International Relations Perspectives
The basis for the realist perspective focuses on the struggle for power; and, proposes that this is the central cause of events in international affairs. This perspective “sees the world largely in terms of a struggle for power in which strong actors seek to dominate weak ones and weak actors resist strong ones to preserve their interests and independence…There is no overarching or universal center of power in the world that is recognized by all actors as legitimate…[It} emphasizes power: human nature at the individual level, aggressive states at the domestic level, leaders pursuing domestic and international power at the foreign policy level, and the balance of power at the systemic level” (Nau, 2012, p. 6 & 10). Realism began to gain momentum in domestic politics during the 15th and 16th century; and, it served as the predominant interpretation of the causes and effects surrounding war, with little to no opposition.
The dominance of this perspective peaked during the Cold War (1947-1991) when the world superpowers of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. entered into an intense power struggle, the core of realism. Other world events such as the Truman Doctrine, Marshal Plan, Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Korean War, and the Afghan War all “purely served the realist paradigm’s fundamental postulates” (Amin, Naseer & Ishtiaq, 2011, p. 2). By the end of the Cold War, there was a notable shift in the realm of international relations theory away from realism because a shift in world order had occurred. The U.S. had emerged as the leader in economics, technology and politics.
Because anarchy in the international arena of states, due to the absence of a central authority over all, relations between the states takes place in what has been termed by the realists as an “international anarchic system.” Amin et al. (2011) states that, “the uneven distribution of power means the arena of international relations is a kind of power politics with all actors pursuing to maximize their power for the safe and secure accomplishment of their national interest” (p. 4). In reality, there is no true measure of power. Generally, it is accepted that power will change over time and even though some states will grow in power while others weaken, there is no clear consensus regarding the distribution of said power among the states.
The core of the liberal perspective holds that it is the level of interdependence, via the major institutions, that influence world events, and purports peace and stability. The emphasis is on fostering relationships of the institutions that are amicable, strong negotiations; and, open communication levels to seek resolution of conflict on the international level. “How groups interact, communicate, negotiate and trade with one another…Actors at any level – systemic, domestic, or individual, behave not so much on the basis of relative power, whether they are weak or strong,...