English crafted writing:
1. Would people be so eager to send young men and women to war today? What would the arguments be for and against doing this? In a debate on the matter, what would your position be? Explore this…
Statement of intent:
If you were John Key and you had to defend your choice in parliament. Write his speech.
I am going to write a speech that defends the argument of not sending our young men and women into war. I want to explain how
Points to why a war isn’t big news elsewhere:
– It’s just the SNR (signal to noise ratio). When a country has a terrorist attack a week, it stops being news. When one happens somewhere it doesn’t usually, it’s a big surprise. Socioeconomic bias plays a part in it, but I’d pin this particular phenomena more readily on the simple way humans filter information. We have two categories in our minds: places where bad things happen, and places where bad things don’t. When a bad thing happens somewhere that, in our mind, they don’t, it grabs our attention (and the attention of news editors) and becomes big news.
– Once we’re set up with this state of believing third world residents as culpable for their own situation, we’re already primed to respond unsympathetically when we hear of other suffering.
– We live in a world that is simultaneously shrinking and expanding, growing closer and farther apart….National borders are increasingly irrelevant. And yet globalism is by no means triumphant. Tribalisms of all kinds flourish. Irredentism abounds (Attali, 1991: 117).
– Because of the great increase in the traffic in culture, the large-scale transfer of meaning systems and symbolic forms, the world is increasingly becoming one not only in political and economic terms…,but in terms of its cultural construction as well; a global ecumene of persistent cultural interaction and exchange. This, however, is no egalitarian global village
– The world is now so interdependent that ‘crisis networks’ evolve, as information about a crisis in one collectivity flows to others, and as its consequences ramify. By virtue of the information flows and of the interaction engendered by refugees, traders, terrorists, and other boundary-spanning individuals and groups, authority crises overlap and cascade across collectivities, forming linkages among them on an issue or regional basis (ibid, 390).
– Giddens and Rosenau describe a world in which people are more aware, and to some extent more empowered by their access to information and their increased ability to analyze the events shaping their lives. In this picture, populations have become less compliant and more demanding at precisely the time when national political institutions, as described below, are in many cases reducing their budgets and programs. The intersection of these trends sets the stage for intensified competition between groups who benefit from the state’s protection and those who seek more freedom from state intervention.
– But reflexivity, while aided and stimulated by globalized media and information technology, is also threatened by these same forces. Increasingly powerful media giants diffuse the ideology of globalization, with the effect that:
– Thus, globalization both enlightens and pacifies, both widens horizons and narrows vision. However, it does seem that the globalization narrative of the media is vulnerable to increasing cognitive dissonance as its utopian image of widening prosperity is subverted by images of deprivation and marginalization, and by a rising tide of insecurity and anxiety.
– Another paradoxical effect of intensifying globalization, is that while it seeks to homogenize, is also increases awareness of social heterogeneity. Groups whose identity and solidarity is based on race, ethnicity, religion, language have become increasingly vocal and have used the global media to make their discontent known. This contemporary “ethnic revival” was to some degree “unleashed” by the end of the Cold War. The Cold War was a conflict among states, and served to perpetuate the primacy of national identity in world society; but in the 1990’s the state, weakened by globalization, is less effective in either coercing compliance or integrating national society, and minorities are able to more effectively reassert their identity in reaction to hegemonic cultural forces. These minorities often see the state as no longer a promoter and protector of domestic interests, but rather a collaborator with outside forces (Scholte, 1997). Thus, in the 1990’s it can be argued that the primary locus of conflict may no longer be found between and among states, but between the state and subnational groups (see Gurr, 1994). The overal effect of these developments has been to increase the salience of cultural diversity issues, both within and across borders, for all the major players in world politics.
– Several prominent political analysts have argued variations on this theme. Samuel Huntington, for instance, has put forth inter-civilizational conflict as the new “danger” to the dominant powers in world affairs, stating that “…the efforts of the West to promote its values of democracy and liberalism as universal values, to maintain its military predominance and to advance its economic interests engender countering responses from other civilizations” (Huntington, 1993: 29); and he does not hesitate to take his argument to its logical conclusion, predicting that: “The next world war, if there is one, will be a war between civilizations” (Huntington, 1993: 39)
– Western efforts to propagate such ideas produce instead a reaction against ‘human rights imperialism’ and a reaffirmation of indigenous values, as can be seen in the support for religious fundamentalism by the younger generation in non-Western cultures (Huntington, 1993: 40-41).
