Lesson 1 Several questions should be answered in regards to international relations first. Are states obsolete? For almost four hundred years, the territorial state has been the primary player in world politics. To achieve state sovereignty has been the main goal of most nationalistic separatist movements. In some points of view, the territorial state is in very good health. It is still needed to provide military security, give people identity, raise taxes, and provide for the needy.
Although, as global trends put pressure on nations for the transformation of politics, states become vulnerable because they may not be able to cope with the needs that the global trends demand. There is much debate on whether globalization is a cure or a curse to the world. On one hand, globalization has brought the world closer as a whole and countries have united economically and socially. On the other hand, globalization will ultimately lead to competition and empowers advantaged states but constrains weak states as well.
This creates a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor. America is a superpower, and there is no question about it, but will there be consequences for America’s superpower status? The United States has become a hegemon, which is a state so powerful that it has the capacity to control world politics and create rules for others to follow. So the United States has a choice to make: global domination or global leadership guided by principle. Can the United States wisely use its power to advance its own interests as well as the interests of the rest of the world?
Its destiny is in its own hands. Another question: will geo-economics supersede geopolitics? Geo-economics is the distribution of wealth and geopolitics is the distribution of political and military power. There seems to be an apparent shift of priorities to the economics of world politics and that will most certainly lead to a future distribution of world power. This shift is also likely to decrease the barriers of long-standing state borders. All over the world there are many political systems.
The pattern of interaction between international political actors has changed in the past and will change in the future. The difficult part is deciphering the temporary from the permanent transitions. An example of this would be the Cold War versus the September 11th attacks on the United States. Obviously, the past cannot be changed with the events of 9/11, but the Cold War relationship between the U. S. and the former Soviet Union has been transformed into an alliance over the past twenty years. Several factors influence our perception of international relations.
Interpreting which forces will be dominant in the future by different levels of analysis, the state level of analysis and the global level of analysis. The state level consists of the type of government that the state has, the level of economic and military power, and the number of nationality groups. The global level consists of the interactions between states and nonstates. The interactions shape the international political system and the conflict levels that make up world politics. International organizations also present a challenge to world politics.
Organizations such as the European Union, World Trade Organization, individual states, and transnational religious movements all have huge influences on world politics and create difficult challenges because of their different agendas for their individual future. The interaction between constancy and change make it difficult to predict whether the future will bring a wholly new and different international system. This is called multipolarity and it presents a huge challenge to international relations.
Some of the individual states that are usually mentioned when talking about multipolarity are the United States, China, the European Union, Japan, and Russia. There are a few solutions as a response to multipolarity’s challenge. Unilateralism is an option that relies on self-help, independent strategies in foreign policy. In this solution, a hegemon can be self-sufficient and not have to worry about other nations for support. For example, the European Union has built its own independent “Eurocorps” military force instead of having to rely on alliances with other small nations.
The United States has developed a similar approach from the Bush Doctrine which basically keeps the U. S. military’s strength beyond the reach of any other country in the world. Another strategy to respond to multipolarity is a cooperative agreement between global powers to manage the global system jointly in order to prevent global issues from escalating to war. In conclusion, all of the issues stated as challenges to international relations are important to the future of relations between countries big and small.
Polarization is going to be the toughest to avoid because as countries such as the United States, China, Japan, and Russia get more powerful, smaller actors are going to want to join forces with one of these superpowers. As a result of smaller actors allying themselves with larger actors, there will become an array of competing coalitions economically. In order for this to be managed safely, there must be rules and regulations to dampen the impact of globalization. This globalization may force the United States to give up its #1 status and have to cooperate with many great superpowers.
This is a position that the United States is not used to being in. This will cause the U. S. to manage several relationships that it cannot hide from but must deal with diplomatically. Understanding today’s world requires oneself to face the many differences from many different global actors. These challenges are very difficult to face but will reap many rewards when dealt with properly. Sustainable global development is a main goal for the global leaders. These challenges go to the roots of Western civilization and that is what makes these challenges so difficult and arduous to face.