Patterns of Regime Change Operations by the U.S.- How It Has Remained Constant in the Past Century

For political science class, as a response to:

Kinzer, Stephen. Overthrow. New York: Times Books, 2007.

Patterns of Regime Change Operations by the United States-

How It Has Remained Constant in the Past Century

Kinzer provides readers with a historical overview of how the American foreign policy has been characterized by military overthrows, especially in the developing world over the past century. Kinzer adopts a critical tone as he goes from discussing the United State’s conquer of Hawaii in 1898 to present day situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. He tries to answer why the pattern of “regime changes” as performed by the U.S. has continued since its came to power. Kinzer states that the periodical overthrows of governments by the North, or the United States has been both a benefit and an impediment for the places trying to develop in the world. Having been a world power since the end of the 19th century, using its power for “regime changes” are not radical acts but rather in accordance with our “long established law of history” (Kinzer, 319). Overthrow is an excellent representative of North-South relations, with the U.S. representing the North- a true fact given our reality today. After all, no other nation has arranged to depose foreign leaders as much as the U.S., for example (Kinzer, 2). Kinzer narrows down the motives of America’s obsession with “regime change” to three reasons- to increase their power, to impose their ideology, and to gain control of resources. In this paper, I will use Iraq as an example to show how these three reasons apply, and in turn how Iraq is not unique-these motives have remained the same in the past one hundred years with the North’s interaction with the South.

The motive of increasing power has definitely played a role in the war that began in 2003 with Iraq under President Bush. His cabinet, comprised of many members that were also in his father’s team saw Iraq as an unfinished business (Kinzer, 286).  Kinzer explains that the administration sought a place in the Middle East to project their power because of their concern for Saudi Arabia’s (the current regional proxy) future stability. Many, especially Rumsfeld felt that a pro-American Iraq would be the ideal replacement. Bush predicted a swift, overwhelming victory, which in turn would then serve as a “powerful warning” to any “real of potential” threat (Kinzer, 293). Iraq would thus be a venue for the U.S. to show its power and how strong it had become to the world.

This showing of power using military might is of course nothing new, according to Kinzer’s observation of history. Kinzer expresses how the U.S. rose to prominence in the international playing field faster than any other empires, thus leading it to be filled with the “exhuberance and self confidence of youth” and a feeling of “unlimited possibility” (Kinzer, 321).  For example, in 1984, Commodore M. Perry used military power in Japan and coerced the signing of a treaty to open up their ports to American traders (Kinzer, 81). Another example is Reagan and his actions with Grenada in which a quick invasion took place with six thousand soldiers- more than double of what was necessary. The action was strongly opposed by many leaders, with one hundred UN members agreeing that it was a “flagrant violation of international law” (Kinzer, 238). However, Reagan brushed aside these criticisms, instead claiming that it was a victory: “our days of weakness are over! Our military forces are back on their feet and standing tall” (Kinzer, 238). Clearly, the motive of showing off power is nothing unique but rather an expectation from American invasions into the developing world.

Gaining control of resources is another motive that has reappeared over and over again in American foreign policy history. In discussing Iraq, Kinzer implies that the issue of oil was indeed involved as an intention, though continuously denied by the administration (and one which remains controversial). Kinzer points that the U.S. has been, and will continue to be the largest consumer of energy in the world, and given that Bush came from a background of oil barons in Houston, the connection should not be surprising (Kinzer, 291). Having 10% of the world’s oil, Bush was convinced that the control of their oil sources in Iraq would guarantee a steady flow into the U.S., and thereby ensuring American security (Kinzer, 291). In addition, Kinzer argues that the war also helped many of America’s large corporations. Companies that make weapons such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, etc. also benefited greatly from the new demands; these companies also happened to be large contributors to Bush’s campaign and the Republican Party. It seemed that with the war in Iraq, national and corporate interests matched conveniently (Kinzer, 292).

Defending corporate power has become an expectation since the beginning of the 20th century. The “regime change” attempt was observed at the beginning of 20th century in Hondurus when the government was deposed in order to give American banana companies the freedom to make profits. In 1954, John Foster Dulles ordered a coup in Guatemala in reaction to the nationalist party preventing United Fruit from exercising their power. United Fruit happened to also be an old client of the law firm Dulles represented. Because these multinational companies, whether Halliburton or United Fruit are large and wealthy, they also gain politic al influence. They identify with the public by saying that they hold ideals of free enterprise, hard work, and individuality (Kinzer, 3). Kinzer argues that these corporations became the “vanguard” of American power; they became the policy makers (Kinzer, 4). Given the pattern of the U.S. to walk away when personal interests are no longer fulfilled, Kinzer attributes much of the poverty and lack of development in Central America, such as in Honduras in part to the U.S. today.

The final motivation factor used by U.S. governments in defending their “regime change” projects is rooted in ideology. We can see how the ideological belief system of the U.S. follows logically of most countries defined as the “North”- Western, modern, usually capitalist societies placing some kind of importance on individuality and rights. As for Iraq, when it was proven that no weapons of mass destruction actually existed in the country, Bush and his administration turned to say that in actuality, they also had a “deep desire to spread liberty around the world” (Kinzer,, 293). Forty three days after the war began, Bush declared the war as “a noble cause” and “a great moral advance” (Kinzer, 298). This argument became the only real justification Bush could use with least amount of criticism, especially since he knew very little about the regional culture and history. He genuinely believed that the Western form of democracy is the best and ideal for every society, and he had a duty to spread it.

Dulles did a similar change in justification as Bush with Iraq with the handling of Guatemala. After admitting that that there were no hard evidences that the Kremlin was manipulating Guatemala’s government, Dulles defended himself by claiming that the U.S. had to act anyway because of their “deep conviction” (Kinzer, 295). These justifications have been used throughout history because they are also easily taken by the public as a good thing. President McKinley used the same reasoning for going into war with Cuba, as the “oppression at our very doors” had to be stopped (Kinzer, 83). President Taft similarly tried to convince the public that deposing the Nicaraguan government was necessary to promote “real patriotism” – the real motivation rather than in expanding American power (Kinzer, 84). These are just some of many examples Kinzer employs to show how the North have relied on imposing their ideologies for military use in the South, often ignoring histories and cultural differences.

The United States is an ideal example of North-South relations, since the U.S. is the North today. Like other nations in the North of the past, the U.S. believes that it is uniquely “endowed with virtue”, and are the only ones in modern history convinced that by bringing their political and economic system to others, they are “doing God’s work” (Kinzer, 315). These are similar sentiments of past empires, especially with European colonialists in which their way of life was placed in a higher value than the civilizations they invaded. Americans, led by their ambitious presidents have learned to embrace this self-righteous belief because it reinforces this notion that they are indeed great people meant to civilize others. The ideological motive denies that cultures shape societies and that changing national identities take time and even the most powerful cannot do that. Still, carrying this ideology and imposition of it has continued whether in Cuba, Vietnam, or Afghanistan. The lack of change in these ideological trends has only made the conviction deeper among Americans, and today, Kinzer argues that Americans feel it has become an obligation for the great power. Kinzer brings into attention how so much of what the North does is out of the control of the South, often these influences being inevitable.

Kinzer may use a critical tone and unsympathetic diction, but I believe that he brings into focus something very important in contemporary American foreign policy. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was no break with history but a faithful reflection of the same forces and beliefs that has motivated previous presidents. Presidents like Dulles, McKinley, and Reagan to name a few sought economic and political advantages while carrying a strong belief that the U.S. has a mission to spread its ideologies. The current war in Iraq is a culmination of trends in the American history that is typical of North-South relations.  They were looking for a proxy in the Middle East to assert their power, drawing them to Iraq regardless of how much the Iraqi society differed or what they wanted.  In Iraq, while a pro-American government was sought after, it did not work. Ayad Allawi, a pro-American politician was chosen to lead Iraq, but he lost the elections in 2005 to Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, from the Shiite community who wanted to build closer relations to Iran (Kinzer, 313). The result symbolized the inherent contradiction in American plan for Iraq. Kinzer asserts that many Americans believe the country has “passed beyond reach of history” (Kinzer, 319). I believe that this is true, especially since very little change is seen when its foreign policy is analyzed as Kinzer has. Overthrow tells us that foreign policy must be made carefully, taking both history and present day situations into equal considerations, as patters do not just fade away. Kinzer’s honest tone in deciphering why today’s North is the way it is with the South is telling, and has much implications for how we can and cannot change these patters.

(Originally written: December 3, 2009)

The Nation and its Fragments by Partha Chatterjee

Chatterjee, Partha. 1993. The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton: Princeton University Press

I found Chatterjee’s discussion on the spiritual section of anti-colonialist nationalism of particular interest, especially in regards to women. The spiritual is the essential mark of cultural identity- the more that the people, in this case the middle class are successful in imitating the West in the material ways, the more that they will need to preserve the spiritual.

