States-North Korean cooperation on nuclear inspections.
The current trend of hardline positioning in dealing with North Korean non-compliance has been a consistent failure and has only agitated negotiations, therefore it is recommended that the United States adjust policy direction and assume the second policy option of allowing international democracy to determine the fate of North Korea while allowing other states to assume lead positions in negotiating with North Korea on returning to the International Atomic Energy Agency and adhering to all regulations required by that international agency.   Such a policy shift would allow the United States a hiatus period to focus on current economic and military issues after two failed military endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The third policy option of easing sanctions, encouraging reconciliation and offering economic and investment rewards for North Korean compliance is also a viable option for the United States in any scenario where sustained United States engagement due to political pressure from allies such as South Korea and Japan is deemed necessary to United States interests.

Deyeon Kim.  2013.  Fact Sheet: North Korea’s Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs.  The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferartion.  Accessed February 14, 2014,

Joel Wuthnow.  2011.  Beyond the Veto: Chinese Diplomacy in the United Nations Security Council.  University of Columbia.  Accessed on February 15, 2014,
Kelsey Davenport.  2014.  Chronology of U.S.-North Korean Nuclear and Missile Diplomacy.  Arms Control Association.  Accessed February 14, 2014,
Michael R. Gordan and Choe Sang-Hun.  2014.  “Kerry Rejects Delaying South Korea Exercise.”  New York Times, February 13, 2014.  Accessed February 14, 2014,
Stephen Haggard and Marcus Noland.  2011.  Engaging North Korea: The Role of Economic Statecraft (Hawaii: East-West Center), 2011.  Accessed on February 14, 2014,
The Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security.  2011.  A Timeline of North Korea’s Nuclear Development.  University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Accessed on February 14, 2014,
United States Department of State.  2005.  Six-Party Talks, Beijing, China.  U.S. Department of State Website.  Accessed on February 14, 2014,


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

U.S. or China? Foreign Policy Options for Nigeria (and post-colonial African States)

Depending on the abundance, or lacking, of natural resources, post-colonial African states under globalization would best serve current state interests by treading a political medium between the United States and China, while increasing developmental and economic programs with China while avoiding, if possible, quagmire-like conditions associated with American imperialism. 

Using Nigeria as an example state, Nigeria entered independence and the UN with the foreign policy pillars of non-alignment, non-interference and multilateralism (Ajaebili, 2011), basically everything the private sector would want in a wife.  Nigeria continues to attempt the pursuit of economic diplomacy under globalization, but faces the same issues that other post-colonial states face in the form of poverty, crime epidemics and a short history of political instability.  Foreign investment and private sector exploitation simply doesn’t mix with domestic instability and “many foreign companies have had to withdraw their operations from Nigeria because of crime, corruption and insecurity” (Ajaebili, 2011).  Regardless of stronger foreign relations with the U.S. or China, African states such as Nigeria must establish domestic stability and crush corruption before benefitting from their natural resources through foreign investment.  This is difficult to accomplish because former colonial master states, Britain in the case of Nigeria, have left African states with large poverty levels and massive disproportionate gaps in wealth distribution.

It is only rational for states such as Nigeria to look to China instead of the United States.  United States imperialism and “cumbersome conditionalities of Western aid” (Adekola, 2013, p. 2) do very little for Nigeria.  Pressures to join in U.S. imperial military regime removals such as the “2003 invasion of Iraq” (Whitaker, 2010, p. 1112) and U.S. bullying threatening to “suspend some categories of US economic and military aid” only bind African states such as Nigeria to a quagmire of imperialism (Whitaker, 2013, p. 1113).  Imperialism and domestic policies are draining the United States under a constant submission to the will of the global private sector which has continued to transition her to a consumer state.  If African states such as Nigeria seek to modernize and strengthen, they may have a better opportunity by increasing relations with China.  The ‘oil for infrastructure’ deals that Nigeria, under Obasabjo, held with China showed potential, and since China’s modern investment focuses are in advanced “technology, oil exploration, seed cultivation” (Adekola, 2013, p. 4) and industrial machinery, it would only seem logical for states such as Nigeria to favor relations with China.

At the same time, regardless of whom African states open their borders to for foreign investment, corruption and instability will simply offer up natural resources with no positive long-term benefits to the state if those problems are not solved.  In globalization, if internal state mechanisms in natural resource rich states are in disarray then exploitation or regime removal is imminent.  If African states refuse the major global powers through hard balancing, then regimes ruling over large enough natural resource pools run the risk of being removed by imperialist powers, such as occurred in Libya and Iraq. 

