What is significant about developments in Post-Cold War IR theory?
This essay will explore the significance of developments in post-Cold War International Relations theory. It wasn't surprising that the collapse of the Soviet bloc, arguably the third greatest cataclysm of the Twentieth Century and an event which drew a line under the Two World Wars, would pose some serious theoretical questions for International Relations. In order to do this the essay will be broken down into two sections. The first will analyse globalisation and the effect of it on Realism. The second the will analyse culture and its effect on Liberalism. As a result this will demonstrate, theoretically, that issues in post-Cold War international relations can be used to critique the orthodox theories of International Relations: Realism and Liberalism.
Realism is said to be the most established theory in International Relations and was in its height during the Cold War. It deals with what is best for the state (state-centric) in order to ensure survival. This means having sufficient power to enable security for the state. A modern realist Hans Morgenthau defines this as "man's control over the minds and actions of other men" (Morgenthau 1955:26 taken from Baylis and Smith 2001: 150). So what effect does globalisation have on the traditional theory of Realism? It's undeniable that globalisation is a capitalist process. It has taken off, as a concept in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and of socialism¹, as a viable alternate form of an economic organisation. Now the West is a major influence in ex-communist countries. Left critics of globalisation define the word quite differently, presenting it as worldwide drive toward a globalised economic system dominated by multinational corporations (MNCs), such as Shell and Microsoft, and banking ¹ There is no definite starting point to globalisation, but the circumnavigation of the globe, in the 1519 to 1521, is seen as the first great expansion of European capitalism. There was also a big expansion in world trade and investment in the late nineteenth century. This was brought to a halt by the First World War and the spell of anti-free trade protectionism that led to the Great Depression in 1930. The end of the Second World War brought another great expansion of capitalism with the development of multinational companies interested in producing and selling in the domestic markets of nations around the world. The emancipation of colonies created a new world order. Air travel and the development of international communications enhanced the progress of international business. Then the end of the Cold War broke the barriers to globalisation in communist countries and globalisation just grew and grew. institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), that are not accountable to a democratic process or national governments. This challenges the realist idea of the state being the principle actor. To highlight this we can clearly see how powerful MNCs are by seeing that the majority of them are invited to the G8 summit, which addresses a wide range of international economic, political, and social issues. Left critics also say that with the spread of globalisation the rich, the core' north, exploits the poor, the peripheral' south. To back this up they point to the figures used from UNDP 1999 Development Report which found that over the past ten years, the number of people earning $1 a day or less remained static at 1.2 billion while the number earning less than $2 a day increased from 2.55 billion to 2.8 billion people. Pro globalisation supporters dispute this saying that there is mounting evidence that inequalities in global income and poverty are decreasing and that globalisation has contributed to this turnaround. For example, the World Bank notes that China's opening to world trade has brought it growth in income from $1460 a head in 1980 to $4120 by 1999. The...
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