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Nations, States, Rank, and Power

The differences between the concepts of nation, country, state, government, and nation-state

A nation is a group of people more extensive than a tribe or an ethnic community and shares a common language, culture, history, and religion. Several nations may exist in one geographical or administrative area. For example, in Canada, several nations, together with Québécois, identify with as nationals. There can be two nations that exist in one state, or also there can be one nation that exists in more than one state (Guy 75).

A country is understood as the entire characteristics of a geographical entity: its geographical entity and material and social-economic components of a state. A state in the international system is defined as an entity with the following characteristics; territory, government, population, and capacity to enter into relations with other states. It is this legal entity that makes states to qualify as an international legal person. The capacity of any state to enter into relations with other states gives it a leeway in the signing of treaties, forming alliances and entering into diplomatic relations with other states, and gaining membership to international organizations.

On the other hand, a government is an institutionalized process of allocating and distributing values that are the binding decision of the people. Nation-state describes two phenomena: first is used when one nation inhabits one state. A nation-state may also be used when one nation occupies a similar boundary as the state. Examples of a nation-state are Germany and France. It is estimated that 211 nation-states in the international system host 1400 nationalities in the whole world.

Superpower and its role in the international system

Superpower is s term that is used to describe a dominant state in a unipolar international system. Since the collapse of the USSR after the Cold War, the United States of America has remained the only superpower. In the international system, a superpower performs the role of world policeman. It can also exercise leverage over other states since it ranks high in all power components, or rather its power capability is high.

Middle power is that state with power capabilities slightly below that of the superpower and can demonstrate its ability to challenge the superpower. Their role in the international system is to check on and challenge the superpower. Middle powers provide competition in the polarity regime.

The difficulties of measuring power among the states comprising the international system

There have been several difficulties in measuring power and power potential among states. This is because of the dynamism of the variables. The emergence of sophisticated weapons, advanced information technology, and other agents of globalization rendered some instruments of power capability obsolete. For example, geography, which was considered a blessing, is the worst affected by these developments. The military is no longer an essential indicator of measuring power among states. This is because states have opted for soft power, and hard power has been overtaken by events. Also, unlike the 20th century, the military is no longer a measure of might because states have considered war as unfashionable.

Factors that comprise soft power: Soft power is defined as the ability of a state to achieve its objectives through attraction and not coercion. This may be achieved through culture, ideals, and policies.

Among the factors that comprise soft power are propaganda, international travel, diplomacy, and cultural exchange. Propaganda is a current mode of soft power. Several wars have been fought without the sound of the bullet or the tanks. Propaganda involves winning as many friends as possible. The Cold War was the most protracted than any other war, yet there was no spilling of blood or property destruction like the first and the Second World War.

Another form of soft power is diplomacy. Diplomacy has been at the core of international relations. It is actualized by establishing diplomatic relations with a particular state and then sending a representative. Ambassadors or high commissioners are the individuals tasked by their states to take care of the home state’s affairs in a foreign state.

Another form of soft power is cultural exchange. This is achieved through a particular state, establishing a cultural center in a foreign country, or through mass media. During the Cold War, America had Radio Europe that helped propagate its ideals to the European community.

The advantages and disadvantages of the various types of economic systems employed among the world’s states

The two forms of economic system employed by states are capitalism and communism or socialism. Communism is an economic system in that society wholly owns and controls production factors, while capitalism, on the other hand, is where ownership and factors of production are in the hands of a single individual or rather a private owner. Among the features of communism are communal production, profits are appropriated equally, unlike the self-regulated economy of capitalism, communism is a government economy. Capitalism is driven by the dynamics of the invisible hand of the market.

Capitalism is exploitative. Capitalism is driven by the desire of private owners to accumulate a lot of profit. On the other side, communism is like a government project aimed at enhancing social welfare.

I’m afraid I have to disagree that the GDP should be used as an instrument for measuring economic growth. This is because GDP only considers the monetary aspect of the economy, hence ignoring essential factors like the environment. GDP also ignores household productions that are the primary responsibility of women in developing countries. GDP heavily relies on the US dollar as a standard currency, too; it ignores the monetary policies of different states and treats other currencies as devalued.

Thinking About Government

Differentiation of politics from government in relation to accountability, constitutionalism, popular sovereignty, and rule of law

Politics is understood as influential behavior that leads to making public decisions, whether within or without the institutional framework of government. On the other hand, a government is an institutionalized process of allocating and distributing values as per the binding decision of the people (Guy 100).

Accountability: accountability is a characteristic of a democratic form of government where the leaders are held responsible for their actions of commission or omission

Constitutionalism: constitutionalism is a form of government where the constitution is the supreme law

Popular sovereignty: this implies popular participation by the general public in state matters. It is also used in reference to liberal democracy, where the popular will of the people prevails in the conduct of state affairs. In this case, the minority have their say while the majorities have their way.