With his discussion of the “modern” woman, it seems that women play an important role in maintaining the “inner space of community” in the life of a nation (147). Colonial power, specifically the British in this case has used the figure of an Indian woman as a symbol of the “inherently oppressive” nature of the entire culture of India (118). The irony is that the British were never able to enter the spiritual section of their colony, and this eventually led to their leave (30). This very prevention from entering the spiritual is attributed to many factors including women, the very figure used by the colonial power to represent the region’s backwardness.

In his discussion of women, I believe it is important to note two things: First, the smooth acceptance of women getting education and becoming “modern” took place in the middle class, therefore still isolating many groups. Secondly, the issue of internal social classes still mattered in the movement for women. For example, the main reason that women were allowed to be educated lied in the fact that it gave them superiority over poor, lower class women, and also increased their value as part of the social ladder, not necessarily because they could then participate in the political arena (129). Therefore, we can observe that the issue of social class has changed very little in the region’s culture even with dramatic political and economic changes taking place over the years.

From these observations, I am left with some questions-

– Chatterjee states that women’s emancipation in India came with little noise because it was a political strategy- anti- colonial nationalist refused to make it an issue of “political negotiation” with the British (132). Has this worked to help women’s movement of today in India or hurt it?

– Nationalism used to be a factor in India’s move for independence. Is it still important in battling domestic issues like poverty or the wealth gap in India, or has globalization made this kind of unity impossible?

Bananas, Beaches, and Bases by Cynthia Enloe

Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics

~ Cynthia Enloe, University of California Press (January 11, 1990)

Enloe both excited me and frustrated me with her analysis on women in international politics. To me, her victimization of women made it seem like we are almost hopeless, and her goal of greater participation unattainable. There are indeed gender inequalities in this world, but I wonder how much a women leader can do if she is to always think about her gender and putting that in the place of making political decisions.

I was also sometimes confused about what message she was trying to get out- for greater equality of women as a gender, in general? Or for greater female participation in international politics, specifically? I was not convinced that both could take place at the same time from her observations.

Key ideas:

– We risk of being “globally naïve” if we do not see that Masculinity and femininity are definitely politicized, and that women’s experience needs to be taken seriously in international politics.

–  Relations between governments depend not only on capital and weaponry, but also on the control of women as symbols, consumers, workers and emotional comforters. –xvii

– A danger in this discussion for change is only seeing women from the developing world when discussing women in international relations.

–   Making feminist sense of international politics may compel us to dismantle the wall that often separates theory from practice- 201

Enloe discusses issues like sex tourism and Hollywood where women are continuously used, abused, and left in the shadows. When she asked why it is women that are used in sex tourism in Southeast Asia, I asked, why aren’t women the ones to be the head of crime circles? Why aren’t women more violent and commit frauds and lead states into wars? Maybe then we can be taken more “seriously” as Enloe wants.

I wonder, if women were the ones to be modern pirates and dictators, is that considered choosing their “feminist aspirations” (64) or in general, basic human aspirations? If other women looked at these types of leaders with admiration, is that violating their nationalist aspirations for feminist aspirations? Would it help women’s sense of security?

(October 7, 2009: For Sociology class)

An ethical debate for two issues: International sex traffic and terminating employees who smoke at home.

Spring 2008

The question of traditional ethics being possible in policy making in a post-modern society is much discussed today among policy makers. Ethics are defined as rules, whether written or culturally in existence that are supposed to guide human actions. Ethics is necessary to study because it helps to understand controversial issues such as sex trafficking and smoking rights- comprehending ethics helps to make consistent decisions and improve policy analyses. Here the discussion of these two ethical dilemmas- international sex traffic and banning smokers from the office- will take place.

It is estimated that there are 600,000 to 800,000 sex slaves worldwide, mostly women, and almost half being minors. In the United States alone there are almost 50,000 sex slaves. As the show titled Sex Slaves by Frontline presents, these thousands of women are kidnapped and sent to Europe, the Middle East, the U.S. and other parts of the globe, and in the process  they may be drugged, terrorized, sold to pimps, locked away in brothels, and raped repeatedly. International sex traffic is one of the most difficult issues to tackle because it involves various parties, ethical dilemmas, and a basic lack of information. Corruption and international protections are some of the many issues that make catching participants like pimps, middlemen, and traffickers who illegally buy and sell women difficult. We question, how can the government allow the global sex trade to continue when they know that it is going on?

Global sex trade raises many related issues like sexual abuse, domestic violence, black market criminal activities, health disparities, corruption, cultural barriers, poverty, and weak international organizations. These are obstacles that vary in degree from place to place but are all related when it comes to international sex trafficking which deals with some of the most helpless members of society. As Sex Slaves presents, in sex trade, women are commodities and are in desperate need of the financial “support” that comes with it, as flawed and minute as it may be. It is definitely a matter that illustrates ethical and economies realities of helpless victims and their families.

It is difficult to control this issue mainly because it is an international problem. For example, there is a general indifference towards women not in our cultural frame when we have “our own” to think about. It is also linked to poor border control and immigration policies which in itself is an entirely different and difficult public policy issue in the United States. Also, the general view of prostitution and sex a taboo one where we know it exists but are also not as informed about the degree of its problem, and therefore, not discused. Further, global sex trade is part of the underground world, and most people do not meet sex slaves and therefore are not directly affected. With all of these problems and rebuttals in mind, international sex trade is a serious ethical dilemma that forces policy makers to look beyond the human exploitation factor.

Another example of an ethical dilemma is the issue of terminating employees who smoke outside of the workplace. While one may not smoke, he or she can still be subject to second hand smoking when around smokers, and this has been proven to cause health hazards, such as heart disease and respiratory ailments. The workplace can be an area where one can be exposed to second hand smoke; this is especially common in restaurants, bars, and other hospitality venues. A common action taken by business and the state to limit this is to prohibit smoking inside or near these areas like restaurants, schools, etc., creating smoke-free zones. These actions have taken place in 27 states today. Another more radical step has been to actually ban smokers from work, even if it is on their own time, like at home. Union Pacific Corp. is once such company that now rejects smoker’s applications in various states that they are based on, including Texas, Arizona, and Kansas; the public affairs director John Bromley stated that this move will save the company a lot of costs annually for each position filled by a nonsmoker (Michigan Daily, February 3, 2005). These completely smoke-free working areas are supposed to protect workers and create an environment that also encourages smokers to quit, as well as save companies funds.

The opposing view of this move is the argument that smoking is a private matter, and thus creating such laws invade personal rights. These moves taken by various companies today have raised alarm among privacy and worker’s rights advocates. There are twenty states today that have no laws preventing employers from firing workers who smoke even when they are not at work. While it is clear that smoking is unhealthy, it is still a choice, and the question of ethics comes into play. Civil liberty organizations inquiry this behavior, and raise the question of what other personal choices could be banned next. They ague that unless workers are engaging in behavior outside of work that interferes with work, employers have no right to limit their behavior outside of the workplace. And smoking, as well as other choices like alcohol is not illegal in the United States, so while it does have unhealthy consequences, they are still personal choices that should not prevent users from employment. It is argued that this is a controlling behavior that once installed, it will allow employers to go even further into personal choices and rights in the future.

In conclusion, the issue of completely smoke free zone creates confusion between its moral and legal arguments. This type of ban plays on political ethics, or policy making judgments about people’s lives, and making decisions for them that they may never meet. It is a clear example of an ethical dilemma in which policy makers are forced to look at what may be for the general good but may interfere with personal liberty and rights.

Ethical quandaries are difficult to address in policy making today, in a post-modern society. We are forced to look at our ethical responsibilities, and the boundaries between something that is both a moral and a legal issue. Symbolic actions, like not allowing smokers employment are symbolic actions with political and moral consequences. Ethical dilemmas also raise the question of who can decide for the public what norms are, especially for future generations. What is the ultimate good, and what are the boundaries of ethics today, and how do we justify something like sex traffic that is seen as necessary in other cultures- these are some of the many crucial questions that makes policy making difficult for issues that are both private and carry public consequences.

Ethnic Conflicts and State Building

Spring 2008

Albert Somit and Steven Peterson’s Human Nature and Public Policy suggests that public policy should conform to human nature. The following answer is based on Chapter 13, titled “Ethnic Conflict and State Building” by Bradely Thayer, in Human Nature and Public Policy.

In Human Nature and Public Policy, Albert Somit and Steven Peterson argues that it is important to understand human behavior in order to dictate policies. They note that every policy has a reaction and causes and effects, and these are largely due to human behavior. With a few exceptions, policies usually reflect the views of the human nature, as they inevitably deal with social, political, and economic issues that consider our reactions and motives on a daily basis. The particular focus of this essay will be on Chapter 13 titled Ethnic Conflict and State Building, by Bradley Thayer. Peterson and Somit basically conclude on this topic that policies designed to stop or limit war and violence between people or nations should be based on the fact that these behaviors “have characterized human affairs since the beginning of recorded history and have given no indication of diminution, all palliative efforts notwithstanding” (13). Thayer argues that ethnic conflicts have evolutionary roots, and therefore it is particularly difficult to make policies because so much of ethnic conflict is about human nature. Nevertheless, evolutionary theory does not “offer proximate explanations of ethnic conflict” but assists in the causes and triggers (238).

