Mapping the world's opinions

Welcome to International Relations

This is a place to read about and contribute to discussions about international relations. Discover the controversies surrounding the world of globalisation, diplomacy and governance.
Welcome to International Relations
Welcome to International Relations
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Should Scotland seek independence?

Although they were once thought to be inextricably connected, the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom has recently been under debate. Since the failed independence referendum in 2014, the country's politics have revolved around Scottish nationalism and the nation's future with the rest of the Union. Should they seek to end their more than 300-year long union with Engla...

Can incrementalism work?

Incrementalism is when changes occur gradually. Most often referring to the policy of social change happening in degrees. The use of the term incrementalism is first attributed to Lindblom (1959) and then Wildavsky (1964). According to them, people break down complex problems into manageable steps. They simplify the process. From its inception, there has been a debate on whether incrementalism wo...

Should Catalonia become independent?

Catalonia is a region in the northeast corner of Spain and is home to Barcelona, the region’s capital. The question of Catalan independence has been a part of Spanish politics for at least three centuries. Since the 1970s, Catalans have been in conflict with the Spanish government and within themselves about becoming an independent country. The question of Catalan independence is central to Spain’...

Should the Cold War be considered a war?

The Cold War was a time of geopolitical hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union which spanned about 45 years until the Soviet Union dissolved in the early '90s. But no physical fighting was ever involved, only a consistent state of conflict between these two nations.

Should there be a united Ireland?

The status of Northern Ireland has been the subject of intense debate and decades of violence known as the Troubles, which started in the 1960s. Though Northern Ireland has been at peace since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the question of whether Northern Island should remain in the United Kingdom or join the Republic of Ireland remains a source of contention. Should there be a united Ireland...

Mapping the world's opinions.

Is Western liberalism obsolete?

In a 2019 interview with the Financial Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Western liberalism "obsolete". He is not alone. The death of the West's ideological mainstay, is being discussed by everyone, from former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, and high-profile journalists including Edward Luce and James Traub. Authoritarian China is ascendant. Fr...

Is a world without any borders a good idea?

Nation-states maintain borders for safety, maintaining political jurisdiction. Yet, some forms of open borders exist between nation-states: the Schengen Agreement in the European Union, borders between India and Nepal, Ireland and the U.K., and the CA4 Border Control Agreement in Central America. Most nation-states maintain strict border controls, restricting travel between countries and barring e...

Did nationalism predate nation states?

Today, we are used to both the nation-state and the idea of nationalism. However, it may be possible to have one without the other. Authors have written about nationalism for centuries, but the nation state as we know it has existed a relatively short amount of time. So, did nationalism predate the nation?

Is BDS anti-semitic?

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. It is a non-violent, Palestinian led political campaign that advocates for and promotes various forms of finanical protest against the state of Israel. The objective of BDS is to pressure Israel into abiding by international law, which includes ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, granting Arab-Palestinians Israeli citize...

Is herd immunity the best way to beat coronavirus?

As governments have struggled to kill the spread of the coronavirus, policies have varied. Herd immunity - followed by countries including Sweden - has come under scrutiny. The strategy assumes a large section of the population will inevitably be infected whatever is done. Rather than enforce lockdown measures, herd immunity encourages social distancing in public places. The aim is to have as ma...

Is India a global superpower?

A world superpower is usually defined as a country that is capable of projecting its power and influence on a global scale. India's broad range of quality of life among its citizens and booming economy have put the country in a unique position in the world. It competes with leading superpowers in creating new technology and defense, yet most rural areas are still underdeveloped. Impoverished citiz...

Is Tony Blair a war criminal?

In 2017 the official investigation into former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq was finally published. Known as The Chilcot Inquiry, it concluded that the invasion was unnecessary and undermined the United Nations recommendations. This blatant disregard for international law has led many to argue that Blair is a war criminal, and should be tried in an international court for war cr...

Are economic sanctions effective?

Economic sanctions are trade restrictions imposed on a country or group in an attempt to create economic pressure. This pressure may or may not incite behavioral change, typically political or economic in nature. Economic sanctions have long been used as a political tool between nations, but should they be used this way?

What is the future of NATO?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was formed in 1949 as a Western military alliance to deal with the growing threat of the Soviet Union. However, since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, it has struggled to define itself in the 21st century. This has led some to speculate whether the military alliance has a future?

What are the solutions to the Syrian crisis?

The Syrian crisis is part of a wider conflict the origins of which can be traced back to the Arab Spring of 2011. The dissatisfaction of some of the countries in the Arab world with their corresponding governments had led to many anti-government protests demanding a better standard of living in countries such as Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Some of these countries were successful in creating signifi...

