The Realist and Liberalist Perspectives on International Relations and US Policy Stance Toward Iraq
There are two prominent stances in International Relations. The
schools of thought are commonly referred to as realist and liberalist.
There are various names that they are called, and they can also be
split further into subdivisions. However, for the purposes of this
question I will just refer to the main schools of thought, and the
main aims of both the paradigms. At a first glance at this question,
my gut feeling is that the United States aims to achieve the same as
the liberalists, that of world peace. But the current stance of the US
policy is to achieve this utopia by realist methods, pre-emptive war,
balance of power and deterrence.
The realist stance to International Relations believes that it is the
state that is the most important actor and that war is a permanent
likelihood and war is never far away. The statement that can reinforce
this is; "security is the dominant goal of any state". For a state
to achieve its goals, the realists argue that it uses both military
and economic power to manipulate International Relations in the
current climate. Realist belief is that the state is the only dominant
power that can influence the military to such an extent. It cannot
only impose order internally, but also be used to do so inside rogue
and failing states. The use of the military to achieve its goals
raises the fear of another nation that, inadvertently, brings war ever
closer through the distrust and paranoia of other nations.
As security is the dominant goal, the state will have military forces.
In a world full of such states, an act of aggression by just one state
can degenerate the peaceful world into one of war. This type of
uncertainty therefore means that security has to be the dominant goal.
The Iraq question has proven that with the emphasis on security,
living in fear of attack, the realist stance brings us closer to war.
States wishing to arm themselves against attack may be seen as
mobilising for war. This happens because there is no distinction
between offensive and defensive weapons. In such a case a "security
dilemma" is raised. Such a question has been raised over Iraq; is
Saddam Hussein arming for war against the West or for defence against
the West? This is difficult to show because of the lack of distinction
between offensive and defensive weapons.
The mutual distrust of Iraq and the United States of America can be
explained by the fact that under the realist paradigm power is a chief
aim. This power is achieved by defending themselves against possible
aggressors and also at the expense of their rivals. In the current
climate, the United States is defensive and aggressive towards Iraq
and vice versa.
With the struggle for power, or at least...