Archive for January, 2007

TIME FOR A NEW DIRECTION IN OUR FOREIGN POLICY APPROACH
January 31, 2007

What is most troubling to me is how our political commentators and those talking heads who think they know it all, can’t even think of one workable approach to solve the madness that is going on in the Middle East and the Gulf Region. I am talking about the brutal and senseless  sectarian violence in Iraq; the terrorist attacks on our troops who have gone to that God forsaken region of the world to help them get rid of one of the most brutal dictators in modern times; the new form of mass  killing device the insurgents are using (the human bomb) to inflict sensesless destruction of innocent civilian lives in the name of a twisted idelogical belief or better still a misunderstood world view. These talking heads and so called experts should be discussing how best can we use our greatest assets at our disposal (American ingenuity) to bring order and stability in Iraq before it spread across to other nation states in Gulf region, or nation states in the Arab penisula. America  has always been successful diplomaticly when we have employed a practical approach grounded on pragmatism to design and implement a workable policy to solve problems in other parts of the world without resorting to military means as a first resort. Why not discuss a pragmatic approach to bring an end to the madness that is Iraq instead of a a military surge which will only escalate the problem.  There is no argument the situation in Iraq is part of a broader war on terror, but why not find a pragmatic solution to resolve the mitigating condition that was brought about as a result of almost forty years of political oppression, ethnic hatreds and religious disharmony. By defining what is going on in Iraq as simply Islamic terrorism or sectarian violence we are  blurring the fight of those who are using the situation to demand forcefully  by any means necessary (including violence) for an equal and just society; economic self determination for all Iraqi’s; for a mutual ethnic and cultural respect between Islam and western religions in the present world of globalization. It appears that there are some remnant of fundamental religious leaders in the Middle East and the Islamic world who are suspicious of western hegemony especially Americas uni-polarism, and are trying everything within their powers to make sure that Islam as a way of life is not threatened by western cultural beliefs and value system.

How can we be certain for sure which is which? if we just dismiss those concerns and labelled them terrorirism, because of our failure to see things as they really are, are approach in solving the actual problem will be guided by our misapprehension of the real causes for the madness in Iraq. How can you combat an idea which has no value for human life with another violent idea like war? We tried that formula in the past and we were virtually in a stalemate with the former USSR for over 50 years. What was the outcome of all that mutual prepared armament build up to protest us from communist aggression? The USSR and their satellite countries in Eastern Europe and the USA together with its western alliance in western and central Europe spent trillions of dollars trying to mutually destroy each other in the Cold War days. All the money that were spent preparing for a war that never happened could have been spent by both the communist block nations and the western alliances  for the good and well-being of humanity. Now we are faced with similar situation, but now only differently. It is different because the enemy we are preparing to fight is an invisible enemy, just think about it for a minute.

We in the good US of A have spent billions of dollars to liberate people two countries from regimes that were very oppressive to their own citizens and posess immense threats to the world community. We found those regimes unacceptable to be an integral part of the civilized community of nations. We had no choice but to use military measures for humanitarian reasons to correct the unacceptable dehumanizing conditions the leaders in those two regimes put their own people through. Many of our young brave men and women have sacrificed their lives to make human conditions better for the people in those two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq). Now see how they are repaying us for our good deeds. What does that tell us? It means that this is one battle we can’t win on the battlefield. It means that we have to win this battle the same way we won the stalemate that lasted for 50 plus years with the USSR without firing a shot. We won that stalemate with a counter idea that was most acceptable to people in Eastern Europe. We provided them with an alternative they can’t refuse, that was the end of the stalemate. Economic opportunity a-la- a member of the global free market econic club. Don’t you for a minute think, that if we adopt similar policies to the youths in the Arab world , with a promise for a better world they won’t take us on that. History tells us what a little token such as the Maeshall Plan did after WWII, to keep the peace amongst the billegerant Europeans. That Plan went a long way to keep wars at bay in Europe. Don’t you agree that the Marshall Plan was very cost effective comapared to the spending that is required to fight a war? We had our own war on Terror back her in the 1960s, don’t anybody remember? The Blacck Panther, Black Power and all the other radical elements who were fighting to make sure that they also get Social Justice. What did we do? We tried waterhose, mass arrests and all other cohesive and inhuman tactics, but it never worked. Haven’t we learnt that Ideology is not geared for solving practical problems. Pragmatism, my fellow Americans, calls for solution to a practical problem. In the USA we adopted a pragmatic solution to combat our own war on terror. We created programmes such as Affirmative Action, to enable those who felt they were left out of the great American dream to become a part of it. We created a War on Poverty and the Great Society, to help those who could not make it through the rat race to at least get on by. Before long, no one is talking about BUrn Baby Burn, or Black Power, or all that social Justice stuff. I am not at least arguing that that solved all the problems, but at least, it was the beginning of something practical. Not before long people of color and women were graduating from some of the most prestigious universities and colleges. As part of the “Artificaial Middle-Class” they were no more interested in Burning down their neighborhood, for now they are the neighborhood. That is what pragmatism will give you, solid solution. Why not try a pragmatic approach in the Middle East for a change? Le us literally force the state of Israel to make peace with its neighbors, let us force the Arab countries that we have influence with to recognize the state of Israel, and let us force the wealthy Arab states to invest in the Palestinian refugee camps to help create a better living conditions for those young men and women. Then let us wait and see, if they are going to continue strapping bombs around their waste line and kill innocent people together with their own lives as young as age 15.

