Politically organized community
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A state is a politically organized community living and operating under a single system. Generally for an entity to be called a state, it must possess the following features; Sovereignty (absolute power and must be free from all external interference). Secondly, it must have a defined territory to clearly define where it operates and dwells upon. Finally, a state must possess a population and government. There were changes that occurred in the seventh century and these changes brought about the existence of features that should qualify a state as a territorial state.
A territorial state therefore can be referred to as a “state” because they mean the same. These changes that occurred were seen as major features of the modern territorial state. The first key characteristic of the modern territorial state is territory. The state had a defined territory with a specific area and had a boundary to clearly define its territory. Secondly, the modern state had a government. It was governed by a set of institutions which was loyal to the monarch. The government was made up of professional bureaucrats and also had specialized departments. The third feature is the presence of population.
The population are the people who make up the state, their identity and origin was a product of the monarchs set of myth and symbols of nation hood. Finally and the most important characteristics, is sovereignty. Sovereignty is the key feature of any state. Sovereignty can be referred to as freedom from any external interference into its internal affairs and also the ability to rule and make decisions over its own affairs without any interference. The notion of sovereignty was developed by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz when he tried to prove that his employer the Duke of Hanover has a right to legation.
He defined the concept of sovereignty in terms of how the world operates today and what happen in the world today. He highlighted three conditions and criterion for sovereignty. First, the condition for sovereignty is a minimum size of territory. Second, is the “Majesty” and this condition enables the authority gain respect and obedience from its people. The third and final condition is the actual control of ones territory by virtue of one’s military power. The characteristics of the modern states thereby brought about interstate relations. This refers to how states interact, socially and economically to improve each other.
The Treaty of Westphalia laid the foundation for modern state which gave rise to a system of interaction among states. The treaty’s recognition of the principle of external sovereignty represents the formal recognition and the legal consolidation of modern interstate system. This is the system whereby legal equal states interact. The two major concerns of international politics in the seventeenth century were “order” and “wealth”. Wealth and order was embodied in two terms called “absolutism” and “mercantilism”. Absolutism was a French word that entered the world of politics after the revolution in 1789.
“The central idea of absolutism is that the justice and power of a state should be monopolized by the monarch- the reason most typically given is theological: the king is said to possess a divine right to make political dispositions. ” LIBERALISM The liberalist theory tradition focuses on individual liberty and human reasoning. The liberal international relations theory sees human as actors in international relations and they are not just actors but also rational actors of international relations and this can be traced to a political philosopher John Locke. Liberalism supports human liberty and freedom.
The Liberalist idea became known during the 20th century. International Relations theory was originally conceived of and founded by liberal thinkers. The Liberal theory thinkers do not believe war is the answer but can only make situations worse. One of the major proponents of this theory is Woodrow Wilson who is a former president of America. Through the existence of international law and international relations, world peace can be manipulated. International organizations provide an avenue whereby states would meet and interact, and protect each other interests.
State interactions can be through entertainment, sports, this enables states learn each other cultural value and all these is made possible through the existence of international organizations. The Liberal theory unlike the realist theory does not view man as entirely selfish but gives an avenue for hope that the world can live in peace. Liberalism played an important role in bringing to existence international relations. Norman Angell an early liberalism thinkers, laid a key liberal argument that war does not benefit any individual or state and therefore should be avoided. G. L Dickson also coined the key concept of International Anarchy.
Liberalism developed an academic discipline to address international relations; this is to give a better understanding of international relations and to also help reform international relations. The Liberal thinkers were the first to establish international relations and it’s believe in World peace. “However, the 20th century was not kind to the Liberal thinkers as it was the beginning of three systemic wars: World War I and World War II. (1914-1918 and 1939-1945) and some 45 years of Cold War, beginning in the 1940” This war began at the time that the liberalist thinkers were driving for peace in the world.
The liberal thinkers were however ready in to finding out the causes of the world war and the came up with the following results; “fatal misperceptions among political elites, secret diplomacy and lack of democracy, war-prone military establishments and lack of international organisations”. These results however led them to drafting a new political solution which gave rise to the League of Nations within a few years which is the first International Governmental Organization and its aim was to promote international peace.
Also for the first time the liberal idea of institutionalism was practiced. Another major step taken by the Liberals is that treaties are no longer to be concluded secretly but should rather be made public. Thirdly, in the academic sector, several specialized institutes and university chairs were created, for research and teachings related in international affairs. These institutions were therefore created in Berlin, Hamburg, London, New York, and Toronto. They believed in the better understanding of international affairs and how it would help to prevent.
