Thursday, September 27, 2012

Work Environment Essay

Work Environment Essay

1. Introduction 
The span of responsibilities, assignments and fields of specialization within the Naval command is naturally the widest and most diverse in the corps. Even rather narrow tasks often depend on the proper and synchronized performance of different people, teams and technologies. This requires breathtaking efforts of coordination, documentation and feedback, which may be significantly compromised when the workforce lacks sufficient infrastructure and/or clear work processes. The victims in such cases are not only the tasks themselves but also the workforce, whose inferior performance directly affect personal and team morale. 

A recent study carried out by navy officials (Dellinger, 2008) shows great concern regarding possible influences of poor documentation of processes on a variety of performance indicators, including workforce morale, ineffectiveness and organizational inefficiency. Moreover, the author poor documentation and metrics also cause more problems and call for crisis management, thereby putting more mental pressure on the workforce. The human price for such pressures can vary from fatigue to depression and intention to leave, with dramatic effects on short- and long-term performance.       

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2. Poor Process Documentation as a Cause for Low Morale and Performance 
Morale stems from an array of personal and organizational factors. It is therefore obvious that depletion of morale (and solution to the problem) cannot be traced down to a single phenomenon or change. That being said, Dellinger’s (2008) findings may indicate a key cause for low workforce morale, especially when considering the fact that organizations such as Naval command function in a manner that stand somewhere between armed forces traditions (which have perfected the art of esprit de corps) and a civil workforce. Hence, a sound analysis of the problem must consider both aspects of the organization and its workforce.

Morale and related positive aspect of job performance such as stability, productivity and achievement “depend on the fit between one’s personality and one’s work environment” (2003, p. 132). Whereas the former criterion might indeed be managed to a great extent by more adequate staffing, it seems that the latter, i.e. the means by which work environment affects morale and performance, should receive greater attention from commanders as improvements in the workings of the units have a greater effect than trying to adjust people to a poorly managed process.

An atmosphere of uncertainty and rapid changes (e.g. an immediate need to reprioritize tasks) are a natural and unavoidable component of any military environment. It seems, however, that the Naval command does not do enough to create a clearer and smoother work environment. Lepore (2010), for example, finds that the Naval command has inferior process management protocols (compared to the Army and the Air Force), which are often vague and lead to poor allocation of tasks and responsibilities. 

His findings include, among others: 

  • Strategic plans do not elaborate on who is responsible for some actions and how these are to be carried out;
  • Guidance documents are not synchronized and even contradict each other in some cases; and
  • Lack of clarity regarding standards of reporting and evaluation.  
Simply put, it is not unlikely that a considerable number of tasks are performed without being subject to a coherent set of instructions. This implies that the people who perform such tasks (as well as people whose work depend on the performance of these tasks by others) work in a confusing atmosphere and do not have the means to evaluate their performance. It might be that such tasks are performed in a reasonable manner even without proper documentation of work processes, but the lack of the latter opens a wide window for personal interpretation and fragility when one or more components of work environment (such as supervisors and priorities) change. A further decline in morale is very likely to occur due to the fact that processes that are very difficult to manage also tend to fail more often, thereby causing a decline in people’s perception of the purpose and quality of their own work (Boyd, 2004). 

It is important to emphasize at this point that the flaws discussed here may have a tremendous effect to the proper functioning of the organization has a whole. Notwithstanding the importance of these effects, this report focuses on the specific dimension of morale and therefore does not cover the whole array of possible implications associated with poor process documentation in the Naval command. Thus, the recommendations provided below remain in the narrow context of improving workforce morale to enhance organizational performance. 

