Democracy requires civil engagement for government to function properly as a democratic government. Even if government officials and civil institutions are not impediments to representation, the failure of people to participate in the governance of their own society undermines their democracy, thus a lack of civil engagement equates to an ill-democratic government. When public officials, civil institutions, and special interests impede the ability of the people to be represented by their own government, a nation becomes ill-democratic.
As such, the ability to vote is not enough to make a nation a democracy, especially when role of elected officials is restricted by unelected officials or the qualifications to run for public office are far too restrictive for the population to be represented. The 2009 Green Revolution in Iran serves as an example that must weigh heavily on the minds of Iran’s leadership as they await the fallout of their highly-selective 2016 election, hoping results do not enflame civil discontent. Although there are numerous other examples of ill-democratic elections in ill-democratic countries, even democracies like the US suffer from similar issues.
The South China Sea Crisis has steadily escalated to the point Beijing’s efforts to militarize the artificial islands in the Paracel and a Spratly archipelago with the deployment of anti-ballistic missiles has become undeniable. Although Beijing is working with the US to help devise sanctions to punish North Korea for its latest nuclear bomb test, a confrontation between China and the US looms. If Beijing and its neighbors continue to battle for control of disputed territory, instead of cooperating to address their national interests, the best possible outcome is a Cold War-era standoff.
China may have the military might to discourage and repel a US-led assault in the South China Sea, but it likely does not have the ability to defeat the US military on a global scale. Even if the US did not have the support of its numerous allies, which armed conflicts tend to revitalize military ties, Beijing could not hope to sustain any major military campaign without the support of the Chinese People. Because the costs of war tend to provoke mass unrest, particularly when a war is a preemptive war of choice, Beijing certainly cannot sustain a massive war effort while facing a massive uprising.
Pope Francis was recently reminded that Americans react very negatively to perceived foreign interference in their political system when Presidential Candidate Donald Trump lashed out at the religious leader for making a statement that appeared to suggest he was not a Christian for his immigration stance.
To non-US citizens, this reaction appears to be very hypocritical given how much influence the United States enjoys over other governments due to its hegemonic role in the International Community. Foreigners may not have a right to interfere in US politics, but they have every reason to be concerned about the outcome of US elections, especially in 2016.
With the change of leadership in Washington, US foreign policy always changes, even if that change is not always significant. After all, Americans find it easier to agree on policies that affect others more than those policies that directly affect us while we too often ignore what is happening outside of our own country. It is also important to recognize that new leadership does not equate to new government as career technocrats, advisers, and consultants are often held over.
When critical events that interest Americans are happening, however, Americans become more interested in foreign policy and divisions become far more apparent.
More than two months after the San Bernardino shootings, Apple was ordered by California Magistrate Sheri Pym to create and supply the FBI with software that would allow the US government to breach effective security features of all current iphone models. Apple argues that the FBI is asking the private company to undermine the security and privacy of all its users. Although Apple’s business interests in terms of product security and marketing are at stake, the FBI’s request is far from balanced or reasonable as the potential gains are minuscule compared to the far significant harm done.
With the two suspects dead and the lives of their associates under heavy scrutiny, the FBI can only hope to gain new evidence from the perpetrator’s smartphone that might reveal insights into the shooter’s thinking or connections to unknown suspects. Given the timeline, the FBI cannot hope to gain information that might prevent an imminent threat that qualifies as a clear and present danger. Coupled with the fact that the FBI has requested Apple to give it the tools to breach Apple security, instead of requiring Apple do it for them, it appears the intelligence community is simply using the incident to acquire the ability to hack into all iphones.
The prosperity, security, and stability of the International Community are threatened by the polarizing conflicts surrounding Russia and China. On the Chinese front, developments in the South China Sea Crisis and the escalation of the restarted Korean War are fostering animosity between US-aligned nations and China. On the Russian front, the Ukraine Crisis and Russian support of the Assad regime in the Syrian Civil War are driving the US, Europe, and the Middle East to treat Russia as an enemy.
Where Beijing frames developments like China’s deployment of surface-to-air missiles on the artificial islands it built in the South China Sea as a response to alleged US aggressions in the form of freedom of navigation patrols, the US and its Asian allies see such explanations as nothing but justifications. US-aligned nations have long believed Beijing had already planned to militarize the artificial islands in order to seize and defend the South China Sea territory it claims as its own.
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