Since the end of the Cold War, ethnic conflict has been widespread, such as from Sri Lanka, Bosnia, to Liberia. They are important to study because ethnic conflicts often lead to much abuse in human rights and disasters. Ethnic conflicts also influences U.S. policy making- for example, it affects how much of a presence the U.S. will have in Europe if the conflict tin Kosovo should affect Albanian minority in Macedonia. An ethnic conflict also has political implications for the region, as well as economic implication for the area and its partners as well (especially when sanctions are common during such conflicts).  We seek to understand the roots of these conflicts so that we may make effective policies, and evolutionary models assist us in this process.

Thayer discusses evolutionary theory to illustrate the difficulties of creating policies that would not only limit or terminate ethnic conflicts but also conform to human nature. He uses examples of xenophobia and ethnocentrism to explain the contribution of human evolution on this issue. Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners, or those unknown to us. Ethnocentrism is when one believes in the superiority of their ethnicity. It is a collection of traits that would predispose the individual to show discriminatory preferences for groups with the closest identities to themselves. Both of these traits have existed since the beginning of time in humans and other animals- such as with cats and dogs, as Thayer points as an example. Some argue that competition for territory and other scarce resources caused these traits to appear in human nature; since we live in groups, we compete with other groups, and create wars to get the most resources. Fear of strangers escalated as technology advanced and we were able to make more specialized weapons to threaten one another and defend ourselves. Ethnocentrism proves why individuals generally support their own community more than others. For example, given the human nature, you would not normally sacrifice for strangers. This also explains why people identify with a nation, and communities similar to them in conflict. Nationalism has definitely played large parts in ethnic conflict, as being part of a group only strengthens the “causes” being fought for or defended.

Given these points by Thayer, it confirms the difficulty of conforming to human nature in making policies, especially when the international community is considering involvement. When we learn about these ethnic conflicts, it is in our human nature to sympathize, and most of us who are especially disconnected from the region feel this way. However, that does not mean that the United States will go and use its recourses to end the conflict in Yugoslavia or in Darfur, Sudan. It is very hard to conform to human nature in this sense because while we see the humanitarian abuse, policies must take many other factors into consideration, such as the economic interests, safety of its own citizens, and how it will affect political alliances or monetary relations with other involved parties. Policies must judge on these multiple levels because an ethnic conflict has so many implications for the home nation as well as the conflicted region’s interests, ranging from political, fiscal, to social and historical.

Thayer suggests that we need to change the concept of the national identity as a way of combating ethnic conflicts, and make it be one that includes everyone in a region no matter the race, religion, or background. He suggests that we do this through education as well as media to promote ethnic integration. However, this is a possible, but a difficult process because the very nature of humans has created these ethnical differences in the first place, and some of the prejudices have existed for so long that often becomes part of the culture in many regions of the conflict.  It is difficult to attain complete unity in nations where it is particularly multiethnic. Thayer points that many countries like the United Kingdom, India, France, and the United States have “successfully” used education to promote ethnic integration. Indeed in the United States, racial toleration and acceptance is emphasized through education in schools, and yet racially segregated schools still exist throughout the country. In India, division between castes in schools and in the community still widely exist and accepted because this classification system has existed for so long in society that it is part of the very culture of India. In France, many Muslim families face the problem of having to limit possible schools that their daughter can attend because it is against he law to wear the headscarf inside educational institutions. Combating evolutionary traits such as xenophobia and ethnocentrisms is often too idealistic in international politics. But the recognition that such feelings exist is important in beginning changes, as slowly as it may be. This is why ethnic conflicts take so long to terminate, as changes must be brought in time and must be sensitive to the people and the parties involved.

The evolutionary model used by Thayer assists us in seeing how ethnic conflicts are often inevitable because so much of it is evolutionary, such as xenophobia and ethnocentrisms. It is imperative to realize that ethnic conflicts have evolutionary origins and so cannot be simply eliminated. Rather, they can be controlled and limited. Thayer asserts that the international community must work together to suppress ethnic conflicts. However, this is not always possible because many members of the community that have the means to limit ethnic conflict have other interests to respect as well, especially when ethnic conflicts have so many triggers, from cultural, historical, to economic, and political. Ethnic conflicts are indeed multifaceted, and have very complex origins, and they continue to be a danger for many parts of the world today. What policy makers can do is understand the causes to help scholars “better predict the circumstances in which ethnic conflicts may occur”, and then suggest certain courses of actions. Because so much of human nature is evolutionary, policies wil continue to be suggested and considered, and ethnic conflict will probably remain, like a “social phenomenon”, and continue to be part of the fabric of international politics.

The problems identified in the Frontline program, Living Old, represents a challenge to the agenda setting process.

Spring 2008

In the United States, those over the age of 85 are the fastest growing section today, and it is projected that over the next thirty years, people 65 and older will double, to make up twenty percent of the population. This increase has many implications, from political, fiscal, to social. The Frontline program, Living Old presents these issues through interviews of some members of America’s elderly, as well as academics and doctors. The program looks at the realities of old age today, from the physical to the emotional tolls. There is a fear that the United States will face a national crisis, as this growth has challenges for health care, social security, economic growth, as well as moral- how humans are now regularly having to make difficult decisions regarding the elderly.

As baby boomers have aged, their children are taking care of them while still raising their own kids. The elderly in the United States are also not equally distributed especially because of the retirement migration. More and more retirees are migrating to states like California, Arizona, and Florida where the weather is more flexible for health, and taxes are more favorable. This creates public policy issues for the state as they now have to consider this population in their policy making- such as how to distribute revenue for a certain education program so that it may fulfill the interests of children, but alienate funds that could be used on the elderly. There is no clear evidence that these migration hot spots will get any long term benefit from the migration pattern either. Instead, these population structures pressure governments to alter policies and spend on programs for older adults.

Diversity of the older adult population is also and important consideration in policy making because it brings in the fact that the outcomes in the future of our lives vary a lot across racial, gender, and ethnic groups. The new elder population is increasing in diversity, and will continue to do so in the next fifty years, especially with the greater presence of Hispanics in the United States. This especially affects the elderly population make up and how governments go about addressing various associated issues. For example, in Arizona, not only do you have  and increase in elderly migration, but also a rise in Hispanic immigration, forcing the state to consider both factors when issuing policies. The elder population is also diverse in socioeconomic status; minorities are overrepresented among the elder lower -status groups. Hispanics and blacks in this population are less likely to have a bachelor’s degree or a high school diploma than whites or Asians, and therefore, they have a much lower income than whites and Asians. Increased diversity implies increased economic disparities across groups, leading to many challenges on multiple levels for the current and future older adult population, as well as the government.

Another challenge to the agenda making process for the nation’s elderly is the gender issue because lifestyles differ so greatly between men and women. The “traditional” American family that has married parents and the man being the sole breadwinner is becoming rare, accounting for only 7% of the nation’s households. The percentage of unmarried population is increasing, especially among black women in urban locations. Childbearing is also being delayed, as the percentage of first birth for women over thirty years old has increased from 4% to 21% today. These changes in the family structure have vast insinuation for future elderly, since even today, we expect that our children will take care of us when we reach that level. But in the future, we may not be able to completely rely on our spouse or children for support. Therefore, it is crucial that age policy today consider these demographic realities for American families as well.

The unstable economy of today also tests the elderly population. An unstable economy means that the United States will face difficult economic choices in fiscal distribution, as well as having revenue to use in the first place. The shifts in the elderly population mean that there will be an increased government spending on programs for the aging. As life expectancy increases, the average number of years retirees collect benefit also increases. Improve medical advances and such are likely to increase the length of retirement, meaning longer dependency on the government for benefits.

The decrease in marriage is a problem for the economic well being for the elderly as well. Single mothers that spend much of their time raising kids generally have less wealth than married women and are more likely to be in poverty. These single mothers in lower-income settings that earn minimally are less likely to think about having pension plans since their money is usually used for present needs rather than the future. So, there is a pension inequality between men and women- definitely affecting their well being in the future. So, as more and more single  or divorced women become part of the elderly population, financial preparedness are less likely to exist. Therefore, it is important to take these demographic considerations along with the economic when creating agendas for the elderly.

Another issue on top of the ethnical, gender, geographical, and economic challenges to policy making is the moral subjections of the elderly population. Living Old illustrates this as it takes the perspective of some of America’s elderly in various settings to showcase the emotional aspect of it all. There is a lot of hope and fear among the elderly today. While it is great that people are living longer and healthier today, the price people will pay for the extra decade of longevity is massive. We question if we actually want to live long enough to suffer incurable circumstances of the mind and body. Approximately 105 million Americans have chronic conditions in 2000, and it is projected to increase to 158 million by 2040. The cost associated with chronic disease will be as high as $864 billion in 2040- an incredible economic burden. As Living Old points, our medical system is set up to better treat acute diseases rather than chronic diseases. Many elderly give their children the right to terminate life if their health is at a dire state, or practice euthanasia, and this alone is controversial as the so-called “merciful form of death” has moral consequences and places people in difficult situations. Medical system must improve for the long term and have more interested in family practice so that the elderly can get the care that they need.

