In the past, it was confused that Nations, Countries and States were the same entity. However dismal the difference might be, it is important that the three definitions be used in their rightful contexts. Though these terms have been used interchangeably, a State is a political entity that is self-governed. The term State can also be used for Country because they have more or less the same meaning (Guy, p. 60).
A Nation is however characterized by the commonality of the people in having one culture. A Nation-State is coined from the two words: Nation and State. This term therefore means a Nation that shares the same border as a State. A government is defined by the exercise of authority over a defined subject group. It also involves the control and direction of the conduct of the subjects. In a democratic government, laws are administered equally by a ruling power over individuals. Everyone is then expected to conform to them. Examples of Nation-States are France, Egypt, and Germany.
Despite being no pure Nation-States, they have increased in number as countries started becoming sovereigns. Bound by common history or culture, Nations have isolated themselves to become unique identities. This has increased especially after 1648 when Nations started gaining independence and especially after World War II. Due to the large number of immigrants in many countries today, the existence of Nation-States is likely to reduce. This is because as countries accommodate immigrants, they neutralize the authentic ethnic identity of the nation and therefore reduce the chance of existence of a Nation-State. Only countries with a small number of immigrant populations can be termed as Nation-States. It is only in this context that there exists a predominantly similar culture of the inhabitants (Guy, pp. 60-64).
Determining Power of a Nation-State
In the context of determining the power of a Nation-State, it is important that military might is considered. This is because most Nations are measured by the power they posses in military forms. Through this method, Nations have arisen to be part of a wider definition of Nation-State. A Nation-State is characterized by staunch loyalty from its citizens in its endeavors. The power of Nation-States therefore becomes dangerous because they can lead their citizens into thinking they are on the right path, while in real sense they aren’t. The true test of powers in Nation-States is during wars; for instance, Germans were hoodwinked to support their government in the first and second world war but the war turned out to be much dramatic than they thought (Woolsey 187).
Ray Cline developed a measure of power concept that was based on the population of the Nation, economic capability, military power, strategic purpose and the will to pursue its objectives. In today’s world of military proliferation, Ray Cline’s concept still holds water. The ability for a Nation to have power today would be determined by its economic power to develop weapons and carry out effective research. Its military power would influence the decisions of another nation in the context of military threats. The purpose and will to pursue its objectives would dictate the ability to use its power to influence another nation. The population of a country wouldn’t influence the power of a Nation because it wouldn’t be easy to protect a large Nation in times of attack.
Middle Power states are defined as states that have a significant influence in international matters but are not super powers. These states are moderately recognized but don’t have the same recognition as super power states such as Russia or the United States. There is however no single definition for a middle-power state.
Political Organization as Co-relate of Economic Ability
Some countries in the world have aligned themselves on a federal basis such as United States of America (USA). Other states have aligned themselves in terms of unitary States. These two forms of political organizations pose their advantages and disadvantages. Federal governments enjoy a uniform distribution of resources unlike unitary governments. They are characterized by a high level of democracy and many leadership opportunities due to many administrative positions available from a devolved government. A devolved government and equal distribution of resources go a long way in empowering even the lowest levels of citizens thereby increasing the overall economic well-being of the state (Guy, pp. 60-67). In addition, federal State regional governments are much closer to problems on the ground than unitary governments. Governments are therefore within a close proximity to their tasks and citizens are closer to public authority.
Competition among regional governments also improves the overall performance of the economy in that, every regional government would want to out-perform the other. A balance is however achieved among the regional governments from the federal government. Diversity is also enhanced among federal states and this encourages growth in political, economic and social fronts.
Unitary governments however have uniformity in their operations because authority stems from one source. Decision making is also easy in the sense that there’s only one central body to make decisions unlike a federal government which would have to carry out their decisions in harmony with one another. This would pit decision making on economic policies much easier for unitary governments than Federal Governments. Nevertheless, federal governments enjoy economic superiority than unitary governments.
