At the beginning of the semester, when I selected this topic, I was somewhat nervous that I would run out of subjects to talk about.
I don’t quite understand why I had this fear—it is a reality of life now that people move around, that people can reach out to each other from opposite sides of the globe, and that people may act upon the thoughts of a person in another part of the world. Opportunities are no longer limited to the countries around you—oceans and borders are easier to cross than ever before.
In the latest disaster to hit Europe, nine hundred migrants died on the way from Libya. Europe has declared publicly that it cannot take any more migrants, for fear that each individual society will not be able to handle further dramatic increases in population. While European countries will be increasing aid going to search and rescue efforts, as well as towards eliminating human trafficking, they will also put effort into preventing immigration to begin with.
When I took IR 210, USC’s introductory class on international relations, we were repeatedly tested on the definition of the nation-state. Two of the defining characteristics of a nation-state was its population and its borders. A government’s ability to control and protect both were how it derived its authority, and how a nation-state would define itself.
While there will continue to be nation-states, international problems are no longer simply problems between nation-states, but problems that transcend national boundaries. The dysfunction of states within themselves prevents them from not only tackling problems within their own state, but also from being able to coordinate with other states.
As a student at USC, I thought maybe that I was imagining that the world was in more turmoil than before. Maybe in my young life, I hadn’t seen too much. But it’s a commonly expressed sentiment, not only among professors, but also among leaders such as Bill Clinton, who warned of new problems (and benefits) from the Internet age. We are in an unusually turbulent age, fueled by the tech revolution that has come from personal computers and smartphones and the Internet in general. It is more critical than ever to be an informed citizen in order that we make decisions on the basis of sound facts, since this is a practically unprecedented time in our history.