--importance of text

--importance of geography

--importance of history

--the value of comparison

Where do people live the longest?


Why study comparative government?

1. broaden horizons

2. understand US better

3. make sense of world

the concept of the nation-state

196 countries—better word is nation state.

we recognize 195 of those ( not Taiwan)

new countries, old countries

separatist movements (online article from Economist)

European Union and nationality?

Nation: cultural entity—the people

State: political entity

The history of the nation-state

The future of the nation state (New World Order?)

Is the nation state the problem or the best solution to date?

a sovereign state inhabited by a relatively homogeneous group of people who share a feeling of common nationality.


The importance of international organizations

See, e.g. p. 40.


organization of text:


First World

Second World

Third World

I. Liberal Democracies

II. Communist and Post Communist Countries: Russia, China

III. Newly Industrialized Countries: Mexico, India

IV. Less Developed Countries: Nigeria

V. Islamic Countries: Egypt

VI. Marginal Countries: Haiti, Somalia,  “failed state”: Columbia? Mexico?


Features of liberal democracy: (see p. 35)

--representative government (government by the people)

--constitutional government (rule of law)

--basic freedoms: speech, religion, due process

The modern debate within classical liberalism is over just exactly what is necessary to enjoy "freedom". That is does freedom consist of being "left alone" or does freedom require more active intervention on the part of government to give freedom real meaning?

p. 35 of text: list of 37 liberal democracies

U.S. 1776, France

Post WWI: end of beginning of end of imperialism, colonialization

Set-back: Russian Revolution

Taiwan: 1940s

post WWII

Japan, Germany

Post Korean War: South Korea

Set-back again: Soviet Union and communism

1989: fall of Soviet Union

Break up of Yugoslavia in 1990s

Emergence of EU & Eastern Europe (Turkey)

China? Do what extent to increased economic freedoms in China signal an eventual movement toward political liberalism

Related question: relationship between political and economic freedom.

SEE recent WSJ report

United States

Pax Americana 1945—


Vietnam (1960s) 

Iraq War (2003-2011) and waning of American influence

2001 Afghanistan

2003 Iraq


Is Democracy possible everywhere?

How Healthy is American Democracy?


Measuring Countries:

Political Variables: 

--stability, rule of law. hard to measure, hard to quantity

Economic Variables: 

--GDP (gross and per capita), 

--Debt as % of GDP

progression from agriculture/industry/services/

--economic freedom

SEE Heritage Foundation and WSJ Index of Economic Freedom (with U.S. decline)

Social Variables:

--Life Expectancy/Infant Mortality (die in first 30 days)/adult literacy





--a republic (contrast Britian, Canada, Japan)

--federal form of government (compare Canada, Spain, Mexico, Belgium, Germany)

--presidential system

--separation of powers

--Supreme Court

--are we “exceptional”? John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts Bay

--debate in 2008, 2012 presidential elections

--contrast: treatment of Native Americans

--patriotism and optimism

--opportunity for a “better life” (the American Dream)


Difficulties, or possible difficulties :

Is the "American Dream" still possible? 

--economic, national debt/deficit
--student debt
-health care costs
--recovery from 2009 recession

More general challenges:


--a divided nation

--campaign finance?

--endless campaigns

--the dominance of political polling and scientific campaigning


--education bubble?

--imagery, detachment of president and presidential candidates from public

--personal bankruptcies are at an all-time high, credit card debt

--reliance on imported oil, but much less now.



--term limits

--power of Speaker of House (Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner), Senate Majority Leader (Harry Reid, Tom Daschle)

--public financing of campaigns, serious, meaningful debates


UK (Britain)

Name: The United Kingdom of Britian and Northern Ireland

Contrast: Republic of Ireland:

from the internet about Ireland: 

The modern Irish state gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1922 following a war of independence resulting in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, with Northern Ireland exercising an option to remain in the United Kingdom. Initially a dominion within the British Empire called the Irish Free State, a new constitution and the name of "Ireland" were adopted in 1937. In 1949 the remaining duties of the British monarch were removed and Ireland was declared a republic, with the description Republic of Ireland. The state had no formal relations with Northern Ireland for most of the twentieth century, but since 1999 they have co-operated on a number of policy areas under the North-South Ministerial Council created under the Good Friday Agreement.

