Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
"the need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. it must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere"
(Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto)
While Marx was no fan of capitalism, the one thing he did admire about it was its dynamism and thus its ability to spread. This is best illustrated by the fact that capitalism has turned from a fad practiced in the west to the globally dominant economic paradigm within three centuries and despite it's almost fatal flaws, will remain so for a long time to come.
But the need for expansion and growth, crucial to capitalism as economic and social system, has taken the business of capital accumulation (forgive my Marx) to strange places, none stranger than space. It was announced today that the Seattle based company Planetary Resources has drawn out plans to extract resources from asteroids such as gold , platinum, and water, when broken down into its constituent properties (oxygen and hydrogen) can be used to make rocket fuel.
The plans to extract resources from asteroids have been backed by Google heads Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, film director James Cameron and former presidential candidate Russ Perot. The plan to extract resources from asteroids are ambitious but with the investment the plan will surely attain, it seem certain to be realised but there is one problem : asteroids are one of earth biggest existential threats.
Furthermore, there is a low likelihood of the venture making a profit as there are astronomically high costs in travelling to asteroids, never mind the actual the production of tools required to detect then extract resources from asteroids.But the venture into resource extraction in space is not about just making profits (well it is but...) but the dream of making 'science fiction into reality', another frontier man has surpassed.
But the irony of this dream is the fact that most major science fiction novels and films have a rather negative view of corporations. The science fiction genre has been prolific in portraying a world where corporations represent an all encompassing evil hellbent on making a bean regardless of who gets hurt whether its blade runner, The Minority Report, or even James Cameron's contributions to film in the 'Alien' sequel or 'The abyss'.
In sum, the exploration of space was a source of wonder for anyone sought to look beyond the planet we inhabit and marvel at the universe of which we are a small part but in the space of five decades space exploration has gone from being 'one large step for mankind' to a potential one way chuckle to the bank for any CEO with the nerve to large handle the costs space exploration require. People who may look upon news like this as progress and another testament to man's enduring ingenuity are, in some respect, right but this should be an issue as many towns, cities, and nations have been subject to the same process and now, unfortunately, space will become its new epicenter
Monday, April 23, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
“If we were to wake up tomorrow and learn that Canada or Belgium had secretly developed a nuclear weapon we would not be happy about it, but neither would it ruin our day. The reason is simple: all proliferation is not equal”.
While double standards are rife in international politics, they appear frequently when nuclear proliferation is considered.The media runs itself into a frenzy regarding the unproductive nuclear proliferation efforts of Iran and North Korea yet in the light of India's successful test of long range missiles , little criticism has been dispensed towards a nation hell bent on being regarded a major player on the world stage.
With its successful testing of long range missiles, it joins Israel, China, Britain, the United States, Russia and France in nuclear capability, enhancing its status as a nuclear power and its chances of becoming a member of the UN Security Council.
However, its successful test will inevitably cause concern among their neighbors, particularly nuclear states Pakistan and China.Pakistan has had frosty relations with India since independence and they stand to get worse as tensions between both nations are set to fuel Pakistan's attempts to achieve a balance of power with regards to nuclear capability.
China, however, have a relatively healthy relationship with India as both are part of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and have good trade relations with each other. Their good relations aside, India and China find themselves in direct competition made worse by the latest news of India's growth in nuclear capability with India now being able to strike cites in China.
This serves as another blow to a already battered non proliferation treaty (NPT) as two nations, within days of each other have tested missiles, one being a signer of the NPT, . India also dealt a blow to the end goal of the NPT, nuclear disarmament. China in light of recent developments are unlikely reduce nuclear stockpiles as well as Pakistan with defense spending set to go up in response.
Much talk has been lent on the potential threat of Iran becoming a nuclear state despite Iran having no nuclear capability to speak of with the media neglecting the nuclear proliferation of nations who have already reached nuclear capability clearly poses as much of a threat as some, including India, are neighbors to an unstable regime or find themselves in a volatile region.
In sum, India may have helped their ambitions to accede the UN Security Council and bolster its position as a regional hegemon, it has caused stability with its neighbors as one has had a long stated rivalry and is known for its instability and another it finds itself in direction competition and actually threaten with recent developments. India's case has also revealed a prevailing double standard which makes mockery of the NPT as the threat of proliferation is not measured in capability but in the potentiality of disaster which allows for infinite possibilities and faulty decision-making.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
While most people would have sympathy for the howling and crying of business executives over government policies affecting their market, very few would join the pity party held by arm dealers over lack of government funding.
There are plenty arguments in favor of government spending on weapons research and development as Britain remains a leader in the arms industry with regards to innovation , few have any other justification other than national security.
All these howls of anguish coming from British defense companies seem to fly in the face of the Prime ministers' (David Cameron) gallant promotion of the industry on his tours to the Middle East and Asia with business execs from the UK's top defense firms.
With there being more pressing concerns other than BAE systems profit margins, the money used for the development of new weapons could be used on other projects that involve not building weapons that'll make Tony Stark cry tears of joy.
While it's almost certain that any funds not spared on the defense industries will not be used on more noble endeavors, the coalition government seem to be continuing a positive trend since the end of the cold war of curbing Britain's military prowess as the post cold war political climate promised less likelihood of war.
In sum, the austerity measures taken by the Coalition government does hurt the defense industries but this pain pales in comparison to the pain endured by many in British society in light of cuts to much needed public services.Politicans are accustomed to taking policy measures that affect sections in society who don't have syndicated journalists, pit-bull lawyers or high powered lobbyists on their Christmas card list never mind on speed dial, so, it does make it welcome change when Government policies affects those who do.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Whether you see the realm of international politics as a state of nature or a society of states, tools of coercion are necessary. We can debate for days about the ethics of politics and consequences of accepting such ethics but when the aim of the participants is survival secured by power, ethical discussions are cast aside. In the cruel game of coercion , the use of sanctions is the most effective means afforded to states in light of the global trend of economic integration, making sanctions, rather than sabotage, a more rational policy .
The detractors of sanctions cites it's use by powerful states to crush nations they disagree with, which does have traction with the use of sanctions by the US against Iraq from after the gulf war to operation Iraq freedom. the United States along with the EU is currently are using sanctions against Iran in its attempt to isolate the Islamic republic in an attempt to stop their alleged march to nuclear weapons despite Iran's constant reiteration of their peaceful intentions regarding to nuclear power.
However, it can be argued that use of sanctions regarding its use against Iran is beginning to take effect on Iran as both its oil production and exports have suffered substantial slowdowns, likely to have a effect on its nuclear ambitions. While sanctions are effective when targeted at key exports and institutions, they do not guarantee policy change.
For all the sanctions levied on Iraq throughout the nineties, it did not change Saddam Hussein position on nuclear weapons or UN inspections of them. Other complications with the use of sanctions is that leads to the growth of black markets as smugglers acquire goods for profit using other currencies, which currently taking place in Iran. Nations targeted by sanctions can also trade with nations yet to participate in the use of sanctions, making the use of sanctions an exercise of futility
In sum, sanctions in the current political climate are useful but are only part of the solution. in order to work they must be uses in conjunction with diplomatic efforts as constant communication with the targeted nation can lead to negotiations regarding policy change.