Thursday, August 16, 2007

Realism, Iraq and the Bush Doctrine

In Mackubins Thomas Owens’ article, Realism, Iraq and the Bush Doctrine, a clarification was given insofar as realist theory is concerned in the context of the publication of the Iraqi Study Group report which recommended that the United States find common grounds with Iran and Syria in ensuring political stability in Iraq and the entire Middle East as well. Prior to a discussion on the main points of the article, Owens clearly delineated realist theory and its variants, where realism takes primacy on the importance of power and military security in international affairs. Most important of these variants are the structural realists that contend that since states have no common superior, they are the primary determinants for their own security needs, in which at the end of the day, states shall take steps necessary for its survival.

Nonetheless, the wide-ranging criticism on the Bush Doctrine, even from the ranks of the traditional realists is due to the possibility of an anti-hegemonic balancing act by other states in response to its exercise of military might. Nothing of this sort has occurred in the last few years of American occupation in Iraq, which leads us to surmise that the occupation in itself by the Americans is seen as consistent with the interests of other international state actors. On the other hand, realists seemed to fail to distinguish between the United States and other states that does not share the former’s brand of liberal democracy, as the issues of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism are far more pressing issues to consider and resolve than the need to repudiate Bush’s so-called neoconservative doctrine. Some realists are also erred in asserting that American foreign policy is being compromised in favor of Israeli foreign policy. This assertion is very far-fetched and denigrates from the very concept of realism which relies exclusively on the international balance of power in its foreign policy decisions.

In all of these, a discussion now of the much maligned theory of neo-conservatism is paramount in discussing the flaws of realism in assessing the problems in Iraq and the current international balance of power. Neo-conservatives do not simply assess the international balance of power on its face, but analyze the internal workings of regimes across the globe as well, notwithstanding the necessity of articulating the deepest values of a liberal democracy in one’s foreign policy. Actually, the Bush doctrine is even a variant of realism as its role as the world’s current hegemonic power holds the peace and prosperity in the world in place as it is seen as a power that provides the world with collective economic stability and international security. It has also been said that if the hegemonic stability of the world is disrupted, the more dangerous it shall be for the world, deriving from the historical lessons of the disintegration of the hegemonic power of Britain a century ago that has led to economic depressions and world wars. It must not be misconstrued though that American hegemonic power is a go-it-alone approach that ignores international institutions and intimidates both friends and allies, among others. American foreign policy carries with it a benevolent principle that US power is good not only for itself but for the rest of the world, harping on the familiar line that the US can only be secure once the rest of the world is secure. More so, the American goal of expanding democracy around the world is consistent with the principle that the security of a state is more enhanced if it is surrounded by other states with similar principles, interests and goals. President Bush himself said that America will always be more secure when freedom is on the march than on retreat.

Judicial Review in the UK

One of the most important facets of constitutionalism is the concept of judicial review, as it is the procedure that determines the legality or illegality of the decision-making process utilized by persons given delegated authority by parliament, among others. In states with written constitutions and well-entrenched concepts of constitutional supremacy, judicial review is accorded much power and reverence as it can invalidate even acts of its own parliament or legislature. It is not so in the United Kingdom, as the Acts of Parliament are conclusive upon the courts, due to the concept of parliamentary supremacy. Courts can only review acts of delegated authority such as bye-laws that were passed and implemented by local authorities in pursuit of a more general act of Congress. If these bye-laws are inconsistent with parent act of Congress, the courts can strike these down and render them void. More so, the acts of public institutions may also be reviewed if they act in excess of its jurisdiction or powers. Insofar as the rule of law is concerned, the concept of judicial review comes to the fore due to the inherent distrust of the discretionary powers of government especially possible arbitrary acts which may be detrimental in the protection of the rights of the people. A mechanism such as judicial review must exist for this purpose. On the other hand, judicial review is indispensable in the separation of powers as it serves as a check on the powers of the executive branch insofar as its delegated authority is concerned. If the executive oversteps the bounds of delegated authority from parliament, the judiciary has the power to strike these acts down. In the exercise of the court’s power of judicial review, there are certain requirements which parties must conform to in order to avail of this remedy such as the requisites that the complained act arises from delegated authority by a statute, the necessity that the complained parties be public institutions, and the existence of a governmental interest in the decision-making power in question.

There are two steps in procedure of judicial review – the permission stage and the substantive hearing stage. There are also time restrictions such as the need for the complaint to be filed within three months after the grounds for claiming judicial review arose, notwithstanding the importance of possessing sufficient locus standi to pursue the case at hand. The remedies then that are available to claimants are in the form of petitions for mandamus, certiorari and prohibition which can all compel the public bodies complained by injured parties to follow the orders of the court when a favorable decision is given.

However, Acts of Parliament sometimes incorporates ouster clauses to shield delegated authority from the purview of judicial review. This practice has always been held as objectionable to the rule of law and usurps the powers of the courts, erroneously premised on the point that judicial review inconveniences government. Nonetheless, even if such ouster clauses exist, the courts are not precluded from exercising their authority of review. One of the more recent controversies on this is on the immigration system, with critics asserting that illegal immigrants shall abuse the law with their applications for review on their cases. Fortunately this part of the bill was struck down.

On the other hand, the most important requisite for judicial review is the possession of locus standi by the injured parties, and the test has always been the necessity of a claimant having sufficient interest in the resolution of the controversy. The claims may be asserted when individual rights are affected, notwithstanding the capacity of groups to assert the claims of its individual members. In the permission stage, the court may already strike down a claim if it is shown that clearly, no sufficient interest lies, but the court may also do so during substantive hearing if the court is not conclusively convinced that the requisite standing is present. In recent cases, standing was liberally construed in favor of persons or groups that do not exactly possess sufficient interest but were merely asserting a public right, such as a taxpayer’s suit, among others, because the merits of the cases were seen as far more important a consideration than a conclusive determination of the standing of claimants.

Parliamentary Supremacy in the UK

As the United Kingdom does not possess a written constitution unlike other states, it has been Parliament that has always been regarded as bearing supreme authority insofar as statutes and laws are concerned. With no written constitution, there is nothing that subsequent statutes can conform itself with save for the exercise of the authority of Parliament in the crafting of its laws.

Parliamentary Supremacy has three main elements - Parliament can make any law whatsoever and no body or court of law can question an Act of Parliament, no Parliament can bind either itself or its successors, and no limit can be placed on the territorial extent of Acts of Parliament. The first of these elements is more popularly known as the Enrolled Bill doctrine. It simply states that all the judiciary can ever do insofar as statutes of Parliament are concerned is to parse through the Parliamentary Roll and nothing more, as the judiciary must afford fundamental respect and conclusiveness over the acts of Parliament, especially the process by which statutes were passed. The second main element is better known as the implied repeal rule which simply states that subsequent Parliaments can expressly or impliedly repeal previous statutes made by present and past Parliaments as subsequent parliaments possess the same powers and authority of all prior parliaments in existence. More so, the implied repeal rule also shows that past Parliaments cannot restrain future parliaments from exercising their authority of legislation. The last main element is known as the territorial extent doctrine which asserts that parliament can enact statutes that are outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United Kindom, such as the High-jacking Act of 1982, in which hi-jacking is punished even if it be committed outside the territorial jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

However, the Manner and Form Thesis has come to challenge this traditional view of parliamentary supremacy, as some limitations on this exist, such as when the law require a certain procedure in order that previously enacted statutes may be changed. One good example of this is the requirement of a referendum among the people of Northern Ireland insofar as some of its territories are concerned. The Manner and Form thesis clearly delineates the boundaries in which the courts may intervene and even invalidate acts of the legislature such as those regarding procedure and composition but never on the area of its exercise of power. More so, it has been said that its power to change the law includes the power to change the law affecting itself because the legal sovereign herself may impose legal restrictions upon its acts. However, for as long as the enrolled bill doctrine is in effect and recognized both by Parliament and the courts of law, a big stumbling block exists that precludes the recognition of this view into legal contemplation.

