Alexander Wallis on International Relations

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On The Passing Of Henry Kissinger, Liberalism, Realism, and, Ukraine

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2023 by wallisa



The Myth of Henry Kissinger | The New Yorker


With the recent unfortunate passing of Henry Kissinger, America has lost an invaluable strategic mind. For all the shrill criticism directed at Kissinger for his efforts – and ultimate success – in extricating America from Vietnam in the context of a hyper competitive bipolar system (said criticism, of course, is fine with inveighing against actions taken over 50 years ago. But as for current US malpractice, we must, of course, all be on the same page—lest we fall victim to so called foreign propaganda), and in the context of protecting a sovereign and culturally distinct South Vietnam from a conventional invasion by the hyper aggressive Viet Cong, who explicitly utilized mass murder and terror as one of the primary means by which their campaigns were prosecuted (though we should not forget that Vietnam was a conventional war, often fought against a conventional opponent, armed with hundreds if not thousands of Soviet tanks, replete with well trained crews, heavy artillery, anti-air, etc. These were not poor rice-farmers. After the utter operational failure of the Tet Offensive, the Viet Cong Guerilla Army ceased to be operable.), one nevertheless has a hard time objecting to the statement that Henry Kissinger was both a brilliant – if, by some accounts, unethical – practitioner and theorist of international relations.


I believe that America is a country that is traditionally poor at foreign policy. We gained pre-eminence not through our brilliance – though I do not deny the creativity of our past leaders – but through our sheer productive capacity. Even now, despite the general collapse of productive forces within America, we continue to dominate large swathes of the world by virtue of PPP, the Dollar, our sheer military power, our ability to infiltrate open societies with NGOs, and PSYOPs, and, of course, the general bias within international systems which favors the imperial core. I believe that American historical isolationism and idealism has fostered a set of values (even if my diagnosis of whence is incorrect, such ideas still prevail) which make strategy exceedingly difficult for us. Such mindsets have led us into numerous conflicts with good intentions (Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Vietnam, Yemen, etc.), but which have frequently led to disillusionment, never ending conflict, a lack of real political solutions, and, of course, a large loss of life and treasure. Henry Kissinger was one of the few who broke this mold.


Henry Kissinger’s list of achievements is unparalleled in US history. From effecting the Sino-Soviet split (criticism of which is often unfounded—Kissinger did not create modern China nor Xi Jinping – nor is modern China necessarily some ontologically evil opponent who seeks to destroy the entire “free world” – It is rather the more recent leaders of America, especially Bill Clinton, Bush Jr, and Barack Obama, who refused to think beyond the confines of liberal dogma) to creating real peace between Egypt and Israel – which, 50 years hence, still holds – Kissinger has some of America’s greatest foreign policy victories under his belt. Even in his retirement, as mentioned by Dr David Petraeus at a recent talk at the Army Heritage Center in Carlisle, PA, Kissinger continually met with world leaders such as Xi Jingping and Vladimir Putin, and, according to Dr Petraeus, such meetings were considered invaluable by various government agencies up to his death.


It is in many ways ironic that Realism – a set of ideas frequently associated with coldness and calculation  – as a school of international political theory has become so adamant about peace. Calls for caution and withdrawal from our conflict with Russia in Ukraine, for example, have primarily come from more realist schools of thought. Perhaps the most prolific example of this is John Mearsheimer, a Professor at the University of Chicago. However, Henry Kissinger – though not entirely on board with the more apocalyptic assertions of Mearsheimer – may certainly be seen as being an icon of restraint among the discord of hawkish voices emanating from Washington and the myriad NGOs and think-tanks that serve as extensions of the US Government.


Indeed, the logic of American liberalism has taken on totalistic proportions. Carl Schmitt, a sagacious figure in the realm of Political Philosophy, Jurisprudence, and International Relations (though the three certainly overlap quite a bit!), lays out across multiple writings – though I would highlight The Concept of the Political, The Nomos of the Earth, and Land and Sea: A World Historical Meditation – a fascinating conception of the history – and future – of spatial conception and its corollaries in international politics. While I can not, for reasons of my intellectual poverty, even think of daring to paraphrase such elegant writings, I would like to highlight some of his observations on specifically Anglo-American Liberalism.


