Archive for the ‘Aaaall the politics’ Category

This post is a culmination of thoughts I’ve been having for a reasonable period of time now – more or less since my first pregnancy over three years ago.  It is not an academic essay, and is based in my own personal reflection.  However, I will refer to theory and statistics to illustrate my point.

I often hear young, local women personalities, and even my close women friends, complaining about the “societal pressure” they feel to commit to having children one day.  This I find entirely baffling.  I never considered this to be a pressure put upon me at any point in my life, certainly not through public schooling, peer pressure, media exposure or even family.  Media images of lean, sexy, capable career women flooded my consciousness throughout my entire teenagehood.  I grew up thinking that that is simply what a woman is, and what a woman should be.  Motherhood was something that wasn’t even part of that picture – that comes later, right, when you’re like, 40?  When you no longer look hot and intimidating in a pencil skirt and designer blazer?  I understand that my experience is not necessarily connected to that of anyone else; but I witness my millenial social group acting in ways that certainly do not imply a sense of external pressure regarding having children.  Generally they are in no hurry to pin down a career path (and nor should they be), no hurry to save any money unless aiming to put down a house deposit or travel, no hurry to nab a rich banker and get married ASAP.  They spend money on brunch, clothing, theatre performances, concerts, makeup, and an ever-expanding array of ‘things’.  This existence is their entire world, which is to say that they usually have intellectual pursuits which they envision themselves contributing through one day, for their own career satisfaction; may be involved in a media project which involves their own voices contributing to larger issues (like blogs!); but, almost categorically, are not involved in service or community initiatives purely because selfless submission to societal benefit is a value that still exists among our generation.  So where is this perceived pressure coming from?  Parents?  Probably not at the age of 23 or 24.  I’ll reiterate that I don’t want to discredit this feeling without anyone identifying to me how exactly this pressure manifests. But I do consider it within my rights to develop a theory based on my own observation.

In my teenage years, I was not family-oriented in the slightest.  It certainly wasn’t cool in my rather ephemeral social group.  We were liberated, risk-taking young women who felt that the nuclear family was a prison that the religious girls were destined to be relegated to, while the rest of us would go on to enjoy the finer things in life, like salaries and complete self-absorption.  I engaged in a good deal of risky behaviour.  I believe I was outspoken at times about motherhood and children, and how injurious both were to the female identity and society in general. I did not have any siblings or a close extended family, and had never changed a baby in my life before I had my own at 21.

When I discussed my pregnancy with acquaintances and workmates, I quickly learned that when they had claimed they were ‘pro-choice’ in earlier conversations, they really meant they were ‘pro-abortion’.  In the sense that when confronted with an actual pregnant person of their own age who didn’t fit the pity-worthy state-house upbringing mold, they became angry and aggressive. This, I’ll add, was a problem exclusively encountered with women – men, even when younger than me, had nothing but support or indifference to dish out.  Young women would stare, be silent, snap at me. I found this very sinister to begin with and stopped discussing my pregnancy.  I was, many times, casually asked, “So, have you decided what to do yet?” even when I was several months into the pregnancy. “Yes. I’m carrying on with my pregnancy.” Obviously.

In 99% of cases in which I said this to another female millenial, it was as if I’d leaped into the Parliamentary Chamber and announced that I’d be tabling a bill to propose an annual neo-Nazi holiday.  Before any actual verbal responses, I’d witness facial expressions morph from incomprehension, to shock, to fear and suspicion.  I wasn’t supposed to say that, clearly.  I came across as a generally capable, university-enrolled white girl who was a little too like them for comfort. It simply did not compute that their stereotypical image of the young pregnant mother was not what was standing in front of them, and this apparently made them feel out of control and afraid. Then I would be met with some choice remarks, actual examples of which I’ll list:

“What method of contraception were you using?  Remind me to never use it.”

“Are you serious?  Why didn’t you have an abortion? I would!” (Loudly in public)

“You’re just going to be another statistic.”

When I look back on this attitude, it shocks me enough.  But I still hadn’t expected to encounter the amount of negativity I did, and do, as a millenial who is also a mother.  In my experience, it tends to be young, middle-class white females who like to talk about certain groups being “othered”.  Well, I’d like to share my experience of being “othered”.  I can’t count the times I’ve sat quietly at a social event while another person complains loudly about how children are all terrible and implied that all parents are self-centered autobots who only had children because of “societal pressure” and a penchant for eugenics.  I had an early childhood trainee (who is lovely, and meant no offense) ask me at kindergarten, “So did you always want to be a young mother, or did you have, like, aspirations?” The fact that I’m more highly qualified than she is wasn’t worth the awkwardness in bringing up. Multiple people have said to me “Oh, good for you!” with a patronising shoulder-pat when I tell them I’m studying.  I’ve seen more than one article circulating in my social media sphere in the last few weeks about how having children is the single most selfish and unethical thing you can do, because of – no joke – climate change.  How pregnancy is the ultimate cause behind both local and global poverty, as well as the subjugation of women, who apparently are unaware that their true liberation lies in hating children.  People discussing who the most annoying customers to deal with are, rolling their eyes and spitting, “mothers”.

This happens among acquaintances who are fully aware that my husband and I have a child, and another on the way.  There are only two possible explanations I can conceive (hah!) of for why they might say such hurtful and degrading things in our presence. Either, and this is more likely, they simply don’t remember this about us because they have an inherent bias, and are so absorbed in the yo-pro world that they don’t even know of the existence of the enormous world of hard-working and well-meaning parent culture.  Or, they tolerate us being parents but don’t expect to have to act considerately of the fact, rather like a group of inherently racist white people who suddenly gain a Chinese friend, and continue to make jokes about the Chinese because, hey, she’s not really one of them, she’s an exception.  I’m quite sure that the same people would scream blue murder if I rolled my eyes and hissed, “babykillers“.

This is the crux of my issue with the popularisation and bastardisation of critical theory.  I do not know why the mass indoctrination of our generation with critical theory has not been successful, in that it has not achieved the goals of ’70s and ’80s critical and feminist scholars who envisioned a kind of inclusive paradise founded on Foucauldian tenets.  One possibility is that, try as you might, you simply cannot teach certain people to be intuitively critical thinkers.  There seems to be a disparity among people on this front, in that while book-smarts are relatively commonplace, it is generally held that the ability to intellectually engage, and critically analyse, is rarer and worthy of more commendation, certainly academically.  Some scholars will study endlessly and still find that they cannot achieve the grades that this ability would afford them, at least without very carefully and mechanically imitating the process.  This could explain why we seem to have a vocal lobby, active particularly on social media, who hypocritically engage in dogma-setting, exclusion and silencing on the grounds of critical theory itself.  This is how millenial non-parents manage to propagate what amounts to hate speech while seemingly missing the irony.

