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Geopolitics of Emotion is a book written by Dominique Moisi. He is a renowned professor and a political analyst. In his book, he emphasizes that in order to understand international politics, one has to consider the emotions behind the leading continents conflict. He says that emotions control the relationship of a group of nations with the rest of the world. Moisi examines, in his book, political trends in the world from the perspective of emotions. He further argues that fear, humiliation and hope are to blame for the changes experienced in the world politics. This book is the first to raise the concept of subjectivity in response to the 9/11 in the world. He further shows how emotions interact and clash, hence shaping international discourse. For example, he illustrates how fear dominates the western countries while humiliation dominates the Arab and Muslim world. This fuels the hate in Islamic extremists for the west resulting in acts of terror.
Samuel Huntington author of the clash of civilization (1993) argued that the elementary source of conflict in the world after the cold war was neither ideological nor economical but cultural. Moisi demonstrates that the world's division after 9/11 was by more than cultural faults between nations and civilization. He goes further to characterize geopolitics as a “clash of emotions”. He explains how the culture of fear, humiliation and hope are reshaping the world.
He gives examples of how emotions have been present in international politics. He mentions the religious wars in the 17th and 18th centuries, the French revolution, the 20th century war between ideologies communisms and Nazis. He states that the world today is transparent and interdependent where it can no longer be ignorant on the state of one another. He further states that people cannot pretend to be ignorant any more towards the plight of others in the community. The rich know how the poor are living, and the poor know how the rich are living. This brings about emotions in the day today life. Moisi uses the definitions to remap the world’s political regions.
Point #1: The role of hope in reshaping the politics in Arab and Muslim countries.
Moisi in his, book studies, hope as the first emotion. According to early scholars, hope means “I can make it; however, Moisi, in his understanding, defines hope in the 21st century as ' better here and now ' coined from Max Weber protestant ethic.
The roles of Europe and Asia have switched over the past centuries. In the 19th century, Asia was vanishing, and Europe was perceived as the symbol of modernization. In the 21st century, there is a reversal of positions. Moisi sees hope as translating into cultural openness and an attitude of confidence. The countries in Asia have shown an extraordinary level of hope. These countries’ confidence and cultural openness have caused immense growth both economically and socially.
He gives china as one of the examples of a country that have grown because they had hope. Moisi talks about a hope in the Asian countries, although other factors can be attributed to this success, hope has also played a role.
In 2009, Saudi Arabia exported more oil to china than to USA. However, it can be misleading notion that all Asian countries belong to the culture of hope. Moisi uses Japan as beyond hope and Pakistan as a country that has not reached there yet. This shows that Moisi’s study cannot be used to generalize the whole Asian continent. The diversity of the Asian continent can at some point weaken Moisi’s argument. When he speaks about Asia, he only has India and China in mind. He does not examine central Asian countries. Countries like Korea cannot fall under the category of hope due to the state of their poor economy. Korea still operates in a centralized economy.
India’s economy grew when it adopted strong economic reforms, the increase of middle class consumer population, a large workforce, improvement in education standards and foreign investments. This was not brought about by hope rather than their government took charge of the situation.
Hope is defined as a desire and a feeling of expectation to a certain thing to come. Using this definition to try and explain Moisi’s theory can be generalized as the state of every country in the whole world. All countries are hoping for a better future, including the Arab world Moisi describes as humiliated.
Moisi’s explanation can be misleading because while the economy of China was down in 1976, no one could imagine that day would come when China would be one of the most developed countries in the world. It is not just their hope that has made successful rather the implementation of appropriate governmental measures also played a crucial part.
Ethical governance results in a better economy. If the China government did not reform the economy, she would not have been in their current position. India also adopted strong economic reforms. Since then, the economy of India has immensely improved higher. They experienced their peak in early 2000. Moisi urges the Arab-Islamic countries to adopt better economic reforms, so as to experience economic growth. If this is implemented, the political and economic turmoil experienced by these countries will disappear.
