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Future Of Ir Essay

1280 words - 6 pages

When studying international relations, scholars seem to find themselves looking at the past to explain the present. Why is the United States of America the leading power in the international realm? What are the roots of conflict? These are questions that scholars find themselves asking on an almost regular basis, because the immediate present is the most important concern. However, it is the job of I.R. scholars to also figure out how to use the past, and present, to predict the future of international relations. One of the leading topics of discussion is the future of conflict in the international realm, mainly the questions of whether or not great powers will engage in conflict with one ...view middle of the document...

Even though Gaddis gives structural elements that promoted stability amongst the states, his behavioral argument found its basis in nuclear deterrence. Gaddis argues that the post Cold War “peace” could have easily been ruined if states were as willing to risk war as they had been in the past (Gaddis, 37). However, after WWII, states became extremely cautious in regards to waging war and Gaddis concludes that this caution was caused by the new risks associated with war - the threat of nuclear destruction (Gaddis 38). Many I.R scholars critique this theory, but Waltz uses the conflict between contemporary India and Pakistan as an example of stability through nuclear proliferation. Proliferation pessimists argue that the leadership of India and Pakistan is different than that of the U.S and Russia; Waltz argues that Stalin wasn’t considered an irrational leader but still refrained from nuclear conflict. Waltz also argues that the fact that India and Pakistan are close geographically and have a past violent history are completely irrelevant; no matter the circumstances, states with nuclear weapons are unlikely to wage war on one another (Waltz, 254-255). This conclusion is heavily disputed, but it is a conclusion that explains the lack of large scale war in the global arena, and thus, provides a concrete explanation as to why great powers will not engage in another World War.
Gaddis and Waltz are able to explain why great powers will refrain from conflict, but what about the rest of the states in the international realm? While great powers are unlikely to go to war with each other, it is highly likely that great power will engage in conflict with smaller states. As the world progresses, America is seen as the poster-child for democracy and is almost expected to promote democracy to non-democratic states, specifically developing states. However, the spread of democracy proves to be a double edged sword that can promote terrorist attacks.
When considering an explanation for any probable 21st century conflict, it would be a mistake to disregard the constant threat of terrorism. While it is difficult to decide the exact roots of terrorism, be it a product of desperation, religious extremism, or calculated military strategy, one can not ignore the fact that there has been a rise in terrorist attacks since the 1990’s (Pape, 343). This non-state actor poses a serious threat to the security of other states and is concluded to be the most likely source of conflict in the near future. In contemporary I.R, the most threatening terrorist groups tend to stem from developing states with non-democratic governments. The cultures of these states are usually heavily fueled by religious beliefs, a trait that is uncommon amongst democracies. These theocratic states are often the states that are persuaded by the western world to democratize. But, as Zakaria...

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