The traditional national Security institution was however complimented by the collective security system under the League of Nations. The 20th century liberals believed in collective security as a strong substitute for the old fashioned balance of power theory. The Liberal thinkers however failed in the reaching its state objectives in avoiding conflict and war and reaching a world where peace reign. The future of peace in the Post-World War I was however jeopardized and soon turned into the World War II that lasted for 20 years.
“The emergence of communism, fascism and Nazism on the European continent and beyond proved to be very hard soil for the liberal ideas and strategies to grow in. The collective security system fatally failed, just like most other features introduced as ingredients in the Liberal recipe for cooperation and peace” The liberals were shaken by how the world turned out and the theory turned into a failure during the first half of the 20th century. The liberalist perspective experienced a hard time after the World War II and during the cold war era but they strived to retain their prominence in world politics.
The reintroduction of the Liberal political programme which is the league of nation, was replaced by the United Nations and also the concept of state interaction was also revived with United States promoting multilateral solutions to international problems, with their relations with Europe. In the last three decades of the 2oth century, the liberal ideas was revived and began to flourish in novel theoretical reflections on issues of “transnational relations, patterns of interdependence, international institutions, logics of democratic peace, regional integration and global governance”
Realism In the study of international relations, theories are necessary to enable us analyse why some decisions are made in the international system. Realism is one of the theories of international relations and it prioritizes national interest and security over morals. Realism is synonymous with power politics. Realism is of the view that the international system is in a constant state of antagonism and there is no actor above the state that is capable of regulating its interactions.
In the pursuit for security, states strive to acquire as much resources as possible in form of military might to protect their national security interest. Realism does not support long term cooperation or alliance but rather sees states as unitary actors that should strive towards their own national interest. The relationship between states is determined by their level of power that is derived militarily and economically. It is believed that introducing morals and values into international relations causes reckless commitments and diplomatic rigidity which in turn might lead to conflicts.
The major actors in international relations are the sovereign states and special attention is given to strong sovereign states because they have the most influence in the international system. Other actors considered under the liberal thought such as the international institutions, non-governmental organizations, multi-national co-operation, individuals and other sub-state or trans-state actors are viewed as having little independent influence in the international system. Realist believes that mankind is not benevolent but rather selfish and competitive.
Thomas Hobbes, who views humans as egocentric, i. e. human are not entirely self-centred. This view of realism contrasts the approach of liberalism in international relations. The realist view states as aggressive (offensive realism), and obsessed with security (defensive realism) and that expansion of territories are only constrained by opposing powers. This could lead to aggression among states and this aggressive build up may lead to security issues (September 9/11 attack) whereby increasing one’s security may bring about greater instability internally for the opposing power.
Therefore security becomes a zero-sum game where only relative gain can be made Realist does not believe in Universal principles in which states may guide their actions, but they must always be aware of the actions of its surrounding/ neighbouring states and must apply a pragmatic approach to address its problems as they arise. Realism is a formal discipline in the international relations that did not arrive until World War II and it has produced several series of thoughts since the beginning of the 20th century.
The realist thought began in Europe and it reflects the 19th century European “Realpolitik”. During the 20th century, the realist tradition generated three main currents of thoughts and they include: Classical Realism, Neorealism and Post-neorealism. Classical realism which can also be called political realism is the first realist current of thought with its origin traced to E. H Carr and Hans Morgenthau which were both critique of the liberal theory. Classical realism states that it is the nature of man that put states and individual to act in a way that places interest over ideologies.
States have the drive for power and the will to dominate, which is held fundamentally as the nature of man. Classical realism can be described as a rich current comprising of large number of theorists and it is also the first to blend political theory, IR theory and historical analysis. The classical realist current of thought had a very close relationship to religion. The second current of thought is the neorealist. The neorealism thought is not a continuation of the classical realism thought but has some additional features.
It derives from classical realism but with an exception of human nature. Instead it focuses on the international system. States remain the principal actors and a greater attention is given to forces above and below the states. Neorealism is associated with the writings of Kenneth Waltz. He divided neorealism into three explanatory factors that explains states behaviour; i) anarchy, ii) functional differentiation of units iii) changing distribution of powers capabilities. Thirdly, the post-neorealist current entered the scene in the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century.
It is a continuation of the neorealism with slightly new emphasis and various additions. They strived to explain foreign policy and also to differentiate between offensive realism and defensive realism. The differences between these three currents of thoughts; Classical realism focuses on state security and attention is given to the state as the only actor , neorealism focuses on the international system rather than state security and focuses on the forces above and below the state.
The post-neorealist current, placed its focus on foreign policy and emphasized on the differentiation between offensive realism and defensive realism. ‘ Similarities between these three currents of thoughts is that none of the currents of thoughts acknowledged individuals as actors in international relations but focuses on how states can protect their self-interests.