Archive for the 'International Affairs' Category

04
Feb
11

Business Standards While Abroad

Adherence to federal regulations by U.S. companies while operating abroad poses the difficult task of maintaining a competitive edge within an industry while still trying to operate within their domestic moral obligations. In such cases, the primary concern of the U.S. government should be in furthering national interests by ensuring a more economically prosperous future for their own people by helping those companies to succeed overseas. In order for a business to remain competitive, there could very well be situations (India, China, etc.) in which they will need to be made exempt from federal regulations. Without such exceptions, the lack of competitive edge by the U.S. may result in decreased GNP and lessened economic standing in the long run. However, despite discrepancies between domestic and foreign regulations, it seems that certain rules and standards in regards to safety could be met by U.S. companies while abroad.

The primary concern of the United States in the overseas operations of domestic companies should be in helping them to be economically successful. If it is determined that adherence to domestic regulations will significantly hinder their competitiveness, then they should be granted exemption in order to succeed and contribute the U.S. GNP. This priority acts in accordance with what should be the overall primary concern of the U.S. government, advancing the values and goals of its citizens. This aim is partially met by maintaining itself as a strong world player so that its private industry can be in a position to take advantage of economic opportunities abroad. By upholding its economic stability first and foremost, perhaps at the fractional relinquishment of regulations while abroad, the U.S. can continue to be in a position in which it can influence other governments to implement standards similar to their own. It is through its influence on the world stage that the U.S. can hope to raise the operating standards of nations across the world.

It seems that there are likely to be many instances in which U.S. companies would find their ability to compete significantly hindered if federal regulations were to be imposed abroad. Such places as India, China, and certain South American locations act as examples of places in which adherence to the full extent of U.S. rules could prevent them from contending with other companies in those markets.  Though U.S. companies could still compete within the U.S. due to the potential for higher profit margins, it could be entirely possible that the costs incurred by adhering to federal regulations could reduce profit to the point where companies cannot compete with other groups within a foreign market. One possible reason is that these companies are able to operate at much lower costs due to much lower standards, thus allowing them to undercut any company that may be operating at higher costs due to, perhaps, higher standards. If likely scenarios such as this exist, it is warranted that U.S. companies should are not made to adhere to federal regulations while operating abroad.

Though the full breadth of U.S. regulations should not apply to the portions of U.S. businesses in foreign lands, they should still be expected to meet a special set of regulations in regards to basic safety. This is because U.S. business overseas contributes to the image the rest of the world has of the United States. Their actions overseas serve as symbols that can potentially legitimize or undermine certain principles the country stands for, such as human rights. In this regard, it would be beneficial for all foreign-operating U.S. businesses to follow a basic set of regulations. These regulations would be in regards to promoting basic safety, such as acceptable air quality, proper job training, fire prevention, and an overall safe environment. Behaving in accordance to such regulations would pose a manageable task that would not reduce the competitiveness of U.S. companies in foreign markets. Having such regulations made official would reflect positively upon the U.S. while providing insignificant negative effects.

The full breadth of domestic federal regulations should not apply to U.S. businesses abroad as it could significantly reduce their competitiveness in certain markets. There are many instances in which adherence to such regulations would prevent them from succeeding and possibly contribute to forcing them permanently out of an industry in a country. Success of these businesses abroad should take priority over adherence to federal regulations. However, as this can appear quite hypocritical and possibly undermine U.S. principles, it would be both feasible and beneficial to create a special set of regulations that all foreign-operating businesses must follow. In this way, the U.S. can both competitive and sincere in its position.

31
Jan
11

Foreign Aid

Foreign aid benefits both the United States and is helpful to those who receive it. Though the foreign aid being provided may not be as helpful as most people would expect or intend, it still has the potential to be much more positive if administered more effectively. Also, it continues to be a an excellent form of diplomacy as it helps to maintain or improve the country’s image on the world stage while setting a positive example of global responsibility for the rest of the world to follow. Lastly, by continuing in help the world, the United States helps its own people as well by improving conditions in countries that could evolve into potential markets for American private business. Through this economic development, at-risk countries move away from being potential breeding grounds for terrorists.

The foreign aid that the United States has provided, and continues to provide, helps those in need but does retain the potential to be ever more effective. Though the question of whether the people of the recipient countries actually receive the aid has been speculated, it is doubtful to think that the aid has not reached at least some if not the majority of the intended people. In this sense, it is indeed helpful. However, using the same reasoning, it seems likely that a portion of aid from the US does not make it to its intended recipients or, perhaps, may not benefit its recipients meaningfully. This may be due to a variety of factors, including improper logistics, corruption, negligence, etc. Even without having knowledge of the historical or current effectiveness of US foreign aid, it is doubtful to think that it is disseminated perfectly and therefore, could probably benefit from continued scrutiny in order to determine how to make it more meaningful to those in need. Though already helpful, foreign aid can continue to become more effective in the future.

In addition to the obvious effect of alleviating poverty, the distribution of aid by the United States  conveys a positive image of itself to other nations around the world.  This is an effective form of diplomacy as it can make allies out of beneficiaries. Within those countries, the aid may also foster an environment that is more receptive to United States’ interests. The governments are happy because, ideally, aid will create stability by creating a sense of faith among the people in their leaders. The people are happy because they are more easily able to meet their basic needs. By providing this positive example to the people and nations of the world, it sets a precedence for which other major or emerging countries may strive to follow because it is effective diplomacy and they would contrast negatively with the United States were they not to give aid despite their global economic standing.

