1. According to Max Weber one major feature distinguished the power of the Nation State from other social institutions. What is it? How does Weber’s definition helps up understand the role of warfare and revolutions in military technology in shaping first the European and later the world state system? How does this help us understand “state failure” in the “fourth world? What factors contribute to social breakdown and state failure in East Africa according to Christian Parenti? What are some recent examples of this process of “catastrophic convergence” at work in Horn of Africa, Central Asia or the Middle East?
2. The new world power equation seems to be multi-polar rather than bi-polar or uni-polar. What does that imply about changes in the international state system? What countries or regional organizations would included among the major Regional powers ? What new countries would you add to the UN Security council or to the G8? How does this power map differ from that of the post WW II world? Which of these powers seem to promote consensus and stability? Which ones are revisionist powers? Where does the US fit in this new power equation?
3. For the realists the nation state is the main and most powerful organizational actor in the current international system. For liberals and constructivists other kinds of organizations are eroding state power at different levels of international organization. What kinds of organizations are the critics talking about? Give an example of one Regional Intergovernmental Organization that seems to contradict the realist argument that the security dilemma of the nation state is the main problem in International Relations.
4. What special insights does the feminist alternatives to the liberal or realist paradigm bring to our understanding of global politics? How do the Feminists deal with the issue of violence and the impact of war? Has the status of women been altered by the rise of democratic movements in the Middle East and Central Asia? Does more democracy always translate into greater women’s rights? Or greater influence by fundamentalist movements and a loss for women professionals? Who has a better record? The Arab dictatorships or the quasi democratic countries like Turkey? How has the confrontation between the Kurdish YPJ fighters and the Jihadi of the Islamic State over the status of women captives in Iraq and Syria brought this issue to international attention.
5. How do Dependency theorists explain developmental gap between the advanced and underdeveloped countries? Is the spread of global capitalism the cure or the cause of global poverty? What would the neo-liberal advocates of globalization argue today? What evidence can they show? What kind of states do we find in Dependent societies? Which kind of state does neo-liberal globalism tend to encourage – a broad welfare state ( Corporatism) or a narrower security state (bureaucratic authoritarianism) with strong police powers and reduced public sector? Is the turn towards Bureaucratic Authoritarian solutions and austerity restricted to the “Global South” or former communist states like Russia or China? Or can we find evidence that these policies now prevail in the mature industrial societies of the European Union and North America?
6. What policy differences distinguished the Neo-conservatives from the Neo-Realists of American Foreign policy in after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991? What did Neo-Conservatives mean by a “uni-polar world? What did “ neo-realists” like Joseph Nye mean by “soft power” as opposed to “ hard power?” How did the “Neo-cons” shape American security policy during the Bush administration? At what cost to American power and influence by their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? How successful has President Obama been in restoring American international standing as a law-abiding member of the International Community since 2008? How have they changed and expanded the War on Terror begun after 09/11? In how many countries are US Special Forces and Drone aircraft now at war? Why does JeremyScahill argue that this war can never end?
Many observers argue that income inequality has grown dramatically in the US over the past thirty years. Who has gained? Who has lost? Why has the upper 5% of American households made out so well? How much of the national income and wealth now goes to the top 1%? How does Richard Wolff explain the decline in Working class wages? Why do Hacker and Pierson want us to look at the top 0.1 of households (top 99.9%) to understand the full extent of income in equality in America? What if anything, can government do to undo what it already has done to make class inequality deeper? Do you believe that people should have a fair chance in a social competition or a fair share of basic public goods? Should we do anything to alter market outcomes in income distribution, or leave well enough alone? What would a Conservative like Ron Paul argue? Or a Liberal like Robert Reich? And what about you?