What Diplomacy is Really About

Diplomacy is the general interaction between two or more beings, be it states, individuals, or organizations, that represent a cause bigger than itself.

It is an amalgamation of negotiation and advocacy paralleled with representing the interests of a specific public or agenda. Diplomacy is characterized by the act of representation – where representatives of an interest or a state advocate for their cause and then negotiate in order to realize their plans or expectations.

While the word “diplomacy” has been around since the premature governments of early years, it’s meaning has since changed. It has taken on definitions that fit the political scenarios on the present day. This goes to show that diplomacy, just like the act of governing, is a dynamic concept and changes with the change in the mindset of the public as well as the resources available to them.

Presently, diplomacy encompasses discussions that strive for implementing national interests. But primordially, diplomacy has been cast in vastly two groups that are not that hard to fathom: failed diplomacy and successful diplomacy.

The most important elements of success in a diplomacy are that all the negotiating parties walk away with at least a part of their expectations met and that neither of the parties are completely satisfied with the solution that has been reached upon. It is essential in a successful diplomacy that after discussions, all members involved still have the will and resources to continue these discussions and perhaps even branch out to cover even broader topics. In consequence, a successful diplomacy is one which paves ways for more agendas to be discussed later on and that harnesses a civil relationship between those involved.

A failed diplomacy is that in which either one or few parties gain all the benefits while the remaining walk away with little success. A failed diplomacy is also one in which the relations between the parties involved, instead of getting strengthened, become more hostile. In other words, if the parties are walking away from the negotiations with less optimism than what they came with, the diplomacy has failed.

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Interpretive Courts

As someone who ardently identifies as a liberal, I always thought that having a Supreme Court with mostly (if not all) liberal judges would be the most ideal situation in a democracy.

It is for this reason that I found myself a little anxious about the retirement of the Supreme Court Judge, Anothony Kennedy, and the subsequent need for Trump to elect another judge to the court. Quite obviously, Trump will choose a judge who identifies as a conservative and naturally I was worried that most liberal laws that have been enacted would be in danger of being overturned.

The most obvious law that could be jeopardized is the one that came about through the Roe vs Wade case. Access to reproductive health care as well as abortion have been at the forefront of the liberal- conservative debate for decades and it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to think that this issue will be brought up to the court again. Even the Casey vs Planned Parenthood case, which framed equal and easier access to abortion nationwide, has a great probability to be jeopardized especially since Kennedy had been the key fifth vote in this case.

But I have since realized that the court is not a place to advocate for ideals. It is a place to advocate for the constitution. The Supreme Court judges are exceptionally brilliant students of the law who know that their work is not to make laws according to their beliefs, but according to what the constitution states.

As Chief Justice Roberts said, “judges do not seek to impose their own views into laws, but only seek to make laws under the indifferent guidance of the constitution.”

While there are many grey areas in the constitution that can leave judges to interpret the text on their own which could be tainted with their personal beliefs, largely the constitution makes it very difficult for the judges to make laws that aren’t adherent to the ideals already imposed within the text. Leaving social progress in the hands of the court would become extremely dangerous and could hinder the federal system in the democracy.

Courts aren’t a platform for advocating revolutionary changes, they are a platform for merely implementing them into law.

The Core of the Abortion Debate

During a friendly discussion about politics, I encountered a question, “what are your views on abortion and how do you think about it from the point of view of the baby.” While the question in itself was kind of ignorant, I knew that this person was genuinely curious and wanted to learn more about the topic.

I am pro choice.

That being said, even if you are pro life or you don’t really have a stand on this topic, you must know that there is no “point of view of the baby” because technically, it is an underdeveloped fetus. It has no sentience, thoughts, or feelings. A beating heart does not equate feelings. Breathing does not equate sentience. And that’s just a fact, it is not an opinion.

So really, there is only the point of view of the mother/pregnant person. And it is because of this fact that I choose to be pro choice. There is only the point of view of the pregnant person and that is why the decision to have an abortion should be left to the pregnant person.

The very idea that the government needs to be involved in such a personal decision, that the decision of the person carrying the pregnancy should be overlooked by those just because of differing ethical beliefs, is absolutely nonsensical to me.

The core of the abortion debate falls back into the infamous question, whether the fetus is alive or not or whether the rights of the fetus can be terminated by the pregnant person.

Personally, I feel like that question has a very obvious answer that some people just don’t want to look at – their vision being tainted by religious or antiquated beliefs and all.

Even though the fetus is “alive” it is not living. It’s brain is so underdeveloped that it cannot even form a shadow of thought, it cannot feel anything, it cannot survive outside the womb – or in other words, it is simply not a human being.

So how can we talk about abortion in terms of the fetus? We cannot. And that is an incredibly simple idea to understand, but just like most simple ideas go (ending racism, sexism, homophobia) the human race takes an inordinately long time to understand them.

