However, in the last three centuries, relations between nation-states have taken the central stage. Nonetheless, there are still considerable obstacles that remain in the pursuit of peace.
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Theorists have outlined them and literature has shed light on these hurdles whereas in some cases the pre-occupation with peace has also led towards a more hostile state of international affairs amongst nations as well as peoples. To understand the prospects for peace in international relations, one must understand as to why war is such a reoccurring event in the history of nation-states and also the nature of international affairs and the determining factors which cause action, reaction, cooperation, hostility and peace between states in the international system.
Establishment of nation states in the 16 th century raised issues about whether human freedom and independence was central or the establishment of the state and its survival was the primary aim of political discourse. Two theories which take these arguments forward towards peace and resolution of conflicts in international theory are realism and liberalism.
Over the last two centuries, realism and liberalism have accounted for much of what has taken place in the international arena and they continue to offer prescriptions of state behaviour and its possible effects on peace in-between nation states. This essay will elaborate on the possibilities for peace in the international system which have been put forth by realism and liberalism and their neo-variants in particular and then their critical analysis will be presented.
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The core features and assumptions of liberalism and realism will be outlined along with the possibilities for peace put forth by both the theories , followed up by critical discussion on of these prescriptions for peace and their possible implications for nation-state dominated international system. Eventually, an analysis of suggestions for peace put forth by liberalism and realism will be scrutinized via a critical eye for contradictions and theoretical pitfalls that exist in both the theories. Doyle, pp. Doyle, , p.
Doyle , p. One particular brand of liberalism, which is known as liberal institutionalism came into prominence after the First World War when the President of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson laid down the foundation for the League of Nations. Williams, , p. Neoliberals share some of their assumptions about the international system with neo-realists, as the newest brand of liberalism has come to be known deals mainly with institutions and their effect on state behaviour in the international system. At the heart of the liberal internationalist ideology is its belief that states can be made to cooperate with each other in economic terms even if they exist in a system where there is security competition.
Such cooperation can translate into interdependence entailing mutual benefits for both the parties involved, something that reduces the risk of war and increases the prospects of peace amongst nation-states. Liberals argue that democracies are inherently peaceful states which do not go to war easily and between two democracies, the occurrence of war has been a rather rare occurrence.
Levy, , p. Fukuyama, , pp. Jervis has further clarified that in a democratic system of government, the power is not concentrated into the hands of a single autocratic leader and that there are several veto groups which prevent a hasty decision to go to war with other states.
Furthermore, it has also been elaborated that democratic values such as respect for human rights, rule of law, accommodation of multiple interest groups inside the state as well as a belief in reconciliation, makes compromise with and between democracies unproblematic as the democratic states appear to be non-violent. Jervis, , p. White, , pp. Fukuyama, , p.
Liberalism also argues that stability and relative peace can be achieved in the international system via a hegemon who sets the agenda for global institutions by playing an active part in international politics. Nye, , p. The hegemon can do so without disregarding its own security interests because other countries benefit from the economic stability that is produced regardless of whether or not they contribute to it. Classical realists who are also known as traditional realists, held the view that international politics is an amoral exercise which is blighted by war and conflict because of human nature.
Thomas Hobbes put forth the view that man operated in a state of nature where no law existed above him to prevent him from acting immorally or according to a specified set of rules.
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Hobbes, , p. However modern realism which is known as neo-realism separates itself from the political rules which are situated in human nature and its characteristics and takes the view that the structure in which states exists in international relations is anarchic due to the absence of an overarching authority sovereign. Waltz, , p. Moreover, as all states exist in a state of anarchy in the international arena of politics, they all pursue self interest and try to acquire power to secure themselves and ensure their survival in a system where no other state or authority will come to save them if they fail to do.
Mearsheimer, , p. Possibilities for peace in the neo-realist perspective which is pragmatic in its view of international politics amidst anarchy and security competition are limited.
Unlike their neo-liberal counterparts, neo-realists are pragmatic when it comes to discussions of peace in international politics. Regardless, there have been suggestions that pursuing realist policies can lead to a more stable world where there is lesser conflict. Desch, , p. The international community asked the Bosnian Muslims to take refuge in U. N protected camps rather than descend into Muslim areas which eventually resulted in the deaths of thousands of Bosnian men and children when the camps themselves were overrun by Serbian militia in Srebrenica, ignoring the realist plea to abandon the policy of multi-ethnicity and form two separate states for muslims and Serbs each.
Desch, , pp. Morgenthau, , p. Neo-realism also puts forth a theory for relative peace to be achieved by suggesting the concept of mutually assured destruction based on the fundamental principles of nuclear deterrence. A concept which helped maintain peace during the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States of America courtesy of their possession of the nuclear weapon. As states are seen as maximizers of security, nuclear weapons are its last resort to seeking security in a world which offers none on its own.
If a state feels sufficiently scared or threatened by the actions of another state in the system of anarchy, then it can pursue nuclear weapons as they are the ultimate deterrent and providers of security. If one state launches its nuclear weapon, it can be assured that the other one will respond in kind via its second strike apparatus and thus ensuring destruction of both the states in question courtesy of the highly destructive powers of the weapon in question. S and the Soviet Union. The balance of power theory is yet another one which sheds light on the possibility of peace inside the neo-realist paradigm.
The balance of power theory stipulates as to how states can achieve a balance of power against their rivals in the anarchic system of politics by internal and external efforts. Internal efforts include increasing economic and military strength whilst external factors include alliance formation. Walt, , p. However for such equilibrium to be formed, states who are in an alliance must accept the restrains on them due to the framework that they are a part of to achieve mutual goals and interests.
Whilst liberalism and realism both offer certain concrete proposals for peace in the international relations theory, both theories are not devoid of fault lines which actually exhibit some of the issues that lie within their arguments for peace. Some realists such as Mearsheimer and Jervis have attributed democratic peace between democratic nations due to the security blanket provided by the United States of America, since the end of the second world war, nonetheless liberals have provided their own counter argument by pointing out the successful transfer of hegemony in international politics between liberal democracies such as Britain and the United States of America at the starting point of the 20 th century as a transfer of global power between both the states without any conflict and hostility between the two nations.
Pitfalls in the democratic peace theory are further highlighted by when liberal imperial interventions aimed at instilling democracy and restoring universal human rights in other countries around the world are taken into account. Doyle admits that liberalism has failed in third world countries whilst Fukuyama is quick to deflect the blame towards cultural dispositions in the places where liberal democracy has not yet flourished.
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Doyle, , pp. In the aftermath of September 11 th , when America came under attack from Al-Qaeda, the global hegemon turned imperial and adopted an aggressive stand towards those who did not agree with its liberal outlook of the world. This failed policy resulted in states such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea being termed as the axis of evil. America proceeded to invade Iraq in and due to the security threat North Korea declared itself a nuclear power whereas suspicions are rife that Iran is reaching nuclear capability as well.
Wars end when the vanquished accept the outcome. Which is what politicians mean when they say there is no military solution. The enemy, in other words, gets a vote. And that is leading the United States to compromise its political objectives.
Terms of the negotiation evidently include the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan within 18 months in exchange for commitment by the Taliban not to permit terrorist attacks to emanate from Afghanistan. Giving that up to see the United States leave is, for them, a good deal—especially since a subsequent return to full power seems attainable. Dominic Tierney: The U.
It will settle for no terrorist attacks on America launched from there, leaving Afghan forces that have suffered so much to achieve a better Afghanistan to grieve their losses, including the 45, Afghan National Security Forces that have been killed since Former U. It controls or is contesting half the geographic districts of the country.
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