On the other hand, a further challenge to the Supremacy of Parliament has been the legal effects of the European Community Law which is incorporated in to the UK legal system through the European Communities Act 1972, and asserted in case law through Mccarthys v Smith (1979) 3 All ER 325 that views that Treaty above as not only an aid in statutory construction and legal implementation but as having the force of law which must be given priority over and above national laws. Of important note are the Factortame cases which gave the distinction as what kinds of repeals parliament can make insofar as treaties are concerned. It was shown in these cases that parliament cannot simply impliedly repeal acts which tend to conflict with the international treaty signed by the UK but may do so if the repeal is express. In one case, a statute was actually disapplied though not invalidated for its failure to conform to the international treaty.

In all of these, confusion does exist as to which approach must be used insofar as parliamentary supremacy is concerned. The Factortame cases, though, are the most plausible and realistic in application as it clearly categorizes the kinds of statutes which may only be expressly or impliedly repealed, unlike in the traditional view that all statutes may be impliedly repealed even without qualifications. This distinction is very important because it recognizes a hierarchy of law that exists in the UK legal system.

Does the UK have a Constition?

There are two main approaches to defining a constitution – the concrete definition and the abstract definition. The concrete definition approach refers to a written set of rules a state adopts which defines the roles and functions of government, the rights of the people against the power of the state, among others. This type includes the Constitution of the United States of America, which was ratified by the end of the 18th century. Many states of the world adopted this form of written constitution to articulate the powers of their governments and the rights of their people, such as the present Iraqi government and the Republic of the Philippines. On the other hand, the abstract definition approach recognizes states such as the United Kingdom to possess its own constitution even if no written type exists, as it has rules which ‘establish and regulate or govern the government’ and deal with the relationship between the State and citizens, such as the Representation of the Peoples Act 2000. However, there are vehement objections from the likes of intellectuals such as Paine and Ridley that the UK has no constitution. Ridley asserts that a constitution is established by the people themselves and not presumed to exist, thus, the UK only possesses only a system of government with a set of rules and never a constitution. On the other hand, Paine views the existence of the British government without a constitution as power without a right as no limit on governmental power exists.

Nonetheless, a way out of this debate is to focus more on the purposes of a constitution rather than on its form. Jefferson best articulated these purposes, which includes the allocation and limitation of powers of government, the articulation of moral democratic principles of society and the accordance of government to democratic principles. As such, if these are the benchmarks that we shall use in determining as to whether or not the UK has a constitution, sources of constitutional exist that would show that a constitution does exist in UK such as statutes, common law, conventions, treaties, and even the Royal Prerogative. Concretely, these include Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, Race Relations Act 1976, the landmark case of M v Home Office ([1994] 1 AC 377), among many other laws and cases which subscribe to the Jeffersonian notion of the purposes of constitution.

However, there is still a debate as to whether the sum of all these statutes and sources of constitutional rules taken together can be considered as conclusive enough to say that a constitution exists in UK, especially when one of the fundamental requisites of a constitution is the consent of the people and the establishment of the people of a constitutional government. Prima facie, though, especially with all the statutes that seemingly conform to the Jeffersonian purposes of a constitution, it can somehow be said that the UK does possess a constitution. However, if the question is related to Paine’s assertion that a government without a constitution operates without a right, the answer would be in the negative. For as long as the UK does not possess a written constitution that clearly delineates the powers of government and the rights of the people, no constitution exists in UK as the existence of a constitution requires a positive act on the part of the people and never presumed to exist on the basis of the presence of laws and cases that seem to pertain to its existence.

Michael Collins and the Irish Revolution

This oft-quoted statement is a testament as to how diverse a society’s perception of historical figures can be. Different world leaders, especially revolutionaries are often portrayed in different respects, according to the ideological prism one uses to analyze the life of the world’s greatest men and women. Mao Zedong, for example, will always be remembered by the majority of the Chinese population who lived through the years prior to the 1949 Chinese revolution as the leader of a people’s movement that liberated Chinese society from a semi-feudal and semi-colonial system ruled by bourgeois compradors and big landowners under the auspices of foreign imperialism. He is also remembered by some sections of Chinese society as a ruthless dictator who insisted on an experimental utopian social system that led to the deaths of millions of his people due to hunger and famine. In contemporary history, on the other hand, Arab nationalists and anti-imperialists view the legacy of Saddam Hussein as a triumph of the repudiation of American intrusion into Arab soil, while American conservatives view his reign of terror as one of the most dastardly regimes the world has seen in the last fifty years. Nonetheless, it is this historical ambivalence that the life of Michael Collins as an Irish revolutionary shall be analyzed in this paper, especially on questions as to whether he can be considered a villain or a patriot.

Michael Collins was an Irish revolutionary who fervently sought the independence of Ireland from the “illegal occupation” of England, and led one of the bloodiest armed struggles against the British Empire. Collins came to the fore during the Easter Rising, which was one of the first attempts for centuries of British rule that militant Irish republicans sought to win Irish independence by force of arms. It must be understood that the armed struggle which was started during the Easter Rising and continued on even by the Irish Republican Army until recent past was a reaction to the timid parliamentary politics that was being espoused by the Irish Parliamentary Party of John Redmond. This party was seen by many militant republicans led by Michael Collins as a capitulating force and utterly incapable of leading the Irish people in the path to independence. As such, the Easter Rising was hatched and implemented by throngs of Irish revolutionaries which sought to grab the reins of political power from the British in the lightning fashion of an urban insurrection by seizing buildings in Dublin and cordon-off the city to surmount a violent counter-attack from British security forces, notwithstanding guerilla attacks at British soldiers – a tactic that was mastered by Collins through his flying columns. As expected, the British forces soon after counter-attacked and they were decisively able to quell the rebellion in a week, with the leading members and cadres of the Irish republican movement arrested and even executed by the British. This foolish tactic of political violence was premised on the theory that the bloodletting of the leaders and members of the republican movement would soon after inspire the struggle of a thousand-fold more people. While this tactic of violence had a definite shock-value both to the British Empire and the Irish public, it was very costly to the Irish republican cause because it lost much of its respected leaders, especially John Connolly, the head of the Irish armed socialist movement that inspired much of the forces to wage armed struggle against the British Empire. In all of these, and even to the events leading to the signing of the Peace treaty between the Ireland and England, Michael Collins can be considered a patriot as he knew at what historic moment the necessity of armed struggle beckons, alongside his other comrades in the Irish republican movement. By supporting the armed struggle, no matter how ill-advised their insurrectionary tactic was, Collins recognized that Irish political power and national sovereignty can never be attained by simply waging a peaceful parliamentary struggle against the British crown, as the Empire will never hand over sovereignty of rich Irish lands on a silver platter. Instead, it must be forcibly taken through violent means. Nonetheless, it is only in Collins’ role prior to the peace treaty that he can be considered a patriot as he capitulated to the might of the British Empire when he acceded to the treaty and abruptly ended hostilities between the warring nations. Many in the radical sections of the Irish Republican Army saw the signing of the treaty and Collin’s support for it as a betrayal of the Irish revolution, especially to the Irish martyrs who only wanted to witness an Ireland that had its people as its sovereign and not the English throne. For this, Collins was assassinated during the Irish Civil War, dying in the same violent manner as the armed struggle he valiantly espoused in the years after the Easter Rising.

