Geopolitics

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  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Monday, October 07, 2013

Only after one understands how freedom and rights are being suppressed by the managers of imperial states — even as they preach peace, freedom, justice, rights, and majority rule to their citizens to maintain their beliefs in the morality of their society, and thus assure the continued support of the masses for inflicting such violence upon the world — can one write honest history. If one does not understand that process, one is almost certain to write a history in which, unbeknownst to the author, the background and documentation have been carefully created to give Managers of State the freedom to suppress other people’s rights and transfer their wealth to the imperial center through unequal trades.

J.W. Smith, Economic Democracy; The Political Struggle for the 21st Century, (M.E. Sharpe, 2000), p.95

This section attempts to highlight what some of the consequences of global politics can be. The power-play of personal or national interests can have a long lasting effect on many, many people.

The Arms Trade is Big Business

Last updated Saturday, January 05, 2013.

Each year, around $45-60 billion worth of arms sales are agreed. Most of these sales (something like 75%) are to developing countries.

The 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, Russia, France, United Kingdom and China), together with Germany and Italy account for around 85% of the arms sold between 2004 and 2011.

Some of the arms sold go to regimes where human rights violations will occur. Corruption often accompanies arms sales due to the large sums of money involved.

Read “The Arms Trade is Big Business” to learn more.

World Military Spending

Last updated Sunday, June 30, 2013.

World military spending had reduced since the Cold War ended, but a few nations such as the US retain high level spending.

In recent years, global military expenditure has increased again and is now comparable to Cold War levels. Recent data shows global spending at over $1.7 trillion. 2012 saw the first dip in spending — only slightly —since 1998, in an otherwise rising trend.

After a decline following the end of the Cold War, recent years have seen military spending increase

The highest military spender is the US accounting for almost two-fifths of the world’s spending, more than the rest of the G7 (most economically advanced countries) combined, and more than all its potential enemies, combined.

Read “World Military Spending” to learn more.

Training Human Rights Violators

Last updated Tuesday, October 30, 2001.

  • A US military training school, the School of the Americas, has trained many of the worst human rights violators and dictators in various Latin American countries.
  • Some of the worst dictators and human rights abusers in the developing world have passed through the school's doors, including people like Roberto D’Aubisson from El Salvador and Manuel Noriega of Panama.
  • The US Army maintain that the school was set up to preserve democracy.

Read “Training Human Rights Violators” to learn more.

Military Propaganda for Arms Sales

Last updated Saturday, June 21, 2003.

  • Arms contractors and maintain that arms sales are essential to foster good relations and also create more jobs at home.
    • Arms companies selling to one country will often demonize their neighbors. Those countries are then demonized to us so we purchase more. That does not foster good relations.
    • Often, to secure a sale, the manufacture of the arms also goes to the target nation. Therefore, jobs are created, but not at home.
  • Propaganda comes in various forms, often via manipulative advertising campaigns.
  • Arms corporations benefit from alliances like NATO and conflicts such as Kosovo, where opportunity for sales increases.

Read “Military Propaganda for Arms Sales” to learn more.

Small Arms—they cause 90% of civilian casualties

Last updated Saturday, January 21, 2006.

  • The growing availability of small arms has been a major factor in the increase in the number of conflicts.
  • In modern conflicts over 80 percent of all casualties have been civilian. 90 percent of these are caused by small arms.

Read “Small Arms—they cause 90% of civilian casualties” to learn more.

A Code of Conduct for Arms Sales

Last updated Sunday, November 30, 2008.

The arms trade is one of the most corrupt trades in the world, fueling conflict and poverty. Since the early 1990s there has been efforts to review and develop arms-transfer principles and codes of conduct to ensure that arms are not sold to human rights violators. The US, EU and others have developed some codes, but they are fraught with problems, loopholes, lack of transparency and are open to corruption. There is a proposed international arms trade treaty to overcome these limitations. However, for various political and profit reasons, some nations seem unwilling to agree to a code of conduct. Proposals are growing stronger for an arms trade treaty. Will that suffer the same problem?

Read “A Code of Conduct for Arms Sales” to learn more.

Landmines

Last updated Friday, November 27, 2009.

Throughout the 1990s, a coalition of numerous non-governmental organizations, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), campaigned successfully to prohibit the use of landmines.

This helped to create the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Treaty. (It also won the ICBL the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.) This treaty came into force in 1999.

Although landmine use in the past decade has been significantly reduced, problems such as clearance and rehabilitation remain. Furthermore, some key countries continue to use landmines, or support the need for them, despite the problems they often cause for civilians long after conflicts have ended.

Read “Landmines” to learn more.

The US Nuclear Superpower

Last updated Thursday, September 15, 2005.

Read “The US Nuclear Superpower” to learn more.