The transition of England from a European (and Catholic) spatial conception to essentially a piratical island, a ship of state, which appropriated the entirety of the sea, created a totalistic conception of world-politics. Therein piracy – both on the high seas and in great colonial land appropriations – Coupled with the expansionist and de-territorializing internal logic of capitalism (well documented not just by Marxism but proudly displayed by Neoclassical economists themselves), unfettered from a landed and conservative Catholic (Schmitt argues that the spatial conceptions and their respective corollaries underpinning the Iberian colonial expansion and the Dutch-Anglo expansions were markedly different) worldview – essentially paved the way for an arbitrary, positivistic, expansionist, and, of course, deterritorializing model of the political. This coincides with, from a critical theory perspective (though they do not use such mythical language as Schmitt), the emergence of world systems as such. Long Cycle Theory traces a similar path.


In Concept of the Political, Carl Schmitt criticizes liberal human rights regimes. Carl Schmitt did not disregard natural law nor rights. He was, after all, Catholic. However, Schmitt argues that the overly shrill and categorical cries for human rights serve the opposite of their intended purpose. Policy justification on the basis of human rights essentially casts the violators of these so called (which are, in a secular context, unjustifiable to begin with) human rights out of the category of humanity, which creates a totalistic (and hard to stall) rhetoric, ironically paving the way for far more vicious and existential conflict than otherwise. In our 21st century context, I would argue that these ideas of human rights have been unjustly expanded beyond any justifiable scope. Consider, for example, our fortunately ended predicament in Afghanistan. During the last several years (potentially even decade) of the war, our presence there was justified on the basis of nation building, and imposing (though such language was obviously not employed) explicitly modern, liberal, American, and Western ideas about family, gender, media, etc. onto the society(ies) present within the fractured entity of Afghanistan. Schmitt contrasts this with earlier conceptions of international politics that pervaded prior to the liberal world order. There, he claims, the notion of jus hostis (just enemy) allowed for conflicts to avoid rhetorical and therefore material totality, as both opponents recognized each other – despite clearly having a bone to pick with one another – as essentially just opponents. This is not, of course, to say that conflicts never reached totalistic proportions prior to the 19th century. They certainly did. But this blogpost is not an apologetic for Carl Schmitt. One may do one’s own research and reading. However, such conception, argues Schmitt, bracketed war. The destruction of such conceptions, in his mind, played no small role in leading to the disasters of the early 20th century.


Liberalism, through its logic of human rights imperatives, democratic peace theory, hegemonic stability, etc. conceptually and ironically places itself in a state of permanent war – be it military, psychological, economic, or otherwise – with the entire world. This is the logic of color revolutions, of neocolonialism, of human rights interventions which inadvertently (I’m sure) happen to expand control over the Imperial Periphery. Such logic is imperative to take into account when discussing an issue like our current war with Russia in Ukraine. For all the narrative spectacle, we must ultimately analyze this conflict in the context of the world system, and of the internal logic of liberalism. At the very least, we must be self aware.  It may be objected that, while America is indeed an empire, it is nevertheless not internally conceptually dissimilar from China or Russia, and that, therefore, given the conflict-prone nature of the geopolitical landscape, we ought to maximize our gains at the expense of others. I do not believe that this is true. While Russia and China are certainly imperious, they are not Liberal. This is not a trivial difference. The way Russian and Chinese political and geopolitical theorists write is markedly different from the narratives that underpin the Western Liberal Order. Russia and China are similarly bracketed by geography, history, and development, in a way that America is not. This so-implied grand, secular crusade for vaguely defined human rights justified on a positivistic (and therefore empty, i.e. “because I feel like it”) basis colors all of our interactions around the world.


Henry Kissinger understood, before his perhaps timely death (he was, after all, a centenarian) that the world of the mid 21st century will be exponentially more dangerous than perhaps even the 20th century. We can not stop the current diffusion of world power. Even without AI, drone technology is fundamentally transformative and dangerous. It allows for extremely high value assets to be eliminated by extremely low value assets, with little training involved. American legitimacy is collapsing around the world, and we have numerous new enemies. With AI, everything will change. The future is fascinating and terrifying, and we must proceed with caution.


The death of Henry Kissinger, which, to state for the record, was absolutely untimely considering the conclusions of this blogpost, is therefore a serious blow. Without the restraint offered by realism, and especially of such an affluent and well connected realist as Kissinger  – despite how one may theoretically criticize the doctrine(s) of realism – liberalism (and rentier-capitalism) may run wild, and drown us in ever more conflicts, with fundamentally appealing narrative justification, but with horrific and dangerous results for our national security, international standing, and, for the populations of foreign states. This is not to sound apocalyptic. Though one may certainly make (and many have made) such determinations about Anglo-American Capital-Liberalism. I therefore am remorseful over the loss of Kissinger, despite the many objections one may have to his policies. Henry Kissinger has been one of the view establishment foreign policy voices to argue for pragmatic solutions to Ukraine. The force he represented in political dialogue was unparalleled, and his prudence and pragmatism shall be missed.