On the other hand, it can somehow be said that Collins model of political violence is comparable to the theory of armed struggle by Che Guevara, particularly his foco theory. Che Guevara believed that a single guerilla force, no matter how small, carrying out armed revolution in any country is capable of spreading like wildfire and inspiring the masses to join the revolution. Both of them believed in the necessity of guerilla warfare as the most effective tool at systematically reducing the strength of the enemy, especially an enemy with almost unlimited military resources fighting against a revolutionary movement with meager resources. It must also be said that both revolutionary leaders repudiated the grabbing of political power through an urban insurrection as it opened revolutionary movement and its supporters to the heavy weight of a counter-attack by enemy forces which might be utter detrimental to the revolutionary cause.

In all of these, though, it must be reiterated that despite the faults and failures of Michael Collins, especially when he capitulated to British forces instead of seeing the Irish revolution to its fruition, his life as an Irish patriot and hero can never be discounted. He lived at a concrete historical moment which challenged him and many other Irishmen to stand up against a mighty empire and determine their own destiny as a people.

Works Cited:

  1. Castaneda, J. (1998). Comandante: The life and death of Ché Guevara. Vintage Publishing.
  2. Fox, R.M. (1943). The History of the Irish Citizen Army. Dublin: James Duffy & Co.
  3. Hopkinson, M. Green Against Green, the Irish Civil War, pp.83-87
  4. Kostick, Conor & Collins. (2000). The Easter Rising. Dublin: O'Brien Press
  5. Townshend, C. (2005). Easter 1916: the Irish rebellion. London: Allen Lane.

The Message of Gore in the Inconvenent Truth

The movie An Inconvenient Truth, can never be as effective as a wake-up call to millions of Americans if it were not for the courage of conviction of its main character – former Vice-President Al Gore. The movie’s message is ultimately tied to the manner by which Gore inspired a national grassroots network of Americans that much can be done, no matter how small nor simple, in the war against global warming. This paper shall examine the lengths Al Gore took to send his message to the people of America and the deep-seated changes and prospects which his life-long advocacy fueled and transformed.

Since 2001, Gore has embarked on an educational blitzkrieg of the evil of global warming as to why all governments of the world must come together and act decisively to combat the looming threat not only to mankind but to the existence of life on earth. He lectured in different places – universities, colleges, town halls, theaters – all venues in which Gore can spread the message, inspire people and get them to act together with him in his fight for a better world. He has cut across an entire cross-section of American society in convincing them of the validity of his cause – conservative Christians, liberals, ethnic communities and a host of different diverse groups who otherwise would not have come together unless the fate of humanity is involved. At the center of it all was Al Gore, the defeated presidential aspirant who never lost his spurs despite his tragic loss and even proved to the entire world that a presidential setback can never preclude a good man from serving his people.

Nonetheless, his advocacy is never without intense opposition from an elite section of American society. In a recently concluded congressional hearing, Al Gore was again taken for granted by senior Republican congressmen who obviously had in their objectives the debunking of his premises against global warming by using ad hominem attacks and using argumentation fallacies to bring Al Gore and his advocacy to a corner. They kept on saying that the scientific evidence proving global warming is a fraud, despite the massive evidence presented by international scholars during a meeting in Paris a few months back. More so, Al Gore is being portrayed as simply interested in riding the tide of global warming for his own personal interests as he perfectly knew how important a unifying issue it was for a great majority of the American people.

All of these criticisms and lies never stopped Al Gore from continuing on with his struggle and being true to his mission of education the people on the evils of global warming. His film, The Inconvenient Truth, was even given an Academy Award for being the best documentary of 2006, in recognition of his relentless efforts in molding the minds of the American public. He has been able to create a pressure group to lobby Congress to form policies which would protect the earth from further heating up, and restrict industries from over-producing toxic fumes that would soon enough contribute to the heating process of the earth.

On the other hand, his advocacy of awareness on global warming has also tacitly compelled much of the world to heed his call to lessen carbon emissions and has tacitly given much credence to the global trend of states to phase-out CFCs in industrial, commercial and residential uses, except for products utilized for medicinal purposes, among others. Greater awareness of the issue has even led to the ratification of scores of states of the Kyoto Protocol, save for the United States, which has a powerful lobby that pressures and restrains the American government from fostering and consolidating environmental unity with the world. Nonetheless, as signatories of the Kyoto Protocol, the signatory states are obliged to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases in a given length of time. While much of the industrialized world and even emerging economies have yet to follow the provisions of the Protocol strictly, its ratification and implementation is a good sign that the international community already recognizes the imminent global problem if not enough steps are taken by state actors in the soonest possible time.

However, there is no better indication that his campaign against global warming has taken the high road than the recently released UN Report on Global Warming which blamed much of the world’s heating on human activities which may seem to possess merely localized effects at first but contains environmental repercussions in a global scale, such as the melting of the ice caps and glaciers. This report underscores the truth of what Al Gore has been saying since his early years as a young statesman. If the world continues to immerse itself in a state of denial on the issue, the effects of the heating of the world has dire consequences, such as changing climate patterns and more environmental disasters.

In all of these, it is clear the movie concretely chronicled how deep Vice-President Gore’s campaign and struggle has become, not only for the American people but to the world. His work has inspired a better understanding of the issue and has even led the international community to stand at attention. Without the political pressure that his campaign and movement created, no scientific study on global warming in the magnitude as the UN Paris report above could ever had come about, especially in the light of counter-assertions by developed states against the veracity of the claims of global heating. With this, the work of the movie and the man is halfway done.