3. Suggestions for Improvement 
There is a great sense in the claim that although the U.S. Naval command can greatly benefit from more comprehensive structuring of tasks and processes, it must also make sure that such actions will not lead to rigidity. A certain degree of ambiguity in the command’s processes is indeed necessary, but possible negative effects on workforce morale can and should be prevented. The relevant literature suggests more than a few ways to deal with this situation. These ways can be broadly classified into two main categories:

First and foremost, the Naval command should reengineer quite a few of its decision-making and process management documentation. This must be done rigorously and decisively, but in a manner that will not create a sense of mistrust and unwillingness to cooperation of behalf of the workforce. In order to do so, the change agents (that are responsible for analyzing the current situation, prescribing solutions and implementing them) should exhibit openness, explain the merits of changes and demonstrate tangible benefits to individual (as opposed to merely organizational) performance, time management and flow of work (Spears, 2007).  

Second and almost as important as the latter, efforts should be made to teach and develop coping strategies for the workforce. As discussed above, the Naval command cannot and should not eliminate quite of few loci of flexible process management and documentation. On the other hand, narratives such as ‘this is simply a part of the job’ are not effective to prevent decline in morale. Garrido and Muñoz (2006) argue that coping strategies should be customized to specific individual and task characteristics and offer strategies such as:

  • Focalization: e.g. by directly confronting the problem, with a guided intent to rationalize its causes and inevitability;
  • Cognitive efforts: capitalizing on one’s ability to adopt in order to develop individual and/or organizational strategies to handle the problem without emotional costs; and
  • Behavioral efforts: using social tools such as humor, organizational folklore and identification with the organization’s causes to bypass possible negative effects of the problem on morale.   

The U.S. Naval command and its workforce suffer from an array of inherit problems, which might affect morale and performance. A comprehensive approach that combines process reengineering and psychological interventions is likely to be the key to solve possible decline in performance. As it managed to sustain esprit de corps in much more challenging eras than today, the Navy can and should carry out the needed effort to bring about such a change.  

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Essay About Pregnancy

Essay About Pregnancy

I was dreaming of being a mother since I was 3 years old. When I was a little girl, child birth was something saint to me and when I grew up that feeling just became more real.

When I understood that I’m pregnant it was miracle that I was not able to realize at once. Me and my husband were willing to have a child and were anticipating this event. I was not making a test for pregnancy or seeing a doctor, I just realized that someone is already inside of me and I am responsible from now not only for myself, but also for life of this new little creature.
Then I visited my doctor, he took all necessary analyses and said that I am really pregnant, but his confirmation was just a mere formality.

During first about three months I had not experienced any drastic changes in my body, but later I started to feel stronger that inside me is a living organism. I hadn’t experienced any changes in my tastes or appetite and was not trying to eat for both of us, as some popular magazines advice. I was just doing and eating what I felt would be good for me and for my future baby.

Interesting thing that the fact I will give birth to a child didn’t frightened me at all, although other future mums with whom I was communicating were a bit scared before their future event.

During pregnancy I was working for about 6 months till I realized tat I need to pay more attention to myself. I was reading a lot of literature and birth stories, started to attend yoga for pregnant. I would like to stop on describing my yoga experiences in more details. I was just amazing I have never experienced before. At once it was hard to adapt to physical loadings and specific spiritual direction, but then I started to get pleasure from trainings. My couch told me a lot of things connected not only with my future experiences and how to be prepared to them, how to breathe and what to expect, but also about my emotional state, about my inner feelings and about my expectation on the spiritual level. I thought a lot about not only physical process how I became pregnant, but also about pregnancy like of a divine gift. My couch talked a lot about the importance of the road I am already in too. Of course, I was just listening to him and trying to make my own opinion upon the things he told me, but in many things our views were almost the same. He taught me how to breathe properly - inhale with my stomach and then push an air out with my stomach as well (usually women breathe with their breast), as he said that such breathing technique is very useful for slight massage of my baby girl and all innate organs. We also breathed together according to other techniques, such as short inhalations for about 54 times and holding up breathe till the moment it was possible without extra efforts, and I began to feel myself much better. My perception of myself, my body and my present state became more deliberate. I began to feel myself better and understand that I can control my feelings and my physical state. I could control my pains when beginning immediately to breathe properly.