International Factors in Development and Hindrance of SDG Progress in the Global South

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2023 by wallisa

International factors are essential to understanding the progress towards – and arguably existence of – the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The very industrialization of a majority of global south countries is a direct result of foreign investment and/or colonization. Similarly, the majority technologies used to create complex industrial societies have, at least for the past 250 years, emanated primarily from the Global North.


When speaking about the continued interaction of international factors and actors with Global South countries as they relate to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (henceforth to be referred to as SDGs), private firms and NGOs immediately spring to mind, above all else. In the case of the Amazon Rainforest, for example, deforestation is almost entirely undertaken by corporations of various sizes, often the recipient of investment from large banks and fund managers such as Vanguard, Black Rock, and the Bank of America. Similarly, despite being aided (and sometimes hindered) by the Brazilian government, a large number of NGOs are really the only seriously proactive actors in reforestation projects. There are numerous groups, who have received a gigantic amount of funding from funds, banks, individuals, and governments. These efforts of course have roadblocks, with some opponents going as far as arson and murder to stunt the recovery of the rainforest. But it remains the case that these projects are internationally funded.

List of shareholder resolutions related to deforestation that BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street have voted on. Used with permission of Friends of the Earth.

World demand for natural resources facilitating the creation of a world wide free trade paradigm is entirely the result of international factors. Diamond wars in the Congo and Sierra Leone would be unthinkable if not for international demand and proactive foreign diamond companies. Similarly, global conflict – military or otherwise – can have cascading effects not just in the Global South – though the Global South may be uniquely vulnerable in certain areas due to a lack of sufficient indigenous food production, or other dependencies – but throughout the entire world. This international integration and therefore potential vulnerability makes many contrary demands of states. It is the perennial question of guns or butter, autarky and slow growth vs integration and potentially explosive growth with potentially numerous consequences down the line.


A number of IR theorists have similarly spoken on the hierarchical nature of the world system. If such descriptions are deemed accurate, then one would likely argue that hindrances to SDG accomplishment are seriously worsened by an exploitive international system. While a full explication of World Systems Theory and Dependency Theory is not possible here, it is generally the position of said theorists that countries in the Global Periphery can and ought to break out of their dependent or otherwise exploited position by developing productive forces, diversifying their economy, and generally taking an economic approach to contrary to global market forces. Such imperatives further serve to illustrate the fundamentally international position of countries with the Global South.


What Is Wallerstein's World Systems Theory Model


One speaking from a more Liberal IR perspective would likely posit that while indeed many issues hindering the achievement of SDGs within Global South countries may have their roots (though not entirely) in globalization, the only imaginable solutions to such issues may be found in Globalization. Dealing with desertification and resource scarcity for many smaller or less developed countries is hard to imagine, considering the international dimensions of these issues.


But then again, if the Global North is  considered to be self centered, would they hesitate to simply leave countries of the Global South to their own devices should they see no value in partnership? To protect natural goods that are vital to the functioning of the world ecosystem (The Amazon Rain-forest, The Ocean, The Ozone Layer, etc) is one thing, but what of countries that are not possessed of such resources? In that case, perhaps a decoupling and development of productive and independence forces is in order.


The ‘Private’ Law Paradigm and Liberal vs Critical Theory Perspectives on Globalization

Posted in Uncategorized on November 9, 2023 by wallisa

It has, in my estimation, as of late, become rather fashionable to criticize globalization. Any number of objections from any number of perspectives may be raised. Indeed, criticism of globalization is truly bipartisan. Of course, such criticism is often quite varied. You may have an ethno-nationalist deploring the establishment of inter-racial equality and migration that has occurred within the global system, a Marxist ranting against exploitation in developed countries, a principled constitutionalist arguing that buying into multilateralism degrades sovereignty, etc. This list could go on ad absurdum.


The most salient champions of globalism tend to be Liberals. And the most salient critics of globalism, at least academically, have tended to fall within the camp of Critical Theory. While as of recent a resurgence in right wing populism has on paper seemed to challenge the very existence of globalism, the reality is that from a polemical perspective many of these critics, such as, for example, Donald Trump, ultimately object not to globalism on a systematic level, as critical theorists often do, but object to certain vicissitudinous characteristics of globalization such as offshoring, mass migration, and overextension. Such a difference is critical. It is only the critical theorists, such as Immanuel Wallerstein, who suggest that the very structure of the global system is premised on neo-colonialism and exploitation of the periphery by the core. In other words, Critical Theory posits that many of the vicissitudinous characteristics of the global order are features, not bugs.


