All publications of Mawasedeke Keita . Monrovia , Liberia


A Compendium of "The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth"

From realism to American liberal nationalism

The strength of realism as a theory lies in how it is grounded within a conception of “the international” – even if this is defined narrowly as the existence of multiple competing states. Mandelbaum’s opposition to NATO expansion and the “liberal crusade” makes sense in realist terms. Imperfect worlds throw up political problems that cannot always be solved. Realism tells us to be sceptical of the claims of states to be acting in the name of universal interests, because this can disguise the interests that really motivate the policy. Good international governance therefore means balancing a world of competing interests and norms. Realism’s weaknesses, however, are equally in evidence across Mandelbaum’s work. Recognising national interests can lead to a self-fulfilling prophesy, essentially mandating states to pursue their interests come what may, regardless of the ethical issues at stake. Mandelbaum’s realism, in particular, provides a theoretical armoury that justifies a decidedly particularist view of the world, i.e. one that is based upon a specific national perspective even if it claims to be based on universal norms. Implicitly this comes down to political nationalism – as the basic mobilising device for elites in a fragmented world of competing nation-states. In 2005, these American nationalist mores even led him to write the seemingly highly “un-realist” book, The Case for Goliath, in which he claimed the United States had many of the functions of a de facto world government – something the rest of the world, he suggested, should really be quite pleased about as it was a force for stability and liberalism.

The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth is a similarly unconventional piece of realist scholarship. For Mandelbaum sees the end of the Cold War as bringing about a Kantian-style peace based on the spread of democracy and greater economic interdependence, even positively citing Kant in this regard (p.144). He advances a version of the democratic peace theory which holds that liberal democracies will not go to war with one another (pp.6-7). Mandelbaum puts the blame for the destruction of these stable international relations firmly on the shoulders of foreign powers – principally, Russia, China and Iran. If these states were to become liberal democracies the possibility of a Kantian-style peace would again, he argues, resurface (p.144). This, however, conveniently disregards, the reluctance of the United States to accept a multilateral approach to global governance. From the Kyoto and Paris climate change accords, to the creation of the International Criminal Court and the Iraq War, the United States has been an, at best, questionable ally of a rules-based international order. American unilateralism has been its consistent foreign policy thread.

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The complexity and vastness of international system

There are about 200 states international system at present. These states are dispersed over six continents such as Africa, Europe, North America and South America, Asia and Australia. These contents comprise states which are considered to be a major actors in international system. These States ( countries) are classified into North and South, developed and developing, industrialized or less industrialized, Poor or Rich, depending on their technological know_ how ,

resources endowment. Etc.

Because there exist many states, the international system is highly complex , vast and competitive. Nations like individuals , are selfish and pursue their parochial interests in a fever competition with one another.

Each continent has its own problem , focus and preferences and just like every individuals, each nation has its own preference and goals and idiosyncrasies.

As a result of complexity , the international system is problematic, chaotic and anarchy. This is why world is fraught with conflict and clashes among the countries . For example , America invasion of Iraq, border clashes between Nigeria and Benin , as well , a series of civil war in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda etc.

The series of political, economic, cultural and religious crises manifested that the international system is chaotic. For example, The encrochment of BoKo Haram in Nigeria. ISISI in Syria . Even among the developed countries , there is a bitter rivalry between and among the major economic power,like United States, Japan , China and Germany. In Africa, there is a serious competitive between Nigeria , Egypt and South Africa for the continental leadership. Moreover, the re is an issue of cultural contact and conflict between America and Europe on one hand and the rest of the world on the other hand.

The complexity of international system and the existing of multifarious myriad issues makes the study of international relations interesting and Paramount to the extant that every educated minded develop interest in world Politics.

Sedeke Keita

International Relations

urce endowment.

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