– Writing a few years later on a similar theme, Graham Fuller, a political scientist at the Rand Corporation, traced further the dynamics of “culture conflict,” explaining how non-Western peoples are confronted with a flood of evidence that someone else’s values are re-shaping their societies as:
– … systems of international marketing and communications create freeways for the mass import of foreign cultural materials–food, drugs, clothing, music, films, books, television programs, even values–with the concomitant loss of control over societies, symbols and myths. Such cultural anxieties are welcome fuel to more radical political groups that call for cultural authenticity, preservation of traditional and religious values, and rejection of the alien cultural antigens. Big Macs become in-your-face symbols of American power–political, economic, and military–over weak or hesitant societies and states (Fuller, 1995: 152).
– Fuller also argues that, on a shrinking planet, the West cannot escape the secondary effects of these conflicts:
– Chaos and turmoil in various regions create serious ripple effects that will not leave the rest of the globe untouched: Wars, refugees, embargoes, sanctions, weapons of mass destruction, radical ideology, and terrorism all emerge from the crucible of the failing state order…The West will not be able to quarantine less-developed states and their problems indefinitely, any more than states can indefinitely quarantine the dispossessed within their own societies–on practical as well as moral grounds (1995, 154).
– Fundamentalisms of various kinds are prominent in the conflicts of “cultural reaction.” Traditional identity groups in non-Western societies were already put on the defensive during the modernization of their societies as Western institutions and values were introduced through state-building. They feel even more threatened now as their national institutions are undermined by the international pressures described earlier . Both the pace and direction of change in these societies “…accelerates the search for a single, often mythologized truth that can reference all social mores and practices,” (Waters, 1995: 130) and fosters a kind of fundamentalist religious and ethnic movement which is “..A value-oriented, anti-modern, dedifferentiating form of collective action – a socio-cultural movement aimed at reorganizing all spheres of life in terms of a particular set of absolute values” (Lechner, 1990: 79). Globalization thus sets the stage for the confrontation between what Benjamin Barber has called “McWorld” and “Jihad.” Though covering much of the same ground in his analysis as Huntington and Fuller, Barber goes further to show how neither globalizing commercialism nor parochial solidarity bodes well for democracy, and he trenchantly critiques the role of religion as a contributing cause to the conflict, characterizing contemporary fundamentalist movements as:
– NAIROBI, 7 February 2007 (IRIN) – The increasing involvement of children and young people in many of the world’s conflict-affected regions is an important area of concern for global security and the welfare of the younger generations.
– The issue of child combatants has received much press in the last decades, but now there is a growing awareness of what drives young people to join the armed forces.
– According to the 2007 World Development Report published by the World Bank, there are 1.5 billion people worldwide aged between 12- and 24-years – 1.3 billion of whom live in developing countries. This means most young people are coming of age in societies that lack basic education and employment opportunities.
– In many parts of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the problem of children growing up amid conflict has seen an upsurge since the end of the Cold War. This environment makes it harder for young people to make the normal transition into adulthood.
– Conflict environments prevent children from gaining a good education and learning useful skills. This in turn makes them feel excluded from mainstream society and they (mostly young men) turn to the armed militias.
– It is generally believed that as long as young people see themselves as outcasts, they are more likely to seek immediate solutions to their survival, including warfare.
– These trends were observed in the UN Secretary-General’s 2001 Report on the Prevention of Armed Conflict, which stated that: “Young people with limited education and few employment opportunities often provide fertile recruiting ground for parties to a conflict. Their lack of hope for the future can fuel disaffection with society and make them susceptible to the blandishments of those who advocate armed conflict.”
– These thoughts were echoed by anthropologist Paul Richards who explained massive youth militarisation in West Africa as being symptomatic of a general “crisis of youth” amid state corruption, resentment and unfulfilled expectations in the post-independence context.
– Today, while many young people consider globalisation as an opportunity, many others (especially in developing countries) feel they are missing out, and are unable to migrate to take advantage of better opportunities.