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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 …

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 I am Voting UKIP

This article is one of a series about why Lower 6th students are voting for a particular party in this Thursdays Mock elections. Please find the “Parties” section of the website for other articles in the series. It’s not popular to be a young person voting for UKIP. According to polls they barely pick up 3% of the people of my age-group, and my age group are far more likely to be in favor of membership of the EU. A lot of them will be affiliated with the National Union of Students, an organization that has spent more time condemning UKIP than ISIS, partly inspired in this by the toxic ideology of “political correctness”. Well I guess I must be the one who looks at the emperor’s new clothes critically (a beautiful metaphor before Russell Brand used it). The new clothes do not deal with many of the problems the main political parties won’t talk about- because they aren’t listening. That the size of the state and its debt is unsustainably large and cannot be …

Why I am Voting for the Liberal Democrats

This article is one of a series about why Lower 6th students are voting for a particular party in this Thursdays Mock elections. Please find the “Parties” section of the website for other articles in the series. British Liberalism is rather in trouble. A force that gave us prosperity, social democracy and human rights are under systematic attacks from both left and right. It was Tony Blair who introduced the ID Cards Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (amongst others) which undermined our civil liberties given to us since Magna Carta. The Tories want to repeal the Human Rights Act, leave the European Convention of Human rights and scapegoat immigrants for everything, taking us back to the 1930’s on every which way possible it would seem. UKIP are stirring up fears about immigrants and homosexuals, as can be displayed by their leader’s comments on the debate recently. The supposedly libertarian Greens say “there are difficulties with the liberal approach… it has failed”. No Liberal Democrats are not perfect. Yes ISIS and Putin both pose legitimate …

Why I am voting for the Green Party

This article is one of a series about why Lower 6th students are voting for a particular party in this Thursdays Mock elections. Please find the “Parties” section of the website for other articles in the series. I’ve always been on the left wing libertarian side of the political spectrum, but that gives you a decision – Labour or Green? For me, the overwhelming reason that lead to my eventual membership of the Green Party in January 2015, was a question a friend who was already a Green Party member asked me – ‘How many planets do we have?’. And this got me thinking, because we do only have one planet, and even quick research on climate change can bring up indisputable and terrifying facts, which none of the mainstream parties seem to care about. Before the 2010 election, Cameron promised to be environmentally conscious, but since his appointment at Prime Minister, not one of his speeches has mentioned the environment. Arguably, Blair’s attitude was equally as PR motivated as Cameron’s, with promises that haven’t …

Why I am voting for the Conservative Party

This article is one of a series about why Lower 6th students are voting for a particular party in this Thursdays Mock elections. Please find the “Parties” section of the website for other articles in the series. When the Conservative Party took power in 2010, Britain had the highest deficit in Europe. It was expected that Britain would be worst hit by the financial crisis because, after all, our key export is financial services. After 5 years of competent planning on the part of Cameron and Osborne, we’re now the fastest growing economy in the G8, we’ve created more jobs than every other Eurozone country combined, and the deficit has been cut by 1/3. Inflation, running rampant under Brown, is now down to 0% and this means the “Cost of living” may very well fall for millions of working class families Labour claim to care about. A lot of what we’re criticized for is simple fairness. Raising the tuition fees to £9,000 a year has allowed standards for universities to increase. For people who do …

Why I am Voting for the Labour Party

This article is one of a series about why Lower 6th students are voting for a particular party in this Thursdays Mock elections. Please find the “Parties” section of the website for other articles in the series. A lot of people are disillusioned with Politics because there is a perception that the two parties are exactly the same. Perhaps this was true before 2010, but since Ed Miliband has been elected leader he has taken Labour significantly to the left away from the failures of New Labour. Likewise, Cameron has taken it to the right under the influence of UKIP, and consequently there are now clear differences between the two parties. For example, how our parties will balance the budget and deal with our skyrocketing debt is different, and significant for the future of the country. The Tories have done so by making cuts which hit the poorest in society, and they fail on their own terms by hardly making a dent in the welfare budget. The bedroom tax is the best example of this. …

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 …

Policy evaluation 5: Common Foreign Security Policy

The specification says you need to know the following about CFSP. In particular, candidates need to be aware of developments in Common Foreign and Security Policy – why this has become desirable within the EU; the steps that have been taken towards achieving this and the extent to which such steps are perceived as being successful.  1) CFSP has been hard to achieve because of several reasons. Some countries such as the UK and Poland favour NATO as Europe’s defence wing possibly because the UK has always favoured aligning itself with the US. France on the other hand saw the introduction of a Common Foreign Security Policy as an opportunity for Europe to challenge the US militarily and become more independent however most EU states don’t have the financial ability to back this type of scheme nor the will, pacifist states such as Denmark have little interest in foreign excursions. Historical differences between countries also makes a CFSP difficult for example France’s intervention in Mali occurred because Mali is an former French colony so although …

Policy evaluation 1: Single Market

The specification says the following about what you need to know on the Single Market The Single Market: the extent to which this concept has been embraced by member states; the steps taken towards achieving a Single Market; the perceived benefits and drawbacks of the Single Market; the impact it has had on labour markets – including flexibility, mobility and competitiveness the extent to which the Single Market is perceived as a success. This should include concepts such as free trade areas, opt-outs, tariffs, harmonisation, social dumping, judicial activism, impact of globalisation Definition: The Single Market is the free movement of goods, labour and capital across the EU countries. Exemplified by policies such as the Schengen convention. The Single European Act 1986 set the deadline of 1992 for the full completion of the Single Market. 1) Single Market is good because the free movement of people has made tourism easier and opened new employment and education opportunities across the EU with the number of ERASMUS students steadily increasing year on year . Widening the skills …

How do the majors parties differ on EU policy?