North Korea and Nuclear Weapons

Last updated Sunday, October 29, 2006.

Read “North Korea and Nuclear Weapons” to learn more.

Iran

Last updated Tuesday, December 06, 2011.

Iran has had a turbulent history in just its recent past. From a democracy in the 1950s, Iran seems to have moved backwards, from an authoritarian regime (backed by Britain and the US) that overthrew the democratic one, to a religious fundamentalist regime toppling the authoritarian one and taking an anti-US stance.

The US ended its support for Iran and instead supported Iraq in a brutal war through the 1980s against Iran where over 1 million people died. More recently, Iran was described as being part of an “axis of evil” by US President George Bush, as part of his “war on terror.”

The US has also accused Iran of pursuing the development of nuclear weapons, while Iran says it is only pursuing peaceful development. Internally, movements towards moderate policies and democratic values are gaining traction, but not with hardliners in power trying to hold on. This section looks into these and related issues.

Read “Iran” to learn more.

India and Pakistan go Nuclear

Last updated Sunday, October 08, 2000.

Read “India and Pakistan go Nuclear” to learn more.

The US and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Last updated Monday, August 07, 2000.

Read “The US and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty” to learn more.

Militarization and Weaponization of Outer Space

Last updated Sunday, January 21, 2007.

The US is planning to develop weapons for and ensure military dominance in space. This goes counter to the United Nations Outer Space Treaty that provides the legal framework for the use of space for peaceful purposes. A risk of an arms race increases when combined with the missile defense plans.

Read “Militarization and Weaponization of Outer Space” to learn more.

Star Wars; Phantom Menace or New Hope?

Last updated Saturday, January 11, 2003.

The US is also risking abrogation of the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty by continuing with its Star Wars, or national missile defense system. However, critics point out that the program is very expensive (largely paid for by the public), that the technologies are risky, that the threat rationale isn't very strong and that this will affect international relations, and could lead to an arms race.

Read “Star Wars; Phantom Menace or New Hope?” to learn more.

Conflicts in Africa—Introduction

Last updated Wednesday, May 12, 2010.

There have been over 9 million refugees and internally displaced people from conflicts in Africa. Hundreds and thousands of people have been slaughtered from a number of conflicts and civil wars. If this scale of destruction and fighting was in Europe, then people would be calling it World War III with the entire world rushing to report, provide aid, mediate and otherwise try to diffuse the situation. This article explores why Africa has been largely ignored and what some of the root causes of the problems are.

Read “Conflicts in Africa—Introduction” to learn more.

Democracy

Last updated Saturday, January 28, 2012.

Democracy is a valued principle, so much so that some people have sacrificed their lives to fight for it. While no system is perfect, it seems that democracy is once again under assault. What are the challenges posed in a democratic system and are established safeguards helping to strengthen democracy or are their forces successfully weakening it?

Read “Democracy” to learn more.

Surveillance State: NSA Spying and more

Posted Monday, October 07, 2013.

At the start of June 2013, a large number of documents detailing surveillance by intelligence agencies such as the US’s NSA and UK’s GCHQ started to be revealed, based on information supplied by NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden.

These leaks revealed a massive surveillance program that included interception of email and other Internet communications and phone call tapping. Some of it appears illegal, while other revelations show the US spying on friendly nations during various international summits.

Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of furor. While some countries are no doubt using this to win some diplomatic points, there has been an increase in tension with the US and other regions around the world.

Much of the US surveillance programs came from the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the US in 2001. Concerns about a crackdown on civil rights in the wake of the so-called war on terror have been expressed for a long time, and these revelations seem to be confirming some of those fears.

Given the widespread collection of information, apparently from central servers of major Internet companies and from other core servers that form part of the Internet backbone, activities of millions (if not billions) of citizens have been caught up in a dragnet style surveillance problem called PRISM, even when the communication has nothing to do with terrorism.

What impacts would such secretive mass surveillance have on democracy?

Read “Surveillance State: NSA Spying and more” to learn more.

Energy Security

Last updated Sunday, May 15, 2011.

Energy security is a growing concern for rich and emerging nations alike. The past drive for fossil fuel energy has led to wars, overthrow of democratically elected leaders, and puppet governments and dictatorships.

Leading nations admit we are addicted to oil, but investment into alternatives has been lacking, or little in comparison to fossil fuel investments.

As the global financial crisis takes hold and awareness of climate change increases, more nations and companies are trying to invest in alternatives. But will the geopolitics remain the same?

Read “Energy Security” to learn more.

Illicit Drugs

Posted Sunday, March 30, 2008.

The global illicit drugs market is enormous, estimated at some $320 billion. This makes it one of the largest businesses in the world. Some believe in strong prohibition enforcement. Others argue for decriminalization to minimize the crime and health effects associated with the market being controlled by criminals. Are there merits to each approach