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STATE OF DENIAL OR JUST PLAIN BLAME SHIFTING
January 31, 2007

welcome to my corner of the world a place i prefer to call my universa for social and political shock therapy. I am glad you could stop bye and visit with me for moment or two. I am writing this blog piece to wake up your inner consciousness and to let you think for a moment or two about what is really going on. You see my blog land friends i am still trying to understand why President Bush should take all the blame for what is going on in Iraq, after all as far as I can recollect it was with the blessings of the majority of our representatives in congress and the overwhelming support of the American people that the president ordered a preemptive strike on Saddam Hussein’s army. To my recollection it was with the blessing and overwhelming support of both Houses of congress (Senate and the House of Representatives) that Mr. Bush sent our young brave men and women to Iraq to put down a dictator and a tyrant who was threatening the stability of the Arab world and the Persian Gulf Region under the pretentious search for weapons of mass destruction that our American and British intelligence communities claim Saddam Hussein had stockpiled, or in the process of stockpiling. That in my view was a justifiable though a pretentious reason to topple a dangerous dictator and tyrant like Saddam whose massive army had waged a senseless, brutal, unprovocative war on one of neighbors and had moved his massive army said to be the 4th largest army in the world at that time to invade and occupy another neighbor. A man who was head of a regime many people believed and factually so, was one of the most brutal regimes of the twentieth and twenty-first century. Call it false pretense or what you will, it was with the overwhelming support of the American people and the representatives of all the people in congress that the president as commander in-chief of all the armed forces ordered a preemptive military strike against Saddam’s military. What then is the finger pointing and the blaming the president for the war is all about? Why should the president alone take all the blame for the miscalculations and the outcome of what is now becoming a quagmire? I don’t think we should be finger pointing and shifting the blame of a war gone bad solely on the President, now that things are out of control in Iraq? Talking about a State of Denial, it is not Mr. Bush alone who should be blamed for the unforeseeable in Iraq, it is us the American people who gave our overwhelming support to the president to wage a war against Saddam’s Iraq, that are in a State of Denial. After all, we are a democratic society with a republican form of government, and congress has the purse of the string to withhold funds for a war if they so wishes. Don’t forget the War Powers Act, has given that option to congress, and if the people of this great country were not in favor of a war against Saddam’s Iraq, they should have sent a petition to their representatives in congress to withhold funds needed to fight the war at the very beginning. Did congress withheld funds needed to fight the war five years ago? Did any of our leading media outlets call for congress to withhold funds? to my recollection nothing of that sort happened….. What then is the hypocrisy of blaming the president now all about, especially from members of his own party?

The Use of Radioactive Materials in Military Weapons
January 30, 2007

The use of radioactive metal uranium-238, depleted uranium in military weapons systems such as armor-piercing bullets, bombing casings, tank shielding, counterweights, and penetrators on missiles, and in cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines, and other anti-
personnel weapons (dirt bomb) has been identified as definitive contaminant to the environment and as tremendous health risks to human health. Its etiological role in the genesis of what has been dubbed as a Gulf War disease has been the subject of sustained controversy since the end of the first Gulf war. Numerous scientific and epidemiological studies have shown evidence of both chemical and radiological toxic properties of uranium isotopes in the environment in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East, and also in the bodies of the veterans who were deployed to those areas.

Scientific and medical research findings has confirmed what has been clearly determined throughout two decades of research that exposure to radioactive waste of the isotopic enrichment of natural uranium is hazardous to human health and the environment. Furthermore, medical findings from the quantitative analysis of depleted uranium isotopes in British, Canadian and U.S. Gulf War veterans by Horan, Dietz and Durakovic (2002) showed depleted uranium isotopes detection in British, Canadian, and American veterans as long as nine years after inhalation exposure to radioactive dusts.

Durakovic, Dietz and Zimmerman’s (2003)environmental exposure analysis study in Afghanistan districts that were heavily bombarded during the war documented the discovery of more than 350 metric tons of depleted uranium deposited in the environment, and 3-6 million grams of depleted uranium aerosol released into the atmosphere. Durakovic and his team of medical nuclear physicists also conducted an experimental analysis to determine depleted uranium health exposure factors in civilian populations in area that were heavily bombarded by the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces during the Afghanistan war. They wanted to determine whether the symptoms they discovered in veterans in the Gulf War Syndrome were the same as the symptoms present in those populations.

Durakovic and his team collected urine samples from 24 symptomatic subjects.The team divided the study population into two groups: control and experimental subjects. The control subjects were selected among the symptom-free residents in the non-targeted areas and the experimental groups were selected from districts that were heavily bombarded during the war. All the samples collected from the 24 experimental subjects were analyzed for the concentration and ratio of four uranium isotopes using multi-collector, inductively coupled plasma ionization mass spectrometry. The analysis of the findings from the team’s study revealed uranium concentration up to 200 times higher in the experimental groups who were bombardment free.

Various documentary materials in newspaper and magazine articles, together with internet reports of testimonials presented in Congressional hearings by ill Gulf War veterans and their family members have indicated that exposure to depleted uranium and other potentially toxic substances pose a risk to human health. There is convincing epidemiological and scientific evidence to indicate a causal relationship between depleted uranium exposure and many of the strange and undiagnosed illnesses Gulf War veterans and civilian populations in the Gulf are experiencing many years after the end of the Gulf war.

My book entitled “DEPLETED URANIUM ON HUMAN HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT” utilizes a naturalistic approach to provide new insights, meaning and description as it seeks to illustrate, understand and interpret or explain about the day-to-day life experiences and structures from the perspectives of the Gulf War veterans.

Globalization and National Autonomy
January 30, 2007

Political Scientist Robert Gilpin (1987: 389) defines globalization as the increasing interdependence of national economies in trade, finance and macroeconomic policies. Globalization is a process fueled by, and resulting in, increasing cross – border flows of goods, services, money, people, information, and culture. It, offers extensive opportunities for truly worldwide development but it is not progressing evenly. Some countries are becoming integrated into the global economy more quickly than others. Countries that have been able to integrate are seeing faster growth and reduced poverty. Outward oriented policies have brought dynamism and greater prosperity to much of East Asia, transforming it from one of the poorest areas of the world 40 years ago, into one of the most vibrant economies.

By contrast, when many countries in Latin America and Africa pursued inward oriented -policies in the 1970s and 1980s, their economies stagnated or declined, poverty increased and high inflation became the norm. In many cases, especially in Africa, adverse external developments made the problems even worse. The Fragmented, discontinuous, contradictory and contingent nature of globalization invites skeptics to make argument that it is not proceeding as fast as generally believed, that it is not spreading uniformly across the globe, or that it is not strong enough to erase cross-national differences. One of the key issues surrounding globalization is whether this process has outgrown the governance structures of the international system of states; and whether the process of globalization is undermining the authority of the nation state.

