International relations theory is defined as the study of the conceptual or theoretical structure on which international relations can be evaluated. Several theories have been put forward to explain different interactions between different states.
One of International theories is Realism. Realism is defined by anarchy where there is the absence of a central authority. States under this framework are sovereign and are bound by their own consent when interacting with other nations (Dean 129). In such a framework, state power is crucial. It is through this power that states can protect themselves and their interests. Realism defines power in terms of military strength, economical power and diplomacy. There are four assumptions put forward in this theory. The first one is survival: every state must strive to maintain its existence. The second assumption is that the realism system is anarchic. The third one is that all states are unitary reasonable actors where they tend to pursue self-interest. The last assumption is that all states are important players in international relations. Some realists hold the belief that states are naturally aggressive, that only expansion of territorial boundaries is constrained only by opponent state’s power (Dean 141). Those who hold such an opinion are known as the human nature realists. Others hold the school of thought that believe states are preoccupied with their security and their very existence. This group is known as offensive/defensive realists.
The next International relations theory to be covered by this paper is liberalism. Liberalism asserts that state preferences rather than capabilities of a state, are core determinants of a nation’s behavior. It holds that inter-state interaction is not confined to security/political but also economic /cultural politics. It incorporates three main assumptions. The first is that individuals, private groups, and not states, are the key players. The second assumption is that states represent essential interests of their domestic societies. It also assumes that the pattern of preferences across the international system defines a state’s behavior.
Marxism and critical theory is the next international theory. This theory has structural conceptualizations that oppose the realist and liberal view of state interaction, instead putting emphasis on material and economic aspects (Engle 97). It provides premise for historical materialism and makes assumptions that concern on economics tower over the others and placing class as the primal focus of study. The Marxist theory views the international system as capitalistic integration with the core goal of accumulation of capital (Engle 101). The Immanuel Wallerstein’s World-system concept under this school of thought is highly integrated with Lenin’s imperialism. This concept argues that globalized capitalism has negative implications on the third world countries. It further explains that capitalism is aimed at exploiting the third world countries. The Marxist theory of international relations has had its share of criticisms, which include focus on material and economics elements of life solely.
The best theory that explains US foreign policy is the liberalization theory. America encompasses all the tenets of this theory in its interaction with other states. America as a nation is not only limited to political and security in its dealings with other states. Economically America has employed liberalization as tact of venturing into foreign markets (Gunnell 63). American organizations and firms and not necessarily the state, engages with other state economies. The mutual manner of such an arrangement ensures that all players in the interaction get benefits. Socio-cultural liberalization is an element of America’s relation with other states. This is exhibited in education through educational exchange programs. America also integrates with other states through music, sports and other cultural avenues. The United States through liberalization has been at the forefront of promoting democracy and human rights (Gunnell 73). America as a veto power in the United Nations assembly pushes for justice, equality and peace in the global sphere. It is also instrumental in safeguarding international institutions such as the International Criminal Courts that enforce justice and safeguard humanity against crimes. The United States is also keen on promoting global economies through developing sound economic for third world countries such as AGOA (African Growth Opportunity Act) that offers incentives to African countries in order to enhance economic growth.
On matters to do with security, America through the liberalization model has been a keen guard of global security. It implements this through sanctions and inspection voyages that deter developing of nuclear weapons (Gunnell 80). America has also been at the forefront in the liberalizing states from tyrants by providing its troops to do the necessary toppling of such leaders from power. It then shepherds a nation into restructuring through offering financial aid and expertise in setting up governance institutions essential in the efficient running of such a state. America is also a key supporter of global health initiatives. It is a key financier of many research programs, which bring about technological and medical innovations. These go a long way in enhancing the fight against scourges, epidemics and diseases.
America can apply the liberalization theory with the tyranny situation in Syria. America as a state that embraces democracy and human rights should take a leading role in removing the leadership of Syrian president Assad from power. America by use of the veto power can sensitize the world about the need of freeing the Syrian people from chains dictatorship. It can use its diplomatic influence in pressurizing regional blocks such as the Arab league into mediating the Syrian impasse. This can ensure a bloodless transfer of power is implemented while at the same time lives and properties of the Syrian people are protected. United States of America can also push the world economic blocs into sanctioning Syria so as to achieve the ultimate goal of liberalizing the Syrian people from Assad’s tyranny. The US also can help in the restructuring of the Syrian power structures by lobbying alternative leadership for the Syrian situation. It can enhance the creation of a sober leadership by supporting leadership figures who embrace democracy as a cornerstone for a proper modern leadership.
In conclusion, International relations can be said to have many definitions depending on the model theories it is based upon. In the realist theory, states are portrayed as aggressive and selfish in safeguarding of their interests. Marxism on the other hand aims at pointing materialism and the negative motives of exploitation of small economic powers. Under this theory, capitalism is given prominence leaving oath the aspects of socio-capitalism embraced by many states in the effort of maintaining a human face in its dealings with other states. Liberalization theory encompasses the real concept in many global interactions between states. It deviates from the traditional interactions based on political ties and interests. It provides for liberalization of many elements of global interactions. America as the model state discussed in this paper offers a perfect portrayal of the liberalization theory in international relations.
Engle, Eric. Marxism, liberalism and feminism: (leftist legal thought). New Delhi: Serials
Publications, 2010. Print.
Dean, Kathryn. Realism, philosophy and social science. Basingstoke [England: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2006. Print.
Gunnell, John G. Imagining the American polity: political science and the discourse of
democracy. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004. Print.