Essay – 1500 words

These are three topics for extra credit (a small research project). Choose one. Maximum points for the assignment: 5. Work is due Dec 6

Option1. Authoritarian Leaders and US Foreign Policy

Can dictators play positive roles in the international system? In the past, Washington justified many dictators by emphasizing their loyalty to U.S. interests. Critics maintain that human-rights violations should not be condoned, but the reliance of the major powers on authoritarian leaders continues to this day. After September 2001, Russia, China, and the United States supported authoritarian regimes in Central and South Asia that agreed to suppress the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Even some who opposed the 2003 U.S. intervention in Iraq turned to realpolitik. They considered Saddam Hussein, despite his oppressive regime, a guarantor of balance in the Persian Gulf. They claim that Iraq without a strong central authority will probably remain unstable and a source of international tensions for years.

What’s your view?

What do you think of conditional support for authoritarian leaders? Would you as president back such leaders, at least in exceptional cases, if they are instrumental to your foreign policy? Explain your position.

Follow this procedure:

According to the Democracy Index complied by The Economist, the most authoritarian countries have been North Korea, Chad, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Central African Republic, Iran, and Syria (the list may change when you access it). Update this “list of ten”. Next, establish what type of relations does the United States have with each of these countries? Does Washington support most of them or only few of them? Is it necessary or unnecessary for Washington to maintain good relations with authoritarian governments?

Suggested length: 1,200-1,500 words

Option 2. Forecasting Alliances.

The pan-alliances discussed in this section included hypothetical unions brought together by geographic and cultural proximity. What do you see as the chances for a political alliance that would span regions and continents to achieve the ambitious goals of its member states? What would be its impact? Consider three hypothetical alliances.

To defy the United States’ domination, Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba form a transcontinental military and political alliance. Russia builds military bases in Latin America, supplies new weapons, and builds a join navy with its allies.

China, Iran, the countries of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, and Russia build a new economic and political union to defy the “export of democracy” from the West. They keep Western companies under control, keep Western NGOs out, and act jointly in the United Nations.

To undermine the economic domination of the West, several oil-producing authoritarian countries such as Venezuela, Nigeria, and Iran agree on a political and economic coalition to drastically reduce the shipment of oil to the West and redirect it to China, India, Brazil, and South Africa instead.

What’s your view?

Which of these scenarios do you consider plausible, somewhat probable, and barely possible?

On the Web

Learn more about The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a political and security alliance including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Suggested length: 1,200-1,400 words

Option 3. On Moral Relativism and Terrorism.

The 1972 attack on Israeli athletes and coaches during the Olympic Games was considered in the West a barbaric terrorist act. Heads of most countries condemned it. Yet others refused. The bodies of the five Palestinians participating in the Munich massacre were flown to Libya, where they were buried with full military honors.

In 1983 in Lebanon, 241 U.S. servicemen were killed in a terrorist attack. According to a U.S. court decision, Iran, as an assumed sponsor of this act, was called on to pay for damages. Iran refused. It considered the attack a heroic act of retaliation against America. A six-foot stone column in Teheran glorifies the murder of Americans.

In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli citizen, walked into a mosque in Hebron and killed 29 Palestinian worshipers. Although the Israeli government condemned the murder, Goldstein’s tomb has become a place of worship for many Jews. The tombstone reads: Here lies the saint, Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein, blessed be the memory of the righteous and holy man, may the Lord avenge his blood, which devoted his soul to the Jews, Jewish religion, and Jewish land. His hands are innocent and his heart is pure. He was killed as a martyr of God.

Have you heard the expression, “Your terrorists are our freedom fighters?” Moral relativists even use the constructivist argument that terrorists can be either villains or heroes based on one’s point of view. Now try to challenge this moral relativism. At least two options are possible. One is to reject any kind of political violence. In this case, every terrorist act becomes unacceptable and immoral. The other option is to name conditions under which some forms of violence are acceptable. In this case, you will justify specific violent acts but not others.

What’s your view?

Is violence acceptable, for example, in self-defense? Return to the definition of terrorism in the beginning of this chapter. In your view, are there conditions under which terrorism is acceptable?

If not, why?

On the Web.

Read more about the events leads to the 1983 attack in Lebanon:

Read the New York Times article about the aftermath of the 1994 Hebron attack:

Suggested length: approx. 1,500 words