The computer age is upon us; with the advent of e-mail and lightning speed communications, the boundaries of the world have changed. We must now look at international policy from a global standpoint. As such, political scholars have had to change the way they analyze politics. The traditional views of liberalism and realism have altered drastically after the end of the Cold War and the events following the tragedy of September 11th. To this end, then, one must look at current definitions of liberalism and realism from a global standpoint rather than a solely domestic one.
The United States’ place in the world has been delineated for decades as that of international policeman; that is, seeking to emphasize global U. S. leadership through the instruments of military might and economic dominance. Whether this role has been accepted by those who have received the dubious benefits of United States’ assistance is yet to be determined. The difference in this function lies in the way liberals and realists approach it. In modern political theory, proponents such as Michael Doyle and Robert Keohane tout the ideals of liberalism (Mingst 9).
Liberals feel that states will enjoy increased cooperation as liberal values spread. Contemporary liberal political philosophy has three main branches, each of which examines the liberal policy from a different standpoint: economy, democracy, and cooperation. All of these liberal theories believe that international cooperation is a possible, even viable, goal. From the advocates of the economic standpoint, multinational economic cooperation is the key to peace.
For example, the countries of the EC have complete economic interdependence—from this perspective, this economic reliance will discourage these nations from warfare as it would threaten their comprehensive financial prosperity. The democratic advocates aver, along the Wilsonian model, that states that hold to democratic policies and ideals are inherently more peaceful than their authoritarian counterparts. Still other liberal scholars consider the efficacy of international cooperation through institutions such as the IEA and the IMF.
Regardless of the particular idiom they follow, most liberals’ inherent goal is that of global prosperity and communication through the twin tools of democracy and liberal ideals. Realists, on the other hand, suppose that economic and military power is the means to international dominance, ignoring the necessity for any type of cooperation whatsoever. Instead, realists affirm that all states will protect their own self-interests; because of this there will be a constant struggle for power and security among the global powers. You may also be interested in benefits of interdependence
Indeed, realists seem to view the world as a giant game of Risk in which the players are only waiting for enough military might before they invade their neighbors. Main proponents of realist theory are such scholars as Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz (Mingst 9). While liberals argue that realism no longer has a place in the world after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, realists assert that all states will try to initiate their own power through ultimate dominance.
They disregard the role of international organizations and treaties; instead realists believe that even weak states will tend to counterbalance the power paradigms by siding with one power or another. Realists’ basic tenet is that human nature will never allow cooperation because humans are intrinsically competitive (Walt 2). Both approaches have their faults. Liberals tend to disregard the role of power in the international arena. Detractors of liberal theory propose that countries that already have power will want to maintain that supremacy at any cost.
Realists are conservatives in that they do not account for international change; indeed, most realists tend to view the world from a Cold War perspective and are merely biding their time waiting for the next great superpower to emerge and try to assert dominance (Mingst 10). For the United States today we stand alone and adrift in our economic, military, and political dominance. The end of the Cold War has left us somewhat disorganized because we no longer “face a grave international challenge to [our] security” (Lieber 3).
Some believe that the disappearance of the Soviet threat has led directly to an erosion of a cohesive executive power structure. The Clinton administration was a prime example of this—the American system of checks and balances saw a definitive upsurge as Congress fought Clinton on every foreign policy issue. For example, when the Croatian army launched a massive offensive in 1995 and forced thousands of Serbs to leave the Krajina region, the measure to send troops won by an extremely narrow margin, despite the support from NATO and President Chirac. In the Senate, Clinton’s decision to send 20,000 U.
S. troops won by only eight votes in the House of Representatives (Lieber 16). George W. Bush enjoys much greater support from Congress, yet the American people have begun to question his effectiveness as a world leader. In the beginning of his reign, he had the highest approval rating of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The fervent feelings of nationalism stirred up by 9/11 and the rapidity of his response gained him great favor among all sectors of the public. Lately, however, Bush’s ideals have begun to seem trite and the War in Iraq a personal vendetta.