The decision to not carry the pregnancy to full term lies solely with the pregnant person and I look forward to the time when this simple fact is more easily understood by more people.

The Country of Dying Dreams

While Trump has made many bad decisions during his almost two years as President of the United States, one of the most notorious and controversial of these is Trump’s initiative to negate the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) act and introduce a Republican immigration bill. This new bill, if and when introduced, would be highly prejudiced and restrictive in terms of giving visas to “dreamers” especially those hailing from South America and Asia.

The thing that gets me really riled is the blatant hypocrisy that forms the bases of any immigration act in the USA – the fact that US in itself was founded by immigrants from the Great Britain after a subsequent massacre of the Native American population. How can people who thrived from liquid migration turn their back so severely on those who are trying to do the same thing – only this time without a blood-curdling genocide?

In so many ways, the history of US immigration – right from the arrival of Columbus to the forceful evacuation and tearing apart of innocent, hardworking families – has reminded me of the Holocaust. Christopher Columbus waged a war against the Native population, destroying their lives, their culture, and their history to the point that our only reliable source left for learning about the lives of the Natives are the few remaining Natives themselves.

Fast forward two hundred years to today and now we have the Trump administration tearing away children from the families of undocumented immigrants and putting them in “camps” not much unlike the concentration camps on Nazi Germany. There are children going missing under the administration of  the POTUS, children who are sick, whose educations have come to a sudden standstill, who are go to bed at night not knowing when or if they will ever get to see their parents again.

I cannot think of a better definition of the violation of basic human rights. There was a time, a brief passing time, when US was considered the land where dreams come true. But if it’s political agenda keeps going in this same direction, I am afraid that this same country will become the land of dying dreams.

A Generation Of Radicals

The “millennials” or the “new generation” is often regarded as the generation of radicals, mostly radicalism on the left side. I have always been apprehensive of the term “radical,” because historically it was used almost parallel to fascism. But recently I have started to realize that perhaps just like the change in political and social views with the change in the generation, there has also been a change in the general verbatim.

When I read articles about pressing political issues I rarely come across any that give an unbiased view of the matter at hand – and it is something that I, too, am “guilty” of. As a liberal, I do tend to read, hear, and dwell more into liberal opinions. It has become increasingly hard to look at issues with omniscience – it’s almost as if the world today has acquired a black and white form. It has been divided into liberal and republican, leftist or rightist, those who voted for Trump and those who did not.

And while I agree that there are nuances within every political or social movement, that there are differences in the views of two people who may identify as liberals – but when we view the larger picture we ignore those nuances. Perhaps that helps us feign a stronger unity, to do away with those slight differences that might set us apart. But I can’t help but wonder if ignoring these ridges of differing opinions is creating a cloud of ignorance. Are we ignoring matters that could be settled with careful negotiations only to help us feel like we have stayed true to what we believe in? And is what we believe in as uncomplicated as two political parties that have made their way into our vernacular due to western hegemony?

I have always felt strongly opposed to anyone who would say they support right wing politics, but I am beginning to expand my views in order to believe in not a particular side, but a movement that can encompass what benefits every human being and every ecosystem alike.

Do Religious Tendencies Divide or Unite?

While the rape of the eight year old girl from Kathua District has recently been enshrined on social media and had yet again brought forward a surge of youth activists, it has also moved the shrouded nature on Indian secularism. I am not going to talk about the horrible and inhumane acts of the rapists here, but rather on how these acts were defended.

Many supporters of the rapists, and yes it is a very sad truth that every rape story has an undeniable line of people who support the rapist, said that this gang rape was done in the name of religion.

The Hindu-Muslim communal conflict has predated Partition in the Indian society, and many religious extremists treat human bodies as commodities to be conquered in order to establish religious supremacy.

Asifa was drugged and raped in a temple with policemen and priests being the perpetrators. When her body was being taken for burial by her heartbroken parents, they were tantalized by near-by conservative Hindus and were forced to bury their daughter in another a village.

This entire situation really brings up the question whether religious tendencies divide or unite. As an agnostic, I left my belief of religion purely because I did not support an institutionalized form of antiquated ideals that were dictating how I should live my life. And while I do believe that there should be a very clear distinction that separates religion from the state and from how we treat others, I always thought that religion created a community that could bring people together for their own  mental well being.

But when communities like this start taking their freedom and respect from the state for granted, I do start to wonder if the flaw is not in the religious institutions but in the government apparatus.

Religious tendencies have done nothing but divided us in the political arena. While they do unite us in our social lives, we must realize that our religious beliefs have led us to support organizations whose actions we might have otherwise condemned.

When it comes to coming together for the sake of humanity, our wants from our state are the same: we wants our fundamental rights to be respected and ensured. But it is our tenacious grip on religious “morals” that hinders us from giving the same rights to others that we wish to get.

