Imagine There’s No Countries . . .

Considering the Possibility and Practice of Global Citizenship

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HP is not alone…

Posted by byersk on May 10, 2009

There was a recent post reporting on the validity of HP’s global citizenship evaluation. I looked around in that area and found another corporation with a similar annual practice – John Deere. I’m sure there are plenty of companies that employ the same practice, but for the purposes of this post I will focus only on HP and John Deere.

Both companies reports featured an introduction with the respective CEOs: Robert Lane of John Deere and Mark Hurd of HP. Just by looking at the beginning of their reports, you can see that HP is interested in keeping their customers informed of their improvements while John Deere is more interested in the relationship between successful business and effective citizenship. Both examine what they believe to be key components of global citizenship including environmental concern, community involvement, and employee health and well being. The stand out similarity was that both companies aimed to keep in mind that how they do business will have far reaching affects across the globe – they aim to decrease negative impacts and increase positive ones. 

Whether these reports are to enhance public image or if they reflect a true evaluation of their respective companies, I commend HP, John Deere, and other corporations and companies who likewise keep in mind that they are part of global community and are concerned with their impact upon it. 

 

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Afghanistan

Posted by rfrankl on April 29, 2009

            In the past month I have become quite fascinated with the American expedition in Afghanistan. Part of the curiosity is that Afghanistan is going to be essential in getting energy from the CAR’s and is incredibly important in America’s security; if we let it become a sanctuary for terrorists again then we might have another 9/11. In addition though, I have a feeling of hope that we might prove the rule of Afghanistan wrong. We might not be the empire that goes there to die. The strategy that America had going in was one that was not going to work. It was not one of nation building: building a non-corrupt police force, providing safety for the children on their way to school, paving the roads, de-mining the agriculture fields around Kabul, and getting teachers back. The New York Times’ coverage and Ahmed Raschid’s book, The Taliban, have done a tremendous job in showing how important and essential Afghanistan is, but also how we are not going to be able to be successful without a “community organizer’s” mind set.

            This is why I am so optimistic when it comes to Obama and Afghanistan, despite the raising of the stakes. He has sent in more troops. We are a bigger target now. Biden, who knows his foreign policy, opposed the decision but was overruled. The Taliban is raising 300 million dollars a year off of the Opium trade, enough to sustain operations for a year, and it is the only income that the farmer’s have. If you burn the fields and cut off the supply of money going to the Taliban, then you boost their recruitment because of disgruntled and unemployed farmers. That is not what the expedition forces are doing in whole but I caught a story in the Times today that says they are moving into areas of Opium production i.e. Kandahar and Kandabhad, and Zabul, and are taking out farms that might have Taliban weapons nearby. You cannot start taking out this production until you have profitable and sustaining options for these farmers. We need to focus on the areas we have and make sure we are building and building, holding on to the Tajick, Uzbeck, Turkomihn, and Hezara minorities, and then in the areas of strongest Taliban resistance, we need to take advantage of some of the animosity against them from the more old fashioned tribal leaders of the Pashtu. When need to find out who those are and get them support.

            Everyone in both the military and the Obama administration hold beliefs on strategy that are upside down from not only the Bush administration but also from every administration that came before. The new team, and also Gates and Petrauis, get it that the important stuff is not with the diplomats, communiqués, and executive committees, but that what is important is what is going on, on the ground. They realize, finally, that the goal is not to bombard, bomb, and ruin but cut off their support systems and the only way to do that is to clear, hold, and build. You need the support of the civilian population and you can only get that by clearing the land of mines so that can start growing food again, clean the wells so that they can get good water, build a police force so that they are safe, get the teachers back, and treat the whole population with the respect that a civilization over two millennia old deserves.

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Potential flaw of globalization?

