Exploring the World: Adventures of a Global Traveler: Volume I: Around the World in Twenty Days

Exploring the World: Adventures of a Global Traveler: Volume I: Around the World in Twenty Days

by Howard J. Wiarda


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Professor Howard J. Wiarda, a leading academic expert on foreign policy, comparative politics, and international affairs, is the author of more than eighty books. Wiarda has traveled to many of the world's most troubled and exciting places. Now, in the more personal accounts of his global travels, he recalls his foreign research adventures, the countries visited, and the people he met and interviewed along the way.

Wiarda's new four-volume set, Exploring the World: Adventures of a Global Traveler, details his travels and foreign adventures since 2006. In these travel books, he tells the stories that lie behind the research, offers his impressions of the countries and regions he has explored, and considers how and why some have been successful and others not.

Volume I in this new series tells the story of Wiarda's 2010 circumnavigation of the globe. Volume II focuses on Europe and the continued importance of European regionalism-despite the bumper stickers advertising "Europe Whole and Free." Volume III deals with Latin America and questions whether the region is really as democratic as we would like it to be. Volume IV provides Wiarda's analysis of Asia's economic miracles while also recounting his recent visits to the Persian Gulf and his assessment of modernization and development in the Islamic world.

Insightful and entertaining, Wiarda's travel narratives offer commentary on important and interesting sites all over the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781475996920
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/26/2013
Pages: 242
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

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Volume I: Around the World in Twenty Days


iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2013 Howard J. Wiarda
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4759-9692-0



On Foreign Travel

I started traveling to foreign countries when I was a young graduate student. My first trip abroad was in 1962 when I did research in Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. The next year, still a grad student, I visited Mexico and traveled overland up and down the Isthmus of Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. I lived for most of 1964 and part of 1965 again in the Dominican Republic doing research for my doctoral dissertation which was the basis for my first published books on the Dominican revolution and U.S. military intervention of 1965.

While my first several trips abroad were all on two- and four-engine propeller planes, the early 1960s was the period when modern jet travel was coming into widespread use for the first time. Jet aircraft certainly facilitated the foreign travel that I and other scholars in the fields of international relations, comparative politics, and foreign policy wanted and needed to do. With jet travel now becoming widespread, it soon became possible to be (almost) anywhere in the world in one day or one overnight.

In 1966 and 1968, as a (still) young assistant and then associate professor, I received grants from my university (the University of Massachusetts) to travel all around Latin America. We (my wife and I) went back to the Dominican Republic, then visited Venezuela (where she had written her doctoral dissertation), Brazil (my wife's home country), then Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Panama. In 1972 and then again in 1974, we retraced this route, focused particularly on the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Brazil, to complete a research project sponsored by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on "The Politics of Population Policy in Latin America."

My own research and travel interests, meantime, had increasingly focused on Europe. We spent the 1972-73 academic year on sabbatical leave in Portugal and Spain, and traveled extensively throughout Western Europe as well as North Africa. In 1974 and 1975 I was back in Portugal as a policy adviser to the State Department on the Portuguese revolution. In 1977 I went to Israel to help train a new generation of young Israeli scholars, diplomats, and journalists on Latin America; on the way back, I did preliminary research in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal on Southern European labor relations. In 1979, on another year-long sabbatical, I completed the Southern European project and published a monograph on the subject.

Up to this point, my foreign travel itinerary was still quite conventional for a young (still under forty) academic scholar. Between 1962 and 1979, I'd gone on student junkets to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America; made several trips abroad as a young faculty member mainly to my areas of research specialization (Latin America and Southern Europe); enjoyed two research sabbaticals as a young professor; and lived abroad for three out of those seventeen years. During this period I arranged one trip abroad per year—but only if you count Puerto Rico as being "abroad."

However, in 1979-80-81 all this changed; my life was altered forever. In 1979 I was asked to join Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA) as a Research Associate and Research Scholar. At Harvard I worked closely with Samuel Huntington, Stanley Hoffmann, Joseph Nye, Schmuel Eisenstadt, Daniel Bell, Sidney Verba, Gabriel Almond, and other academic luminaries. I also taught at MIT in the spring of 1980. Being at Harvard, I soon discovered, enormously increases your prestige level and, therefore, also your opportunities to lecture, to contribute to anthologies, and to travel to far-off places.

Then in 1981, in part because of that Harvard connection, I was invited to join the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) as a Senior Scholar and foreign policy program director. Wow; Harvard, MIT, and AEI all within a two-year period. In those years, early-to-mid-1980s, of the Reagan Revolution, AEI was flush with cash from its big donors; it was also viewed as the "idea factory" of the Reagan Administration. I had no teaching and precious little administrative responsibilities at AEI, leaving abundant time for research, writing, and foreign travel, mainly to Europe and Latin America. While at AEI in the 1980s, I also undertook my first trips to Asia: initially Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore; later China, South Korea, Indonesia, East Timor, Macao, and India as well. My travel budget was virtually unlimited and it was not difficult to find a reason to go abroad. Instead of one trip a year from my early academic years, I now started to average three or four foreign trips a year.