I’m beginning to do a bit of lay-research around why this attitude exists, and what sectors of the generation it exists in.  It is pretty apparent among my acquaintances (very scientific, I know) that those who grew up in religious households, and are religious themselves, have quite a different attitude.  This makes sense, family values being popular in monotheistic belief systems.  I would like to put aside some time to do academic research on these attitudes among different kinds of youth, but my calendar is a bit full.  I suspect that the internet plays an enormous part in convincing those of a ‘vocal’ age that their attitudes are shared by what they perceive to be society at large, although of course it is actually a microcosm, an illusory ‘public’ created by the intersection or not of particular social networks online.  This conviction, following critical theory itself, may serve to reinforce and in fact strengthen the attitude concerned.  What is as clear as day to me is that those young  women I spoke to when pregnant, and the ones I speak to now who are flabbergasted to discover that I have a child, are experiencing a kind of fear in the face of that confronting information; perhaps the “societal pressure” they mention is in fact their own externalised fear and confusion about their identity as twenty-first century women.  I inconveniently present myself to them as a non-stereotypical, non-beneficiary, postgraduate student and mother under the age of 25.  Perhaps  the hostility is simply the projected fear that having children actually might be something worthwhile, and not entirely soul-destroying, and they haven’t factored it into their future in a  practical way.

What I remember of sex education in my school certainly sent a message to us; pregnancy was worse than contracting HIV.  It was the ultimate disgrace and would ruin our lives.  We would be dole-bludging, pram-pushing zombies forevermore.  It is so true that not having useful conversations about healthy relationships, how to court, and when and why families are appropriate is detrimental to our young people.  You only hear in which context pregnancy and child-rearing are not societally appropriate.  It’s my belief that this has had a not inconsiderable effect on millenial values, at least among the non-religious.  My husband went to a Catholic boys’ school, and while they didn’t discuss contraception, they had a mandatory “Tots and Toddlers” class, which involved learning the basics of hands-on childcare and the importance of the role of men in families.  My husband remembers the class thoroughly enjoying this practical and playful lesson; he puts it down to Marist philosophy being infused into absolutely every aspect of his schooling.  Sure, there were a few young fathers that came out of that (excellent) school, as there were from many schools in Wellington.  But I’d be willing to bet there were very few absentee fathers.  Not to mention, of course, the fact that the link between teaching contraception and reduced teen pregnancy is dubious at best, considering the fact that New Zealand, which has a very liberal sex education curriculum, lags only behind the US in teen fertility rates among OECD countries.  It is statistically evident that the root cause of teen pregnancy is poverty and inequality, not education, and incidentally, that teen pregnancy (or pregnancy at any age) is not a cause of poverty.  While those in lower socioeconomic tiers are more likely to have teen pregnancies, teen mothers are likely to have the same future prospects as anyone from their socioeconomic cohort, even similar future salaries.  Clearly, pregnancy is not the evil we have been led to believe. Yet, I still heard a close friend comment recently that someone she knew was lucky to have had an abortion as a teenager because otherwise “she would’ve been stuck in [name of a somewhat dead-end town I can’t recall]”.

Are we simply a generation of nihilists?  I certainly come across a good deal of nihilistic justifications for discriminating against parents.  They generally relate to climate change, child sex offenders, terrorism, and the general belief that the world and people in general are hideous and, by extension, that we’d all be better off dead.  Thus, it’s unethical and selfish to have children.  Surely I don’t need to go into the immaturity of such a position.

Then, of course, you also come across the narcissistic explanations; “Parents are out to make ME as miserable as they are, cleaning up poo and vomit, and thus are engaged in a conspiracy to make me and all my friends parents too”.  This one has some interesting parallels with the ‘gay conspiracy’ theory that don’t go unnoticed by parents.  Another common one is “Parents view ME as a threat to social stability because I refuse to conform to their expectations.  Well, I won’t have kids out of spite”.

Rest assured, parents as a group do not spend a great deal of time thinking about non-parents, as a group, except when we are being made to feel like someone’s about to put us on a register.  The oft-cited “offensive” encouragement to have children is not intended to be a dig at their lifestyle or freedoms, and is not evidence of a conspiracy.  I don’t think it crosses their minds that it’s simply advice from someone who was once in their position, is now in a different position, and would like to let them know that they’ve found it much better on the other side.  Strangely, it is not criminally offensive when a successful lawyer tells you you should take an internship, or commit your entire life to your career.  It’s not inherently offensive when someone recommends that you go on an O.E. because it’ll change your entire outlook.  People tend to call this “advice”.  It is generally said out of a genuine wish to influence the happiness of a friend, rather than to be a complete tosser.  Being a parent, I’m afraid it is simply the truth that you cannot have any idea of the happiness (and hard work, and mess, and character improvement) that children bring if you aren’t one.  No, being an early childhood teacher is not close enough.  Neither is having a lot of little cousins.  It isn’t easy to explain why you can’t explain it, however, which generally leads to this being dismissed as condescending drivel.

Parenting immediately brings you outside of yourself, and you suddenly start to care a great deal about things that you have never even noticed before in your life.  The condition of neighborhood green spaces, playgrounds, libraries and pools.  The massive variety of quality in horrendously expensive fruit and vegetables.  The messages that suggestive brothel shopfronts send to young people on the streets.  All of these things affect millions of kids, who you must assume have parents who care as much about them as you do about yours.  Things that you previously settled for having an entirely idealistic position on, such as climate change, now become much more practical issues.  What is the best and most workable solution in actuality, and does it involve necessary compromise?  How do we begin to teach our children the values that will prepare them for being responsible, productive and compassionate custodians of the planet?  Can we implement this in schools?

