Political Science | International Pol Controversies
Y102 | 9635 | Basik


The purpose of this course is to gain a deeper understanding of
international affairs in order to make better sense of daily events.
Anyone who is interested can gain some knowledge of what is happening
in the world on a particular day by reading a good daily newspaper.
Newspapers, though necessary, are not sufficient for understanding
international politics. Comprehension requires contextualization:
events must be situated in  historical and political-economic
contexts. Some knowledge of the larger system (or systems) within
which international events occur is crucial, and it is this type of
knowledge that Y102 will try to convey.
The content of Y102 will revolve around three major international
concerns currently receiving enormous attention in world media. The
first is GLOBALIZATION. In recent years, globalization has become a
fact. But before discussing the implications of this fact, we must
first characterize the process itself. After briefly acknowledging
various types of  globalization, we will turn to Thomas Friedmanís
The Lexus and the Olive Tree for his definition of economic
globalization. Following some very direct assignments for extracting
definitions of Friedmanís key concepts, such as the Electronic Herd
and the Golden Straitjacket, we will examine some of the purported
consequences of financial globalization. Our discussions will usually
focus around two opposing positions: is globalization a temporary or
permanent phenomenon?; will it lead to prosperity for the masses, or
only for a privileged few?; will it weaken national sovereignty,
possibly by strengthening multinational organizations?
The sovereignty question raises directly the issue of U.S. HEGEMONY,
a crucial concern for both friends and foes of the United States. We
will begin by looking at two competing views on the future of U.S.
leadership of the international system. Then we will take up three
very specific policy concerns: military spending, war with Iraq, and
participation in the International Criminal Court (ICC). This second
component of Y102 will conclude with discussions about the most
powerful potential challengers to U.S. dominance: Russia and, perhaps
more significant, China.
The final section of the course deals with the one of the most
dangerous current threats to the United States, and to globalization
itself: TERRORISM. Since terrorism is a deceptively slippery concept,
we will begin by considering the difficulties involved in a proper
definition. Then we will probe the causes of such extreme behavior,
as well as some of the methods for combating it, including the
ongoing War on Terrorism.
Once again, the goal of all this is to increase our understanding of
daily news events by placing them in an appropriate larger context. A
fuller awareness of the general nature of globalization, U. S.
hegemony, and terrorism will enable us to fruitfully contextualize a
great deal of international political affairs.