China’s unprecedented industrial growth over the last two decades has raised the question of whether it now poses a threat to the security of the United States economically, militarily, or both. Economically, the extent to which China truly threatens the United States depends at least in part on the chauvinistic assumption that any potential challenge to absolute U.S. global economic dominance is threatening.
Accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, Al Gore called on the nations of the world to mobilize to avert climate disaster “with a sense of urgency and shared resolve that has previously been seen only when nations have mobilized for war.”
This report measures in fiscal terms how far our own nation has to go to reach that goal.
The claim that decentralizing decision-making power to local communities can strengthen national governments may seem like a contradiction. After all, the common assumption is that power concentrated at the national level strengthens a country’s autonomy. Therefore, how could national sovereignty possibly be reinforced if the responsibilities for planning and managing development programs are distributed among local people?
When national governments assist initiatives that help communities determine and implement priority development projects – such as job creation, education, health, and environment – they create in the process diverse administrative partnerships at all levels within their country. Consequently, local organizations and communities seek to maintain these partnerships with the national level because they help satisfy their human needs and better enable people to shape the institutions that govern them. Central governments benefit by creating overall targets and inter-regional balance and competition that can foster performance, affect remote areas far from the national capital, and enhance their legitimacy.
The United States has done for the cause of democracy what the Soviet Union did for the cause of socialism. Not only has the Bush administration given democracy a bad name in much of the world, but its high-profile and highly suspect “democracy promotion” agenda has provided repressive regimes and their apologists an excuse to label any popular pro-democracy movement that challenges them as foreign agents, even when led by independent grassroots nonviolent activists.
In recent months, the governments of Zimbabwe, Iran, Belarus, and Burma, among others, have disingenuously claimed that popular nonviolent civil insurrections of the kind that toppled the corrupt and autocratic regimes in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine in recent years – and that could eventually threaten them as well – are somehow part of an effort by the Bush administration and its allies to instigate “soft coups” against governments deemed hostile to American interests and replace them by more compliant regimes.
Every religious community in the world is now living through a profound crisis, an eruption of God, a world-wide earthquake brought on by modernity in every life-dimension: political, economic, sexual, ecological, military, cultural, biological. In traditional communities, new religious outlooks are being born. Believers are coming to new understandings of what the world came from and is moving toward, what aspects of the world are holy and what are either ordinary or demonic, what symbols and metaphors and practices are sacred.
Since September 11, in spite of the rhetoric on how the world has been transformed, U.S. foreign policy has approached the Islamic world and the war on terrorism as little more than old wine in new wine skins. During the Cold War, U.S. scholars and policymakers asked why people become communists. Now they ask why people become religious terrorists, extremists, and fundamentalists. What is so striking is that the solutions scholars give to this national security problem today is similar to the ones they proposed a half-century ago – more foreign aid to promote liberal democracy and free market capitalism. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) has been bold enough to call this policy “funding virtue,” even though scholars and policymakers have largely ignored the role of virtue or religion in sustaining democracy and development. The closest the United States has come to recognizing the role of virtue and religion in foreign policy is to promote religious freedom through the Office of International Religious Freedom created in the State Department during the Clinton administration.
The race for the presidency has crystallized the debate about what to do about "globalization," a
short-hand way of describing the increasing tendency of firms to locate production abroad, often
for the purpose of exporting goods back to the United States rather than producing for the local
market. Firms not only have moved production abroad but also in collective bargaining negotiations
often use the threat of moving as leverage to obtain concessions from workers. While not a complete
explanation for the relative stagnation in industrial wages and growing income inequality in the
United States (and elsewhere in the world), it is perhaps the most visible, easily understandable,
and therefore the most inflammable aspect of globalization for American workers.
Albert Beveridge was a promising politician in his thirties when he stood up to speak in favor of war and the promotion of democracy to his peers in the U.S. Senate. A historian, Beveridge unabashedly called for the United States to remake the globe. “We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world,” Beveridge proclaimed. “And we will move forward to our work, not howling out regrets like slaves whipped to their burdens but with gratitude for a task worthy of our strength and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world.”
Back in September 2002, Maher Arar was passing through JFK airport in New York. He was expecting a simple transit. A Syrian-born Canadian citizen and wireless technology consultant, Arar was traveling home to Ottawa after a vacation with his family in Tunis. The stopover in New York was the best deal he could get with his frequent flyer miles. He had no inkling of what would happen next. He didn’t know that he would spend the next ten months being tortured in a secret jail.
Asha Hagi Elmi was horrified at what was happening in her country. A member of the Somali parliament and leading women’s rights activist, Elmi watched the Ethiopian invasion in December 2006 push her country from precarious stability over the edge into catastrophe.” There is no food, no shelter, no water, no medicine and people are dying every day, children are dying every day,” she told a British reporter in April 2007.1 In the ensuing war among Somali insurgents, Somali clans, and Ethiopian troops, thousands have died. The fighting has also created a large-scale humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of refugees.