Category Archives: Politics

Getting Connected: Present Day Revolutions and Technology

The use of technology has changed our world culture in so many ways that one could not count that high. The most amazing thing about this technology is that is can be utilized through so many mediums. Taking a look at the Green Revolution in Iran we can effectively see how the use of services such as Twitter and Facebook can not only be used to communicate with friends and write non-sense, but to organize political rallies and mass demonstrations. This may come as a great shock to those in the Western world who use these services on a daily basis to check to see what Chad Ochocinco talked about the night before (which really isn’t that interesting). These services can be used as a very instrumental political tool especially when someone wants to reach a massive audience instantly.

The use of this technology has granted people in “closed societies” the ability to see and hear what the rest of the world is doing. In the societies that we are currently seeing popular uprisings the international community has acknowledged the fact that these are oppressive societies. Many of these societies have internet access is reachable for many of it’s citizens. Places like North Korea and China keep a very tight grip on what content is allowed and what is most definitely not. Places like Libya went into a “cyber blackout” after the fact, to restrict with use of communication for the common citizen. This does prove to hinder people from communicating, but the spark has already ignited the flame. No matter how long the internet traffic is down, people around the country know that their feelings and sentiments are not of those held by the few, but the many.

In many of these places is can be said that social media did not cause revolutions and popular uprisings. We can attribute this to a multitude of things that range from high unemployment (especially among educated youth), non-democratic societies, oppressive regime structure (which is prone to rejecting any and all forms of change), and a bureaucracy driven on clientelism. Twitter did not cause these people to join forces and band together. It did help people express themselves in a time of great unrest. People from other countries were able to exchange ideas and information, which is always the backbone for such change to occur. The exchange of ideas and information has driven societies to transform and grow.

Right now we can see that happening in places that have seen oppressive rulers who have been in power for decades see their rule come to an end. No amount of money can save a person who is seen as illegitimate in the eyes of their people. The international community does help sway the tide on many levels, however the grunt of the work comes the people who call these places home. If it weren’t for technology I wouldn’t be able to write about what is happening in these places thousands of miles from me and you wouldn’t be able to read my 2 cents on the issue.

This is obviously not a perfect depiction of what is going on everywhere, but it may lay the stepping stones for this to happen in a larger country, maybe even in a more developed nation. No one knows the extent of technology’s reach, especially when it comes to pissed off people talking about what is pissing them off. Thankfully I’m not that upset about really anything, but I do like analyzing why other people seemed to be pissed and what they do about it. Finding out how such social mediums play a role in future political happenings will be a very interesting for all of us to experience.


How does self-interest translate into humanitarian intervention?

The recent operation undertaken by Western European countries and the United States is a very dramatic step in the enforcement of the no-fly zone over Libya. This enforcement of the no-fly zone has made hast from the inception of the U.N. Resolution to actually implementing the resolution through active military involvement. The use of 121 Tomahawk missiles on strategic military targets in order to degrade and essentially eliminate Libya’s ability to patrol the sky. Now the enforcement of this resolution is something that has moved faster than almost any resolution I am familiar with. Things like economic sanctions and internationally isolation may have moved faster in the past, but still probably has not been at this speed. It definitely makes one think that what part of this is because of economic downturn in the states that have decided to enforce the U.N. Resolution.

The main focal point of U.N. Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians from Qaddafi’s forces and their bombardment of rebel held strongholds where the main targets may not be the rebels, but the people who care caught in the crossfire. However, the Western powers that have intervened in Libya to assist the civilians from further humanitarian atrocities, I feel there is a definite self-interest approach to acting so quickly in this matter. States just don’t act with such haste if they do not feel they are going to get a return on their investment. There were many other instances where people are being oppressed by the leaders of their country. Take the instances of Burma, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Sudan or Cambodia. These were all instances in which the people of these countries were being brutally murdered, assaulted, and their rights being totally trampled on, but they did not hold such weight in the global economy as Libya does.

I do understand that the major underpinnings of this resolution and the action taken place by the Western powers was to make sure that humanitarian norms are upheld and people are not attacked and killed by this brutal leader. However, the fact that U.S. and Western European oil prices have risen quite substantially because of this uprising, I feel has a major part in this equation. This can definitely not be said on paper or through any official release, but greed always has its place in warfare. I do feel that people are innately good and they do things that not only help themselves, but those around them. However, states act in self-interest, especially when this involves contributing a vast amount of military resources to have it done.

In addition, the United States does not have a great track record with initiating military involvement under the auspicious of the U.N. The United States has the resources to do things unilaterally, thus does not need the approval of the U.N. to carry out military strikes against another country or entity. This does grant them further legitimacy in the eyes of the internationally community, so when the violence does quell and oil exportation begins again and new contracts are signed the focus will be not on how much money is being made, but how many people were saved.

This will definitely be a very delicate situation to deal with, as Qaddafi does have a following within his stronghold of Tripoli and does still possess military armaments. The ground advancements must come from the rebels who have already showed initiative in trying to change the situation in Libya. International intervention on the ground must continue to be focused on providing humanitarian aid and assistance and not become a policing entity where those from the opposition are left ostracized. It will be very interesting to see where this military intervention will have moved in the next week, due to the fact it was initiated so quickly. The military coordination needed for this operation will definitely make the task easier for those states involved and interesting to see who will take the lead if Qaddafi has been weakened to a terminal point.