This of course contrasts with the Liberal view. Liberals, of course, see the modern global system in terms of voluntary association in a system of mutual benefit. They employ concepts such as comparative advantage and the global division of labor to explain the essential theoretical underpinnings of the mutual benefits obtained by such a global system. Liberals similarly look into history to show the consistent rise of living standards throughout the world, and to the success of multilateralism in peacekeeping. Francis Fukuyama famously made many of these arguments in his landmark 1992 book, the End of History and the Last Man. To put it simply, Liberals argue that the benefits of globalization far outweigh the costs.


I believe that both schools of thought make absolutely correct points. My own belief is as follows: There is absolutely a global system. Globalization is inevitable, and, in the context of issues such as resource scarcity and climate change, it is fundamentally untenable to not be globalized. However, this is not a relationship among equals. While we may speak about sovereignty and international law, there is nevertheless a clear pecking order. The international order has leaders, and it has followers. The global division of labor absolutely relegates certain populations to less-than-desirable circumstances, and similarly disallows for the development of certain productive forces that could improve economically or geostrategically the positions of certain countries. I do not, however, believe that this is an issue of delegitimizing proportions. The global order is created and curated by the United States, it is not some collaborative process that just happened to spring out of thin air. The material foundations of globalization – the extensive US Navy, the US Dollar, the western funds, banks, and companies that finance global projects, the massive foreign aid and capital that develops countries, etc. are all essentially western, and therefore American. It is impossible to conceive of a civilized and developed modern Europe without decades of US security guarantees, without US Curated oil from the Middle East, without the vast post war economic aid, without the free trade paradigm that allowed for ruined countries all throughout the world to thrive, from Japan to Germany, and, without US led multilateralism and coordination. It is even more ludicrous to imagine a developed China without access to the same US provided goods and services. Without access to international markets, China would be an economic backwater today. Its history of economic development is impossible to even dream of without considering America’s facilitating role.


Sovereignty in the international system is similarly clearly considered by the USA in a preferential fashion. Interventions under international auspices, or performed by the international hegemon, frequently disregard notions of sovereignty and multilateralism. Examples of this include intervention in Libya, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and NATO intervention in Serbia. While such occurrences have been detrimental to the global order writ large, I do not believe that some vague sanctity should be applied to state sovereignty. Most state level actions have global repercussions, and while one should be cautious in punishment and not eager to devour merely slightly anti hegemonic states, one should nevertheless not subscribe to some pollyanna view of sovereignty as some inalienable and inviolable right. By overwhelmingly benefiting from the US-led international order in an unequal relationship – and one that frequently comes at the expense of American Jobs, see the economic history of the great lakes, the national security community support for projects such as TPP, etc. –  I believe that there is some inherent abrogation of sovereignty on the behalf of the recipient. This is a historical phenomenon that arguably affected the creation of civilization through private contract, and thus, in my view, may serve as a precursor event to the advent of a global society. The relationship between the hegemon and other states is not merely economical, it is deeply political. Indeed, economics may be conceived of as a continuation of politics by other means. To quote Karl Ludwig von Haller,


In short, whenever a man makes himself useful or indispensable to others, whenever he can save them from some evil or procure them some good, he rules over them and makes their laws.  – Karl Ludwig von Haller


The international system can thus be conceived of to an extent as a private law society. Many norms and regulations, despite how they may be approved of by the vast majority of states, ultimately spring forth from the wellspring of western liberal thought, and are often imposed. Perhaps there is no international police force. But there is certainly a private police force which has intentionally intervened and shaped considerable portions of the world, from Iraq to Libya, from Kosovo to Somalia. Such a paradigm is inevitable. The vast majority of countries are absolutely incapable of providing even the beginnings of the basic building-blocks required to uphold an international order. Despite their economic, political, and demographic importance, countries such as Brazil, China, Nigeria, India, Egypt, South Korea, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Russia, Germany, France, etc. simply do not have the global reach or political capital to lead. This situation may of course change in the future. It is probably inevitable, though not imminent. However, such a change would not presage the transition to some wholesome communal decision making order, but rather to the private rule of another hegemon. In the meantime, there is simply no alternative.


