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Diversity & Equity

International Relations Final Exam

            Since studying international relations theories for the past quarter, I have been able to grasp the main concepts of the different ideologies. There are two theories that I have found to equally be the most persuasive – liberalism and realism, despite the two describing polar ideas. And the theory I have decided as least persuasive is the normative international relations theory.

            Liberalism and realism viewpoints are essentially opposites, but both theories have strengths that benefit their nation’s political and economic standing. First, liberalism focuses on enmeshing international governments and spreading democracy. Additionally, liberalist nations strive for less government intervention, allowing for markets to create its own supply and demand. By creating diplomatic ties globally, liberalist nations have the capability to open markets and trade on a larger scale, as well as spreading cultural opportunities and ideas. Globalization is at the core of liberalism, and allowing nations to build diplomatic relations generates overall global advancement. Liberalism, in my opinion, is a strong and resilient international relations theory because of the numerous countries under the theory today. Starting with the United States, liberalism has spread across the globe and has allowed for economic and political success in many countries. And although the main weakness of liberalism is arguably the constant push on countries practicing other theories and desire to become the global political norm, as seen in The Economist’s What’s Gone Wrong with Democracy article, it has succeeded to spread nonetheless. Countries in the EU, such as Germany for example, have been able to flourish under liberalism.

            On the contrary, I believe that realism is just as persuasive. Realism focuses on state power and dominance. Realists build diplomatic ties with countries for self-benefit, rather than for the sake of globalization or creating allies. And realist states typically do not interact with smaller or lesser-developed states because they believe that there is no large-scale benefit. Moreover, realism has been successful because of its priority of military power. In the film, The Island President, China refuses to lower their carbon emission levels for the Maldives because they did not have prior diplomatic ties, and did not find any probable future benefit by supporting the small nation. Though realism may be considered adverse, I find this political ideology to be strong because it focuses solely on state stability and power. China, for example, save quickly reached economic and political success over the past few decades under realism and mercantilism. By creating an export driven economy and constructing robust military power, China has been able to succeed and surpass several economies on a global scale. Realism may seemingly be an unfavorable international relations theory because of its lack of desire to globalize and contribute resources and ideas internationally. I argue, however, that for the same reasons, realist nations are strong and stable.

            Normative international relations theory, completely unlike realism, is the least persuasive theory to me because of its overly idealistic approach. Normative IR theory focuses on how the world “ought to be,” and conveying societal norms and values. Normative theory approaches the world from a communitarian and cosmopolitan point of view, and endeavors to mold global citizens through global inclusion. Because of this, I find the theory overall to be unrealistic and unattainable. Creating global citizens is impossible because of the precedent of cultural barriers that have been set in stone for centuries. Additionally, at this point in time, we do not have the monetary resources or funds to cultivate cosmopolitans and communitarians. Normative IR theory could not be globally implemented because of the current political, economic, and cultural differences between each nation across the globe.

            A world government would allow for a utilitarian, world citizen way of living – equal human rights, political voice, opportunity, and more. Realistically, however, how plausible is the idea of world governance? Contemplating a world government has been a topic that some have considered achievable, but also a topic that many have considered absolutely impossible. To show both the negative and positive implications of a potential world government, I will create an argument through two different international relations theories: realism and normative international relations theory.

            Through the realism theory perspective, a world government would be completely unwanted, but more importantly completely unattainable. Because each individual nation differs economically, politically, and culturally, the idea of a world government could not be a reasonable idea. First, every nation is advancing at different levels economically, and all nations do not follow the same ideologies of governance. The three main current political ideologies are liberalism, Marxism, and mercantilism – each entail differing methods of trade and markets. This economic-political difference alone would not allow for success in a world government. Currently, democracy through liberalism is targeting to be the global norm in terms of politics, and achieving this is impossible because of the economic prosperity under other ideologies. Moreover, every country across the globe has gathered its own culture. And provinces, states, and tribes within these countries contribute their own subcultures. Cultural barriers would hinder the idea of a world government, and attempting the enmeshing of cultures would be extremely difficult and people would lose their sense of individuality. Additionally, the world is already suffering from repression toward lower developing countries. Walden Bello’s The Global South discusses current issues in lower developed nations, and how their advancement is under the control of the global north. Implementing a world government on top of the current scarcity of advancement in the global south would be highly unsuccessful. Finally, from the perspective of a realist, there would be no positive impact of creating one singular government. Lower developing nations would not be able to contribute economically or through military power because of their lack of prior experience. And because realism focuses on nation power and dominance over other competing states, a world government could not be accomplished. Normative theory, however, would argue otherwise.