While medical and technological advantages are good, we must question at what point do we go too far? More and more are too frail to leave home, hiring caretakers that are present on the hour. A whole new culture of caretakers is developing, with most of them being Hispanic or black. As Leon Kass points in Living Old, families now have less children, and geographically dispersed, so now you are no longer certain if your closed ones can take care of you, especially when the time for care has gone from months of even decades for the elderly today.

Our culture by definition is youth oriented. As life expectancy increases and technology improves, the pressure on government increases for making supportive, and often expensive policies. The elderly population issue has become more complex, as they are now more diverse in race, history, and economy in so many levels. The change in American families and female roles are reshaping the youth population which must be thought of when thinking about the care of the future. Pressure for improving issues like health care and social security in this nation will continue to escalate. One must think about how far one will allow the state to get involved in their private lives. As it slowly turns into a national crisis, policy makers face the challenge of incorporating various aspects of the issue to assist the elderly of this nation.

Stem cell research and the Stem Cell Enhancing Act in 2006- A Policy Argument

Spring 2008

There is a pervasive controversy regarding stem cell research, as it touches on a variety of issues, from science to ethics. Stem cells serve as a type of repair system in our bodies, as they can divide without limitation, and the new divided cells can become different type of cells such as red blood cells to muscle cells as well. The embryo is the most promising source of stem cells for research.  In the United States, President Bush has clearly illustrated his place on the issue, as he restricted funding for research in 2001 and vetoed the Stem Cell Enhancing Act in 2006. Stem cell research brings in many considerations on the table- the question of how far we will allow technology take us, and the issue of the definition of life itself is constantly debated. There is a lot of support as well as opposition to the issue, and while policies have been hindered in the United States, stem cell research has been gaining much international support.

The support for stem cell research lies in the basic argument that it has the potential to have significant promises in medicine.  Because stem cells can become other types of cells after being formed, one could create muscle cells or brain cells in a lab. There are high hopes that research and technology can be used to potentially cure health problems from broken ribs to organ transplants. While the potential is illustrated, more research is needed to really experiment to see if such outcomes can occur, and that is why scientists and members in the field of medicine are urging recognition and funding for stem cell research.

Opponents of stem cell research argue that because the embryo is alive, taking stem cells from this region means that you are literally destroying human lives. Opponents are generally composed, though not limited those with conservative and or religious framework. Many argue that life starts at conception whether that conception is done naturally or in a lab; either way, you are dealing with a system that clearly manipulates humans. And because embryos have the same moral status as humans, when they are destroyed to obtain stem cells, they are destroying humans, and so in religious terms (such as in Christianity), humans cannot consent. They call the research “immoral”, and argue that if it is alive, it should be treated as one and not some medical product.

While many arguments exist for and against stem cell research, the United States congress was able to create and pass the bipartisan bill known as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005. This bill would have given funding on lines of stem cells taken from discarded human embryos that were made for fertility treatments. However, it became to be known as the first bill to be vetoed by President Bush in his presidential term. He stated that while he supports science and the capability it has created for curing medical conditions, “science brings us ever closer to unlocking the secrets of human biology, it also offers temptations to manipulate human life and violate human dignity”. He echoed the same arguments made by opponents of stem cell research, and yet the issue continues to be reflected on today and proponents continue pushing federal recognition.

It is difficult to create policies regarding stem cell research because the debate has so many implications and questions unanswered, such as to what extent are human embryos so exceptional the moral costs become more important than the lifesaving medical promise that it has? There is also the fact that in an increasingly globalize world, there is more and more competition among research institutions all over the world for who can establish the most technological advances. Also, biotechnology happens to carry immense economic promise in today’s world. Stem cell research has already been granted funding in 2006 by the European Union, and the search for answers continues in many other parts of the globe including in South Korea, Israel, and Japan. In terms of competition, the United States “falling behind” and losing its place as one of the premium sites in medical research is another concern for academia and scientists.

Policy makers are also aware that if stem cell research is federally funded, they will be required to make their work public, granting closer governmental watch for the program, and therefore, power to regulate.  There are already many private research institutions, as well as those funded by states, such as in California which agreed to a $3 billion investment in stem cell research, and other states like New York and Wisconsin are likely to follow. Policies are also strongly influenced by party lines, of whether one is conservative or liberal, especially when the conservative leader of the United States has made his position so clear. But the question of ethics and prospective exploitation of the body cloud all of these arguments, and thus creates challenges for any future public policy.

We wonder if we really are in the border of being able to cure ALS or even cancer with stem cell research. We wonder if we are sure and ready enough to make some moral costs and face the social and ethical challenges that may follow. Funding and accepting stem cell research has many implications, as question of what happens next always arises in this debate. For example will cloning be the next step and how will that then affect our society? Where do we draw the lines in scientific research and its limitations? As President Bush stated, the “needs of science and the demands of conscience” makes this issue much more personal for Americans. The debate has caused personnel all over the world to continue to find reason regarding the issue, but the matter of fact is that the social and ethical challenges it implies will remain as we continue to observe the power of science and human capability.

The Atwima District Human Development Report: Analysis of the Rural Ghana (2004)

Based on:

National Planning Development Commission and the UNDP. District Human Development Report, Atwima District. 2004.

April 6, 2007

The purpose of a Human Development Report [HDR] is to provide a quantitative and a qualitative analysis of human development in a given area that goes beyond looking at the economics. Most importantly, an HDR should be accessible to the general population so that they can gain an understanding of various topics when analyzing their own development. Every year since 1997, Ghana has produced an HDR, but in order to further examine the growth of the nation, district HDRs began to be formulated, including the Atwima district which is of discussion here. The goal of the Atwima HDR is to “assist in the design and targeting of interventions aimed at improving upon the human development of the population” (2). Overall, the Atwima HDR’s format and flow of their findings are general and relatively straight forward, with enough ample statistics for a brief overview. On the other hand, its accessibility to the general population is questionable especially when the literacy rate of the people in Atwima is not at a level where development reports can be easily understood. Also interestingly enough, the HDR does not exactly give actual recommendations of what can be done to resolve issues but rather what can be done to entice the making of policy recommendations by others like the government and various NGOs. The tone of the HDR is one of hope, and although some bias is in existence, it provides an honest overview of human development in this rural district.

In the Atwima HDR, various aspects of development are discussed, including a brief profile of the district itself, and the assessment of trends of subjects such as poverty, education, literacy, health, and participation. Finally, the Atwima HDR discusses its main theme- vulnerability, followed by a discussion of the challenges and policy recommendations for Atwima. It is explained that vulnerability is the particular theme because it helps to identify the characteristics of low-income households who are unable to advance and improve their situations, and information gathered from such analysis makes it possible to create policies that addresses specific needs (4). The evaluation of human development in Atwima is performed within the framework of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and the human development trends that are explained are trends that have been observed over the past five years (1999-2004). The quantitative and qualitative data gathered in the Atwima HDR was largely by a “participatory approach”, including official documents, secondary data from various censuses, the Core Welfare Indicators Questionnaire survey, socio-economic surveys conducted by the Centre for Policy Analysis, as well as various consultations with academics and local leaders (vi). Those involved in creating the HDR were also local academics and professionals, making the report more personal to Ghana and its people who are supposed to be the primary beneficiary of the report.

The general profile provided in the HDR of Atwima is quite useful, as it gives specific data that are important for understanding other parts of the report, such as population and environmental statistics, as well as the discussion of the government. Located in the western part of the Ashanti Region, Atwima is largely rural, with agriculture being the dominant source of economy, although there are hopes that the exiting mineral mines, such as gold, could bring revenue in the future for the district (7). Overall, this portion of the report addresses the basic and most important problems facing Atwima, with a special focus on the population demographics and the environment. The unbalanced age distribution of its population is a particular concern of the HDR, as even though Atwima has the highest population growth rate in the nation with 3.6%, its younger population is overwhelmingly dominating, with those under the age of 15 accounting for 43% of the population while those over 65 years of age account for 6% of the population (9). This creates great social security problems as well as future economic concerns, as it could mean that the working population may have to pay higher taxes to cater for the elderly (9). Another emphasized issue was the environment, such as the deforestation and other heavy human activities that are depriving the district of its natural resources in a speedy manner. The report states how “re-afforestation has not kept pace with the rate of exploitation” in Atwima and promotion of sustainable use of the forest has not been encouraging (vii). However, other than mentioning some example NGOs that are concentrated with the environmental concerns of Atwima, the HDR does not further discuss the issue or provide any meaningful recommendations.