On the Troop Withdrawal Bill

Recently, both Houses of Congress initiated legislation on the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq by March 2008. With the majority of representatives in the House and the Senate coming from the Democratic Party, it is expected that the legislation will pass, subject only to veto powers of the US President, as part of the system of checks and balances in government. Publicly, President George W. Bush berated the legislature for their obstinacy in opposing his administration’s policy in Iraq and had already threatened to truly exercise his executive powers and send the legislation to the dustbin of history. If he does veto the legislation, the Democrat-led majority in Congress will only have achieved a symbolic victory, as their numbers are not enough to overturn the expected veto of the proposed legislation. Predictably, the political conflict on the war in Iraq will only further escalate the political bickering of both branches of government and increasing the polarization of American society. On the other hand, the issue as to whether or not American troops must leave Iraq in the soonest possible time has been the subject of intense debates from all sides of the political spectrum and American society since the war in Iraq reached its fourth year last month, that the final outcome of the executive-legislative standoff is pivotal in tipping the balance of support for the continuing war in Iraq. In discussing the complex issues on the withdrawal bill, the paper shall examine newspaper editorials critique the broadsheets comments regarding the policy proposals to obtain an understanding of the political economic issues involved with regard to governmental economic policy in general, notwithstanding gaining a sense of the deep public opinion that has hounded this fiscal aspect of the war in Iraq.

The Contextual Backdrop – Iraq Enters its Fifth Year

The Washington Post editorial gave a balanced analysis of the past few years of American occupation in Iraq. While it criticized much the way the plans for reconstruction were executed, it still held optimistic views on how the United States can get out of the current impasse and struggle forth against growing international criticism for the war. Aside from this it as great that the editorial recognized not simply the failures of the American troops but also the marked contradictions between the Americans and the Iraqi people even prior to the invasion as it said that the United States is still paying the price for its betrayal of Shiites and Kurds during the Persian Gulf War against Iran, where the United States tacitly colluded with Saddam in the bloody war against the Islamists of Iran. More so, there is also a critical analysis that the failure of diplomacy is never a sufficient argument to start a war. It can be remembered that the March 2003 invasion seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to the failure of negotiations between Iraq and the international community. Yet, the United States government, despite international condemnation through the United Nations insisted on going ahead with the invasion. As a result, it proved very difficult for the United States to rally international support due to its strident attempt at unilateralism instead of consolidating and convincing the world on the legitimacy of the war. The discourse on the failure of second-guessing the Iraqi people is relevant as well because the violence of the past few years have shown that the forced transplantation of Western-style democracy in a country rife with tribal and clannish wars can never be feasible despite international support and American resources at all fronts. It perhaps seemed clear now how impossible it was to institute a democratic government in the context of the creation and reproduction of regional warlords with religious undertones. More so, the editorial also scathingly reviews the grand deception of the Bush administration when it presented its case to Congress and to the world, as up to now not a single weapon of mass destruction has been found. For all of these faults by the Bush administration, the editorial does not stand simply to oppose the war and demand the pullout of troops, as it recognizes how responsible the United States is for the current surge of violence in Iraq that it cannot simply turn its back and leave. It understands that calling for a US troop pullout per se will never solve the woes of the Iraqi people nor lessen US accountability. As such, it supports all the efforts by different interest groups from all sectors and sides of the political spectrum to continue securing Iraq while gradually diminishing US troops in Iraq.

The Troop Withdrawal Bill and Public Opinion

The San Jose Mercury News has been very straight forward in its analysis of the conflict between the Bush administration and the Democrat-controlled Houses of Congress, “Congress should continue to call the president's bluff: no withdrawal plan, no new money for the war.” It sternly critiques the tough-guy Iraqi policy of the Bush administration for deviating from the sound military advice of his generals and even the bipartisan Iraqi Study Group to set a definite deadline for troop withdrawal, notwithstanding presenting the solid data in Iraq that legitimizes the growing call to finally pull out the troops, such as the immense loss of American and Iraqi lives, the costly $350 billion military spending, the displacement of millions of Iraqis, and the unrealistic goal of imposing peace and democracy. The editorial above is absolutely correct in asserting that Congress must continue calling the bluff of the President because it ensures that Congress will continue wielding the upper hand in the negotiations on the entire issue of the war, even if the President is the commander-in-chief. The power of the purse of Congress is an all important component in American democracy’s system of checks and balances that even the most powerful man in the world must recognize its authority, especially if he seeks the support of a coequal branch of government for funding his war. By calling the bluff, Congress can decisively pressure the government to accede to its demands of a troop pullout as vetoing the bill would be foolish because it would also mean vetoing the budget appropriations for the war. In this situation, the hands of the President are tied to the demands of Congress which President Bush must diplomatically resolve instead of unilaterally insisting on his plans without Congress approval. More so, the situation in Iraq and the weakening security situation in the United States should provide enough backdrop for the President to clearly rethink his position and work on a lasting solution to the crisis between branches of government but to decisively resolve the Iraqi question.

The Sacramento Bee editorial affirms and further articulates the statement of the San Jose Mercury News on the necessity of Congress’ assertions for a schedule for the withdrawal of the troops as part of the increased military spending on the Iraq war, as the Democrat-led Congress was only reflecting the increasing anti-war sentiments of the American people who decisively voted the Democrats into office. The editorial describes the political stalemate between the President and Congress as the opportunity to force both branches of government to veer away from very extreme demands such as immediate or no troop withdrawals. It also gives the Bush administration a chance of letting Gen. Petraus deliver results in improving the security situation of the Iraqi people and the US troops stationed there, especially in hotbed areas of sectarian violence and insurgency. Nonetheless, it affirms the Bush administration’s policy of engaging its regional allies in the Middle East to help the United States resolve the Iraqi question, as part of the implementation of the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and to stem the growing international criticism of unilateral American policy on reconstruction and development of the war-torn nation. The Sacramento Bee editorial added another dimension in the political economic factors that determine the current tussle between the Bush administration and the US Congress – the utter need of support by different states, especially regional allies in the Middle East. This can also be used as another bargaining chip by the US Congress to definitely pressure the Bush administration to accede to its demands, especially when these efforts by top executive officials led by the Secretary of State can be viewed merely as an afterthought as a result of the international flak the Bush administration has been receiving for its unilateralist foreign policy.

Final Call’s editorial, on the other hand, is an outright repudiation of both branches of government in the thick of conflict. It berates President Bush for continuing on with the war based on false intelligence and without consideration for the tremendous toll on US economic resources and American lives. It also castigates the Democrat-led US Congress for not doing enough in ensuring that the US troops in Iraq would go home immediately, asserting that the reason why American voters sent them to Congress is not to extend the war but to end the war as soon as possible. The editorial rejects even the one-year deadline set by the leading Democrats in Congress as it contained numerous loopholes that could even extend the war past the set deadline, and it even surmised that perhaps the basis for the seeming feet-dragging of Democrats on the immediate troop withdrawal has been the insertion of $25 million pork barrel funds for their use in their local districts, notwithstanding the political pressure from Republican counterparts for being weak on the defense of the American people. While this publication appears to toe the radical line of immediate troop withdrawal unlike the centrist-liberal positions of the previous editorials, it nonetheless presents a realistic picture of the current state of American politics today, in the context of how Congress acts especially when pork barrel funds are concerned. In many parliaments and congresses around the world, the congressional pork barrel has always been the source of much corruption and internal arrangements between political parties in securing concessions from each other. It is remarkable that Final Call’s editorial raised this possibility, as insertions of pork barrel provisions into bills of national importance raises questions on the sincerity of congressional leaders in truly responding to the people’s demand to withdraw the troops in Iraq.

