DEBATING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORIES
Essay Question – Compare and contrast two different theories of International Relations in relation to their conceptualization of power? Which account of power do you find more convincing, and why?
The idea of power is predominant in International Relations. I’ve chosen Realism and Liberalism theories to compare and contrast in association with power. Interpretation of the concept of power in International Relations plays a vital role. This essay has 3 major stages, firstly on how power has been conceptualized; moving forward we collate the chosen theories i.e. realism and liberalism in terms of power and lastly I’ve chosen one theory among these which I personally feel has a better concept of power. Realism and Liberalism are compared based on two criteria they are Hard and soft power; Compulsory and Institutional Power. The latter part of the essay also has some points mentioned on what grounds are Realism and Liberalism similar in terms of their power. I’ve also stated an example for each of them. Finally towards the conclusion of Essay, I’ve explained why I think Liberalism is the theory has better utilization of power and mentioned some regions where research is necessary.
POWER IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Power in International Relations is described in various means. Power is production ; it defines the potential of the actors and helps to shape their fortune. The modern day description of power elucidates Power of state which is in terms of Economic and Military strength. Mearsheimer says, “Calculations about power lie at the heart of how states think about the world around them. Power is the currency of great?power politics, and states compete for it among themselves. What money is to economics, power is to international relations”. Power can be Outcome Incentive or Social Incentive. Actors’ social composition and operation differentiates its power in terms of its interest and paradigm. Conceptualising power according to Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall gives us two dimensions, where the first focuses on social relations affecting actors’ capacity and the second on particularity of the relations. The essay will progress in these dimensions taking realism and liberalism as its bedrock. According to David A Baldwin utilization of power as a resource is a misleading concept as they make similar sense as attributes like population, age group, reputation.
POWER IN REALISM
‘The proposition that the nature of international politics is shaped by power relations’ is said to be ‘defining characteristic of Realism’ (Wendt, 1999: 96?7)
Theories in international relations consider realism as a dominant theory as it gives major importance to power and security. The principle actor in realism is the State, which is also the unitary and rational actor. Power lies mainly with the state. The ultimate power and authority of the state can be practiced only to the limits of its boundaries .The foremost realist approach is state sovereignty and protecting national interest in terms of power and strength. Situations are dealt in a sceptical manner in realism. Realists believe in states with territories in the world, which can be conquered and controlled as land power is what most of the realists consider to be important than military power. All the states in Realism have to be self-dependent or rely on themselves for resources to protect their interests, follow the agreements they have with other states and maintain a good discipline as there is no higher authority or power over the state itself. The ability of power in realism is that they use it in order to get things done which otherwise will not be done, in other words states use their resources and compel other states to do things they do not want to do. A worry with power in international politics is that it perceived as a disciplinary connection to realism. Power influences the capacity of others to control the conditions of their reality. In this notion, control turns into a characteristic that an actor may utilize intentionally use as an asset to shape the actions or activity of others. In this case there is no authority higher than the state hence they believe in power being balanced.
HARD POWER AND REALISM
Nye has expressed his views on realism calling it “Hard Power”. Realism usually has producing effects of power. Hard power envelops an extensive variety of coercive arrangements, for example, coercive discretion, monetary authorizations, military activity, and the shaping of military collusions for prevention and common protection. Hard power can be utilized to set up or change a condition of political authority or equalization of intensity. Hard power is generally concerned to great countries which have the power or ability to change the system of other countries using its own.
COMPULSORY POWER AND REALISM
According to Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall, idea of power centres on a scope of relations between performing artists that enable one to shape straightforwardly the conditions or activities of another. Compulsory power is not limited to material resources; it also entails symbolic and normative resources. Dahl concept of compulsory power has 3 dimensions to it, where a country uses its power to get something done from another country which otherwise would not happen, second is where a country wants to alter some decisions taken by another country and the third is where the second country is forced to changed its decisions due to the fear of being attached by the first country. We see that there is force of power that is persistence in this situation, where one is pressurizing another directly or indirectly. The third situation explains the prisoner’s dilemma which is very commonly agreed upon concept by realists. The usage of states materials directly on the other state is the way compulsory power is calculated.