In Part III of the HDR, there is a discussion of progress in human development in general, with a precise attention to the role of agriculture in Atwima, which is the main source of living for 65% of the population (27). The recent trend in this source of livelihood is how it is ceasing as the primary occupation among the younger population, as they are acquiring secondary jobs and migrating to the nearby capital of Kumasi, which is becoming increasingly urbanized (35). Many are also taking on additional jobs while being fully employed in agriculture, with the key reason being a lack of income (29). This is an important trend to pay attention to, as it relates to the population problem that the HDR has addressed previously, since the growing and moving working populations will create great tribulations for the economic progress of Atwima where agriculture still remains as the primary source of revenue. In the discussion of employment and agriculture, there are some data usage that are questionable; for example, the HDR concludes that farmers were happy with the government’s policy of mass spraying of pests and fertilizers in cocoa farms because “discussion with opinion leaders and informal conversation with cocoa farmers” proved so (27). It is followed by admitting that there was no actual scientific assessment of the degree of success of these policies at the time of the survey because it was not possible and because of time constraints (27). At another point in the report, the team makes an assumption that because unemployment is relatively moderate in Atwima (36.3%), it can be implied that people in this district on average are more likely to be working than compared to the rest of the country (31). This implication is a dangerous one because 36.3% unemployment rate still means that more than one in three is not working (34). For a report whose purpose is to accurately analyze human development, even if flaws are stated, making such conclusions in the first place should not take place. False hope is a dangerous phenomenon for a developing country, and therefore there should not be any conclusions when only questionable evidence is available.

The Atwima HDR’s study of education is another relevant aspect of the report, which begins by outlining the overall objective of education in Ghana, which is to achieve universal access to basic education with a special attention to geographical and gender equality by 2005 (36). The report discusses how to pursue education beyond the secondary level, students have to go out of district, and one of the reasons that such resources are not available in Atwima is because it is hard to get teachers to a district where there are poor roads, sanitation, and accommodations (37). The difference between rural and urban parts of Ghana is mentioned quite a few times throughout the HDR, as the report emphasizes how such differences affect various topics in development, such as education in this case. Such explanation is not only understandable but necessary, as the differences between rural and urban are quite large and influential in the economies, health, education, and general development of the district. Another positive analysis that the report makes in this section is the connection it makes between education and modernization and development of Atwima as a whole. This is an essential recognition as it gives more incentives to improve various specifics such as water supply and roads.

Another major problem in education that was reported in the Atwima HDR is withdrawal from school, which is about 7% of the students, and one of the main reasons and a disturbing one, is because of a lack of interest (46). This is a crucial problem as it is universally known that education is one of the primary necessities to better lives and one’s future, as well as a nation’s. To not have interest is alarming, and it needs to be addressed, and how it should be addressed is unfortunately not mentioned in the Atwima HDR. Another distressing predicament is the literacy rate of adults in Atwima; 57% of women in the lowest wealth quintile [which is the dominating distribution of the overall population] have no education, and this goes for nearly a quarter of the men in the same arena (49). The report does raise this concern, and also mentions that in order to achieve the national goal of universal education for Ghana, efforts must be doubled to ensure that there is “no reversal of the upward trend observed at these levels” (50). The irony of the breakdown of literacy and education in this report is that the HDR itself does not satisfy the general population of Atwima as it does not reflect the general literacy rates; rather, the report is best understood by those who are somewhat above average in the literacy rate, which does not represent the general population of Atwima.

The reporting of public health and health care in general is another noteworthy portion of the Atwima HDR, as it highlights the overall progress in the system with a defensive edge. The report utilized childhood mortality rates as broad indicators of social development and health status, which is another problematic method of investigation (56). Issues like elderly care and diseases due to migration cannot always be fully understood solely based on child mortality rates, especially when one of the basic promise of the Atwima HDR is to identify trends in human development over the past five years. It is a useful indicator, but more factors must be looked at to make solid, valuable conclusions. And this lack of true solid data is mentioned in the report, as it states that it assessing health improvement goals in Atwima is “very difficult because data on the mortality measures were scantly” and based on the available data, “no meaningful comment on the achievement of the millennium goals with respect to child and maternal can be made” (57). Although a lack of data is a huge problem in this HDR, admitting to this problem is at least responsible, since it eliminates the false hope factor to an extent.

The Atwima HDR’s remark on the HIV/AIDS is one that is defensive, as unfortunately, the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in the district has increased since 1999 (60). Immediately after the mention of this terrible reality, the report states that this data is not convincing because it “could” be that people now find it less difficult to go to the health care facilities as a result of educational campaign about how to handle the disease in Ghana, and how overall, the number of cases for HIV/AIDS in Atwima is “under-disclosed” (68). One can think of many situations that can question the validity of this increase in HIV/AIDS epidemic, or any other problems raised in the observance of human development for that matter. Either way, the lone available statistic provided by the Atwima District Health Directorate in its 2003 Annual Report shows that in 1999, there were 25 reported cases and in 2003, there was 133 (60). Like its declaration of inadequate data to determine health improvements in Atwima, the report under the discussion of HIV/AIDS admits that improvement in public health is not progressing at a reasonable rate, and also mentions possible faults with the collected data. Again, this honesty is at least a positive inclusion for understanding this Atwima HDR.

Vulnerability, the main theme and the last section of the Atwima HDR gave attention to food, human, and job insecurity, and it was found that the average Atwima resident has a higher level of insecurity than the average Ghanaian (72). Through the survey methods, it was exposed that some of the types of events that lead to vulnerability in the community include natural disasters such as rainstorm and plant disease, as well as man made destructions such as land disputes, bush fire, and mining activity (72). The important issues that the discussion of vulnerability raises is how, like education, various societal aspects are connected together, such as economic progression, improving public health, and awareness. However, instead of providing some formal outline as to how such issues can be targeted, it instead criticizes the current movements to an extent, calling the existing public programs as “inadequate” and how the reason that the average citizen is critical of the government’s role is because of its limited number of beneficiary programs (84). Further, it goes on to describe the agendas as “safety ropes and ladders rather than safety nets”, and how no matter what is done, “disasters will strike a few and safety nets are needed for them to prevent people from falling deeper into deprivation when they face a crisis” (85). As an HDR, the Atwima HDR fails in this respect to assist in targeting interventions to improve the vulnerability situation, as it gives no real recommendations but resorts to condemn the existing system instead.

The formatting of the Atwima HDR unfortunately does not provide for the average people of Atwima as it does not match the literacy capabilities of the population. However, it is also not a document that can just be understood by the few elite intellectuals. The report is overall pretty broad, and gives ample explanations of certain ideas that may seem obvious. For example, in the education section of the HDR, the report notes that “infrequent attendance at school can impair the child’s learning and acquisition of skills and education” (85). This may seem like a very obvious statement, and almost unnecessary, but it reinforces better understanding of the HDR, especially if the reader is not the most educated but still literate enough.

Another major purpose that the Atwima HDR fails to address is giving true policy recommendations (even though the last section is titled ‘Conclusion and Policy Recommendations’). Instead, the report “calls for a careful mix of strategies to address different development needs” for other institutions, such as the government and NGOs, to take (87). The Atwima HDR reports how problems such as the disproportioned number of younger and older populations and the exploitation of the environment are important to address for the future development of the rural district, as it relates to the rate of vulnerability rates, as well as economic growth of the area and its people. It reports how the findings raise the need to find advanced methods that will promote sustainable use of the forests, but does not give any indication of what kind of method may work for this to occur. The only specific recommendation that the HDR explicitly makes is how the District Assembly could improve its feedback and follow up mechanism to ensure better communication with the people through the FM radio channels, which is the main source of news that people use in the district (88). Other suggestions are much broader, such as having “counter-cyclical social risk management policies” in rural areas to target the vulnerability factor (89). This weak outflow of recommendations is a critical fault in the Atwima HDR, as even though we are made aware that more accurate data and analysis must be gathered, recommendations could have still been compiled from the broad discussions of the issues facing Atwima.

The hopeful and sometimes defensive tone that is carried periodically in the Atwima HDR may affect the way that readers interpret the report, but either way, it does not completely fulfill the two very important roles of an HDR- to be accessible to the general population and to give ample recommendations based on the findings for improvement in human development. The Atwima HDR does provide some good background information regarding various topics such as education and health, but it still remains futile in its reporting of its main theme, vulnerability. This also has to do with the fact that vulnerability is a very dynamic, abstract concept to look at in human development, but because it was the theme of choice, it should have been further discussed and incorporated into other topics that were covered in the discussion. Its lack of access to the general population of Atwima is significant because they are the group of all the people that should get something rewarding out of the report. Knowledge and awareness in general is vital for the masses of any nation with critical issues in human development, and in order for progress to take place in a nation like Ghana in a more speedy, consistent manner, it is imperative that the public be aware of the significance of the issues that they face everyday. It is the public that has the power to make change and improve their conditions, but if they are ignorant about their livelihood, then the issues will continue to exist. By making the HDR more accessible to the common mass, it could have a more impact on the very issues that it makes it clear as important to address.

Should the government encroach further into the institution of marriage?