I noticed that during pregnancy I became more sensitive. Sometimes I could cry just for any trifle. One day I was walking in the park near our house and breathing fresh air, and it was shining, and it was summer, and I was just caressing my baby and realizing that I am absolutely a happy person, and suddenly I began to cry and those tears were tears of happiness. I realized that I am doing what I have always wanted to, I am with man I have always loved and will love forever and that soon there will be three of us. I was anticipating seeing and holding my baby girl, and had no anxiety towards pain, which is usually connected with process of giving birth and contractions, although I have never experience all that before, but I was sure that everything will be just the best way. I was sure that my midwifes will do everything for me and my baby and actually it happened how I expected.

Delivery went perfect. When contractions became I was at home cooking for George who was going to return from his job. He actually forbade me to overstrain, but it was easy for me and very pleasant to cook for him, knowing that he will come back tired and will be very much grateful for my taking care of him. I immediately called my midwife and asked what I should do. She asked me to relax and just to call her when I will be in more active labor. Then I called my husband and he said that he will come back home as soon as possible. I had an impression that he became anxious even more than I did. I decided to eat something and to watch TV just to relax and contraction didn’t stopped.

Then I realized that I was not emotionally ready to all this, I was preparing to this day all nine months and at that moment I panicked for a while. I called my mother and two sisters, and they knew that they couldn’t do anything for me, but they tried to calm me down and provide emotional support. Then George came and we took some necessary things and went to the hospital. Huh! When I think about that day, I just experience it again and became sweaty a bit. It was very important to me that contraction didn’t slow down so that I was able to give a natural birth to my baby girl. In the hospital midwifes checked me and saw that it was already needed 10 cm and I was ready. It is impossible to describe what I felt when I saw my sweet little baby and could clasp her to my breast. She was so beautiful that I began to cry. She cried and I was crying. It was the happiest moment in my life. I counted all her fingers and couldn’t take my eyes of her face.

What can I say? Each woman has to feel and experience that by herself. To my opinion only then she will realize her real predestination. And as to me, we are thinking about the second child.
 
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Plagiarism Exercise Essay

Plagiarism Exercise Essay

Excerpt 1 
The student version seems to be good enough though, it is possible to find certain misrepresentation of the original message since the phrase ‘stormy alliances, seems to change the original idea of Steven Greffenius who spoke about turbulent relations but he rather implies the uneasy relations with Israel as the major opponent of Egypt but not the allies of the latter. This is why the student version may be presented as follows: Egypt was an unpredictable leader of the Arab world. At times it was friendly to its neighbors and at others it seemed to encourage enemy relations. Such a changeable policy of Egypt led to the highly unstable relations of the country with Israel to the extent that it moved the countries to the war in 1967.
Excerpt 2 
The student version basically fully repeats the original message. This is why it is possible to estimate that this is another case of plagiarism which may be defined as paraphrase with incomplete documentation since despite the repetition of the author’s ideas the student did not use quotation marks nor proper documentation. The correct student version should be as follows: Diane Amble (1996) explains that for Old Order Amish and Mennonite sects not only were worship services a ritual expression of the spirit of Gelassenheit but “they were also a time for practicing unity, a time, when the individual was integrated into and found expression in the collective activities of waiting, silence, listening, and unison singing” (43).

Excerpt 3 
 Basically, the student version is correct, though it seems to be possible t be a bit more precise while documenting the original source. To put it more precisely, it seems to be possible to provide more information about the original book. The student excerpt may be presented as follows: In his book, The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace, Alan Briskin (1996) contends that the factory’s social gatherings have unified people in every kind of relationship from friendships to marriages (222).

Excerpt 4 
The student version may be also named plagiarism because basically, it repeats the ideas and words of the original message. At the same time, the student obviously fails to acknowledge all quoted materials. This is why the correct student version should be as follows: In the United States people viewed religion as “an individual’s personal, private relationship to the divine”. It is also true, however, that religion has “public as well as personal or private facets” (Monsma 50).