From an economic perspective, US foreign aid is useful because it potentially allows the country to reap profitable benefits. Through the use of aid, the US government may gain preferred access to the beneficiary country’s natural resources. Private companies from  the US may be allowed opportunities to further the development of any mineral and/or oil industries that may exist. The distribution of aid can also contribute to the overall stability of an environment, allowing for a country to focus its efforts on furthering economic development. If the country is stable, it allows for private outside companies, including ones from the United States, to take advantage of any industrial or trade opportunities that may exist. As an externality, through this fostering of stability and economic development, the ability of violent or fanatic organizations to impose their own forms of government or propagate terrorists is diminished.

The foreign aid provided by the  United States is helpful to the people who receive it. Aside from fulfilling an obligation to help those who are poorer, it also can also have positive diplomatic and economic effects for both the United States and recipients of the aid. Lastly, despite any possible inefficiencies that exist in its application or distribution, it should not be stopped as it is still beneficial to those in need. Efforts should continued to be made to increase the effectiveness of US foreign aid.

Foreign Aid

Good acts promote further good acts

22
Jan
10

Struggles in Haiti, Struggles Toward Truth

It has often been my observance that it is amidst the back drop of strife that truth becomes more readily divined. Though what has happened in Haiti is really a horrible thing and regrettable (to put it very mildly), it has provided an opportunity to look at the nature of the world’s response.

My heart swells with my pride in humanity as I have seen the world congregation unite to help it worldly sibling, Haiti. Whether motivated by empathy or political endeavors, the world is manning up to a higher responsibility, possibly showing signs that the supposed 2012 events may turn out to be positive cultural revolutions. The United States has rightfully taken this opportunity to help their neighbor. Not only does this sew the seeds of friendship in the Western Hemisphere, but it also may help to repair the US’s damaged image on the world stage in obvious ways.

However, strategy aside, this is ultimately a moral issue. These people should be helped by those who are able to help because it is the good thing to do. Such a culture of benevolence should be promoted because, next to being the right thing to do, it promotes a culture of brotherhood which is a further step towards a more peaceful, enjoyable environment.

I’ve heard many people voice their disapproval of the role these countries are taking in helping Haiti. Such reasons include:

“We have plenty of people who need help right here!”

“There are plenty of other countries with people who need help! Why them?”

“It’s not our duty to help every needy country! Why should we help them?”

My first response would be, “Because it’s the right friggin’ thing to do! Take a look on your idiot box and tell me you’d deny assistance to the distraught child in the Port Au Prince who was just orphaned by the earthquake. It’s our duty as humans of luxury to help those without the luxury to think of things beyond survival. Logical reasoning or not, it is this sort of behavior that separates humans from the beasts. This, our humanity, is rooted in our aim to strive for a higher, more honorable existence.

Now, why should countries help Haiti while their own people have troubles? If one must explain, then I fear the receiver is already too dense to receive. However … it is because of the degree and imminancy of the situation. Even those who are in tough situations in the US cannot compare to that in Haiti at this point. To illustrate, if a man in Haiti was starving, he could not even resign himself to steal at this point because of the state of the situation. Besides, this helping hand does not take away from the constant daily efforts made by many to help our local needy.

Finally, in defense of the classic welfare question, “Why can’t these damn third world countries just get off their ass and help themselves?” Well, to whatever moron would pose that, try switching skin pigment, inherent capital, social history, and natural resources and walk a mile in those shoes before you answer that question. Or just go take some college classes because this passage is too small for the extent of such understanding needed to endow empathy.

Vive l’Haiti.

21
Dec
09

Iran and It’s Nukes

 

Yeah, OK!

Iran wants nuclear weapons for the same root reason that the U.S. did back in the 40’s: leverage. While its initial intent was to cause such devastation that an enemy would piss its pants and surrender, it’s now more of a coming-of-age symbol for a country. For, without a nuclear offense, a country lacks a major deterrent to the military offense and nuclear capabilities of other countries. Their security is more assured once they too are able to provide the guarantee of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD!) to anyone that would think to turn their warheads towards them. In all actuality, a nation without nuclear weapons in this modern day is significantly lacking a major deterrent to outward aggression.

So, how come the United States wants to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons? The U.S. has not opposed or actively resisted the proliferation by many other nations such as Israel or India, while the U.S. itself has amassed a great deal of nuclear weaponry. So, as in the case with North Korea, it is reasonable to say that the opposition must be specific to this country and is very likely due to a U.S. assessment of the character of Iran’s leadership.

Though it is unlikely that Iran will ever use that nuke, the leverage such a weapon carries is leverage a self-centered and corrupt government like that of Iran’s should not have because of the international trouble it could cause. I liken this situation to a group of guys in a social group who have a few guns amongst them. However, nobody wants the crazy guy in the group to have a gun because they don’t want to be on edge all the time worrying whether this guy’s gonna lose it and pull the plug on someone.

One might argue that the U.S. has no moral ground to stand upon. I argue that such a judgment is difficult to make until you have done research and considered the full extent of its actions throughout history thus far. After such research, one will find its legacy has done far more good than bad. If still not convinced, compare the U.S. to previous world powers in history and the records of other current-day world powers. Nobody matches their benevolence, though, be sure, they are with many flaws and have quite a ways to go.

However, it is starting to look as if Iran will have full nuclear capabilities soon in light of their recent test-firing earlier this December. At this point the U.S. needs to decide how to handle Iran. It could choose to remain on this path of reasserting its hatred of Iran, thus showing the world and Iran that it has a pair and won’t be taken for a fool. This will continue to support U.S.-hatred in Iran and the Middle East. Or, it can become more friendly with its crazy little brother, offering help by providing direct foreign investment by removing trade barriers. It should strive to be a close friend of one of its enemies. Hopefully, with such an approach, the next generation of Iranians to take over will have grown up with this benevolent image of the U.S. and will respond in kind.

In conclusion: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. But, what happens when nobody opens stands up for their morals and values?