Describe and discuss the foundational ideas driving each theoretical approach.

  1. (33 points) Describe and discuss the foundational ideas driving each theoretical approach.  Focus on how these ideas shaped the core assumptions of each general theory – Realism, Liberalism and Constructivism.  You DO NOT have to discuss the sub-theories (Classical Realism, Neo-Realism, Classical Liberalism, Neo-Liberal Institutionalism, etc.).  Keep it general.
  2. For Realism discuss the ideas of Thucydides and Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes’ idea of realism is that the world cannot exist systematically without a government that is more powerful than the rest for purposes of maintaining social order. According to Hobbes, the sanity of states is based on reason rather than greater good. Both Thucydides and Hobbes view realism as being supportive of the idea of power to the strongest. The strong individuals in the society are gauged by the amount of power they hold. They are generally allowed to rule over the weaker members of the society just because they can and not because they are the best placed to. The state of anarchy is a very strong point in the idea of realism. Countries relate with each other based on how much of a threat they pose to each other. They find that it is easier to relate with countries whose strength they can march in case of conflict. Countries also maintain better relations with countries with which they have similar ideologies in order to prevent war situations and have better chances of negotiating for peace in case disagreements arise.

  1. For Liberalism discuss Immanuel Kant and Woodrow Wilson.

Immanuel Kant supported the idea of maintaining world peace. He was of the idea that democracy is the only way to maintain political stability liberally. Woodrow Wilson steered the United States during a period when the political stability of the world was questionable. The European nations were in constant fall outs which was detrimental to the economy of the United States in the long run. In practice, President Wilson applied liberalism which resulted in the delay of the Entry of the United States into World War 1. The two individuals are opposed to anarchy and prefer peace where possible. War, according to them, is a last resort option in terms of conflict. Liberalism values security and calls for integrity in nations. Underhand deals are not prescribed by liberalism. It advocates for honesty, transparency, and responsibility. Kant values human life and discourages the sale and purchase of people in whatever capacity; slaves or soldiers. Liberalism vouches for cooperation even in tight situations. They find it easier to find ways of compromise as long as they avoid violent confrontations. There is always a way to work for peace and humanity from their point of view.

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  1. For constructivism discuss the contrasting ideas of the 4th great debate, and then expand on the side constructivists took, and how that has affected contemporary constructivist thought.

The ideas of the constructivism are centered on the belief of the society fashioning the way relations are formed naturally rather than by political interests. The contemporary constructivist thought is affected by the original constructivist thought. According to the constructivist theory, the nations with more power are likely to look down on weaker nations. It explores the prejudices in instances where some nations feel and act superior to others without giving them a chance to prove their worth. Power is always a source of conflict. When there is conflict between countries, security is not up to par and there is a lot of mistrust. The constructivist thought finds that it is easy to avoid all the problems caused by conflict and insecurity by naturally encouraging positive relationships. Constructivism is supposed to enable countries find ways to deal with conflict and forge for peace without letting situations escalate to bloodshed. In this instance, there are many ways of finding a common ground for cooperation among countries that can negotiate for peace in time of war and disagreement. Constructivism is a very practical take on world politics. 

  1. (34 points) A Neo-Realist, a Neo-Liberal Institutionalist and a Social Constructivist are sitting in the waiting room at a Dr.’s office.  There are no magazines there, only 1 single article.  It is from Foreign Affairs and is titled, “How China Sees Russia: Beijing and Moscow Are Close, but Not Allies”.  Since there is nothing else to read, they all pass the article around.  Coincidentally, after their appointments, they find themselves sitting at the same bar (the bar is next door to the Dr.’s office).  After some small talk, the Neo-Liberal Institutionalist says, “What did you two think about that China-Russia article?”  You are sitting at the end of the same bar observing the conversation that ensues.  Recount the debate these three get into over the article, how it ends, and who you think, in your opinion, wins the argument.  

NLI: “What did you two think about that China-Russia-US article?  More specifically, do you think China and Russia are building a strategic, security partnership in order to challenge US supremacy in Eurasia?”

NR: “Well, as a neo-realist, I think the most important assumptions one needs to make when approaching any international relations problem are that each country is looking out for themselves. The governments will go to great lengths to safeguard the global status and improve it if there is the possibility of improvement.