Excerpt 5 
This student version is correct as it provides ample information about the author and the original version, while, at the same time, the student version represents unique and original message that has only the main idea in common with the original message. This is why it is possible to estimate that this version is correct and does not need to be changed somehow.
 
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Paraphrasing Exercise Essay

Paraphrasing Exercise Essay

1. Erich Von Daniken (1989) asserts that Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the earliest pioneers of the idea of human ability to fly, has developed models of flying vehicles that are in fact the archetypes of the modern airplanes, however he was forced to keep them secret being afraid of the Inquisition(p. 193).
2. Today in the rapidly developing world it happened that the habitat of the wildlife is narrowing, being forced out by modern constructions (Florida Wildlife, p.37, 1996).

3. Being unobvious as it is, the Internet network was originated to be the network of scientific and governmental institutions, as stated by Chris O’Malley, an Internet consultant for Popular Science magazine, who goes further by suggesting that indeed those starting thoughts lead to the further development of the ideas of technological sites, such as for example World Wide Web(54-56).

 4. James Gibson, a book author and a musician, asserts that a lot of musicians find the pleasure in playing for the pure sake of it rather than for the pay, choosing to withdraw from the outer world and lead secluded lives (39). 5. It is rather difficult to approximate the amount of fabric needed to sew a quilt, to avoid making the wrong estimations one can make up a quilt using the various types of fabrics from many sources as suggested by Susan Denton and Barbara Macey (1988), the founders of the National Quiltmaking Guild. (p.4)
 
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Islam Research Paper

Islam Research Paper

1. Introduction 
[Islam] demands loyalty to God, not to thrones. . . . The ultimate spiritual basis of all life, as conceived by Islam is eternal and reveals itself in variety and change. A society based on such a conception of Reality must reconcile, in its life, the categories of permanence and change.

Allameh Mohammad Iqbal Lahori In order to understand whether Islam is compatible with modern Arab world, we should understand primarily current situation is the Arab world and know all its aspects. Aspects of modern Arab world include political, cultural, religious, social and economic issues. We should as well be aware of main principles of Islam and only after putting all the ingredients together it will be possible to make any conclusions about the compatibility of the religion and the modern Arab world. It was historically developed, that each government in world countries needed levers of influence on its people. Religion and its interpretation have also served as a very effective tool.

What does the definition of “modern Arab world” includes? To my opinion it is primarily the state of the society and the political situation in Arab countries. And in this prospect modern means democratic, and therefore it is necessary to investigate in compatibility of Islam and democracy.

Democracy is a Western notion. But it is always important to remember that experience of one country cannot always be applied to the others with different historical background, people and religion.

So, in the paper I would try to explore compatibility of Islam with all aspects of modern Arab world and evaluate its important in all spheres of Arab people lives.

2. Islam and Social Rights 
The resurgence of Islam and the desire for democratization in the Muslim world exist in a dynamic global context. Throughout the world, many peoples express similar desires, making religious resurgence and democratization two of the most important themes in contemporary world affairs. The assertion of special communal identities and the demand for increased popular political participation occur in a complex world environment in which technology reinforces global relationships at the same time that local and national and local cultural identities remain remarkably strong.

Historians argue a lot about the fact that even though the notion of human rights had been very much developed in western counties, it should not be declared that enforcing of human rights should be announced everywhere. Attempts to lessen the importance of Islam perspectives on the topic of human rights, democracy and social justice aiming to generalize experiences of the West and of the East can cause instability of the political and social life in Arab countries and become a threat to the peace in them. I must say that attempts of Arab county leaders to experiment with democratic orders arouses just respect, but it can appear to be very dangerous not to count countries’ history and experience and just follow proposed standards.

In is essential to remember while evaluating that Islam a general way of life, and as a religion it is undividable from the all spheres of everyday life. It is a worldview that cannot be easily changed or reformed during short period of time.

Islamic law contains a lot of codes which govern social relations, foreign affairs and organization. It presumes that what I said to be personal is as well societal, and what is corporate is equally individual.

