Evaluation and Critique of Perspectives & organization
From a review of the readings, there is the realization that realism assumes anarchy in international systems and that there is no authority above those at the level of the state that can manage interactions with other states. There is also an assumption of rationality in the decisions of the state and the natural motivation to the fulfillment of one’s own national interests, particularly those involving national security with power is determined by military and economic determinants.
Furthermore, political realism suggests that there conflicts are natural and that there is no real means or standard that can be utilized as guidelines in states’ international relations. According to Snyder (2004), “Even if realists acknowledge the importance of nonstate actors as a challenge to their assumptions, the theory still has important things to say about the behavior and motivation of these groups” (p. 55).
He also points out that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, realists have emphasized the need to develop policies “based on positions of real strength, not on either empty bravado or hopeful illusions of a world without conflict” (p. 56). This can be reflected in the U. S. efforts in legislating new trade and production policies to limit the
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In response to realism based perspectives, in particular neorealism, Wendt (1995), points out that the limiting states’ relationships to be based on “distribution of material capabilities” and that peace is inconsistent to the interest of states or its pursuit does not recognize the role of states as well as international systems as social institutions (pp. 76, 79). Thus, the state-centric perspective of political realism and its Hobbesian view has led to significant criticism as well as it s lack of recognition on the impact of international organizations in effecting change in national policies.
Constructivists suggested that the elements of social reality such as state goals and motivations should be considered as social constructs in the context of international systems. It should be noted however that there are significant consistencies between realism, as well as liberalism, the constructivists’ perspectives: they both recognize anarchy in international systems and state-centric tendencies among individual states (Mearsheimer, 1995). However, Wendt (1995) considers anarchy as a product of cultural disparities and that state-centrism as a rhetorical response to external conditions and issues.
In constructivist perspectives, “To analyze the social construction of international politics is to analyze how processes of interaction produce and reproduce the social structures-cooperative or conflictual-that shape actors’ identities and interests and the significance of their material contexts” (Wendt, 1995, p. 81). The suggestion is that social realities are social constructs and therefore realist perspectives of inherent materialism or state-centricity can be reconstructed to suit changes in international standards (Ropp & Sikkink, 1999).
However, as illustrated by Snyder (2004) with the example of the US attack on Iraq and the lack of effective oppositional response, constructivist’s perspectives lack application. Thus, it may be sound in terms of conceptual or theoretical justification, but it has not been apparent in the actions of states and international systems. Compared to realists, constructivists afford greater sensitivity to the social conditions and afford greater opportunity for developing effective relationships and management of international relations.