So forgive me if I have no patience for other millenials telling me that I’m selfish and wasteful for having children.  I was under the impression that raising a family is a human right; and in fact, there is some excellent literature written by women from developing countries which expresses their offense at being told they cannot continue to reproduce because a corporate funding body in America has decided that pregnancy is the cause of global inequality.  They know what it is that causes inequality, and it isn’t “overpopulation”.  Development programme financiers, in particular the IMF, have been living  in fear of this knowledge being popularised.  See this article by Azizah al-Hibri, an originally Lebanese woman academic, for more on this:  https://www.wcl.american.edu/hrbrief/v2i1/alhibr21.htm

Again we witness the irony of ‘popular’ critical theory; your conception of feminism must include transgender women, women of all races, etc., but should not include mothers.  It should also include ‘Third World’ women only so far as they accept pre-approved values, including the legitimisation of abortion and conraception; because apparently, despite agency being so important to millenial “critical theorists” themselves, these women just don’t know what’s good for them.  The reason mothers are excluded appears to simply be because the largely millenial authors of such theories are not able to see or imagine life outside of their prescribed prism of existence; they are completely blind to the parenting community, which causes them to have inherent biases.  They have no idea that millions of mothers, and a growing amount of fathers, talk online, meet up, share their experiences in support groups, and move the earth to create enjoyable experiences for their children, every day across the world.  They have no idea that parents work themselves to the bone being concerned with what kind of citizens their children will become, for the benefit of everyone else.

In the case of abortion, the same lobby argues that men don’t deserve a similar right to choose whether the pregnancy goes ahead, or a right to legislate abortions, on some grounds which can be argued very legitimately.  But there is also the argument that the man doesn’t carry the foetus in his body.  From the perspective of a parent, this position seems bizarre.  It isn’t a simple issue of bodily autonomy, as anyone who cares for a child will know; I can barely remember my pregnancy in the light of the fantastic time I’ve had with my son. Some people definitely do have horrendous pregnancies, and I wouldn’t dream of minimising that; but I doubt they would even consider that as part of day-to-day assessment of whether their child-rearing has been worth it or not. I hear people talking about how pregnancy is a ‘dangerous medical condition’ and absolutely unbearable for a variety of reasons.  Never mind that many who hold this opinion have never been pregnant.  This is simply the only point of reference they have for discussing abortion, as they have no experience of actually raising a child, pregnancy is something they understand the biology of and the image that looms in their head when they talk about “parenting”. They’ll also discuss the many flaws of “parents today” and how to raise a child properly, but, you know, they aren’t going to have any, but if they did…this attitude gets very tiring when the same lobby is trying to argue that nobody outside of a certain group (generally women, because that’s the group they most identify with) is allowed to have an opinion on how that group does things, because others have no idea what their experience is like.

In the end, I don’t pretend to have any answers about this, and this post can only be a simple exercise in self-expression; my peer group will probably not be affected in any way by it, and nor should they be forced to consider issues of parenthood when they aren’t ready.  However, I can’t pretend that an aggressive attitude towards parents doesn’t become tiresome when I’m just scrolling through my social media feed or minding my own business at a social event.  I would love to see some discussion from anyone who agrees or disagrees, or just wants to let me know they have experienced the same things.  I employed some references for my statistical statements:

New Zealand’s teen pregancy rate: UNICEF, Child poverty in perspective: an overview of child well-being in rich countries. Innocenti report card 7. Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2007

Teen pregnancy and poverty: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/png/ajhb/2004/00000028/00000004/art00008  (to name one source, but you can find a myriad using databases.)


Please comment if you have shared my experience!






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Annotated bibliography: Sources relate to the Afghan intervention and Iraq War. I hope anyone interested in these conflicts will find this useful. Grade: A+. Critique: I think the university online forum ate my feedback. Please don’t copy this work, you may get dropped from your university. Also it’s a dick move.

UN General Assembly. (2001). The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security. (A/56/681)

Kofi Annan’s 2001 report on the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan is a cohesive account of factors affecting the security situation in Afghanistan. The former Secretary General approaches this with a consideration of a range of spheres; diplomatic developments in response to the Taliban’s increasingly clear connection with Al-Qaida, along with the plight of internally displaced persons, and an analysis of how drought and the Taliban’s ban on opium poppy cultivation has affected local economies. He gives a thorough account of domestic and international political events in the past annum (2000-2001), and of the diplomatic attempts of his representative for UN operations in Afghanistan to organise an international initiative in the wake of September 11th, 2001.
While Kofi Annan exposes us to a range of contexts regarding development in Afghanistan, considering state-building, national and ethnic identity, counterinsurgency and gendered disempowerment, aspects of his argument sound similar to the traditional rhetoric of American exceptionalism. He employs multiple references to the Afghan peoples’ right to self-determination and representative government. The UN Secretary General has been accused of being a vehicle for the United States’ liberal democracy project; although to be expected, this stance expressed so ardently and combined with a clear assertion that the Taliban is connected to Al-Qaida, whether accurate or exaggerated, was convenient for US foreign policy at the time of publication. The conclusion stating that “…any solution to the Afghan crisis must be home-grown” is quite at odds with the diplomatic directives outlined in the report, and seems ceremonial rather than a summation of the report’s actual intended meaning.

Mirra, C. (2013). Insurgents, Accidental Guerrillas and Valet-ism: An Oral History of Oppositional US Soldier Attitudes towards the Enemy in Afghanistan. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 26(2), 453-468.
Mirra provides a unique resource for understanding the consequences of American exceptionalism in a social context. His oral history interviews portray a perspective rarely observed in academic material and contrast significantly with Kofi Annan’s 2001 UNSMA report, as an account of the counterinsurgency effort from the ‘grass-roots’; the micro-political actors of the Afghanistan ‘crisis’. These voices express disdain for the state-building effort that Annan considers to be the solution for the sociological challenges facing Afghanistan. As observed by defected US soldiers, the military infrastructure employed in the “hearts and minds” approach to counterinsurgency does not portray the kind of message that is intended. Rather, the policy is based on a shallow conception of the Afghani political consciousness. Far from providing relief and comfort, the presence of ground troops in conjunction with aid provision brings to mind both colonial expansion and memories of the Soviet invasion.
This article viscerally illustrates the failures of US exceptionalism in terms of the concept of the ‘divine mission’ and John Winthrop’s “city on the hill” dialectic. It is a highly useful resource due to its collection of unique perspectives. Though it could be argued that oral histories are not of sufficient quality as to be considered valid sources when assessing the success of counterinsurgency projects, this criticism is based in an antiquated bureaucratic model of data-gathering. The trend in modern state-building is to take into account voices that in the past were marginalised, in order to help them retain the agency to devise their own solutions. As Kofi Annan (though perhaps purely diplomatically) states at the end of his report, “home-grown” solutions are more effective than those imposed by outside powers (UN General Assembly, 2001).

