Baylor > Political Science > Undergraduate Program > Honors Theses for 2011

Honors Theses Completed in 2011 by Political Science

and International Studies Majors

Daniel Abernathy, University Scholar
Dr. David Corey, mentor

International Law and the Just War Tradition

My thesis asks why the use of force by states is guided, constrained, and evaluated by two conflicting moral traditions – just war and international law - rather than one. I propose that each tradition serves a distinct purpose and that their ends could not be achieved by a single, merged moral code. I examine the reasons for the co-existence of these traditions by answering the following three questions: First, what are the limitations of the just war tradition that made international laws of war a necessary addition to the moral thinking on war? Second, what are the limitations of international law that spurred a renewed interest in just war thinking during the 20th century? Third and last, to what extent is it possible – and desirable – for international law to better reflect just war principles? After answering these questions, I will conclude my thesis with a discussion of the impact on these traditions of changing themes in international relations. I will briefly discuss issues such as the increasing importance of international humanitarian law, the stronger focus on terrorism after the September 11th attacks, and the increasingly common experience of unconventional warfare.

Katie Jo Baumgardner, University Scholar
Dr. Jerold Waltman, mentor

The Garbage Can Model and Education: A policymaking analysis of the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and its effects on the American Community College System

When it was signed on March 30, 2010, House Resolution 4872: the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, was touted as a landmark reform bill for the fields of healthcare and higher education. Political scientist John W. Kingdon provides a revised policymaking model that modifies the popular Cohen-Marsh-Olsen garbage can model to explain how landmark reform occurs in American government. Kingdon’s model proposes that three streams—problems, policies, and politics—converge to create a policy window; this window allows for landmark legislative reform to take place. By using Kingdon’s model as a framework, I examine how community colleges became a top agenda item for the Obama Administration, and how Kingdon’s three streams coupled to create a policy window that resulted in $2 billion worth of competitive grants to community colleges for the purpose of providing support to educational and career training programs.

Fu-Chieh Flora Chang, Political Science
Dr. Curt Nichols, mentor

The Dropping of the Atomic Bombs: An Analysis of President Harry S Truman’s Postwar Justifications

This thesis investigates President Harry S Truman’s post-World War II justifications for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan.  It uses case study analysis to investigate three claims that Truman made about his decision.  Namely, it explores: whether the casualty/fatality estimates for an invasion of Japan were accurate; if alternative solutions were really considered, and whether the target cities were selected for their military value.  A “validity” index is constructed, and Truman is scored in each case.  Scores are determined by looking at Truman’s own words and analyzing them in light of arguments that critics and defenders have presented in scholarly debates.  Final evaluation reveals that while Truman’s justifications were never fully valid they were not lies or completely invalid either.  In the end, it appears that he almost always used some embellishment to foster patriotism and secure his place in history.

Kathryn Craig, International Studies
Dr. Sara Alexander, mentor

The Choice: An Investigation of Infant-Feeding Methods of HIV-Positive Mothers and the Reasons Behind Them

Every mother has to choose how to feed her infant but HIV-positive mothers have higher stakes in the choice.  Mother-to-child transmission of HIV through breastfeeding is still an issue today while formula feeding produces possible issues of prohibitory costs and malnutrition.  The infant’s HIV status also comes into play thanks to early infant diagnosis through the dried blood spot test.  This thesis explores the reasoning behind the infant-feeding method choices that mothers in Zambia are making and aims to discuss the advantages and risks and the importance of making these known to HIV-positive mothers.

Kristina Edwards, International Studies
Dr. J. Mark Long, mentor

The Economic, Cultural, and Religious Implications of Child Marriage in Yemen

Within the past decade, child marriage has become an increasingly controversial topic in Yemen. The United Nations defines a child marriage as one in which either or both parties are below the age of eighteen. In Yemen, approximately half of all females who marry are still children at the time of marriage, according to this definition, and the average age of marriage for females is twelve to thirteen years old. The minimum marriage age was abolished in 1999, demonstrating the struggle facing Yemen’s lawmakers in a modern context. This thesis analyzes the economic, cultural, and religious justifications that prop up the institution of child marriage in Yemen. Addressing each of these perspectives, I demonstrate that parents who allow or force their daughters to marry before reaching adulthood are making a financially unsound decision, regardless of economic background. Likewise I establish that, contrary to the popular opinion that child marriage is an expression of Yemeni cultural values, child marriage is at odds with the high value that the Yemeni people place on both collective and individual well-being. I also show that abiding by religiously-based values in present-day Yemen necessarily opposes the contracting of child marriages. Finally, as a recommendation to Yemeni parents and families, I propose financially, culturally, and religiously feasible alternatives to contracting marriage too soon for their daughters.

