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AIR747 Contemporary International Politics

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AIR747 Contemporary International Politics

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AIR747 Contemporary International Politics

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Course Code: AIR747
University: Deakin University is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: Australia

Critically analyse, compare and evaluate how Neo-realist and Neoliberal institutionalist IR theories understand international cooperation.
The purpose of this assignment is to:
(a) develop and deepen your knowledge of International Relations theories; and
(b) develop your ability to critically contrast, assess and evaluate the different theoretical claims made by distinct approaches to International Relations.


The international relation between different countries focuses on the overall relationship and the power dynamics between two countries. Hence, economic and the military strength of a country are correlative to each other. The relation between the two countries is influenced by a number of factors including the collaboration of their power. It has been pointed out that power domination is one of the principles of power dominance which has been much demanded by a number of political leaders in order to establish their supremacy on their compatriots. It has been shown that the structure of international systems is more impactful than individuals perusing power which forces states to focus on establishing power (Uglea, 2015). Structural Realism or Neo-Realism is the theory that focuses on establishing power as one of the most important aspects of the state while establishing its presence in society.  Neo-Liberalism is the modern form of liberalism focusing on the development of an open market globally at the same time creating a set of interdependent societies. International cooperation is the relation between the different countries where they help each other while improving their relations by trade and sharing of culture. In a modern society which has been globalized, it is extremely important to assure international cooperation to allow people to move and trade easily across the international markets.
Structural Realists or the neo-realists point out that states have to be strong enough to protect them to establish their supremacy. Defensive realist, on the other hand, focuses on getting power as it is important in order to establish their dominance. The role of political situation and international relations has a major part to play in the establishment of power in the society. Offensive realists, however, hold a view that states in the modern political scenario are greedy for power and pursuing hegemony is logical in that case (Burchill, 2009). Neo-liberals and neorealist agree on the fact that society is anarchic but provide two different views of mitigating it. While neo-realist focuses on the distribution of power in society, neo-liberalism focuses on sharing of culture, laws and economy in the society to ascertain balance.
Power in the hand of the state depends on assets possession and military power of the state. Thus, the military power needs to develop a number of socio-economic factors. Survival is one of the primal needs of sustenance, and that can be achieved by power (Mearsheimer, 2001). The distribution of wealth in society according to the population is an important factor in considering the power of the state. The neo-realist and neo-liberal theorists have a varied approach to the dynamics of power distribution and acquisition.
Neo-realist theory of political power in the state focuses on the distribution of power among the states. Power, though similar functionally, they vary from one state to another state. The magnitude of the difference in power is the result of structural differences between the states. The constraints between different states, due to balance and shift in terms of power are the causes of the differential power among states. Neo-realism suggests that achieving security in modern world states have to overcome their structural constraints (Waltz, 1959). Neo-realists assume that all states have some military capabilities and cooperative approach in that respect among them to some extent. For survival in such a social environment, every country should be self-sufficient in defending themselves. The existence and the creation of a balancing state are necessary for the society to function. It is always possible because of the military ability of a state to balance one of a rising state. One of the best examples of this is the Soviet Union, the dominance of the United States of America. However, the dissolution of Soviet Union made the society unipolar which still stands to date. Under any circumstances, USA could not focus on the achievement of world domination due to severe resistance from Russia and China. However, it is not possible to say for sure about what the other state is thinking or planning (Legro & Moravcsik, 1999). The knowledge of the intentions of the state and their relations with other states has to be considered while overpowering them. It is a situation very hard to achieve as the political situation and intentions of the state may change with time. Two states with similar economic, ideological and military prowess always counterbalance each other’s power in society.
The bipolarity in the political relationship between different states has the major role to play in balancing of power. In this case, it has to be considered how the international relations between different countries are poised in the achievement of the balance of power (Doyle, 1983). One of the best examples of this scenario is power distribution between North and South Korea. The North supported by the Chinese regime and USA backed South are in a constant state of war with each other. Despite this, the wars prove inconsequential because powers cannot support their allies in each other’s presence. The power of a certain state is relative to its neighbours. The military economic and sociological supremacy over an area establishes a state in a society. The power of a state is always compared to its neighbours to understand its dominance. To achieve survival and sustainable society, a state has to develop their capabilities enough to be a threat to others. This development of the different measures to ascertain their security while threatening others survival brings a balance of power is the global environment.