In the Christian Science Monitor’s article on the troop withdrawal bill, it highlighted the questions by Republican representative in both Houses of Congress and anti-pork barrel watchdogs on the propriety of add-ons which are non-defense related, to the extent that a Republican congressman branded these non-defense appropriations a form of bribery to secure support from both Democrats and Republicans to join the congressional bandwagon. However, Democrats in Congress have admitted that their legislation is largely symbolic, as they do not posses the numbers to overturn a presidential veto. Such a veto, though, might be counterproductive, as it would also mean the veto of the budget bill in its entirety. On the other hand, the article is unique as it presents another dimension on the political economic factors that determine the decisions of Congress and the President – the swinging public opinion. Both branches of government are also relying on public opinion, as it is the single-most potent instrument in forcing a branch of government to submit, especially when hundreds of thousands of Americans start trooping to the streets demanding an immediate or gradual troop withdrawal. Nonetheless, the Democrats feel that public opinion is on their side on the matter, as evidenced by their win in the polls which was assessed as the stinging repudiation of President Bush’s waning Iraq policy.

In all of these, it is clear that the outcome of the decisions of both branches of government and the prospective resolution to the crisis are largely dependent on different factors other than the premises of the Iraq war itself and the party lines that the Democrats and Republicans draw. As stated above, it is also dependent on international support and concern, parochial interests such as the non-defense add-ons through pork barrel, and ultimately, American public opinion on the state of the Iraq war. Nonetheless, it is absolutely imperative now that the Bush administration and the Democrat-led Congress find a workable compromise on the issue with troop withdrawal as a non-negotiable segment in the compromise agreement. Congress tight leash on the purse of government is also pivotal in ensuring that the executive branch will be compelled to listen despite the latter’s immense powers. In the ultimate analysis, though, it must be clear to both branches of government that a way above their political bickering is essential in the effective resolution of the war, as the American troops deserve no less than a united government in confronting their woes and sending them home.

Works Cited:

  1. Chaddock, Gail Russell. “Congress puts its marker on Iraq war, but how big?.” Christian Science Monitor. March 26, 2007. Retrieved from on April 18, 2007.
  2. “Congress right to insist on Iraq withdrawal timeline.” San Jose Mercury News. April 12, 2007. Retrieved from on April 18, 2007.
  3. “Democrats in Congress: Wishy-washy or weak?.” Final Call. April 13, 2007. Retrieved from on April 18, 2007.
  4. “Stalemate over Iraq strategy isn't a bad thing.” The Sacramento Bee. March 25, 2007. Retrieved from print/story/143152.html on April 18, 2007.
  5. ______________. “Lessons of War: The fighting in Iraq enters its fifth year.”

Washington Post. March 18, 2007.

Gandhi and Leadership

Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent struggle against the British Empire was a result of the political situation in India. Prior to World War II, the world has witnessed the rise of the Soviet Union in terms of political and military power. We also saw the rise of popular national liberation movements across the colonized world. In most colonies, the way of gaining independence from Western colonialism has been through the waging of armed revolutions, such as the struggle of the Chinese and the Malaysians, led by Mao Tsetung and Sukarno, respectively. However, such a type of struggle for Indian independence was essentially difficult in Indian society where a strict and clearly defined caste system was in place. The caste system hindered the creation of unity of Indians as a united people while transcending class divisions. More so, divisions between the ranks of the Indian people became more pronounced as fighting between rightist Hindu fundamentalists and left-wing communists never stopped, with both espousing violent means of securing Indian independence. All of these confused the majority of a people who continued to wallow in poverty and desolation. In all of these, Mahatma Gandhi emerged to present an alternative viewpoint, a seeming middle-ground between the pro-people radicalism of the left and the religious conservatism of the right. It was founded on the principle of non-violent struggle. It dismantled all previous ideas that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. Gandhi turned the idea of revolution on its head and succeeded in doing so. While a major factor for their triumph was the waning power of the British empire after World War II, their struggle through non-violent means inspired other civil libertarians the world over to give peace and non-violent struggle a chance prior to the taking of arms.

As can be seen from above, Mahatma Gandhi was clearly faced with almost immense tasks, particularly leading the Indian people in the path to independence, despite the power of the British Empire and the ethnic tensions evident in Indian society. At a time when almost the entire colonial peoples of the world were engaged in armed struggle, Gandhi decisively implemented his idea of non-violent struggle to force the British Empire to recognize their demands for sovereignty and independence. He utilized creative forms of protest, such as the non-payment of taxes, peaceful marches to the sea, even if these actions were met with brutal force by British security forces. One of the great things about Gandhi was his ability to present his vision of a free and independent India to the masses in very simple terms which could be clearly understood and grasped. More so, he fully understood that Indian culture was still basically rooted in Hinduism. He believed that the application of foreign theories such as Marxism and nationalism might isolate the independence movement from the vast majority of the people. He was also a very simple man, who embraced the entire cross-section of Indian society, even the so-called untouchables, to the extent of earning the ire of the elite Brahmin caste. As such, his own person was a concrete mobilizing force to move the Indian people into action and determine their destiny. On the other hand, a minor weakness of his leadership was the seeming personality cult that ensued even years after his death. This is shown by the absence of second-liners to continue his work in building a just and peaceful Indian society. While all the mass actions were joined by Indians from different castes, the focus was always primarily on Gandhi’s thoughts and decisions. Such a personality-based leadership, while effective in inspiring people into action, cannot work in the long-term insofar as empowering the people and sustaining the gains of Indian independence. This is due to the lack of a concrete organizational structure to effectively implement the ideas of Gandhi. Lastly, Mahatma seemed to favor speaking in very mystical and vague language, which tends to confuse his followers as to the exact meaning of what he wants to articulate.

Nonetheless, his leadership style was still very effective in mobilizing almost a billion people to demand their independence from the British Empire. Being a charismatic leader, he used his gift of astute yet mystical articulation to convince all sectors of Indian society about the necessity of seeking independence. The clearness of vision and objectives, and the creativity of his means of action of pursuit of these goals, were also indispensable factors of his success in leadership. More so, his propensity for personal sacrifice, at the cost of his life and liberty, in pursuit of his goals are very high on the list of his outstanding leadership qualities. Years of imprisonment and the beatings he received from the British security forces did not deter him from continuing his leadership. This is a crucial part of his leadership style, especially when not many leaders in the world are prepared to do sacrifices like such. Usually, leaders are hidden above their ivory towers and palaces, to the extent of alienating themselves from the people they serve. Gandhi, however, was different, as he was like the common everyman, save that it was his leadership of commitment and sacrifice that helped his people achieve independence.

