The Modern World Order

World order is the power and authority distribution on the global stage by political players (Duncan et al. 30). The term "world order" may seem strange in the face of conflicting realities. Although it is assumed that states are the same in a formal sense, there are blatant inequalities between them and some of these injustices were recognized in the form of a veto granted to five UN Security Council permanent members. Countries often contend for influence and resources, suspect each other's ambitions and intentions, and they argue about borders, trade, and many other issues. In fact, a dozen wars are currently taking place in countries in Asia, Africa and Europe that kill millions of people and destroy valuable property. Also, problems arise not only between states but also within states. According to He, realism was the prevailing theoretical practice during the Cold Wars period (24). He describes international issues as the power struggle between states that are concerned with eliminating conflict.  Realism was common during the war because it entails powerful explanation for war, alliances, imperialism and similar international phenomena (34). Therefore, the paper seeks to elaborate whether realism/liberalism gives the best explanation of the modern-day world order.

             Realism is obviously a realistic thinking developed during the Cold Wars period. Firstly, Neo-liberalists assume that nations are the primary factors in word political arena. Secondly, the theory argues that countries pursue their interests through continuously accumulating power. Thirdly, realists proclaim that a country operates in an anarchic international systems and thus, there is no central authority that regulates its behavior. Neo-realists refute the claim that anarchy has a whole negative implication on these conflicting states.  "Classic" realists like Morgenthau and Niebuhr proclaimed that nations, like humans had a characteristic aspiration to govern others, which became the onset of the wars. For instance, Morgenthau underlined the merits of the multi-polar power balance and classical theory applicable to the United States and the Soviet Union bipolar rivalry to be particularly dangerous (Rice 152). In contrast, Kenneth Waltz's "neorealist" theory focused on how international system affects a given country. For Waltz, the global structure consisted of some major powers, each of them trying to subsist (Waltz 21). The system is rebellious and each state must endure. Waltz claims that such a situation would result in stronger states overpowering weaker states. On the other hand, Morgenthau claimed that bi-polarity is more stable as compared to multi-polarity. A crucial modification of realism is the the defensive theory of the attack, as defined by Jervis, Quester, and Van Evera (Brown 49). These    intellectuals maintained that war was likely to happen when states were powerful enough to conquer others. Nonetheless, if the resistance was easier than the offensive, the security was greater, the expansion incentive decreased, and collaboration could flourish. However, if the defense was stronger and the states could differentiate offensive weaponries from defense armor, then such nations could obtain the means to protect themselves without frightening other countries, thus mitigating the side-effects of anarchy. The three realist scholars proclaim that states simply try to survive. Unsurprisingly, Waltz and other non-realists state that the US was awfully safe during the Cold War. The main and only fear was losing their favorable position through antagonistic foreign policy. Thus, at the end of the War, realists such as Morgenthau's had adopted a more optimistic and positive tone.

            The most challenging part to realism is a number of liberal theories generated after the war. A certain liberal school of thought argues that that economic inter-dependence among countries would discourage war between dependent countries. Secondly, Woodrow Wilson’s argument was that spread of democracy and world peace was key to preventing war between countries (Brown 82).  The third approach is that international bodies such as IMF helped in overcoming selfish interests by encouraging member nations to act sensibly to sustain global cooperation.

            Even if some liberal thinkers played with the thought that new international actors, especially MNCs, were increasingly intervening in state power, liberalism regarded states as the main players in international issues. Virtually each liberal theory implies that collaboration is more ubiquitous than the wary style of valid realism. However, each view of the theories had a dissimilar version in their explanations. Before the 1980s, Marxism was the only alternative to traditional liberal and realistic techniques (Little and Smith 75). Whereas realists and liberalists took the state’s system for granted, Marxism had a differing explanation of international disagreements. For instance, Orthodox Marxism states that capitalism was the central reason for occurrence of international conflict. States advocating for capitalism fought under their incessant profit war and fought against the socialist nations because they viewed them as the biggest source of destruction of the state of affairs in the contemporary world. Contrariwise, the neo-Marxist theory of "dependence" emphasized the relationships between the advanced-capitalist powers and the less-developed states, affirming that first world states were supported by a secular alliance with the ruling classes of developing countries, was enriched by exploiting them. The resolution was to takeover these parasitic leaders and inaugurate a ground-breaking administration stanch to self-sufficient development (Little and Smith 97). These two philosophies were widely disgraced even before the Cold War ended. The utter history of military and economic co-existence between superpowers showed that capitalism does not need to lead to conflict, divisions in the communist world also portrayed that socialism did not necessarily result in harmony (Art and Jervis 50). The Dependence theory became increasingly clear that active participation was advantageous to wealth socialists. Also, several developing nations have proven their capability to negotiate with capitalist institutions. Marxism succumbed to most of its limitations and its role was taken over by post-modern writers who focused on literary and social theories. This deconstructionist model was skeptical and thus better and general theories such as realism and realism were devised. In fact, most supporters of the two models stressed on the significance of language in shaping modern social outcomes. Nevertheless, researchers were initially focusing on criticizing prevailing paradigms and not its positive alternatives which remained selfless throughout the 1980s (Art and Jervis 66).