Soft Balancing toward the United States would be the most beneficial path for African states over the next couple of decades as the United States declines from international hegemony, and the international stage changes power balancing.  Until then, African states must pick and choose their resistance points according to what is beneficial to the individual state, or what is detrimental to the individual state. 

Adekola, Oluwole Gabriel.  2013.  New Perspectives to Nigeria’s Foreign Policy Towards China.  Journal of Humanities and Social Science 6:5 (Jan – Feb 2013), 1-6.

Ajaebili, C. N.  2011.  The Option of Economic Diplomacy in Nigeria’s Foreign Policy.  International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 1:17 (November 2011), 277-281.

Whitaker. Beth Elise.  2010.  Soft Balancing Among Weak States? Evidence from Africa.  International Affairs 85:5 (2010) 1109-1127.


Post-colonial states are at a sizable disadvatage due to the damages done to the infrastructure and economic structure by their previous colonial masters. These colonial master states withdrew leaving pro-western puppet governments in place which left the state vulnerable to political instability and political voids. The World Bank, IMF and private sector entities are interested in the same capital expliotation as colonial master states pursued (only at cheaper costs than those expensed by colonizing master states for maintanence, defense and stability). Nigeria actually offers a great example of the transitioning of imperialism from colonialism to globalization (aka state to private sector) because when the British withdraw from Nigeria and Nigeria declared independence, the British quickly introduced Nigeria into the GATT/WTO (not to mention NIgeria entered into the UN/IMF/World Bank). The most important aspect of post-colonial states (whether African or South American) falls in the governments and infrastructure. The private sector can not invest in states riddled with instability, corruption or heavy levels of crime. If Nigeria, or other post-colonial states, want to benefit from foreign investment instead of simply being exploited by foreign private sector entities....the state must address all forms of instability, corruption or mass crime, which stems from a massive inequality of wealth distribution....and implement sound leadership.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Antebellum Sucession: The Dirty South

The secession of southern slave states from the Union, starting in 1860, caused a ripple effect.  South Carolina was the first state to break from the Union, and was followed by Mississippi (January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10, 1861), Alabama (January 11, 1861), Georgia (January 19, 1861), Louisiana (January 26, 1861), Texas (February 1, 1861), Virginia (April 17, 1861), Arkansas (May 6, 1861), Tennessee (May 6, 1861), and North Carolina (May 21, 1861).

The first succession wave occurred within a two month period.  South Carolina justified breaking from the Union on the argument that the Federal government had stripped the state of powers granted by the U.S. Constitution.  The state of South Carolina declared that the Federal government had “assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution” [1].  This was a direct reference to slavery.  One month later, Mississippi followed South Carolina under the same constitutional justification and stated in a declaration that “our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery - the greatest material interest of the world.  Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth” [2].  Furthermore, Mississippi accused the federal government of numerous other accusations to include the denial of property rights, advocating negro equality, refusing the admittance of new slave states, nullifying the Fugitive Slave Laws, and enlisting the press, pulpit and schools against the south [3]. 

Florida did not offer a declaration for succession on January 10, 1861, but a day later Alabama broke from the Union by passing an Ordinance of Secession in which it stated that all “powers over the territory of said state, and over the people thereof, heretofore delegated to the government of the United States of America, be and they are hereby withdrawn from said Government, and are hereby resumed and vested in the people of the state of Alabama” [4].  Georgia was eight days behind their neighbor Alabama with the same slavery-justifying argument as all slaveholding states that had already broken from the Union.  Georgia accused the Federal Government’s stance against slavery as outlawing “$3,000,000,000 of our property in the common territories of the Union” [5] and “not only to the loss of our property but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes, our altars, and our firesides” [6], obvious references to possible emancipation of American slaves.  Louisiana and Texas were the final two states of the first wave to secede. 

After the first wave of succession was completed, all the seceded states adopted a Confederate Constitution in Montgomery, Alabama (the same city which would see the origins of a Civil Rights Bus Boycott a century later) during the first week of February 1861 with Jefferson Davis being elected as the president of the Confederate States.  Meanwhile, President Lincoln provided his Inauguration speech on March 4, 1861 and stated that “a husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country can not do this” [7].  Lincoln refused to accept Confederate succession, and the Union attempt to maintain control over Fort Sumter in Confederate territory prompted the first battle of the Civil War which caused the second wave of succession to begin.  Previous to the events at Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s summoning of 75,000 militia men to attack Fort Sumter, the states of Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina had loosely remained with the Union [8].  Virginia succession followed rapidly after the Fort Sumter episode with an Ordinance that “the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States” [9].  Arkansas and Tennessee followed a month later.  Arkansas, through very tough words, passed an ordinance stating “war should be waged against” [10] any powers trying to coerce any state that had seceded from the “old Union” [11].  North Carolina was the last state to break from the Union.

