Friday, December 26, 2008

The Reflection Cafe Archives

FP / The Globalization Index 2007
Roundtable: "Disaster Capitalism: The New Economy of Catastrophe.
Exporting Democracy: What Have We Learned from Iraq.
Beyond Imperialism: The New Internationalism, Akira Iriye
Europe vs. America, Tony Judt
World Affairs (I), The Reflection Cafe
World Affairs (II), The Reflection Cafe
World Affairs (III), ISA South 2005 Conference
Why Hasn't the World's Lone Superpower Stopped Tragedy in Lebanon?, Abdullah Gül
Hotel Rwanda, When The World Closed its Eyes, He Opened His Arms
Human Rights in Darfur, Sudan: Online Chat Transcripts, Amnesty International
Berlin Launch of State of the World 2005, Worldwatch Institute
Foreign Policy Forums
Vital Signs 2005- Vital Facts, Worldwatch Institute
Developing Countries Should Have a Bigger Say in the World Bank and IMF, Yale Global-Kemal Dervis
Fallout from the War on Terror, Yale Global
The Two Faces of Globalization: Against Globalization as We Know It, Branko Milanovic
Politics and Economy in the Age of Globalization, Yale Global Online
World Affairs III, The Reflection Cafe
Religion has no part in this (London Attack), Sher Khan
Interreligious Dialogue in Global Perspective, Lawrence E. Frizzell
When Religion Brings Peace, Not War, David R. Smock-USIP
Ideology Matters: Combatting Terrorism and Radicalism, Farid Shafiyev
The G8 and Development: The Road to Gleneagles, Center for Global Development
Social Watch Report 2005: Roars and Whispers, SWIS
Why Inequality Matters in a Globalizing World, Nancy Birdsall
The Most Dangerous Deficit, Moises Naim
Research Universities: Core of the US Science and ... Richard C. Atkinson & William A. Blanpied
Grand Strategy for a Divided America, Charles Kupcan & Peter Trubowitz
American Politics and Foreign Policy (I), The Reflection Café

Europe's True Stories, Timothy Garton Ash
Europe’s Identity and Islams, Renate Holub
Europe, European Union (II-III), The Reflection Café
Europe, European Union (I), The Reflection Cafe

European Integration and the Transformation of Turkish Democracy, S.Aydin & F.Keyman
Turkey on the Threshold: Europe’s Decision and U.S. Interests, The Atlantic Council
The Turkish Military's March Toward Europe, Ersel Aydinli, N.A. Özcan, and D. Akyaz
Secularism: The Turkish Experience, Omer Baristiran (Ed.)

Islam's Future: The Importance of Social Sciences, Muqtedar Khan
Islam and the West: How Great a Divide?, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
The Diffusion of Islam: Its Influence on Our Culture, Thirteen WNET New York
A Call for Respect and Calm, R.T. Erdogan & J. L. R. Zapatero
Islam, Islam-the West Relations III, The Reflection Café
Islam, Islam-the West Relations (II), The Reflection Café
Islam, Islam-the West Relations, The Reflection Café
Islam and the West, John L. Esposito-Harry Kreisler
To be in Love with Love..., Yunus Emre
The Rose Garden of Love, Yunus Emre
Islam and Peace: A Sufi Perspective, M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
All Through Eternity, Mevlana Rumi
Women and Sufism, Camille Adams Helminski
Pearls of Wisdom (V), Reflection Cafe
Pearls of Wisdom (IV), The Reflection Café
Pearls of Wisdom (III), The Reflection Café
Pearls of Wisdom (II), The Reflection Café
Pearls of Wisdom (I), The Reflection Café
Secularism, Modernity, Religion, Charles Taylor-Economist
What Is This I Believe?, National Public Radio
Higher Education: Choices, Goals, and Leadership, Conversations With History - Univ. of California-Berkeley
Conversations With Nobel Laureates, Conversations with History - Univ. of California-Berkeley
Most Favorite Posts in 2006, The Reflection Café
The Colors of Earth (I), Reflection Cafe
Animal World (I), Reflection Cafe

(Posts that are not included in the index...)

The Reflection Cafe Archive 2008


Monday, December 22, 2008

The Reflection Cafe Archive 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

The 2008 Democratic Shift

David Brady, Douglas Rivers and Laurel Harbridge
Policy Review, December 2008

After the 2004 presidential election, Republicans appeared to be in good shape. They had won the presidency, had a 30-seat margin in the House of Representatives and 55< style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(153, 51, 0);">What caused the Democratic shift?

