Volume 96, Issue 82
Thursday, March 6, 2003

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Individuals shape the course of history

Raspberry Beret
Kelly Marcella
News Editor

It has become increasingly apparent how much individuals in powerful positions can really affect the course of human history.

Not only are there internal structures in most nations to keep any individual from becoming too powerful, but the existence of international bodies attempt to keep greedy politicians or military dictators in check. The problem is that neither of these systems appear to be overly effective. In many nations – some democratic and some not – leaders of states have acquired the ability to act unilaterally.

The correlation to United States President George W. Bush is obvious. Anyone sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office has the most powerful position on the planet. Bush has used the power associated with his office to shape international politics and conflict over the course of his presidential term.

Spearheading the war on terrorism and the war against Iraq, the state of international affairs has shifted drastically, with Bush as the predominant player. He is supported by other key politicians and powerful individuals, including the leaders of both Great Britain and Spain.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has remained a key American ally since 9/11 and, despite loss of party support and that of the British population, Blair continually pledges his support to the American war effort. In a similar vein, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has also announced his support for American policy, despite an immense lack of popular support for this position.

Factor in the immense amount of unilateral power possessed by dictators and military leaders around the globe – Iraq's Saddam Hussein is only one example of such a case, and showcases the importance of individuals on the international scene.

In all of these cases, select individuals have managed to bypass any internal checks against their power as government leaders, as well as avoid operating under the regulations of multilateral institutions like the United Nations.

So, where does this leave us?

The inefficiency of the UN is the obvious link, but there seems to be a larger problem. Leaders of dominant nations are not fully supportive of the organization and are too impatient to work within its framework. To make matters worse, it is almost impossible to enforce policies, such as sanctions or proper weapons inspections, because of the internal power held by many "less-democratic" leaders.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to the fact that individuals have the ability to change the world – it has become increasingly difficult to stop them.

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