How Technology and Science Helped to Prepare Japan for the Unexpected

The horrible events that unfolded off of the coast of Japan these past several days feel like it was Mother’s Natures most intense attempt at destruction. This very advanced society was not able to stave off the ability of Mother Nature to take charge when she feels like it. Japan understands that its placement in the world makes it very prove to earthquakes and the tsunamis that follow. Japan is in perfect placement in the “Ring of Fire” to be susceptible to a large earthquake and the tsunami that follows.

Japan has taken steps to have an early-warning system in place which is named the DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami). In this advanced system a combination of surface and ocean floor readings are used to analyze a multitude of calculation that assist in determining the intensity of an earthquake or tsunami. This early warning system was able to save the lives of thousands of Japanese citizens due to the mechanisms built into the system to alert people thought their television and cell phones. Additionally, the fail-safe mechanisms built into industrial and transportation systems cause them to automatically shut down during such occurrences to minimize damage.

A Japanese tsunami detection buoy

This advanced this system may be able to alert the people of Japan about an imminent threat, however the placement of this event next to 4 nuclear power stations could not have been written better. The vulnerability of these stations due to their close proximity to water sources for cooling purposes do make them extremely vulnerable to such acts of God.  The exponential complications that will now unfold in the coming days will highlight how destructive and long lasting this event will be on the people of Japan.

Although this author does not have much to add to this horrible catastrophe I truly hope that the coming days will paint a much better picture than that which is being reported on recently. I am confident that the people of Japan can rebound from this horrible act, but the amount of time it will take will be the question at hand. The buildings, infrastructure, and lives that were built in these places in Japan took decades, even centuries, to construct were swept away with one precisely placed natural even.

The lawmakers in America should most definitely take this event as a warning of what could happen to our West Coast. The densely populations cities of San Diego, San Fransisco and Los Angeles can most definitely be threatened by an tsunami from the Ring of Fire. The GOP lawmakers have proposed massive cuts for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which are not only integral in the Pacific early warning system, but can be used to progress our scientific community. It only takes one time to cause massive damage and destruction for people to realize that change needs to be made. How about we try to ready for that spontaneous occurrence of Mother Nature’s fury because you can always rebuild a building, but no amount of money will bring back people that could have been protected.

Muammar al-Qaddafi: A true leader or desert version of Charlie Sheen

We have all seen the recent events that have unfolded in Libya these past several weeks. It is very hard to realize that a sane and competent leader has determined that it is in the best interest of his people to attack and repel the popular uprising that has swept the North Africa by storm. The only possible comparison I can draw from this is that he has taken some cues from Charlie Sheen and is trying his hardest to become a winner. No one who has been the leader of a country since 1969, which has a quite defunct civil society, an equally inept bureaucracy, high un-employment, and an economy built on a finite resource, wants to see his people being actively working to dispose him.

Muammar al-Qaddafi can now be considered much more delusional that the most extreme of Hollywood celebrities. His power is hanging by a thread that is more vulnerable than a Charlie Sheen stripper binge. His strange accusations that drugs have been put in the publics water to make them react in this manner is a very sad ploy to create some propaganda that remotely might work in his favor. His blame on Al-Qaeda stirring up trouble in Libya is another silly accusation putting blame on a group that is active in his country and throughout North Africa, but not in the capacity that would be able to turn tides of a government

The very intriguing thing about Libyan society is how it is extensively based upon the tribe. Their influence reigns supreme. This allegiance to the tribe far surpasses the loyalty to one’s country that most citizens of other countries draw allegiance to. Qaddafi understands this and has tried to incorporate tribes under his rule through a manner that grants them power positions within the military, politics, and special forces. His family has done a great job solidifying their role as having a conglomerate on Libyan political and military society. It can be said that their own allegiances ultimately lie with Muammar, however the control of their private militias in a semi-anarchic society begs the question which direction will the different members of the family choose if the situation in Libya strongly favors the opposition movement.

The most important thing that the opposition movement can do right now it to hold on to the key cities of Benghazi, Tobruk, Ras Lanuf, and Brega due to their strategic location on the coast and their oil refineries. In effect, this would be able to choke the major points of commerce that Qaddafi relies on for income. Encircling Tripoli would truly put a noose around the Qaddafi regime.  I feel that the longer the opposition is able to grasp on to these key cities the greater Qaddafi will look illegitimate in the eyes of the people he currently calls allies. However, the opposition cannot do this on the weapons cache they currently have. It will be interesting to see what sort of outside influence will ally itself with the opposition movement. Qaddafi does have many enemies in the world and in the coming weeks we shall see these enemies emerge, especially if the opposition continues to make gains.

I feel the only way to really make this revolution work is to get the people involved. Qaddafi is only one man, but a unified Libya against this horrendous ruler has the ability to turn it in the direction that this 4th wave of democratization is proving to be. Samuel Huntington could have only dreamed of such rapid change.