Trailer for "Michael Collins" (1996)  HERE

UK v Great Britain

Two differences:

1. UK is a political entity, G. Britain a geographical designation

2. UK includes N. Ireland, G. Britain does not

UK: Birthplace of parliamentary system, used by most democracies, even if they don't call it a "parliament"

Spain: "Congreso de Deputados"

Ireland: Dail Eireann (Senate: Eireann Seanad; Prime Minister: Taoiseach)

Birthplace of Industrial Revolution


UN Security Council

European Union (1973) (uneasy relationship)

British Commonwealth HERE

53 + 1 countries, all former empire

Fiji suspended

must "swear allegience to the crown" but most don't have crown as head of state. Most are republics.


Growing executive power

Devolution to cities and regions

Movement toward services, especially finance 

No Constitution (mvmt toward greater protection of individual rights)

Underperforming National soccer team.

British "reserve" (contrast Ireland, Scotland or even US; contrast France, Spain)

Modern history:

Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) (longest serving of 20th century, only woman)

"Iron Lady" (Meryl Streep)

"The British Disease"

--growing cost of welfare

--power of labor unions

--large public sector

Thatcher's response:

--challenged labor unions

--lowered taxes

--sold off public companies (Rolls Royce, Jaguar, British Air)

--encouraged competition

England and euro: "No! No! No! HERE

Tony Blair (1997-2007)

"new labour" -- excepted much of Thatcher reforms.

Blair and Cameron Question Time HERE

Pragmatism (UK) v Idealism (US)


--House of Lords reform: UPDATE FROM BBC

--Judicial Reform

--Public Disorder:

Hooliganism (70’s and 80s)

2011 Riots

--The UK and the EU
Nigel Farange HERE

Corruption in the EU "Breathtaking"

update from Economist HERE


article HERE

youtube HERE

John Gaunt's Lament from RII



pressing issues:

China and Senaku Islands

Japanese Culture:

Horror Films

The Ring

A country of enigmas: highest life expectantcy in the world, one of the highest suicide rates. (internet-enabled suicide groups)

prolific pornography

"karoshi": death from overwork

extreme sense of honor, loyalty, conformity that goes back centuries, shame in surrender

Letters From Iowa Jima (2006) Trailer HERE

Like, UK, an island
Unlike, UK, very homogeneous, a history of isolation, closed society

--discipine (cf Germany)

--closed society: advantages, disadvantages

--homogeneity (racisism?)

--WWII savagery: sense of honor

Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys (James Bradley)

Rape of Nanking wikipedia entry HERE

Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang whose parents were in Nanking but survived

Documentary on Nanking HERE

Letters form Iowa Jima

--one party government (informally) (Liberal Democratic Party), highly rigid, somewhat corrupt

Hence Komeitu Party ("Clean Government" Party)

Junichero Koizumi (PM, 2001-2006)

--professional bureaucracy (cf. France)

--Iron triangle: bureaucracy, political leaders, big business (bribery)

--Japan needs leadership, but leadership can be supressed by Japanese culture

--male domination (see p. 161)


--(formerly) militarisitic, still in transition (e.g. relationship with U.S.)

The Shoguns (1192-1868) (Shogun, James Clavel) (film "Shogun"

--1945-1952 Occupation

--post 1952

--1980s economic powerhouse, 1990s recession

--Japan and military


Mutual Security Treaty

Tokyo Fire Bombings, etc., Hiroshima, Nagasaki

Chapter II, Article 9, of 1947 Constitution
U.S. presence



Political Characteristics and Features

--constitutional monarchy

--parliamentary system

--weaker upper house like UK

--Supreme Court, but far more passive than U.S.

