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Theories of International

Relations

Realism
Idealism
Constructivism
Marxism

Realism
The Realist Approach regards
international politics as struggle for
power among nations and justifies as
natural the attempts of a nation to
use national power for securing the
goals of its national interest.

Realism I
Power: the ability to influence others
Irrelevance of morality and ethics and
law
Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928)

Irrelevance of domestic political systems


Why is power the only thing that
matters?
Human nature
Anarchic world: no rules

Realism II
All nations are self-reliant
To preserve peace use Balance of
Power
US vs. USSR in Cold War
USChinaJapan in East Asia

Unipolarity cannot last


Nations will balance against US power

Englands Balancing Act


England

Russia
Prussia/Germany
France
AustriaHungary

The Cold War Balance of Power


1945-1990
Israel
Syria/Egypt
Ethiopia
Somalia
Taiwan
China
S. Korea
N. Korea
S. Viet NamN. Viet Nam
W. Berlin E. Berlin
W. Germany
E. Germany
Britain/France/Japan

US

USSR

Poland/Czech

Unipolar World
EU
Japan
Russia
China
India

US

Power?

US: Weak Neighbors, Big


Oceans

Germany
Strong Neighbors, Easy Access

Power?

Power? Shanghai, China

Power? Islamabad, Pakistan

Power?

Thailand

Algeria

South Korea

Power?

Idealism
The Idealist Approach holds that old,
ineffective and harmful modes of
behaviour i.e., war, use of force and
violence should be abandoned in
favour of new ways and means as
determined by knowledge, reason,
compassion and self-restraint.

Idealism I
Power is not the only thing that
matters
States have common interests and
common values
Trade is the key common interest

Idealism II

Global Marketplace
Interdependence
Desire for rules
Desire for predictability and stability
International system is based on laws
(Treaties) and institutions (UN, WTO)
International law

UN General Assembly, New


York

International Court of Justice,


The Hague, Netherlands

WTO, Geneva

Cosntructivism
In the discipline ofinternational
relations,constructivismis the
claim that significant aspects
ofinternational relationsare
historically and socially constructed,
rather than inevitable consequences
of human nature or other essential
characteristics of world politics.

Constructivism I
Nation-states are not all alike
Political culture shapes foreign policy
Form of government shapes foreign
policy
History shapes foreign policy
Domestic political trends and
debates shape foreign policy

Constructivism II
States have identity
State identity influences the way
states interact with each other
Examples:
China sensitivity to any policies of other
states that threaten its unity and
sovereignty
US desire to transform the world

Russian fear of invasion

China 21 Century
st

Qin Dynasty 221-206 BC

China: Tang Dynasty 618907

China: Qing Dynasty 16441911

China: Colonized

US: Woodrow Wilson, 1917


The world must be made safe for
democracy. Its peace must be planted upon
the tested foundations of political liberty. We
have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no
conquest, no dominion. We seek no
indemnities ( )for ourselves, no material
compensation for the sacrifices we shall
freely make. We are but one of the
champions of the rights of mankind. We shall
be satisfied when those rights have been
made as secure as the faith and the freedom
of nations can make them.

US: GW Bush, 2005


And we have declared our own
intention: America will stand with the
allies of freedom to support
democratic movements in the Middle
East and beyond, with the ultimate
goal of ending tyranny in our world.

Marxism
What Are Key Concepts of Marxism As a
Theory of International Conflict and
Security?
Realists and Liberal Institutionalists identify the
state as the principal actor in international
relations and global politics
Liberal theorists identify the individual as the
principal actor and source of political and
economic legitimacy of state and markets
systems
But Marxism identifies the creation of classes as
the principal actor in international relations

How Does Marxism Arrive at Class Struggle


as the Central Actors in International
Relations?
1) Marx and Marxists state that humans are
fundamentally material entities
Mankind must first off eat, drink, have shelter and clothing
before it can pursue politics, science, and religion

2) The modes of production to meet human


material needs creates a power structure that rules
humans who depend on this production system
Under feudalism (European and Japanese), agriculture was
the dominant mode of production of wealth
Those who owned land controlled the workers and serfs that
were the labor for agriculture which they exploited
They also controlled political authorities and military forces to
impose their rule on others

Marxism and the Cold War


Marxism as ideology helps explain the
Russian and Chinese revolutions
A socialist state and economy claimed to end
the alleged injustices (unequal power and
wealth to capitalists) and to be a superior
system for the production and equitable
distribution of wealth
The state seized the private land and
destroyed the landowner class
Collective farms were created as the
foundation of a socialist state and society

Marxism and the Cold War


The socialist model that combined political
and economic power in the state proved
fatal to the Soviet Union
China abandoned the Maoist socialist state
both on political and economic grounds
The cultural revolution was directed at the
elites of the Communist party
The state controlled economic system
produced famine and massive economic
dislocation and losses

Marxism and the End of


Europes Empires
Marxist doctrine of exploitation by
the West and capitalism rationalized
the revolt of the developing world
The Soviet Union and Communist
China aligned with these movements
for self-determination in their
struggle with the West and,
especially, with the United States

Marxism and Identity Politics


Marxism is not able to explain
Why the peoples of the developing world
created their own states instead of joining a
global socialist order
Why the Soviet Union was destroyed by
The demand of its East European satellites for
national self-determination
The demand of Russian elites to abandon a socialist
system that impoverished the Soviet Union
The demand of the peoples of the Soviet Republics
for self-determination and their own state

Can Marxism Still Explain


Conflict?
The unequal distribution of wealth through
globalization and global markets within and
between states remains a flaw within the global
system and a source of conflict
The ideology of Marxism, based on the unequal
distribution of economic wealth and political
power as the product of capitalism, has created
a backlash against global markets and the power
of the Western liberal market democracies
Marxist theory still has some explanatory power
along these two dimensions of inequality and
ideology.