Jeremy Goss, Political Science
Dr. Joseph Ferraro, mentor

Engineering Lower Metabolism Rates and Greater Fat Stores in Newborn Famine Victims
Through the use of Prenatal Hormonal and Chemical Supplements

Obesity has quickly become one of the leading health concerns in the United States. Once believed to be the most preventable form of disease, recent studies have concluded that chemicals found in plastics could be contributing to a predisposition toward obesity by manipulating metabolic factors and disrupting fat cells. In this thesis I will summarize literature from studies documenting an association between Bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals and the development of obesity and propose the use of such substances to augment world aid efforts in famine stricken countries.

Joseph Hawkins, English and Political Science
Dr. Joe Fulton, mentor

“Well-Directed, Honest Toil”: The Concept of Citizenship in the Life and Rhetoric of Frederick Douglass

During Reconstruction, Frederick Douglass championed the virtues of self-reliance and self-creation.  He castigated the federal government for failing to ensure that African-Americans enjoy their rights as enshrined in law.  Despite this agitation, he believed that legal rights were insufficient for one to attain full citizenship.  One must live in a certain way.  This way of life is encapsulated in Douglass’s speech, “Self-Made Men.”  But Douglass did more than simply exhort his listeners to a certain way of living; he lived out his philosophy of individualism.  Examined in context, Douglass embodied the philosophy that the transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, expounded in his speech, “The American Scholar.”  In fact, Douglass lived out Emersonian values before Emerson even articulated them.  Lastly, Douglass’s message of individualism is relevant for today’s public discourse because of its historical significance, transcendence and nobility. 

Robert Hill, International Studies
Dr. Linda Adams, mentor

Militarism and Israel: Origins and Development of Cultural Militarism in Israeli Society and Politics

This thesis traces the evolution of Israeli militarism from its roots in 19th century European ideology to the contemporary era but concentrates on its development during the British Mandate period in Palestine. Though the Jewish nationalist movement was founded on non-aggressive and predominantly socialist principles, a belligerently expansionistic interpretation of Zionism began gaining ground in the Yishuv in the mid-1930s and has since come to legitimize the use of force as a political instrument. This paper studies the intellectual and material development of the Yishuv’s paramilitaries from early defense cooperatives like Bar-Giora and Hashomer to the creation of the Haganah and Palmach as well as Revisionist Zionist militias like the Irgun and Lehi. Cultural militarism did not wither, however, with the consolidation of Jewish militias into the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the creation the State of Israel in 1948. Instead, militant individuals and ideologies from across the political spectrum became intimately involved in domestic and foreign policy making at the highest levels. Subsequently, cultural militarism continues to pervade the Israeli polity and contributes to the perpetuation of the occupation of the West Bank as well as the elections of infamously hostile individuals like Yitzhak Shamir, Menachem Begin, Yigal Allon, and Ariel Sharon to positions of power and the encouragement of extremely bellicose national policies.

Shayan Makani, Philosophy and Political Science
Dr. Jonathan Tran, mentor

Intersecting Vulnerabilities:  An Islamic Theorization of the Fragility of Cross-Species Communities

Western liberal notions of community assume that the members of a community are strictly human. However, this anthropocentric view of community brackets out the majority of all living things. In contrast to the secular philosophical notions of community that have become so deeply rooted in Western discourse, Islam provides a more progressive account of animals and community.  Islamic source texts present a particularly constructive structure for guidance on how to relate to non-human animals. Three primary sources determine the status and protections afforded to animals in Islam. First and foremost, the Qur’ān establishes the foundational Islamic law (Sharī’ah). Secondly, the sayings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAAW), the Sunnah, collected in the ādīth, demonstrate the guidance of the Qur’ān in the context of early Islam. Lastly, Ijtihad, or inference by analogy, permits leading Islamic scholars to reinterpret Qur’ānic scripture and Aādīth to better account for the evolving controversies of the contemporary world. Together, these three sources form the basis of Islamic case law and its corresponding ethical parameters.