Now, relating that to this article, I think the relationship between China and Russia is based on both countries gaining economically and averting conflict that is likely to be detrimental to their economies and political stabilities. The Chinese proposal of a peaceful progressive coexistence is threatened by the United States’ provocation, then the China-Russia partnership will be strong enough to displace the United States as the global leader of world politics. 

SC:  “Well, as a social constructivist, I think the most important assumptions one needs to make when approaching any international relations problem are that the proximity of Beijing and Moscow is very likely to force the positive relationship between the two cities. There are only two ways to maintain the relationship of the two countries given the fact that they thrive on very different political ideologies.  

“Now, relating that to this article, I think the relationship between China and Russia is based on mutual benefit basis. The two countries are automatically set to benefit from forging a relationship that allows them to grow alongside each other. China is helping Russia recover its economy while China benefits by engaging in trade with Russia. An alliance of China and Russia would mimic the United States and Israel alliance. The partnership would give Russia a very strong political standing in world politics given that China will be ahead of or equal to the United States in global standing. The only difference would be the fact that China is less inclined to resort to violence compared the United States. If the Chinese proposal of coexistence with the United States is realized then the partnership between China and Russia cannot be considered a threat.

NLI: “Well, as a neo-liberal institutionalist, I think the most important assumptions one needs to make when approaching any international relations problem are the underlying interests of each country on individual levels. A country will relate well with a country that it is likely to benefit from and be hostile to the one which is likely to slow down its growth.”  

“Now, relating that to this article, I think the relationship between China and Russia is based on the mutual benefits. Both countries need each other to grow economically and maintain political stability whereas they have very different political bases. Russia is more English Oriented while China is more inclined to Asia. China’s partnership with Russia is likely to cause panic to the United States for a pretty good reason. The United States leads the world politics which is good for maintaining sanity and order, however given their past reaction to conflict. China may be in a better position to be the leader of world politics. It is very likely that with China at the top, armed conflicts will be reduced to a minimum if it benefits china.

  • How each individual attempts to explain the relationship between China and Russia?  

The NLI finds that the relationship between China and Russia may have begun as one of self-interest and security reasons. Gradually the relationship worked on growing their individual economies with the help of the other and only then were solid economic ties forged in practice. The two countries have not yet crossed the bridged where their trust issues are squashed and they operate on total transparency. 

The NLI views each country as an individual that has analyzed all the possible development strategies and settled on the one which will cost them the least. They see this alliance as a way of China growing with the help of Russia and not the United States which would frustrate China’s efforts in order to ensure no other nation can beat their progress and development.

The SC feels that the relationship between China and Russia was inevitable. According to them, China and Russia are best place to form a partnership outside their individual borders compared to all the other countries. This is supported by the fact that they have very different political bases but still prefer to work together.

The SC explained this relationship as such because of their beliefs that relationships are naturally forged rather than forged based on specific interests. They say that relationships are dictated by the social standing and not social standing dictating relationships.

The NR views the relationship between Russia and China as a force to reckon with. In the long run, the alliance will result into a lethal partnership that will not stop even after being more powerful than the United States.

The NR has this view because they feel that Russia will want to eventually revenge and take their place at the top of the political standing. 

  • Is the triangular relationship between the US-China-Russia seemingly leading to conflict?  Or can conflict be avoided?  If so, how?  Explain how each answers these questions

NLI: Yes, there is a possibility for conflict.

NR: Conflict will automatically result from the triangular relationship.

SC: Conflict will occur as a result of provocation but not the correct relationship of the three countries.

The NLI knows that the relationship could end in either direction depending on the polities the three countries will apply in their relations. The only way conflict can be avoided is if the United States and Russia make peace with each other and the United States stops provoking the Chinese to war.

The NR sees the individual countries as being short of trust in each other’s word and eventually conflict will erupt. Conflict can only be avoided if China stops swinging both ways between Russia and the United States.

The SC does not find any pointers to conflict because the central party, China, is an advocate of peace. Conflict is very avoidable in this situation given that the United States does not relate directly to their cold war rivals, Russia.

  • How does each individual explain the role of the US in this relationship?
    • Bringing them together?  Pulling them apart?  
      • Speak in terms of power relationships.  The role of the international structure in this process.  The role of institutions.  Anarchy.  Interests.  Identity.  Security.  Etc.  

NLI: The United States in this relationship is pulling the two nations apart in order to prevent the competition posed by China in terms of power and economic strength. The United States and Russia pose a security threat to each other and therefore the United States will strive to win over China in order to prevent them from using Russia to destabilize their peace.