Economist Raymond Vernon (198: 249, 256-270) for example, has long argued that the spread of multinational corporations creates “destructive political tensions” and there is need to reestablish balance between political and economic institutions. Historian Paul Kennedy (1993: 53-64, 122-134) asserts that governments are losing control, and that globalization erodes the position of labor in developing countries, and degrades the environment. “Today’s global society” he writes, “confronts the task of reconciling technological change and economic integration with traditional political structures, national consciousness, social needs, institutional arrangements, and habitual ways of doing things” (Kennedy 1993: 330).
In a similar vein, Kobrin (1997: 157, 159) argues that globalization challenges both autonomy and independent decision-making of the state and “raises questions about the meaning of sovereignty in its external sense of a system ordered in terms of mutually exclusive territoriality.” Political Scientists Yoshikazu Sakamoto (1994) and Robert Cox (1996: 26-27) concur in arguing that globalization generates problems of international governance and reduce the regulatory power of the states. Rodrik (1997) argues that globalization creates social and political tensions within and across nation-state. Political theorists Michael Mosher (1999:35)asks, “Is there a successful way of reconciling the boundary transgressing character of markets with the boundary maintaining activities of nation-states?” He further notes that globalization has placed two liberal practices the Liberalism of the market and the Liberalism of democratic citizenship on a collision, raising the dilemma of whether “moral concerns stop at the national border” (Mosher 1999: 25).

The analysis by British political economist Susan Strange is perhaps the most sophisticated articulation of the position that the international system of nation -states and the nation-state itself are coming under fire in a global world. She writes about the “declining authority of states,” and preempts several possible criticisms. First, she argues that the state interventionism is on the rise, but it mostly has to do with increasingly marginal matters. Second, she argues that there are more states in the world, especially after 1989, but that most of the new ones are weak and lack control. Third, she points out that the effectiveness of the East Asian State in orchestrating economic growth was only possible in post World War II order in which protectionism of the domestic market was acceptable and mature technologies were available ( Strange 1994: 4-6) She further observes three power shifts in the global world, namely, from weak to strong states, from states to markets, and from labor markets to financial markets, and argues that some power has evaporated or dispersed (Strange1996:189) Some Scholars have argued that globalization is a feeble process.

They maintain that it can be easily handled by nation-states. For example, Hirst and Thompson (1996: 143-149, 179-194) assert that states can cope with globalization, although they have lost some freedom of action, especially concerning financial flows. Feeble proponents, however, are not the only ones against the claim that globalization undermines the nation-state. Neorealist International Relations Scholar Robert Gilpin (1987:389-406) points out that globalization has reinforced the importance of domestic policies, as countries engaged in regionalization, sectoral protectionism, and mercantilistic competition during the 1980s in response to changes in the international location of activities, resulting in a “mixed system,” increasingly globalized and at the same time fragmented.

A related, though distinct, argument against the presumed loss of state power in the wake of globalization comes from Political Scientist Leo Panitch (1996: 84-86). He argues that “today’s globalization is authored by states and is primarily about reorganizing rather than bypassing them.” Another influential Political Scientist, Saskia Sassen (1996: 25-30), maintains that the state does not lose significance. Rather, there is a redefinition of modern features of sovereignty and territoriality, a denationalizing of national territory.” According to most political scientists, therefore, the nation-state is alive and well, and the Westphalian order is unlikely to be replaced by a fragmented medieval one.

Finally, the world-society view also rejects the claim that globalization undermines nation-states. Noting the expansion of state bureaucracies since World War II, Meyer (1997: 157) writes that “globalization certainly poses new problems for states, but it also strengthens the world-cultural principle, that nation-state are the primary actors charged with identifying and managing those problems on behalf of their societies.” This argument is strikingly similar to the one offered by Panitch (1996: 84-86). The modern nation-state, world-society scholars conclude, “may have less autonomy than earlier but it clearly has more to do.” The analysis and critique presented in this reaction paper indicates that globalization, far from being a feeble phenomenon, is changing the nature of the world. However, it is neither an invariably civilizing force nor a destructive one. Political Scientist Ngaire Woods (2003) cautioned that “Governments need delicately to balance sovereignty and reaping the benefits of globalization.”

In his earlier publication of the Political Economy of Globalization (2000) Woods had asserted that “Globalization does not prohibit strong governments from maintaining welfare and good working conditions and how governments can cooperate to manage the flow of goods, people and problems across the borders.” He also asserted that surrendering some sovereignty and submitting to global rules will unshackle global commerce from messy national interventions; the result he claimed will “benefit all countries.” In Globalization and National Autonomy’ Woods (2003) seemed to be reversing his position on the issue of Globalization and National Autonomy’ study he had published in The Political Economy of Globalization” of the benefits of nation-states giving up national autonomy in a globalize economy. In his (London 2003) Review, he does not seem to be the optimist he once was in his earlier publication. He asserted that “the evidence of the impact of liberalization in countries across the world economy gives pause for thought to governments considering giving up national autonomy to integrate further into the world economy.” Woods concluded this time with less enthusiasm “evidence has been adduced to show that liberalization and globalization have been bad for developing countries.”

In conclusion globalization is neither a monolithic nor an inevitable phenomenon.
Its impact varies across countries, societal sectors and time. It is fragmented, contradictory, discontinuous, and even haphazard. It is centered on cross border flows and global communication and has affected two distinct features of the modern state: sovereignty and exclusive territoriality. In many nation-states, globalization has been accompanied by the creation of new legal regimes and practices. To many observers that process has been U.S. driven. In many countries, international or transnational has become a form of Americanization. Global capital has made claims on national states, which have responded through the production of new forms of legality. Globalization has undercut the social bargain that many nation-states in the developing countries have adopted since they became a nation-state after colonialism.

