Author: Theo Cox Dodgson

Evaluating different measurements of poverty.

In attempting to assess the policies, namely the neoliberal policies of the last thirty years on the poor, three different ways of measuring poverty have been put forward, all with their own merits and disadvantages The first way of measuring it is the absolute income approach. The World Bank currently measures poverty in terms of people living on less than $1.90 a day. This approach has shown poverty to decrease from 50% of the world’s population in 1980 to 10% today. Peter Edwards criticizes the $1.90 figure for being too low, himself proposing $7.60. That to shows poverty to have gone down from 73% in 1980 to 60% today (as a % of world population). These absolute income approaches all show poverty to have gone in % of people down since 1980, and so are deemed inadequate by critical theorists who insist poverty is more than just how much someone is making. The next way of measuring poverty is the relative approach. Those advocating this approach insist that poverty is relative- Adam Smith himself saying …

Criticisms of Humanitarian intervention

Since its intellectual ascendancy in the 1990’s, the concept of humanitarian intervention, that is, military intervention to protect human rights, has been criticized for a number of different reasons by a number of different theorists of international relations. The realist school of thinking holds that states should only act in their own self-interest, and that excessive and prolonged interventions overseas for “humanitarian” purposes only causes to weaken you as a state. Running as a realist in his 2000 election campaign, George W Bush alleged that President Bill Clinton was engaging in “social work” in areas such as the Balkans between 1995-1999 and Haiti, as well as the failed US troop deployment in Somalia and Rwanda, all of which were billed as humanitarian interventions. This caused imperial overstretch and a vulnerability at home to a possible attack. Additionally the various deployments cost billions of dollars, which should have been spent on decaying US infrastructure. Clinton’s troop deployment, Bush alleged, was not in the US national interest and so should not have been done. Such realist criticisms …

Is Combatting terrorism compatible with human rights?

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), 30 fundamental rights and freedoms were asserted by the delegates to the United Nations. In recent years, three of these rights, right to privacy, right to not be tortured and right to not be held without charge are considered to be under threat due to the policies the Bush and Obama administrations have employed in combatting terrorism. Some attempts have been made to reconcile anti-terror policies with human rights, but so far none have stood up to scrutiny. One of the articles of the UN Declaration was a declaration of right to privacy. Attempts to combat terrorism after the 9/11 terrorist attacks have resulted in increased reliance on mass surveillance in order to catch potential terrorists. Though the American public were under the impression the NSA’s surveillance was targeted, in reality the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks revealed there was no discrimination or oversight in NSA mass surveillance, with millions of people having their right to privacy combatted for no good reason other than they may turn out …

To what extent is there a clash of civilisations?

In 1993 Samuel Huntington wrote an article titled “Is there a clash of civilisations” in which he disputed Francis Fukuyama’s thesis that the end of the Cold War would not herald the end of conflict but rather a conflict that would revert to cultural or “civilizational” lines. Huntingdon furthermore argued that the world was split into 9 different civilizational orders, and the West would clash with all of them, but in particular it would clash with the Islamic world, Japan and Russia. Many attempts to refute Huntingtons thesis have been made but none stand up to scrutiny, and there is very much a clash of civilisations.

Admin Editorial- Assessing strands of liberalism.

Liberalism in International Politics- Admin editorial. (The opinions expressed in this piece reflect only those of the author and not of anyone else at alevelpolitics.com) Liberalism, it would seem, is a way of studying international relations which has different implications based on the strand of liberalism- of which there are three. Commercial liberalism is a strand which assumes the world can be safer through international trade. Republican liberalism assumes the internal character of the state affects their foreign policy decision making. Furthermore, it is argued, democracy is the mode of government least prone to war and most prone to co-operation. Thus democracy should be spread, sometimes with force. Institutional liberalism is a school that believes the character of countries can be projected onto global supranational organisations or intergovernmental bodies. It’s absurd to claim none of these strands have any valid insights. But policy prescriptions based on the fundamental insights are riddled with fundamental errors, and very often these errors are fatal.

The US is not a power in Decline

In the 1970’s Henry Kissinger wrote that the US had “passed its historic high point like so many earlier civilizations” and he elaborated “Every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed. History is a tale of efforts that failed.” This anxiety is a common one among the US public- with 47% of Americans thinking China has or soon will surpass the US as the world’s pre-eminent power (only 48% disagreeing with the motion). However this crisis of confidence is more a reflection of rhetoric than reality. But if several problems threatening US hegemony are not resolved by US strategy makers, a decline may well ensue soon.

Why has the US not intervened in Syria – Realist Explanations

The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing civil war between the armed forces of the government, led by President Bashar al-Assad and his allies, and a broad range of opposition groups, from the moderate Free Syrian Army to the extremist Islamists in the Al-Nusra Front. Additionally ISIS (whose aim is to create an Islamic State combining Iraq and Syria) have taken advantage of the chaos in the region, taking control of ⅓ of Syria and most of the oil supplies. ISIS support neither the opposition nor the government. The war has created a humanitarian crisis- an estimated 200,000 people have died (roughly 1% of the population), and 7.6 million have been displaced. Recently many of these displaced people have been seeking refuge in Europe, causing chaos in the borderless Schengen area and thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean Sea. There are clear, liberal reasons to use military force to stop this civil war and end the suffering. Since the Syrian regime is unpleasant and undemocratic, the liberals would argue we should intervene to help the …

51 of the largest economies are corporations? The Misleading statistic that won’t die.

