critique) theories to be true and that

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critique) your argument.

                There are many theories to how
the international stage plays out and how the actors interact. Most of the
theories have extreme ideology clashes which make it impossible for other
theories to be true and that only one theory is the dogma. However it does not
help us to be so stringent about who is right and who is wrong, it’s better to
take a step back and look at the whys and the inner workings of each actor’s
motives. It should also be noted that we have to take consideration the
timeframe in which a theory is created, or the zeitgeist of a theorist as the
time they are living in are different from ours. Our aim is to look at the
purpose of an action and what triggers it, this should be a good start for our

                Before all else it is important
to define what cooperation means, essentially it is when the actors adjust
behavior in according to the actual or anticipated preferences of other actors
through a process of policy cooperation (Phythian). All states normally
benefits from cooperating but not always do they get equal rewards. On the
other side is competition which is self-focused aims that promotes goal-seeking
behavior, this can lead to actors willingness to reduce the gains of the
benefit of another actor or to weaken them.

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                First off let us look at the different
types of theories there are: realism, liberalism, and constructivism with each
of the individual ones having sub-schools that has minor differences respectively.

                In the past, the world had many
wars and humans suffered as a result, in the past 100 years, major wars and
threat of nuclear war was escalated. Even if peace talks has been an ongoing
issue for the same exact time, there are security threats that may happen at
any moment. Therefore after world war one happened, many scholars and theorists
were born in order to prevent future wars but to no avail. This is why many
started to believe that cooperation between states are difficult.

                 Therefore comes realism, realist theorist believes
that they know why cooperation is so impossible, and it reflects itself in the
history of politic theory. Realism is most dominant during and after the Second
World War. However, those with insight into the past, more modern theorists
have critiques about realism, as it does not explain the end of the cold war. The
sub-group of realism are neo realism, neo classical realism, and classical
realism. Neo realism focuses on the distribution of power on the international
arena. This is because the realists believe that there are no sovereign
authority that have enough power over all the actors to govern and protect the
actors. This would lead to the states having the freedom to do anything they
would want and this endangers the status quo, leading to further distrust.
Becoming an obstacle to cooperation as a result. Realists believe that the main
goal of state actors is the maximization of power and security, similar to a billiard
ball. The bigger the ball, the higher the effects it has on the table, in this
case, a powerful state can push around a smaller state much easier on the
international arena. With no one to keep an eye on the bullying, it can be seen
why realists believe so much that cooperation is doomed to fail, thus states
are pushed to result to have constant battles and a struggle for survival. Even
if a state alone on itself is satisfied with the power it has, it still cannot
trust what others can do to it at any given time. On the assumption that if the
state wanted to cooperate with another actor but the other side does not agree
to its terms, it can pose a serious threat to the state. And because all states
live under this assumption, it is the reason when states are so keen to create military
alliances and increase military power to strengthen its relative power on the


                It is a good time to bring out “the
security dilemma” or game theory, which is believed to be the holy grail of
realist thinkers. In a world of uncertainty and bounded rationality perceived
external threats, this generate feelings of insecurity to the actors which
believes that they’re the target of the threats, and in turn generate a state
which have to adopt measures to increase their power and capability to
counteract those threats (Collins).

                In essence, if one actor sees
another actor increase its military power, it will assume that the state
building up its military power is getting ready to attack. However that might
not be the case at all, the state is just simply increasing its security so
that its relative strength stayed secured. Thus the only rational way to deal
with this state of uncertainty is for the state to increase its own military power,
which will too pose a threat to the other state. From there things spiral out
of control, a never ending situation that is almost impossible to back out of,
this is why realists believe that cooperation is very much impossible not just difficult.
One major factor why security dilemma happens is because of the fear between
states, actors in a realist world do not regard the inner workings of each
other’s politics, and therefore lacks diplomacy and context of each other, this
turns into a lack of trust. For example, the ongoing conflict between Pakistan
and India since 1947 after the British colonization. To stop the conflict, the
two states must not only stop militarization but they have to trust each other.
But with a lot of the damage done and hatred of the two governments, this would
be difficult to achieve, reinforcing the realist argument. More so, even if the
two do come to term and created agreements, there is still no sovereign
authority that prevents cheating. For example Russia invasion of Ukraine in 2014
when Russia annexed Crimea, even if the UN exists, they have no power to
directly stop the invasion.

                Yet it is important to note that
there are differences between the realists thinkers, when offensive realism
states that actors must act aggressively to survive because how the international
system is created; it encourages conflict and leads to war. On another side,
there are defensive thinkers that believe that cooperation and conflict are
reflected by the situation, much less extreme when compared to the offensive
thinkers (Adams). For example if a group of states share the same goals and
think similar, from mono-ethnicity or otherwise, allows much more room for
cooperation. This is because the trust between two states are created easier if
the states understand each other’s context and motives. Thus the international
arena does not always create conflict, but it also allows for opportunity to
strengthen security.