Posted by anequidnimis on April 28, 2009

In an article by The Independent Here, some of the ways in which our world is becoming increasingly interconnected are discussed.  Many parellels are drawn between our current world state and computer networking, and with good reason–the similarities are very striking.  In networking, complex systems are often able to do much more than simple systems, and this is also true of our global economy.  In networking, a virus may infect subsystems, and, too, in our world, a virus may infect certain areas.  This, however, is not necessarily something to be concerned with; while a virus may affect more people, it also may have more researchers working on vaccinations or cures.  As something negative affects more areas, more attention is given to it, increasing the response.
However, near the end of the article, it is noted that there may be a heavy potential backlash to globalization because of a pandemic coupled with a financial crisis, citing incomplete information and herd behavior as contributors to this. As such, I urge each and every one of you to remain calm about this swine flu, and encourage actually looking into what swine flu is, rather than blindly guessing at what may cause it. I point you in the direction of the website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as a level headed article by CTV.ca.  While increasing globalization may make all of us more susceptible to some diseases, by approaching it rationally and understanding what may cause these diseases (not pork, in the case of swine flu, as some may suggest), I am confident in the world’s ability to respond to such issues.

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Information technology and globalization

Posted by anequidnimis on April 26, 2009

This video, despite having some questionable facts overall, still sums up a lot of the amazing growth in our world today.  It’s crazy to envision life before this information age, at least for young’uns like myself, and it’s even more amazing to think of what will be present fifty years into the future.  From my own very little knowledge about cosmopolitanism, I think that we’re seeing an increase in communication between people all around the world, in parallel to this technological increase.  It is becoming increasingly common for someone walking along the streets of New York to hold a casual conversation with a man in India.  This conversation between people of different cultures was discussed in Kwame Appiah’s “Cosmopolitanism, Ethics in a World of Strangers”, in which Mr. Appiah noted that these conversations across boundaries were inevitable.  Given the increasing availibility of these tools of communication, coupled with the increasing population, conversations like this really are inevitable, and indeed something to be desired!  This is only one of the ways in which technology has paralleled cosmopolitanism.  Increased mobility, people travelling so much farther than they ever have in the past!  All this technology, some may argue, is harmful for the individuality of cultures, diluting their uniqueness in the global pool, but again I refer to Appiah, who noted that this is a disservice to the strength of a culture.  I feel that we should embrace all these advancements in technology, just the same way that we should embrace other cultures–by using technology for good, and by respecting cultures as unique, yet still connected to the rest of the world.  In any case, I think I can sum this up by noting how lucky we are to be living in this world today!

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HP and Global Citizenship

Posted by mayacu on April 24, 2009

HP recently released its Global Citizenship report and gave itself high ratings. They commended themselves for their ethics, compliance, and human rights and social investment practices. HP has done a lot to make their practices friendly toward the environment and humanity, regardless of whether you call this global citizenship or simply taking responsibility for one’s actions (which many do consider part of global citizenship). HP has worked to become environmentally sustainable and have supply chain transparency. They have also began to make and market many more recycled products and recycled packaging. I commend HP for all of their hard work to become a company that practices global citizenship and looks out for the people of this world, as well as the environment. However, I feel that this rating of good global citizenship would hold much more legitimacy if it was gauged by an uninvolved third party. The fact that HP evaluated themselves and gave themselves a good grade makes me wonder whether or not there is more than HP is telling us. An evaluation by a group other than HP would be much more reliable. If HP can pass a global citizenship test by some other group, then they truly are global citizens. But until this happens, I still have my doubts.