References

Cox, Robert W. 1996. “A Perspective on Globalization.” In Globalization: Critical
Reflections, edited by James H. Mittelman. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Gilpin, Robert. 1987. The Political Economy of International Relations.
Princeton, NJ: University Press.
Kennedy, Paul. 1993. Preparing for the Twenty-First Century.
New York: Random House.
Kobrin, Stephen J. 1997 “The Architecture of Globalization: State Sovereignty in a
Networked Global Economy,” Government, Globalization, and International
Business. New York: Oxford University Press.
Panitch, Leo. 1996. “Rethinking the Role of the State in Globalization Critical
Reflections.Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Rodrik, Dani. 1997. Has Globalization Gone too Far?
Washington DC: Institute of International Economics.
Sakamoto, Yoshikazu. 1994. Global Transformation: Challenges to the State System.
New York: United Nations University Press.
Strange, Susan. 1996. The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in World
Economy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Sassen, Saskia. 1996. Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization.
New York: Columbia University Press

Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination
January 30, 2007

 The advent of the contemporary women’s movement became strong and widespread after the 1960s. Although few period of mobilization for the feminist cause existed prior to the 1960s, those causes were primarily around issues of suffrage and employment. Contemporary feminist writers like Patricia Hill Collins and Lemert hall drew their ideas from the works of early sociological theorists, most particularly Marx, Engels, and Freud. Collins (1990) for instance, reworks their ideas of these writers by analyzing gender differences, inequality and oppression. For example, Collins Matrix of Domination gave us path-breaking and deep theoretical understanding of African-American women and portrays them self-reliant individuals confronting race, gender and class oppression. Collins (1990:536) suggests that “Black feminist thought fosters a fundamental paradigmatic shift that rejects additive approaches to oppression.”

Black feminist thought’s in the matrix of domination emphasis the ongoing interplay between Black women’s oppression and Black women’s activism and presents the matrix of domination as responsive to human agency. Such a radical feminist thought as presented by Patricia Hill Collins views the world as a dynamic place where the goal is not merely to survive or to fit in or to cope; rather, as a place where black women will feel ownership and accountability. This existence of Afro centric feminist thought suggests that there is always choice, and power to act, no matter how bleak the situation may appear to be. Viewing the world as one in the making raises the issue of individual responsibility for bringing about change. It also shows that while individual empowerment is the key, only collective action can effectively generate lasting social transformation of political and economic institutions.

Collins reconceptualize race, class and gender as three interlocking systems of oppression. She argues that black feminist thoughts see those three distinctive systems as part of one overarching structures of oppression and domination. She views “any given sociohistorical content as being structured via a system of interlocking race, class, and gender oppression” (Collins, 1990:537). She argues that black woman’s experiences and the Afro centric feminist thoughts challenges prevailing definitions of community which stress community as arbitrary and fragile, structured fundamentally by competition and domination. Instead, Collins suggests that afro centric models of community which stress connections, caring, and personal accountability” (Collins, 1990:537).

Collins argues that the black female spheres of influence constitute potential sanctuaries where individual Black women and men are nurtured in order to confront oppressive social institutions. She argues that “Addictive models of oppression are firmly rooted in either/or dichotomous thinking of Eurocentric, masculinist thoughts” (Collins, 1990:538). She argues that in addition to being structured along race, gender, and social class, black feminist thought emphasizes three levels as sites of domination and as potential sites of resistance. Collins believes that the matrix of domination is structured on several levels. Collins suggests three levels by which people experience and resist oppression, “the level of personal biography; the group or community level of the cultural context created by race, class, and gender; and the systemic level of social institutions” (Collins, 1990:540).

Collins believes that domination operates by seducing, pressuring, or forcing African American women and members of subordinated groups to replace individual and cultural ways of knowing with dominant group’s specialized thought. She argues against traditional accounts which “assume that power as domination operates from the top down by forcing and controlling unwilling victims to bend to the will of more powerful superiors. But these accounts fail to account for questions concerning why, for example, women stay with abusive men even with ample opportunity to leave or why slaves did not kill their owners more often; the willingness of the victim to collude in her or his own victimization becomes lost” (Collins, 1990:540).

Collins argues that these assumptions also fail to account for sustained resistance by victims, even when chances for victory appear remote. She indicates that by emphasizing the power of self-definition and the necessity of a free mind, Black feminist thoughts now speaks of the importance and place of African-American women thinkers and their own consciousness as a sphere of freedom. Collins argues that black women intellectuals are now beginning to realize that domination operates not only by structuring power from the top down but by simultaneously annexing the power as energy of those on the bottom for its own ends. “In their efforts to rearticulate the standpoint of African-American women as a group, Black feminist thinkers offer individual African-American women the conceptual tools to resist oppression”(Collins, 1990:540).

Collins believes that, that each individual biography is rooted in several overlapping cultural contexts–for example, “groups defined by race, social class, age, gender, religion, and sexual orientation and that the cultural component contributes, among other things, the concepts used in thinking and acting, group validation of an individual’s interpretation of concepts, the “thought models” used in the acquisition of knowledge, and standards used to evaluate individual thought and behavior” (Collins, 1990:540). Viewing domination from a black women’s standpoint and those of other oppressed groups she suggests that because “black women’s ideas have been suppressed; this suppression has stimulated black women to create knowledge that empowers people to resist domination” (Collins, 1990:541).

Collins (1990:544) suggests that “Afro centric feminist thought represents a subjugated knowledge and that a Black women’s standpoint may provide a preferred stance from which to view the matrix of domination because, in principle, Black feminist thought as specialized thought is less likely than the specialized knowledge produced by dominant groups to deny the connection between ideas and the vested interests of their creators. In conclusion Collins argues that “portraying Black women solely as passive, unfortunate recipients of racial and sexual abuse stifles notions that Black women can actively work to change their own circumstances and bring about changes in their own lives. She argues that by presenting African-American women solely as heroic figures who easily engage in resisting oppression on all fronts minimizes the very real costs of oppression and can foster the perception that Black women need no help because we can “take it.”

Work Cited

Collins, Patricia H. 1990. Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination.

Social theory: the Multicultural and Classic Readings. Charles Lemert (Eds.)

Third Edition.