3. Islam and Democracy
For many in the West, for example, the concept of "Islamic democracy" is anathema. However, this view makes it impossible to understand the appeal and strength of many movements within the Islamic world. Because democracy is in many profound ways an essentially contested concept, it is important to understand the perception of democracy within the movements of the current Islamic resurgence. This understanding is important even for those who view the Islamic resurgence as a threat, because it is important to understand the competing definitions of democracy.

There have been argued already for many years whether Islam and democracy and coexist, whether Islam can be easily followed in political affairs, support governance that is based upon democracy, support sovereignty and pluralism. It is obvious that there are usually two points of view upon this subject. The first I would like to discuss is tat Islam is not compatible with democratic orders that nowadays are inseparably entered and took important place in modern Arab world. Democracy is one of those concepts which are incapable of accurate definition. There is no consensus on any of the definitions given. Even consulting dictionaries is of no real help, because again what we usually find there are arbitrary or stipulative definitions provided by people committed to certain schools of political theory. Therefore, the meaning of democracy must be sought in something other than a formula.

Democracy, as a political direction, requires competition, pluralism, openness and tolerance to diversity. On the other hand, Islam, as the religious way of life, presumes intellectual and personal conformity and absolute acceptance of authorities. Elie Kedourie, for example, claims that basic principles of democracy are “profoundly alien to the Muslim political tradition”. It is also important to mention that Islam can be called anti-democratic tradition because it presumes sovereignty in God, who is said to be the only source of political power and only from that kind of divine authority all present regulations to govern the community, should come from. Therefore, some observes insist that Islam is more compatible with the totalitarian state.

As I have already mentioned, there are two points of view. The second one insists of the fact that the ideas of Islam can be interpreted differently and the opinion depends solely upon the interpretation. Some analysts point out that Islamic traditions have many tendencies and facets, which can be put in one line with democratic issues. They insist that openness and progressive innovation as the direction of development do not contradict to religious traditions and therefore Islam is absolutely compatible to what is said to be democracy in the modern Arab world. And the only important thing is this arguing debated remains the question of the authority and government and how those aspects of the religion and traditions are interpreted by those people.

Debates upon compatibility of Islam and democracy are very much connected with theology, historical precedent and doctrine. It is important to understand whether Islamic conceptions have the influence upon political preference and values of common people. But I have not found any evidences or structured research papers done upon this topic. But think that in general Islam conceptions should not have drastic influence upon political preferences.

4. Islam and family traditions 
…family laws, which regulate rights and responsibilities in marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance, do not provide for equality between the sexes because they have been developed within the Islamic framework in all Arab countries. Because the legislation has been developed independently, there is a wide range in interpretation.

It is obvious that family and family orders and traditions cannot be divided from the perception and analyzing of the modern world and each country’s state in particular. But even here interpretation of the Islamic traditions plays a prominent role. Different religious authorities demonstrate different views upon the issues of family planning and contraception, they give different advices regarding those items and what is permissible and what is not in Islam. And in accordance with all previously mentioned I have just several questions- what is the motivation for different religious authorities? Are their opinions are independent from the influence of the political authorities? Can their advices be the manipulation in order to achieve some global personal or country goals? I do not have answers for those questions, but I am sure that religion should not be used as the tool to govern; it should just the mean to be closer to God and divine powers for the personal benefit and prosperity of each separate citizen.

5. Conclusion 
In the conclusion I would like to summarize that Islam is absolutely compatible with modern Arab world. And that compatibility totally depends upon world views and directions in which political and religious leaders in the country are looking. To my opinion, Arab world is unique world, with interesting history, particular experiences and original people with personal beliefs. It is impossible to compare it to any existent world, European or Asia. Arab people had gone through many trials and they have taken their own necessary lessons from them and they are able to shape their present and future depending on their beliefs and involving principles of the religious tradition they are accustomed to, which is their way of life and the primary frame through which they percept the world and live.