Saikal, A. (2012). The UN and Afghanistan: Contentions in Democratization and State building. International Peacekeeping, 19(2), 217-234.
Saikal’s article is a perceptive critique of the Western – specifically UN – approach to democratisation in Afghanistan. Saikal describes the role that was initially prescribed for the UN, and identifies the barriers that have prevented it from achieving its objective. While he praises Brahimi, Kofi Annan’s representative for the Afghan ‘crisis’, for having done all in his power to diplomatically implement the UN’s initiatives, he criticises the influence of the US in particular on the process and asserts that the UN has been more successful at peace-building than any US-led interventions have been to date (thus implying that US influence is hindering UN performance in this area). Saikal claims that emphasis on local civil society, and the implementation of an electorate-based Single Transferable Vote system, is the correct alternative to failed “presidential-style” state-building approach favoured by the UNSMA. He considers grass-roots political mobilisation to be a more appropriate starting point than the Western state-centric model of democratic imposition.
This article supports the idea of US exceptionalism remaining a primary and toxic influence on international politics. Saikal also criticises the failure of the UNAMA to truly act in accordance with an unbiased model of peace-building that takes into account the particular nature of Afghani culture. He identifies the US as the key influence on the UN approach to Afghan democratisation, and explains that the expectation of the US was that the UN would impose a Western-style, market friendly model. Without going so far as to use the phrase ‘American exceptionalism’, Saikal refers to the concept of a “Kantian peace” in relation to UN policy directives. However, while Saikal does provide some ideas for a bottom- up, Afghan-centric democratic solution, they seem ill-considered or even unworkable; civil society development cannot occur without economic and institutional development. As Saikal himself writes, “Democratisation…cannot be divorced from other dimensions, such as economic, social, political and cultural components” (p.217).

Patman, R. G. (2006). Globalisation, the New US Exceptionalism and the War on Terror. Third World Quarterly, 27(6), 963-986.
Patman identifies the contemporary primacy of American exceptionalism in US foreign policy, and conducts an analysis of its evolution since the end of the Cold War, arguing that the concept has in fact not changed drastically since the events of September 11th, 2001. The primary change has been a distinct revival of religious fundamentalist rhetoric. Patman elaborates on the concept of the American ‘divine mission’ and provides multiple examples of the Bush Jr. administration’s use of this idea in addresses to the state. He goes on to argue that the impact of globalisation, and the increasing relevance of Joseph Nye’s concept of ‘soft power’, will force the US to reassess its exceptionalist foreign policy if it wishes to retain the mandate of other Western powers. Patman identifies the 2003 invasion of Iraq without UN endorsement as a pivotal point of downturn in diplomatic attitudes towards the US, and the reputational consequences as significant.
While Patman provides compelling evidence of the Bush Jr. administration’s genuine exceptionalist beliefs, including the religious attitude with which Bush himself approached foreign policy, his argument that the US should prioritise the use of soft power rather than hard power does not address the possibility that the embedded nature of exceptionalism in US institutions could instead simply produce a more fervent, reactionary invigoration of the current approach in response to disapproval from other powers. The contemporary US approach to ISIS in Iraq and Syria is telling. While Obama has denounced the Iraq War and has reiterated his unwillingness to place ground troops in Iraq, in an appeal to public and international opinion, recent developments suggest that the US has superseded its limited mandate by conducting air strikes in Syria.

Keegan, J. (2004). The American War. In The Iraq War (pp. 127-164). London: Hutchinson.
Keegan describes in thorough detail the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 from the covert entry of ground troops over the Kuwaiti border to the arrival of the company at Baghdad, before the storming of Saddam’s presidential palace. Keegan exposes US intelligence activities involved in securing a safe border passage in the South for the operation, describes urban warfare and the damages to infrastructure that were incurred, refers to civilian casualties (despite the popular myth that these were entirely minimal during the invasion) and gives an insight into the capabilities and organisation of the Iraqi defence force under Saddam’s administration. An analysis of the diplomatic climate in the Iraq region at the time of the invasion is also provided.
Though not an academic analysis of American intentions regarding the invasion, Keegan’s account provides valuable contextual information necessary for understanding conditions on the ground at the instigation of the “American War”. It also demonstrates the premise of US Exceptionalism in an abstract and over-arching manner; the invasion that the US believed necessary in the pursuit of universal democratisation was bound to incur casualties and infrastructural fallout that would drastically affect civilians. The decision to deploy rockets at a multi-storey building, in which a senior Ba’athist party member was understood to be participating in a meeting, is illustrative of the collateral damage inherent in urban warfare. Contrary to the espoused laws of armed warfare, civilians will not be protected when the choice is between their lives or the elimination of military targets. Keegan also shows himself to be in admiration of the US invasion, both from a military and political standpoint. Early on, he paints a demonic picture of Saddam’s administration in an attempt at justification; and his closing sentence, “The liberation of Iraq from the monstrous dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was almost complete” (p.164) is loaded with exceptionalist rhetoric.

Titunik, R. F. (2009). Are We All Torturers Now? A Reconsideration of Women’s Violence at Abu Ghraib. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 22(2), 257-277.

Titunik’s article is a gendered perspective on the violations of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. As Titunik explains, gender-based analyses of this issue contemporarily came mainly from conservative authors, who were shocked by the expression of violence committed by women. This article examines both feminist and “militarist” analyses of the subject, and asserts that both perspectives do not sufficiently explain the involvement of women in detainee abuse. Titunik finds that they both afford too much agency to the women involved, and ignore the wider context of administrative misconduct – essentially, the climate of US Exceptionalism cultivated by senior figures in the Bush administration. Titunik goes on to refute the notion that the US military itself is imbued with a corrupt culture, citing the attempts of prominent military lawyers to have changes to the laws of interrogation stalled at the time of passage, due to concerns for military integrity.
This article provides a strong argument for the sheer pervasiveness of the modern brand of US Exceptionalism, describing moral failures that occurred at a local level as a consequence of state-level decisions, namely President Bush having decided that he was a law unto himself in terms of dictating US conduct in interrogation. The gendered nature of the article focuses on a point largely irrelevant to exceptionalism – the capacity of women for violence – but sheds light on how US foreign policy has come to affect those who would traditionally be unblighted by war guilt. The women involved in the Abu Ghraib abuses clearly believed, convinced by either themselves or others, that American actors on the ground were exempt from moral repercussions.

