Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Nationalism and the long road to the Caliphate

Almost 70 years has elapsed, since the last major conflict erupted in the West, which ended in 1945. All the signs indicate peace is likely to continue, as ties between the Western nations are strengthened through various treaties, reinforcing their allegiance to a common set of values. Europe in particular, there exists is a momentum towards greater unification; the European Union (EU) has evolved from the European Economic Community (EEC) that was formed back in 1957. After the recent ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has passed another milestone.
Note the pace of unity in Europe has taken into account the desire of each nation to maintain its national identity; without coercion or any form of threat or intimidation, they relinquish part of their sovereignty, for the greater good. This notion issue of pooling some national sovereignty for benefit was raised by former Conservative foreign secretary, Francis Pym, a proponent for European Union. In his book, “The Politics of Consent”, he argued national sovereignty was less about territorial or national integrity, much more about the ability of a nation to determine the welfare of its own citizen.
After the demise of the Iron Curtain, the EU has continued to expand to incorporate the former Eastern European block countries. In addition to economic benefits, such expansion ensures the old fault lines of religion and ethnicity does not cause instability, which happened after the breakup of Yugoslavia. The West ended the conflict in 1995 through the Dayton peace accord. Now, Croatia and Macedonia are set to become part of the EU, for sure, Bosnia and Serbia will follow in the future.  Germany has also signed a historic peace accord with Russia, turning a new chapter as they look to end the historic animosity between the two nations.
From Napoleon to Hitler, history tells us nationalism is the fuel of nation states, and one of the primary factors for causing numerous bloody wars. Yet, the nation states of Europe, USA, Canada, Russia and others have managed to maintain close ties, and avoid conflicts.  Therefore, what has changed over the last 70 years in the West? This paradoxical behaviour can be attributed to the following reasons:

Saturday, 3 July 2010

American Independence Day: A Cause for Celebration or Mourning?

"How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?" - Dr. Samuel Johnson

The Declaration of Independence in 1776 was composed by a committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson did most of the writing, with input from the committee. This was followed by the formation of the US constitution in 1789 and the first 10 amendments to it, collectively known as the “Bill of Rights”, passed in 1791. All these sets of documents have contributed significantly towards shaping the political history of the US. The core principles embedded in those documents form the basis of US-democracy; hence, the political institutions (Congress, Supreme Court and the President) should be functioning in accordance with those principles.

No matter how well intended and clearly worded the principles laid down are, what really matters is how those principle have been interpreted and applied. Just as the best judge is the deeds of an individual rather than the words uttered. Therefore, let us examine how the Declaration of Independence was applied by the founding fathers and the successive generations. Thomas Jefferson wrote the famous words in the declaration of independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”