Related: Discuss the extent to which global and national interests can be balanced. (’01)
Discuss the clam that in the modern world people should care more about international than national issues. (’13)
How far is it important for people to be aware of current events in countries other than their own? (’14)
(Introduction) We are in the era of globalization. The world is increasingly connected. The actions of one country will affect many other countries; hence countries should start looking out for one another. However, should this be done at the expense of a country’s own interests? The answer to that cannot be easily crafted. Although international needs are important due to their wide-ranging effects, national needs should not be compromised as it is the duty of the government to do so. Furthermore, national issues are also of importance, in their own right.
(Refute 1) Some may argue that we should/must always care more about international issues. Good governments should look beyond the needs of their own countries. This is because, due to globalization, countries have become increasingly connected to each other. Each country’s actions will affect another. If a country is not doing well, other countries will also get affected. Hence, governments have to be aware and care about global interests, to make sure that their own country does not fall into ruin. For instance, Economies of individual countries now can only function well if the global economy is doing well, due to the existence, and interdependence of trade between countries. A recession in one country/area likely leads to worldwide recession, as proven in the 2008 financial crisis. Countries that only try to protect its own economic national interests by setting up protectionist measures to protect their own industries lose out in the long run, as they deprive themselves of the chance of getting the benefits of growth in the world economy. Hence, good governments should look internationally.
(Refute 2) Some also maintain that we should care more about international issues, as these issues will likely affect us significantly and permanently, much more than national issues. In this aspect, Good governments should also always look beyond the needs of their own countries. For instance, global problems such as climate change and global warming would drastically change the world forever, if left unattended. Their effects go beyond damaging the environment. Rising temperatures and unpredictable weather would severely affect agricultural systems and cause crop failures, livestock shortages worldwide. This loss of food security may in turn lead to many more repressions in the international food markets, underdeveloped countries worldwide. Such global issues may not seem to be an immediate problem, as their effects are felt gradually, but these effects often cannot be undone. Can we take back the carbon we emitted? Can we reverse the temperature rise? No. National issues, which are often immediate and short-term, pale in comparison. Hence, we need to focus on global issues, slow down its effects, to ensure sustainability, before the worst happens. Hence, good governments should look internationally.
(Supporting 1) However, I feel, national issues are also important. This is because, many times, they are the ones who cause international issues to happen. Every crisis starts small. If every country makes an effort to tackle their national needs in the first place, there would be less international problems. Hence, good leaders need not always look beyond national interests. They are those who ensure their national needs are met first, before trying to help the world. For example, Euro zone’s PIIGS—Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain—are burdened with increasingly unsustainable levels of public and private debt. Greece, especially, borrowed beyond its means and exacerbated the problem with lots of overspending, little economic production to make up the difference, and lying about its circumstances to prevent Euro zone authorities from realizing the true extent of the situation. As seen, the Greek government clearly overlooked the country’s national needs, and this set the tone for the Euro zone debt crisis. If each of the PIIGS had cared or done something about their national crisis sooner, the situation may not have affected the rest of the members in the Euro zone. Similarly for the issue on climate change, according to a 2014 research done at Concordia University, more than 60% of the anthropogenic global warming that occurred before 2005 was generated by just seven countries. They are the United States, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany and the United Kingdom. The US is the uncontested leader in contributing to global warming, as the researchers calculated that the US alone is responsible for a global temperature increase of 0.15₀C, a change that amounts to 20% of observable global warming. Out of these countries, many have now tackled their national energy usage problem, most notably Germany, whose transition from coal- and oil-fired power to carbon-free electricity hit a new milestone when solar, wind, and other sources of renewable energy met 78% of the day’s energy demand. If US, China had also followed in Germany’s footsteps quickly and focused more on their national need of using cleaner energy, problem of global warming may not have become so severe now. Hence, national issues are also of equal, or even greater, importance compared to international needs, and should be addressed first.
(Supporting 2) Leaders should also focus on national issues. This is because, the main duty of a government is to take care of its country’s needs; not to poke its nose into other countries’, or the world’s issues. This is especially true for countries that are a democracy. Since the government is only there because the citizens elected them in, they are expected to set the needs of their citizens their top priority. Such a government is supposed to be of their people, by their people, and for their people. By meddling in the world’s affairs, leaders may instead neglect their own country and citizens, and that, in the citizens’ eyes’, is not a good government. For example, USA’s military spending has always been high, due to them intervening or leading in many external wars, such as the War on Terror and the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, and most recently in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) crisis. The military budget for 2015 is 495.6 billion. This costs each taxpayer in the States more than $1500 dollars. If each person’s $1500 dollars went into providing free or cheaper healthcare or education for families who need it instead, the lives of many US citizens would be better. Hence, in this case, when countries intervene so excessively in international needs that there may be a potential backlash on its own citizens, it may be a time to reconsider priorities and strike a better balance between national and international interests by ensuring national needs are addressed first.
(Supporting 3) Lastly, for certain countries, good leaders are not those that look to international issues, but rather, those that focus on the immediate problems facing the nation and its people, and implements solutions quickly and efficiently so that the situation does not worsen. This is usually the case for countries where their own national needs are already severely lacking, specifically, the under-developed or developing countries. How can their governments think about helping other countries or about saving the world if their own people are dying from hunger in their backyards? For example, Zimbabwe, a South African nation, is one of the poorest in the world, and also has one of the lowest life expectancies. It also has one of the highest HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rates, and AIDS claims 1,300,000 lives annually. In Liberia, another African nation, each person, on average, lives on $226 a year. The string of civil wars in the country stopped a decade ago. However, the economic situation of the state and its infrastructure are still in a poor condition. Most of the people do not have money even for the basic things of prime necessity. Therefore, in these countries, it is pertinent, as the government, to address national needs first.