 

 

 

WAR AS THE SUPREME PRINCIPLE OF HUMAN IRRATIONALITY
January 30, 2007

The question that has been raised in many discussion recently relates to the question of whether war is a moral or immoral act against huamnity. The are those who have argued that war is a necessary evil to right inhumane treatment of helpless people from the cruel whims of dictators like Sadam Hussien. In “Grond Work of the Metaphysics of Morals” Kant attempts to search for a practical doctrine of morals and moral laws that is derived from the universal concepts of rational beings that will hold for every rational being regardless of religion. In his search for a principle of mral concepts Kant sets out to present a complete unity of a practical with speculative reason by establishing a supreme principle of morality as the single key to every moral decision. Kant’s postulate that all moral concepts have their seat and origin completely a priori in reason. Kant suggests that just as in reason that is speculative in the highest degree, morals cannot be abstracted from any empirical or mere contingent cognition. When arguments of war are reduced to the concept of moral rights it becomes prblematic, especially when there is nothing moral about killing or maiming another human being to save him or her from him or her self. The argument made by some neoconservatives in the U.S. and in Britain to go to war against Sadam Hussein’s Iraq was that of restoring a new world order as president Bush senior once declared after he took the oath of office as president of the United States. In their designed of a new world order their conservatives in the Bush senior and Bush junior White House failed to realize the rapid social transformation nations in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf regions have been going through since the end of the Cold War. The vision of those neoconservatives who were calling for America the only remaining Super power to asserts its hegemony in a bipolar globalized world were blurred and dsitorted by their insensitivities  to recognize the social and economic injustice  brought about by more than half a century of corrupt regimes put inplace by previous American Administrations during the Cold War to combat Soviet communist expansionism. The neoconservatives who were in the advising George Bush I., and George Bush II,  failed to recognize the spirit of nationalism and religious disharmony which had been brewing for a long time in that part of the world but had been  kept in check by repressive dictators and tyrants kept in power and supported by the U.S. and Britain. They failed to recognize the significance religion plays in the mind set of the people in that region for had they recognize those dangers they would not have driven us to two senseless wars in less thana decade. Had they paid enough attention to what was happening in that region after the Cold War had ended they could have called for economic and educational development in that region to undermine Sadam’s regime instead of calling for a premtive war that has eventually caused more evil than good. What then is the rational or moral principle that has been accomplished by using our miltary to overthrow a dictator that we could control to a sectarian war that will ventually end in creating another Islamic Revolutionary state.I have no remorse for the way sadam and his children met their ends, but I questined the rationale of replacing a power drunk and evil dictaor we can control to that of bunch of  Mulahs we cannot control because they are using the most powerful means at their disposal that of religion to create hatred for America and its allies to foster their ambition of the creation of an Islamic Revolutionary state.

A DISCUSSION OF KANT’S PRINCIPLE OF MORAL CONCEPTS
January 30, 2007

 In “Grond Work of the Metaphysics of Morals” Kant attempts to search for a practical doctrine of morals and moral laws that is derived from the universal concepts of rational beings that will hold for every rational being regardless of religion. In his search for a principle of mral concepts Kant sets out to present a complete unity of a practical with speculative reason by establishing a supreme principle of morality as the single key to every moral decision. Kant’s postulate that all moral concepts have their seat and origin completely a priori in reason. Kant suggests  just as in reason that is speculative in the highest degree, morals cannot be abstracted from any empirical or mere contingent cognition. He argued that the purity of their origin lies in their dignity, so that they can serve us as supreme practical principles. Kant’s assertion is that in adding anything empirical to them we are liable to subtract just as much from their genuine influence and from their unlimited worth of actions that is not only a requirement of the greates necessity for theoretical purposes, when it is a matter merely of speculation, but also of the greatest practical importance, that which is to draw its concepts and laws from pure reason.

Kant too the position that everything in nature works in accordance with laws and only a rational being has the capacity to act in accordance with the representation of laws that is in accordance with moral principles or has a will. Kant’s assertion is that since reason is required for the determination of actions from laws, the will is nothing other than practical reason, and since reasons infallibly determines the will, the actions of such a being that are cognized as objectively necessary are also subjectively necesssary. This mean the will has a capacity to choose only that which reason independently of inclinations cognizes as practically necessary that is good. Kant’s claim that all moral concepts  have their seat and origin completely a priori in reason, in the most common reason that is speculative in the highest degree. That which cannot be abstracted empirically and therefore merely contingent cognitions. Kant suggest it is in this purity of their origin lies their dignity, so that they can serve us as supreme practical principles and by adding anything empirical to them we run the risk of subtracting just from their genuine influence and from the unlimited worth of its actions. He suggests that it is not only a requirement of the greates necessity for theoretical purposes, or a matter merely of speculation, but it is of the greatest practical importance to draw its concepts and laws from pure reason, that which is set them pure and unmixed, in order to determine the extent of this entire practical or pure rational cognition, as that which determine the entire faculty of pure  rational cognition, as that which determine the entire faculty of pure practical reason. For Kant the only thing which can be quantifiable is a good will, and he ponders whether anyone can even conceive of anything at all in this world, or even out of it, without qualification except a good will. Kant added, some qualities are ven conducive to this good will itself, however.  He suggests however, they have no inner unconditional worth but always presupposes a good will, which limits the esteem one otherwise rightly has for them and does not permit their being taken absolutely as good. Kant thus contrasted a good will with good fortune, which we call happiness. Kant made an important qualification that although good will (morality) is wholly distinct from good fortune (happiness) and we naturally expect that the two will go together. Kant concludes a good will appears to constitute the indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness. A good will for Kant is not good because of what it effects or accomplishes, or because of its fitness to attain some proposed end, but only because of its volition, that is, it is good in itself and regarded for itself, is to be valued incomparably highr than all that could merely be brought by it in favor of some inclination.

