Why You Need to Care About International Relations This Election Season

There's a lot to keep up with this election season. Donald Trump seems to make a new offensive statement every day, further proving why he should not and cannot be our president. And while Hillary Clinton tours the country explaining what she's planning to do to help America if she is elected, her emails keep throwing a shadow over her campaign.

While coverage of the U.S. election can be found in every news outlet, information about international politics is harder to stumble upon. However, it's crucial that you make an effort to stay up to date with the latest news around the globe, because worldwide news affects America much more than you think.


For example, in July, the country of Turkey faced an attempted overthrow of its government. Though the coup was ultimately unsuccessful, the subsequent actions of the Turkish government are important as well. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has since restricted the rights of his people, and detained over 30,000 residents whom he believes have ties to the group that attempted the coup. These detainees include a number of journalists, academics, and thousands of others. As Erdogan continues to violate civil rights and abuse those whom he detains, the stability of Turkey as a democracy becomes questionable. If things escalate more, the global community, including the U.S., will not be able to sit idly by as the Turkish people’s rights are continually dismissed. Therefore, staying on top of the issue itself is important to understanding what could be a key issue for the international community to address in the coming years.

And while violence plagues much of the Middle East, it is important to stay up to date, as misinformation is fairly common. For example, Donald Trump would like you to believe that every Syrian refugee is a member of the terrorist group ISIS. But a quick look at actual facts shows you that the number of refugees who seek solace in other countries and then go on to commit acts of terrorism is extremely low. The misconceptions that Trump continuously makes stem largely from ignorance—but also from a lack of deeper knowledge about the Syrian Civil War as a whole. Refugees are fleeing not only from terrorists, but also from a volatile government that has used nerve gas against its own citizens. It is not as simple as fighting against terrorists for their country, as the Syrian government itself isn't really something worth fighting for. There are serious human rights abuses happening in Syria every day, and we should know what's going on there.

Don’t get me wrong, trying to learn about the politics of other countries can be tricky and time consuming. But it may end up being much more interesting than you think. Personally, I never had the opportunity to take classes on international relations before college, so my interest was always in American politics and elections—that was all I'd been taught.

Now that I'm entering my third year of college, I've had the opportunity to take multiple courses focusing on international relations, and have learned much more than I ever thought I could. As an aspiring political reporter it's crucial that I have deep knowledge of multiple issues, and learning about non-Western countries has helped me learn other perspectives on vital issues.

While it's great to take a class in international relations, you can also get informed by reading the international sections of newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Both organizations have widespread, deeply reported coverage that can really help you understand issues and conflicts around the world.

Paying attention to international issues will make you more intelligent, but it'll also help you grow as a human being. Americans tend to only be concerned with issues that affect them, but that's not the best attitude. As citizens of the world, we should care about everyone facing trouble regardless of which country they live in. And being more informed about those struggles can only help you realize that.