My personal opinion implies that democracy is a very successful order, but everything is relative and what is successful in one place can bring chaos in the other. Islam smoothly enters all sphere of modern Arab world and therefore it is just the individual choice whether to consider it compatible or not.
 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Research Paper on America

Rainer Rilling. “American Empire” as Will and Idea. The new major strategy of the Bush Administration

Rainer Rilling’s idea of the America’s future is based on the the National Security Strategy of the United States of America published on 17 September 2002. According to this document, Rilling claims, there is a new division of the world and a new perspective for the United States to maintain political and military leadership. He sites the report on “Rebuilding America’s Defense” stating “the 21st century world is – for the moment, at least – decidedly unipolar, with America as the world’s “sole superpower” to emphasize the idea of the U.S. clearly-defined strategy for the world’s dominance. Among the major proponents of this grand strategy there are such notable political personalities include Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and many other well-known politicians, famous for their neo-conservative standpoint.

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According to Reiner Rilling, the essence of the strategy is “the maintenance and extension of the disparity between America and the rest of the world and the worldwide enforcement of the model of American dominance”. The strategy is enforced via the means of US Global sovereignty, preventive wars and military superiority, to support this statement Rilling recites George W. Bush (Quoted from Michael Lind: Is America the New Empire? In: The Globalist 19 June 2002) “America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge.”). Rilling actually believes the “American Empire” concept is, thus, “in power”. To illustrate this idea, the author quotes Stephen Peter Rose, the Director of the neo-conservative Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, and one of the founding member of the Project for a New American Century: “our goal is not combating a rival, but maintaining our imperial position, and maintaining imperial order”. The American Empire is about to come?

Is the U.S. an Empire? By Paul Schroeder 
Professor Paul Schroeder starts the article stating that the idea of “American Empire” already enjoys popularity as a fact both in the United States and abroad there is a widely-diffused opinion that “America already enjoys a world-imperial position and is launched on an imperial course”. But the rest of the article deals with the refutation of this “fact”. The author dethrones the “US Empire” by analyzing the term “empire” and opposing it to the concepts of “unchallenged hegemony” or "unipolar moment". According to Schroeder, the authentication of these terms is “a misleading, unhistorical understanding of empire”. The author is taking a close look at a historical meaning and essence of the word “empire”, and logically proves the United States can hardly be called that at the moment (it is rather a “hegemon” - the first among equals). An imperial power, according to Schroeder, rules over subordinates, and is in the core – “the negation of political freedom, liberation, and self-determination” – the ideas quite opposite to the proclaimed American ideas and values. But Professor Schroeder believes there is great potential for the US to become an empire – taking into consideration the imperialist ambitions and goals of the America’s new strategy. The author, though, warns that choosing the path of empire – instead of pursuing hegemonic stability -will undoubtedly lead to the ruin of the country and the system. There is trustworthy historical evidence of the empires from the past.

Illusions of Empire: Defining the New American Order By G. John Ikenberry. Foreign Affairs. March/April 2004

Similar to the article by Paul Schroeder, John Ikenberry starts the debate over whether the US is an empire by defining the term and turning to the countries past. Mentioning the relatively recent National Security Strategy and describing the policy, the author comes to the conclusion that “If empire is defined loosely, as a hierarchical system of political relationships in which the most powerful state exercises decisive influence, then the United States today indeed qualifies.” But Ikenberry’s idea is that even if the United States is an empire, it is “like no other before it”. The principal differences underlie in three respects: the provision of public goods in exchange for the cooperation of other states; the excursion of power through rules and institutions; and provision of "voice opportunities" to the weaker states (informal approach).

John Ikenberry campares and contrasts the several ideas of the US empire - including Niall Ferguson’s liberal empire(described in the “Collossus”) and Chalmers Johnson’s military empire from “The Sorrows of Empire” - the and their application to the current U.S. position in the world. And finally concludes that of all imperialistic theories, the US is more like Ferguson’s idea. Still, Ikenberry claims, the notion of the empire is “misleading” – it does not fully describe the path and essence of America’s global political order, which was reached by rather liberal and democratic power.