                Classical realists on the other
hand are concerned with the human state of nature, a very Hobbesian way to view
the world. They believe that people in their natural state are selfish and
aggressive, led by self-gaining goals. Thus it reflects in the actors of the
international arena. Hitler and Saddam Hussein is a good example of how state
actions are driven by humans that solely wants more power, regardless the
reason and means.

                Neoclassical realism combines
the two school of thoughts and introduced the inner workings of a state along
with the importance of security in the global arena. Introducing concepts such
as appropriate balancing where the actors understand another state’s intentions
and balances its action accordingly. Or overbalancing where it spends more
resources than needed. Neoclassical realism focuses on the balance of power and
not just the relative power like the neo-realism school of thought.

                In essence, for realists the
main obstacles that makes cooperation hard is the nature of the selfish and
aggressive man, mixed in with the nature of the international system that
drives us to resort to self-help, to increase our relative power and security. The
outcome of the realist world is quite extreme and grim, there are weak states
trying to survive by towering powers all around and cooperation seems
impossible. Yet there are criticisms on realism, and it is that generally
realism ignores the inner workings of an actor which include race, language,
religion, and culture, which we mentioned above is more likely to cooperate if
there are harmonious relationship between the actors. Realism also focuses
mainly on the state itself, seldom the outside forces which can affect the
actors, these outside forces includes international instructions, NGOs, and influential
people such as celebrities. The main argument however, is that, for us who has
hindsight, the international system was not the same as the one back in world
war two, realism failed to predict the end of the cold war and we have had a relatively
peaceful world since then. Offensive realism seems to be proven false as states
loses interest in gaining territory, the most being territorial disputes from
the past, mostly driven by economic advantages and opportunity e.g. the South
China Sea dispute. In fact there is another type of theory which almost stands
as the complete opposite and the direct rival of realism, the liberalists.

                Liberalism surfaced during the
end of world war one. No one expected a global war to happen that theorists scrammed
to find a way to prevent one in the near future. Woodrow Wilson drew up the 14
points to create peace to prevent further wars, however that failed and
resulted in Hitler instead 14 years later. So liberalism was quite unpopular up
until the end of the cold war. Why Liberalism was revived and more popular than
ever is because states started to agree to international law, demilitarization
and the increased importance of international organizations (IOs). It can also
be observed that there are wide spread of democratization. Like how realist
views humans as selfish and aggressive, liberalism on the other hand believes
that we can be good and have a sense of moderation.

                Liberalism main assumption is
that war is avoidable, and there is a lot more space for cooperation. The main
obstacle for liberalism in regard to we’re not being able to cooperate is the
fact that there are not enough IOs. Liberalists give IOs a lot more credit than
the realists, they believe that global change is possible if the IOs promote
peaceful change, disarmament, and international laws for a better change
(Landers). And if necessary use enforcement on states. The logic is simple, if
states follow laws created by IOs like man do to the state, then they will have
to inevitably cooperate. A modern globalized world where the international
arena resides allows for new players to enter. These players such as
transnational corporation and conglomerates, also NGOs plays a role in
dampening the relationship of states, this leads to a more peaceful environment
in the arena. Another obstacle which may hamper cooperation is the lack of full
democracies in the world, as it is observed that most conflicts came out from
non-liberal states. It is also rare to see democracies getting into conflict in
the modern world. For example, western European states have not been in war with
each other since World War 2. It might be that after the world wars,
democracies do not want to experience it ever again, or that the cost of war is
simply too high. It can also be said that states simply realize that cooperation
is better for the states, in this globalized economy, nations become
interdependent on trade and trade exists on the opposite sides of the earth,
thus IOs such as the world trade organization promotes free markets further
encourages nations to cooperate and trade in order to increase their economic
benefits. Other IOs such as EU and NATO ensures peace and prevents new wars
from happening. There are arguments that EU limits the freedom of its members
however there are significant advantages EU had done for Europe. It created
room for communication for its members, a common ground which lets its member
share knowledge, an essential part of cooperation. There is however one thing
realists got wrong, they state that states want to cooperate, thus the reason
for joining IOs that promotes peace. Therefore it is necessary for IOs with
open markets needs to be filled with democratic states (Cox). Even though
liberalists agree with realist about the state of nature, and anarchy. They
however believe that democratic states can overcome it and cooperate naturally.
However there are criticism of liberalism as well, for example, the major
problem of the internal workings of IOs is that they must be in their national
interest and in their favor. For example back when the UK was definitely in the
EU, they do not accept the Euro and continued using the pound as it is not in
their interest. This means that IOs does not have enough power to ensure
cooperation if a state do not wish to do so. Another point is that converting
countries into full democracies is not easy, because of the background of each
actors. For example Syria and the US intervention, turning the whole middle-eastern
nation into turmoil filled with terrorism and putting a corrupt authoritarian
regime in power. However it is the trend that states naturally progress towards
a democracy, it will however take time. 

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