POWER IN LIBERALISM
Liberals in International relations theory focus not only on power but also have a better understanding in terms of democracy, domestics’ interests, values, economic interdependence and international organizations. Power in this case is been distributed among non state actors as well. Liberals reject power politics and question the welfare principles of realism. They believe that there is a super national identity that is above all the powers of the nation-state. In liberalism the highest authority of the state is not the only one taking decisions regarding foreign policies, there are certain decisions that can be done by other actors as well.
Andrew Moravcsik says that “The liberal claim that the pattern of interdependence among state preferences is a primary determinant not just of individual foreign policies, but of systemic outcomes, is commonsensical. Nations are rarely prepared to expend their entire economic or defence capabilities or to mortgage their entire domestic sovereignty, in pursuit of any single foreign policy goal” The resources available to them are used systematically and not splurged on one single policy goal, they use their resources efficiently with good advice given by experts. In this system the theory also has generally have some dimensions of democracy as well. In such an atmosphere there is a fear maintained by the head of the power and norms been created to abide. Another way to look at this is while delegating power, it might be misutilized by many for their personnel use this is one of the major setbacks that is present in liberal theories. Liberalism focuses on socio-economic stability uses its power to channelize and develop its state in terms of finance, infrastructure and resources as well.
SOFT POWER AND LIBERALISM
As of late, the term has additionally been utilized in changing and impacting social and popular sentiment through generally less straightforward channels and campaigning through political and non-political associations. A part of this liberal theory follows. Soft power is the capacity to shape the inclinations of others through intrigue and fascination. A characterizing highlight of Soft power is that it is non-coercive; the money of delicate influence is culture, political qualities, and outside approaches. Nye mentions that soft power is include different culture, ideology and good human values. This exercising soft power has diplomacy and peaceful environment. Soft power is basically not being offensive or defensive in situations but to focus on cooperation between states and to support peace and delegate power to the best usage.
INTITUTIONAL POWER AND LIBERALISM
Power can be practices, developed and maintained through, within and amongst Institutions.
These institutions may show power relations compel them or provide basis of their existence. Institutional power control situation in indirect ways. Unlike realism the power is not just been given to one actor, in liberalism power is been given to non state actors as well hence institutions and organisations gain power in this case. These institutions increase aid co-operation between states which directly or indirectly promotes a peace globally. This kind of power is when an institution has been given power on behalf of a group of individuals who already exercise some power according to Kira Petersen Lewis, This means I feel the author meant that institutionalism is “passive power” it takes decisions and id given the authority to represent a certain actor or community. This type of power will create a fear in the minds of states not to go against the norms of the organisation so as to maintain diplomacy and reputation on a global forum.
United Nations, World Trade Organisation, European Union, International Monitory Fund etc are some of the examples of international institutions.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN REALISM AND LIBERALISM
Joseph M. Grieco in his article Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critique of the newest liberal institutionalism, has mentioned that liberals and realist believe in power. I support this statement as well; Power is one common factor that both the theories possess even though their delegation and conceptualization are in different terms. We also see that both the theories believe in the existence of state as an actor, however liberalists do not solely give power to state it does believe in the existence of state as an actor and gives it power as well, while on the other hand we see that realism solely gives power to the state but does not deny the existence of other actors in the state.
Another similarity between the two according to Grieco, is that both the theories agree upon International systems are anarchy which is ‘lawless or political disorder’, and that the states that have interest on themselves are the bedrock of both the theories. But taking this point further liberals want weaken anarchy in the system while realist promote it. Liberals and realists know that anarchy is present in the state the power each of them have and use is what takes realism towards anarchy and liberalism away from it.
IRAQ WAR A REALIST APPROACH
According to Daniel Deudney and G.John Ikenbettry from Realism, Liberalism and Iraq war, USA credited the 9/11 assaults to Saddam Hussein and they misrepresented that Iraq had atomic weapons program and also claimed they had evidence regarding the same. This was not hard to believe as Iraq had widely used toxic gases on their neighbourhood countries, they also went against the rules of much organisational treaty; this was done to gain power in atomic and organic weapons in their countries defence. Similarly as the realists had been prepared to contend that the disposal of the Iraqi routine was vital for the security of the American local domineering request, so that the reliance rationale appeared to point to forceful activity even if there was a small chance of it happening.
In the expressions of Ron Suskind, Cheney’s post-9/11 conviction was that ‘if there was even a 1 percent shot of fear mongers getting a weapon of mass pulverization – and there has been a little likelihood of such an event for quite a while – the Unified States should now go about as though it were a certainty’. At the end the war has firm establishments on Realistic approach in terms of interdependence and hegemony and making it a completely realistic war.