I employ these three sets of Islamic source texts to reinterpret the status and role of non-human animals in the modern world. In contrast to animal rights, I offer a vision for animal protections based on a theological understanding of the intersecting vulnerabilities between human and animal communities. Furthermore, I argue that Muslims in the West should adopt a vegetarian lifestyle as an ethical response to factory farming. By using the notion of community as the foundation for reconceptualizing relations between human animals and non-human animals, Islam provides an avenue for its human followers to protect and respect their non-human counterparts based on the concept of communal vulnerability, rather than relying on arbitrary accounts of sameness.

Christopher McMillion, University Scholar
Dr. David Corey, mentor

Rawls and the Liberal Political Tradition: Universalism and the Attempt to Bridge Rousseau and Kant

This thesis is an effort to understand how the political theory of John Rawls stands in relation to the tradition of liberal political thought. His work owes a deep debt to two particular strands of this tradition. The first is the contract-based strand represented by the work of Rousseau. The second is the duty-based strand represented by the work of Kant. Working from Rawls’s A Theory of Justice and Justice as Fairness, I evaluate Rawls’s debt to Rousseau’s work, particularly the Discourses and the Social Contract, and Kant’s writings, particularly the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and the Metaphysics of Morals. Rawls’s recently published lectures on the histories of moral and political philosophy also shed light on the manner in which Rawls draws from these traditions. I focus most directly on Rawls’s ties to the universalism of both authors, represented by Rousseau’s general will and Kant’s categorical imperative. I conclude that Rawls’s attempt to combine these two strands of the liberal political tradition and his heavy reliance on Kant’s form of universalism results in a problematic universalism of his own that largely ignores the individual character of the citizens who make up political society.

Heather McMillion, University Scholar
Dr. David Corey, mentor

Rhetoric: War or Restoration?  A Comparison of Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin’s Interpretations of the Gorgias

My thesis compares Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin’s interpretations of Plato’s Gorgias. I primarily focus on the Gorgias, a series of lectures delivered by Leo Strauss in 1963 at the University of Chicago, and Eric Voegelin’s Plato. In chapters two and three, I address each philosopher’s method of reading and interpretation of the dialogue before comparing the two in chapter four. What this comparison reveals is that since Strauss and Voegelin employ very similar (if not in some cases nearly identical) methods of interpretation when reading the Gorgias, the difference in interpretation arises from prior assumptions concerning the nature of both philosophy and political philosophy. Strauss and Voegelin’s differing opinions on these topics prove to be a driving force behind the differences in their interpretations of the Gorgias, thus showing that Strauss views rhetoric as a possible source of self-defense for the philosopher against the dangers posed by the city. On the other hand, Voegelin views rhetoric as a possible means of communication between the philosopher and city, thus allowing the philosopher to not only identify the ills of the city, but also, hopefully, bring about restoration.

Caleb Simone, University Scholar
Dr. Dwight Allman, mentor

The First Tragic Philosopher: Nietzsche’s Self-Portrait in Ecce Homo

In his autobiography entitled Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is, Friedrich Nietzsche sets out to explain who he is and how he understands his philosophy. Offering a commentary on his life and works, Nietzsche constructs a philosophical self-portrait in which he portrays himself as “the first tragic philosopher.” Through this poetic image, Nietzsche suggests a coherence to his philosophy that encompasses all of his philosophical periods.  Using Ecce Homo as a kind of hermeneutic guide, this thesis undertakes to read Nietzsche “as good old philologists read their Horace,” in order to trace the development of his poetic self-portrait as the first tragic philosopher. In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche indicates that the origins of his “tragic philosophy” lie in this first book, The Birth of Tragedy. This thesis illuminates Nietzsche’s self-understanding as the first tragic philosopher, therefore, by tracing its development from his first work, The Birth of Tragedy, to his mature philosophical period. While the tragic philosopher looks to be something like the opposite of the optimistic Socrates, or even the pessimistic Schopenhauer, since he is defined in contradistinction to both of these figures, I nevertheless argue that Nietzsche’s tragic philosopher is properly brought into view only with the aid of these images.   Nietzsche ultimately represents his tragic philosopher as a “Socrates who practices music,” on the one hand, and the “pessimist of strength,” on the other.  Only through a careful explication of these images, by which Nietzsche explains and defines himself, does the portrait of the tragic philosopher come fully and properly into view.