States use various economic systems to govern the way they plan for their produce and services. This type of economy however leaves most citizens vulnerable to exploitation which might be caused by artificial forces in effecting market forces.
A planned economy is a controlled economy that states and national governments regulate to some extent. This type of economy is quite slow to changing consumer preferences and leaves little room for market forces to prevail. However, this economy is bound to affect business because market forces are expected to play naturally. Investors might also be scared off from too much regulation by governments. It however seeks to protect the customers from effects of negative market forces.
Some states however adopt the mixed economy where the government and market forces prevail. This system is ideal because it will protect the citizens from the effects of extreme market forces but will also protect business people from extreme control from government. Gross National Products shouldn’t be a measure for economic strength though. This is because it doesn’t show the difference in wealth among citizens or places in a country (Bealey, p. 68).
There are various factors brought about by developments in the 21st century that seek to change the political landscape of most states. Communication has changed the way information flows from the governments to the citizens, for example through government websites and industrialization has changed the political structure in the sense that unions have come up to champion the rights of workers. The government has therefore had to learn how to deal with such developments and give proper recognition accordingly. Industrialization has also led to urbanization that has affected rural-urban migration and general immigration of other citizens from other countries. This is critical in elections and representation in the political arena because it affects the voting patterns of different regions. With increased Urbanization and industrialization, environmental concerns should be factored in as ethical concerns that government should enforce in all sectors of the economy (Bealey, p. 55).
Military power is still a good measure for determining state power. This is because strong military power always influences another nation to avert any military actions against it. It still goes to influence states’ perceived power. This can be seen from recent developments in the international field to depict nuclear weapons as a major threat to other nations. This is because nuclear weapons greatly increase the military power of a Nation to make it quite dangerous to other Nations.
However, recent developments in the international field have rendered military power unreliable in determining the overall power of a state. This is because of international regulations that govern military actions overseen by International bodies such as United Nations (UN). Military integration blocks such as NATO are also forces to consider before determining a country’s power. For example, it is the responsibility of NATO countries to protect member states in case of attacks (Boehm, p. 79).
Nations can however move from amassing military-ware to soft power forces that would create a peaceful environment. Some of the soft power strategies to be used would include:
- Economic block integration
- Strategic alliances between Nations
- Population power
Politics and Government
Accountability in terms of politics and governance is an ethical concern. It is normally used in public sector, corporate scene and in non-profit organizations. Political accountability can be defined in terms of accountability of political players, civil servants and the government itself. It is a more individual kind of accountability. Government can however be held accountable from its mandate. The accountability of government is on a National level with emphasis on the responsibility to its citizens
Politics is different from government on constitutional grounds because the government gains it’s validity from the constitution while politics gains its validity from political parties and individuals. The structure of government is more defined, unlike the structure of politics. Politics change from time to time but government is constant. A change in government would warrant a change in constitution (Boehm, p. 90).
Popular sovereignty is what drives a government to power. Governments ascend to power by a majority vote from its citizens while politics strive to shape the popular opinion and sovereignty of the citizens. Politics is therefore a causal factor for the popular opinion expressed by most citizens. Government formation and approval therefore depends on popular sovereignty defined by politics.
Government is majorly defined by the rule of law in that; it is the body that ensures there’s rule of law. Its major functions would include legislation (formation of law), executive function (implementation of law) and judicial function (interpretation of law). Politics is governed by the rule of law, stemming from the political party and the general laws of the land. Politics is therefore a creation and subordinate to the rule of law.