Most cold war research regarding international matters do not perfectly fit into Marxist and liberal paradigms. More importantly, most works have focused on the pertinent features of governments and institutions. Democratic flow of liberalism approach falls into this category and efforts of academics such as Steinbruner and Graham Allison used organizational and bureaucratic polices to elaborate foreign policies such as those of Jervis and Irving Janis theories of cognitive psychology. Principally, much of the aforementioned literature is complementary to the three main philosophical explanations.  The research work on international affairs has been extensive since the closure of the world war period. 

            Non-American opinions are also important because different jurisdictions have theories that are considered legitimate. More so, new topics such as ethnic conflict and environmental issues have been the focus of day researchers from around the world. However, the results that has already been seen are equally remarkable. As an alternative to solving the conflict between vast theoretical perspectives, the Cold War triggered a new debate (Hoibraaten and Hille 54). Although numerous societies have similar democratic ideologies, researchers have been more ironic than ever (Hoibraaten and Hille 56). Though the end of the Cold War has led to declaration that realism was fated for an academic scrapbook, reports of its death are greatly exaggerated. A new input of a realistic model is the attention to the problem of absolute and absolute profits. In response to declaration of institutionalism that maintains that international organizations would allow countries to waive short-term welfares for long-term benefits, realists such as as Grieco and Krasner accentuate that anarchy nations provide power both absolute co-operation and the means in which revenue is distributed among members (Elman and Elman 188). The logic is simple: if a state makes superior profits than its associates, it progressively becomes robust, and its allies ultimately become weaker.

             Realist thinkers also investigated a number of new topics. Barry Posen proposes a realistic account of the national conflict, noting that the multi-ethnic states are likely to replace ethnic sets in a lawless context, bursting into extreme fears and each clutch attempting to forcefully improve its standing. This challenge is especially intense when the area of the groups is occupied by their ethnic enemies - as in Yugoslavia - since both sides would be preventively drawn to "clean" these foreign factions and integrate others of their ethnic groups. That extends beyond their boundaries. Pragmatists have also warned that, in the absence of a clear rival, NATO is likely to face growing tensions and that extending its partaking in the East would jeopardize relationships with European powers such as Russia. Finally, intellectuals like Michael Mastanduno claim that US foreign policies conforms to realistic principles, as its actions are always aimed at preserving US dominance and shaping a post-war ways that promotes American welfare. The most stimulating concept in the realistic archetype was the emergent division amid "defensive" and "offensive" thinking currents.

            Defensive realists such as Snyder, Evera and Waltz believe that nations show minimal interest in military conquest. They proclaim that expansion costs are likely to outweigh the pros. Consequently, they argue that major power battles take place mainly because domestic sects advocated for exaggerated perception of the threat and too much self-confidence in the effectiveness of armed forces. Despite this argument, the vision is controversial because of several facets. To begin with, Rnadall Schweller’s evaluation states that countries simply aimed at “stacking the deck’ in favor of status in order to prevent predatory tactics of nations such as Germany and France who had dictator leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Napoleon, respectively. Secondly, Peter Lieberman uses historical cases such as the Nazis rule in explaining the concept of realisms. Western Europe and Soviet Union supremacy is evidence that conquest benefits often surpass the cost of the claim that military expansion is profitable.  Thirdly, offensive pragmatists such as Fareed Zakaria and Eric Labs encourages all nations to exploit their relative depower only since no nation can be certain of a genuine revisionist control. These three dissimilar explanations elaborate why realist ideologists disagree on crucial matters such as the future of Europe.