            A world government is the ultimate dream for normative IR theorists. Because normative IR theory focuses on creating cosmopolitans, a single world government would be the ideal end goal. Having a world government would mean every human would receive the same rights and opportunities notwithstanding race, ethnicity, or place of birth. Although the UDHR is currently being implemented, there are some nations that do not participate. With a world government, every nation would be required to follow the same list of human rights. Moreover, the entire world would follow only one political ideology, or maybe even create a new political economic method based off of the current ideologies, which in turn would allow for equal advancement globally. There would no longer be a separation of lower developed nations or more developed nations. This being said, employment rates would increase, and because every individual in the world would be working for the same government, the job market would overall be expanded. Also, the varying world cultures could come together and share ideas and experiences. In the words of a normative IR theorist, everybody could grow to be a global citizen. In these regards, a world government would make for a good idea, with equal rights and opportunity. In my opinion, however, a world government is plainly too idealistic.

            I do not consider myself a complete realist because the idea of not wanting to expand the international relations in your country seems wasteful to me, and takes away from the opportunity to expand your knowledge and experiences. I don’t, however, consider myself a normative IR theorist either. That being said, a world government does not seem like a good or reasonable idea in my opinion. There are too many differences globally to even attempt a world government. Even breaking down cultural barriers within my close friend group can be difficult, so I cannot imagine trying to do this on a global scale, while implementing laws and regulations. David Brooks’ Toughing it Out discusses the globe’s current “unadorned struggles for power.” Today, nations fight for power and dominance. Or even argue about slight differences in religion, for example the Sunni Muslims versus the Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Iran. If we are unable to resolve differences like these, how can the globe collaborate to create a world government? In conclusion, I do not believe a world government could be attained because of differences in economy, politics, and culture.

World News Reflection:

            To begin, following up on the EU Parliament vote to ban weapon exports to Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands are the first nation to implement the distribution of weapons to Saudi. The Dutch Parliament has set the precedent for the EU, and the Netherlands hopes countries such as the UK, France and Germany will follow. Moreover, to follow up on the OPEC meeting in Doha, Qatar last month, another gathering will take place to discuss the next steps to introduce the freezing oil of production. Similar to last month, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia, and other top oil producers will attend, and there is an expectation of 15 (around 73% of the world’s global output) and non OPEC producers to follow the initiative. Next, on the ecotourism spectrum, Saudi Arabia has often not been an area of plausible interest for most non-Muslims. And the Saudi economy has flourished despite not gaining an ecotourism income. Officials at the tourism commission, however, state that the country is slowing starting to open up to tourism although they are continue to make it a priority to encourage Saudi’s to visit their home country. Travelling to Saudi Arabia as a non-Muslim or non-Saudi may be becoming a future possibility. Finally, to end on the most notorious international issue concerning Saudi Arabia, the Sunni nation continues to feud with Iran, but may be ready for intervention. Prince Turki of the Saudi royal family explained to BBC News that they are ready at any time to talk with Iran because they have common interest, a common God, they share a common prophet. Prince Turki, however, explains that they can only talk under certain conditions such as truly addressing their current affairs and how they can better them.

            In conclusion, if I were to do this assignment in a future class I would continue to study Saudi Arabia because I believe it to be a critical driver in today’s economy and international relations in general. Because the US, one of the world’s “leaders” in regards to various international issues, is close allies with Saudi, much of what they do on a diplomatic and international scale is closely followed. There are new (and old) issues being covered daily. Moreover, much of the world is dependent on Saudi’s oil exports – one of the world’s most needed and used nonrenewable resources. And finally, for a more personal reason, as the Middle East evolves and slowly becomes influenced by Western culture, I find watching Saudi Arabia’s progress fascinating because it is where part of my upbringing took place.

New York Times

Netherlands Weapon Ban
Independent UK

New York Times

New York Times

Saudi v Iran