Historically, the Conservatives were pro-EU taking us in, in 1973 and Labour was anti-EU under Foot seeing it as a ‘Capitalist club’. Since then, the tables have turned as the EU helped topple Thatcher and Major and unify Labour. However the differences between the party have typically been seen through rhetoric as opposed to action. The Conservatives have typically spoken tough on Europe to feed British euro-scepticism, but this has done little more than create problems and divisions for the party internally. Labour has been more inclined towards the EU after Blair announcing he wanted Britain at the ‘heart of Europe’. The most pro-EU party typically however is the Lib-Dems. Ultimately, the Conservatives were in government when the single market was established and Major passed Maastricht in 1992 although he did add in the subsidiarity clause. Labour spoke about the possibility of joining the euro but never did anything so both parties seem to be in some sort of political limbo.

Pensions explained

Context: -People are living longer, increased government spending on pensions is seen as untenable for the future considering the current economic climate. The coalition argue that they will save £3.5bn a year for every year that the retirement age is raised. -1 in 5 retiring in 2013 will be living below the poverty line. Coalition: -The coalition has introduced a new flat rate of £144 a week meaning thousands more will qualify including 85,000 women for the first time, overall 400,000 more people will be made eligible. Many support these changes including Age UK who see the simplification of the system as a merit. It is expected that money saved from cutting means testing and bureaucracy could be as much as £6bn. -The coalition has phased out the default retirement age which is seen to help ageism as people aren’t expected to just retire at 65 but the British Chambers of Commerce, said such a policy would damage “businesses’ ability to manage their workforce” -The state pension age for men is now due to rise …

Coalition environment policy overview (15 mark plans)

Nuclear -The coalition agreement reached a compromise on Nuclear power that there would be no new power stations subsidised by taxpayers however the government has spent £68bn dealing with old nuclear reactors -Coalition had planned for 8 new plants to open over its tenure in government however energy companies such as EDF are looking for more assurance from the government in the face of now public subsidies -Nuclear counts as a low carbon energy so helps the coalition reach its targets but pressure groups such as boycottEDF are concerned about the impact of waste disposal combined with the economic cost of decommissioning which can cost £48bn Renewables -Clear division between the coalition partners here as the Lib Dems support wind power and other renewable energy sources whereas the conservatives traditionally want to ‘protect the countryside’. Ed Davey  slapped down his new Conservative minister of state for claiming that no more onshore windfarms need be built in Britain. -The coalition agreement is in favour of renewable energy and the Energy Act 2011 introduced a 30% renewables …

Elections Pick of the Papers

1. Labour (and Ed Miliband) are no longer doomed – Independent The Labour Party is in real contention as an alternative to the coalition at the next election 2. Bruised and battered, Clegg will struggle to sell Coalition relaunch – Independent A look at how the election and recent events in the Coalition shape the future of the two parties 3. This is the moment to revive the Conservative and Liberal Democrats Coalition, not to break it apart – Telegraph An argument that the Coalition still remain the best option but an improved version is required 4. Local governance: mayor culpa – Guardian Cameron’s promise of maverick mayors all round might have been expected to resonate, but his cry for a ‘Boris for every town’ fell flat 5. The real reasons Boris won and Ken lost – New Statesman Both sides have drawn the wrong lessons from the result 6. How a once great party has become utterly pointless – Daily Mail When trying to translate local opportunism into a national strategy, the Lib Dems came unstuck, writes …

How the Coalition has altered Parliament and the Executive

The Coalition came about in May 2010 between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The Tories had won 307 seats, short of a majority and the Lib Dems  57 seats. It left many questions about how long the coalition would last, predictions of another election being held by the end of the year soon were proved wrong and the coalition at least on face value seems to have had a pretty good ride so far. However, the rarity of coalitions (there have only been 4 in the past 100 years including the 2010 coalition) has left discrepancies and outcomes that tell us a lot about the executives approach to parliament and parliaments approach to the executive.

So Much for Civil Liberties

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks there have been numerous changes to our civil liberties; the restrictions on our rights have been justified as we apparently need safety before freedom… though have we actually gained either? Under Blair’s government we saw the introduction of several new laws aimed at tackling terrorism. Detention without charge was first mentioned in the Terrorism Act 2000 then the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the Terrorism Act 2006. Each act has increased the amount of days by which a suspected terrorist can be detained, from 14 days to 28 days (the government wanted 90 days but was defeated in the Commons). Note the word ‘suspected’; evidence is not a requirement. Between 11 September 2001 and 31 December 2004, 701 were arrested in the UK under the Terrorism Act. Only 17 have been convicted of offences under the act. In December 2004, a constitutional crisis occurred surrounding the case of several men who were detained in Belmarsh Prison. They successfully argued that their indefinite detention was against Article 5 of the European …