May 5, 2008

Marriage is perhaps one of the most private matters of an individual’s life, and it is also something that is increasingly becoming a public issue in the United States. Among the many reasons for this trend includes the fact that almost fifty percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. There are either to too many marriages taking place,  or too little of it- both scenarios has created convoluted family structures, thereby affecting the well being of communities. As the Frontline production, Let’s Get Married discusses, over the past half-century the number of single-parent households has increased dramatically to take over about one third of families in the U.S. The “traditional” family structure in the U.S. seems to be disappearing, causing governments to take action.  Governmental involvement in marriage has of course raised concerns, as while the ideologies of some of the policies may be good, but they are still essentially invading into a very private and personal matter of the people.

Changes in the attitude of marriage have taken place from mid-20th century, as the impact of women’s movement of the 1970s led to the reevaluation of the institution of marriage. The expansion of economic opportunities has led to women taking more control of their lives as individuals first, and thereby marrying and bearing children later and simply having more voice in marriage and domestic issues. The impact of Gay Liberation Movement has also brought attention to the apparent discrimination in marriage laws and spousal benefits, causing people to really think about the limits of marriage as a official institution versus personal choices and morals. The legitimization of illegitimate offspring of unmarried parents has caused changes in state adoption laws as well. These are some of the many challanges that have taken place in the last fifty years, and changes are continuing to take place in this country today.

As Let’s Get Married showcased, the problems of marriage today are pretty serious and complicated. The correspondent Alex Kotlowitz illustrated how this private matter now has dire public consequences, as social, political, and economic forces have come together to influence the “modern marriage movement”. The show looks at two very different scenarios- the state of Oklahoma where you have the nation’s second highest divorce rate, and the city of Chicago in Illinois where actually getting married is not happening. In 1999, the most extensive experiment to tackle the problem of marriage took place when Governor Frank Keating launched a $10 million initiative to make people think carefully before actually getting married. This includes various programs to give new perspectives to people, and the question of its effectiveness remains unclear. In Chicago, only one in ten children are born to married parents, and often, the child becomes the reason for marriage which could be a good or a bad choice for the couple. The couples that were showcased were living in poor, urban neighborhoods, often with illegitimate children and on welfare. Ashaki Hankerson was one such woman who had seven children by three different men, living on welfare, and wanting to marry the father of her youngest child who is unemployed and looking for work. Further, the work titled The Marriage Problem by James Wilson also looks at marriage and addresses these same concerns of the impact that these unstable marriage and family structures have on children. He argues that today, money and culture has a huge role on marriage, and the family has lost its “moral basis”, as we live in a society driven by sudden impulses and “self-indulgence”. These works reflect many issues with marriage and how it goes beyond the relationship of a man and a woman- it reflects the progress or the lack of it of the American culture, the concern of family and community structures, economic advancement, as well as welfare, education, and dealing with the division between rich and poor, minorities and majorities.

Today, policy makers must take all of the factors into consideration when looking at marriage. Marriage is under the attention of the government because it has so many public implications. President Bush has stated that “stable families should be the central goal of American welfare policy,” and has proposed spending over $300 million on experimental programs to encourage marriage every year. Funding programs to promote marriage among the poor have already been considered in review of federal welfare programs. States like Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah, Michigan, and North Dakota have already prohibited civil unions. If this continues, governments, whether state or federal will have more active roles in marriage, as whether one is liberal or conservative, the increasing problems seen with family structures is becoming very apparent in American societies, as highlighted by Let’s Get Married.

Indeed today, it is difficult to create a national family policy in a post-modern society because issues such as marriage have become so complicated. The nature of society is changing at an age when technology is advancing, economies are becoming globalized, the role of genders is becoming increasingly divergent, and morals are being questioned on a daily basis. Government interventions can hurt or promote marriages- but most importantly, it is becoming something on the minds of future married couples. Because of the extent of public consequences, governments should lay down some basic rules while trying to avoid interfering in individual rights as much as possible. Today, many issues have to be looked at when we think about what can or should be done about marriages, such as the rights of children and biological parents, the rights of surrogate parents, family policy taxes and benefits, child custody, as well as attention to unintended incest and health problems. Married people are becoming the new minority in the U.S. The state is becoming a stakeholder in generational replacements; as marriage alternatives expand, laws will have to be adjusted.

Old Delhi and Bombay- A Look at the Changes Brought by Militarization and Industrialization

Based on the following:

Adarkar, Neera and Menon, Meena. One Hundred Years, One Hundred Voices: The Millworkers of Girangdon, an Oral History. New Delhi: Seagull, 2004.

Gupta, Narayani. “Military Security and Urban Development: A Case Study of Delhi 1857-1912.” Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1. (1971)

King, Anthony D. “Military Space: The Cantonment as a System of Environmental Control.”Colonial Urban Development

March 30, 2007

During the second half of the 19th Century, colonial cities in India faced much interventions and changes, such as increased military security in the former cities of the old Mughal Empire, like Shahjahanabad/Delhi, and the rapid industrialization that occurred in port cities like Bombay. Each of these transformations caused drastic changes in the urban nature, affecting both society and the physical personality of the city. With the continued presence of the British forces, it can be observed that although both of these transformations had its consequences, industrialization has proven to be a more powerful force in the city, affecting the social and urban system in an unprecedented speed.

The main cause of increased military presence in cities such as Shahjahanabad and Lucknow was due to the Mutiny of 1857. Triggered by interventions the British were making upon the indigenous religious and social life through works like missionaries and education, this became a bloody effort by the British to regain control. Therefore, after the struggle, their main concern for security led them to place the military right into the city, such as in Old Delhi (Gupta, 61). This was also done in the old Mughal city of Lucknow, which was one of the great centers for Muslim culture, and like Delhi, had a strong symbolic meaning. The humiliation from losing control of Delhi for several months led the army to “exaggerate the extent and the brutality of the Mutiny all out of proportion”, and triggering historically symbolic areas was another way of stamping their power and presence on the indigenous population(Gupta, 62). According to the Royal Commission, in the mid- nineteenth century, there were some 227,000 member of the colonial military establishments in India, and in time, what was temporary became a more permanent presence in the heart of the cities (Gupta, 61).

Old Delhi, or former Shahjahanabad, was already a fortified city when it was established in 1648, so it already had a historical trend for security.  Cantonment, which is a “permanent military station”, was the institutionalized form of settlement for the members of the British military, and it occupied one-third of Old Delhi (Gupta, 67). After the Mutiny, many of the old 17th century structures symbolic of the Mughal Empire were torn down, and the cantonments were established in what was a grid-like format, with different modes of housing like bungalows placed depending on the rankings (King, 100). The army was also enlarged in Old Delhi, along with a larger police force, both of which made a rapid presence into the lives of the pre-Mutiny population.

To keep the Fort secure, 500 yards of the surrounding area that was thickly populated and built was cleared on the grounds that it interfered with air circulation (Gupta, 64). Thus, the civilian population of Old Delhi were left with condensed segments of the city to live in and start over, and while this took place, the population of the city continued to rapidly grow. However, military expansion got into the way of this growth of the city; the concerns over public health, sanitation, the need of new roads, housing, and civilian interests all clashed with the military, as the British did very little to accommodate such visible issues, causing much tension in the city. The societal problems that these changes brought were also aided by the relationships that formed, such as those between the indigenous females and military members, as this caused instability among the two very different groups, and also the spread of sexual diseases, as “between 20 percent and 25 percent and, in some cases, 50 percent of all ‘sick’ admissions to hospital were cases of venereal disease” (King, 116). The symbolic removal of the ancient wall that surrounded Old Delhi not only emphasized the British power onto the civilians but also caused a movement of homes and establishments. As Narayani Gupta observes: “Even under the rule of the Mughals, Delhi has not had this appearance, for there had not been a clear-cut separation between civil and military personnel” (Gupta, 63).

On the other hand, industrialization that began in the 1870s created similar, but more drastic and rapid changes to colonial port cities such as Bombay. During this time, cities exploded at unprecedented rates, such as Chicago and Paris. Governments in these Western cities realized that this fast growth was creating problems in terms of space, sanitation, pollution, etc, and so urban planning became a consideration that was ultimately implemented to accompany these changes. However, in Indian cities like Bombay, increased need of urban planning was in direct conflict with colonial politics, economic goals, funds, as well as military concerns of the British.

Like militarization in Old Delhi, industrialization in Bombay had a tremendous affect in public health, the urban form, as well as the social structure, though the changes occurred in a more sweeping manner. Bombay became the ultimate industrial city in India because of its natural harbors and ports, as well its existing cotton and textile industry. Its present indigenous industrial class that existed due to the opium trade also provided for a firm backdrop, and along with this, the existing British presence and its good channels for communication through the coast made Bombay the ideal city for economic growth for the benefit of the colonists.