The recent scandals among the Republicans in Congress have done little to alleviate the situation; as a matter of fact, the media has been predicting a sound defeat of the Republican Party in the next election. According to Tom Dickinson in Rolling Stone, Democrats could sweep both houses by winning only seven of the key races up for grabs this fall. As he puts it, “At issue is no longer whether the GOP will lose seats in November—it will” (Dickinson 59). If this prediction comes true, Bush will be looking at a Congress that will no longer unilaterally support him.
If we cannot depend on a unification of the executive and legislative powers, we can no longer depend on a coherent power structure in the world arena. Despite this, however, the United States is in a unique position to set the standard for future international politics. We have a choice—we can continue to treat our nation as a splendid, isolated island secure in our realist and unilateral policies—or we can understand that the tenets of liberalism are the only choice in a world that has become increasingly unified in all aspects: political, economic, and social.
Perhaps the best way to embrace this policy would be to put it to use in our relations with the Asian nations; to wit, China and North Korea. The Chinese policy toward the U. S. has traditionally been one of, Wei song, nei jin (Tkacic 3). This translates roughly to “soft on the outside, hard on the inside”. Both countries have traditionally blamed their woes on the United States, particularly after the nuclear debacle in 1993. The deployment talks in mid-1994 showed a bizarre mixture of liberal coercive diplomacy and realist conventional deterrence (Lieber 55).
These tactics worked because the U. S. had a strong military force and was more than prepared to use it—as North Korea had discovered to its detriment in the 50s. In this case, the U. S. , and in particular the Clinton administration seemed to follow a policy of selective engagement. North Korea, Iraq, and Iran are similar in that they are “politically ambitious countries that have demonstrated a certain insensitivity to risks and costs” (Lieber 108).
The Republican Party had traditionally been associated with strength in foreign policy issues, and Clinton’s difficulties with Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, and particularly North Korea seemed to prove that a Democrat could not handle foreign relations effectively. The truth was this: merely the threat of U. S. military involvement seemed to be an effective deterrent to defuse the 1994 situation in North Korea. The historical alliance between the U. S. and North Korea-China has always been rocky.
Korea was at the center of all of the major wars in East Asia in the 20th century, yet has often been overlooked or underestimated by the world until it was too late (Hwang 2). From the Sino-Japanese War in 1894 to Korea and Viet Nam, Korea has served as a strategic touchstone for the other Asian nations. For example, some have argued that the United States entered Viet Nam as a direct reaction to its failure to stop Communism in Korea (Ibid. p. 3). South Korea has managed to become a great economic force—one of the “Asian tigers” so worrisome to the U.
S. for the past few decades. South Korea has the tenth-largest economy in the world and serves as a democratic model for other Asian nations. North Korea, on the other hand, has a failed industrial economy and is an active Communist nation under a troublesome and cruel dictator. The United States unwittingly became the catalyst for South Korea’s current powerful position; by intervening in Korea in June 1950 they guaranteed South Korea’s safety by protecting the nation from North Korean troops (Hwang 3). For years after that the alliance between the U.
S. and the Republic of Korea has been outstanding. This alliance has guaranteed economic prosperity and has gained us a valuable political ally, as well. The ROK contributed both money and troops to the Viet Nam war effort, and, more recently, contributed to Operation Desert Storm during the first Gulf War (Ibid. p. 4). After the Nixon doctrine in 1969, South Korea reacted by creating a military force and a strong domestic defense industry. Later, the formation of the Combined Forces Command (CFC) and the later redirection of U. S.
troops from South Korea to Iraq caused further tension. These actions led many in South Korea to believe that the United States was punishing the ROK for its criticism of its policy toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (Hwang 5). The most profound difference in recent policy shifts must be addressed first. The U. S. continues to worry about the DPRK’s military and nuclear strength, while the Republic of Korea fears that a breakdown of the current regime would lead to a subsequent collapse of their own economy.
In sum, the United States’ attitude toward North Korea has been a consistent one of fear of military might, whereas South Korea’s has altered drastically. The ROK no longer worries about a military threat; instead they are concerned what might happen to their own stability and economic prosperity if the DPRK should fail. Until recently, China had been one of the DPRK’s strongest allies and protectors. According to John J. Tkacik, Jr. in his article, “China’s devout wish has been that North Korea might bluster about having the bomb—and allow the world to suspect that it had one—without actually testing one and removing all doubt.
