Power And Money An Economic Approach To Power In International Relations University Of Toronto Pol208 International Relations Essay

2970 words - 12 pages

Power - A Monetary approach
Faris Agha
POL208 Paper 1
Craig Damian Smith
Wednesday, 1-2pm
Word Count: 2749
Faris Agha What is Power? POL208
1001827918 Paper 1
What is power? Before we can discuss the question of what power is, we must set up some
criteria that gauge our understanding of the question; i.e. What defines power? In physics,
power is defined as the capacity to do work, where work is done when a force applied to an
object moves that object in the direction of the force. Work is done (and consequently power
is asserted) when you’re pushing the cart at the grocery store and it moves in the direction
you want it to. Let’s say you keep adding items to this cart and, as it gets heavier, more force
is required in order to push the cart, and our capacity to do work on the cart is decreasing.
Only more power will allow us to push a heavier cart. Leaving the realm of physics, we can
say more broadly, that power is the capacity to influence a sort of change to some natural
course of events. This will serve as our benchmark of power.
Power is unquestionably a significant dynamic in the study of International Relations.
Generally, power can be put into two categories; Attribute and Relational. The former being
the ability to enact change, where actor A gets what it wants through it’s capacity to realize
some interest, and the latter can simply be taken as ‘power over B’ – or – ‘power relative to
B’. Unfortunately, there is no one, general metric that measures power, and power, in I.R, is
not defined by some universally accepted definition – rather it is built on several ideas of it.
Nevertheless, the almost habitual use of the interchangeable words ‘ability’ and ‘capacity’ in
most definitions of power; political or not, is revealing. In our progressively liberal,
globalized setting, prosperity and trade are at the façade of international interactions and
every action and interaction is associated with a cost or benefit. The power that any one actor
possesses within these interactions is attributively expressed through economic capability and
the accompanying influence it commands. By and large, economic prowess, in our global
backdrop, is power.
Faris Agha What is Power? POL208
1001827918 Paper 1
We will define Economic capacity in its international sense as a state having the necessary
quantities of economic resources (natural resources, labor and capital, i.e. finances and
enterprises) available to not only create and impose global level eco-political decisions, but
influence them too (through consumption, investment, government expenditure, net exports
etc.). An economic power such as China, for example, has power because it has the resources
necessary to produce and sell an enormous amount of goods and services to the rest of the
world (export). Similarly, the United States is an economic powerhouse because it has the
resources necessary to purchase an immense amount of goods and services from the rest of

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