Kant attested that since reason is not sufficiently competent to guide the will surely with regard to its object and the satisfaction of all our needs, and since reason is nevertheless given to us as a practical faculty, that is one that is to influence the will. He suggests were nature has every where else gone to work purposively in distributing its capacities. The true vocation of reason according to Kant must be to produce a will that is good, not as a means to other purposes, but good in itself, for which reason was absolutely necessary. As Kant puts it, this will must be the highest good and the condition of every other, evenfor all demands of happiness.  This concept of a good will for  Kant is that which is to be esteemed in itself and that is good apart from any further purpose, constitutes a concept of duty. Duty  for Kant contains that of good will though under subjective limitations and hindrances, which, however, far from concealing it making it unrecognizable, rather bring it out by contrast and make it out shine forth all the more brightly. Kant makes an all important distinction between acting in conformity with duty versus acting for the sake of duty. He suggests contrasted with reason are inclinations which are strictly empirical, and so of no moral value. In Kant’s moral philosophy when he says an act has no moral worth, he he is not saying that it is a bad act but rather an amoral one. Therefore for Kant duty either coincide with inclinations or be opposed to them. He suggests that when duty is chosen over inclinations, the act is moral, but in the case of coincidence, the act that follows is amoral. For an action to have a moral worth for Kant that action must be for the sake of duty. In Kant’s proposition he is making a distinction between the purpose and the maxim of an action, meaning the aim of an action, that is what that action is trying to achieve. According to Kant neither the purpose nor the actual consequences themselves are a part of moral considerations. For Kant the aim, like the the results of an action, is posteriori which is a direct contrast to priori. The grocer for example,  who might have his aim  to satisfying his customers and making a profit on the sale,  in other for his action to be considered moral, he should act with honesty. It is this intention to act according to what duty demands, and not by any repercussion of the act, which becomes the essential moral aspect of an action. According to Kant’s moral principle, an action done from duty has moral worth, not in the purpose that is to be attained by it, but in the maxim according which action is determined. For Kant, the moral worth of an action depends, not on the realization of the object of the action, but merely on the principle of volition according to which, without regard to any objects of the faculty of desire, the action has been done. From this, it is clear that Kant meant the purposes which we may have in our actions, as well as their effects reagarded as ends and incentives of the will, cannot give to actions any unconditioned and moral worth. Kant rhetorically asked where then can this worth lie if it is not to be found in the will’s relations to the expected effect? Nowhere, Kant replied but in the principle of the will, no regards to the ends that can be brought about through such action.

Turkey and the European Union
January 27, 2007

Entry for December 09, 2006 magnify

I was reading a response a friend had written in her blog entry explaining why Europe is very reluctant to admit Turkey as a member to the EU. She mentioned Islams’ unequal treatment of women,  as being among many of the other cultural reasons for Europes refusal to admit Turkey as a member of EU. Islamophoebia aside, how can someone pass a judgement on an issue they are ignorant about is nothing short of the highest form of arrogance for lack of a word appropriate enough to describe that sort of misapprehension. Islam is the only religion that provided an equal and just treatment in its Holy text (the Quran) for women. Because men are what we are, a very weak creature by creation that cannot control his inclination and sexual drives, the Holy Quaran commanded all believers who have procliamed their belief in Islam and the supremacy of their creator the one and only God to protect the rights of women and to threat them justly if men fear God their creator or else man will have to answer to Him come the Day of Judgment when no soul can avail another and every soul will be treated according to their good deeds on this earth. All muslims are commanded to protect the rights of women and to treat them justly for fear of Hell fire. Concerning adultery, both men and women the Holy Quran commanded will receive equal punishment for violating their  sacred oath of matrimony. When a man accuses his wife of committing adultery that man should produce three witnesses who shall swear an oath to tell the truth. If the tribunal discovered that any one of those three witnesses is not telling the truth, that witness will be forever prevented from ever being a witness to any case as long as that witness is alive. The same punishment given to a woman if found guilty for committing adultery is the same punishment that is also given to a man who is found guilty of adultery. To go beyond the laws which are man made laws, that anyone with wealth and fame with a sound and schrewd lawyer can be found innocent or not guilty by his peers as we do her in the west, Islam made it very clear that if the truth is twisted those who are responsible for twisting the truth and the guilty parties will be severely punished for their injustice in the Day of Judgement. So my friends, you can’t say that a man or any person who is a believer of the faith, and who believes in the Day of Judgement and the Fire of Hell will be willing to risk God’s retribution just so that he can please his fellowman or woman her on earth. What none believers of Islamic faith don’t understand is that their is a Higher Power greater than all the worldly powers here on earth, that everyone regardless of religious belief, or social standing here on earth will have to answer to. Like the Holy Bible said, “what does it benefit a man (a person) to gain the fortunes of this world and suffer his/her soul in eternity. Just think about that next time you want to discuss a subject that you are very ignorant about.  I will continue this discussion some other day, waiting for  any responses you may have.

RAPID ECONOMIC GROWTH, SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY
January 26, 2007

The purpose of this article is to discuss the concept of rapid economic growth, sustainability and environmental security and to look at the roles some of the leading actors in environmental security have played in calling the worlds’ attention to the large scale damage to our global resource base as a result of unchecked industrial growth and rapid population explosion. This concept of sustainable development grew as a result of this concern by scientists and laypeople alike for the future of our universe. The concept of sustainable development received international prominence in the 1980s in a report published by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED, 1987). The WCED report which later became known as the Brundtland Commission report became the guiding principle at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The World Commission on Environment and Development report underpins the document and agreements that emanated from the summit, including the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Convention on Biodiversity, the Convention on Climate Change, and Agenda 21. Not long after the Brundtland Commission report urging sustainability was published scholars like Oran Young (2002: 221-223) who have spent years studying and writing about the damages caused by massive industrial growth notes, “sustainable development is a negative concept that is extremely difficult to turn into an operational paradigm or, in other words, to translate into practical guide- lines in a manner that is acceptable to a variety of constituencies. Oran Young warned against the dangers of the economic growth and sustainability, suggesting that the idea of sustainable development, evocative as it is, will ultimately prove to be dead end in the sense that it will fail to provide a workable criterion for making decisions about human and environmental relations.

Sustainable development arose in the 1960s and early 1970s as people became aware of the negative effects emerging from the unchecked industrial growth in the North and rapid population explosion in the South; and the large scale damage to the resource base occurring the world over, while other resources near extinction. The early 1980s saw the emergence of an international environmental agenda, and what ensued over the next two decades in response to that agenda, can be thought of as the first attempt at global governance. Ecologist Jane Lubchenco (1998: 491) noted the significance of the development of the global population explosion in correlation to world economic output. She noted, “the conclusions…are inseparable during the last few decades; humans have emerged as a new force of nature. We are modifying physical, chemical and biological systems in new ways, at faster rates and over larger spatial scales than ever recorded on Earth. Humans have unwittingly embarked on a grand experiment with our planet. The outcome of this experiment is unknown, but have profound implications for all life here on Earth. Ecologist Peter Vitousek (1997: 494) stated the matter forcefully in an article in science when he wrote, “Humanity’s dominance of Earth means that we cannot escape responsibility for managing the planet. Our activities are causing rapid, novel, and substantial changes to Earth’s ecosystem. Maintaining populations, species, and ecosystem in the face of those changes, and maintaining the flow of goods and services they provide humanity, will require active management for the foreseeable future.” The pleas of Lubchenco, Vitousek and others is but the latest in a long line of pleas from the scientific community urging the governments and others get serious about protecting the global environment. Starting in the 1980s, governments and others did take notice and began the process of assuming responsibility for planetary management.