Fawcett, L. (2013). The Iraq War Ten Years On: Assessing the Fallout. International Affairs, 89(2), 325-343.

Fawcett’s analysis of the effects of the Iraq War has the value of considering these from the three different levels of domestic, regional and international consequence. She discusses the new challenge to the authoritarian state that the war, combined with other contemporary events, eventually fostered in the face of a reactionary entrenchment; she describes the disruption the war caused to regional power balances and peace processes; and considers the international fallout of the war in what she identifies as a pivotal point in international relations (the post-Cold War period of confused power polarity). Throughout these analytical categories, Fawcett puts forward the argument that the Iraq War did not achieve what the US had hoped for, and though it catalysed some political changes, it also created unpredictable new power arrangements in the region, including the HISH (Hamas, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah) alliance, which could prove more dangerous to Western interests than the security situation prior to the war had been. Fawcett also provides a discussion on exceptionalism in current US foreign policy in terms of the ‘imperial’ project, and assesses the likelihood of a continued unilateral approach.
As well as assessing the effects of the Iraq war on a macro scale, Fawcett addresses the Arab Spring revolts with reference to particular individuals and localities, as well as the displacement of up to two million Iraqi civilians. This results in an appropriately comprehensive assessment of a conflict that seriously affected actors on a local scale. However, there is little background or depth to her description of US foreign policy; a discussion of its evolution, as is present in Gray’s article, The Americanisation of the Apocalypse (Gray 2007) is lacking. Fawcett makes a brief prediction that the post-Iraq espousal of multilateral US foreign policy will not persevere, but does not thoroughly explain why this is likely in the context of a US exceptionalism. There is no reference to the religious aspect of the concept or its institutional nature in America, the only developed nation with a Christian majority. This characteristic of American exceptionalism is so fundamental that it cannot be overlooked when assessing the nature of US foreign policy.

Gray, J. (2007). The Americanization of the Apocalypse. Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (pp. 107-145). London: Allen Lane.
Gray discusses the origins and development of US exceptionalism, in particular with regard to its newly invigorated religious aspect. He reveals the political theory that has influenced this unique national psyche since the Cold War, citing Leo Strauss and related Russian novelists. He describes how the George Bush Senior and Junior administrations were affected by the institutional dominance of religious fundamentalism, how the primacy of the Christian South electorate influences US policy, and how fundamentalists teamed up with neo-liberal actors to generate influential think-tanks and extra-parliamentary bodies that would drive foreign policy in response to September 11th, 2001. Gray further alleges a particularly religious zeal for rejection of empirical evidence among these advisory bodies, which he asserts genuinely operated on the basis of religious intuition. Also exposed is the unsettling extent to which intelligence was manipulated by the Bush Jr. administration in justifying the invasion of Iraq.
Gray’s discussion is highly detailed and instructive on the nature of modern US exceptionalism, that is, its renewed religious character since 9/11. It explains the need for George Bush Jr. to employ this revived rhetoric in terms of both voter support and justification of a foreign policy that had seen recent catastrophic disaster (the spectre of Vietnam lingered on while the intervention in Sudan in the 1990s had failed abysmally). In asserting that the new advisory bodies involved in the formation of anti-terrorist policy were ultimately religious in nature, however, Gray neglects the decisive role that neo-liberal economic interests, which he only briefly mentions in a power context, played. He does not evaluate the relationship between economic and religious influences in terms of geostrategic interests; there is no reference to the politics of oil in the Middle East and its relationship to the expansion of liberal democracy, which was the end justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Bayliss, J., Smith, S., & Owens, P. (2011). The globalisation of world politics (pp510-524). Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK. Pp510-524
This chapter concerns humanitarian intervention in a globalised world, and in particular the increasing use of humanitarian justification for military intervention since September 11th, 2001. This is useful for understanding exactly why the opinion of the international community became unfavourable towards the US after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The authors describe the codification of intervention in international law to date, including the UN Charter, and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine adopted at the UN Summit in 2005. Also identified are two key operational failures during the Afghanistan invasion which undermined the US’ humanitarian justification, and exposed the exceptionalism inherent in the project: the reliance on Afghan intelligence in discerning targets, which resulted in a high civilian toll due to sabotage; and the refusal to contribute troops to the ISAF reconstruction effort. A comprehensive case study on the legal legitimacy of the Iraq intervention is also included, with a comparison of Teson and Nardin, who have opposing opinions.
This is essential reading for comprehension of international law regarding interventions, and to contextualise the negative international reaction to US exceptionalism in foreign policy. The international agreements named also provide valuable information regarding which particular states have been open to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and thereby accepted the restrictions imposed on geostrategic intervention. This provides a framework of understanding for the behaviour of other states in relation to US foreign policy initiatives. However, this analysis does present the UN and particular regional organisations, such as the African Union, in an entirely impartial light, which can be read with a distinctly idealistic tone. It could be argued that the very concept of a ‘responsibility to protect’ imbues intervention with less restriction than legitimacy.

Heywood, A. (2011). Global politics, (pp209-239). Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire.
Heywood’s analysis of “power and twenty-first century world order” charts the rise of US exceptionalism as a dominant source of power in contemporary state relations. It covers the failure of bipolarity at the end of the Cold War, the genesis and eventual disregard for the ‘new world order’ concept and criticisms of Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ thesis. Heywood forecasts the possible eventualities of the declining international tolerance for US exceptionalism, and considers what a multipolar global community might mean for international security. He invokes perspectives of traditional International Relations schools, including those of neo-realists, on the potential character of a post-US multipolar world. He also provides an alternative vision of increased multilateralism.
While Heywood gives much credence to increasing multipolarity, it could be argued that unipolarity is simply shifting from one actor to another. In analysing the economic relationship between the US and China, it can discerned that much of the US’ wealth is rapidly becoming tied up in debt to China. While experiencing periods of stagnation, China’s economy is evidencing a general trend of rapid growth, and recent efforts to solidify regional influence over resources in regions of Africa (namely Sudan) and Eastern Europe indicate a quiet and pervasive expansion. This could be interpreted alongside the decline of legitimacy regarding US foreign policy as a shift of power, which would be called the Terminal Crisis of America’s capitalist economy in the terms of the school of geopolitician Giovanni Arrighi. This school holds that only one capitalist power can exist at one time, organically superseding the previous dominant power. Alternatively, it can be proposed that the Cold War is in fact not over at all, and Russia’s recent disregard for international condemnation of its expansion into Ukraine could evidence the return of a new bipolar era.