Should the UK have remained in the EU?

Now that Brexit has happened, the UK has officially left the European Union. As the transition period continues and the effects of the decision to leave the EU begin to be felt, we will begin to be able to evaluate whether it was the right choice. Is the UK really stronger upon leaving the EU? Or would it have been better off to remain united?

How will the coronavirus affect globalisation?

World leaders now describe Covid-19 as the 'silent enemy'. Several have called the pandemic a 'war'. For the first time in history, every nation on Earth is battling a common foe. What this will mean for globalisation remains unknown. Global connectivity is, on the face of things, being eroded, as free movement stops and people 'stay and shelter'. Yet, the world is also increasingly united, as t...

Is socialism ethical?

Socialism is the political belief the government should redistribute wealth to close the economic gap in society. Many argue that this is a far better way to live, as all citizens can life with the secure knowledge that they will be protected by the state. But is it ethical for this to happen because the state took money away from another citizen?

Will coronavirus change the world?

First encountered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, the new coronavirus disease COVID-19 has spread rapidly within China and reached many other countries as well. COVID-19 is highly transmissible, with no vaccine or treatment currently available, and on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Will the coronavirus le...

Is the United States exceptional?

American Exceptionalism is a pervasive force in the United States. Since the founding Americans have believed themselves to be freer than the other nations of the globe. It is a philosophy which can been seen on both the political right and left in the United States. This exceptionalism has given Americans a feeling of almost divine mission, but is it in any way justified?

Is torture ever justified?

Torture is the intentional use of extreme physical suffering on a non-consenting, defenceless person for the purpose of breaking their will. While it is a horrific act, defendants argue that torture can produce information that is extremely valuable to governments and can save many lives.

What are the solutions to the Israel Palestine conflict?

What started as intercommunal violence between Israelis and Arabs in the 1920s evolved over the course of the twentieth century into a full-blown civil war and open conflict. After much bloodshed and the dawn of a new century, what would a solution to the Israel-Palestine situation look like? Is peace even a possibility for one of the world's longest-running conflicts?

How should the West deal with Vladimir Putin?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power for two decades. In that time he has rebuilt Russia's military, imprisoned and killed political opponents at home and abroad, annexed Crimea, gone to war with Georgia and Ukraine, deployed troops to Syria, and plundered the country. An increasingly authoritarian figure, Putin continues to divide Western countries, how should they deal with him?

Why did the US lose the Vietnam War?

Vietnam was an undeniable failure for the United States government. Despite expending more than $141 billion, and 56,000 American lives, the world’s largest military superpower was unable to achieve its sole strategic objective: to prevent Vietnam from falling under communist control. Historians are deeply divided over the reasons that led to US defeat. Most attribute the loss to several factors t...

Should countries accept immigrants?

Donald Trump wants to build a wall. The United Kingdom tries to leave the European Union in an attempt to regain sovereignty over its borders. Every year, thousands of people drown in the Mediterranean while trying to cross over into the EU. At the same time, many European countries sell citizenship to wealthy individuals. Do states have a right to pick and choose who may enter into their respecti...

Was Bolivian President Evo Morales ousted in a coup?

Bolivia has been a site of political upheaval since Evo Morales, president of the country for 13 consecutive years, declared his victory in the October 20th election. The streets have been filled with both violent and peaceful protestors. Some argue against the legitimacy of the vote. Others defend the re-election of the left-wing, indigenous leader. On November 10th, Morales resigned and sought p...

What is a Nation?

Are nations ancient or modern? Are they natural or artificial? Are they a tool of liberation or coercion? Despite many predicting globalisation would make them obsolete, nations are now back in fashion in a world where leaders tout America First, the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese People, and Hindutva. Understanding the nation now seems more important than ever.

What is Italy's Immigration Debate? (2018)

In 2016, over 180,000 migrants reached Italy by irregular means. During the first ten months of 2018, this number had dropped to under 21,000. Although the number of unauthorized immigrants in Italy has been decreasing over the last decade, racial tensions have increased after a mix of anti-immigrant campaigns, fake news and horrific tragedies. As a result, “immigration” is the nation’s most discu...

Should Julian Assange be extradited?

Following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum, Julian Assange was arrested and removed from the country's embassy in London. He faces charges in the US of conspiracy to break into a computer, relating to Wikileaks' publication of more than 250,000 classified military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010. Should Assange be extradited to the US to face these charges? Was he doing a p...

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