Major institutional Actors.

In the late 1980’s, the collective thought pattern shifted from what should be done to limit growth to what can be done.
This proactive paradigm shift was initiated in the early 1980s when members of the United Nations Commission on Environment
and Development (UNCED) traveled the globe on a fact-finding tour to survey the effects of development on the world’s nations. They looked at each country’s economy, as well as the condition of its people and environment. They found that a combination of poverty, unemployment, resource use and environmental deterioration has created conditions that are not sustainable and that humans need a new model for development. The UNCED’s report which later became known as Brundtland Commission Report (1978) entitled ‘Our Common Future’ warned that the very nature of our global economic development must change if poverty and the cumulative negative impacts of human activities are to be reduced dramatically. The Brundtland Commission Report is credited as responsible for crafting the most commonly accepted and widely use definition of sustainable development. The UNCED Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This deceptively simple definition hints five underlying “core” principles: respect for ecological integrity; efficient use of natural, manufactured and social capital; participation of stakeholders & environmental stewardship by all levels of decision makers. In contrast to the traditional definition, sustainable development recognizes the need to seek limits to growth and to lessen the human impact on nature. The 1972 Stockholm Conference on Human Environment was followed by the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and 2002 World Summit in Johannesburg South Africa.

These developments unfolded in the 1980s and 1990s in response to the emergence of an agenda of global-scale environmental concerns. Also in this period were numerous reports from the scientific groups, especially panels and committees organized by the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the U.N. Environment Prorgamme (UNEP). These reports included the now- famous study by Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina (1974) explaining the potential of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to deplete the stratospheric ozone layer. In addition, these reports included the first effort of the U.S. National academy of Sciences on the problem of global climate change, the “Charney Report” in 1979, which said most of what one needs to know about climate change to take action. Collectively, these reports stressed ten principal concerns: depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer by CFCs and other gases. Loss of crop and grazing land due to desertification, erosion, conversion of land to non farm uses, and other factors. Depletion of the world’s tropical forests, leading to loss of forest resources, serious watershed damages (erosion, flooding, and siltation), and other adverse consequences. Mass extinction of species, principally from global loss of wildlife habitat, and associated loss of genetic resources. Rapid population growth, burgeoning Third World cities, and ecological refugees. Management and shortages of fresh water resources. Over-fishing, habitat destruction, and pollution in the marine environment. The threats to human health from mismanagement of pesticides and persistent organic pollutants. Climate change due to increase in “green- house gasses” in the atmosphere. Acid rain and, more generally the effects of a complex mix of air pollutants on fisheries, forests, and crops. The Stockholm conference also had a further important consequence in the creation of a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), which had a major impact in the 1970s in promoting the global agenda. The United Nations Environmental Programme made estimates for deforestation and called for international action, it promoted international agreements on the protection of migratory species. In short, the global environmental agenda emerged and moved forward due primarily to a relatively small, international leadership community in science, government, the U.N., and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Although the precise level of acceptable environmental degradation is an unresolved element of sustainable development, there is common understanding that respect for ecological processes that “shape climate, cleans air and water, regulate water flow, recycle essential elements, create and regenerate soil, and enable ecosystems to renew themselves” (IUCN, 1991).

In practice, this requires maintaining the ability of the environmental-and avoiding irreversible harm to this ability-to act as provider of inputs (carrying capacity) and as a “sink” for wastes (assimilative capacity). Technology is important in determining carrying and assimilative capacities. Within limits, technology can increase the inherent productivity of natural resources and reduce the negative environmental effects of resource exploitation. If carrying capacity is exceeded, however, basic resources such as vegetation and soil became degraded, which threatens the stability of the ecosystem. Sustainable development also respects the biological diversity on which basic ecological processes depend-processes that provide a stream of tangible and intangible services to humans. Efficient development has the following characteristics: sustainable resource use; waste management based on pollution prevention; full-cost accounting; and anticipation, prevention, and precaution in the face of uncertainty. Respect for ecological carrying capacity requires the sustainable use of natural resources. The sustainable harvesting of renewable resources respects regeneration rates and avoids harm to the economic productivity of such resources (e.g., the store of biological diversity).
Goodland (1995:1-24) argues that “sustainable development also requires the use of nonrenewable in a way that limits the negative impacts of activities associated with their production and consumption on the continued productivity of renewable resources and environmental life-support functions. Goodman’s argued that sustainable development should integrate social, environmental, and economic sustainability and use these three to start to make development sustainable.”The number of people in poverty globally is increasing (intragenerational component) while fewer are available for future generations (intergenerational component). Goodman discusses the importance of both intergenerational and intragenerational sustainability in creating sustainable development. Sustainable development also requires that the costs and benefits of development be shared equitably between the industrial and developing countries. Although the definition of equitable distribution is obviously a value judgment, sustainable development requires, at a minimum, that decisions account for distribution impacts within society, between regions, and between generations. Principles of environmental stewardship are premised on recognition that each individual’s actions have environmental, social, and economic significance, and therefore all individuals have a role to play in contributing to sustainable development. Those “core” principles may be useful inform policies and programmes to design sustainable futures, but sustainability remains an elusive concept. It is still evolving and sometimes means different things to different people.