According to Waltz (2010), multipolar approach rather than a bipolar one is more viable for the balance of power. The multipolar approach takes into account developing of the competencies of different states such that they are capable of defending themselves along with posing a threat to other. The mutual relations and understanding of different relations among the states help in balancing of power in the society. Mutual relation between different countries has an important part to play in posing a threat and bringing in the sense of security. However, the multipolar relations are more likely to result in war rather than the bipolar distribution of power. There are disagreements about the amount of power that the states should achieve in society. The offensive realists argue that every state should focus on the achievement of maximum power in the society to the extent of achieving a hegemonic state. Defensive realists, however, claim that extreme acquisition of the power by a state will lead to an over expansion. This would also lead to fall of the state as threatened stated will form an alliance to defeat it. The idea of building a state that is equal in offense and defence is considered an important factor while addressing the issue of drawbacks of hegemony in power distribution in the society. The power can be distributed among a few hegemonic states in society according to the neoliberal ideals, but the ratio of power is important in keeping the peace. The presence of preponderant power in the system may increase the chance of war against the hegemonic state in the society.
The Neo-liberal theorists, however, propose a more complex relationship among the states as a predominant determinant of the balancing of power in modern society. In order to counter the neo-realist theories, neo-liberalists put forward a theory called Complex Interdependence. The Complex Interdependence theory put forward by Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye (1977) states that in the modern globalized world the economic fortunes of a number of states are interdependent on each other. According to this theory, the economic relations between different countries have a major role to play in the distribution of power among states. It takes into account various trans-governmental and transnational relations among the countries in ascertaining power distribution in a society. The neo-liberal theories focus on ensuring decline of the military in ascertaining the international relation (Jahn, 2009). The lack of the military is seen as the necessary factor in ensuring business relations between different states. The theory suggests that co-operation among the states can be achieved by forging strong business relations between countries. It is a more viable approach in ensuring world peace as the business relations between two countries will make them economically dependent on each other. The peace will be achieved as the loss of one country will lead to the loss of the other.
The neo-liberal theorists believe that power distribution in the society has to shift from the military based on economy based sharing. Neo-liberal theorists believe that co-operation among states is easy to achieve if they have mutual interests. Neo-liberals focus of the achievement of the absolute gains contrary to the beliefs of neo-realists who focus on achievement of relative gains (Baylis, Smith & Owens, 2017). The focus on distribution of power in society is dependent on the absolute gains in the form of long-term planning of mutual relations between states. The neo-liberals believe that sharing of the cultural values and communication channel between regimes is important in ascertaining mutual co-operation. The sharing of values and working toward mutual interest in society also creates a sense of cohesion among the states.
The neo-liberals focus on the development of relationships of mutual sharing among cultures in different states. The sharing of cultures will lead to a balance of power and as the state of co-operation given which anarchic society can be mitigated. The anarchic society according to neo-realist theorist can be mitigated by social sharing (Gilpin, 1983). The distribution of power and expression of the military power to threaten the close states can be considered a major way of ascertaining mutual peace in the society. In the attempt of reaching a mutual inclusive society, neo-liberalist believe in complete disarmament for mutual trust in the society. Mutual sharing in the society can be of different types ranging from the memorandum of understanding among businesses of various states to mutual relations between regimes based on common grounds of development. The trade agreements between the different countries also come in the purview of this approach. Neo-liberalists believe in the sharing of common ideas for the mutual benefits of society rather than the neo-realist view which focuses on developing competitive competencies to establish their dominance in the society. The neo-liberals greatly focus on change in laws and government rather than focussing on self-strengthening and establishing dominance.  
Therefore it can be said that though both the theories work towards mitigation of the same problem in the society, they have completely different views of it and present different mitigating factors for the problem. The neo-realists think that the balance of power in the society is the only way to mitigating anarchy. However, to achieve this balance, there should be the acquisition of power by the different states. The neo-liberals agree to the presence of an anarchic society. However, the mitigating factor proposed by them is entirely different. The neoliberals focus on working towards mutual goals and increasing mutual co-operation among the states as a way to improve the society and devoid it of anarchy. The views in this context work towards the balance of the power in the society but present opposing views to achieve it. Therefore, it can be said that in the modern context both views hold true for maintaining balance, stability and peace in the society.
Baylis, J., Smith, S., & Owens, P. (Eds.). (2017). The globalization of world politics: an introduction to international relations. Oxford University Press.
Burchill, S. (2009)  ‘Liberalism’ in Scott Burchill et al. (eds) Theories of International Relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 
Doyle, M. W. (1983). Kant, liberal legacies, and foreign affairs. Philosophy & public affairs, 205-235.
Gilpin, R. (1983). War and change in world politics. Cambridge University Press.
Jahn, B. (2009). Liberal internationalism: from ideology to empirical theory–and back again. International Theory, 1(3), 409-438.
Keohane, R. O., & Nye, J. S. (1977). Power and interdependence (pp. 8-9).
Legro, J. W., & Moravcsik, A. (1999). Is anybody still a realist?. International security, 24(2), 5-55.
Mearsheimer, J. J. (2001). The tragedy of great power politics. WW Norton & Company.
Uglea, C. T. (2015). Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steve Smith (eds.), International Relations Theories. Discipline and Diversity , Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013. Romanian Journal of History and International Studies, 2(2), 285-289.
Waltz, K. N. (1959). Man, the State, and War, New York, NY. 
Waltz, K. N. (2010). Theory of international politics. Waveland Press. 

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