Types of Governments
A democratic government is guided by direct rule of the people or through elections where the people decide. In a democratic government issues are carried out transparently without any disparities between the elected representatives and the people. An authoritarian government is the opposite of a democratic government. In this type of government, the country is governed by rigid rules and policies, usually formulated by one leader. There is usually no regard to the rule of law and the leader is above the constitution. This type of rule is however rare but still exists in the world today. In Zimbabwe for example, the current president follows an authoritarian model of leadership, whereby his opinions prevail without regard to the laws of the country. The strong cringe to power by President Mugabe in light of a defeat in elections shows a total disregard of the rule of law. A totalitarian government on the other hand is a manifestation of government influence in almost all facets of the society. It is a modern, autocratic form of government whereby the government involves itself in the daily running of the lives of is citizens. China is considered to be an authoritarian model of government because it tries to create a classless kind of society. The Republic of China was majorly authoritarian under the rule of Mao. Canada is however an example of a democratic state because it upholds civil liberties and has a good record in the way it carries out its democratic elections. Canada also respects human rights, Charter of Rights and Freedoms together with the Bill of Rights (Boehm, p. 88).
Parliamentary and Presidential Governments
Both Parliamentary and Presidential types of governments are examples of democratic forms of government. In a presidential system, the office holder is directly elected by the people and is independent from the legislature (Guy 118). A strike in balance should however be established between the presidency and legislature. In America, the legislature alignment is a bit different. For instance, this organ debates important bills that affect the nation. When viable, the bills are passed to become law. The president however has the right to override the bill but legislature can also override this ruling from a majority vote. The presidency however, stems its influence in the American presidential system from foreign policy. The president has the supreme and official power in security issues. For instance, he/she may allocate military in war regions. However, he/she may not the autonomy of declaring that there is war in a certain region. The legislature has to approve the declaration of wars and signing of international treaties.
In the parliamentary system, the chief executive of the country and the head of state are two different entities. The chief executive majorly heads the legislature but the head of state is in office ceremoniously. The biggest difference between parliamentary and presidential systems is the election of the chief executive of the country (Guy, p. 120). In Canada, the Chief Executive (Prime Minister) is elected by the Legislature, but America, which runs on presidential system, elects a Chief executive (President) directly from the people. More discipline of political parties is however prominent in Parliamentary systems because legislators vote almost strictly on party lines unlike presidential systems where legislators are at will to vote whichever way they want (Bealey, p. 98).
Nazism being politics that stemmed from dictatorship is very difficult to resurface especially in the 21st Century and beyond. However, some remnants of Nazis still exist in the present society but the ideology behind it is long gone. Hitler supported Nazism because of the loss of cultural identity in Germany and this ideology was intended to restore the situation back. In the 21st century, a lot of strides have been made regarding cultural integration such that, there are no chances of restoring the parent cultures. The world is slowly turning global and cultural identities are fast disappearing.
Nazism also depended on military power as a great determinant of how great a Nation was. It is quite evident that military power is quite regulated in today’s world, unlike in the past. Nazism could thrive in societies where there was no regulation regarding what countries could do. Today, there are international oversight bodies that curtail military power such as UN. Government systems such as presidential and parliamentary also curtail the authority of a single leader to carry on the activities of a Nation autonomously. Nazism thrived on Hitler’s dictatorship during the period of 1933-1945. Circumstances have however changed (Guy, p. 121).
The Nazis believed that tere exists weak nations. For instance, tose nations that engaged in squabbles were weak. These nations also sttod divided and were easily defeated by the enemy. The contrary is however noted in the world today. Some of the strongest and powerful Nations in the world today are not built on a single culture. America for example is integrated by many cultures and still stands out to be among the world’s most powerful States. The principles of Nazism wouldn’t therefore work in today’s society.
The Future of Communism
Communism has slowly faded, unlike it’s dominance in the 20th Century under Marxism. Communism has promoted a classless society but has proved impractical to most countries. There are about five countries in the world today that still practice communism including North Korea, China and Cuba (Bealey, p. 49). However, the experiences of the remaining communist states have diverged over the last few years. The collapse of Eastern bloc greatly affected Cuba and North Korea. Other communist States have been less dependant on communist subsidy. This has been the case in some of East Asia States like China. It hasn’t relied on communist subsidies at all, since the Sino-Soviet split (Bealey, p. 50).
