International Relations Essay Questions
Q1) What assumptions provided the motivation for the European Union’s creation? Analyze its evolution over time.
The formation of the European Union, comprising 27 sovereign states, provides for the observer a curiosity unlike any other. From my personal point of view, a passive receiver of this type of information would be filled with much idealism that a union of different countries with different cultures, languages and races, which is quite impossible, could be possible. Indeed, political scientists all agree that “The development and continued progress of integration in Europe has been one of the major success stories of the second half of the 20th century” (Field, 1998, p. 245). With this situation now lying at hand, this writing would then see an account of the motivations of why such integration has been formed.
As early as the times of the Holy Roman Emperors, there already existed attempts to unify the whole continent of Europe. Through bloody wars, leaders sought to have complete power over the continent, to be able to have full control over political, economic and cultural aspects of the country (Dinan, 2004). By 1950’s, a number of European leaders concluded that only through economic and political unity among the nations will a lasting peace be secured. Thus, a move to integrate the coal and steel industries materialized and formed the European Coal and Steel Company. It was followed by the Treaties of Rome, creating the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the European Economic Community (EEC). These all aimed to remove trade barriers thus creating a “common market” (European Communities [EC], 2007). Finally, after seeing that these communities gained much success, there came the signing of the “Treaty of Maastricht” that created the European Union (EC, 2007). Looking at it, having been razed with war and conflicts, we can only see that the formation of the European Union is based on these assumptions: “that economic cooperation could bring an end to the region’s centuries-old history of national conflicts” (The New York Times, 2009, n.p.) by having common policies and lifted trade barriers (EC, 2007).However, the writer could not help but read between the lines. The EU has become somehow an agreement between the countries to centralize or more so concentrate economic policy mandate among the hands of the few by empowering one currency which will have the capacity to rule over other currencies, especially that of the third world countries.
Q2) According to the text, “new international political possibilities are based on technological developments.” What exactly does this mean? What are the implications of advancing technology—pros and cons? What are the costs and benefits for states and citizens of this aspect of a global community?
Saying that “new international possibilities are based on technological developments” is tantamount to saying that with technology, everything is possible. Indeed, technology has taken a big functional role in the society. It might be in the sense that countries can devise ways to unite themselves through technology, or powerful countries can better control the world through technology, aiding the units of society from the government to individual households in every country. It speeds up government and business transactions, strengthens the defense systems of countries, makes cultural propagation more efficient, and improves quality of educational instruction. The World Wide Web has provided a sense of global interconnectivity among citizens of the world, thereby enabling a freer flow of ideas and preferences. These lead us to answer the question on the implications of technology – its pros and cons. It can be discussed in two levels: socio-cultural implications (superstructure) and politico-economic, implications (substructure).
Let us first dwell on socio-cultural implications. Technology can either make or break human culture and society. As much as we can propagate culture through the means of information campaigns and advanced methods of artifact preservation, and as much as we can provide better quality of instruction in the educational systems of the world, this element can also be destroyed by the erring methods of harnessing technology. Let us take for example, the regulation in human reproduction. It poses for societies a question of value. As much as we want to preserve social balance through population control, much of our values are compromised. On the side, criminal activity increases as much as progress is achieved (Collier & Lakoff, 2005).
The economic and political implications of technology, on the other hand, hold the superstructure at its neck. Technological advancements, as mentioned earlier, can provide means of safeguarding national and international security and social control, i.e. better armory, increased police training, and other aids to be able to efficiently implement laws and policies. Moreover, technology signifies the power of a certain country. Economic power provides for advancements, and in turn, having these technological advancements boosts political power of nations granting them the avenue to impose economic policies that would benefit them over other nations. They also create conflict among nations in terms of ownership of these technologies and create conflict within nations with issues of inaccessibility of the advancements.
In this tableau, the citizens of the global community are at stake. They are the prime movers of this movement and would be the first receivers of the benefits and repercussions of upcoming technological advancements.
Q3) Briefly outline and analyze the political implications of increased trans-boundary flows of people, ideas, and cultures.
The world community started out as isolated bodies of people scattered among differed territories with differed cultures on the side. With the advancement of communication and transportation technologies, these isolated cultures became acquainted with each other and began to achieve uniformity in diversity of cultures. It started out as a series of encounters between warring races and warring races, until laws emerged to instate equality and coexistence among races. Take for example the conquistadores of 17th Century Europe. Through navigational technology, the Europeans claimed discovery of much of Asia and Africa, thus, giving them power to rule over them. On the other sides of the world, Socialist and libertarian ideas emerge. Amidst these, citizens of the conquered nations get in touch with these ideas, prompting the rise of liberation movements throughout the world like the Philippine Revolution and the Vietnam War, to name a few.
Q4) Explain the relationship between the environment and IR. What role does the environment play in this equation? What evidence do we have that there is any relationship at all? Is it significant enough to warrant the attention of IR scholars and practitioners? Why, or why not?
Originally, International Relations only concerned itself with problems of national security and economic policies between nations. This became a battlefield and an instrument of muffling the conflict of interests between nations. Since the entry of global warming and climate change, however, the International Relations scene took on a new face. On the premise that climate change is considered a “‘new’ range of environmental threats to human well being,” there came the inclusion of this concern in IR debates (Vogler, 1996, p. 1). This issue provides opportunities for nations to be more geared to have a unified stand as one global community. To make it short, the environment can become a unifying factor among nations by means of having them connive together to strengthen the global community. Nevertheless, the most important element needed in this situation is the search for the solution. In this equation, the environment itself can do much and has become the sacrificial lamb already. The authorities have only done much by giving out policies of environmental protectionism. What is expected here are the actions of the IR practitioners, more than the environmental policies that they gave (Vogler, 1996). IR and the environment have to have a relationship. They need to create pro-active solutions which seek to revive the deteriorating environment more than implementing preventive measure, without discrediting the role of the latter. Having this issue as a threat with a global scale, it is important that IR scholars and practitioners pay attention and action.
Collier, S. J. & Lakoff, A. (2005). Chapter 2: On regimes of living. In A.Ong & S. J. Collier
(eds.), Global Assemblages, Technology, Politics and Ethics as Anthropological Problems. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing.
European Communities. (2007) History of the European Union. European Union: Delegation
of the European Delegation to China. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from http://www.delchn.ec.europa.eu/eugu_basi1_hist1.htm.
Field, H. (1998, September). EU Cultural Policy and the Creation of a Common
European Identity. In The EU in the Next Millennium: Proceedings of EUSA-NZ Conference, Christchurch Arts Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand (pp. 245-255).
Retrieved April 2, 2009, from http://www.eusanz.org/pdf/conf98/Field.pdf.
The New York Times. (2009). European Union/ Retrieved April 2, 2009, from
Vogler, J. (1996). Introduction: The Environment in international relations: Legacies and
Contentions. In M. Imber & J. Vogler (eds.), The Environment and International Relations. Oxford: Routledge