Oct 28, 2012

Individuals Matter

Individual leadership matters, and leaders make a difference in international relations. There is some empirical evidence that individuals have played an important role in international relations. In IR the form of government is not as important as the leadership. Sometimes, the public domain and internal politics personify in leadership. In Farsi, there is a proverb that goes "what leaks out of the ewer is what is inside it"[از کوزه همان تراود که دراوست],or in English as goes "tree is known by its fruit." Lets consider Ahmadinejad of Iran's leadership, for example. During his two term presidency, he had been one of the most controversial figures in international sphere.

If Ahmadinejad had not called Israel a “tumor” and had not reiterated the words of former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, by saying that Israel should be wiped off the map, today, Iran might have a different status in international relations. Furthermore, if Ahmadinejad had not used inflammatory rhetoric against Israel, and he has not continued to do so, probably Israel and the United State might not pay so much attention to Iran’s uranium enrichment.

Iran began developing its nuclear fuel cycle infrastructure in 1990. During Muhammad Khatami’s presidency Iran made some progress in its enrichment program. Khatami who was known for his openness to dialogue proposed discussion between civilizations. He was the only president after Rafsanjani who openly called for dialogue between the US and Iran.

The impact of individuals in international relations especially in Middle Eastern politics has always been felt through their leadership and management. Had Saddam and Khomeini not been born, the Middle East today could be different? I guess the answer is not a simple "no," it is rather complicated. Nevertheless, if some of these leaders were not born, the world would be much different than as of today.

To conclude, individuals matter, a good and skillful leader can play an important role for his/her country in international relations. The Middle Eastern countries in international relations are always in the spotlight because they are in a different circumstance. Almost 66% of global oil reserves are in the hands of Middle Eastern regimes: Saudi Arabia (25%), Iraq (11%), Iran (8%), UAE (9%), Kuwait (9%), and Libya (2%). Any instability in the Middle East could impact the world economy. 

Oct 12, 2012

How does NATO determine who is insurgent and who is not?

On September 16th, 2012, AFP reported that NATO troops killed eight Afghan women in an airstrike. These women were on a mountainside collecting firewood for fuel in a small village in the Alingar district of the Laghman province.

According to the report, ISAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Hagen Messer said that the shooting happened at around 1:00 am (2030 GMT Saturday).

Considering Afghan society and especially Pashtun traditions, it is almost impossible to believe that they would let their women go out in middle of the night, in complete darkness to collect wood. Traditionally, it is immoral and against Pashtun culture to let their women go out, especially in the dark, for work.

Moreover, it makes the story murkier when it says the women were in the woods at 2:00AM because they cannot see in the dark. Usually, Afghans collect firewood and pile them next to their houses and huts and it is the men’s job not women’s job.

The AFP and New York Times (NYT claims the airstrike happened at 2:00AM midnight) reports which claim that these 8 women were collecting wood in the mountains in the middle of the night have prompted speculation that the house which was used by insurgents was attacked by a NATO airstrike. These women probably ran out from the house to hide in a safe place that was targeted by a NATO airstrike. Among 8 dead there were two children as well.

Yet, the question is if NATO troops cannot make the distinction between men and women, and children, how can they determine who is an insurgent and who is an innocent civilian?

Oct 6, 2012

Water, Use It Wisely

At home, in my small village, in central part of Afghanistan, I used to carrying water in buckets on my shoulders from a stream which was 100 meters away from our house. Being born in a mountainous area with water scarcity I understand the value and importance of fresh water.

Considering my lifestyle in Carlisle and my lifestyle back home there is much difference. I can not make a comparison between here and there but I choose to make a comparison of my water footprint in Carlisle and Turkey.

To find out my water usage I went to water footprint calculator on National Geographic, then on this link to use the extended water footprint calculator to assess my own unique water footprint and finally here to find out the water footprint of my country of interest.

According to the following chart, my average water use falls 687 gallons below the U.S. national average. The chart shows that I purchase less stuff, electronics, clothes and other stuff than the average American.

Based on this chart, my daily water usage is 16 gallons above the global average. Comparing to Turkey, I use 241 gallons a day less the average Turk.