POLS 100S Midterm: IntlPols MIDTERM Topics and Examples

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Political Science

Sam Harvey POLS100S Mid-Term Classic vs. Contemporary: #1) International politics has changed since classical authors like Thucydides and his Melian Dialogue. No longer is it necessarily true that the strong decide while the weak accepted. In the contemporary world where there are so many small nations, one will see “small countries are often getting their way when faced with a hostile big power. Sometimes, mutual accommodation is the clear answer.” The international community has been able to use Westphalia to reiterate the beliefs that the “ends justifies the means’’ 2 and “might makes right” in order to indoctrinate war as a tool of foreign policy, which has far often been more put into action that humanitarian aid or negotiations due to self- interests and misperceived threats to state sovereignty. Martin Luther’s undermining of the legitimacy of the religious empires in the 15 th century afforded the independence the princes of the time had been waiting for. Thus, beginning the early foundations of the sovereignty and individuality of states as an international norm. International politics has also changed in a major way by the introduction of outside state actors such as international organizations like the United Nations; but more interestingly, by the ever increasing numbers of NGOs into the global sphere with a highlight on human rights and grassroots idealism. None of the classical authors foresaw this phenomenon nor did they pay much, if any, attention to the fact that everyday citizens could potentially have enough of a significant impact on a state so as to influence the state actors perspectives and agenda. An example of this as shown by Stoessinger was after Amnesty International released a report on the immense human rights violations carried out by Iraqis in Kuwait. After3ards, all President H.W. Bush could talk about was the “barbarism of Saddam’s troops.” Still, the presence of such organizations like Amnesty International or Humans Rights Watch illustrates the influence of the humanist movement. Therefore, the most important changes would be a turn towards more diplomatic and rationally thought-out approaches to international affairs. With the United Nations and its many agencies, smaller nations also have gained more of a voice in the international community. Collective security has become exceptionally complex, but with a precedent of similarly adhering to Kant’s liberal prescriptions to implement free trade, strive for the implementation of democracies worldwide, and an acknowledgement of the legitimacy the United Nations has in keeping the peace, alliances have for the most part held out strong. Although, undoubtedly ulterior motives and the pursuit of power along with nationalism of states has sometimes tainted the majority of the international community’s efforts to not repeat the errors and heed to the warnings written by the classical authors. Contemporary theories such as Kant’s liberalist ideals have since 1 Goodby, James, The Survival Strategies of Small Nations, November 2014, pg. 37 2 Kegley, Ten Tenets for Peace, Order in the New Millennium, 2002, pg. 135 3 Stoessinger, Why Nations Go to War, 11 Edition, pg. 303 replaced the classics, but they will forever serve as important lessons in the history of international relations. International Organizations: #10) The most important roles of the United Nations system in contemporary affairs include its basic purpose, which is to “provide a global institutional structure through which states can sometimes settle conflicts with less reliance on the use of force.” 4 Additionally, the United Nations is used by countries around the world for diplomacy, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and most importantly to determine strategies to preserve the organization’s collective security while maintaining the sovereignty of the individual state members. International law and international cooperation is formed on the basic realist principle of reciprocity. The United Nations will continue to exist so long as it serves the needs of states, however, it remains the “closest thing to a world government that has ever existed, but it 5 is not a world government.” The UN Charter is largely centered on realist expectations that member states will fulfill international obligations while also taking care of their own affairs, such as their territorial integrity. A significant incentive of being a member in the United Nations is the leverage a state gains from being able to seek more beneficial outcomes in conflicts, but the United Nations would probably rather focus on the international stability it is capable of providing. Besides the role of basically a collective regime, the United Nations is a forum where the states are able to address and discuss views or disputes, as well as, coordinate with others on how to assist in development, economic or social. Plus, the United Nations’ numerous agencies culminate and publish research and findings from gathering of international data on a variety of subjects to emphasize areas of improvement. Realism limits the effectiveness of the United Nations, especially within the Security Council. States are very hesitant to get involved in a crisis if it doesn’t pertain any interest to them, pose a national threat or a risk to their alliances and economic stability. Also, the UN and its members are extremely wary of authorizing the use of force in conflicts between particular regimes because the precedent set by history warns of unforeseen consequences and a decrease in legitimacy. Realism calls for moral evidence and consequently a common interest before states are obligated or permitted to provide humanitarian intervention or granted a mandate to use force by the UN Security Council. The limits this has placed on the international alliance allowed, “the genocide in Rwanda,” to go unanswered which, “showed how terrible the consequences of inaction can be in the face of mass murder.” 6 Realism’s restraints on the United Nations international cooperation in conflict resolutions has raised questions in the public as to why states are willing to act in some areas of conflict, while they might refuse to intervene in other conflicts where people are suffering just as bad or worse. The public’s perception of the United Nation’s righteousness and fairness further affects the organization’s legitimacy and ability to get states to sit down and reason or participate in negotiations as it might no longer be in that state’s national interest to listen to the United Nations. Further placing restrictions on the 4 Pevehouse, Jon and Goldstein, Joshua. International Relations, 11 Edition, pg. 201 5 Ibid. 6 Annan, Kofi, Two concepts of Sovereignty, The Economist, September 1999, pg. 2 permanent members’ rights to veto would limit some of the excuses that those greedy states have for doing so: it would threaten their strategic interests. Non-realist theories: #8) Post-modernism, compared to liberalism, better explains the American-NATO decision to intervene in the Kosovo Wars. Liberalism might be the more optimistic theory, especially when it comes to prospects of peace and agreements between disputing countries. This theory also tends to be a lot more idealistic and stresses the importance of assisting in humanitarian justice for its allies. However, this theory makes the assumption that state actors are willing to put the common good of its community over its own self-interest. Kant’s theory of liberalism contrasts with the theory of realism in the sense that war and violence is viewed as a last resort tactic. Postmodernism doesn’t believe that narrative for a second and digs deeper into the “subtexts.” As put by Goldstein and Pevehouse, “war and violence appear as irrational deviations that r8sult from defective reasoning and that harm the collective interests of warring states. ” Liberalism and post-modernism are on two very opposite ends compared to the theory of realism. Both reject a key aspect of realism, have a strong commitment to ethics, and aim to expose human rights contradictories. Postmodernism deconstructs so- called ‘truths’ by looking at the way cultural and social relations interact within functional frontiers of different ethnicities. Unlike realists, postmodernists never believed that the Soviet Union was a single actor with a “single set of objective interests.” In fact, the Soviet Union would split into 15 pieces exposing all the different fractious units, ethnic minorities, and its individuals; proving that postmodernism has merit. The un
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