Explain the behavior of the World Trade Organization from critical theory and postcolonial perspectives. Make sure that you use examples from the Yes Men documentary in your answer.
The critical theory aims at appraising the society and changing it as a whole, as opposed to the traditional theory that is all about explaining or understanding it. This theory tries to dig below the surface of social life in order to expose the assumptions that prevent people from fully understanding the workings of this world. On the other hand, the post-colonial theory adopts a unique perspective on politics. It explores the issues of economics, politics, power, culture and religion, and how they work with respect to colonial hegemony (Abraham 2017).
The World Trade Organization (WTO) was born out of GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), which was set up in 1947. GATT was replaced by WTO in 1995, and is mean to ensure that global trade goes on freely, smoothly and predictably. According to Matsushita, Schoenbaum, Mavroidis & Hahn (2015), the organization is strongly committed to the liberalization of trade whereby tariffs are reduced or eliminated, and non-tariff barriers like quotas are done away with. The first four principles of WTO explicitly highlight this. The fifth principle is all about development, and shows how free trade is favorable for poor underdeveloped third-world nations.
The free trade aim of WTO, however, is somehow controversial. Some experts in development studies and economics doubt whether deregulation and free trade is are actually good for developing nations. In fact, they are of the opinion that free trade is bad poor countries in various ways while it mainly benefits the richer ones. Hence, WTOs principles are somehow mutually contradictory, and the organization is seemingly biased in favor of rich developed nations. In The Yes Men comedy satire, hosts Jacques Servin and Mike Bonanno interview an expert who gives his opinion about WTO. He states that all of the organizations agreements are all about restricting what governments can do in terms of allowing trading activities. The entire trading system is based on the notion that the companies investing internationally are going to be preyed on by the governments of wealthier nations. The experts statement highlight how WTO makes it difficult for investors from third world countries to thrive and make profits in richer countries.
In 2001, a new World Trade Organization was proposed that puts the needs of developing countries at the top of the global trade negotiation. A Ministerial Declaration was adopted at the beginning of the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations that was seen as an apt response to the anti-globalization riots that took place in the 1990s. However, the WTO membership is yet to deliver the pro-development changes that it promised. Developing nations have been totally sideline by global powers political and economic interests. A good example of this has to do with agricultural subsidies. WTO members have not come to a consensus on how to minimize the staggering amounts of subsidies paid to wealthy world farmers. Overproduction by these farmers continues to put into peril the livelihoods of those from developing countries.
The World Trade Organization has not shed light on the deliberately vague rules on concluding trade agreements that make it possible for the poorest nations to be manipulated by their richer counterparts. By negotiating with the European Union, the organization has forced African countries to do away with tariffs on about 90% of their trade since there are no clear rules to protect them.
Explain the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by using realism, neoliberal institutionalism, and constructivism. Make sure you explain the causal logic each theory proposes as the basis of the emergence of international organizations.
Realism theory is an approach to the study of international politics that puts emphasis on the role of the nation-state. It operates under the broad assumption that any nation-state is motivated by its own national interests. Realists are of the opinion that international organizations only play the role of assisting a state achieve its objectives of either security or increased power. Neoliberal institutionalism is a theory that presents the main view on the role that international organizations should play in relations among states. Constructivism is a theory that emphasizes the social construction of international relations as opposed to the claim that they are shaped by unavoidable consequences of human affairs. According to this theory, international organizations are a socially constructed concept brought about by the sharing of ideas by states.
The Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was a military alliance formed in 1949 under a treaty basis that put clear emphasis on mutual defense obligations. Alliances are mainly perceived as vehicles for combining military resources by several states. They are usually formed in preparation for or in response to some postulated contingency, often referring to an external threat posed by another country or group of states. They are formed under the assumption that a combined power as opposed to that of a single state is a much better deterrent against a likely attack. Also, the response offered by an allied power has a better chance of being effective. An alliance also has a formal character. It is based on an agreement that often outlines the scope of cooperation together with the interests and duties expected from it. These formal stipulations differentiate alliances from the less constraining and specific arrangements such as international coalitions and alliances. An alliance is intergovernmental. While it may limit the freedom of action from member states to a certain degree, it allows them to retain the final say in terms of foreign policy. In the course of the Cold War, NATO abided by these features quite well (Brenner 2016).
The role and position of the United States in NATO was quite important in its creation. Given Americas reluctance to do anything more apart from defending Europe, it was not exactly clear how NATO would pursue mutual defense. All in all, this uncertainty became more hypothetical as soon as the organization started developing integrated military structures in the 1950s. Nonetheless, it soon became an obvious tool for the Americans to enforce their foreign policy. In 1950, President Harry Truman signed a document called the NSC 68 that heralded a conceptual towards a defense against the Soviet threat. It also underlined an assumption that NATO would make up the military arm of what would become an American-led integrated alliance.
By the early 1950s, the essential purpose of NATO during the Cold War was apparently clear. For the following almost four decades, this role went on to progress along familiar lines. The allies may have had some differences in the way they regarded the Soviet threat. However, they remained united due to the mutual appreciation of this threat. From the mid-1960s, the Soviet-led Warsaw pact had a strategic nuclear arsenal parity with the U.S. it was also somehow superior to NATO in Europe with respect to military superiority. Consequently, this became NATOs main concern.
Abraham, K.J., 2017. Making Machines: Unlikely Resonances between Realist and Postcolonial Thought. International Political Sociology.
Brenner, M.J. ed., 2016. NATO and collective security. Springer.
Matsushita, M., Schoenbaum, T.J., Mavroidis, P.C. and Hahn, M., 2015. The World Trade Organization: law, practice, and policy. Oxford University Press.
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