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Paper Review

Stephen M. Walt (1998) International Relations: One World, Many heories

!y !ri"ht Mhan"o (M#$1%$&1)

S'()itted to: Ma Ron" *i' (+orei"n Poli,y -nalysis)

It is hard not to agree with Stephen Walt from the outset in his 1998 paper; International Relations: One World, Many heories, in which he argues that despite their sometimes lack of popularity among policy makers and the array of competing theories in the discipline of International Relations, the world, including the skeptic policy makers, need the variety as it provides a wide toolkit with which to e plain various phenomena in international relations! Where We Are Coming From Walt starts "y tracing the evolution on IR theories and pins it down to the three schools which he la"els as Realist, #i"eral and Radical! Realism $e sums up Realism as it is "est known% &he constant "attle for power among self'centric states who happen to "e pessimists in terms of world peace attainment! &hese he divides into two groups, the (lassical Realists who "elieve that nations have an in"orn desire to dominate others! &he other realists, he terms, the )eorealists who point to the effects of international system and descri"e it as a num"er of great nations striving to survive! Walt descri"es the third and last group of Realists as the *efensive Realists who purport that all that states live for is to survive and offer security via military strategies and alliances! Liberalism $e then e pounds #i"eralism which he e plains as the school of thought that "elieves that economic interdependence can prevent conflict among states! Some #i"erals, like the erstwhile +merican president ,ill (linton "elieve that the spread of the democracy is key to world peace arguing that from history democratic states tend to "e more peaceful than autocratic ones! &he economic interdependence among nations, says Walt, encourages states to forgo immediate gains for greater "enefits of long term cooperation! Radical Approaches &he third school of thought for Walt is Radicalism- .ar ism! $e divides this theory into three one "eing the /rthodo .ar ists who "lame conflict on the greedy nature of capitalism; the )eo'.ar ists who employ the dependency theory and say "ig capitalist states connive

with elites in the developing world to e ploit the masses therein and the much weaker *econstructionists who 0ero in on language and discourse as important! Domestic Politics Walt also takes time to give salience to the role of *omestic politics as an area that has "een important in the 1ourney International Relations theories have taken! $e says for e ample that 2&he democratic strand of li"eral theory fits under this heading, as do the efforts of scholars such as 3raham +llison and 4ohn Stein"runer to use organi0ation theory and "ureaucratic politics to e plain foreign policy "ehavior, and those of 4ervis, Irving 4anis, and others, which applied social and cognitive psychology!5 ,ut he 6uickly pointed out that the *omestic 7olitics theorists should not "e viewed like Realists or #i"erals "ut rather as compliment the three main paradigms! New Wrinkles in Old Paradigms Walt then 0ooms in on the paradigms he introduced to offer new issues affecting them, he ultimately goes on to point to Realism as the "est framework for the years ahead "ut also mentions the good in the other paradigms too! $e gets in the water to save realism which he said many thought would "e filed under 2/"solete5 after the (old War! $e says Realism as e pounded "y names like 3rieco and 8rasner 2have helped in responding to the institutionalists9 claim that international institutions would ena"le states to forego short'term advantages for the sake of greater long' term gains,5 "y arguing that anarchy forces states to worry a"out "oth the a"solute gains from cooperation and the way that gains are distri"uted among participants! Walt concludes that% 2&he logic is straightforward% If one state reaps larger gains than its partners, it will gradually "ecome stronger, and its partners will eventually "ecome more vulnera"le,5 a "old gesture in his rooting for Realism! $e also points out that Realism is still relevant and has "een instrumental in e plaining issues of ethnic conflict in :urope, in providing commentary on )+&/ as a possi"le cause of conflict with Russia and in e plaining ;S foreign policy and still predominantly realist!

New Life for Liberalism

Walt then takes a swipe at the popular "elief in li"eralism as the way to go after the (old War! $e puts a hush to the e cited giggles among li"erals "y criti6uing the <*emocratic peace theory= which says democracies rarely fight each other and yet in some new democracies, states are more prone to war, which leads one to conclude that promoting democracy might actually promote insta"ility! Constructi ist !heories (onstructivist approaches emphasi0e the impact of ideas! Instead of taking the state for granted and assuming that it simply seeks to survive, constructivists regard the interests and identities of states as a highly mallea"le product of specific historical processes, says Walt! $e gives the e ample of .ikhail 3or"achev=s em"racing of the <common security= motif! Criti"ue >or Walt, he e plicitly roots for Realism as the go to framework, he thus gives it more salience and defeats li"eralism clean "y arguing against its weaknesses, "ut in a world that is fast 3lo"ali0ing and where economic interdependence is opening up hard states like Russia and international organisations and multi'national corporations wields more power, it is a "it unfair to ignore #i"eralism as the more relevant conceptual framework! ?es, interdependence will "reed more conflict in the future and trade links cannot stop conflict, "ut still more the world seems to "e "uying it and citi0ens are more "ecoming concerned of glo"al issues and nationalism is dying as regional "locks like the :uropean ;nion keep rising, can 3ermany ever invade 7oland again with ,russels so powerful@ &he answer is hard to imagine away from no! Conclusion 4ust like Walt in his opening words, theory is important to academic and policy maker alike and he says% 2It is hard to make good policy if one9s "asic organi0ing principles are flawed, 1ust as it is hard to construct good theories without knowing a lot a"out the real world!5 ,ut more important is his warning that we should not "e narrow minded in looking at the theories, he says% 2Aeach of these competing perspectives captures important aspects of world politics! /ur understanding would "e impoverished were our thinking confined to only one of them! &he Bcompleat diplomatB of the future should remain cogni0ant of realism9s emphasis on the inescapa"le role of power, keep li"eralism9s awareness of domestic forces in

mind, and occasionally reflect on constructivism9s vision of change!5 It is hard to add more to this conclusion!