In Bombay, industrial structures such as factories related to pollution, and labor needs, which in turn caused changes in the urban and social class forms. Old Delhi did not face the dramatic social changes that Bombay went through, such as its new working class that ultimately became a force in the city. This new class continued to increase as industrialization continued, and this was followed by pressure on the agricultural sector of the Indian economy. Also, the uneven ratio of men to women in these cities formed a unique community base in the new working class, as many of the members were forced to move to the city away from their families because you could not be too far from your workplace where you would spend most of the day (Adarkar, 115). Concerns of health were most definitely present, as these workers lived in cramped spaces with more than a dozen others, such as in chawls which were like one room tenants linked by corridors (Adarkar, 95). So, sanitation and the spread of diseases became a daily presence in these city residents. And along these conditions, a unique character of diversity became quite visible in this new class brought by industrialization. Workers from various areas of the subcontinent, speaking various languages and practicing multiple faiths came together in Bombay, and the unity that these workers developed despite such differences proved to be useful, and ultimately threatening to the British (Adarkar, 90).

The affect on the urban form was quite visible with industrialization, as cities became denser with people and constructions. Between 1865 and 1892, the number of workers in mills grew from 6,600 to 800,000, 20,000 of which were women (Adarkar, 92). Density was a significant problem, as working class neighborhoods came to be defined as congested and filthy by those not experiencing their situation. The density was also caused by the fact that investment into dwelling was least important for workers, especially when they sent most of what they earned back to the villages they had moved from (Adarkar, 96). Also, the workers has a different notion of privacy since back in their village, the flow of people from living spaces were common and expected as a form of social interaction (Adarkar, 139).  Although middle class suburbs did begin to form surrounding the dense city, funds for such projects always became an issue. And for this reason, many intended projects, such as improving drainage system or roads were never completed. The separation between the workplace and the residence therefore was always tightly bound together. The closely built buildings made open space and streets that much more important to the lives of the dwellers, as they represented social interaction and a sense of community that they had left behind. These spaces also had political significance, as personal statements and research has shown how workers would be united with the goal of freedom as they were aware of the rights that they deserved and their power in the capitalistic goals of the city (Adarkar, 151).

Transformation in the name of military security in Old Delhi did create great changes to the urban shape, but the affects of industrialization and the adjustments it brought to colonial port cities such as Bombay is even more substantial. Both forms had some similar affects- they concerned public health, new dispersion of populations, as well as trying to come to some term with the rise of population and the political and economic interests of the British. However, the structural modifications, and especially the social changes that industrialization brought were much more lasting and significant, as a new, diverse working class was established and ultimately had much voice in political schemes. Industrialization affected the lives of individuals in a much different way, as for example, Old Delhi families were still together when they rebuilt their establishments, but in Bombay, much of the members moved away from their families to start a new establishment independently. Exploitation was much more present, and industrialization changed the priorities of the people, which centered more on the present and the survival of themselves and those living much further away. These changes, caused by the colonial goals of the British ultimately led to resistance, which was eventually a great presence in cities where unity was much more possible, and this in turn was quite significant when the issue of independence became perceptible.

e perceptible.

Africa: The Potential and Road Blocks

Based on responses and reflections on the publications of:

S.W. Kisembo, Handbook on Decentralisation in Uganda, Wayne Edge Global Studies Africa, 11th Edition, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance, Patrick Bond, Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation

Written on March 2, 2007

The president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete recently stated that the only adversity of Africa was that it receives bad press, stating how the crisis in the “part of one African nation is portrayed as a crisis in all the 53 African countries” and as a result, “every country is condemned”. He further states that Africa is moving in a positive direction, where democracy is flourishing and is no longer such a hopeless case as everyone presumes, going as far as to say that it is the “emerging market of the future in this globe”. Such bold statements would not have been stated less than ten years ago, and even though many aspects have improved for parts of the continent, in order for us to take Kikwete’s insistence seriously today, we would have to be only observing a narrow set of economic statistics. The World Bank has even stated in 2005 that the continent is being “continually drained of wealth through depletion of minerals, forests and other eco-social factors”, and as long as such a trend continues at some level, we are not ready to firmly believe in the optimistic words of the president.

There are several problematic parts with Kikwete’s statements regarding Africa’s progress, foreign investment, as well as the media influence. Kikwete looks sternly at the developed Western world that has not been involved in investing in Africa, instead applauding Asian businesses, such as China, for taking risks in investing in Africa when others have been skeptical. Although it is true that China is investing in Africa, the reason and the method of their investment is questionable and does not follow a parallel pattern to Kikwete’s assumptions, which is that Chinese investment is improving the conditions of African people. Finally, the president’s criticism of the media is an understandable one, as biases and stereotypes are clearly present. However, bashing the media so strongly takes attention away from the deep rooted reasoning behind AIDS, poverty, unemployment, famine, ecological deprivation, corruption, and other shared problems of Africa. The media is bringing attention to such pressing concerns, whether we agree with its method. Overall, the progress of Africa is not as rapid and forthcoming as the president may want to convince us; rather, we are looking at a glimpse of all the potential that African has. But these potentials are not being utilized because of the dynamic problems that have existed for decades.

The reasons behind Africa’s turmoil are extensive, but there is a strong credit that can be given to colonialism by European powers. Colonialism led to an array of critical, lasting problems for the continent, such as its exploitation of the continent through ferocious taxing, stripping of natural resources, separating families by forced urban migration, violence, and new racial ideologies, to name a few. After decolonization, liberated countries faced extreme debt whether due to lending money for development projects or paying for WWII (as was done by former British colonies), and much of this debt is still being paid off today. Today, if one were to observe a plethora of African nations, it can be observed that ongoing corruption and civil unrest are common, as is the case with Zimbabwe, Sudan, Togo, and Sierra Leone. Many coastal nations are facing threats of desertification, deforestation, and over-fishing. Health care, especially the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to be a battle, as well as other diseases such as Malaria which affects more than 90% of the population of Guinea-Bissau. The effects of colonization are still visible today, and as a result, one can state that although Africa is improving, it is not ready to compete with the world, especially when the concept of capital modernization and democracy is still ambiguous.

There are of course nations that are promising and follow the lead of Kikwete’s statements. Mali is mostly a rural nation where the annual growth and GDP growth rate are positive [though less than 3% for each], and the unemployment rate is dramatically lower than the rest of the continent [14.6% in urban areas], as well as the HIV/AIDS rate in adults [only 1.7%]. Botswana is another nation that comes into the front light today when we speak of progressive countries. It has a balanced rural and urban population, whose chief wealth comes from diamonds, copper, and other minerals, having one of the highest GDP percentage in the continent, at 7.2% and growing. Botswana has the longest continuous multiparty democracy in Africa, with a government relatively free of corruption and one that follows a fiscally conservative economic policy. Being noted for being one of the more stable nations of the continent, Botswana’s social services and economic sectors (such as mining) continues to expand, with diamond being 80% of its export. Even though the GDP growth and political situation seem to be enduring, the welfare of individuals under the system is quite unbelievable in Botswana. With life expectancy at birth being only 37 years old for male and 40 years old for female, it is predicted by the UN-AIDS that this rate could drop as low as 27 years by 2010. The main cause of such a dramatic rate is because of HIV/AIDS, which affects a stunning 35.8% of the adult population, giving Botswana the sad distinction of having the highest recorded rate of the infection in the world. If the life expectancy continues to decline at this speed, the economy of Botswana will be severely challenged as labor force will decrease and there will be an increased reliance on immigration which in itself is a problem since diseases become a problem due to population movements. HIV/AIDS could become the factor that could ultimately determine whether Botswana can live up to president Kikwete’s promise of an emerging Africa.

It is not to suggest that there are no organized venues for progress to take place for the continent as a whole. The African Union, established in 2001, is one such unifying factor that shows that nations are willing to take the need of progress seriously. Although dealing with 53 nations of various languages, cultures, and political ideologies has been difficult, it is still important to note the symbolic meaning of such an organization. New Partnership for African Development, or NEPAD is another example of a multi-coalition association that is part of the AU that was founded to “eliminate poverty, concentrating on growth and development, halting marginalization of Africa in the global arena, and accelerating the empowerment of women”, as well as to change the “overwhelmingly negative perception of Africa as a continent buckling under the weight of disease, disaster, death and despair, as well as corruption”. An example of one of several nations that has shown NEPAD in a good light is the successful civilian transfer of power that took place in Nigeria in 2003, its first. Nigeria has been known notoriously for its violent civil unrest, as well as corruption [ranking in the top five for years by Transparency International], but the election of 2003 that brought president Olusegun Obasanjo to power has provided for some hope, as he declared a war against corruption and is also a driving force behind NEPAD, with a strong motivation to bring peace not only to his nation but to West Africa. And according to Hunter-Gault, the election has also given the status of Nigeria as “one of the largest producers of oil in the world”, becoming significant especially for powers such as United States that has been seeking alternative options for oil since 9/11. However, like Botswana, the promising signs that come out of such countries are always shadowed by other crisis that are large enough to be a dilemma for confidently claiming progress.

Other than oil, Nigeria is mainly agriculture based, and although it has a high GDP percentage at about 7%, 45% of its population is under the poverty line, which is less than U.S. $1 a day, according to the World Bank. The inequality between the rich and poor remain at extreme levels, and this is quite upsetting when one sees the potential that exists. Since independence in 1960 from the United Kingdom, Nigeria is basically a nation that has faced political, economic, and a very emotional ride, with the capability of economic growth, human development and social progression being present but other factors such as corruption getting in the way.