Technological advances have been noted to help communism efforts at present. China and Vietnam have also recorded among the highest rates of economic growth. Economic integration has also facilitated efforts of communism and it’s been noted to be the new frontier for the re-emergence of communism, coupled by technological advancement. However, some economists believe that capitalism will last forever.
Communism is however less likely to re-emerge because of social factors that are attributed to communism. The world is already built on capitalistic structures and this still goes on. It would therefore be difficult for another social system to set in and take root. Though socialism has worked in some countries, its applicability depends on the society itself. In East Asia, socialism was already rooted in the society hence it’s practicability. The world has however been rooted in a capitalistic system and the population has even contributed to the system itself. People have amassed wealth in corporations and individually. It would therefore be difficult to distribute the wealth to other people. The resistance would be quite prominent considering the selfish nature of men; or if it were to happen, it would take a long time.
Executive Branch and Policy Formulation
The executive branch of the government would be better placed to formulate policies because through the process of policy formulation, the executive has more control over the process. Agenda setting would be primarily the function of the executive in dealing with current problems facing the country. Through cabinet and ministerial meetings, the executive can come up with proper agendas that would help in improving public welfare.
Policy formulation would be the second process public policy formulation would pass. Normally, it would be under the mandate of the executive, through the ministry concerned to assign professionals to formulate the policies. Adoption, implementation and evaluation would also be overseen by the executive through programs initiated by the various organs of government (Woolsey, p. 78).
Executive power is however under the threat of manipulation from the head of executive who would be the president or prime minister depending on the system of government. The interests of the Chief executive might therefore be dominant in policy formulation. The decisions of the executive are also limited to other organs of government like legislature. Funding would be controlled by the legislature and overall decisions approved by the parliament. Cabinet therefore has to work in tandem to other wings of government. In Canada however, Parliament seems to be re-asserting its power as by seeking to approve a majority of government operations. It would however be dangerous for the executive to operate unilaterally because it doesn’t have the same representation as parliament.
Separation of Head of State and Government
In a parliamentary system, the head of state performs various roles including representing the State in public while leaving the administrative part of running government to the head of government. In a parliamentary system, the president is both the Head of State and Government. It then becomes tiresome for the President to carry out both functions simultaneously. In a parliamentary system, the Head of State represents the state perfectly because this would be among the primary roles of the office (Woolsey, p.193).
The head of state also enjoys public backing because he is widely elected by the people but the same goes for presidential systems. Separation of power between the head of state and government would aid in eliminating imperialism that might be exercised by a president. It would however be much more expensive to run the two offices if they were allowed to run con-currently. In the US presidential system, presidents have in the past represented the state in the capacity of head of state and government. This role has however been overwhelming for presidents and sometimes led to unilateral decisions that have had long term detrimental consequences like the declaration of war against other nations. Assignment of duties to the secretary of state in representing the state in public functions is also an indicator that the coupling of roles of head of state and government is overwhelming for one office.
American and Canadian Governments
The main function of the American cabinet is to advice the President regarding matters that directly relate to the docket in question (Guy, pp. 147-148). For example the Secretary of energy in the US would be an advisor to the President regarding energy matters. The executive arm of the government is therefore to formulate policies regarding various issues of governance including labor, transport, commerce, energy and other sectors of government.
The Canadian authority has the mandate to protect its populace. Id addition, the government is expected to build agreements with different opposing sides for national interest. When a cabinet I divided over a particular issue, it stands to loose out and the country looses as a whole. However, when the government builds consensus, issues of national interest come to pass. Different ministers are very important counsel to the premier. When different views are obtained, the premier can easily distinguish between important issues and the less important issues.