Rule of law: this implies that no one is superior to the law, and it is the law that guides the conduct of national affairs.

Attributes of democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian governments

Democratic state

A democratic state has the following characteristics.

Popular participation

In a democratic institution, decisions are always taken to vote. The majority rule over the minority; consequently, there is no dissent in a democratic, and always consensus is the order of the day.

Rule of law

In a democratic state, the law is always esteemed. Every individual is equal before the law, and in case one violates the law, one will be according to the law, and the due process of the law is followed. The supreme law in a democratic state is the constitution.

Transparency and accountability

There exists a greater degree of transparency in a democratic state. Leaders are held accountable for their actions. In liberal democracies, corruption is often prohibited by the law, and any citizen involving in corruption is held accountable.

Political parties

Democratic states are characterized by the presence of political parties who often compete for political power. It is this plurality of democratic states that competition for power is highly regarded.

Periodic elections

Democratic states also practice elections. These elections are often considered competitive and are held after a particular period like after four years in the United States of America and five years in the case of Britain.

Canada is regarded as democratic because it has the above characteristics as opposed to China, which does not value democracy, and they practice personal rule. Canada can allow open competitiveness, and the due process of the rule of law is upheld are stronger in Canada exhibit the basic tenets of democracy, which include majority rule and minority rights.

Authoritarian rule

The following are essential characteristics of totalitarian rule.

First is limited pluralism; in a totalitarian government system, political contests are only allowed to a greater extent. They practice elections, but the elections which are not free and fair. The suppression of opposition characterizes most of their elections. Authoritarian regimes only allow elections as a matter of formality and a public relation exercise. In this type of government, the activities of civil society and other interest groups are not tolerated. Term limits are not upheld.

Low level of popular participation, authoritarian governments have what is referred to as a parochial political culture where there are a dominant leader and subjects who don’t have a say in running state affairs.

The personalized rule is also a feature of authoritarian governments. Authoritarian regimes have lifetime president who rules by suppressing any dissent from the citizens. A totalitarian government is characterized by an umbrella social and political organization. They have a women league, youth league, which are directly linked to the single party. This type of government often experiences high vote turnout during elections since only one candidate presents himself for election. Totalitarian governments also have a monolithic and absolute ideology maintained and propagated through repressive and violent state apparatus.

The main characteristics of parliamentary and presidential governments.

In a parliamentary system of government, the prime minister is the head of government, and the overall responsibility in the management of the affairs of the state is a parliament. The parliament is allowed to scrutinize and to attack the government publicly. Also, in a parliamentary system, political parties guarantee an opposition that performs the watchdog functions of parliament and is conducted by the opposition parties. A perfect example of a parliament system of government is that of Great Britain.

On the other hand, the presidential system of government upholds the principle of the separation of powers between the executive, legislature, and judiciary. Also, in a presidential system, the general audit function is the product of political competition between the legislature and the executive, especially in the formulation of the law.

Both the presidential and parliamentary system of government has strict measures of checks and balances.

Executives

Capabilities of the executive branch in formulating public policy

In Canada, the cabinet exercises one of the decisive roles in the political system. It is also regarded as the most powerful institution in Canada because I get support from the prime minister’s office and the together Privy Council office, and the treasury board.

For example, a parliamentary government system might be a strong watchdog that will check against the executive’s excesses. For instance, in the United States, the president only exercises the executive powers through a presidential decree, which grants it leeway in making decisions. Congress is too strong that it can prevent the president from discharging its duties.

Parliament has asserted itself as the dominant entity in checking against the misuse of power by the executive.

The functions of the executive branch of government in the United States and Canada

The Canadian executive is a mixture of the legislative process and the entire bureaucracy. This is as opposed to the US congress, which is an independent government body. Also, in the United States of America, an executive decision can not go unquestioned, unlike in Canada, where cabinet decision is final and often legitimate and can not be questioned.

In discharging its duties, the president of America must first convince Congress; hence failure to do this may make Congress render his agenda ineffective. The united states of America have term limits, which are available to the prime minister of Canada. The USA’s massive resources provide the president with economic abilities that are not available to the prime minister of Canada.

In Canada, the executive consists of the prime minister and the cabinet. The prime minister of Canada has the authority to appoint the Privy Council and the senate. It is also him who chose members of his cabinet without consulting any party. The prime minister can hire and fire any state officer. Members of parliament who oppose the prime minister will be faced with the responsibility of their nomination papers not being signed in the next federal election.

Comparing the executive in Canada and the USA, the Canadian executive is more powerful. This is because there are minimal checks against Canada’s prime minister, and the prime minister can make a unilateral decision. This is opposed to the executive in the USA, where a strong congress checks their actions.

Works Cited

Guy, James. People, Politics and Government: A Canadian perspective. Scarborough: Pearson Education, 2001. Print.

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