North Korea could leverage that ambiguity for international aid, while China could act as an honest broker and still claim to be concerned about nuclear proliferation” (Tkacik 1). Unfortunately for U. S. foreign policy makers, the attitude of China and North Korea toward them has been one of blame. Beijing has constantly withheld any criticism of the DPRK and blamed the U. S. for all of North Korea’s financial and political troubles. After the Six-Party Talks, Ambassador Wang Yi told the press in 2003: “America’s policies toward North Korea, this is the main problem we are facing” (Tkacik 1).
The Bush Administration claimed in 2005 that it would respect North Korea’s right to light nuclear reactors. The Chinese continued to insist that the U. S. lift its economic sanctions on the DPRK, despite the fact that the country’s excessive illegal activities have put them on unsteady political ground with even their most stalwart allies. On October 5, 2006, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il stated that he would test a nuclear device. At this point even the Chinese refused to support them. This one act of defiance on North Korea’s part altered relations between China and the DPRK ineradicably.
Whether these interactions continue to be strained will only be determined in the future. The question remains, then, how will the United States respond to threats like this in the future? The current administration favors a policy of denial in efforts to keep its war effort in Iraq a viable one. Some of his opponents claim that Bush himself is a strict adherent to the realist school of thought. In the wake of September 11th, this hardliner stance was a welcome change from the noncommittal foreign policies of his predecessor. Now, conversely, it seems as if the American public has begun to embrace more liberal ideals.
It has also been touted that Bush’s so-called “softer” stance on North Korea may be a ploy to regain flagging support for the scandal-ridden GOP. This new attitude is certainly a marked change from that in 2003, when Bush labeled the nation the “Axis of Evil” and called their leader a “brutal dictator” (Sik 2). Prior to this, Bush’s chief goal in foreign policy had been to prevent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) from getting into the hands of “rogue nations” like North Korea. The final issue now becomes how to deal with North Korea, and nations like it, in the future.
It is quite clear that Bush’s hardliner CVID (Complete, Verifiable, Irreversible Dismantlement) principles no longer apply to North Korea. The country already sees the U. S. as the biggest barrier to its expansion and practicability as a nation—threats and military action will obviously only exacerbate the situation. It is heartening to see that China will no longer hide North Korea’s transgressions under its formidable aegis; however it is also possible that this current attitude could change in an instant if the U. S. does not modify its policies toward the DPRK.
The last century saw a mix of both types of policies, and the triumph and utter defeat of both. The end of the Cold War guaranteed a shift in the ideologies of American politics (Lieber 38). Liberals are now internationalists, while realists continue to pursue a policy of American self-interests. For example, the American public is generally opposed to military intervention, unless it has a genuine humanitarian effort to back it up. Historically, the United States had not gone to war readily—we entered both World Wars several years after they started.
In cases like Somalia or Rwanda, the American public started off in favor of U. S. intervention when presented with the atrocities they witnessed on their television screens. This type of righteous anger is difficult to maintain, however, and after only a few months the public favor for both conflicts fell dramatically (Lieber 49). The War on Communism pned the greater part of the 20th century. If one analyzes Korea, Viet Nam, and even the Cold War, one can see that these conflicts were constructs of an American government steeped wholeheartedly in the ideals of realism.
The United States was not concerned about the treatment of the individuals in Korea or Viet Nam; if they were, they would have found that many of the Vietnamese favored the Communist government, at least on a fundamental level. The rhetoric of failure pervaded all of these wars. We tried to argue that our involvement was part of an effort to sustain the greater good—that is, to defend the world of democratic ideals. The truth was that we wanted to prove definitively that our way of life was the only way. Despite the upheaval at home President Johnson continued to send troops to Viet Nam after authoritative proof that the U.