The Rediscovery of Imperialism By John Bellamy Foster. Monthly Review. November 2002

The name of the article states a totally new approach to the idea of the American imperialism. If all the previous scholars questioned the idea of the US Empire itself, John Bellamy Foster claims the United States are now facing the return to the concept of imperialism, as it has been always one of the America’s political opportunities. Foster describes the US historical background – addressing the time of the Spanish-American War - as one of the impulses for the formation of the Imperialism concept.

Foster analyses the core literature on Imperialism, written at the breaking of the XX century – including the works of John A. Hobson, Vladimir Lenin, and a book by Harry Magdoff, written significantly later, in 1969. Foster mentions the rediscovery of the term imperialism took place in the 90th of the XX century, before this - Prabhat Patnaik wrote on November, 1990 an article for Monthly Review entitled “Whatever Happened to Imperialism?”, raising “the question of the almost complete disappearance of the term from left analysis in the United States and Europe”.

In the XXI century America’s political leaders have rediscovered the term to describe the US world domination and influence.

John Bellamy Foster analyses the situation in the countries that are believed to have “raced ahead economically” in the last decades. Foster proves there believes are not as persuasive as they seem, thus undermining the belief US imperialism with its liberalization is making the world a better place to live.

Even though Foster’s view on the concept of the US Empire is different than that of the other scholars he predicts basically the same future for the country “the U.S. imperialism resembles the exploitative empires of the past, and will likely suffer the same fate as past empires – revolt from within and “barbarians” at the gate”. The Third Stage of American Empire By William Rivers Pitt. truthout March 1, 2005

William Rivers Pitt’s concept of the American Empire is based on the idea that Empire has survived three stages of formation since the creation of the United States. The first stage included the Mexican-American war and the Civil War – when America formed its economic, military and industrial potential. The second stage lasted much longer and covered the two World Wars and the Cold War. The end of World War II enabled the United States to stretch throughout Europe to the borders of the Soviet Union. The author also claims that the “strongholds of the second stage could be likewise found in Africa, the Japanese mainland and many Pacific islands and, with the creation of the state of Israel, the strategically-vital Middle East”. The Cold War has stimulated the arms race that made the United States the only truly dominant military country of the world with the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990th.

The rise of the third wave took place on realizing America’s superpower and was rocketed by the events of September 11th.

Again, by describing dollar declines, scarce oil supplies, new more powerful players of the world’s political arena, all tend to destabilize the America’s domination. The author predicts that the “third American empire is threatening to collapse under its own ponderous weight”. The Empires fall, always, he claims. For those, who think the American Empire is still about to come, and for those, who believe it is already here, the conclusions are basically the same – and are hardly optimistic.

Essay #2 
The development of the modern world economic system started with the transition of the medieval world from the stage of feudal crisis to the rise of capitalism. The world system analysis, introduced and developed, among others, by Immanuel Wallerstein, suggested the world regions may be categorized as cores, semi-peripheries, peripheries and external.

According to Wallerstein, the core territories can be characterized by powerful central governments, vast bureaucracies, and substantial mercenary armies. The local bourgeoisie obtained control over international commerce and extracted capital surplus from this type of trade.

Most core territories were political and economic centers of the region (e.g. England, France, Spain, etc), but the domination did not guarantee the perpetual prosperity. Many countries (often considered to be the “Empires”) experienced the extensive growth and development, exercised power over the subdominant territories, but then, due to various reasons, declined in development, and became semi-peripheries (e.g. Spain and Portugal).

The peripheral zones were the territories that, unlike the core countries, lacked strong central governments or were controlled by other states. Coercive labor practices were normal for the peripheries (e.g. Africa, Latin America, Poland, etc.). Most peripheral countries exported raw materials to the core and worked for the benefit of the latter. The unequal trade relations enabled the core countries to expropriate the capital surplus generated by the periphery.

The nature of relationships between the core and peripheries is, thus, the core’s political, economic and often military dominance over the peripheral zones, with the exploitation, extraction of resources, and surplus transfer from the latter to the former. One of the most common characteristics of the core is the extensive bureaucracy and army, and these are the major means of maintaining dominance over periphery.