In terms of my own personal leadership style, I accede to the leadership traits of Gandhi, in terms of his clarity of vision and propensity for sacrifice. In any organization, these are very fundamental because these will determine how the followers will appreciate their role in the organization. If the vision and goals are clear, the followers can quantitatively measure, in a given amount of time, the progress of the organization and their individual development as well, relative to the vision and objectives. It ensures that the organization does not operate in limbo, without any purpose or necessity of existence. Gandhi’s propensity for sacrifice can also be incorporated in my leadership style. It is important for followers to see and realize that the leader himself is willing to lay himself on the line in pursuit of the vision and goals of the organization. Such a leadership trait reassures the followers that the leader is serious about the success and development of the organization and dismantles notions that the leader’s only interest is to make his people follow orders and deliver results. However, my leadership style differs with Gandhi insofar as adopting a pragmatic and realistic view on plans and actions. I would accede more, in this regard, to the Leninist maxim of “concrete analysis of concrete conditions”, instead of the Gandhian mode of relying heavily on a notion of non-violence in the face of difficult odds, as I still contend that the success of Gandhi and his movement was also based on external factors (e.g. British losses after World War II) than his non-violence alone. I even surmise that without the world wars and the decline of the British Empire, his non-violent movement would never have been successful.

Nonetheless, the above mentioned leadership traits of Gandhi are included in my notion of the ideal leader – clarity of vision and goals, and propensity for sacrifice. In analyzing situations and challenges, and making decisions, it must include the Leninist maxim of “concrete analysis of concrete conditions”, without, of course, prejudicing the principles and objectives inherent in the organization. A leader must always seek to create candor and camaraderie among his followers, to drive home the point that no unseen barrier exists between them. More importantly, the leader must always seek ways of empowering his people and training new second liners, based on the idea that leaders, no matter how great they are, will always have to step down and be replaced by new blood. If possible, the leader must shun micro-managing the affairs of the organization, especially when competent persons have been assigned to ensure the success of projects and goals. However, while being democratic and consultative as possible, the leader must exercise full control of the more important decisions of the organization, based on the notion that his experience and vision will always be beneficial for the future of the organization.

Works Cited:

1. Gandhi, M. (1962). Essential Gandhi. Edited by Louis Fischer. New York: Vintage Books.

On Banning Cellphones While Driving

At present, mobile phones have become an integral and necessary part of American life, which is almost entirely different more than a decade ago, when mobile phones were still considered a luxury by many Americans. Perhaps one of the best evidence of its necessity for every American has been the experience of September the 11th, when hundreds of mobile phone calls were made, sending messages of love, hope, despair, grief and sadness. On the other hand, the mobile phone industry has already overwhelmingly penetrated the mass market, notwithstanding the seemingly endless production of high-end, high-tech models for the upscale markets. Even in developing countries such as the Philippines, mobiles phones have become an utter necessity, as even landless peasants and urban slum dwellers brandish mid-end mobile phones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola, to the extent that sometimes, food on the table is sacrificed to simply ensure that their mobile phones are fully operational. On the other hand, mobile phones are now being used as the catch-all mobile equipment for the cosmopolitan individual, with endless features being introduced in a single phone, such as GPS systems, roadmaps, hi-speed internet access, mp3 players, high-pixel cameras, among many other things which have transformed the mobile phone from a mere communications equipment to the ultimate gadget of the contemporary times. The sleek and chic phones are used everywhere, for as long as the batteries work and a network signal is present, even while driving cars in heavy traffic and on the freeway. As a result, this almost non-stop of the mobile phones has posed new physical and cultural problems which must be re-examined and prevented. This paper will examine these problems in the context of mobile phone use while driving a vehicle and it shall argue for the prohibition of its use in the context given above.

There is no better argument for the prohibition of the use of mobile phones while driving a vehicle than the limitless possibility of vehicular accidents while operating a mobile phone, especially on freeways. This possibility of accidents does not involve only the conventional use of mobile phones during driving, such as voice calling and text messaging, but includes all the other added functions of the contemporary mobile phone, including playing its built-in games, taking pictures, choosing mp3 playlists, among others. In the Republic of the Philippines, the world-renowned text messaging capital of the world, an ordinance is enforced banning the use of mobile phones while driving a vehicle, with heavy fines imposed if found guilty by law enforcement agents, notwithstanding the possibility of full revocation of driving privileges for indefinite periods. According to the Manila Times, a widely respected broadsheet of national circulation, the Metro Manila-wide ordinance was enacted by the different cities and municipalities encompassing the Philippine’s National Capital Region mainly for the public good and order, as thousands of vehicular accidents in the Philippines have identified cell phone usage while driving vehicles as the proximate cause of these accidents (Reyes, 2006). These accidents do not include car-to-car collisions alone, but includes pedestrian deaths and damages to property, particularly government property, that the economic costs of these accidents are to the utter disadvantage of the Filipino public. More so, it is a fundamental idea in driving school that even little distractions to the full concentration of driving a vehicle can lead to unwanted results, as the hand-eye coordination between the wheel and the road is greatly diminished, even if the driver simply pushes a few buttons to access his mp3 playlists. Driving involves split-second decisions which, if interfered with, may lead to violent car crashes and even deaths. These alarming situations have even stirred into action major mobile phone companies such as Nokia, the mobile phone of choice by many Filipinos, to launch information and advocacy campaigns discouraging the use of mobile phones while driving, which was creatively called Phonethics. According to the SME Community Philippines magazine (2006), Nokia Philippines advocated an educational platform to remind the public about the responsible use of cellphones in which the campaign was broadcast in mainstream tri-media and supplemented by road signs along major thoroughfares of key cities nationwide, especially in the light of increasing road accidents, petty crimes and social faux pas attributed to the relentless use of these mobile devices.

Another decisive argument against the use of cellphones while driving is the spawning of culture of over-reliance to mobile gadgets for a wide array of human activity, to the extent that it breeds delinquency and irresponsibility in the guise of greater efficiency of work and communications. While it is true that the advent of mobile phone communications has revolutionized the way people connect with each other, sometimes it is being used as an excuse of failure to perform duties and responsibilities well. A sad yet relevant example is the shocking Virginia Tech massacre that has moved the world into sorrow. While the killings were occurring, the students had absolute access to electronic gadgets such as laptops and mobile phones to communicate to state security forces and media the grim events that were presently happening in their school. It is true that their calls were very important for the quick response of policemen, but such an over-reliance to the speed at which messages can be sent and processed to government agencies, tacitly overlooked the more important necessity of the school having a comprehensive emergency security plan to prevent atrocities of this magnitude from ever occurring.

On a lighter note, it also breeds delinquency and irresponsibility because mobile phone calls while driving are usually done to reassure colleagues, friends, and family members as to their exact location as of the moment, especially when there are scheduled meetings and appointments. If people were more professional and cordial in keeping commitments and promises, such reassurance might not even be needed anymore, thus, saving the person from the economic costs of a voice call, and the physical risks of accidents.

Most importantly, mobile phone use while driving, in whatever form, prospectively endangers the right to life and property, not only of the driver using the mobile phone but also those who may be inconvenienced as a result of vehicular accident that ensues. As such, the state, in the exercise of its police power, has every right to intervene and prohibit its use and enjoyment to promote the public good and welfare of the majority of its citizens and curtail the social evil of vehicular accidents from frequently occurring in the streets of its jurisdiction. The evils as a result of mobile phone use while driving does not only prejudice human life but the general enjoyment of property as well.