NR: The United States is pulling the two nations apart because they may want to prevent conflict between the Asian and European countries but also the fact that they may want to inhibit the progress of China in partnership with Russia.

SC: The United States has no reason to pull China and Russia apart. The United States is the most powerful country and can legitimately work with China to ensure they co-exist at the top.

  • Is the US a threat that needs to challenge?  Or a potential strategic partner? 

NLI: The United States needs to be challenged in order for them to develop better international relations for other nations. If the United States was a friendlier state, they can make a very strategic partner for many countries.

NR: The United States however will require to be put in check and be challenged in order for them to progress further as they cannot sustain a healthy relationships with other states.

SC: The United States is a state that could help other nation’s progress if they agreed to partner with other weaker nations given that it is the strongest political power in the world. 

  • What is your opinion? 

The debate is fairly well contested but the Neo-Realist has strong points. For starters, the United States cannot be the bigger state and make peace with Russia given that they do not trust Russia to stand by their word. Russia still finds the United States arrogant and conceited. China on the other hand has reservations about the way the United States handles their foreign affairs. The presence of the United States vessels within the Chinese territory is already suspicious and the Neo-realist points out all these factors and this win him the debate.

  1. (33 points) The role of institutions in global politics is a heavily contested topic in international relations.  Yet, considering the important role they play in the contemporary world, it is important to understand them.  So, help me understand institutions by explaining to me the following:
    1. What are institutions?

Institutions in International Relations covers the bodies that oversee the world rules. It covers the written and non-written rules of the world politics. They give guidelines of how things are done in the world’s political space. The institutions are charged with the responsibility of managing diverse political bases in one peaceful global coexistence of nations. There are many such institutions like the United Nations which was formed to ensure world peace and this resulted in the formation of the International Humanitarian Law which prevents unfair war engagements. The countries that are signatories are expected to maintain mutual respect for each other.

  1. What role do they play in international politics, according to Neoliberal Institutionalists?

Institutions according to a neo-liberal institutionalist maintain the world’s political stability and order. The institutions are there to protect all individuals equally in the case of a conflict. It is supposed to protect the interests of each individual indiscriminately. This translates to all the nations being gauged the same despite their superiority against other nations. This gives each state and equal vote in this institutions where the law is supposed to be applied.

  1. How would a Neorealist respond?

According to a Neo-realist, the institutions ensure that the world order stays with the strongest individuals in the society. The written and non-written laws are always only applicable where the concerned party is set to benefit. In this case, a country like the United States is likely to arm-twist the law in instances where their interests are likely to be interfered with if the law is not implemented. In instances where their interests are to be affected negatively by the implementations of the laws, they will fail to corporate. This is all tied to their political power which gives them an advantage of having their way in all situations. The institutions in this instances are only there to serve the most powerful nations in the society. The institutions are likely to be set up by the strong nations to protect their interests, in the cases where the institutions are not set up as per their specifications, the strong political states fail to give their cooperation as in the case of the United Nations. 

  1. How are they able to facilitate cooperation, according to Neoliberals?

The institutions according to Neoliberals, facilitate the cooperation of the various nations by equalizing all the nations in the eyes of the world laws. This ensures that no country can lord over another in international matters that employ the institutional views. They also ensure that each country has equal opportunity of engaging in a relationship with another without a third country interfering with their terms. According to a neoliberal, the world politics require that the countries can be held accountable for their word by this institutions. It is the belief of a neoliberal that a nation will be well aware of the international institution’s stipulations for a proper cooperation situation. There can only be fruitful cooperation in instances where the nations are fairly given chances of collaborations. Mainly, interference from third parties is often a cause for conflict which is not an environment conducive for cooperation.

  1. Do you think the current set of global institutions can survive if a non-western power surpasses the US in power (which at this points China seems to be on that trajectory – although that is no guarantee)?

The current institutions have for the longest time been centered around the United States as the strongest political power, a change in the order will mean that the institutions that presently exist, will be altered. The institutions for a period of time will be rendered redundant. This will mean that they eventually will have to be fashioned around China and this will mean that the United States will be reduced to a position that they have to adapt to. The overtaking of the United States as the most powerful political body will destabilize the institutions responsible for maintaining the world order and possibly in the process conflict will ensue. 

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