S. was losing the war on all fronts. There was no other explanation for this behavior other than that we did not want to lose face in the eyes of the international community. If we could not sustain a successful war against a poor, backward former colony like Viet Nam, how could we maintain one against the Soviet Union? The irony is that we entered into Viet Nam with noble intentions: we were trying to assist the French, our allies, in their fruitless efforts to sustain their failing leadership in the nation. In a more modern sense, the conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda were liberal efforts to assist the U. N.
in maintaining humanitarian ideals throughout the globe. The Clinton administration could not gain support for these efforts from Congress, which showed that we had a liberal leader at the helm of a realist Congress. Today, the need for international cooperation is greater than ever. Global borders, once so vital, have eroded to the point that they are no longer visible to any but the most redoubtable warmongers. In an era where one can contact Bora Bora in an instant, the necessity of communication and understanding is greater than ever. It is true that human nature will not change; what we can change is the manner in which we deal with it.
Many people argue that the United Nations is an impotent organization whose time has passed. Others debate that the U. N. is the only forum in which the smaller nations of the world have a voice. Unfortunately, both views are correct. For instance, in the case of Bosnia, Serbian soldiers seized 350 UN peacekeepers as hostages. The United States was forced to intervene in August of 1995. By November of 1995 the nations of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia arranged to sit down and discuss the matter, and by the 21st of that month an agreement was signed (Mingst 121).
In this instance, then, the UN was powerless and had to look once more to the U. S. to provide international leadership. Realists quote this episode as the strongest example of their belief in the importance of military leadership. For the American public, too, military leadership is palatable, but only if the conflict is brief. Witness the revolutionary transformation toward Bush’s policies from the beginning of his administration to the present. More than 55% of Americans polled have stated that they will not vote for an incumbent in general and a Republican in particular (Dickinson 58).
The long war in Iraq has taken its inevitable toll and most of it on American public opinion. From the beginning of the last decade, the rubric for American intervention overseas has seemed to have been, “Win quickly or get out” (Lieber 17). The War on Terror has been going on too long for the comfort of the American mindset. In this manner, then, we have altered in the space of eight years from a nation of realists to a nation of liberals in our political attitudes. American attitudes regarding the UN have changed, as well.
Liberals will state that the UN has also had some unilateral successes, as well, particularly in their peacekeeping efforts. The UN played critical roles in ending the war between Iran and Iraq, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and civil conflicts in Cambodia and Mozambique (Lieber 54). They also played a crucial part in ending the 1990-91 Gulf War against Iraq (Ibid. p. 55). Other international organizations have not fared quite so well. The World Bank, begun with such noble intentions, has become little more than a pawn which we can use to threaten smaller nations.
Ironically the U. S. is the biggest debtor in the world, whereas nations like Romania have no foreign debt whatsoever. On the other hand, the WHO, in conjunction with the CDC, has had great success in gaining funding for fighting diseases like AIDS. NATO, too, has been an organization whose time has come. Many of the burgeoning Eastern European nations are clamoring to become a part of NATO in an effort to improve their diplomatic relations in the eyes of the Western world. Other organizations, such as the ICC, or International Criminal Court, are of more recent origin.
While it is not a new idea to punish nations in retaliation for war crimes, using an international forum in which to do so is an idea founded after the conflicts in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The ICC covers a very specific group of crimes and seeks to penalize the individuals responsible. The dictates that the ICC covers are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. The ICC should help to avoid extradition issues in that the ICC has absolute jurisdiction over these aspects of international law.
It will also serve as a sounding board for enforcing individual and national accountability (Mingst 190). In order to comprehend the effectiveness of international organizations, one must first analyze how liberals and realists view them. Realists are basically state-centered; that is, they believe that states only act to preserve their own self-interests. While they acknowledge that international law has a place in preserving order and the status quo, they also feel that states only comply with international laws because it serves their self-interests to do so (Mingst 191).
Order brings benefits; therefore states should comply with imposed order to reap these benefits. For example, it behooves states to follow the dictums of maritime law and not invade foreign waters. Conflicts can be costly on an economic, psychological, and military level; therefore, most states abide by international laws to avoid reaping these costs. As for international organizations such as the UN, realists are skeptical. They feel that most of these organizations have more weaknesses than strengths. They aver that the UN has proven unproductive and ineffective.
