Realist and liberal theories of international relations

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World Politics and International Relations Theories

World politics is a daunting proposition, particularly in terms of inter-country interactions. International relations is one of the most essential issues that any government or multinational institution must deal with. As a result, most international relations experts fundamentally subscribe to one of two major theories regulating the subject of international relations in order to better understand how the world works. Realism and liberalism are the theories. The two theories provide opposing perspectives on how international relations work. While one of the theories, realist theory, is more pessimistic with regard to the views about amity, collaboration and human progress, the other, liberal theory, is more positive and optimistic about the nature of humans (Mingst 118). This analysis aims to offer a brief comparison of the two theories while also highlighting some likely shortcomings of each of the theories.

Realism Theory

Realism theory contends that matters to do with international relations are more often than not a struggle for the attainment of self-serving interests, say power, among states. This theory presents a pessimistic view of the chances of eliminating war and conflicts (Rossi et al. 691). It places more emphasis on the enduring probability of conflict occurring between countries and low chances of eliminating war.

Liberalism Theory

Liberalism, on the other hand, offers the biggest challenge to the realist point of view. Liberalism is a collection of several liberal theories. As such there are several points of views put forth as to why it is possible for states to do away with war and conflict in favor of cooperation. The first view is that economic interdependence can discourage states from going to war with each other because conflict and war hamper the chances of prosperity for each side (Ryan 24). Furthermore, Woodrow Wilson argued that the spread of democracy is also a key to the advent of world peace. His argument was based on the premise that democratic states tended to be more peaceful compared to authoritarian states.

Inherent Flaws of Both Theories

However, both theories exhibit some inherent flaws both in their concept and application. The liberal perspective is often misused by Western democracies to impose their ideologies upon other states regardless of whether they would be willing to adopt them which implies that the liberal culture has the potential to alienate other cultures. For instance, US military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan (Mingst & Ivan 121). On the other hand, the realist point of view places too much importance on the state in the process is unable to account for problems arising as a result of actions from non-state actors. As a result, it becomes difficult to respond in the face of attacks against the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq (Baylis & Patricia 96).

Works Cited

Baylis, John, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens. The globalization of world politics: an introduction to international relations. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Mingst, Karen A., and Ivan M. Arreguín-Toft. Essentials of International Relations: Sixth International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company, 2013.

Rossi, Enzo, and Matt Sleat. "Realism in normative political theory." Philosophy Compass 9.10 (2014): 689-701.

Ryan, Alan. "1. Liberalism." (2015).

May 02, 2023
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