The nature and sources of liberal international order
This article develops a theory of liberal international order that captures its major structures, institutions, and practices. Distinctive features mark postwar liberal order- co-binding security institutions, penetrated American hegemony, semi-sovereign great powers, economic openness, and civic identity. It is these multifaceted and interlocking features of western liberal order that give it a durability and significance. The argument unfolds in five sections, each focused on a component of the western order. 1)
Security Co-Binding- Neorealism provides a very strong argument relating system structure to unit level practices. The core of neorealist theory is that states in an anarchical system will pursue a strategy of balancing. Balancing has both internal and external dimension. But the realists expect balancing to be pervasive in international politics wherever there is anarchy. Their view is that the liberal states practice co- binding- that is, they attempt to tie one another down by locking each other into institutions that mutually constrain one another. Co-binding establishes institutions of mutual constraint by reducing the risks and uncertainties associated with anarchy. 2)
Penetrated Hegemony- The second major realist explanation for the western political order is American hegemony. Hegemony theorists claim that the order rises from concentrations of power, and when concentrated power is absent disorder marks politics, both domestic and international. Transparency, the diffusion of power into many hands, and the multiple points of access to policy making are the distinctive feature of this system. 3)
Semi-sovereignty and partial great powers- Realist theories assume that the nature of the units making up the international system is sovereign and, to the extent they have sufficient capacity, they are great powers. Two of the major states in the western system,...
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