Thursday, November 15, 2007

The US as a World Power

Thinking about the possibility of the draft, and subsequently what we use the draft for, led me to the subject of the role of the United States as a world power. What responsibilities do we have to the international community as a result of our almost endless means, or do we have any at all? And do we have the right to “intervene” in another country if we deem it necessary, regardless of whether or not that international community supports our cause? First of all, I think these two questions are distinctly modern issues. Before the Second Industrial Revolution, you couldn’t talk about global politics the way we do now, in the sense that the US was not the global power (though it was well on its way) nor was there was the concept of a United Nations. Plus, there were fewer nations in the 19th century so there were fewer voices in world politics, especially fewer minority and/or small country voices. Secondly, international politics have become extremely more complicated and intertwined in the post World War II age of globalization, although it is debatable when globalization actually begins, perhaps in 1492, but that’s a different topic. I would argue that globalization has actually increased the role of morality in political action; regardless of whether such actions have been moral or not, they are being taken from a more moral perspective. We are acting more and more upon the supposed needs of people abroad and from a moral viewpoint that analyzes the goodness of our actions. President Bush always talks about the War in Iraq and the construction of democracy there as the right, good thing to do. This is a matter of opinion, and I believe he is wrong, but nevertheless he is motivated by his moral values. I realize I’ve raised a lot of issues and I haven’t sufficiently addressed them; feel free to comment on this, I think they are important to think about and argue. To try to answer my initial questions, I will say I think we do have responsibilities to the international community, but for me these responsibilities don’t extend very far into the realm of military action. I’d have to think about it on a case by case basis but I would hardly ever be inclined to say that we have an obligation to use military force to solve a conflict abroad, no matter if there is an international consensus for it. I think we should only act if there is an international consensus, but not act in every situation in which there is such a consensus. This is my general feeling. I am sure people disagree with some of these opinions, so feel free to respond.

Steve C.

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