My itinerary broadened as well. I went to places, and often at five-star levels, that I never would have gone to as an academic. Since I still had research interests in Mexico, Central America (then a hot issue), the Caribbean, and South America, one or another of my research projects would bring me there every year, usually in the winter when Washington was snowy and cold. And since I now also had serious research interests in Europe as well, we'd find our way there a couple of times a year, usually in the late spring or early fall when the weather was nice but the restaurants, streets, and galleries were not overrun with tourists, students, and backpackers. I should say that all these trips also involved legitimate research interests or else were done at the behest of AEI—for example, our work on behalf of the Kissinger Commission on Central America or our efforts to establish ties with like-minded think tanks abroad. But what a life it was, involving numerous opportunities for travel. It could not last, and it didn't; AEI went belly-up in 1987-88. And I returned to my comfortable, tenured professorship at UMass and my research position at Harvard.

In 1991 lightning struck again; I received an appointment as Professor of National Security Policy at the National War College, enabling me to return to Washington for an extended period. At NWC, I discovered, there were always surplus travel funds (this is the Department of Defense, after all, with gigantic budgets, the Cold War over, and no enemies on the horizon) that had to be spent ("use it or lose it") before the end of the fiscal year. So every year, with impeccable timing right after the student spring trips which were NWC's big travel item, I'd approach the NWC Executive Officer (XO) with a request for travel funds. Of course, the request had to be defense or security related but that was no problem; as a global superpower, every area of the globe is related to U.S. defense and security interests. On that basis, using DOD funds, I visited Russia twice, China, South Korea, South America, Mexico, Central America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the Middle East. My years at the War College, 1991-96, even more so than at AEI, turned me into a global traveler instead of just a regional one.

I left the War College mainly because UMass, my home institution for all those parapatetic years and where I still had a tenured full professorship, had created a chaired and named professorship for me: the Leonard J. Horwitz Chair. Horwitz was a UMass alumnus who had generously endowed a chair for me. The Chair carried with it a considerable travel fund that enabled me to continue the extensive travel schedule begun when I was at Harvard and continued at AEI and the War College. With these funds I went back to Russia again and began making yearly trips to Eastern Europe. The high point of this period came during a year-long sabbatical leave in 2001 when, aided also by grants from the Aspen Institute, the Fulbright Program, the Eckerd Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and the Oriente Foundation, I spent the first six months living in Vienna and Budapest, the next two months in Brazil and South Africa, and two more months touring Asia: Japan, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Indonesia, and East Timor.

In 2003 I took an early retirement offer from UMass and accepted another chair, the Dean Rusk Professorship at the University of Georgia, as well as serving as founding head of the newly created Department of International Affairs at UGA. The Rusk Professorship, which I still hold, although after two three-year terms I recently stepped down as department head, also carried with it a $10,000 yearly fund for travel. By carefully husbanding that resource and drawing on other travel funds, I've been able to keep up the extensive travel begun before. And that means three or four foreign trips per year, mainly to Europe but also to Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Just this year, for example, I spent part of the spring in Central Europe (the "Imperial Splendors" tour of Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria), May-June in Asia (Japan, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, and Malaysia) and then around the world (Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and London), and part of July in Central America.

I've also been fortunate to have the funding to do this travel. Over these decades I've enjoyed four, year-long, fully paid, no-strings-attached, research leaves or sabbaticals from the universities with which I've been associated, and three, half-year, paid leaves. I've also been remarkably lucky over the years in winning outside grants and fellowships to supplement this sabbatical support. Then, when I was at AEI for all those years, I had virtually unlimited freedom (no classes, no students!) to travel whenever I wanted, and the almost-unlimited funds to go with it. At the War College in the 1990s, I was similarly able to tap into the extensive travel funds available. Finally, over the last fifteen years, at both UMass and UGA, I've held endowed chairs that carry with them not large but sufficient travel funds.

What a charmed life! How nice to be able to engage in all that travel! My travel books are a product of all these institutions' generosity and I'm grateful to them for it.

The Writing Life

I now consider myself a writer. Going back to junior high, high school, even elementary school, I've always loved to write. I wanted to become a professional writer. For about one semester each, I majored, respectively, in English and journalism in college. Until a college mentor pulled me aside one day and gave me some wonderful advice. First, after meeting writer John Bartlow Martin and interviewing him when he served as John F. Kennedy's ambassador in the 1960s era, troubled Dominican Republic, I was told there were only about two hundred persons in the United States (Martin was one of them) who made their living entirely from their writing—not good odds. Second, I was advised, sagely as it turned out, that I should not major in English or journalism but should get my degree in something substantive—history, political science, economics, sociology—and study and do my writing on the side, which I did as a reporter-editor for a really good campus newspaper at the University of Michigan, The Michigan Daily.

So that's how I became a political scientist and, eventually, a professor of political science. I wouldn't say that political science was for me a fallback position or even a consolation prize, for I've loved (almost) every minute of the life I've led in that profession. But political science back when I was nineteen years old would not have been my first choice.

