5 October 2016   Leave a comment

One of the more vexing questions in world politics concerns the authenticity and integrity of the idea of human rights.  There is little question that every society that has ever existed has held ideas about what constitutes human rights.  But in the contemporary world, it is difficult to separate the current articulation of human rights from the power position of the former European powers, including the United States. There are very legitimate questions about how human rights might be defined if somehow they could be articulated without the element of power.

I continue to fret over US policy in Syria.  The Washington Post is reporting that there is sentiment in the State Department and the Pentagon for what are described as “kinetic” actions (a euphemism for blowing things up).  Apparently, some members of the Administration believe that deserting the “moderate” rebels in Syria will drive them into the hands of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.  That possibility is real, but I am not certain how the US can “save” the moderate rebels as long as Russia, the Syrian government, and Iran are committed to destroying any opposition to the Assad regime.  The real danger to the US is that by not intervening the US will leave the civilians of Syria vulnerable to the destruction these states are willing to inflict on them. That failure will forever be a stain on the reputation of the US, but I cannot conceptualize any actions that the US could take at this time to protect those civilians.

We have witnessed a sharp rise in nationalist sentiments all over the world in the last 15 years.  The rise is in many respects a backlash against globalization and is comprehensible in that context.   But one interesting feature of globalization is the degree to which citizens develop a sense of commitment to people all over the world and not just to their fellow citizens.  Some of these people define themselves as “citizens of the world.”  Global Scan conducted an 18 nation survey of attitudes toward people of other countries, races, and ethnicities.  The results of the survey are fascinating as one of the charts from the survey (below) indicates.  I highly recommend the site.

BBC2016-chart2

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Posted October 5, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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