What caused these voters to switch their party identification between 2004 and 2008? The increase in Democratic support was not limited to independents, who typically exhibit more volatility in their partisan loyalties than voters in each party’s base. These are, for the most part, voters who supported George Bush’s reelection in 2004 and voted for Republican congressional candidates, but who have subsequently become more Democratic (or, perhaps more accurately, less Republican). One can think of any number of reasons for them to have moved in this direction, but most explanations fall into two broad categories: dissatisfaction with the performance of the Bush administration or estrangement from the Republican Party on ideological grounds. An obvious answer would appear to be President Bush’s unpopularity.

Presidents and their parties are usually blamed for bad economic news (and sometimes credited for positive news) that occurs on their watch. The second Bush administration has had a large share of bad economic news with little positive to report. Rapid increases in oil prices and the most severe financial crisis since the onset of the Great Depression alone would be enough to make a president and his party unpopular. In fact, much of the decline in Republican support is associated with negative assessments of President Bush. Table 2 shows the percentage of Republicans who shifted toward the Democrats between 2004 and 2008 among different groups of voters. For instance, 63.0 percent of persons who were strong Republicans in 2004 and strongly disapproved of President Bush’s job performance became more Democratic. There are, of course, not many Republicans (much less strong Republicans) who came to hold such a negative assessment of Bush, but those who did are now much weaker Republicans than they were previously.
Full-text available, click here.

David W. Brady is deputy director and senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, the Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Professor of Political Science and Leadership Values in the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a professor of political science in the School of Humanities and Sciences at the university. Douglas Rivers is a Hoover Institution senior fellow, professor of political science at Stanford, and president and CEO of YouGov/Polimetrix. Laurel Harbridge is a graduate student in political science at Stanford University.

"Thinking About Religion, Secularism and Politics"

Conversations With History Series
Univ. of California, Berkeley
October 2008

Conversations with History host Harry Kreisler welcomes Professor Talal Asad who reflects on his life and work as an anthropologist focusing on religion, modernity, and the complex relationships between Islam and the West.

Wikipedia Info on Talal Asad


Friday, December 12, 2008

Europe: A Borderless Society?

Thomas Diez, University of Birmingham (UK)
Harvard International Review
September 2008


Revisiting Westphalia

In 1998, I attended a conference on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia. The event was co-organized by the Universities of Münster and Enschede on both sides of the Dutch-German border. Given that Westphalia is a standard reference point for the genesis of the territorial system of sovereign states that became the predominant way of organizing world politics in the 20th century, it is no surprise that one of the highlights of the conference was the bus trip from Enschede across the border into Germany. Yet ten minutes into German territory, most delegates had missed the border crossing. To the amazement of many non-Europeans on the bus, and to the dismay of those looking forward to collecting another stamp, there had been no border guard, no barrier – only a small blue sign with the yellow twelve-star circle of the European Union and “Federal Republic of Germany” written onto it. And yes, the color and style of the road signs and the majority of license plates had been changed.


Ten years later, one can assume that readers of the Harvard International Review would not be surprised by the lack of borders. The Schengen Agreement between most EU, and even some neighboring non-EU,countries eventually led to the abolishment of interstate border controls (although notably, the United Kingdom and Ireland have opted out of Schengen). Earlier this year, most of the countries that had joined the EU in 2004 became part of the “Schengen zone”, which now ranges from the Western Atlantic rim to the Baltic States. Yet Schengen is merely the most apparent sign of European integration visible to the traveler. Article 21 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which is currently undergoing ratification, establishes the right of EU citizens “to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States,” and Article 26 (2) enshrines an EU-wide “internal market [which] shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured.” Similar provisions already exist in the present Treaties. Most economic policy decisions are no longer made at the member states' level but rather on the EU level and there is significant integration of justice and home affairs policies. Even in the area of foreign and security policy, progress toward collective decision-making has been made, although the success of this is contested. Through its regional policy, the EU also has specific programs to provide support to former border regions and enhance cross-border cooperation.