It can be observed from various African nations that that though rich in minerals, most of the continent remains dependent on agricultural, which is an issue since the global market for agriculture continues to be a battle. Also, many African countries are either facing or are coming out of political turmoil, affecting the mostly negative human development and human rights record that exists in most African nations, such as Kenya, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, and Nigeria as discussed. The life expectancy rate continues to be extreme, at an average range of 40s to 50s, and this goes hand in hand with the HIV/AIDS epidemic that is heavily concentrated in the continent. Such rates of life expectancy becomes important when discussing the progress of the continent when you are expected to live for such a short time, your outlook on what is important in life and how you choose to lead it will be very narrow as priorities may differ and more narrow, and thus your approach to various issues such as health care will not be the same as those in developed countries.

Along with the progression of Africa into being a hopeful instead of a hopeless case, many leaders have applauded Asian nations, such as China for investing in Africa. And there are statistics that illustrate how investment in various sectors in Africa is not necessarily a risk, such as the fact that in South Africa, the lower middle class have a collective buying power that is over U.S. $26 billion. This indirect attack by Kikwete to other developed nations is questionable; it is true that foreign investment by the West such as the United States has been very limited [though foreign aid has certainly been in existence], but the reasoning behind this is also logical.

Kikwete’s praise of China is interesting since evidence has shown that the affect of Chinese involvement has not been as helpful as hoped. In nations such as Sudan, Zimbabwe and Angola, Chinese investment since the 2000s has shown to encourage corrupted regimes, and since then, many native Africans have lost their jobs directly and indirectly by the Chinese threat; in Nigeria alone, where unemployment is already almost half the population, 350,000 jobs were lost directly, and 1.5 million indirectly, and the garment industry of Lesotho completely collapsed when China joined the WTO in 2005. Since 1987, Africa’s agricultural export, which is already limited, has gone down from U.S. $87 billion to US $13 billion in 2000, and one of the primary causes for this is China’s import demand. In its rush to secure relations and resources such as oil for its fast developing economy, experts say that China’s need to expand is “reinvigorating an older, crude style of development, re-establishing an era of ‘white elephants’ and ‘prestige projects’ with little benefit to the local people” (Bond, 74).

Nations are looking at more than the media when thinking of investing millions or even billions, and so statistics must be taken into consideration when we ask why the West is not investing as much as Africa would like. Debt, stock market performances, political stability, resources, and taxes are some of many factors that are taken into consideration in foreign investment. The G8 finance ministers have reported that Third World debt has risen from is defined as “third world”, it is certainly a risk factor that must be taken seriously. The stock market is another dynamic that makes many nations capable of investing rethink their decisions, as the ones particularly in Africa have been very unpredictable. For example, in 1997, outflow of hot money (the speculative positions by private sector investors) crashed Zimbabwe’s currency by an astounding 74% in just four hours of trading. The performances of the eight major stock markets of Africa have been tremendously erratic, sometimes returning “impressive speculative style profits style profits to foreign investors and sometimes generating large losses”. Like the debt issue, the indiscretion of the stock market is an anxiety that is taken into account before any decision is made regarding investment.

Tax fraud is another problem that makes investing in Africa less attractive, especially when corporate failure to pay taxes and the state’s failure to collect leads to controversy. Because foreign investment is much needed and wanted, most African nations are very generous when it comes to tax breaks to new investors. However, it easily leads to corruption; one common form by the state is the awarding of import permits to individuals with distinction, undermining what is supposed to be a legitimate protection, and the negative result of this can be seen with the ruined sugar industry in Kenya and the feed milling and poultry industry in Nigeria that lasted for long stretches of time. Tax fraud and transfer pricing has made much of Africa victims of privatization-related foreign investment. It is certainly a problem when you actually necessitate foreign investment but you do not receive it because of the number of various problems that makes it a risk, and once you do receive investment, the government acts on corruptive actions so that a win-win situation is never guaranteed.

Looking at new organizations with the goal of development such as AU and what they have done to tackle the investment issue has shown that investment is a complete obstacle. The African Peer Review Mechanism is a process that is voluntary that would allow members to be submitted to a review by Western nations of their political governance in order to be considered for investment and aid. The African Peer Review Mechanism is one that has won popular support by Western nations, clearly indicating that they are willing to keep the promise of the program but only to those nations that received the best reviews. However, as of January, 2006, only 26 of the 53 nations that are part of the AU have agreed to participate, and of the 26, Ghana and Rwanda are the participants that have actually gone through the full process. So, the resources are there, but African nations also have to be accountable. Sadly, it is not that easy to grab and plant the seed, as corruption, political unrest, and age old economic concerns and human development problems cannot be changed overnight.

For all of the problems in Africa that has made the continent a “hopeless case”, Kikwete states that it is the media alone that has caused the continent to be an unfortunate case. It is absolutely true that more often than not, the press does intend to report the negative more than the positive, mainly because they receive the highest ratings. Charlene Hunter-Gault labels the media in regards to Africa as “parachute journalism” where journalists basically look at the situation very briefly and then fly back to report without looking at the reasons for why the situation is the way it is. Judgments are often made in void, and this continues the poor portrayal of Africa, and also causes Africans themselves to be angry towards the media, as well as themselves since it is just another reinforcement of what is, could, and should be happening. Articles such as The Economist’s story on “The Hopeless Continent” in 2000 fuels anger, and bolsters Afro-pessimism, a term given to the belief that there is no way out of the position of Africa and using it to justify the lack of investment and involvement by the rest of the world. However, the media alone cannot be blamed for the decades-long tribulations of Africa; media in this case illustrates the symptoms of the troubles, but reporting on poverty, corruption, or HIV/AIDS is not the cause of the short life expectancy, genocides, desertification, etc. in the continent.

If media were to be the reason for all of the problems of Africa as Kikwete suggests, does it mean that the end of reporting negative stories and highlighting only the positive aspects will cure everything? The overwhelmingly depressing portrayal of Africa does not just come out of no truth- statistics, surveys, and research by institutions such as the World Bank and the UN clearly shows that Africa continues to be in trouble. It is arguable that positive reporting of Africa can help the situation- morale boost of Africans is definitely something that can go a long way, since confidence in oneself is more often than not necessary when you are speaking of taking on vast projects for drastic changes. But when we look at the reality of the situation, pessimistic reporting of Africa or any Third World country for that matter will not just terminate, but continue because in the end, media is business and demand of consumers are the shock-stimulating reports.

Media coverage should not terminate, but continue, even if it may irritate leaders such as who are trying to show the world that their nation (and themselves) should be taken seriously. It is better to have coverage than no coverage since it is only by this form that Africa can remain “alive” in the West. Media coverage has shown to be extremely important in actually helping many dire situations around the world. Coverage of the genocide in Sudan has sparked demonstrations throughout major cities in Europe and the United States and has led to the creation of campaigns and associations in various institutions, such as Wellesley College. It is often regretted that if there was more coverage of the genocide in Rwanda and Sierra Leone, the situation would have been taken care of much earlier by public pressure, even though one can argue that that is not as easy as it may seem because many other factors are involved for organizations such as the United Nations to get involved in terminating civil conflicts (such as funding, safety, and interests of gain by powerful nations). Another example can be seen with South Africa, where then-president Mbeki was embarrassed by the media coverage of the dire HIV/AIDS crisis couple of years ago, especially when it was reported that the president did not see the connection between HIV and AIDS, and the health minister Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang claimed that roots and garlic are better remedies for treating AIDS than antiviral that is available. Media has made the issue particularly in South Africa available, and through international pressure that followed, as well as statistical reports and further research has led to a new initiative drawn by the administration whose goal is to halve the number of HIV infections and made antiviral available to 80% of women and children by 2011. Journalism becomes extremely important in such cases, and even if it is negative, it is definitely much better than nothing at all, especially for the Third World.

Africa is a continent that consists of nations that are burdened by series of political, economic, social, and ecological issues, many of which are unfair because they emerged from exploitations from colonialism. Although Kikwete is optimistic in his claims about Africa, it is far from not being a “hopeless case”. Nations are not lost; rather, most of the nations are full of potential for progress. The initiation of uncovering the potential and utilizing the resources for improvement is where it gets tricky, since external factors such as civil unrest and political corruption greatly affects the degree of advancement that can take place in a given time. Foreign investment is much needed, and there are developed nations that have the wealth to do just that. However, investors are not just looking at CNN and BBC to make decisions about the placement of a huge portion of money; rather, a multiplicity of factors such as tax, debt, GDP percentage, and the stock market are observed for such decisions. Therefore, the media cannot be blamed solely for the lack of investment in Africa. Rather, the media should continue and increase their reporting of Africa, thereby keeping attention and perhaps inserting stress onto governments to initiate changes for the betterment of the continent. And perhaps, with such increased attention and pressure brought by the media, real progress could take place for the millions of victims of Africa.