In all of these, there is a recognition that the use of mobile phones per se is greatly beneficial to the majority of the population, save for its use while driving a vehicle as the social evil that results from it is too grave to warrant a lenient position from the state and concerned citizens. The technology of mobile phones continues upgrading as every new model is released to the markets of the world, which must be fully supported and encouraged even by the government. However, for as long as no acceptable security features are presently equipped in current mobile phones to stem the loss of concentration while driving, there is no reason whatsoever to continue allowing its use while driving vehicles.

Works Cited:

1. Reyes, C. (2006, August 20). MMDA: Unwelcome do-gooder. The Sunday Times. Retrieved from 2006/aug/20/yehey/top_stories/20060820top4.html on 23 April 2007.

2. Adding Social Value to Your Brand. (2006). SME Community Philippines magazine, Vol. 1 No. 3.

The Legal Profession and Sustaining Constitutional Challenges

The legal profession is a form of public trust which is given only to those qualified enough to uphold the law and assist in the administration of justice. It is a duty of public service which involves sincerity, integrity and reliability, in which pecuniary considerations are a mere by-product, notwithstanding establishing lawyer-client relationships in the highest degree of fiduciary. The lawyer is an oath-bound servant of society whose conduct is clearly circumscribed by inflexible norms of law and ethics to which the ends of justice are the primary considerations. In rendering legal services to his clients, he must observe utmost fidelity to the cause of his client regardless of his personal beliefs on his client’s guilt or innocence, as even the most guilty of all criminals can still avail of the different protections afforded by the law. Sometimes, though, lawyers are faced with legal complications in providing the most adequate defenses for their clients especially when the latter are found to have deliberately violated the laws of the land. These acts do no include justifying circumstances in criminal prosecutions as these are been deemed lawful when convincingly proven in court. The acts contemplated here are acts which are considered, on its face, patent violations of the law bereft of any legal justification. However, these illegal acts do not preclude the rendering of legal services for the protection of their rights. Among the conditions and circumstances that utterly warrant the defense of illegal acts are those which are challenged based on constitutional issues involving the due process and equal protection clauses, and constitutionally-protected freedoms such as free expression and the right to privacy.

The due process and the equal protection clauses have been two of the most important protections afforded by the US Constitution to the American people to safeguard them from the unwarranted intrusions of government into the free exercise of their democratic rights. As a result, many previously considered violations of the law were overturned by the US Supreme Court for abridging the due process and equal protection clauses of the constitution, to the extent that entire statutes were declared unconstitutional and taken off the statute books.

In the case of Lawrence v. Texas, two gay couples were charged and convicted for “deviate sexual intercourse, namely anal sex, with a member of the same sex,” (539 U.S. 558) and violating the Texas Penal Code Ann. §21.06(a), which provides that a person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex. The homosexual couple asserted that their conviction was an infringement of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth amendment, in which the majority opinion answered thus –

These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992)

Such homosexual acts in the privacy of a person’s home is subsumed in the concept stated above and their autonomy as persons to decide for themselves the concept of their own existence and meaning must be respected by the Court and the law. While convicted in the lower courts for violating the law, they were vindicated by the ruling of the Supreme Court based on their constitutional challenge.

A case that was won based on procedural due process is the case of Tumey v. Ohio in which Tumey was arrested and charged with the unlawful possession of intoxicating liquor at White Oak, another village in Hamilton county, Ohio, on a warrant issued by the mayor of North College Hill. The mayor of the town then proceeded to try and convict Tumey under the existing law. His conviction was challenged based on the pecuniary interest of the mayor in convicting Tumey as he stood to gain from the amount of the costs in each case, in addition to his regular salary, as compensation for hearing such cases. There is, therefore, no way by which the mayor may be paid for his service as judge, if he does not convict those who are brought before him. The US Supreme Court looked favorably on the assertions of Tumey, reversed his conviction, and remanded the case for further trial, due to the utter lack of impartiality in the previous proceedings with the mayor sitting as a judge. This is proof once again that constitutional challenges protect the rights even of persons seen to have deliberately violated the law.

In Lanzetta v. New Jersey, the appellants were indicted and convicted under the New Jersey Statute which prosecutes “any person not engaged in any lawful occupation, known to be a member of any gang consisting of two or more persons, who has been convicted at least three times of being a disorderly person, or who has been convicted of any crime, in this or any other State, is declared to be a gangster. The US Supreme Court declared the statute unconstitutional for being repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment as the word “gang” and “gangster” is vague such that even those who belong to a group whose objective may be legal may unnecessarily be covered. Hence, due to vagueness, there is no sufficient warning to the public as to what exactly is proscribed by the law. The persons in this case, even if found to be true gangsters in a socio-cultural sense, had their convictions reversed simply due to the vagueness of the law.

In the case of In Re Lynch, John Lynch was released from prison that supposedly condemned him for life behind bars as the US Supreme Court found the penalty for this offense of indecent exposure too cruel for such a light offense, relative to more heinous crimes with the same penalty. Lynch was definitely found guilty of his crime, yet the law still afforded him adequate protection despite his offenses when it was challenged based on the constitutional issue of disproportionate punishments which, although not cruel or unusual in its method, it is so disproportionate to the crime for which it is inflicted that it shocks the conscience and offends fundamental notions of human dignity.

In New York Times v. Sullivan, the libel suit of L.B. Sullivan against the New York Times did not earn the affirmation of the US Supreme Court as it held that the interest of the public outweighs the interest of any other individual. While the New York Times might, on its face, erred in accurately reporting the facts of the civil rights demonstration involving Martin Luther King, the newspaper cannot be held for its criticisms of the official conduct of public officials. In this case, the freedom of the press saved the New York Times from settling the multi-million dollar libel suit filed by Sullivan even if the lower courts found them guilty of the offense.

In the famous case of Griswold v. Connecticut, Drs. Griswold and Buxton were found guilty of violating 53-32 and 54-196 of the General Statutes of Connecticut and fined $100 each for giving information, instruction, and medical advice to married persons as to the means of preventing conception, notwithstanding examining a married woman and prescribed the best contraceptive device or material for her use. The US Supreme Court reversed their convictions based on a discussion of the penumbra of rights which are formed by emanations from those constitutional guarantees that help give them life and substance. This is shown in past cases wherein, though not directly involved, the right to privacy was upheld. The court, in verbatim even said –

The present case, concerns a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees. And it concerns a law which, in forbidding the use of contraceptives rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon that relationship. Such a law cannot stand in light of the familiar principle, so often applied by this Court, that a "governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms."

Yet again, the US Supreme Court intervened in expunging responsibility from individuals who were found to be in blatant violation of the existing laws of the land.

In all of these, it is patently clear that individuals found to be in deliberate violation of existing laws can still be afforded protection by our system of laws. While many other conditions and exceptions exist to warrant the defense of supposedly erring individuals and groups, the best way of going around the violations of the law is through a sound constitutional challenge before the courts of law, from the lowest courts all the way up to the US Supreme Court. It must be remembered that these are done not only for the sheer obstinacy of defending the cause of the client but also in pursuit of upholding the rule of law, the integrity of the courts and assist in the administration of justice. The duties of the lawyers are not only to prosecute and defend, but also to ensure that justice is done to all those who deserve it.