So I stress again on the inherent flaw in my country’s legislative apparatus: the state-controlled secularism. India is secular only within the fading lines of its constitution, but in reality it has been perforated with religious supremacists from our neighboring houses to important offices in the government. What India needs is not another candle march, but a cohesive amendment to its executive bodies.

Capitalist Culture

Capitalism is a largely right wing belief that the state should be completely withdrawn from the internal economy of the country and that the economy should be left, quite irretrievably, at the hands of large businesspeople.
While businesses should certainly have a hand in directing the direction of the growth of the country’s economy, they shouldn’t be allowed a monopoly in this aspect that affects the lives of all the citizens. State intervention is absolutely necessary in order to oversee a sustainable and just economic growth. Entrepreneurs and businessmen participate in the economy primarily for generating profit for themselves and not for the collective growth of the society.
The capitalist culture models itself around an extreme form of laissez-faire where the government and the industries are isolated from one another. And if the break down of communist institutions since the ending of Cold War have taught us anything, it’s that an economy that functions on an extremist ground is destined to collapse.
We need a form of economy in our countries that not only allows us the space to grow as entrepreneurs and gives us the flexibility to expand our financial aspirations, but is also liable to us for creating an environment where every citizen can be guaranteed a comfortable standard of life. It is our fundamental right to be free from exploitation, and that includes the exploitation of businesses on fiscal aspect of the economy due to their advantaged position.
Most capitalists misinterpret the notion of socialism. I have heard arguments from the right wing saying that socialism is “snatching away the hard workings of one person and distributing half of it to people who don’t work as hard.” People think that socialism is dividing the hard-earned profits of one person and unfairly giving it to other people.

Ugly

Menstruation isn’t pretty. But that doesn’t mean that it’s something bad or something evil. We, as a society, are increasingly coming together to realize that menstruation is just another bodily function and it shouldn’t be overshadowed by taboos.

Quite recently, I was having a conversation with an acquaintance and he mentioned that abortion is ugly. He said that he had seen some pictures of abortion being performed and they looked ugly and that was the reason he was pro life.

He’s not alone though, many pro life advocates stand insensitivity in front of abortion clinics and throw photos of surgical abortions at women, shouting at them not to “murder” their child.

The fact is, any sort of surgery looks ugly when it’s being performed. Menstruation looks ugly. Even giving birth looks ugly. In photos, they are all bloodied and just something we wouldn’t willingly incorporate into our daily sights. But that doesn’t mean that any of these things are bad and that they should be eradicated or hidden.

I am all for learning the reason behind why certain people choose to be pro life and I appreciate hearing opinions that differ from mine, but more often than not the pro life stance is based on such antiquated and superficial ideals that it really makes me wonder if it’s even worth calling it a movement.

(Photo from Ladybird)

Repeal the 8th

The 8th constitutional amendment of the Irish constitution restricts the fundamental rights of the pregnancy person, saying that the “unborn child” (fetus) has the right to life that is equal to the life of the mother. Besides the fact that this amendment fails to recognize non-binary pregnant people and trans men, it also breaches the pregnant person’s right to full bodily autonomy.

Repeal the 8th is a movement initiated to repeal this amendment through the referendum held by the current government of Ireland. This moment seeks to give back the rights to pregnant people that were snatched away by a largely conservative, male, and Catholic legislating body.

To all those who want to #repealthe8th, and to all those who trust woman and doctors and face the realities – you need to play your part. Oireachtas can pass legislation for a referendum but it’s up to us to talk to family and friends and explain why we need to repeal. Even though if you are not Irish, spreading comprehensive awareness about the need for safe and accessible abortion facilities is a key aspect through which you can play your part.

Abortions will continue to exist in the society. Whether they are legal or not, women will continue to seek abortions during situations of unwanted pregnancy. It is up to us to ensure that these women are not dying in back alley abortions due to conservative and antiquated laws that regulate the female reproductive system.

Politics, Religion, and Idealism

The vision of a polity without the perforations of religious ideals has been advocated by many thinkers, but none as ardently as the late Stephen Hawking. He articulated the negative affects of consuming political processes on the basis of a particular religion through numerous talks about atheism. He provided a starting space for many people, including myself, to dwell in the greater meaning of existence without being restrained by the antiquated conditions of religion.

Having a strong political entity and a prospering State without any appropriation of fundamental rights is only possible when a clear line is drawn between religion and the government. Ideas of development need to flourish without being superseded with religious notions.

Even first world countries that claim to be secular are shadowed with the prevalent beliefs of Christianity where politicians actively defy liberal bills on the sole standing that they are antithetical with their religious beliefs.

This undue interference of  an individual, organisation, or institution in the functioning of the government body is called religious supremacy. Religious Supremacy is the idea that religious beliefs have the authority to overpower the coherent functioning of the state in order to re-impose antiquated norms that they are accustomed to.

It is in memory of Stephan Hawking and his incredible scientific endeavors that I ask for a redefining of political institutions, including world organizations like UN, to have a clear distinction between politics, religion, and idealism.