" Ten questions about twenty-first-century global prospects"
The central aim of the talk will be to address a wide range of 21st century issues that lie in the domain of world politics.
World politics today poses a real challenge to our understanding. The main theme of the lecture will be that we can make sense of it by finding patterns in world events. The principal pattern is centralization versus decentralization.
Centralizing tendencies of international relations are found in the twin processes of globalization and global interdependence - and in international organizations. Decentralization tendencies show up in forces such as nationalism, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, and divisive ideologies. Spreading globalization and interdependence have made state boundaries less relevant to commerce and finance and have undermined old concepts of state sovereignty. Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) that tie state together now span the globe, while a host of new non-governmental organizations (NGOs) unite people across state boundaries and work tirelessly to solve age-old problems, such as race, religion, economic degradation, and territory disputes that threaten to tear the world apart.
Decentralizing forces, on the other hand, are mirrored in numerous driving forces that will be examined in the colloquy. They include ethnic national groups that seek to fragment states into even smaller land areas - a legitimate endeavor from the perspective of the individual groups in search of control of their lives. The Palestinian drive for statehood inside Israel - with all its explosive violence in that part of the world - is a case in point. Iraq, meanwhile, illustrates the volatile and divisive influence of religion as Sunnis battle Shiites, while the Kurds would like independence from both these groups. Nuclear proliferation, not least of which is the spread of ballistic missile technology as well as chemical and biological weapons, fall into the category of decentralizing forces. North Korea and Iran hence become natural points of concern by much of the world community when it comes to nuclear weapons.
Themes and topics
Should global interests be placed ahead of national interests? If war between states is obsolete, what is the purpose of military power? Can the new global terrorism be contained ? Will separatist conflict within states lead to hundreds of new states? Will the great powers intervene to protect human rights? Will globalization tie the world together or tear it apart? Is realism still realistic and is liberalism too idealistic? Is the world preparing for the wrong war? Is this the "end of history"? Is there a reordered global agenda?
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