Cases Cited:

  1. Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)
  2. Tumey v. Ohio, 373 US 510 (1927)
  3. Lanzetta v. New Jersey, 306 US 451 (1939)
  4. In Re Lynch, 8 Cal 3rd 410 P. 2d (1972)
  5. New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 US 254 (1964)
  6. Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 US 47A (1965)

Korea, Nuclear Weapons and the Six-Party Talks

Just recently, North Korean President King Jong Il proudly proclaimed the success of his government’s underground testing of their first-ever nuclear weapon in the barren hinterlands of the his reclusive country. Western countries, led by the United States, quickly condemned the move as an imminent threat to the security of the Korean peninsula and the international political system in general, especially in the light of the withdrawal of North Korea from the six-party talks negotiating the shutdown of North Korea’s nuclear facilities. On the other hand, the nuclear testing was hailed overwhelmingly by anti-imperialist states around the globe, led by Venezuela and Cuba, and anti-imperialist movements comprising mostly of Marxist parties of every sort, such as the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Communist Party of India-Maoist. It was seen as a triumph of the Korean people against the intense political pressure by US imperialism to bring the North Korean government to its knees on all fronts – militarily and economically. Nonetheless, while the North Korean government was euphoric over its success, it earned the ire of the general international community through the United Nations that sweeping economic sanctions were imposed such as strict inspection of cargo shipments entering North Korean territory, notwithstanding the long-standing implied trade embargo by scores of countries around the world. Actually, the Korean peninsula has been the perennial site of unending geopolitical tensions in the East Asian region since the Korean War in the fifties. This paper will examine the nature of the six-party talks and North Korean brinksmanship in the context of North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

The Six-Party Talks

The Six-Party Talks include the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea’s official name), South Korea, United States, Russia, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China, whose essential goal has been the peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The talks were launched primarily due to the refusal of the United States to foster bilateral talks with the DPRK due to the latter’s breach of a 1994 Framework Agreement. Moreover, it contained economic commitments by the member states to the DPRK, in terms aiding its energy requirements for as long as the DPRK abandons its nuclear program, particularly its pursuit of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, the United States and its allies formally assured the DPRK that it shall not result to acts of aggression against the reclusive country and seek alternative ways in resolving the diplomatic issues with the DPRK.

According to Dr. Edberto Villegas (personal communication, 2007), a political economist of the University of the Philippines specializing of socialist politics, the Six-Party talks was formed not only to stabilize the threat of the DPRK against the United States and South Korea, but to secure the geopolitical interests of the member states as well. Japanese participation in the talks is very important as the DPRK has time and again threatened Japan, due to historic tensions since the Japanese invasion of the Korean peninsula a century ago and continues even up to the present, especially as Japan is now seen as a reliable ally of the United States in enforcing its foreign policies in the region. China is also interested in the talks as it is within its national interest that the Korean peninsula is stable to prevent the undocumented and illegal migration of North Koreans to Chinese territories. (, 2007)

North Korean Brinksmanship

In international politics, the DPRK and its leader, Kim Jong Il, has been adjudged the master of nuclear brinksmanship in securing economic and military concessions from world powers, including the United States. As the DPRK knows fully well its geopolitical handicap, it continually breaches international agreements in supposed pursuit and assertion of its national interest and sovereignty, especially when it deliberately withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and insisted on producing nuclear weapons for its defense against perceptions of a conspiracy by the United States forcibly overthrow the Kim Jong Il regime by force. According Villegas (personal communication, 2007), the DPRK fully believes that only by building up its military capability, particularly nuclear power, can the DPRK secure substantial concessions from world powers, consistent with the Maoist maxim of political power emerging from the barrel of a gun. These concessions, however, are not entirely of a military or diplomatic character, but usually in terms of economic aid, as the DPRK continues to battle years of infertile agricultural lands and famine that has led to the deaths and exodus of thousands of North Koreans. As can be seen from the recent nuclear testing in the hinterlands of North Korea, the world, while united in its condemnation of the act, has acceded, to a certain extent, to the demands of the North Korean government such as the release of its $25 million frozen assets in Macau and the delivery of more economic aid from developed nations. Nonetheless, it can be surmised that the actuations of the DPRK and the flaunting of its military might are not exactly aimed at threatening the world, especially South Korea, Japan and the United States, but only to secure adequate leverage for political and economic agreements which would not have been possible if the DPRK acted otherwise. More so, the DPRK are not that ignorant of the military history of the world to foolishly start military aggressions against perceived enemy states, knowing fully well the superior military power of the United States and its allies. (personal communication, 2007)

However, in order to fully understand the North Korean nuclear question, the DPRK strategy of Songun politics must be examined. According to Han of the Unification Institute in New York, the DPRK views the relationship of the DPRK and the United States not as co-equal states in international law but as opposing and antagonistic entities representing the conflict between imperialism and socialism, in which peaceful coexistence is never possible. King Jong Il believes that all of these are part of the efforts of the DPRK to foist an ideological confrontation against the United States and secure the socialist gains in the Korean peninsula (Han, 2003) More so, the Songun politics of the DPRK involves the building of a strong revolutionary army to save the North Korean socialist system from collapse, over and above the necessity of putting adequate food on the tables of the Korean people. Such an utterly militarist mindset is a big departure from the classical Marxist theory of empowering the working class and the withering away of the state, leading foreign policy experts to believe that King Jong Il’s brinksmanship is merely to ensure the survival of his family’s hold on the entire North Korean political system. ( Nonetheless, the military outcome of policies like these has been very effective in forcing the international community to stand at attention and listen to the demands, even blackmail, of the DPRK.

Conclusion: The World and the Way Forward

The Korean nuclear question has given the United States and the international community a terrible political headache which all must continually confront until the threat of the DPRK has been conclusively neutralized. While it is true that independent nations such as the DPRK must assert its national sovereignty at all times against external threats, particularly imperialist countries, the manner by which the reclusive regime of King Jong Il has been conducting the defense of its homeland and revolution borders on a subjective revolutionary hysteria which the rulers of the DPRK are exploiting to the prejudice of the welfare of its people. There are many other ways to confront modern imperialism which are no less revolutionary, such as the strides achieved by the Venezuelan and Cuban governments in their experiment with socialism without adversely affecting the lives of their people. As such, it is clearly the responsibility of the international community to diplomatically convince the DPRK to gradually embrace the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and cease using military blackmail as a ruse to secure concessions from world powers. An outright denuclearization policy as suggested by the United States and Japan might be totally unrealistic at present, and might even provoke the DPRK further. The path to a lasting peace in the Korean peninsula is an arduous one which can only be confronted if the world itself is prepared to build confidence with the DPRK that aggression against the communist country is none of the options considered to resolve the long-standing diplomatic dispute on nuclear weapons.

Works Cited:

  1. Han, Ho-sok. Songun Politics of North Korea & the Situation on the Korean Peninsula. Songun Politics Study Group. Sept. 8, 2003. Retrieved from l on April 17, 2007.
  2. Six-Party Talks. GlobalSecurity.Org. Retrieved from on April 16, 2007.
  3. Villegas, Edberto. Email Interview. April 14, 2007.

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