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Contemporary Issues in Global Politics

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Contemporary Issues in Global Politics

Poli 215

Paper 1

A question of perspective ?

By: Alexandre Gingras 3947173

For: Dr. Peter Stoett, Phil Ricard

Concordia University

Friday February 9th, 2007

Is it better to expect the best out of life and humanity and be a dreamer or is it better to be pragmatic and face the realities of the harsh world we live in? It all depends on the way you choose to see and live life. However, the situation complicates itself when 6 billion perspectives, all shaped by different values, environments and cultures collide in a world that is getting smaller and faster with every passing moment. This is why it has always been the concern of great political thinkers to construct theoretical perspectives in order to validate our world. In this paper, I will focus on two theoretical perspectives in order to best explain my vision of Global Politics today. First, I would like to discuss the assumptions of realism and their applicability today. Second, I will explain how the complex interdependence theory is more suitable in order to understand the changes in Global politics.

Realism

POLITICAL POWER COMES OUT OF THE BARREL OF A GUN??-MAO

Politics can defined as "the process of making binding decisions to allocate scarce resources within a society" . Conflict and Power is a product of competition for scarce resources and values. These characteristics are at the very foundation of classical realism. Therefore it is not surprising why this theoretical perspective has been predominant in the study of politics and international Relations. One cannot deny how war and state power have always been an important factor in the history of civilizations. And many great political thinkers have believed power and self- interest to be of great importance in politics. Thucydides, Kautilya, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes are the founding fathers of realism. Since then, the realist school has branched of into many different sub-theories, but all of these ramifications share underlying assumptions.

The first assumption of classical realism is that human nature is primarily evil and selfish. Second, realism focuses on the state as the most important actor in International Politics. And nations are primarily concerned with their own self-interests, which are first and foremost State Power. Consequently, international politics is a struggle for power. State power is first achieved by national security and second by waging war. Both are realized with the use of Military force. Therefore "military preparedness is the most important factor in determining state power and security." In addition, structural realism shares the same assumptions as realism, however it focuses on the characteristics of the international system. This variant of realism suggests that there is anarchy in international relations with no structural authority or common government capable of enforcing rules. In other words, anarchy represents an ordering principle of the international system and this anarchic structure is seen as an unchangeable. Within structural-realism, the powerful states are able to force weaker states into compliance, and thus determine international regimes in such a manner that they maintain their dominant position. In other words, states as unitary actors drive for universal domination as an ultimate objective after they had guaranteed the preservation and confirmation of their power. Also, structural realism assumes that it is the well-functioning balance of power theory that keeps the system stable. If one state or group of states gains excessive power within the system other states will counter balance by either increasing their own power or by creating alliances with other states. Consequently, according to realists, states can only achieve this balance through accumulation of military power. Accordingly, this is to suggest that states cannot broaden their security agenda beyond military security threats and national security is their foremost priority.

Complex interdependence theory

"THE ONLY THING THAT WILL REDEEM MANKIND IS COOPERATION." -BERTRAND RUSSELL

Many changes have occurred in Global politics in the last century. The world has become more interdependent in economics, communications and human aspirations. This is why Keophane and Nye developed the "Complex interdependence theory" in the 1970s. For one, this theory reflects my perspective of the world because it is a "blend of realism's concern with power and state conflict with liberalism's optimism and emphasis on transnationalist phenomena" . For the sake of argument, I will only focus on a few elements of Complex interdependence theory: Actors, pluralism of issues, and the nature of the international structure.

First, complex interdependence specifies that the actors are states and non-state actors, such as multinational corporations (MNCs), international organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and trans-national social movements. As globalization and international trade impact societies, NGOs and MNCs have become increasingly influential in world affairs. These international organizations have grown dramatically in the last 50 years. There are now tens of thousands of international organizations in the world operating in most countries. These organizations are not directly affiliated with any national government but often have a significant impact on the social, economic and political activity of the country or region involved. For example, the Red Cross and Amnesty International have extensive networks that cooperate with hundreds of countries around the world on issues such as human rights and social and economic development. Also, the state is no longer the strongest actor in global politics. One could argue that MNCs have become more influential than states. For example, Microsoft Corporation has a larger budget than most states. These large MNCs are becoming the owners of national strategic resources like petroleum, water, gas, biodiversity, air, sea and land and they

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