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We the People Act and Perspectives of Liberalism and Realism Theory

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In a world filled with conflicts, it is important to have rules and laws - to maintain a balanced society and economy. We as society are the people that need rules to live together. Some essays state that while laws are enforced by the government, citizens are to understand the development of those regulations through policy theories. Such as, liberalism and realism. As political scientist, Stephen M. Walt one said, “‘One World, Many Theories’”. In which, to understand the possibilities for peace in international relations (IR), one must understand as to why war is an event that keeps recurring in the history of nations and furthermore the idea of international affairs and the deciding components which causes and effects the peace in the international system. To find different types of forms to interpret the way one may feel of the international system can be mainly credited to philosopher John Locke and correspondent Hans Morgenthau. While Morgenthau, a realist and Locke, a liberal “look at the very same world. But when viewing that world through the realist lens, the world appears to be one of domination. The realist lens magnifies instances of war and conflict and then uses those to paint a certain picture of the world. Liberals, when looking at the same world, adjust their lenses to blur out areas of domination and instead bring areas of cooperation into focus.” The influence of the theories are heavily applied to the systems in which the purpose of this paper is to show that in spite of the fact that these theories are similar in that they trust in the anarchical (without system) form, the understanding of living individuals, the importance of state actors, while they differentiate through the ways they believe one should obtain power of their goals regarding human life, anarchical form, role and importance of financial aspects.

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If a liberalist and realist were to have a conversation with each other, it is most likely that the conversation would start with an agreement on how both believe in the anarchical structure, the understanding of human beings, and the importance of state actors. To recognize the conflicts that are present “outside the borders of the state” is the biggest truth that both liberals and realists can agree on. Both liberals and realists can come to an agreement that in order to maintain and live, one must find ways to survive. As liberals and realists have very little to relate to, the conversation between the liberalist and realist could give way to an argument over human rights, when one may question the different ways one should obtain power of their goals through the anarchical structure, and the role of financial topics. And although liberals and realists can recognize the troubles of the nations, the way each would act upon the problem is the difference between the two. To elaborate, “realists interpreted the Cold War, for example, as a system in which global stability existed because of the power exerted by the United States and the Soviet Union.” [3] Realism believes that national security is the most important concern in international relations (IR), and that human nature is no good. While realism follows the path of law and latent, liberalism argues that states can exceed in a world governed by law and morality (wisdom). It is quite clear that although both realism and liberalism consider international system is anarchic, liberalism provides a less violent explanation that searches for peaceful co-existence for global politics rather than realism, which ends in conflict. For liberalism, “long-term international cooperation is possible and will lead to human material and spiritual progress.” [4]

After the Cold War, realist theories have become less determinate, coherent, and distinctive. Leading to the rise of liberalism and it’s views on human nature and assistance. While realism believes that human nature is evil; leads to see constantly enemies=lack of trust, liberalism is where human nature is good. With this in mind, I would suggest that that maintaining a balance between realism and liberalism would provide a useful frame to represent the stability between the two theories regarding issues like humanitarian crises abroad, etc. “Sometimes humanitarian assistance is expanded beyond its immediate function to avert a crisis, to provide support to allies, and to maintain a presence in the region. How it is used and whether it becomes more of a strategic, policy tool depends upon the situation, what other governments are doing, and the degree to which the United States has further interest in the region.” [5] There is a fine line of giving and receiving as the United States government and humanitarian aid are trying to find the balance of helping those in need for the betterment of international relations. However, for now “finding appropriate ways for the United States to leverage its political objectives without politicizing humanitarian aid remains a significant challenge.” [5]

While the two theories give solid and credible explanations of the process in which the world/international communications unwind, it is important to recognize that these explanations can matter for only so long as these communications change alongside society. This paper summarizes the similar and different perspectives of realism and liberalism theory. Throughout the paper, one may have concluded that we the people act according to realistic commands, but we defend our actions and our policies in terms of liberal ideologies. International relations is a complex matter than can be explained in numerous theories created by philosophers. Rather than what’s right or wrong, I would come to terms with the realization that both theories are useful for bringing a sense of understanding and perspective on the conflicts of past and future conflicts in international relations.

Works Cited:

  1. Snyder, Jack. One World, Rival Theories. Foreign Policy, 2009.
  2. https://foreignpolicy.com/2009/10/26/one-world-rival-theories/
  3. McGlinchey, Stephen. International Relations. E-International Relations, 2017.
  4. Walt M. Stephen. The Difference Between Realists and Liberals. Foreign Policy, 2013
  5. Mansbach W. Richard, Rafferty L. Kirsten. Introduction to Global Politics, 2008.
  6. Margesson, Rhoda. International Crises and Disasters: U.S. Humanitarian Assistance Response Mechanisms. Congressional Research Service, 2015.

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