POLS 404 Cortiva Institute War and Conflict in the Contemporary World Discussion
Answer five of the below mentioned ten questions regarding the wars and conflicts in the 21-century. You may select questions according to your interest; they are not directly interrelated, and you do not need to write binding texts.
Date of delivery – before January 23, 2020
War and Conflict in the
I want to propose to you, instead of writing a traditional essay as your written
assignment, to answer five of the below mentioned ten questions regarding the
wars and conflicts in the 21-century. You may select questions according to your
interest; they are not directly interrelated, and you do not need to write binding
I expect from you to answer each question in the following format:
Statement of your opinion (in one para).
Your arguments, supported with citation and references that prove your
List of used sources.
There are no specific volume requirements. However, do not forget the grades are
between 2 and 6.
If you have any questions, you may ask them during our classes or by e-mail.
I wish you fruitful work,
(20 October 2019)
1. Why do governments assume that “the more land, the better”?
There is a constant political struggle for land between two or more nations around
the world, where two different countries claiming to own a land area even though
another country controls (or “occupy”) it. Whenever a region asks for independence,
usually the central country refuses.
A non-exhaustive list:
Serbia claims Kosovo is theirs;
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Pakistan, India and China all three consider the Kashmir region to be theirs;
Both Argentina and the UK wants the Falkland Islands;
Spain refuses even to consider a possible Catalan or Basque independence;
Both Greece and Turkey wants to control Cyprus;
Both Ukraine and Russia considers Crimea to be their;
Both Georgia and Russia claim South Ossetia and Abkhazia; and so on.
It seems like pretty much all geopolitics and wars are based on the assumption that
“more land is better.” Is this assumption historically proven and contemporary
correct? What the benefits of “grabbing” more space (land and water) and what the
negatives could be?
2. Are there benefits to war?
Probably the most common defence of wars is that they are necessary
evils. However, wars are also defended as being in some way beneficial. How does
the war affect winners and victims? E.g., polls in the United States through the 20032011 war on Iraq found that a majority in the U.S. believed Iraqis were better off as
the result of a war that severely damaged Iraq. A majority of Iraqis, in contrast,
thought they were worse off. This is a disagreement over facts, not ideology.
However, people often choose which facts to become aware of or to accept.
The First World War destroyed empires, created numerous new nation-states,
encouraged independence movements in Europe’s colonies, forced the United
States to become a world power and led directly to Soviet communism and the rise
of Hitler. The Second World War led to a profound change in political thinking about
how states should conduct their relations. During the Cold War, many advances in
science and technology were made possible because of the arms race. Could be such
achievements qualified as benefits of wars?
3. In which case is separatism considered legitimate?
What historical background usually gives a nation/minority within another country
legal grounds for separatism in the eyes of the international community? In
international law, the only principle that can be used is the Self Determination Right,
which is recognised by the United Nations. Do you think that the definition of
“nation” is too loose, as some countries have been authorised to separate according
to that principle, while others have had more difficulty? Could you call the
separatism “a nation within a nation”? Similarly, a few countries are recognised as
such by some others, whereas others refuse to recognise them. Some examples:
Taiwan, Israel, Darfur, Palestine, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and others. However, of
what kind is such recognition – political or legal?
4. Can a country take over another?
Could a country legally take control over another country? If one country is falling
economically and politically, what will happen if one nation takes control and merges
the two nations? Are there any widely adopted treaties or agreements that prevent
this kind of action? For example, is the Russian annexation of Crimea legal? What
types of wars do the UN Charter justifies?
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Based on what the countries, members of the United Nations Security Council, vote
in cases of authorisation of military actions – respect to the international law,
geopolitical self-interests or human values?
5. Why does Russia try to stop Ukraine from approaching the EU and NATO
It is widely explained that while the Western capitals see the emergence of a Europe
‘whole, free and at peace’, Moscow views the continent still fragmented, still
dominated by bloc mentality (given US influence in European security), and
burdened by the ongoing conflict. Where Western capitals see the “open door”
policy and the enlargement of organisations such as NATO and the EU contributing
to wider European stability, Moscow considers the expansion of these organisations
destabilising European security. Where Western leaders have sought to emphasise
partnership with Russia, including attempting to develop strategic partnership and
the creation of numerous seats at the diplomatic table, Moscow sees itself
increasingly isolated, the mechanisms for interaction failing to provide Moscow with
a voice. How do you see the Russia-Ukraine war through these arguments?
6. What is the impact on world politics of the increasing diversity and complexity
of social structures in the most powerful societies of the world?
It is a platitude that contemporary societies are increasingly complex, a complexity
that is magnified by the increasing blurring of lines between societies as
transnational relations become denser. Governments themselves are becoming
diversified, along with civil society, which has experienced a vast increase at the
supranational level of non-governmental organisations and social movements.
Traditional gender roles have been changing in many societies, with potential
impacts on decision-making and leadership behaviour. How do you see the role of
society and its non-profit organisations and media for conflict and war prevention?
7. How has politics been affected by the expansion of force, through technological
change, and its dispersion?
Scholars have explored in-depth the effects of changes in the technology of force on
international relations in the West over periods of centuries. Recent changes in
warfare, relying on global positioning systems and electronic technology of all kinds,
have created huge gaps between the military power of the United States and that of
other countries. Some of those who celebrated American military power, however,
may have forgotten that ingenious adversaries can create effective “weapons of the
weak,” such as terrorism and that possessing a superior resource may lead states to
overuse it, or to attempt to use it for purposes for which it is not well suited. How do
you see the impact of asymmetry on contemporary wars and conflicts?
8. What are the implications of electronic technologies, especially of the Internet,
for world politics?
To exercise influence, sets of individuals with common values or interests need to be
able to communicate with each other, to form groups, and to act collectively.
Historically, such communication has been very difficult except through formal
organisations, including the state; and all but impossible across state boundaries
except with the aid of states. This formerly constant reality has been changing with
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incredible speed during the last two decades, and we have hardly begun to
understand the implications of this momentous fact. One implication may be that
collective action on a transnational or even global scale, for good or ill, is easier than
it has ever been before. How do you see the possible impact of Internet-based social
networks and global communications on conflict management, crisis de-escalation
and prevention of war?
9. What modes of action can effectively cope with the unprecedented stress that
human beings are imposing on the global climate and environmental change?
The reality of human-induced climate change has become undeniable, although
many uncertainties surround the pace and severity of change and the prospects for
relevant technological innovation. The political uncertainties may be even greater,
both with respect to the willingness of publics and governments around the world to
pay significant costs to mitigate climate change and adapt to it and with respect to
the capacity of existing or feasible institutions to implement measures involving
global taxes or tradable permit schemes. How do you see the climate and
environment changes as sources of future conflicts and wars?
10. Is there any plausible sense in which progress has taken place in the prevention
of conflicts and wars?
Since the Second World War, both IR scientists and politicians expected economic
interdependence to dampen or even prevent wars and sought arbitration and arms
limitation treaties to facilitate and institutionalise benign changes. The effects of
changes in the ideas in which people believe are by no means necessarily benign, as
illustrated by nuclear weapons and the recent militancy of religious fundamentalism.
We should expect no simple answer to questions about progress, but they are
nevertheless essential questions to ask. How do you see, would it be realistic to
expect further progress in preventing wars and conflicts due to intellectual or moral
advances in human thinking?
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