The American cabinet however seems more democratic in the way cabinet members are appointed to office. This affects the overall decision making of the country and the democratic systems of the state. Canadian Ministers are appointed through the Prime minister but the American secretaries through the President. In America, there seems to be a clause tying the president to approval of secretaries by the senate. There seems to be no regulation tying the Canadian Prime Minister in selecting Cabinet ministers. The executive arm in America therefore seems to be much more mature, powerful, and democratic than the Canadian. This is because cabinet decisions are deemed more representatives for the American population than Canadian. More powers should be withdrawn from the Canadian Prime minister to improve the democratic space within the executive.
Limitation and Checks in Authoritarian and Totalitarian Governments
Authoritarian governments are characterized by a disregard of the laws or constitution of the land. Leaders in this type of governments control almost every resource of the country unilaterally. Limitations and checks are therefore not adhered to by leaders in this regime because it adds up to dictatorship whereby no one questions the authority of the leader. Considering the fact that cabinet touches on essential policy matters, the leaders in these types of regimes have a dominant control over checks and limitations (Guy, pp. 159-160).
Totalitarian governments also dictate the lives of many people in the social set-up. The presence of government becomes too prominent in a totalitarian government that it overshadows limitation and checks that might be in place to regulate the cabinet. The wishes of the government are usually perceived more powerful in these types of regimes. The government through the executive therefore becomes insulated from checks since there is no limitation from the public or any other body. Democratic executives are however subject to the government and therefore must follow checks and balances imposed on them. They are not so much a part of government and therefore enjoy little insulation (Bealey, p. 47).
Privy Council, Treasury Board and the Office of the Prime Minister in aid of Cabinet Decision Making
The Privy Council provides a sound mechanism through which decisions among departments can be made quite effectively. This is a mechanism to deal with government issues which for historical purposes or any other reason fall on the shoulders of ministers as privy councilors rather than ministers that represent various departments. The Privy Council office also provides standard, non-partisan advice to the executive arm of government and also helps the prime minister’s office in effecting proper decisions. In addition, it provides co-ordination mechanisms to support decisions reached by various departments. Not only does it provide decision support to various departments of the organization; several government agencies also rely on their expertise.
The office of the Prime minister also provides support to the executive on effective governance because it is combined with a top political brass which advices the prime minister on important matters of policy formulation. It also takes part in ensuring effective government appointments made by the Queen-in-Council. Through these appointments, effective ministers can be chosen to champion the functions of the government hence promoting effectiveness of the cabinet. This office also has effective speech writers who would effectively write cabinet speeches. It also has strategists who would positively influence policies of the cabinet through their expertise.
The Canadian treasury board provides management and accountability services to cabinet projects. The activities of the treasury board would positively impact on the governance, quality of public sector, service delivery, and efficiency. This is usually undertaken through government projects and service programs. Moreover, the treasury board provides expertise to cabinet regarding information technology, asset contracting and financial programs management.
For efficient running of the government and proper policy formulation, the cabinet needs to incorporate the contributions of the three bodies. This is because cabinet might not be better placed to handle technical issues such as accounting. The credibility of government decisions would also depend on comprehensiveness of the decision making process of the executive. Unilateral decisions by cabinet would lead to mistrust from the public and other bodies that depend on it. Comprehensive decisions are quite crucial for cabinet because policies are usually met with voter skepticism. Voters are more likely to entrust policy instruments to governments and cabinets that they trust. The trust could therefore be earned through comprehensive decision making that includes the Treasury Board, prime minister’s office and the Privy Council (Guy, p. 169).
- Bealey, Frank. Elements in Political Science. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999. Print.
- Boehm, Allan. America, History and Life. Michigan: Clio Press, 2000. Print.
- Guy, James. People, Politics, and Government. 7th ed. Scarborough, Ontario: Pearson Education, 2010. Print.
- Woolsey, Theorepaty. Political Science: The State Theoretically and Practically Considered. New York: Scribner, Armstrong & Company, 1977. Print.