This is not to justify imperious or otherwise damaging enterprises undertaken by the United States or by corporations or organizations emanating thence. Indeed, the global system has many problems. But the solutions to these problems are only imaginable in a globalized environment, and an efficient globalized system is only imaginable with a hegemon, lest intractable political issues paralyze global decision making.


To return to the question, I would most likely intellectually agree with Critical Theorists more than Liberals, despite essentially agreeing with both. I can not comment on what I may agree or disagree with specifically, given the myriad points of view present in both camps. However, despite my agreement, I likely come to different conclusions than most critical theorists, and one more similar to Liberals.

The Political Other in International Relations and at Home

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2023 by wallisa

In the experience of my thoughts and actions, and in the actions of those around me, I have primarily affected or seen “othering” in the context of political beliefs. Such behavior has, at least in American society, become more and more commonplace over the course of the past 10 years. People from all political stripes are responsible for this, and, when coupled with technologies allowing for the instant mass dissemination of opinion, has become all the more caustic.


Of course, people may be viewed as individuals, rather than some nebulous “other”, irrespective of political affiliation. But when political flashpoints occur, and when parlance becomes totalistic and uncompromising, stratification has become nigh inevitable. Mentalities become tribal, and anyone outside of a belief system is considered not just foolish, but downright pernicious. This phenomenon appears throughout all strata of society – it may be state against state, town against town, or, family member against family member. I, and tens of millions of other Americans have engaged in such categorization. When discourse involves such momentous issues as climate change, nuclear war, racial and national identity, totalitarianism, poverty, human rights, mass migration, etc. it is easy to consider any ideological difference to one’s own beliefs to be completely beyond the pale. The espousers of any views different than what one determines to be acceptable are routinely dehumanized (or, othered), consciously or otherwise.


Such behavior has immense implications for the international system. Domestic politics, at least in America, can, and has, decided the course of many a policy position, be it TPP or the Vietnam War. Most relevant right now for American purposes is arguably the war in Ukraine. One the one hand, some people exclaim opposition to aid for Ukraine to be the product of people who are hopelessly backward, uneducated, brainwashed by Russian propaganda, and, playing a role akin to figures such as Neville Chamberlain: essentially allowing for terrible Hitler-like figures to rise to power and to devour ever more countries. On the other hand, some people allege the leading proponents of aid to Ukraine – and their constituent supporters – to be dishonest globalist lackeys, who ignore increasingly taxing domestic issues, who arrogantly wade into hopelessly unwinnable conflicts, potentially risking nuclear escalation, all while belittling and attempting to discredit objecting narratives as being entirely controlled and perpetuated by the Kremlin.


Such narratives are not only likely misleading and parochial, but serve to make republican decision making less effective. If the political spectrum begins to conceive of the Ukraine conflict as an all-or-nothing choice, then political leadership will likely begin to reflect that binary. Such a suite of possible decisions is likely to be inimical to American interests abroad – international affairs is perhaps the most complex activity humanity engages in, as it consists of the sum of all other human interactions. To have limited maneuverability in light of political stratification could therefore be disastrous. Foreign affairs are anything but simplistic.


The same impulse to other can also be detrimental in terms of how we conceive of the international other. By merely being pejorative in our description of other countries / peoples, we run the risk of not just ruining potential detente and relationships further down the line, but of creating conflicts of totalistic and existential proportions. To quote Carl Schmitt (speaking about the categorical imperatives which tend to define human rights regimes):


“To confiscate the word humanity, to invoke and monopolize such a term probably has certain incalculable effects, such as denying the enemy the quality of being human and declaring him to be an outlaw of humanity; and a war can thereby be driven to the most extreme inhumanity.”


To conclude, I believe that the propensity to other in a political sense runs the risk of clogging the arteries of both internal political systems and the international system by limiting both the ability to act and  the conceptions which ultimately underpin all decision making.

Reflections on the Clarke Forum Presentation on the 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2023 by wallisa

On September 21st, 2023, I had the great pleasure of attending an informative and sobering event in the Dickinson Clarke Forum. The topic was the 1983 bombing of the Beirut Barracks, which resulted in the death of 241 American servicemen. There were three speakers, each of whom covered different but equally important aspects of the attack, its history, and, its legacy.


It is fascinating how an event with such an outsized impact can be so overlooked in society today. I must, unfortunately, admit ignorance on the subject prior to my attendance of this event.


