Security, Insecurity, and Power Politics
o IR is “properly” concerned with state survival in an anarchic environment
o Mearsheimer (realist): Goals like prosperity and protecting human rights
always take a back seat to survival
o “Power Politics” (‘peace through strength’) approach to security sees self-
reliance as the ultimate key to survival.
The Distribution of Power in IR
o Multipolarity: division of power among three or more states within a
system; used to define international politics from 1648-1945
o Bipolarity: power divided between two major states; typically refers to the
US and USSR in the Cold War era (1949-91)
o Unipolarity: domination of a single global hegemon, specifically the US
o Some have argued that the bipolar system and the deterrent effect of
nuclear weapons is responsible for the “long peace” of the Cold War
o The stability of a unipolar system Is debated and its assumption are
challenged by the rise of non-state actors such as al-Qaeda.
o Recent conflicts do not lend themselves to realist balance of power
analysis since they are not essentially state-based.
Liberal Approaches to Security
o Emphasis on international institutions that have proven to be fairly
successful after WWII
o Particular attention to the UN and other collective security measures as
means of reducing the negative effects of anarchy.
The UN and Collective Security
o Replacement for the League of Nations underway from at least 1941
o “Dumbarton Oaks” meeting in 1944 produces a draft charter
o Official UN charter signed on 26 June 1945 in San Francisco
o 51 original members, now expanded to 193
The UN Charter
o Establishes basic principles of order all members must agree to including:
• “Faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of
the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of
nations large and small” o Also calls for tolerance and limits on the use of force
The UN Security Council
o Established by Chapter 5 of the UN charter
o Originally had 5 permanent members (UK, US, USSR, France, China) and
6 non permanent members
o Now ten non permanent members (serving two year terms)
o Permanent members (P5) have veto power.
o Intended to ensure the most prominent states played a special role in
international system, correcting one of the issues with the League
o Some see permanent membership as unfairly representing developed
states to the exclusion of those from Africa, the Middle East, South Asia or
Reform of the Security Council
o Some have suggested dropping France and the UK in favor of a single EU
o Who gets the open seat? India, Japan, Brazil, Egypt, or Nigeroa?
o Should permanent membership be eliminated?
• This would meet guaranteed resistance from all current
The Role of NATO
o North Atlantic Treaty Organization created in 1948
o Emerged in the early days of the Cold War as a means to “contain” the
spread of communism in Europe
o Collective security agreement between its members (originally Canada,
US, UK, France, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Netherlands,
NATO After the Cold War
o Reinvents itself to become the primary security organization in Europe and
the North Atlantic
o New members include former soviet-dominated countries
o Current membership is 28 states.
Alternative Approaches to Security o Peace activists from the 1960s onwards have promoted “positive peace”
which is ore than the absence of violent conflict
o Peace movement has many dimensions and promotes different issues at