film review

Predestination (2014) | Film Review

predestination-poster

Predestination is one of those perfect films – one you don’t expect to leave an impact or say anything new or be particularly memorable (if the Hollywood-like trailer was to be believed). Then after you’ve seen it, you walk away feeling like your entire worldview has shifted.

What if I could put him in front of you? The man that ruined your life. If I could guarantee that you’d get away with it – would you kill him?

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essays

The evolution of state and global security

Major essay written for POLS5130: International Peace & Security at the University of New South Wales, Semester 2 2014. Final mark: Distinction

Drawing on your own analysis of a case study, explain the meaning of security in contemporary global politics.

Introduction

The term “security” has conventionally denoted the condition of a state being free from harm or threat (Devetak, et al 2012:499). Traditionally security concentrated on the sovereign state being free from threat by war waged by other states; a strongly realist interpretation that has informed foreign policy and the meaning of security in global politics (Evans & Newnham 1998:490). However, since the end of the Cold War, post-positivist schools of thought have challenged this and allowed for the theory and practice of security to include non-traditional ideas, such as human security and environmental security. This paper demonstrates that although there is no single definition of ‘security’, the concept remains strongly Western-centric and relies heavily on traditional interpretations of international relations, despite its evolution to include non-traditional agendas. Health and human security theories have been incorporated into the practice of global and statist security, but they are treated in a traditional manner. The meaning of security in contemporary global politics is exemplified by the international response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The purpose of this paper is not to pass judgement on, but rather to explain, that security still ultimately strives for an absence of threats to the sovereign state. This paper will first briefly discuss how classical values have been enriched by “new” values to inform the meaning of security. It will then investigate how health and human security concerns are treated in theory and in practice. This will lead into an exploration of how infectious diseases and epidemics, as non-traditional security threats, are securitised and dealt with in a traditional manner by predominantly Western states (McInnes & Lee 2006). An analysis of the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will demonstrate how security in contemporary global politics has evolved beyond its realist and traditional parameters, incorporating more ‘globalist perspective’ ideologies (Davies 2010) with the influence of non-government actors like the World Health Organisation and Médecins Sans Frontières. Ultimately, security remains Western-centric and steeped in classical values.

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essays

The relevance of sovereignty

Major essay written for POLS5120: Global Politics at the University of New South Wales, Semester 1 2014. Final mark: Distinction

The concept of sovereignty is still relevant to the discipline of International Relations. Discuss.

The concept of sovereignty is fundamental to the discipline of International Relations. It is a broad and encompassing theoretical and practical application, both historically and contemporarily, and in this present day and age it is almost impossible to discuss international relations without at least referring to sovereignty and sovereign states as a core aspect. Sovereignty is generally accepted as being the concept that allows states to assert authority within a distinct territory, as well as allowing states to assert membership in the international community (Evans & Newnham 1998:504). However, there is debate amongst some scholars regarding the future of sovereignty and whether or not it should remain relevant to the discipline. This paper explores what sovereignty is, and critically examines arguments made by scholars who suggest that sovereignty is no longer relevant. This paper investigates the role of sovereignty today from both theoretical and practical perspectives. The possible shape or form sovereignty could take in the future will also be discussed. It will ultimately be argued that even though the concept of sovereignty is flawed, it is the most effective basis for contemporary world politics and is still relevant to the International Relations.

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essays

Israel, the US, and over-reliance

Major essay written for POLS5160: The Middle East in Global Politics at the University of New South Wales, Semester 2 2015. Final mark: 88% (High Distinction)

Over-reliance on the United States is a potential long-term weakness for Israel. Discuss this argument.

Introduction

“Without support from the US, we are weak and isolated,” Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said in May 2015. “Without US support, we cannot fight as long in war, nor achieve our aims so that the post-war situation will be better.” (Bob 2015). Though as dramatic as one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tirades, Livni’s comments were not without basis. Israel is increasingly isolated in the world; at odds with its Arab neighbours, and facing more and more vitriol from European countries who no longer bother to conceal their distaste for the only Jewish state. The United States, since Israel declared independence in 1948, has been its constant – and only ‘true’ – ally over the years in economic partnership, strategic cooperation and diplomacy. But this “special relationship” has come at a cost: orchestrated over-reliance on the United States, which is a weakness for Israel in the long term. Although US-Israeli relations have been troubled for years now, the tense relationship between President Obama and Netanyahu is not the main cause. Israel and the US are politically diverging and indeed have never been as close or as beneficial to Israel as is commonly believed; the US is war-weary and wants to reduce its military presence in the Middle East, and in fifty years the US may no longer be the major global economic power. Israel’s continued reliance on the US has come at the cost of meaningful relationships with other countries. This paper looks at the “special relationship” and over-reliance Israel has with the United States, which leads to an analysis of how the US’s future interests and pivot to Asia present as a weakness for Israel in the long term. It then concludes with a discussion of alternatives for Israel, including greater independence and possibilities of the future of its increasing ties with China.

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essays

China’s Japan policy and the influence of historical memory

Major essay written for POLS5127: China and Asia-Pacific Security at the University of New South Wales, Semester 2 2015. Final mark: 79%

How has historical memory influenced China’s Japan policy? Discuss with reference to possible pathways to improve the bilateral relationship.

Introduction

One would be hard-pressed to find a scholar or politician who did not agree that Sino-Japanese relations have reached their lowest point since the two countries restored formal diplomatic affairs in 1972 (Qiu 2006:25). After several decades of “economically hot but politically cold” relations (Cui 2012:201) – where economic and cultural relations between China and Japan experienced an extraordinary improvement – political and public perceptions of each other have drastically deteriorated since the turn of the 21st century. The April 2005 anti-Japanese demonstrations that shocked Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities are perhaps one of the most identifiable symptoms of the souring relationship, the causes of which are rooted deeply in the Chinese peoples’ collective memories of the historical animosity between the two countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China website (MFA PRC) itself discusses the grave difficulties facing the bilateral relationship between China and Japan since 2013. Historical memory is the basis of the complex Sino-Japanese relations, exacerbating existing social, political and military tensions and colouring almost every aspect of the bilateral relationship. However, while there is a very real, long-suppressed anger on the side of China that was not properly reconciled, the influence of historical memory on China’s Japan policy is detrimental not only to the bilateral relationship but also to China itself. The rise of revisionist nationalism in Japan in the face of China’s increasing hostility further aggravates the situation. This paper addresses the current political and social tensions that exist between China and Japan; specifically, how Chinese nationalism has increased state demand for less peacemaking policies and attitudes towards Japan – even if it comes at the cost of undermining China’s national interests. The role of historical memory is then assessed, with specific attention to the Rape of Nanking as both a real hurt and a convenient tool for the state. Though there is no quick-fix to improve the bilateral relationship, possible pathways to improve it are discussed.

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