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South African Elections

Posted by mykela1 on April 21, 2009

This week, South Africa is having their fourth presidential election since the abolishment of Apartheid. The African National Congress, the party which is home to Nelson Mandela and helped to end apartheid in the 90’s, is expected to win the vote, as it has done for every election in the past. In the South African system, the people vote for their favored party and then the president of that party becomes the president of the country. The problem that I see in this is Jacob Zuma, the current ANC president and the expected future president of South Africa. Two weeks ago, the over 700 counts of corruption and fraud held against him were dropped as were the charges of rape only a few months ago. Those opposing Zuma have called foul play but have gone unheard on the whole. The only note-worthy opposition groups are the Democratic Alliance, a anti-Zuma party which has come under scrutiny as only looking out for white South Africans, and the newly formed Congress of the People, an off-shoot of the ANC which broke off after the party ousted Mbeki as the president of South Africa a few months ago. Neither are expected to win more than 20% of the votes but are attempting to raise awareness in the apparent problems within the ANC. My largest issue with this situation is that there has not been as much uproar within South Africa and within the international community as it warrents, so I thought I would do my part and let a few more people know who may not have had the chance to read about it on their own.

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Yolanda Pierce on Being a Global Citizen

Posted by bklunk on April 19, 2009

THE KITCHEN TABLE: Our Common Story
I learned about this blog last Friday when I got a chance to see Melinda Harris-Lacewell, one of its authors.  This post is from Yolanda Pierce who reflects on what it means for her to be a global citizen reflecting on the situation of women in Afganistan.

I want to highlight these acts of resistance among Afghanistan women, because even for women who may not identify themselves as “feminists,” the question of women’s full
humanity and freedom is of vital concern. Personally, I struggle with wanting to understand and recognize the legitimacy of a different cultural experience, even as I need to acknowledge what are real human rights violations. That tension is important to me, but I cannot allow it to render me silent when there is injustice. I want to respect and honor Islamic tradition, the Afghan culture, and Shiite community, even while I speak firmly against those forces which seek to reduce women and girls to chattel. As a woman, as a mother, as a global citizen, cannot be silent in a space where fundamental freedoms are being denied. As a descendant of slaves, I know all too well the costs of
being reduced to property and the subsequent effects for generations to come.

But I also want us, as Americans, to recognize that while
our legal system may protect women and girls from these specific
abuses, the lives of many American women and girls have much in common with the stories of our Afghanistan sisters. While the murder rate is at an all-time low in many communities, crimes of rape and sexual violence are at an all-time high. The prosecution of rape/sexual assault crimes in this country still puts the victim, and not just the accuser, on trial. Marital rape, date rape, and acquaintance rape are almost impossible to prosecute. The history of forced sterilization, particularly among women of color, rivals our perceptions of reproductive medicine in the so-called “developing” world. In ways, big and small, many women in the United States live in fear for their very lives due to sexual or domestic violence.

So I am less interested in a conversation that labels Afghanistan or India or China “backward” nations because of their policies towards women and girls; I am more interested in our common struggles, our common stories, and our common fight. What do we have in common with our Afghani sisters and what can we learn from them? What resources/tools do we have available
for the fight against domestic and sexual violence and how can we share them with women all over the globe? And how do we actualize men in our respective communities so that these issues matter deeply to them?


There is rich food for thought here.  I will be returning to this blog for more.

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The problem of the day is not nationalism, but a rather profound and obvious lack of that sentiment.