Environmental Security

The issue of Environmental Security reflects the ability of a nation or society to withstand environmental asset scarcity, environmental risks or adverse changes, or environment-related tensions or conflicts. Chalecki (1998: 95-112) illustrates the potential for economic activity to cause environmental changes that lead to conflict: “Human Economic Activity, with Carbon Oxide Emissions, will lead to Regional and Global Climatic and Environmental Changes, which will in turn lead to Changes in Agricultural Output. The changes in Agricultural Output in turn will Alter Resource Availability which will in turn lead to Political Disputes, Ethnic Tensions, and Civil Unrest. Because of Regional Defense Agreements, conflicts between neighboring states might lead to Regional Conflict that if not controlled might lead to Global Conflict.”Unlike potential conventional military threats, these environmental threats are real and ongoing. However, not every environmental issue will result in a security problem, and most security problems are generated from complex situations involving for instance, environmental, political, social, and economic issues. Therefore when considering problems of environmental security, it is important to recognize that higher-order effects result from more intervening variables. In a study on Environmental Change and Acute Conflict, a project by Professor Thomas Homer-Dixon (1993) of the University of Toronto found that scarcities of renewable resources – including cropland, forests, water and fish – are already contributing to violent conflicts in many parts of the developing world, even though these conflicts often appear to be caused solely by political, ethnic or some ideological factors. Homer-Dixon wrote, that the Earth’s human population is expected to pass eight billion by the year 2025, while rapid growth in the global economy will spur ever increasing demands for natural resources.
The world will consequently face growing scarcities of such vital renewable resources as cropland, fresh water, and forests. Homer-Dixon argues in this that these environmental scarcities will have profound social consequences that will contribute to insurrections, ethnic clashes, urban unrest, and other forms of civil violence, especially in the developing world. However, Homer-Dixon was careful to point out that the effects of environmental scarcity are indirect and act in combination with other social, political, and economic stresses. He also acknowledges that human ingenuity can reduce the likelihood of conflict, particularly in countries with efficient markets, capable states, and an educated populace. But he argues that the violent consequences of scarcity should not be underestimated – especially when about half the world’s population depends directly on local renewables for their day-to-day well-being. Homer-Dixon’s Project concluded that these conflicts foreshadow a surge of similar violence in coming decades as the environmental scarcities worsen in many developing countries. Homer-Dixon’s project gathered evaluated, integrated and disseminated existing data on causal linkages among the growth of population, renewable resource scarcities, migration and violent conflict. Through close analysis of the relationship between environmental scarcity and conflict, researchers for the Project on Environment, Population and Security have identified common physical, economic, and social dynamics in a variety of contexts. The main findings are as follows: Under certain circumstances, scarcities of renewable resources such as cropland, fresh water, and forests produce civil violence and instability. However, the role of this “environmental scarcity” is often obscure. Environmental scarcity acts mainly by generating intermediate social effects, such as poverty migrations, that analysts often interpret as conflict’s immediate causes. What this mean is that environmental scarcity – in interaction with other political, economic, and social factors – can generate conflict and instability, but the causal linkages are often indirect. Scarcities of cropland, fresh water, and forests constrain agricultural and economic productivity; generate large and destabilizing population movements; aggregate tensions along ethnic, racial, and religious lines; increase wealth and power differentials among groups; debilitate political and social institutions. Poverty migrations, ethnic tensions, economic disparities, and weak institutions in turn often appear to be the main causes of violence.

Environmental scarcity is caused by the degradation and depletion of renewable resources, the increase demand for these resources, and/or their unequal distribution. These three sources of scarcity often interact and reinforce one another. A reduction in the quantity or quality of a resource boost demand for that resource; and unequal distribution can cause some groups to get portions of that resource that are too small to sustain their well being. The down side to unequal distribution of resources is that environmental scarcity often encourages powerful groups to capture valuable environmental resources and prompts marginal groups to migrate to ecologically sensitive areas. These two processes – called “resource capture” and “ecological marginalization” – in turn reinforce environmental scarcity and raise the potential for social instability. Degradation and depletion of renewable resources can interact with population growth to encourage powerful groups within a society to shift resource distribution in their favor. Ecological Marginalization i.e., unequal resource access can combine with population growth to cause large-scale and long-term migrations of the poorest groups within society. This will result in their move to ecologically fragile regions such as steep upland slopes, areas at risk of desertification, tropical rain forests, and low quality public lands within urban areas. In the absence of adaptation, environmental scarcity weakens states. The multiple effects of environmental scarcity increase the demands on the state in some poor countries. This stimulates predatory elite behavior, reduce social trust and useful intergroup interaction, and depress state tax revenues. These processes in turn weaken the administrative capacity and legitimacy of the state. Conflicts generated in part by environmental scarcity can have significant indirect effects on the international community. The minimization of Environmental scarcity can contribute to diffuse, persistent, subnational violence, such as ethnic clashes and insurgencies. In coming decades, the incidence of such violence will probably increase as environmental scarcities worsen in some parts of the developing world. Subnational violence may have serious repercussions for the security interests of both developed and the developing worlds. Civil violence within states can effect external trade between nations, cause refugee flows, and produce humanitarian disasters that call upon the military and financial resources of developed countries and international organizations. Moreover, countries that are destabilized by environmental stress may fragment as they become enfeebled and peripheral regions are seized by renegade authorities and warlords. States might avoid fragmentation by becoming more authoritarian, intolerant of opposition, and militarized. Such regimes, however, sometimes abuse human rights and try to divert attention from domestic grievances by threatening neighboring states.

The lessons to be learned from examining the numbers of studies and literature on the nexus of sustainabity, environmentalism, and security issues are applicable not only to the developing countries, but to the whole world. First, the scholarship and literature on climate change demonstrate that we must take responsibility for our role in causing environmental degradation. Second, all countries both North and South must cooperate in order to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation, including limiting greenhouse gas emissions, conserving natural resources, and developing and sharing energy efficient technologies. In the short term, policy makers will be forced to rely on military assistance to recover from the effects of environmental degradation, but in the long term, nations must work together to reduce the insecurity that comes from those non-military environmental threats. What is your position on this issue of Economic Growth, Sustainability and Environmental Security? What do you think of Homer-Dixon’s analysis?

References

Chalecki, Elizabeth. (1998). Responding to Global Climate Change. Mayer, Nicola, and Wendy Avis, eds: Ottawa: Environmental Canada.
Homer-Dixon, T. (1993). Global accord: environmental challenges and international response. Cambridge, Mass: MITT Press. Goodland Rowland. (2002). Institutional dimension of environmental change. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Lubchenco, J. (1998). Natures Services: Societal dependence on natural ecosystem. Entering the Century of the Environment
Washington, D.C: Island Press.

A New Technological Approach for Disaster Mitigations
January 26, 2007

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