International Relations refers to the process of examining foreign affairs of a country both within and outside the country in regard to the global view. This takes account of the work performed by other countries, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs), and also Multinational Corporations (MNCs). It may turn out to be negative or positive as it may explore or even devise some countries’ foreign strategy since it is a scholarly and civic strategy field. It has always been classified as part of political science as it includes a number of issues such as nuclear propagation, patriotism, structured felony, globalization, ecological sustainability, state dominion, terror campaign, human rights, human safety, foreign intercession and economic growth. Other than political science, International Relation also covers academic fields such as; history, geography, economics, law, cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy, psychology and sociology.
International Relations can be observed under four major different categories which are; liberalism, realism, neoliberalism and feminism. Liberalism can be simply defined as a wide field of political philosophies that put into consideration a person’s rights and freedom as the most vital objective. There are various suggestions that liberalists can use the word ‘liberal’ to highlight very different strategies. Though they have some doctrine in common such as the freedom of expression and thought, the decree of regulation, a person’s right to individual property, open sell and an open form of administration.
Realism on the other hand sees a country’s security and supremacy as the most important aspect. Some realists of the early years such as Hans Morgenthau and Daniel Bernhard insisted that a country is an authority-seeking coherent actor who is only interested on individual development and would not consider anyone else’s peace and safety first Any two countries would interact whenever each of them has seen a chance of benefiting from the relationship. This is defined as Classical or Human Nature Realists. Among the early developers of realism are some classical writers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes and Thucydides.. We also have another category of realists who are known as Structural or Neorealists who argue that states or countries will interact irrespective of any presumed gains. This proves that countries are free to decide on how they are going to put in practice any of their strategies free from any interference from an international organization.
Neoliberalists improved some of the ideas by the neorealists, that the countries are the key acors in international relations, to come up with the concept. Neoliberalism. They still maintain that some parties such as the intergovernmental organizations and non-state actors do play a very important role in the network. A neoliberalist, Maria Chattha, points out that countries do interact despite the fact that some of them do not base the relationship on the long term gains that may be a result. Neoliberalists also maintain that nation are free to make any decisions as to how they will conduct their strategy independently without being bothered by any international organization. Neoliberalists also have stated some assumption concerning open trade with little or no government interference in order to stop cartels from arising. During and at the end of the cold war, there was increasing interdependence through global organizations and this is what resulted to neo-liberalism otherwise known as ‘institutionalism’, a theory by Joseph Nye and Robert Keohane.
Feminism is a conviction on women to acquire same status with men politically, economically or socially. It puts into practice several ideologies, principles, activities and attitudes and beliefs that are related to gender disparity, push for fairness for women and their civil liberties and welfare. Feminism arose in three different stages periodically from the late ages of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. The second phase of the transition occurred in the period between 1960 and 1970. The last part of the wave took place in the early 90s to the current age. Feminism arises in different academic categories such as feminist literary criticism, feminist geography and feminist history. Feminist advocates have pushed for women’s rights such as property rights, abortion rights, reproductive rights such as access to contraception, protection from domestic violence and rights in the place of work such as motherhood leave. The first wave of feminism took place in the United Kingdom and the United States in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. It mostly advocated for the putting up of equivalent indenture and possessions rights for women and the antagonists to chattel matrimony and possession of married women by their husbands. By the late nineteenth century, the feminists put much attention on the attaining political strength apart from a few such as Margaret Sanger who actively fought for women’s sexual and economic rights.
The second phase of feminism took place between early 1960s up to the late 1980s. It was considered a carry-over of the first phase by some feminists such as Imelda Whelehan since it included the suffragettes in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The second wave of feminism as viewed by Estelle Freedman focuses mainly on stopping discrimination. The second phase feminists asked women to know aspects of their private lives to be in the roots of politics and also reflecting chauvinist supremacy symbols since they saw a link in the cultural and political differences. In her book ‘The Feminine Mystique’, Batty Friedan does not support the thought that women are only happy in homemaking and child rearing. America’s trade and industry boom brought about improvement in technology and this was expected to ease household work, and this often resulted to making women’s work more valuable and less significant.
The third wave arose in the early 1990s as a result of failures of the second wave. The third phase of the feminists arose because they felt that the second wave of the feminists mainly focused on the issues that faced the few women who were either rich or in the middle class. The third wave feminists based their efforts on ‘micro-politics’
The Marxists theory of International Relations does not support the realists’ notion of state disagreement or relation but rather emphasizes the economic and material aspect. We have four major types of liberalism; political liberalism, cultural liberalism, economic liberalism and social liberalism. Political liberalism is the idea that persons are the foundation of law and the social order and that the society is present for the destiny of each individual and should not give priority to some individuals and leave others of higher status. Political liberalism puts much emphasis on the social agreement that are used by a nation to create regulations governing a state and consent to follow those regulations. It calls for liberal democracy. Cultural liberalism stresses on the rights of the citizens concerning way of life and aspects such as sexual liberty, spiritual and cognitive freedom. Cultural liberalism is against the government’s control of literature, gambling, sex, alcohol, abortion, prostitution, art and academic. Economic liberalism opposes the government’s control of sell and instead proposes practice of individual rights of property. Economic liberalists believe that the cost of products and services in the market are supposed to be determined by the concerned persons and state of market.