An example of this might be the failure of the UN to enforce the 2003 resolutions against Iraq. In this manner, they claim, international law will only stand to reinforce the powerful states, because the dominant states are the only ones with the means to bring such causes to fruition. The realist belief system is essentially anarchic—they believe that states only cooperate with one another because it is in their self-interests to do so. If they choose to disregard the strictures of international law, they will also do so, particularly if the law in question directly affects their economic or military wellbeing.
Realists believe that international organizations and NGOs are completely useless in that they have no means of enforcing their dictums. They cite as examples the failure of the UN during the civil war in Yugoslavia. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the nation of Yugoslavia had no effective arbiter, i. e. the U. S. S. R. , to mediate disputes. Yugoslavia had major fault lines within the country: religious, political, cultural, and historical (Mingst 204). The conflicts that resulted after Russia could no longer control the nation were so ferocious that the world was appalled.
Serbian leaders tried to maintain unity in the face of strong opposition from separatist movements from the Slovenian, Croatian, and Bosnia-Herzegovinian nations. Several countries jumped into the fray, supporting one cause or another, but this only served to make the situation worse and emphasized the ideals of Yugoslavia as a divided nation. Both the EU and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) tried to start negotiations, but none could come to a successful conclusion.
Fighting broke out among the warring factions in the meantime. At this point, the UN got involved to try to deliver humanitarian aid and establish a peacekeeping force. In the end, no international arbiter was able to settle the conflict, and Yugoslavia ultimately ended in the division of the country into four separate nations: Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia. In this manner, then, realists assert that this was the ultimate failure of international organizations versus the self-interests of states.
The liberal view on international organizations is that human beings will ultimately follow the ideals of right. Therefore, they follow international law because it is morally just to do so. In the liberal mind, all states will benefit from doing what is right and moral, and international organizations represent the ultimate culmination of this goal of international cooperation. States have general expectations about other states’ behavior (Mingst 190). In a system of mutual cooperation and respect, liberals argue, the system of international law will succeed.
They do agree with the realists on one point: the system only works if powerful states become involved. A request for aid or a diplomatic protest from a small or weak nation will most likely be ignored unless the vulnerable nation has a powerful ally. On the plus side of this argument, this type of international hegemony is precisely why treaty organizations and international courts function so well—they keep the large powers in check while protecting the interests of the smaller states. Thus it befits all nations to cooperate on an international level.
For their part, liberals quote the success of such organizations as the ICC in upholding international standards and actively pursuing war criminals after Rwanda, East Timor, and Yugoslavia. They also state that the multinational peacekeeping efforts of the UN were instrumental in ending hundreds of international conflicts, including the First Gulf War. Liberals ultimately believe that international cooperation is not only a possibility, it is a probability. As far as North Korea is concerned, the best policy may have to be the liberal one.
It has become clear through earlier negotiations such as the Six-Party Talks that North Korea does not hold reasonable views about the United States’ role in the world. They have hidden behind China for years, but North Korea is not necessarily affiliated with the Chinese in any way except for acknowledging a Communist government. North Korea is the bastard stepchild of the East Asian nations; that is, it doesn’t fit into any particular category. It has little in common with its countrymen to the south, and even less in common with nations such as Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan.
It is a Communist nation in that it has a collectivized economic system, yet it also is a dictatorship. It has a standing army that was once enough of a threat to force United States’ intervention; yet the South Koreans have built enough of a military force to no longer fear invasion. In short, the DPRK is a country trying to find its identity and its place in a world that is constantly changing and melding these identities. Even China, its traditional ally, has refused to back the DPRK in this latest fiasco. Ambassador Wang was quoted as saying, “I think there needs to be some punitive actions” (Tkacik 1).
North Korean leaders defied China’s displeasure, even going so far as to claim that no one could protect them. “Only the strong can defend justice in the world today where jungle law prevails. Neither the U. N. nor anyone else can protect us” (Tkacik 1). The issue now remains: how do we approach this issue without offending either nation? The liberal approach seems to be the most logical. First, we need to comprehend the fundamental differences between ourselves and the Asian nations, while appreciating the role that China has played in hosting the Six-Party Talks (Asher 1).
