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Keohane And Nye’s Theories Of Complex Interdependence And Transnationalism

1940 words - 8 pages

Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye discussed interdependence and transnationalism in their first publication, ‘Power and Interdependence’ released in 1977. The release coincided with the United Nations (UN) decade of Development where states pushed towards economic growth and social advancement. The 70’s was also a particularly quiet time during the Cold War and was when the European Community (EC) really came to fruition. The world was moving forward at a substantial rate and the old schools of thought seemed less and less relevant in understanding world politics. Keohane and Nye pointed to organisations such as the EC and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stating that these along with the rise of multinational corporations and intergovernmental organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, destroyed the old schools of thought, they no longer applied to this new international system.

The traditional view of world politics was Realism, this theory concentrated on security as the main factor in world politics, this meant political integration between states was believed to be slight and only viable as long as it served the national interest of the state. Transnational actors were believed to not exist or not have any political importance. The balance of power was decided militarily and needed to remain stable (Keohane & Nye, 2011: 20). With the changes the 1970’s brought and with transnationalism becoming ever more prevalent and obvious many believed realism no longer described the world.

“Interdependence means mutual dependence… characterised by reciprocal effects across countries or among actors in different countries” (Keohane & Nye, 2011: 7). This mutual dependence can still be seen in the international system today. Take for example if the UK, if the UK suddenly cut ties with the US - both sides would be hurt. States are so interlinked now via economics and culture that being a ‘lone’ state for many is just not possible. Although states are seen as mutually dependant they are not necessarily equally dependant, one state is often more dependent on another. Taking the British/US example the cutting of these ties would hurt both states but one more than the other. Maybe the British would lose more as the US is a key ally or maybe the US would lose the most as they would lose their UK military bases this asymmetry is where Keohane and Nye believe power lies. They saw two dimensions which could determine power within an interdependent system, sensitivity and vulnerability. Sensitivity examines at how fast changes in one state influenced another and how fast this could be reversed with policy changes, Keohane and Nye looked at the OPEC oil crisis and saw the US was less sensitive than Japan because less of its oil was imported however it still affected the US. Sensitivity is seen as a temporary problem as it can be ‘fixed’, in this case by negotiating prices, seeking new supplies or using one’s...

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