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An essay I wrote for my 300-level Contemporary Political Theory course. As always, discussion or critique appreciated. This essay considers the relevance of Foucault’s theory of the Panopticon (borrowed from Jeremy Bentham) in modern surveillance; in other words, is it true that we are all kept in line by a fear of surveillance? I received A+ for this essay. Please don’t copy my work, an anvil could fall on your head.

The Irrelevance of Foucault’s Panopticism in Contemporary Surveillance
Vanessa Bramwell
200.315 Short Essay, 21/08/14

Bentham’s Panopticon, as described by Foucault, is redundant in the era of digital surveillance. Foucault asserts in his work Discipline and Punishment that this model would infiltrate the social body entirely. While the model had extended into many public and private institutions at the time of Foucault’s writing, the adaptation of this concept in response to globalisation has changed it into a method of control that should be considered fundamentally different. There are three principle deviations of the current model from the Foucauldian; its scope, its intention to mislead about who, in fact, is watching us, and – most significantly – the lack of imposed isolation. While the central idea of using surveillance as a means to discipline has remained, the increasing globalisation of, and by, technology has rendered these adaptations necessary. While the first two deviations serve to illustrate the fact that the current model is not panoptic, the latter can be investigated as a potential threat to the entire ethos of surveillance as a means of discipline.
The first deviation to consider is the sheer scope of contemporary surveillance. Foucault quotes Bentham as describing the Panopticon as “applicable to all establishments whatsoever, in which, within a space not too large to be covered or commanded by buildings, a number of persons are meant to be kept under inspection” . It seems to be a lack of insight on the part of Foucault to not investigate this important criterion. In his zeal to apply the model as a tool of critical theory, Foucault writes, “The Panoptic schema, without disappearing as such or losing any of its properties, was destined to spread throughout the social body” (Foucault 1977, p.207). This is a fundamental contradiction in theory that has been borne out in reality. The panoptic schema necessarily requires a physical location to function. Because of the scale of societies, the Panopticon cannot be effective as an abstract tool of oppression in its true form. Borders and land area make it impossible for any individual to view all the participants of digital communication simultaneously. The technocrats who inherited the evolved form of this model have attempted to utilise mass surveillance in the form of algorithms, and thus have opened themselves to the fallibility of their own tools. An algorithm is a poor substitute for a pair of eyes, as it can be easily misled once those being watched are aware of its presence. This is the heart of the deviation; in the panoptic model, the subject is aware of the watcher, but cannot avoid being seen due to physical confinement. Another crucial point of fallibility is that, clearly, an algorithm cannot possess intuition and thus can only locate threats already accounted and programmed for; it is incapable of identifying innovation.
The second deviation of digital surveillance from the panoptic model regards the identity of the watcher, and the purpose of their surveillance. The panoptic model requires the subject to know that they are – or rather, could be at any time – watched by a public servant. As an incarcerated person, they understand that this power relationship is legitimate; not just as criminals, but also as patients, schoolchildren or any other identity which has traditionally been understood to be under the jurisdiction of the state. In the case of contemporary mass surveillance, it is less frequently state governments doing the watching than financial corporations. Corporations seek to create a fictitious bipolar power relationship, in which the only actors are governments and subjects. Anonymity is the tool that allows them to act with impunity. The most powerful digital corporations hide behind unimposing logos, such as the lower-case ‘f’ of Facebook; these networks are presented as a social commons, in which free speech and individualism are championed. Data is mined from users and sold to investors, who lobby state governments. Governments themselves become active on social media. The public is thereby convinced that the only actors are civil society and government, and that these networks are simply the new public sphere. It can generally be accepted that some digital surveillance will be carried out by governments on the grounds of pre-emptive security; but while we are aware that corporations may be surveiling us, we are less likely to accept this as legitimate, and are not expressly made aware of our discipline. In this way, surveillance is no longer a bipolar relationship between ruler and subject, as it once was, and is not carried out only for the purpose of civic order.
The third and most significant deviation is the lack of imposed isolation in digital communication. Indeed, the technocrats responsible for developing digital surveillance had this intention. In making personal profiles, users are able to have their individualism buffered by the all-encompassing, normalising web of social media sites, and as such will foster the norm of being a digital citizen. This is an ingenious modification of the panoptic model, because it absorbs the potential for reactionary movements. As Foucault writes, “Like surveillance and with it, normalisation becomes one of the great instruments of power at the end of the Classical Age” (Foucault 1977, p.184). Subjects have the illusion that they are simultaneously more individualised and more connected than ever before, in an Arendtian ‘social space’. However, self-surveillance, the ultimate result of Foucault’s panopticism, can only be assured when no outside influences can spread. If any dissent should manage to arise, it is able to spread rapidly across borders, space and timezones. The power of the norm of digital consumer culture may be transcended by the ease with which contrary ideas can spread. While it could be argued that the recent Arab Spring revolutions were covertly fostered by Western or simply corporate forces, through the media of social networking, the fact remains that the ideas and sentiments of people escalated rapidly through communication and had extreme consequences in terms of power relations. This potential should frighten technocrats. The Occupy movement utilised social media, the very invention of its enemies, and is perhaps only a shadow of future dissent. While we remain floodlit, we are no longer isolated, and this is the seminal difference between digital surveillance and the panoptic model that Foucault identified as an inevitability. Surveillance is not sufficient to pre-empt dissent in a globalised world; it is no longer effective as a means of discipline.
While Foucault applied Bentham’s vision of the Panopticon as a critical social theory, he overlooked the inapplicability of the model on a macro scale. He can be partially forgiven for this, as he cannot have predicted the advent of digital technology, or perhaps the extent of globalisation in the twenty-first century. Surveillance has, though, as he predicted, infiltrated every possible social realm. Its purpose is generally corporate, and as such we are blinded to the true identity and purpose of our watchers. While digital citizens have had agency removed from their individualism through social media, it is also possible for them to manipulate this technology to revolutionary ends if the ideas are able to spread faster than any repercussions. The Panopticon is no longer applicable as a model of surveillance, even in micro realms such as the office, where employees are now more likely to surveiled through computer activity than cameras; a metaphor for, rather than an extension of, actual vision. Even the legacy of this model is at risk, as a means of discipline, in the digital era.


Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Trans. Alan
Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books, 1977.

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This is an essay I submitted for my 300-level (final year of undergraduate study in NZ) geopolitics paper.  It discusses the effect that Arctic sea ice reduction is having on geopolitical action regarding the Northern sea routes, and how the routes came to be viewed as they are today in terms of the purpose of space.  I received A- for this assignment.  Feedback stated that I could have framed the discussion in terms of resource, commerce and military imaginaries for a better structure; and that I should have explored more fully the motivations behind the US’ opposition to Canada’s sovereign claim over the Northwest Passage.  I  also apologise for my lengthy sentences and somewhat epic style – I think it comes from reading LOTR too many times.  Please feel free to leave any feedback.

Oh and if you are a student: please don’t steal my work, you might get kicked out of school. 🙂



The Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route: Geopolitical Imaginations and Shipping Viability

The Northwest Passage (NWP) and the Northern Sea Route (NSR) are both subject to the influence of geopolitical imaginaries of prominent actors.  These imaginaries, based in classical geopolitics and the maritime discourses of industrial capitalism, have scripted action taken by both states and private organisations in the Arctic sea routes.  Two distinct, though related, categories of approach to these routes can be identified; littoral states asserting sovereignty due to security concerns, in which the routes share many characteristics; and economic potential, in which there are some similarities between approaches taken to each route by both states and industry, but overall, the two are more dissimilar.  Implications of these geopolitical approaches are thus far fairly minor, but may become more serious when ice-free passage can be guaranteed consistently.

The NWP and NSR, considering their common geographical characteristic of linking major seas via shorter routes than currently established trade seaways, have been the subject of geopolitical discourse since before the Modern Era.  The emergence of merchant capitalism out of Italian city-states in the fifteenth century spawned the geopolitical consideration of trade routes over the sea, defined principally by the Roman imperium ethos of authority.  The Dutch, who enjoyed naval hegemony and the first stock-based economy in the seventeenth century, chartered the Dutch East India Company to establish an almost global shipping network.  Aside from this space-based imaginary, by which oceans were viewed simply as voids for goods to be transported over in the most profitable way possible, expansionist maritime policies were employed by naval powers such as Britain, moving into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These were in line with the contemporary classical trend of geopolitical thought made popular by theorists such as Mackinder, in which security was the paramount consideration.

Following Renaissance advancements in cartography, various Northern European states as well as Britain attempted to penetrate the Arctic in the search for routes to East Asia.  Following (and preceding) several failed expeditions, the NWP was eventually explored more comprehensively by John Davis of Britain in 1858, and the NSR completely traversed by Nordenskiӧld in 1878.  A lack of icebreaking and meteorological technology at this point rendered the routes unusable for commercial purposes; while icebreakers entered the routes as early as the mid-twentieth century, the commercial viability of the Arctic routes is only now becoming apparent with the decline in Arctic sea ice.  While estimates are contradictory as to how soon industrial shipping may become prolific through the NWP and NSR, conflicts over sovereignty regarding the passages are receiving more academic attention.  As a separate but related issue, there is also concern in the private sector around whether or not the two passages are yet, or in fact will ever be, economically viable transport options.

Sovereignty in both the NWP and NSR is claimed by littoral states; the former by Canada, and the latter by Russia.  As regards both claims, the primary opposition comes from the United States.  While Canada maintains that the waters of the Northwest Passage are internal waters, based on the provision in Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for the rendering of straight ‘baselines’ under particular circumstances, the United States regards this area as international waters.  The criteria for the allowance of straight baselines include geographical requirements in Article 7(3) – “In localities where the coastline is deeply indented and cut into, or if there is a fringe of islands along the coast in its immediate vicinity” (United Nations, 1982) – but also espouse historical and functional use as factors which would support a case for straight baselines.  Steinberg (2014) cites the arguments of Pharand (2007) and Byers and Lalonde (2009) that the geographical criteria are met in the case of Canada, but acknowledges their difference in opinion regarding historic and functional use.  Steinberg concurs with Pharand that Canada’s case is weak on this front, particularly as UNCLOS makes a point of equating ice with water, and thus asserts that ice cannot be subject to territorial claims.  The United States asserts that the NWP waters are an international strait.  This definition suits the U.S. because the regime of innocent passage that applies to territorial waters according to UNCLOS gives way to “transit passage” in international waters (Steinberg 2014).  Under this regime, there is no requirement for military ships to make themselves known or to apply for any kind of permit to use the passage.

As Lassere (2010) notes, there is similarity between this conflict and that concerning the NSR between the U.S. and Russia, and in both conflicts the European Union supports the U.S., while Canada and Russia recognise each other’s claims as legitimate.  Here the influence of colonial era geopolitical imaginaries is clear.  States (or multilateral unions thereof) that stand to establish naval hegemony will, according to the classical geopolitical ethos of Mackinder and contemporaries, fear the growth of a polarised sector, a ‘them’ to challenge the ‘us’.  This is enacted through scripts whereby sovereignty of any singular states over naval routes is challenged vigorously, in order to keep transit networks as open as possible.

The NSR has endured the same mythological status as a possible strategic game-changer.  In a comparative absence of multilateral agreements to the NWP, sovereignty over the NSR is generally discussed more in terms of precedence, in particular the Corfu Channel Case of 1949, and that decision’s ratification in the International Law Commission’s 1950s approach to international straits in territorial zones.  In these judgments it was considered that functional use of the waterway for international shipping was necessary for definition as an international strait, and it can be argued that this criterion is not yet met in the case of either the NWP or the NSR.  While Russian state-owned enterprises are very active along the Siberian Coast, The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) considers that regular international transit shipping may not occur in the NSR until 2025 (Ho 2010).  Ho asserts that no non-Russian ships had even followed the Siberian Coast route through the NSR prior to 2002.  Russia has asserted sovereignty over the NSR with perhaps more recognition than Canada has over the NWP, due principally to its capabilities for functional use in the area.  Parallels can also be drawn between Canada and Russia’s issuing of permits as a means of seeking sovereign recognition – for shipping transit in the NWP, and for icebreaker accompaniment in the NSR – and the British issuance of whaling licenses in the Antarctic in 1908 as described by Dodds (2008), although this was successfully legitimised.