Point #2: The role of humiliation in promoting terrorism
Moisi refers humiliation as the opposite of hope. It is the feeling of “I can not make it”. Humiliation could also mean being powerlessness, and it confines them to a future that is in contrast with a glorified past. He says if humiliation and anger are put together, the feeling that results is that of, “if I cannot make it, then I will reduce them to my level”. This results in terrorism that has caused so many deaths and losses in the world. The culture of humiliation is demonstrated to the Arab-Islamic world. It is a form of desperation. Humiliation makes them despair and think that there is no future. Moisi talks about dichotomy inducing two types of behavior.
Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst, stated that the terrorist attacks are not provoked by spiritual motivated hatred. However, he states that, they were evoked by a belief that the US foreign policy has oppressed and killed Muslims in the Middle East. The driving force behind Arab-Muslim terrorism is to replace splintered colonial bodies left behind by the Ottoman Empire.
Moisi’s argument is that the reason behind terrorism is hatred that comes from an idealized past and a sad present. This can be a minimal cause where leading causes are perceived injustice and that violence can address it effectively.
Ethnicity and nationalism/separatism are the most contested causes of terrorism. This is an aggravated group resulting to violence for nationalist reasons. It arises from a "complex combination" of class, political opportunity, ethnic strength and inequality mobilization resources.
To generalize, ethnic conflict arises from inequality, mobilization of resources, political opportunity and "ethnic strength”. Not all ethnic groups have strong political opportunities. Most of them are marginalized, bringing a sense of inferiority. The resources are also not well distributed hence certain ethnic groups feels left out. They end up fighting for the scarce resources available.
Globalization, poverty and economic disadvantage are also a cause of terrorism. The distribution of scarce resources can cause upheavals. When a group is extremely deprived, they tend rebel. Galtung (2002) blames the Third world, First world dichotomy due to structural violence.
Guelke (1995) explores possible links between economic wealth and stable, liberal democratic system, by this means assuming it would reduce acts of terrorism.
Lack of democracy can be an instigating factor or a facilitator for terrorism. A democratic government represents its people providing political means to air their grievances. If not, they create room for aggravation, hence terrorist activities.
Disaffected intelligentsia is a theory showing that the main cause of terrorism is disaffected, disgruntled intelligentsia who are in a moral crisis not able to mobilize the masses. It is a primary internal cause of terrorism. Islamic terrorism against America started in 1993 where attacks on the world trade center 2001. Attack on the US forces in Somalia in 1993, bombing of the khobar towers in 1996, the bombing in Kenya, and Tanzania in 1998, bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen 2000. These attacks left the residence of America and the government shaky and in fear of the terror brought about by terrorism. Scores of people lost their lives people. The impact of the terror attacks caused the US to retaliate by attacking and overthrowing the Saadam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. The group behind the terror attacks the Al Qaeda was recently shaken by the death of their founder an ex CIA spy Osama bin Laden. It is believed that the group is regrouping, but their next steps are unknown.
Point # 3: Fear and its role in shaping the worlds politics
Moisi describes fear an emotion that elicits the feeling of “oh my God, the world has turned to be a dangerous place, let me walk away from it, the world is moving fast and I can not control it”. He says it is the fear of losing one's identity. He contends that Europe and United States have seriously been affected by fearing each other, as well as the fear of the future.
Moisi speaks about Americans having greater individual fears because there is no system of social protection that is satisfactory but collective hope. He says that the Americans voted for barrack Obama due to the fear that McCain was a representation of fear.
McCain was an aspirant of fear while Obama represented hope in the past elections for the American people. Americans, by tradition, are more concerned with the future, a future that looks gloomy. 9/11terrorist attacks acted as reinforcement and a reminder of their vulnerability. Americans fear that communism may replace individualism, which is the pillar of their foundation. The Americans are so scared of “the others” making them focus too much on the control of boarders, and neglect the internal issues.
The fact that America and Europe have dominated the world scene, for many centuries put them in an uncomfortable situation when another country threatens to claims global domination. This was evident with Japan during the 80’s when America got concerns that Japan had become competitors in the global economy. They feared that Japan was trying to undermine the American domination in business. Japan was using a different economic system, the free market and free enterprise. This unfamiliar corporate, economic, and cultural system producing superior results challenged America.
