As a strategically important country in the Middle East, the course Iran would take will have profound consequences for the entire region. But given its history and recent developments, the future looks dark and dangerous for both Iran and its enemies.
The recent years had seen a gradual but definite change in Iran’s social conditions. The fundamentalist mullahs have not been as strict in interfering with people’s life-style choices, probably due to the economic advantages presented by a consumerist culture. Considering that two thirds of Iran’s population is under the age of 30, this was seen as a tactical move by the Iranian administrators. For the outside observers this may give the impression of a free society. But the uncolored truth is that this apparent freedom of choice in a supermarket is not . . . Read More
Landmines have profound social and economic consequences to civilians. Although landmines are meant to curb enemy access to terrain, they affect the local civilian populations quite severely. They depopulate entire regions of the country, get in the way of agricultural production and interfere with transportation. They also bring down the economic infrastructure and kill/maim several innocent civilians. Landmines are at times deployed as a means of sabotage – they make useless strategic commercial structures and cripple the economy (Giannou 1997). Also, when surface transportation is hampered, farmers can no longer transit their produce to marketplaces. This results in inflation and soaring of commodity prices. Mined roads make the effects of famine and drought more severe by hampering food relief and restricting movement of supplies.
Disastrous results follow when mines are . . . Read More
The recognition that the free trade system needs to be balanced by a legislative framework came from Tony Blair in a recent World Bank meeting in Prague. The prime minister emphasized the raising of labour and animal welfare standards. He also expressed concerns for employer’s attitude towards worker and environmental health. The fact that around tens of thousands of people from around the world participated in protests against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund during this meeting suggests that the free market approaches to trade had not been totally fair to workers and their communities (Webster, Allan. & Gilroy, Michael. P.329).
The report released on the occasion, titled “Rights of Exchange: Social, Health, Environmental and Trade Objectives on the Global Stage”, is one among the many steps taken by politicians in trying to strike a balance between free and . . . Read More
Lying only 145 km from the coast of the USA, Cuba had always been of concern to the United States (America still maintains a naval base there to the present day at Guantanamo). The relations between the two nations took a U-turn with the onset of the communist revolution in 1959. Fidel Castro’s consequent rise to power made Cuba a real and present danger. The pressing concern for the United States was the potential symbolic threat that a communist neighbor would prove to be. The fiasco that was the Bay of Pigs invasion, intended to dispel and if possible eliminate Castro, was an affair of big embarrassment for the Kennedy Administration. This further strained the diplomatic relations between the two countries. (Frankel 53)
At this juncture Castro was left with little option but to strengthen relations with the Soviet Union. It benefited the Soviet Union to respond to Cuba’s call for protection, as setting up a base so near the American coast was of strategic . . . Read More
The supporters of Proportional Representation for General Elections claim that it is fairer to ethnic, religious and racial minorities compared to other systems. This is generally true. Studies conducted on continental European democracies support this view. Another advantage of this system is that it gives incentives for runners-up in elections, who traditionally ended up at the wrong end of a zero-sum game. In this regard it provides a fairer playing field compared to Majority and Plurality systems of elections. Several factors contribute towards making Proportional Representation a better alternative when electoral competition takes place under majority rule than when it does under plurality. Firstly, the voter is empowered to vote strategically, which is not always possible in other alternative systems. It is supported by the fact that,
“In top-two majority runoff elections with three or more candidates, voters always face incentives to vote . . . Read More
The uniqueness of the British political system is its association with the Crown, on whose behalf most powers are exercised. It is notable that unlike others entities the Crown is not subject to legal regulation due to the sense of dignity it evokes. Also, the prerogatives of the crown include the “power to conduct foreign relations, to conclude treaties that are binding in international law, and prerogatives of mercy and pardon (Shell 1994, p.301). This is in addition to the Crown’s extensive residual common law powers and its status as a legal personality. The latter privilege allows it to acquire and dispose of land, etc., the way ordinary individuals can. In contrast to this, the powers of local authorities are very much subject to statutes and regulations. In this sense, the executive powers of the local government is limited and constrained when compared with the powers of the Crown.
“The power to order and reorganize the civil service derives either . . . Read More
The evolution of Vietnamese culture over the last 4 millennia had facilitated adoption of the concept of nation-state. The notion of a sovereign nation with its own identity had taken shape through these years. Hence, Vietnamese history is “the history of the constitution of the nation, with its clearly delineated territory, its own language, its specific culture, which needed to be protected against all external aggressions” (Nguyen 123). Although such traits do not lead to Communism as the form of government, it nevertheless leaves the field open for scientific political ideas to be applied. And Communism is one such ideology.
Although invaded and occupied through the major part of its recent history, the Vietnamese managed to retain an identity that is uniquely theirs. The common threads that made this possible were the internal and foreign wars, coping with hostile natural elements, etc. During the onset of the 20th century, the country was much exploited and war . . . Read More
“Secularism implies plurality of cultural choices. Secularism is not about the absence of faith: indeed it is about assertion of faith – faith in freedom and people, not dogmas. A space where one can pause and acknowledge the other, the one who is different, the alien, the non-believer; where one can negotiate the public sphere without the need to foreground or privilege one’s own mode of worship” (Menon 2004).
This is how secularism is defined, but how does it manifest in the contemporary industrial society?
The Socio-Political Framework
It is the governments of nations that wield the greatest influence on how secularism, as accommodated in the constitution, is supported, suppressed or misinterpreted. Let’s . . . Read More