-strong limits on campaigns and elections (distrust of democracy)

--Komeito (Clean Government Party) (CGP)

--industrial policy

Energy Policy

Fukushima (March 2011)

early report on earthquate and tsunami HERE
news report HERE

nuclear power by country HERE

--Japanese Fertility Rate

(2.11 needed to sustain population))

Comparative Fertility Rates:





Factionalism in Japan (cf. Federalist Paper #10)



Marx (1818-1883) (& private property)
Lenin (1870-1924)

Russian revolution (1914-1917)

Civil War (1918-1922)


1. vanguard part

2. centralismm

3. struggle agst capitalism

4. need for revolution

4. Comintern




Mao in China (1893-1976) (peasants instead of workers)

Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam); Fidel Castro (Cuba),; "Che" Guevara (Bolivia)

Fall of Berlin Wall (1989)

Collapse of Soviet Union

The Communist Five Today:
Cuba, North Korea, China, Vietnam


Important movies:

Failsafe (1964)
Lives of Others (2006)
Thirteen Days (2000)
The Killing Fields (1984)




". . . a riddle wrapped in a mystery insdie an enigma." --Winston Churchill

National Character:

fine arts (music and ballet), literature, math and science (and chess), fear (Napoleon (1812 Overture) & Hitler), pessimism/nihlism

Stalingrad (1993)

Note the list of personal protections in the Russian Constitution HERE

Russian character:

literature, music, math, chess

Important Question: What is Russia's future?

Invasion of Czechoslavakia (Prague Spring) 1968

Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979

Legacy: Osama Bin Laden

Invasion of Crimea (Ukraine?)

Russian interests in Ukraine:

1.Don't want a pro-Western, pro-EU, pro-NATO country on its borders

2. Russians in eastern part of Ukraine

3. Russia's only naval warm water base in Sevastopol, Crimea

4. Russian natural gas lines run through Ukraine

Article on Russian point of view

"Pussy Riot" HERE and HERE

The most distinctive feature of the Russian political system is the power executive (President + Prime Minster. Started with the Tsars, e.g. Peter the Great (late 17th century) 

Russian Revolution (Tsar Nicholas II, Anastasia)

Dual executive (also: Egypt, Finand, France, Poland, and Serbia) (the exective used to be, de facto, the head of the communist party)

Characteristics and powers of the president: ("super president")

two four year consecutive terms, head of state, commander in chief, chief diplomat

Powers: (pp. 225-226)

--edicts (cf to American president and executive orders)

--appt, including prime ministers

--can dissolve Duma and call for new elections (cf. Brit parliament)

--veto legislation (cf American president

--can declare martial law and state emergency (w/ approval of Federation Council

--can submit legislation

--no primaries in presidential election


Duma- lower house

Federation Council- upper, weaker house (like UK, Japan)


Constitutional Court--intepretation of Constitution

 Supreme Court- court of highest appeal in civil, criminal and administrative cases


Darkness At Noon (1941)

Red Plenty (2012)

Alexander Solzhenitsin



1.3 billion--1/5 of the world's population

collectivist mentality (like Japan)

changing perhaps faster than any other country we are studying

Comparisons of Military Spending

Stronger relationship with Russia, e.g. Russia's invitation to jointly develop 5th generation jet fighter (stealth)

China's J-20

cf. U.S. F-35

cf. Eurofighter Typhoon

Comparison between U.S. and Chinese military

comparisons between Stalin and Mao

--modern history begins with communist revolution in 1949

--Mao Zedung v. Chaing Kai-shek

--Chaing Kai-shek to Taiwan, Two Chinas?

Mao Tse Dung

Cultural Revolution 1966 
Revisited (article in Economist)


Tiannamen Square (1989)
"Tank Man"


Membership in WTO (2001)
previously "command economy" (cf.Stalin), still "state capitalism", "socialist market economy", "market Leninism"


tension with USSR

Now, China, economic freedom and political rights

Beijing Olympics 2008 Opening Ceremony

Seat of Power in China: CCP

Legislature (National People's Congress) aprox. 3000 members

Legislature--neutered by numbers

No independent judiciary

Will China become the new "superpower" of the future? (cf. Russia)

Limitations: military only regional, not global, limited democratic freedom (cf. Victor Davis Hanson Carnage and Culture)

In some way, formal stuctures and processes of gov't unimportant--the challenge of understanding China's politics.

Falun Gong movement

"one child policy"

Interview with Zhang Xin

Hong Kong:



Fastest growing religion on earth

separation of Church and State (cf. St. Augustine's City of God)

Can an Islamic Country be secular? Turkey?

