Editor’s Note ~ Volume 11 / Spring 2008
This year the Journal staff decided to put forth a bold question to students and scholars: Is it the end of the Enlightenment? While previous editions made policy concerns their focus, this year we broke new ground by asking a broader and more theoretical question. In this context, the Enlightenment represents a set of Western ideals which promised to release politics from religion, replace faith with science, and elevate the individual over the community. Though abstract, our question is both significant and pressing as we attempt to interpret the resurgence of religion in twenty-first century politics, the perpetuation of terrorism backed by extremist ideology, and the challenges posed to Western worldviews given the rise of non-Western powers. Were the ideals of the Enlightenment ever destined to triumph worldwide? If not, what comes next?
The eleventh edition of the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs brings together a set of articles that insightfully address these questions. The Journal begins with an article by SAIS Professor Francis Fukuyama on the challenges facing liberal democracies in the twenty-first century, one of the most serious being the integration of Muslim immigrants into European societies. The focus then shifts to Africa with an article considering the prospects of an African Enlightenment and its impact on economic development, and another addressing religion’s influence in the evolution of the African state. The role of religion is further examined in the cases of Afghanistan and Pakistan, specifically on the factors that have lead to radical Islam’s rise along the Afghan-Pakistani border and how this has contributed to current instability. A final theme-related article asserts that multiple “enlightened” worldviews can coexist and that Enlightenment principles and notions of modernity are misinterpreted as overly Western concepts.
In addition to articles pertaining to this year’s theme, the Journal is also pleased to include works on the application of international law to humanitarian intervention, the case of Japanese comfort women, the question of why nuclear states disarm, and the challenges for EU energy security with respect to Algeria.
While this year’s Journal has undoubtedly continued the tradition of providing high-quality discussion on topics in international affairs, I also believe that we have contributed something new. Encouraged to take a risk, we chose to depart from the everyday questions of foreign affairs and to ask something fresh, and the result is a more compact yet highly insightful collection of articles. I would like to thank the Journal staff, the Bologna Center faculty, and the authors for making this possible.
Emily A. Harter