Posted by rfrankl on April 19, 2009

It is so funny how the west has always moves too fast for the rest of the world to the point where we become disconnected with the realities of everywhere else. This is class is designed to question the value of patriotism in light of the great wars that have been fought in the twentieth over that stubborn and often dangerous  idea, and the natural curiosity of people in a society where there is so much easy access to information, almost mind numbing access. Yet we treat patriotism as though it still has its furious obstinacy over the mind of men in the west. The nations of Europe have given up much of their sovereignty. There has been some resistance from England and from some other nations, but for the most part it has been welcomed and the outcries of patriotic sentiment seem to be only an iridescence from a dying flame. In the United States, although more patriotic in a way than Europe there still is a growing feeling that we are not exceptional and nothing special. There are some vociferous claims of patriotic assertiveness in the South and Midwest, but it is generally reactionary, obscurantist, and contrived. There is really nothing like that calm pride of the early generations of Americans, that Jefferson, Lincoln, and Wilson exhibited. Even that tiger of a sometimes imperious nationalism: TR, was a man who knew the cultures of the world. He had been taken on tours of Europe by his Norseman father, to Paris, the Neapolitan countries, Germany, and the Middle East, although he did refer to the Jordan as merely a creek compared to an American river, but nonetheless he knew his other peoples. He even lived for a year with a German family in Dresden. The same goes for Jefferson who lived in France from 1784 to 1789. TJ toured the Salons and indulged in the best wines and lived the culture. The ignoramus assertive patriots today would probably look down on that openness. Any of those great statesmen would most certainly not get elected today. While you have very assertive and aggressive patriots on one side, you have a good majority of people who feel that we need to get off this patriot stuff, in fact most people who are wealthy and city minded and educated believe this. And so this group of people feels that the problem is that rather vociferous group of supposed nationalists, but when we look down the microscope at ourselves we see that that is dying out and looked down upon more and more but also, if we look out our telescopes at the world beyond, it is as if we are ourselves in this class exhibiting a sort of provincialism and ignorance in not seeing that the problem is not too much national identity but not enough of it. The problem of our time is not nationalism like the last century but something more complex and backward.

Despite anybody’s qualms about the way national identity can manifest itself it works on a higher level than ethnic or sectarian identity, which is superficial. We all know the convulsions of violence that have erupted in the Balkans between the Serbs, Bosniacs, and Croats, and between Catholic, Orthodox, with them both massacring the Muslims, or even the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which was fueled by Christian and Muslim disparateness, or the conflict in Rwanda between Hutus and Tutsis, or the more religious, rather than ethnic conflict in Darfur, between a the Arab-Muslim Janjaweed militia and Christian and Pagan peoples, with the former being supported by the Islamic government. The place right on the minds of most Americans, Afghanistan, seems so unsolvable because of the ethnic, sectarian differences, not to mention the animosities between urban and rural, armed and not-armed, and whether you are connected with the transportation and drug mafias or not. Even in the conflicts that can look nationalistic, particularly in the Middle East, they are not that at all but religious with nationalistic sentiment grafted on. You could go down the list: Sunni Pakistan and Shia Iran in the 1990’s, Sunni Saudi Arabia and what was a Shia dominated Iraq in the 1990’s, Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, Kurds and Turks in Turkey, Kurds up against Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq, a strong Uzbeck minority in Turkmenistan, Jews and Muslims, Palestinains and Jews and Arabs, and you could go on and on. The problem is exactly that the patriotism that we take for granted, one in which it is not your origins, color of skin, dialect, or anything else that is outside, that makes you a part of the community but rather your values. If you take the catechism of our founding documents and except them and bow your head to be baptized in the spirit of rationalism and tolerance and cool-headedness, then your accepted.

Our time should be spent on trying to get people to stop talking about the problem of patriotism being total blind devotion to one’s country, but what is more pertinent to the problems of the day, when it is only a tool or appendage of ethnic and sectarian identity. It should not be a case of only Pashtuns being considered citizens of Afghanistan or Sunnis being citizens of Suadi Arabia. If you look at the action of Suadi Arabia in the late 1980’s and 1990’s it has supported through charities, bunyads, the royal family, intelligence agencies, and political lobbies Wahhabism in Afghanistan and the CAR’s. They used the rationale that if they are Wahhabi, a Suadi import, then they will support the nation of Suadi Arabia. They confused very potent religious ideas with political and national parties. And what has happened is known too all. Their Wahhabi proxies, most notably Osama Bin Laden, have turned on Riyadh. Bin Laden’s group and others, that were formerly financed by Suadia Arabia have now criticized the westernized elite family and indeed attacked with violence Suadi Arabia itself, their former protector. Patriotism in the American rational, open, relaxed, but warm form, needs to be promoted not only by conversation and engaging culturally in the new barrier free world but by promoting diplomatically compromises between these peoples in those countries by our government and most importantly by example, where we do not go too far out into the world of ice reason stoicism latent in certain kinds of cosmopolitanism, but stay true to what has worked, and will work for the rest of the world if we go back to it.