Purpose of Government: to guard and promote Islam

enforcement of "virtue"

To the extent there is a separate political philosophy, it is the tradition of Islamic scholars trying to reconcile Islam on the one hand, and Ancient philosophy and modern philosophy on the other hand.

e.g. Alfarabi

What is character of Islam? Peaceable or Militant

Different types of Islamic political entities:

Islamic Republics (?): Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, although perhaps in name only. Very little common traits between so-called "Islamic Republics"

Absolute Monarchies: Saudi Arabia

Two major divisions in Islam: Sunni and Shi'a (Sufism is not a separate sect, rather a more mystical, and at times, more radical spirituality)

Difference is on proper order of descent from Muhammad

Sunni: majority of muslims (Saudi Arabia)

Shi's: miniority but concentrated in (Iran)


The possibility of Arab nationalism

the discovery of OIL in the Middle East

May 26, 1908 in Persia (now Iran)



1. uses lots of water

2. chemical composition of solution

3. earthquakes?

U.S. Overtakes Saudi Arabia in oil production

How much oil does Saudi Arabia have left?

U.S. overtakes Saudi Arabia in oil production:

SAUDI ARABIA (taken from Saudi Government site)


Wahabism and internal tension (split personality)
Ally of U.S. but 


After oil--what next?

Work ethic and job skills


Saudi Arabia is a monarchy based on Islam. The government is headed by the King, who is also the commander in chief of the military.

The King appoints a Crown Prince to help him with his duties. The Crown Prince is second in line to the throne.

The King governs with the help of the Council of Ministers, also called the Cabinet. There are 22 government ministries that are part of the Cabinet. Each ministry specializes in a different part of the government, such as foreign affairs, education and finance.

The King is also advised by a legislative body called the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura). The Council proposes new laws and amends existing ones. It consists of 150 members who are appointed by the King for four-year terms that can be renewed.

The country is divided into 13 provinces, with a governor and deputy governor in each one. Each province has its own council that advises the governor and deals with the development of the province.

Because Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, its judicial system is based on Islamic law (Shari’ah). The King is at the top of the legal system. He acts as the final court of appeal and can issue pardons. There are also courts in the Kingdom. The largest are the Shari’ah Courts, which hear most cases in the Saudi legal system.

Saudi Arabia and the U.N.:

"Crescent of Normality"

Map of UAE


Persian, not Arab but Muslim

Islamic republic (theocracy?)


Persia (Islamic but not Arab)

Cyrus the Great (559-531), Darius the Great (522-486); OT, "300"

1979- Shah out of power (SAVAK, cf. KGB, STASI)

1979-Iranian Revolution

Hostage Crisis (54)

"Argo" (2012)

Iranian response to Argo:

1980-88- War with Iraq


U.S./Iran relations

Government institutions:

Assembly of Experts, Guardian Council, Expediency Council, Revolutionary Guard

President (chief executive) and Supreme Leader (head of state)

Bicameral legislature (lower house, Majlis, more powerful)

Judiciary has prosecutorial responsibilities.

Presidential elections, but . . .

No effective political parties, but "conservatives", "reformers", "pragmatists"

At times Iran has two governments in competitions:

president (more secular); Leader (more religious)

Some hope that Iran will reform itself, but the best moment may have passed.

Iranians sense of superiority:

1. not Arab

2. never colonized

3. home to Shi'a

4. large population (2x that of Saudi Arabia or Iraq)
Iran: 76.5 million, Iraq: 32.6 million,Saudi Arabia: 28.3 million

5. deep sense of pride in rich history and culture


the image of Ayatollah Khomeini

Salman Rushdie

Sharia law, immigration to Europe (While Europe Slept), former Anglican Archbiship Roland's controversial statement on sharia law in the UK

Just what is Iran?

--a republic?

--a theocracy? -A constitutional theocracy?

—Iran’s Checks and Balances:

An unusual executive structure:

Ayatollahs + President: Who is in charge?

At this point, it is important to ask of authoritarian regimes:

--just how do they maintain authority? what measure of freedom do they feel is necessary--in others words, how far can they push it?