Overall, it can be said that the conflict over sovereignty in both the NWP and NSR is based on the same security-based geopolitical imaginaries; both Canada and Russia are concerned with protecting homeland security by asserting control over these passages, and the U.S. in particular fears having its security and economic hegemony compromised by regulation of transit routes.  The passages in this context are imagined as military space.  The implications of the scripts resulting from these imaginaries are currently minor; however, this is only because there is no imminent risk of a naval war that the United States, Canada or Russia might become involved in.  If these circumstances changed for the worse – and the current situation in Crimea may inflame tensions – simple disagreement over the terms of multilateral conventions could evolve into assertions of military force, particularly considering the vulnerability of both the United States and Russia to one another through the Arctic passages.

While it is related to the security-based imaginary of the NWP and NSR, an economic imaginary is also significant.  In terms of this imaginary, there are more differences between the two passages than there are similarities.  The practical challenges of Arctic shipping are reasonably prohibitive.  This is more true concerning the NWP for one salient reason; a lack of infrastructure and icebreaking support (Lasserre and Pelletier 2011).  Canada has little to invest in resource extraction compared to Russia, which has already built a strong state energy industry on which the European Union relies.  While risks posed by icebergs and surface freezing apply in the NSR as they do in the NWP, any ship running into problems in ‘Russian’ waters can expect aid from their escort, and a safe berth nearby at one of the Siberian Coast ports.  This factor, along with Russia’s already extensive extraction operations in the NSR, has contributed to the much advanced development of geopolitical imaginaries of the NSR as a resource-rich natural environment to be exploited, as compared to the NWP.  Russia’s work in encouraging this imaginary will have heavy implications if shipping becomes established through the NSR.

Ho and Lasserre and Pelletier are in agreement that for the immediate future, Arctic shipping is not viable.  Lasserre and Pelletier’s study found that most companies out of 98 surveyed were not particularly interested in expanding operations into the Arctic on a large scale.  Difficulties for private corporations are related mainly to a very large upfront investment with a dubious likelihood of return.  Reasons cited include the ice-strengthened ships necessary for insurance requirements in Arctic waters; these are inefficient in warmer waters because they are not as hydrodynamic as regular shipping vessels and therefore have a higher cost of fuel per kilometre.  Aside from this, insurance premiums in general for Arctic operations are enormous.  Added to this is the unreliability of ice cover from year to year, despite established warming.  Far more companies involved in destination/bulk shipping indicated interest in expanding Arctic operations, compared to container shipping companies.  Lasserre and Pelletier’s explanation for this is based in the essential nature of timing and schedules in the container shipping industry, which operates on a roll-on, roll-off premise.  Reliability of transit routes is of the utmost importance; this is in contrast to local destinational contracts for the bulk industry.  In general, the study concludes – like Ho’s analysis – that the shipping industry will not be thoroughly interested in operations in the NWP and NSR until infrastructure and shipping technology becomes accessible enough to negate the extra costs of investing in this market.  This will likely occur more quickly in the NSR due to Russian investment and promotion.  The NWP, on the other hand, will probably not become a viable route until ice-free Summers can be guaranteed.  Discrepancy between the routes illustrates the influence that geopolitical imaginaries fostered by particular states can have on economic action.

Implications of a shift in established maritime trade routes could be very serious for smaller economies such as New Zealand, as secondary routes are more expensive to ship along, and consumers along these routes must pay inflated prices for goods.  Environmental implications would not simply be limited to oil spills, but would include the impact of construction on the purity of Arctic ice and water, which may have unpredictable effects on native species and indigenous people.  And, of course, relating to the aforementioned security-based imaginary, economic expansion into the Arctic could have military consequences as multiple nations seek sovereignty over profitable areas.

It is clear that geopolitical imaginaries have scripted behaviour of both states and private organisations in regard to both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route.  These two routes share many aspects of a security-based, classical geopolitical imaginary, being important transit routes that serve as a dual vulnerability between Russia and the United States. The U.S. refutes these claims in its historical ambition for global military hegemony.  Economically, the passages exhibit more difference, with much greater private interest in the NSR as opposed to the NWP; this can be credited to the fostering of a resource-based imaginary by Russia.  Serious implications of these imaginaries have not been seen yet, due to the persisting unreliability and danger of both routes.  However, AMSA’s prediction of 2025 may be the year that military and economic concerns become more immediate.




Baylis, J., Owens, P., & Smith, S. (2011). The globalization of world politics: An introduction to     international relations (5th. Ed.). Oxford, Great Britain: Oxford University Press.

Blunden, M.  (2012). Geopolitics and the Northern Sea Route. International Affairs 88(1).

Dittman, P. (2009).  In Defence of Defence: Canadian Arctic Sovereignty and Security. Journal of               Military and Strategic Studies, 11(3).

Dodds K. (2008). The Ice. In Clark, N., Massey, D., & Sarre, P. (Eds.), Material Geographies (pp. 161-        212). London, England: SAGE.

Heywood, A. (2011). Global politics. Hampshire, Great Britain: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ho J (2010). The implications of Arctic sea ice decline on shipping. Marine Policy 34, 713-715.

Lasserre, F. (2011).  The Geopolitics of Arctic Passages and Continental Shelves. Public Sector Digest. Retrieved from http://www.ggr.ulaval/.ca/fileadmin/ggr/fichiers/profs/Lasserre/articles/Geopolitics.pdf

Lasserre, F. & Pelletier, S. (2011). Polar super seaways? Maritime transport in the Arctic: an analysis        of shipowners’ intentions. Journal of Transport Geography 19, 1465-1473.

Rothwell, D. R. (2012). International Straits and Trans-Arctic Navigation. Ocean Development & International Law 43, 267-282.

Steinberg P (2014). Steering Between Scylla and Charybdis: the Northwest Passage as Territorial Sea.     Ocean Development & International Law 45, 84-106.

United Nations (1982).  United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Retrieved from                 http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/UNCLOS-TOC.htm












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