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  #41  
Old Thursday, January 26, 2023
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Post 2021 Comprehension

Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given at the end.
In its response to 9/11, America has shown itself to be not only a hyperpower but increasingly assertive and ready to use its dominance as a hyperpower. After declaring a War on Terrorism, America has led two conventional wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, demonstrating its overwhelmingly awesome military might. But these campaigns reveal something more: America’s willingness to have recourse to arms as appropriate and legitimate means to secure its interests and bolster its security. It has set forth a new doctrine: the right of pre-emptive strike when it considers its security, and therefore its national interests, to be at risk. The essence of this doctrine is the real meaning of hyperpower.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has consistently argued that only option in the face of hyperpower is to offer wise counsel. But increasingly this is a course that governments and people across the world have refused. The mobilization for war against Iraq split the United Nations and provoked the largest anti-war demonstrations the world has ever seen. And through it all, America maintained its determination to wage war alone if necessary and not to be counselled by the concerns of supposedly allied governments when they faithfully represented the wishes of their electorates. Rather than engaging in debate, the American government expressed its exasperation. The influential new breed of neoconservative radio and television hosts went much further. They acted as ringmasters for outpourings of public scorns that saw French fries renamed ‘freedom fries’ and moves to boycott French and German produce across America. If one sound-bite can capture a mood, then perhaps it would be Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. At the height of the tension over a second Security Council resolution to legitimate war in Iraq, Mr. O’Reilly told his viewers that the bottom line was security, the security of his family, and in that matter ‘There’s no moral equivalence between the US and Belgium.’ It is, in effect, the ethos of hyperpower articulated and made manifest in the public domain of 24-hour talk. And America’s willingness to prosecute war has raised innumerable questions about how it engages with other countries. Afghanistan has seen the removal of the Taliban. But there are no official statistics on the number of innocent civilians dead and injured to achieve that security objective. The people of Afghanistan have witnessed a descent into the chaos that preceded the arrival of the Taliban, a country administered not by a new era of democracy under the tutelage of the hyperpower, but merely by the return of the warlords. Beyond Kabul, much of the country remains too insecure for any meaningful efforts at reconstruction and there is enormous difficulty in bringing relief aid to the rural population.

1. Why does the doctrine of power set by neo-imperial America deny space to counselling?
The doctrine of power set by neo-imperial America denies space to counselling because it considers its security and national interests to be of utmost importance. In order to achieve the desired results, the hyperpower neo-imperial America is always ready to act unilaterally and even resort to pre-emptive strike if needed and use its dominance as a hyperpower. They also express frustration and disdain towards governments and people who disagree with their actions, and do not engage in debate.

2. What is the essence of ‘moral equivalence’ whereas War has no moral justification?
The essence of ‘moral equivalence’ signifies both the equality in capabilities as well as willingness to wage war in order to protect one’s national interests when there is a perceived threat emanating from the hostile state. On the other hand, at the same time, war has also no moral justification whatsoever because it results in the loss of many innocent lives.

3. Why do countries occupied and under the tutelage of hyperpower have no peace?
Countries occupied and under the tutelage of hyperpower have no peace because they are often subject to military campaigns led by the hyperpower, which can result in the removal of existing governments, destruction of infrastructure, and loss of civilian lives. Additionally, these countries may not have a stable or effective new government or administration put in place, leading to chaos and insecurity.

4. Arguably Europe and hyperpower US are at cross purposes over the concept of war. Are they? Why?
Europe and the United States are at cross purposes over the concept of war because Europe generally has a more cautious approach towards using military force, and may disagree with the United States' willingness to engage in pre-emptive strikes and go to war without the support of the United Nations or other allied countries.

5. What Tony Blair’s meant by ‘wise counsel’, and did it prevail?
Prime Minister Tony Blair has consistently argued that the only option in the face of hyperpower is to offer wise counsel which means to advice the belligerent nations to go for a pragmatic solution to avoid the bloodshed as much as possible. It is not clear if this approach ultimately prevailed in the case of the war in Iraq, as the United Kingdom participated in the war despite widespread opposition.
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Old Thursday, January 26, 2023
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Post 2022 Comprehension

Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given at the end.
Civil society refers to all of the places where individuals gather together to have conversations, pursue common interests and, occasionally, try to influence public opinion or public policy. In many respects, civil society is where people spend their time when they are not at work or at home. For example, a group of people gather at a local park every Thursday afternoon for a game of football. Most of them arrive well before the game begins and stay for some time after it ends. Some of them go out for dinner or a drink after the game. In the course of their meetings, they talk about wide range of topics, including football but also extending to include issues such as work, family, relationships, community events, racial issues and politics. This kind of solidarity can be found in a variety of other places in civil society – such a sports clubs, bowling leagues, reading groups and social movements – where individuals get together to associate on the basis of some shared interest fostering more effective forms of citizenship. Even though people may come together on the basis of an interest they all share in common, they eventually have to develop protective strategies for dealing with conflicts and differences that emerge within the association. Teammates in a bowling league discover, on certain issues, significant differences of opinion. And yet, because the value the association and look forward to participating in its activities, they do not respond to these differences by exiting the scene. Instead, they search for the ways of interacting that will not threaten the solidarity of the group. In the process, they learn to appreciate and tolerate social differences, a valuable skill to have in an increasingly multicultural nation. They also develop a general sense of social trust and mutual obligation, which makes society function more efficiently (this is what political scientists and sociologists are talking about when they refer to the importance of social capital). Gathering together in an association, people begin to think about the shared private interest as a collective public interest, and they try to make sure that this public interest is safe and secure. For example, the group that gets together for a weekly football game begins to talk about the park as an important community resource; if they feel that the park is being mistreated or mismanaged, will organize a ‘save the park’ campaign to try to influence their local politicians and the other residents of the community. Recently, there has been growing concern that civil society is weaker than it used to be, because people or losing interest in joining associations. As citizens become increasing increasingly disconnected from voluntary associations, they will experience less trust and less social connection, and as a result political institutions will function less efficiently. However, some scholars opine that many people are simply choosing to participate in different kinds of associations with fewer face-to-face meetings but supplemented with which ‘virtual’ interactions facilitated by resources.

1. How does the author characterize the concept of civil society?
The author characterizes civil society as the places where individuals gather together to have conversations, pursue common interests, and occasionally try to influence public opinion or public policy. They also mention that civil society is where people spend their time when they are not at work or at home, such as sports clubs, bowling leagues, reading groups, and social movements.

2. Why does civil society strive towards better socialization driven by tolerance?
Civil society strives towards better socialization driven by tolerance because, as people gather in associations based on shared interests, they eventually have to develop protective strategies for dealing with conflicts and differences that emerge within the association. By learning to appreciate and tolerate social differences, individuals develop a general sense of social trust and mutual obligation, which makes society function more efficiently.

3. What do you understand by the term ‘Social Capital’ used in this passage?
The term 'Social Capital' refers to the value of social connections and the sense of trust and mutual obligation that develops within a society as a result of people gathering together in associations. This social capital is thought to make society function more efficiently.

4. Why does a civil society assume the role of public stake holder?
A civil society assumes the role of a public stakeholder because, as people gather together in an association and begin to think about the shared private interest as a collective public interest, they try to make sure that this public interest is safe and secure.

5. What impact is feared by the weakening state of civil society?
The weakening state of civil society is feared to have an impact on the decreasing trust and social connection among citizens, which in turn is expected to lead to less efficient functioning of political institutions. However, some scholars argue that people are simply choosing to participate in different kinds of associations with fewer face-to-face meetings but supplemented with virtual interactions facilitated by technology.
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