“International order is not an evolution; it is an imposition. It is the domination of one vision over others- in this case, the domination of liberal principles of economics, domestic politics, and international relations over other, nonliberal principles. It will last only as long as those who imposed it retain the capacity to defend it.”
― Robert Kagan, The World America Made
It is not one, but two courses: International Organizations and Systems of Belief. I took both of them with the same professor and in the same semester. Similarities don’t end there. Our organizations are modeled after our cultural systems, which means that they are also a representation of our differences.
In matters of international relations, I am a realist. For me, most international organizations are in a spectrum: from useless, to somehow useful, with only a few of them being useful. Examples of them are: UN General Assembly, OAS, UNESCO, UN’s Human Rights Council as useless; WHO, UN Peacekeeping, WTO are somehow useful; UN’s Security council and many trading blocs are useful.
Countries have a strong sense of sovereignty if only because it allows the governing party to claim a defense of national “interests”, whatever they may be. In that sense, governments don’t have friends, they have interests that they will defend as needed. Ethical consideration and moral grounds are normally a low priority. Consequently, countries (rather, the government in charge) will say one thing and do whatever would bring swift and short term results.
Nonetheless, I used the course to update and reorganize my previous knowledge on the subject. I still think that the course is taught too much from a neutral perspective. I would like to see it more from an american (US) perspective. Once we began to understand our international position , we can move forward and look at international relations from other (also valid) points of view.
Systems of Belief, in the other hand, was really a pleasure. Not only I learned important theories (I know Mr. Hofstede, you are waiting for me on Q-day!) but I have the opportunity to look at different cultures from the diverse points of view of my colleagues and our professor. My understanding is that our culture is our baggage, and we move with it through life. Sometimes your culture can be quite different from mine, but in the end there are contact points. We can reach into the otherness of far away people and develop an understanding of their situation.
My cultural identity is determined by the moment (70’s and 80’s) when I became an adult, the place (Caracas, a very urban city) and my heritage (Latino, European, Native). That set of variables determine a cultural distance between me and, i.e. young texans, but in the end we can reduce the cultural distance among people if we try properly.
I wrote one paper as final evaluation for both courses. My writing problem became obvious. I didn’t know how to identify my thesis and make a good exposition of my arguments or conclusions. My review of the literature was incomplete and to be honest, the paper was painful to me.
At least three things I got from the paper, besides a very poor grade (50, if my memory don’t fail me): My writing problem is a “clear and present danger” to my learning, International Education is a very interesting topic, and I certainly have a capacity to synthesize ideas from complex and diverse sources.
Only that I need to learn how to express myself as required by this program.
The paper, called “The Growing Importance of China as a Destination for International Higher Education” is in the Documents section of this site. I hope this paper is the floor and not the ceiling of my academic writing