In this situation here the concept of prisoners dilemma has can explain it clearly, USA assumed that Iraq had nuclear weapon dealing going against the norms due to its past behaviour. This concept explains that prediction of what the second party might do will either result in offensive or defensive manner which is a complete realist approach to a scenario. Survival is the main goal in this theory hence to survive most of the times states take incorrect decisions which results in loss of human and money.
Liberalism has a different approach to situations. Liberals mostly tend to create a sense of fear which in turn causes the difference between them and realism. This sense of fear can be caused by an external or higher source of power which is what liberals believe in. They not only delegate power to other non state actors. Jeffrey W. Meiser in International Liberalism in International Relations Theory has stated an example in terms of Domestic Liberal institutions and its rules being followed by states even though there is no international or global police to bring it into existence, But each state knows that there will be circumstances that they will face when they do not abide by the rules. State chose to be diplomatic, if they chose the path of violence then will be excluded from advantages of peace, international trade, foreign support or even recognitions in an international forum. Organisations like the United Nations, World Trade Organisation, European Union etc. Mexico and USA Relationship in the 90s is also an example of liberalism, In this case, the favouring government wanted Mexico to be controlled by USA or at least confiscate the oil resources this caused a massive breakout in the country. Finally the rule of “anti-imperialism” and “self-determination” was followed. This shows us how intuitional power has stooped the usage of power and bought in a peaceful scenario.
In these cases here we see how power is been utilized either to be defensive and offensive or analysing the situation and focusing on cooperation of countries. In the above context where two theories of International relations have been compared and contrasted and also an examples of each has given us an idea of conceptualization of power. Personally I believe that Liberalism as a theory gives us a better understanding of the world when compared to realism in terms of power. As mentioned in the context it helps in free flow, trade, democracies which are associated to maintaining peace in the world. Liberals also give power to the state but unlike realism they delegate power to other actors as well. This gives an opportunity for every actor to be free to give an option and take decisions mutually. Cooperation also being one of the features of liberalism gives more room for understanding and decision making. With International Institutions to govern, there is always a fear that nations have which may result in them following the protocol and not taking nasty decisions. On this note I believe that power is an asset in any theory which can be used to either make it better or break it. It can either be used to develop, maintain peace and abide by the norms and cooperation of nation-states or can be used to gain supremacy, dominance and control states in terms of Realism and Liberalism.
Research in the field on international relational has been going on for decades, every theory and every reach has a new finding and result. I suppose there is more research is needed in the field on conceptualizing power with each theory and giving global examples and reasoning of that individual situation. Also there is more scope for research in multi dimensional concepts of power which involves a same situation looked at in different approaches.
A contemprerary perceptive of realism – FELIX RÖSCH AND RICHARD NED LEBOW, 2018, cited on E-international relations.
Realism, Liberalism and Iraq war – Duniel Deudney and G.John Ikenberry. Citation – Daniel Deudney ; G. John Ikenberry (2017) Realism, Liberalism and the Iraq War, Survival, 59:4, 7-26, DOI: 10.1080/00396338.2017.1349757Power in International Politics Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall
The rise and fall of Realism – Ashesh Rambachan
Power and International Relations DAVID A. BALDWIN 2002
A review of basic theories of International Relations – Alexander Dungin
Reiter, Dan. “Learning, realism, and alliances: the weight of the shadow of the past.” World Politics, vol. 46, no. 4, 1994, p. 490+.
The Tragedy of Great Power Politics by John J. Mearsheimer, Rosecrance, R. (2002). War and Peace. World Politics, 55(1), 137-166.
Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Fifth Edition, Revised, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, pp. 4-15
Kim Richard Nossal. Lonely Superpower or Unapologetic Hyperpower? Analyzing American Power in the post–Cold War Era. Biennial meeting, South African Political Studies Association, 29 June-2 July 1999. Retrieved 2007-02-28.
Power and Interdependence- Joseph Nye , 1977
28 Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006).
S Walt, ‘International Relations: One World, Many Theories’, Foreign Policy No.110, pp. 31
Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critique of the newest liberal institutionalism-Joseph M. GriecoTypes of power in International Relations – Kira Petersen Lewis, Clark College.
(Wendt, 1999: 96?7)