Social liberalism proposes intense levy and a big number of state ventures than all those other forms of liberalism. Social liberalism identifies with the restriction of administration authority apart from the point of controlling who is socially privileged and who is not. Most liberals agree that the government is essential to defend the rights of the citizens.
According to Hans J. Morgenthau (1978) realism is apolitical theory. This theory holds that in a society, politics is governed by objective laws and has its roots in the human nature. To improve the society that people live in it is very much important to get to know and master the laws by which the society lives. Morgenthau believes that people will only challenge these laws if they are only faced with a threat of failure. In International relations realism as a theory encompasses of facts and gives them meaning and reason. Realism assumes that the character of a foreign policy can only be established by way of examination of the political acts performed, and the predictable costs of these acts. As a result we can make some conclusions on what the heads of states have done and from their predictable consequences of their acts we can come up with what their objectives actually might have been. In this theory it is not only about the examination of the facts but it is about giving meaning to the factual raw material of foreign policy. Political reality should be viewed objectively and rationally. Therefore a person should put himself into the shoes of a statesman who is under obligation to solve a particular problem in foreign policy. Hence we look at the rational options that he has as a statesman. Power is always central in the definition of the international relations or foreign policy. People tend to make an assumption that the statesmen think and take actions defined by power.
A realist theory of international politics should be devoid of two trendy fallacies; First, the concern with motives and secondly the concern with ideological preferences. To look for a clue in the international policy on the motives of a statesman is not fruitful and is completely misleading. It is a futile exercise to look into the motives of a statesman since motives are illusive of psychological data. A conclusion cannot be made from the good intentions of a statesman that his foreign policies will both be politically and morally successful. A realist theory on international policies will always attempt to move away from the notion of likening foreign policies of a statesman to his political philosophies and ambitions.
In this theory a good foreign policy is one that is considered to be rational. A rational foreign or international policy aims at reducing the risks and exploits the benefit. Therefore a rational foreign policy is both morally and politically acceptable.
Under this theory the current world condition characterized by instability and violence it is impossible for a rational foreign policy to operate.
According to Louis Hoffman (2008), there are different types of realism that give different approaches to the assumptions about the nature of truth. One of the types of realism is known as the material realism. This simply refers to the truth being found in that which s material. The notion of material realism was used in modern science. The second type or realism is what is known as scientific realism. This is an approach that believes that truth can be known through science. It goes further to explain that truth is usually held in the laws of physics. According to this type of realism the truth that is found in material things should be assumed for it is not reliable. The third type of realism is called Moral realism. This type of realism makes an assumption that absolute moral or otherwise what is known as ethical truth exists separate from culture. Critical realism on the other hand assumes that there is truth in some areas of knowledge while others do not contain any knowledge in them. In short the belief in critical realism can be summarized in one sentence; although there is what is called ultimate truth, it can never be fully known for sure.
International realism as discussed earlier tries to focus its interests on the prediction of how a rational state might behave in its own interests. This theory takes for granted the current world status of conflict violence and disorder. On the other hand Liberal theory focuses on how the world peace can be maintained, that is, how conflict between nations can be avoided through regulation of state behavior. According to this theory most states value their freedom and independence. In cases of war and conflict states lose some of their freedom and therefore they can choose to give up some of these freedoms to create international institutions like the UN.
In the contemporary world situation just to illustrate the concept of international realism and liberal realism we can take the illustration of United States and China. From a realist approach the United States furthers its international role by engaging itself in trade with other states of the world. This is so because the United States is the existing super power in the world today. From this relationship it’s evident that State really is the central focus of international political relationships. From this illustration it is further clear that the main target of the United States is to maximize on its relationship with China to their full advantage. At the same time they are trying to reduce any risk that might be to their own disadvantage. From a realist point of view the interest of the United States in its trade with China is to further their own agenda in both the international affairs and the global trade market.
From a liberalist approach; states do not have a big impact on the international political and economic stage. The idea here is that the states are guided by the principle of cooperation. The interests and the objectives of the negotiating states change along the context of the I.P.E state. Liberals are more concerned with human rights, human potential, international cooperation and a fair and just society. The state here is not focused on wealth but it is focused on relations that are going to better the living conditions of the people in a society and the whole world in general. Liberalism and realism have always been in disagreement. (Devil Dog 2006). While liberals are more magnanimous in such a way that they are more than willing to overlook the shortcomings and failings of other people the realist are different for they are not ready to be generous. From a liberalist approach we can have a peaceful and harmonious world.
The current IR situation in the world today is very critical. Even at the moment there is a global crisis. In Iraq for example, there is an internal catastrophe that is being experienced after the US invasion. There is also the current problem of Iran’s nuclear energy ambitions that have caused friction with the United States. It has been a big international problem for the United States even contemplated about attacking Iran. There is also the Palestinian Israeli Problem that has drugged on for decades without any concrete resolution being arrived at. The Middle East has been viewed by United States to be helping the terrorist organizations. Many terrorist organizations are found in the Middle East. Currently the United States together with its allies is trying deal with the terrorist cells. In Asia there is the fragile relationship between the Republic of India and that of Pakistan, which are nearing to go to war. The situation is even made worse for both countries have stocks of nuclear weapons. In Africa for the continent is characterized by the never ending poverty, conflicts and diseases, which has been an international concern. China’s international policy also does not auger well with the United States.
In a nutshell the paper focused on the theory of realism and its significance in the international relations. International realism as a theory has been compared to liberalism. The paper has briefly given an over view of the current political situations in the international relations globally.
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