The challenge Japan posed was not just economical, but it was ideological. Nobody expected Japan to be a military threat to the west. It also became a candidate for diplomatic influence globally. Japan had plans to become the best in the world. However, Japan was also a member of global establishment-G7 and a clear United States military ally.
According to Moisi, the reason why Europe and America fear China is that; it uses an economic model that is competitive. State capitalism challenges economic ideology of the west. China's actions indicate that she only cares about her interests. The fact that it controls its own currency makes its exports to be highly competitive as compared to those from other countries. It grabs natural resources for itself whenever it can. China is not just competing with Europe and America in the world market, but is offering a different political and economic system, one that has proved to be offering better jobs and growth.
China has become successful by using ideas Americans disapprove. For instance, China is using its economic influence to offer an alternative political and economic system to the U.S. Beijing complains remotely about the dominance of the dollar and want its currency to have a strong international impact.
China does not just want economic dominance rather challenge even the worlds political and military framework
Nobody can predict the direction global civilization will take if the East rises and, this is the greatest fear Europe, and America have. Therefore, they implement policies that limit the growth of development in the East.
U.S is also afraid of the military strength the Middle East countries posses. For example, America and Iran have been conflicting g because; America claims Iran has nuclear weapons, something that is considered as a weapon of mass destruction. Although Iran has not tested their nuclear weapons, they maintain that they have the right to own nuclear power. Iranians defend this stand, by claiming that they need nuclear energy for electricity and defensive precautions. However, the hatred that exists between the two makes the situation to be extremely sensitive.
Another cause of fear is the fact that the American government is building an oil pipeline from Iraq, through Iran and Afghanistan. Americans are afraid because the Iranian government might not allow the action.
The above facts show that Europe and America have reasons to be fearful. The issue of being a superpower is sensitive and extremely volatile. It is not known what would happen in the event that there was a shift in power, and this triggers fear in the world as a general.
Point #4: Measures to curb terrorism with respect to Moisi’s view.
Although Moisi talks about instilling peace, there is no definite solution to terrorism. One has to combine several aspects together to curb terrorism. The U.S department of defense gives guidelines on how to detect and deter terrorism. They stress on encouraging awareness in family quarters and discussions, in case of security threats.
According to Moisi, people should be alert and on the alert for persons trying to conduct surveillance or suspicious persons or activities. There are other measure people can take on an individual basis such as; contacting the local police incase of any suspicious people, promote awareness in schools etc. The state members of the United Nations entered into an agreement and started to condemn acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, for it is a serious threat to national security. To also takes urgent action to combat terrorism. However, terrorism can only be eliminated by first dealing with the emotions that are responsible for its existence.
Point #5: The future 2025 according to Moisi
Moisi believes that if fear would take over the globe, serious, catastrophic events would develop. There would be more unrest in the Middle East, shut down of boarders, use of biological terror weapons, and an almost complete termination of the European Union. In a nutshell, life would be unbearable just like it was in the middle ages. He believes that if hope prevails, the UN will experience significant reforms, also that the United States would become a partner rather than a policeman among other assumptions.
Moisi agrees that all of these scenarios are fictional, and some of them are not realistic. The boarders cannot shut because international trade has to exist as Moisi explains. It is not also possible for the European Union to dissolve due to all the strong political and economical ties holding it together.
Moisi has a lot of points to debate about, and he combines different pieces, and he puts them together into convincing scenarios. However, for people without background information on modern history, the book can be extremely misleading because Moisi has also generalized some facts. For example, he uses China and India to represent the whole Asia. Some of the points highlighted in this book are remarkably true, and the way Moisi maps the continent with emotions can be believed until a certain extent where some facts he has stated are not in line with the approaching method. Thus, the book geopolitics of emotion should be read with a lot of care.
The book has successfully demonstrated we cannot understand the reality of the world without making reference to emotions. Moisi paints a map of emotions and focuses on three key ones, i.e. fear, humiliation and hope. With hope, anything is possible, and he urges people to have hope. This hope is responsible for growth and through it; people are motivated to move on when things are grim. Humiliation and fear, on the other hand, only result to negativity and man must towards eliminating such emotions because they hinder progress.