Stanley Staton, Philosophy and Political Science
Dr. James SoRelle, mentor

Swing Down, Sweet Chariot

There has not been a very good analysis on the interactions between the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee.  This thesis looks at the interaction between the two organization with an emphasis on the work done during the Mississippi Freedom Summer.  This thesis looks at the organizations as having two competing perceptions on how the to help black people in the United States.  The NAACP followed and continues to follow a perception that working from the top-down, from legislation to change in society, is what works best.  SNCC, on the other hand, followed a perception that to empower people from the grassroots to affect change themselves was the best method to pursuing a change in society and ultimately, the laws.  Each of these perceptions worked to a varying degree.  This thesis shows how each perception worked to change the United States.

Ryan Trobee, International Studies
Dr. David Clinton, mentor

Imperial Encounters: Evaluating the Caucasian and First Anglo-Afghan Wars

The mid-nineteenth century was a time of considerable expansion and consolidation into areas in Asia by European powers, including Imperial Russia and Great Britain. The 1839 Anglo-Afghan War, in which British authorities attempted to establish a friendly buffer state, was a disaster and defeat for the occupying authorities. The Russian campaign into the northern Caucasus was successful in ending significant resistance in the region and allowed Russian control of the region. Why, given significant similarities in the two wars, were the outcomes so different? By examining the motivations for war, the character local populations, the conduct of the campaigns, and the resources allocated to carry out the campaigns, factors present themselves which can help explain the results of these wars. Final evaluation reveals that a lack strategic clarity and implementation of necessary resources contributed most to the British defeat, while tactical adaptation and strategic perseverance allowed the Russians to prevail.

Michelle Villanueva, International Studies
Dr. Victor Hinojosa, mentor

Consequences of United States Intervention in Latin America

The relationship between the United States and Latin America has always been closely intertwined. At times, this relationship has been strong and supportive while at other times has been full of tension. My thesis will focus on United States intervention in Guatemala and El Salvador during the civil wars that took place in these two countries. The governments of these countries were known to be violating the rights of their citizens yet the United States government continued to give financial and military aid to these governments. I will discuss the extent to which United States intervention contributed to the human rights violations in these countries.

Jeffrey Vitarius, Economics
Dr. Brad Thayer, mentor

Critical Strategy Theory: A proposal

Power Transition Theory (PTT) seeks to explain the calamitous wars that engulf this planet every one hundred years or so. To this end PTT proposes there are certain economic/power dynamics that produce the atmosphere in which these war take place. However, PTT has not up until now sought to describe the actual event of warfare. This thesis is designed to expand PTT into this previously unexplained area by proposing an adaptation of traditional PTT named Critical Strategy Theory (CST). In summary CST contends that rising powers (e.g. Imperial Germany, Revolutionary France) seek a strategy that will allow them to undermine traditional power dynamics. This thesis begins with a summary of the foundations of traditional PTT in the work of Organski, Rasler, and Thompson. From this foundational background CST is proposed and then applied to both the Imperial German historical case and the Communist Chinese contemporary case.

Kathryn Williams, Political Science
Dr. Sara Stone, mentor

Bias in News Coverage of the May 2010 Flotilla Incident: A Content Analysis of
the BBC, Al Jazeera, and the Jerusalem Post

In this thesis I discuss the media's coverage of the May 2010 flotilla raid, specifically, reports from three news publications, the Jerusalem Post, the BBC, and Al Jazeera News, during the week of May 31-June 7, 2010.  A sampling of articles from each news organization were selected for a content analysis to determine the presence of bias. The sources were chosen because of their regional ties. The BBC represents the international media, and an outside perspective. Al Jazeera and The Jerusalem Post reflect the regional representation of the Arabs and Israelis, respectively.  Moreover, the outlets’ predisposition towards one party or another presented a bias.  These bias were made apparent in each news outlets’ reporting. The bias contributed to the international community’s condemning response.