I'm the author/editor of 120 (one hundred twenty) books. The number sounds awfully impressive but actually it's quite a bit short of that. To break that number down (I have compiled the figures because my wife recently inquired), the list includes thirty-five edited volumes and probably fifteen shorter (under a hundred pages) monographs. The 120 number also includes foreign language editions of earlier books, multiple editions of some of my books, and collections of previously published, shorter articles and writings. When you subtract all these exceptions from the list, it leaves thirty-five books for which I am the sole, individual, original author. It's still a goodly list but nowhere near the total of 120 which at first blush sounds so impressive.

Somewhere in my political science career, I think about five or six years ago, I recrossed that frontier mentioned earlier. I now consider myself a writer as well as a political scientist. I'm not a great writer but I do work hard at it. I love the single, solitary work of being a scholar and writer. I don't need people around. Some of the best times of my life are spent in my home office, all alone, manipulating words, images, sentences, and paragraphs. I enjoy that singular and solitary existence.

In recent years I've become a student of good writing. I read Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike. Right now on my coffee table I have an eclectic pile of books: Anthony Trollope (who wrote a thousand words per hour), Donna Leon (mysteries set in Venice), Elmore Leonard (quirky novels often with foreign policy themes), and Hunter Thompson—he of the "gonzo journalism" style. I both study and read good writers. I also read books on writing or writers on writing. I've become a student of the writing profession. I seldom read political science anymore because the writing is, generally, so bad.

My skills are not up to those of these great writers. When I read Updike, for example, whom I like not least because his family history and background are similar to my own, I sometimes sit back in awe at the magic and sparkle with which he infuses his sentences. I hate Oates's depressing stories but I love her writing style and productivity. In my own writing, which has many faults as numerous unkind reviewers have repeatedly pointed out, I strive to improve my style with every book. Often I fail to achieve what I want.

Nevertheless, I keep on writing. In fact, I write almost constantly. My graduate students often wonder at my productivity and ask me how I manage to do it, while also maintaining a happy home, family, and personal life. The answer, which I'm not entirely clear about myself, is that I'm very organized, very disciplined, and very hard-working. I also have an enormously patient and supportive family. And I love what I do. Unlike some scholars who lack a writing background, I never have a moment of "writer's block." There's always more to see, experience—and write about. Sometimes I fret that I write too much. My dean once told me, "Howard, every time you sneeze it gets published."

Lacking the skills and talents of an Oates or Updike, I try to write as clearly and directly as possible. I avoid obscurantism, political science jargon, and unnecessary vagaries. I write to describe, to analyze, and to be understood. Judging from the sales and praise of the textbooks I've written, and the letters and responses of my students, I must be successful on at least some levels.

I've now figured out that I can write almost anywhere. I write on trains, planes, and while on tour buses. I write in my home office, at the university, and in a hideaway office I have in the library. I write in sidewalk cafes, in museums, and while having dinner if I'm by myself. Once in a sidewalk café in Berlin a tourist picked up my journal that I had open on the table and started to read it; since that's a no-no, I had to grab it away from him. I'm proud of the fact that I once wrote an entire scholarly article over a two-week period while commuting on the Metro in Washington, D.C. I did that for no special reason, only for the fun of proving to myself that I could do it. It's not my best article, but not my worst either.

In my new or newly rediscovered role as a writer, I launched four years ago a monthly Newsletter. The Newsletter comments on issues of international relations, foreign policy, and comparative politics—my fields within political science. I like the format of my Newsletter; each issue is about two thousand words, longer than an op-ed but shorter than a scholarly article. I choose a different topic each month, one on which I have some expertise and something, I hope, new and interesting to say. The style is a cross between journalism and academic writing, what I call "high journalism"—but surely not "low scholarly."

I'm "at home" in that style. I like the newsy, see-it-now style of good journalism, combined with the analytic insights of good scholarship. And that's the style I've followed in this book. I hope it's readable. I want to convey, as a journalist would, the excitement of seeing and observing new things, new countries, and new cultures from all the foreign travel that I do. At the same time, I want to use the insights from my professional, political science, IR, foreign policy, and comparative politics background to shed new light and new analysis on the countries and issues covered. I hope it's a nice and useful combination.

Excerpted from EXPLORING THE WORLD: ADVENTURES OF A GLOBAL TRAVELER by HOWARD J. WIARDA. Copyright © 2013 Howard J. Wiarda. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Preface....................     vii     

Chapter 1 Introduction....................     1     

Chapter 2 Japan: Can It Pull Out of Its Slump?....................     18     

Chapter 3 China: Dynamic and Troubled at the Same Time....................     41     

Chapter 4 Hong Kong: Into China's Grasp?....................     65     

Chapter 5 Macao: From Portugal to China....................     87     

Chapter 6 Singapore: From Third to First World....................     105     

Chapter 7 Malaysia: Emerging Islamic Country....................     131     

Chapter 8 Abu Dhabi and the Persian Gulf: Is There a Gulf Model of
Development?....................     155     

Chapter 9 Bahrain and London: Not So Jolly Old England....................     191     

Chapter 10 The Last Leg....................     210     

Index....................     219     

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