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News and Cosmopolitanism

Posted by rfrankl on April 15, 2009

It is important that we do not get caught up in the philosophical, abstract, and high-falootin ideas and counter ideas of Cosmopolitanism and Patriotism. That is what I liked about Appiah. He showed concern for the philosophical basis of each but he came back down to earth in one obvious way: the genocide and poverty around the world, but in another more clever way: using the Balzac dialogue as a sort of cliff hanger by which he pulls us back into the world of action. It is then important when we are reading the paper and looking at the world to realize that our motives don’t matter as much as our actions, what we do, and how we can make the world a better place? There are a lot of questions, that no one has the answer to, when it comes to what that Utopia shall look like, but there is no question that people should not live in constant pain, and I would add that they should be able to say what they will, and should be able to elect whome ever they like. But those are more controversial even today. It is funny how we as a society focus so much on the last two when we can not even get close to ending the thing that everyone agrees needs to be ended. If we take a closer look than Appiah on the daily down to earth action of man his compromise of just rooted Cosmopolitanism seems beyond us.

I was reading the paper today and skimmed an article on the drug wars in Mexico. Every American knows that we have a big part to play in that: the drugs we seem to live off of. But not only is the black market there because Americans can not have a sense of self-control and morality but the guns the cartels are using to destroy from within a constitutional government are from America. In the last year, of the 12,000 guns confiscated, over 90% are from America. Out of work men and women are hired by the gun cartels to by a few guns at this shop and a few at another, so as to avoid detection. They then are sent to Mexico where they are used to get us our drugs. It is a seedy and dark affair, almost a cyclone of decadence and poverty, misery and vulgar sensation, legality and illegality. Some gun owners report these repeated buyers but many do not. The meek laws and the overwhelmed agencies make it impossible to control. Whereas with the licensed gun dealers there is some simulacrum of morality, in the gun shows the grossness really takes hold. This article tells the story of a college student-affluent, happy, kind-that is seen at one of these gun shows with something that does not fit or does I suppose, two AR-15s with all the paraphernalia of death, such as tripods, scopes, and metal grips, that make it so popular with the cartels. He sold them to an obvious cartel buyer and made 5,000 too. We have become an inverted guardian angel, with the prosperity that comes from decadence and consumption, that is dependent on exploiting those who we do not know and do not want to know.

Cosmopolitanism seems unrealistic then doesn’t it, even the sort offered by Appiah. Patriotism seems a little beyond this crowd too. I think that basic morality, decency, and a sense of right and wrong is a little beyond this crowd too.

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Water and Global Citizenship

Posted by bklunk on April 8, 2009

Water Supply and Development Projects in West Africa – University of the Pacific

Dave and Dana Dornsife will discuss their water supply and development projects in West Africa – projects conducted in conjunction with World Vision and the Hilton Foundation. The presentation will take place at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14 in the Presidents Room (Anderson Hall).  

While it can take 6 months to 2 years to dig a well by hand, with equipment and the team they have assembled, the Dornsifes have reduced this clean water delivery time to 2-3 weeks.  These projects also focus on protecting the source water to prevent water-borne diseases, using appropriate technology,  and considering sustainability and local culture to ensure project success.

Dave and Dana Dornsife are active with World Vision, an international humanitarian agency, working on micro enterprise and literacy in Mauritania, West Africa.  In partnership with The Hilton Foundation and World Vision they are doing water well drilling in Ghana, Mali, Niger and Ethiopia.  Additional water well drilling will begin in Zambia in September 2009.

This presentation is co-sponsored by the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship and the Pacific School of Engineering and Computer Science.

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