We can be relatively confident that the Chinese and the North Koreans will ultimately seek a diplomatic solution to this dilemma. The fact that the Bush Administration is changing its previously harsh stance against the DPRK could lead to a beneficial end to this problem. The ultimate solution to the issue of North Korea seems to stem from Bunzi’s last statement. Sustainable prosperity is the only possible diplomatic resolution to the escalating problems with the DPRK, and indeed with any nation. If we stopped trying to coerce other nations to follow our lead and instead gave them the tools to do so themselves, we would all benefit.
Ultimately, the path to successful globalization lies in financial and political cooperation that would allow all nations to keep their own national and cultural identity while making them an integral part of the international whole. Sources Books Lieber, Robert J. : The Eagle Adrift: American Foreign Policy at the End of the Century. Glenview, Ill. Scott, Foresman, 1998. Mingst, Karen A. Essential Readings in World Politics. New York, NY. WW Norton & Company, 2004. Mingst, Karen A. Essentials of International Relations. New York, NY. WW Norton & Company, 2004. Articles Asher, David L.
, “How to Approach the China-North Korea Relationship”, October 10, 2006, Rpt. Delivered to the Heritage Org. Davidson, Tim, “Taking Back Congress”, Rolling Stone, October 19, 2006. Hwang, Balbina Y. “The U. S. -Korea Alliance on the Rocks: Shaken, Not Stirred”, October 16, 2006, Lecture delivered to the Heritage Organization. Sik, Cheong Wook, “Sudden Changes in Bush’s North Korea Policy”, August 7, 2006. Tkacik, John J. “A New Tack for China after North Korea’s Nuclear Test”, October 11, 2006, Article delivered to the Heritage Organization. Walt, Stephen M. “International Relations: One World, Many Theories”, Washington: Spring 1998, Iss.
110 Websites www. heritage. org www. libdems. org. uk/news/ www. simpol. org Annotated Bibliography Lieber, Robert J. : The Eagle Adrift: American Foreign Policy at the End of the Century. Glenview, Ill. Scott, Foresman, 1998. This book focuses on American foreign policy in the time frame after the Cold War. It highlights specific experiences of the United States and its evolving role in international relations. The book is devised into different parts the first part taking into consideration public opinion and debates over civilized intercession over foreign altercations.
Part two of the book deals with issues arising between different countries and the United States (focusing a lot on the Middle East and Russia). Part three divulges international economics as it relates to the United States and abroad as well as the role of the United States as a world power. Mingst, Karen A. Essential Readings in World Politics. New York, NY. WW Norton & Company, 2004. Mingst book draws attention to international relations in a myriad of ways both from involving different authors as well as different subject matters.
World politics, as well as international terrorism and the role of the United States in each of these areas is discussed from a pied example of viewpoints. The book offers a great deal of contrasting material in order for an objective reader to come to their own conclusion. Mingst, Karen A. Essentials of International Relations. New York, NY. WW Norton & Company, 2004. The theories involved in this book include Marxism as well as fundamentalism in view of how they relate to the United States foreign policy.
Liberalism and realism also take a fundamental position in the book involving political theory in an international perspective. In similarity of Mingst’s other book utilized in this paper, this book also reflects a wide range of viewpoints that are both countered and enhanced in other essays and research allowing for the reader to formulate their own hypothesis. www. heritage. org This website is a self-proclaimed think tank website that navigates viewers through both educational and researchable documents.
These documents contain material prevalent to the subject of the United States and international policy by promoting a conservative policy that delves into five fundamental principles: “free enterprise, limited government, and individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense” www. libdems. org. uk/news/ This website provides a searchable database that involves a democratic viewpoint of not only country issues but also world issues and actions. It gives up to date information, albeit a bit bias, it also gives accurate accounts of the United States in foreign policy.
www. simpol. org This website found its inception with British businessman John Bunzi. It gives technology advancements in the area of finding a suitable transition from today’s state of global affairs, said to be of a destructive nature, such acts of destruction are focused on within the context of the website and cited examples from different authors is also given. The website also delves into the growing competition on the global economic market and the increasingly powerful international businesses in light of politics as well as other international institutions.