Perhaps the most important legacy of the attack were its dual influences on Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. In the case of Saddam Hussein, the attack played no small role in shaping his perceptions of American willingness to commit to a large and potentially prolonged conflict in the middle east. This, in turn, affected his decision to invade Kuwait, the aftermath of which the Middle East – and therefore the world – is still reeling from. The bombing of the Beirut Barracks had profound effects on the individual, domestic, and, systemic level of behavior and conception in America, Iran, France, Lebanon, and, therefore, the world.


I found that this neatly fit into an argument proffered up by the Texas National Security Review ( that advanced the illuminating argument that Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was not, as general wisdom may suggest, simply an oil grab or the work of an unhinged autocrat, but rather, was due to an elaborated – and  likely incorrect – conception of the international system held by Saddam Hussein. This, in my mind, illuminates, among many things, the necessity of studying various schools of international thought. If the significance of a certain event – be it the bombing of the Beirut Barracks or Kuwaiti overproduction of oil – is determined in a manner deeply disparate from reality, the consequences can be vast, and potentially catastrophic.


Events can not be taken at face value, and multiple angles ought to be considered before the significance of a given event is determined. Saddam Hussein arguably got himself quite literally killed by his poor model of the international system. The consequences of projection and poor reflection can be monumentous.


The presentation similarly drove home how paradoxical events can be. The bombing of the Beirut Barracks was an unmitigated disaster and tragedy, yet it led to a revolution in military organization which persists to this day. Defeat was turned into victory.


I found the presentation to be an exaltation for cross cultural communication, as well. Despite deploying forces in the name of de-escalation, we arguably made a muddled situation even more complex than it already was, inviting escalation. We did not fully understand how we were perceived by the various factions operating in and around Beirut at the time. The loss of human intelligence in the American Embassy Bombing did little to alleviate this dearth of information.


I am grateful for having the opportunity to attend such a fascinating presentation, and look forward to future events.


Where I grew up and differences to where I am now

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2023 by wallisa

I am from Davis, California. I was born in Sacramento, and have lived in Yolo county my entire life. However, as I have many family members spread around the United States, I am well traveled within the country, and have likely cumulatively spent several years on the East Coast (Specifically New England and the Mid Atlantic). I have similarly lived in Costa Rica and Nepal for Nine and Three months respectively. While I consider California to be my home, I feel deracinated to a certain extent. My ancestors arrived in America (specifically Virginia) around 1700 (Or so the story goes), and soon took up the American pastime of itinerancy. While I know little of my forefathers early history, they eventually wound up in Arkansas, moved to Missouri, and then, around the 1930s, moved to California. This makes me a 3rd generation Californian. Again, I consider California to be my home. But the lack of an intergenerational homeland, a continuously inhabited region inhabited by the posterity of forefathers, is somewhat alienating. This is certainly reflected in the landscape of where I live (Davis) – It possesses no truly vernacular architecture nor traditions, it resembles more of an economic zone than a deep rooted civilization.


Report Finds Davis Has a Number of Most Walkable Neighborhoods in Region | Davis Vanguard



Therefore, in a sense I feel more at home in a place like Carlisle than Davis. While I am certainly acclimatized to the Mediterranean climate of California, and am predisposed to glee when laying in my own bed, I certainly identify more with the older architecture, the historical significance of the region, and the understanding that my ancestors would have lived in similar environs (minus the I-Phones, f150s, and, high fructose corn syrup). But at the same time, I swell with pride when a winding mountain road gives way to a stunning Californian vista.


In my breakout room, there were individuals (unfortunately, I am poor with names) from Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Morocco / Canada, and, the UAE (I apologize if any information is incorrect or misleading – our time spent together was very short). I am loath to discuss at length the differences and similarities between my home and others, as I simply do not have the information required to make judgements like that. However, we were certainly able to discuss certain similarities, for example cars, our love of driving, experiences with the Quebecois, and our experiences with international travel. There is a certain diversity of background in the group, so it will be interesting to see how future conversations and understandings develop between not just our breakout group members, but between our two classes as a whole.


Generally speaking, no one seemed to feel out of place in their respective universities. I certainly don’t; at least in a cultural sense, most of what I have encountered at Dickinson has been fairly par for the course.


Culturally, I am certain there are differences between the Dickinsonians in my break-out group and the AUS students. None of us (the Dickinsonians) grew up in an Islamic household, and I am fairly certain (but correct me if I’m wrong) that none of us are well traveled in the Middle East and North Africa, nor speak Arabic. I am  uncertain to what extent – if at all – this will affect our outlooks on world issues. It will  certainly be interesting to see how everything unfolds.


Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 4, 2023 by Ryan Burke

Welcome to Dickinson Blog. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!