Term Paper: Politics

Pages: 12 (4306 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] From 1979 through 1988, Ecuador staggered through a succession of executive-legislative confrontations that created a near permanent crisis atmosphere in the polity. In 1984, President Leon Febres-Cordero tried to physically bar new Congressionally-appointed Supreme Court appointees from taking their seats. "Parliamentary government avoids the problems associated with presidentialism since it mandates a degree of cooperation between the executive and legislature if either are to remain in office, and it also allows for a change in leadership without precipitating a crisis of state."

Presidential systems are said by critics not to offer voters the kind of accountability seen in parliamentary systems. It is easy for either the president or Congress to escape blame by blaming the other. Describing the United States, former Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon said "the president blames Congress, the Congress blames the president, and the public remains confused and disgusted with government in Washington."

Another alleged problem of presidentialism is that it is often difficult to remove a president from office early. Consider John Tyler, who only became president because William Henry Harrison had died after thirty days. Tyler refused to sign Whig legislation, was loathed by his nominal party, but remained firmly in control of the executive branch. Since there is no legal way to remove an unpopular president, many presidential countries have experienced military coups to remove a leader who is said to have lost his mandate.

Part II

Most popular modern ethical and philosophical doctrines state that all humans are divided into groups called nations. The nationals, born of the "nation" in this sense, are distinguished by common identity and origin. Nationals are considered to share certain traits and norms of behavior, certain duties toward other members and certain responsibilities for the actions of the members of the same nation. Today the word nation is often used synonymously with state, as in the United Nations. But a state is more properly the governmental apparatus by which a nation rules itself. Max Weber provided the classic definition of the state:

Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that "territory" is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it.

The concept of a nation, as well as many other concepts that involve division of people into groups based on origin and identity, can be traced as far back as the emergence of territorial animals, which seek to drive away from their territory all competitors unless they belong to their group. The first recorded use of the word "nation" was in 968, when Liutprand, bishop of Cremona, while confronting the Byzantine emperor on behalf of his patron Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, boldly declared in his report, "which you say belongs to your empire belongs, as the nationality and language of the people proves, to the kingdom of Italy."

The idea of a nation gained wide acceptance and popularity in eighteenth century, when romantic nationalism was developed and used to shatter the old world order of dynastic or imperial hegemony. While today many nations appear to coincide with an independent state (a nation-state), this happenstance occurred comparatively rarely in pre-modern history. The rise of nationalism in the 18th and 19th century saw the idea that each nation deserves its own state gain momentum in Europe. Today, however, many nations exist without a state, such as the Kurds, Assyrians, Gibraltarian and the Native American nations, whereas many states comprise several nations, such as Belgium, United Kingdom and Spain. There are other examples - until 1922 the Irish nation was wholly within the United Kingdom. Following a move for independence, the country was partitioned into an independent southern state, now the Republic of Ireland, with Northern Ireland remaining in the Union.

The idea of a nation remains somewhat vague, in that there is generally no strict definition for exactly who is considered to be a member of any particular nation. "Where states were formed before a nation emerged, the explicit efforts of the state to limit and encourage selective nationalism are particularly evident. Specified exclusion has provided a crucial referent demarcating those included."

Many modern states show a great diversity of cultural behaviors and ethnic backgrounds. England may furnish a classic example: a territory which is not a state, since it has no government of its own, and which has large immigrant populations and diverse cultural behavior, yet the English are often described as a nation.

Nation-building refers to the process of constructing or structuring a nation using the power of the state. This process aims at the unification of the people or peoples within the state so that it remains politically stable and viable in the long run. Nation-building can involve the use of propaganda or major infrastructure development to foster social harmony and economic growth. It has been succinctly described as "the use of armed force in the aftermath of a conflict to underpin an enduring transition to democracy."

Examples of nation-building include the Marshall Plan and the current occupation of Iraq by the United States and United Kingdom. The United States itself went through a process of nation-building after the Civil War to reconstruct the South. This process lasted close to a century, only finally culminating in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. "The chief threats to us and to world order come from weak, collapsed, or failed states. Learning how to fix such states -- and building necessary political support at home -- will be a defining issue for America in the century ahead."

Nation-building requires a devotion of money and military efforts, but most importantly it requires time. In the nation-building efforts of Germany and Japan following WWII and more recent efforts in Kosovo, Haiti and Somalia in the 1990s, it is evident that a successful nation-building project requires years, the average time close to seven years. James Dobbins served as U.S. special envoy for Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, which he cites as the most important instances in which American military power has been used in the aftermath of a conflict to support democratization in the post World War II era - along with Germany and Japan. According to Dobbins, the greatest factor influencing successful nation-building is "the level of effort, as measured in troops, money, and time."

Multilateral nation-building is more complex and time-consuming but considerably less expensive. Unity of command and broad participation are compatible if the major participants share a common vision. Resources are important. He says it can produce "more thorough transformations and greater regional reconciliation, [but only] when the major participants share a common vision."

Many political scholars maintain that the bigger the occupying force, the fewer the postwar casualties. If this holds true for Iraq, then the force reductions by other countries will increase the violence there, thus impeding postwar reconstruction. Dobbins also says:

It is nearly impossible to put together a fragmented nation if its neighbors try to tear it apart. Every effort should be made to secure their support.

Accountability for past injustices can be a powerful component of democratization, but should be attempted only if there is a deep and long-term commitment to the overall operation.

It can't be done quickly: 'None of our cases was successfully completed in less than seven years.'

Opposition to nation-building was one of the planks George W. Bush's presidential campaign in 2000. He has since revised this position. "In Afghanistan, in Iraq, and now in Haiti, the Bush administration has found itself enmeshed in the daily workings of failed states and has taken on responsibilities as far-ranging as protecting government leaders, repairing infrastructure, and serving as a sort of police force amid a hostile citizenry."

There are several prerequisites for building a democratic state. The rule of law, property rights, free markets, and an entrepreneurial culture are what are necessary for economic success. "The more immediate case for the freedom of market transaction lies in the basic importance of that freedom itself. We have good reason to buy and sell, to exchange, and to seek lives that can flourish on the basis of transactions."

Universalized citizen access to viable capital ownership and structured democratization of economic power provides the basis for political democracy. Many factors - such as prior democratic experience, level of economic development, and social homogeneity - can influence the ease or difficulty of nation-building, but the single most important controllable determinant seems to be the level of effort, as measured in troops, money, and time. Haiti is an example of failed U.S. nation-building. After spending eighteen years fighting local terrorists and trying to administer the country, U.S. forces left in 1934. Since that time, the country has suffered the dictatorship of the Duvaliers, father and son,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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