Tag Archives: foreign-affairs

Exporting Poor Work Environments

After a long time of successfully managing to avoid the blog, I eventually clicked this past week when I was sent Fake Steve Jobs’ reaction to the news that an employee of Foxconn, one of Apple’s Chinese ‘manufacturing partners’, committed suicide shortly after reporting a missing iPhone v4 prototype.

We can’t make these products in the United States. Nobody could afford to buy them if we did. And, frankly, the quality would be about half what we get out of China. […]

We all know that there’s no fucking way in the world we should have microwave ovens and refrigerators and TV sets and everything else at the prices we’re paying for them. There’s no way we get all this stuff and everything is done fair and square and everyone gets treated right. No way. And don’t be confused—what we’re talking about here is our way of life. Our standard of living. You want to “fix things in China,” well, it’s gonna cost you. Because everything you own, it’s all done on the backs of millions of poor people whose lives are so awful you can’t even begin to imagine them, people who will do anything to get a life that is a tiny bit better than the shitty one they were born into, people who get exploited and treated like shit and, in the worst of all cases, pay with their lives.

You know that, and I know that. Okay? Let’s just be honest here.

It reminds me somewhat of Jared Diamond’s Collapse, specifically where he discusses how “[China and Japan conserve their] own forests by exporting deforestation to other countries, several of which (including Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia) have already reached or are on the road to catastrophic deforestation” (emphasis mine).

Now, are first world countries like the U.S. and those of Western Europe not just exporting poor work environment standards to the second world countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and China (as a consequence of large-scale, inexpensive manufacturing that we no longer can/want to undertake)?

Top Ten Foreign Affairs Articles

After compiling a few ‘top ten’ lists of classic foreign affairs books, Stephen Walt—professor of international affairs at Harvard University—compiles a more digestible version: the top ten articles in the field of international relations.

The ten articles Walt recommends are below, but click through to the original to see his reasoning behind each choice and to check out the comments.

  1. Albert Wohlstetter’s The Delicate Balance of Terror (pdf).
  2. Mancur Olson and Richard Zeckhauser’s An Economic Theory of Alliances (pdf).
  3. Kenneth Waltz’s International Structure, National Force, and the Balance of World Power.
  4. Robert Jervis’ Hypotheses on Misperception (Summary).
  5. Michael Doyle’s Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs (Summary).
  6. John Ruggie’s International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order (pdf).
  7. Alexander Wendt’s Anarchy is What States Make of It (pdf).
  8. Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink’s International Norm Dynamics and Political Change (pdf).
  9. William C. Wohlforth’s The Stability of a Unipolar World (pdf).
  10. Alexander George’s Case Studies and Theory Development: The Method of Structured, Focused Comparison (pdf).

If anyone spots full-text versions of articles 3, 4, 5 and 10, please do let me know and I’ll update the post.