In the Year 2000 a study by Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh  made global headlines when it claimed  that “Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are now global corporations; only 49 are countries”.  This statistic has since entrenched itself into foreign policy discourse- without any critical analysis of how this statistic came to be true.

What is the Iran deal and why is it controversial?

The Iran deal (or more formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) is a deal on the nuclear programme of Iran signed in Vienna on the 14th July 2015. It was signed by the 5 Permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany, the European Union and Iran. It requires Iran to eliminate 100% of its medium enriched uranium, 98% of its low enriched uranium and ⅔ of its centrifuges. In return America will return roughly $100 billion of frozen assets to the Iranian regime, but will continue some sanctions against Iran on the grounds of human rights. The provisions on uranium will last 10 years and those on plutonium will last 15 years. After this time period Iran will be free to pursue a potential military nuclear programme, unless another deal is reached in that time. In short this deal allows Iran to keep a small nuclear programme for civilian energy purposes, while (hopefully ensuring) it never attains a nuclear weapon.

Divisions in UKIP explained

There seems to be chaos in the ranks of UKIP- a scandal that started off with Farages unresignation and has extended to squabbles over public money, resignations and people denouncing those whom 2 weeks ago they would call allies. As of 17/05/15 this has culminated in Douglas Carswell, the party’s only MP, calling for Nigel Farage to take a short break although no doubt there will be further developments after this article is published This chaos and confusion has only been exacerbated by a 24 hour news cycle- Thursdays episode of Question Time shedding little light on the situation. Those not fixated by pre-determined attitudes to UKIP are unable to decide whether this is a much talked about pub-brawl that will soon blow over, as most UKIP supporters believe, or a political implosion in the works-as most UKIP detractors believe. No-one really seems to know what is going on, so one will not comment on the details in particular. However, with the growing possibility that Farage will no longer be leader of UKIP soon, and with the …

How effective are Backbenchers in the House of Commons

Backbenchers form the majority of MPs on both sides in the House of Commons, but the extent of their effectiveness is questionable given the power of the executive One way in which they are not effective is that they are mainly controlled and curtailed by the whips system, meaning despite revolts on 37% of divisions between 2010 and the present, the government has only been defeated 7 times in the Commons. The rebellions rarely exceed a dozen of the most radical Tory MPS, and the governments working majority of over 70 means they are rarely effective at forming a resistance to the power of the executive. However the few defeats there have been are often significant- for example the 2013 Syrian civil war motion was defeated by 30 Tory rebel MPS and this in turn stopped the US going to war- seriously affecting global geopolitics in the Middle East. Backbenchers introducing private members bills are also constrained by lack of time. If the executive does not grant a private members bill adequate time for debate …

Woodhouse Pick of the Papers 16th March-23rd March

1. Debate format finally agreed  The following format has been agreed 26th March (6 weeks before election) : Live Q and A between Ed Miliband and David Cameron on Channel 5 and Sky News presented by Jeremy Paxman and Kay Burley 2nd April (5 weeks before election)- Main 7 Party leaders (Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative, UKIP, Green, SNP, and Plaid Cymru) all debate on ITV, moderated by Julie Etchingham 16th April (3 weeks before election)- Five opposition party leaders (Labour, UKIP, Green, SNP and Plaid Cymru) all debate on the BBC, moderated by David Dimbleby 30th April (1 week before election)- BBC Question Time programme with David Cameron, Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg Farage is unhappy with the media surrendering to the demands of Cameron, and that his only means of challenging Cameron is with 5 other party leaders present. Clegg is unhappy he has been shunned from 2 of the main debates. Galloway, the DUP and Sin Fein are unhappy THEY are not being invited to any of the debates. But everyone will FINALLY …

Woodhouse weekly pick of the papers 23/02/15- 01/03/15

1. Ed Miliband to cut fees and tax pensioners Ed Miliband has set out a £2.7bn plan to slash tuition fees in England from £9,000 to £6,000 a year and increase maintenance support for students by £200m, funded by higher interest rates for wealthier students repaying their fees. Learning from the Liberal Democrats Ed Miliband seems to have reneged on his promise to abolish fees, but lowering them will certainly be popular among young people. The maintenance grant will be lifted from £3,400 to £3,800 a year for students for families who pay basic rates of income tax and will help about half of all students. The interest rate on loan repayments for the highest earning graduates will rise from 3% to 4% to pay for it. The reduction in the cap on tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000, to be introduced from September 2016, (so this will hypothetically benefit students currently in Year 12) will help 1 million full-time students. The faster-than-expected pace of the changes will mean current first-year students will not pay …

Woodhouse Weekly News Roundup Sunday 22 February 2015

1. Former member of the Labour National Executive Committee Harriet Yeo joins UKIP. A former chair of Labours’ National Executive Committee has left the party in order to support UKIP in the coming general election, Nigel Farage has announced.ember for eight years and chair in 2012/13. She will sit the remainder of her term as a councilor as an independent, after being deselected as a candidate for the 2015 local elections.