Many observers have therefore noted that territorial state borders as we know them are being transformed exactly where they had originally been invented. The EU is often seen as a new kind of political organization that would transcend territorial borders. John Gerard Ruggie, in a 1993 article in International Organization with the catchy title “Territoriality and Beyond”, called it a “postmodern polity.” Those who see the nation state as inhibiting the full development of democracy because of the exclusionary effect of the state system’s territorial borders often look to the EU as an example of democracy “beyond the nation-state.” So is the EU heralding a new era in world politics? Is it a sign of a world to come without borders?

The answer to the latter question is a clear no. Whether or not the EU is a novel actor in world politics is a matter of much debate. At the moment, it is a complex system of overlapping authorities, where decision-making is spread across the regional, national, and EU level. While all federal systems are characterized by a degree of dispersion of power, in the EU this is taken to an extreme. In the 1970s, Hedley Bull coined the term “neo-medieval” for the then European Community because it reminded him of the patchwork of overlapping authorities that had prevailed in many parts of medieval Europe before the existence of the Westphalian territorial state, with its clear borders and internal hierarchy of power, became the dominant form of political organization.


Bull saw that this “neo-medieval” system presented a fundamental challenge to the state system. Ultimately, however, he thought that the European integration process would succumb to the pressures of the state system and either unravel or lead to a federal state on European level. Neither has happened since. Instead, the EU has developed both its territorial borders and furthered its “neo-medieval” characteristics. The status of borders in Europe today serves as a clear illustration of this ambiguity. Some borders have disappeared, others stay on; new ones have been created and others redefined.


The Continued Existence of Borders

Let us first look at the way borders still matter in today’s Europe. While many people think of Schengen as allowing borderless travel, the corollary has been the construction of a unified territorial border between Schengen and non-Schengen countries. There are of course still idiosyncrasies – for instance, visas are still issued by national embassies rather than an EU consulate. However, one also cannot dismiss the achievement of eliminating border controls in an area that used to be marred by national rivalries regularly leading to war. Yet many of the new outer Schengen borders are less permeable than the old borders. Indeed, the EU has done a lot to support new Schengen countries to align their border controls with the other member states, and the EU’s external border agency, Frontex, continues to provide technical assistance and facilitate the exchange of best practice in border management. 9/11 has done its part in ensuring a focus on tight border controls. This reinforcement of external borders therefore lends some credibility to Bull’s argument that eventually the EU would simply replace the member states with a new state in international politics.


It will be interesting to observe the effect that such a focus on the outer borders of the EU has on European identity. One cannot think of identity without borders – borders define identities. The latest round of EU enlargements in 2004 and 2007 has brought the identity question more than ever to the heart of the debates about integration. During the Cold War, despite a conflation between “Europe” and the European Community (EC), European identity was treated as a given without being seriously challenged. It was clear to all that Europe extended beyond the EC, and the possibility of these two ever coinciding seemed distant if not outright impossible. Now, the EU comprises most of the states that are undisputedly seen as European, while the remaining states either do not want to join or have a clear, long-term membership option. This pushes the EU to consider states, such as Turkey, which the public sees as more ambiguous in relation to European identity, despite the formal commitment of the EU to Turkey as a European state ever since the 1963 Association Agreement. The result is not without irony: while the EU has grown, become more diverse, and includes increasing numbers of permanent immigrants with a Turkish or other non-EU background, the enlargement has simultaneously had the effect of strengthening a sense of or at least a debate over European identity and its borders.



A Radical Challenge, But Only in Parts

Analogies are always problematic, but Bull’s scenario of a neo-medieval Europe clearly captures something of the spirit throughout most parts of Europe better than statist terms. This, however, is largely a picture of what is happening within the EU. At the external borders of the EU, there is little to suggest that borders are being redefined or even abolished. While there are Euregios at the EU’s outer borders, such as Euregion Bug, and while the EU has allowed the provision of local border traffic permits for people living in the immediate vicinity of an EU outer border, security discourses nonetheless tend to override attempts to cooperate as much as identity discourses. In this sense, the EU would really only provide an alternative to the society of states as Bull saw it if the integrative ethos inside were to be applied to its outer borders. This is not out of the question, but it is not yet the right time for such a move.


Full-text available, click here.


Thomas Diez is Professor of International Relations at the University of Birmingham (UK). His work focuses on European integration, and its impact on borders and border conflicts. Most recently, he has co-edited a volume on The European Union and Border Conflicts: The Impact of Integration and Association (2008).
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