--it is also important to ask how the economy is managed. For all of the oil wealth you find in some of the Islamic countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria), you find a great deal of incompetence and poverty, e.g. Iran and Saudi Arabia


Mexico--despite the drug cartel problem, has had a good decade, and the latest election of Enrico Pena Nieto (PRI) is another good turn yet.

Spanish occupation: (16th Century to 1821), Hernan Cortest, Aztecs

Lyrics to Cortez the Killer by Neil Young

"Cortez the Killer"

Spanish and indigenous people (ct. U.S. and native Americans)


1917 Revolution and new Constitution

"The Unfulfilled Mexican Revolution" (rights, democratic procedures, economic freedom, poverty)

Mexcan-American War (184-1848) (annexation of Texas, spoils of California, New Mexico, Arizona, more of Texas

Mexico City Olympics (1968)

1976-1982 Oil Crisis

1997 PRI loss to Vicente Fox (PAN)


1. The Unfinished Revolution

e.g election of 2006

2. Nationalism

Hard to overstate effect of U.S.

MNT v. Mexico (2012)

3. The Corporatist State (oligarchy?)

cf. in U.S. Military-Industrial Complex, "too big to fail" banks and automobile manufacturers

4. Political Centralism and Corruption

5. Machismo

a hispanic thing (cf. Spain), domestic violence, political participation

6. Crime

e.g Ciudad Juarez


Compare and Contrast Mexico and U.S. 

1. looks same institutionally, appears to have checks and balances, but president much more powerful in Mexico  (more control over appts., decrees, patronage)

Until recently, could appt his successor. (cf 19th century US vs primary system)

Can appt Supreme Court but limited terms

Must be Mexican born and both parents Mexican.

can use armed forces for external AND INTERNAL needs


Legislative branch has for years been very deferential to executive branch (until recently). During 71 years of PRI rule, no legislation EVER declined

cabinent system similar to U.S.--cabinet secretaries have only modest power (ct. UK)

2. looks like federal form of gov't  (31 states) but Mexico City area dominant, not only over other states, but at times over nat'l govt (comprises over 1/5 of national population)

3. no public offices are electible for consecutive terms

4. Long "lame duck"session for newly elected president: elected in July, assumes office in December (cf. 20th Amendment)


Legislative: Camara de Diputados 

and Camara de Senadores (all elected every 6 years; not staggered--this strengthens executive branch)


Common Law:
England, Wales, N. Ireland (Scotland is mixed), Canada (except Quebec), India, U.S. (individual states can vary somewhat, esp. Louisiana)

Civil Code Tradition (sometimes called Roman Civil Code Tradition or Napoleonic Civil Code Tradition):
most of Europe, Mexico

Common Law: adversarial or accusatorial, relies on precedent, stare decisis, more active role for judges and justices

Civil Code: relies more on written code (often more extensive and explicit), much less on precedent, inquisitorial, less of a "contest," more an attempt by all parties to discovery "the truth."


"Gandhi" (1982)

Will India make it "around the bend" to become a healthy democracy?
--has moved from one party to multi party system 
--emerging middle class
--economic growth

What are the problems?

--population (second most populous country in world after China)
--deep poverty (highlighted by Mother Teresa)
--social structure (esp. caste system)
--political violence
--prime minister too often dictatorial
--over centralization (even though technically a federal form of government) (New Dehli capitol with almost 27 million)
--over bureaucratization, at times peculiar, often discourages entrepreneurship (even though Indians, as a race, seem to be very entrepreneurial when given opportunity; for example, motels, convenience stores, medicine, fast food). History of excessive national control of economy

Also see: Economist Article on India's future:

Economically India has made great strides in recent years, e.g. American outsourcing.

Just call 1-800-anything

British colonialism

18th century to 1947: The British Raj

British Commonwealth

Indian Sub-Continent:

Parliamentary system of government although inordinate emphasis on personality

plus President elected by an Electoral College but, for the most part subordinate to Prime Minister although President has several constitutional powers (at least theoretically) such as dissolving Parliament, declare State of Emergency, settle disputed elections.

Upper House (Council of States)

Lower House (House of the People)

Conflict with Pakistan

© Hank Edmondson 2012