It is clear that the issues of American slavery, industrial technology, and economic capitalist exploitation of human beings were the cause of American division and the chain reaction of succession.  The arguments of constitutional rights and loud patriotic cries of property rights being trampled seem incredible today….simply because they were used to justify civil war and, more importantly, mass human enslavement.  The physical destruction caused by the Civil War was basic damage compared to the massive social and economic ramifications caused by American slavery; ramifications that still exist grow and fester today.

1.  Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Sucession of South Carolina From the Federal Union.  1860.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 7, 2014 from

2.  A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.  1860.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 7, 2014 from

3.  A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.  1860.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 7, 2014 from

4.  Ordinance of Secession of Alabama Passed January 11, 1861.  1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed February 7, 2014 from

5.  Georgia Declaration of Secession.  1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 7, 2014 from

6.  Georgia Declaration of Secession.  1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 7, 2014 from

7.  Abraham Lincoln.  Inaugural Address of March4, 1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 7, 2014 from

8.  Abraham Lincoln.  Proclamation Calling Militia and Convening Congress.  1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed February 7, 2014 from

9.  Virginia Ordinance of Secession.  1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed February 7, 2014 from

10.  Ordinance of Succession of Arkansas Passed May 6, 1861.  1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 7, 2014 from

11.  Ordinance of Succession of Arkansas Passed May 6, 1861.  1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 7, 2014 from


Before Mississippi passed its ordinance to succeed from the Union, Jefferson Davis represented that state in the Senate.  Many of his views concerning succession can be understood through his January 21, 1861 resignation speech before the U.S. Senate.  Davis was a strong proponent of state rights, to include the right to succession, and he refuse to acknowledge nullification.  Looking at nullification, Davis viewed it to only be justified when a state had violated its constitutional obligations, and certainly felt that the succession of Mississippi and the other Confederate states were not in violation of those obligations.  Davis held the view that the state was a sovereign entity, and that succession was not a rebellion or uprising because the people of a succession state were not bound to those Union laws because through succession each state “surrenders all the benefits (and they are known to be many), deprives herself of the advantages (they are known to be great), severs all the ties of affection (and they are close and enduring), which have bound her to the Union; and thus divesting herself of every benefit, taking upon herself every burden, she claims to be exempt from any power to execute the laws of the United States within her limits” [1].  Davis was also in favor of state property rights and held extremely pro-slavery views which are shown by his declaration that “when our Constitution was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable, for there we find provision made for the very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men - not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only to be represented in the numerical proportion of three-fifths” [2].

The views of Davis were echoed throughout the south and the new Confederacy, and this is clear by his nomination and election to Confederate presidency.  The Vice President of the Confederate states was Alexander H Stephens, a long term Representative in the U.S. House from the state of Georgia, who held similar views as Davis.  In his address dated March 21, 1861, he described the new Confederate government as one where “no citizen is deprived of life, liberty, or property” [3], a hypocritical proclamation to protect the interests of slavery under a government where “all the essentials of the old Constitution, which have endeared it to the hearts of the American people, have been preserved and perpetuated” [4].  To leaders such as Davis and Stephens, the issues that had caused southern succession were predominantly based on Constitutional and state rights.  Despite enslaving other human beings, the human injustice of slavery was second nature to these types of white southern leaders as the majority of this demographic truly felt that their rights had been severely victimized by the federal government.  The arguments of constitutional and property rights while protecting the economic interests of human slavery must certainly must have been one of the most hypocritical argument views of human history.

1.  Jefferson Davis.  1861.  Senate Chamber Speech dated January 21, 1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 10, 1861.

2.  Jefferson Davis.  1861.  Senate Chamber Speech dated January 21, 1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 10, 1861.

3.  Alexander H. Stephens.  1861.  Conerstone Address dated March 21, 1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 10, 1861.

4.  Alexander H. Stephens.  1861.  Conerstone Address dated March 21, 1861.  Public Domain.  Accessed on February 10, 1861.