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Political Science Essay Outlines Exam Review.docx

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McMaster University
Political Science
Stephanie Ross

Political Science Exam Review 1. Discuss the system of checks and balances in the Canadian political system – i.e. the relationship between the Crown, the Prime Minister, the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Judiciary.Are these checks an appropriate way of managing political power in modern democratic Canada? Introduction • Canadian political system has many checks and balances in order to make sure power is distributed evenly • Canada is a constitutional monarchy, with the Queen at the head of power and there are different roles within the government • The model was first developed in ancient Greece and Rome o Under this model, the state is divided into branches, each with separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with the powers associated with the other branches • Legislatures are crucial institutions in any political system, but they are especially important in democracies, without them, power would be oppressive and highly concentrated o But, legislatures are not a fair representation Checks and Balances • Important to understand the limits of the following (1 sentence each) o Refer to table • Checks outside government: o Federal systems like in Canada, there is the power that is divided between different levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal) • Theory vs reality- in theory there are checks o Canada makes limited use of separation of powers in practice, although in theory it distinguishes between branches of government Solutions • Systems like the ones in France, where you have the principles of recall, voters can recall their representatives if they do not correctly represent the views of the public • Countries like Israel & Netherlands have that voters can choose between a list of candidates, offered by different parties so it could accurately represent the views of people (wide range of minority interests present in Israel) o If they do not do this in Canada-- views of minorities are not geographically concentrated and therefore, the people get neglected. • Parliamentarianism should be more democratic as it is viewed as more flexible, conductive to stability than presidentialism o Parliamentarianism is the principle that parliament is the final arbiter in the choice of the head of government • Legislatures should hold the government to account for their actions-- it’s important in democracies for them to ensure what they promised, legislatures contribute to the formation of public opinion 2. 3. Discuss the political science of terrorism: as a contestable political category, as a recurrent historical phenomenon, and as a modern policy concern. What do you make of Mueller’s argument that: “The costs of terrorism very often come mostly from the fear and consequent reaction (or overreaction) it characteristically inspires (qualities stoked by the terrorism industry), not from its direct effects which are usually comparatively limited.” In light of your discussion, what strategy would most effectively reduce “terrorist” violence? Introduction • Terrorists are non state actors • Politics associated with defining terrorism- notoriously loaded • Our violence is legitimate and their violence is illegitimate? • Terrorism is treated as a sociological issue- product of social movements • Parallels between state violence and ‘terrorists’ o Both kill civilians o Both are directed at obtaining political ends o Both cause terror in their wake Contestable Political Category • Terrorism + state violence • State Terrorism o Capture cases where a government will deliberately inflict violence on its own citizens in an attempt to intimidate and silence opponents o French Revolution- public execution and trials o Soviet Union o Nazi Germany o Government in SouthAfrica during apartheid • State-Sponsored Terrorism o Cases where a state government offers material support to a non-state terrorist group o Located abroad (Iran sponsoring terrorists in Lebanon, US in early 1980’s responsible for arming and support a group of rebels to fight against leftist government) • Non-state Terrorism o “Terrorism is the intentional murder of defenseless non-combatants, with the intent of instilling fear of mortal danger amidst a civilian population as a strategy designed to advance political ends” (Meisels) o 9/11 everyone overreacted- spent more money in responding than the actual terrorist attack Historical Phenomenon • Terrorism is not scientifically recent • Fight against terrorism, money spent and damage costs is astronomical • 9/11 is not a unique category of event • Anarchist Wave (1880’s-1920’s) o Roosevelt made an appeal of a crusade against international terrorism- due to assassinations of different political leaders- new technology being utilized (dynamite) • Anti-colonial Wave (1920’s-1960’s) o Non state actors target actors of the colonial state- in order to achieve freedom of colonial rule • Leftist Wave (1960’s-90’s) o Begins in Vietnam war, terrorists movements in developed and developing worlds • Religious Wave (1979-?) o Not made up solely of Islamist movements even though they get most of the press o Started with Iranian Revolution o Sikh (Babbar Khalsa) o Buddhist/Hindu/Christian-Aum Shinrikyo Modern Policy Concern • Generated out of fear • Culture o We don't understand other people’s culture o Modern terrorism is due to a clash of different cultures o Characterized modern terrorism as a cultural reaction against the forces of Western globalization • Cost effectiveness • Globalization (process) • Westernization • Religion, religion tolerance, generalizations with terrorism Worldwide Conflict 1. War of Princes • From the Peace of Westphalia (1648) until the French revolution • Suggests that main causes for war were about kings and emperors trying to get control over territories – sovereign state was being constructed- eliminate spheres of feudalism 2. War of Peoples • From the French Revolution until World War I • Self identity- nations could control their own destinies 3. War of Ideologies • Beginning with the Russian Revolution (1917) and lasting until the end of the Cold War • Different ideologies that circled the world 4. Clash of Civilizations? • According to Huntington: “The fundamental source of conflict in the new world will not be primarily ideological or economic. The great division among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of Civilizations will dominate global politics” • When one civilization interacts with another the conflict will spread • Reasons: o Differences among civilizations o Cultural characteristics are less mutable o Globalization o De-westernization of elites in non-Western areas o Economic regionalism Mueller • Terrorism actually causes rather little damage and the likelihood that nay individual will become a victim is microscopic • When terrorism becomes really extensive we generally no longer call it terrorism, but war • The economic destruction on 9/11 was unprecedented • Many terrorist incidents since 2001have relied on conventional methods • Reactions to terrorism are very costly • Politicians and bureaucrats may feel that, given the public concern on the issue, they will lose support if they appear to be downplaying the dangers of terrorism
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