The West-European colonization of Africa, Britain’s influence on the commonwealth territories, and overseas expansionism of the United States to foreign territories at the end of the nineteenth century are all the examples of the core-peripheries relations.

Centuries ago, core territories used to exempt the peripheral resources and use the labor to enrich the treasury, the main influence on the dependent territories was through military control, trade and profit maximization, religion and technological (industrial) advantages. The modern era has basically kept these instruments of influence, adding other aspects like social and cultural expansion, informational flow, technological superiority, financial bondage, global political alliances and organizations, etc. In addition, multinational corporations that operate on the modern global market provide means of surplus extraction (e.g. via the repatriation of profits) and obstacles to the internal development (e.g. via the provision of large quantities of capital and thus sweeping aside the domestic investors.

The communication and transportation technologies enable core countries (that are generally a leap ahead in these spheres, as compared to the peripheral zones) to reinforce the impact and the dependence.

The extensive development of these industries provides rapid exchange of data, resources and overall influence of the technologically advanced countries. The new transportation technologies quickened and improved the production processes and provided new opportunities for the core countries. Prompt and technologically superior transportation and communication technologies give a chance to extend influence over the “new” territories (peripheral zones of other core countries (or ex-“cores”)) and enable the new level of domination – worldwide.

There is no doubt the United States are the core country – the switch of influence from the British empire to the US in the 20th century (after the two World Wars and the Cold War), that made the United States superior in almost all spheres, especially in military, political and economical aspects.

The question whether the United States have an “empire” is very complex and quite controversial. Modern scholars do not have any common view upon the issue – the variety of ideas has been caused by the different understanding of the concept of “empire” and distinctions in interpretation of the history of the United States, especially its political and military expansion from the end of the 19th and throughout the 20th century.

Those, who interpret the American modern “imperial strategy” in terms of military and political domination, address the comparatively recent document – National Security Strategy of the United States of America published (of 17 September 2002).

This strategy is believed to be created in response to the 9/11 events. The essence of the strategy is the worldwide US military and political dominance, or, put in other words, through the extension of the disparity between America and the rest of the world. To support the idea of the US imperialism in power, one could quote Stephen Peter Rose, the Director of the neo-conservative Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, and one of the founding members of the Project for a New American Century: “our goal is not combating a rival, but maintaining our imperial position, and maintaining imperial order”.

Some other scholars doubt the United States can lay claim to be the modern “empire”, it is rather an “unchallenged hegemony”. The empire, at least historically, negated the concepts of the political freedom, liberation, and self-determination, which is quite opposite to the concept of “American values” (the defense of human rights and democracy), as the US and the rest of the world see it. The US expansion has always been based (according to its advocates) on belief in free trade and open markets. I certainly agree that if the empire is understood as the most powerful state exercising decisive influence upon the rest of the world, the United Stated states, with their extensive military and political impact, can be labeled as that. But still, it is quite difficult to parallel the United States as they are and the idea of the American Empire. It is, in fact, quite different from the historical empires. United States as a core country shows a rather informal approach: it provides public goods in exchange for the cooperation of other states, exercises power through rules and institutions and provides "voice opportunities" to the weaker states.

Politicians and those interested in profiting from the US hegemony around the world, might, certainly, proclaim the ambitions of imperial power of the United States, but I doubt that this is what the nation really sees as the essence of their living. Being (or rather becoming) an Empire is a very controversial issue, especially taking into consideration the sad experience of all the empires in the course of the centuries of the world’s history. The fact is, all the empires, either vast or small, have faced the same crisis (under its own weight), which, in the end, destroyed the country and the system itself.

It is obvious that the hegemonic stability is far more promising and beneficial (in both economic and social aspects) than the imperial usurpation, which shall undoubtedly face serious confrontation. And, knowing, that the humanity might not survive the third world war, does the United States really need to become an Empire?
 
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