            Liberalism was initiated as an International Relations concept after the end of the first World War I. The concept derived from writings of Immanuel Kant and John Locke. Liberalism is founded on significance of liberty of an individual and engendered towards commitment of institutions to the rights of people. After ending of the Cold Wars, Liberalism theory was used to explain the shallow struggle for financial and military power in the geo-political framework.  Liberal and Defensive pragmatists such as Van Evera explain that war is unprofitable and typically results from distorting domestic factors such as hyper-nationalism and militarism. Based on Evera;s analysis, such forces (militarism and hyper nationalism) are not present anymore in Europe and this, the continent is ready for peace. Contrary to Evera’s argument, Mearsheimer and other opposing realists proclaim that anarchy compels the major super-powers to compete regardless of their intrinsic properties. He argues that that notion will return to Europe once the American Pacifier is withdrawn (Duncan et al., 30). After the defeat of communism, the West initiated a series of self-gratifications expressed by Frank Fukutaama;s notorious proclamation that humanity had reach the “end of history:. However, on a closer look of this statement, it is evident that history paid little relevance. Principally, the triumph of the West has given three currents of liberal thought through notable impulse (Little and Smith 37). While the latest phase of this argument began before the collapse of the Soviet Union, it gained momentum when democratic nations increased, and evidence of this correlation increased.   

            While realism and liberalism are more focused on quantifiable dynamics such as power, constructivists emphasized the effect of concepts. Rather than underestimating the state, constructivists view the nation’s interests and identity as a highly malleable aspect of historical process (Hoibraaten and Hille 16). They pay particular devotion to dominant treatises in the social order because discourses reflect and shape convictions and interest and aims at setting recognized behavioral norms. Therefore, constructivism pays particular attention to foundations of revolution and this model fundamentally replaced Marxist approach due to its outstanding application of radicalism. The close of the Cold-War was significant in legitimizing constructivist philosophies because both realists and liberalists failed to anticipate the event and have struggled to explain it. Constructivists had a statement: in particular, President Mikhail Gorbachev transformed Soviet foreign plan as it introduced new thoughts such as "common security". Since we live in a period when the old standards are in question, as soon as the clear boundaries dissolve and identity issues become clearer, it is hardly surprising that the researchers have been attracted to these questions. In a constructivist view point, the fundamental theme in the post-Cold War realm is the way different sets of states perceive their uniqueness and interest (Brown 17).

            Despite irrelevance of its performance, Constructivism accentuates on how an ideas and identity is created, how they develop. It is therefore important for Europeans to describe themselves mainly at state or continental level. When Germany and Japan redefined their past in a way that inspires them to take more active transnational roles, it did not matter whether the US accepted or discarded their identity as a "global policemen". According to Søorenson Constructivist theory is very diverse and has no consistent prediction on these topics (12). On a conceptual level, Alexander Wendt argues that realistic anarchy is not enough to explain conflict between different nations. The actual problem is how mayhem is created. Another component of the constructivists focuses on the future of territorial states, noting that cross-border deliberations and common erosion of bourgeois values are traditional and are based on radical national loyalties with advanced ways of political relation. Additionally, constructivist emphasis is on the objective of canons and argues that universal law and other normative standards have undermined previous ideas of sovereign and the authentic objectives they have changed how these objective co-exist with state power (Art and Jervis 43).


            The mutual theme in each of these subjects (liberalism and realism) is the capability for discourse to outline the way politicians and other influencing factors shape and define their interest and thereby change their ideological standpoints. Complexity of contemporary world politics can never be captured by a single approach. Essentially, the world is better-off with a multitude of contending ideologies instead of theoretical orthodoxy. Rivalry between theoretical frameworks helps in revealing strengths and weakness and also stimulate refinements while exposing deficiency in orthodox wisdom. States ought to emphasize on invention versus insult/conflict. More importantly countries should welcome the idea of heterogeneity. Scholarship on international affairs should be better comprehended as an ongoing healthy competition between radical, realist and liberalist. Realism explains the continuing readiness for war while liberalism comes up with ways in which these conflicts can be solved. Principally, the boundary between radicalist, liberalist and realist ideologies are somewhat blurred and therefore so previous works may not suit them but continued deliberations within and between them have largely influenced the disciplines.


Art, Robert J, and Robert Jervis. International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues. Pearson/Longman, 2007.

Brown, Michael E. Offense, Defense, and War. MIT P, 2004.

 Duncan, W R, et al. World Politics in the 21st Century. Pearson/Longman, 2004.

Elman, Colin, and Miriam F. Elman. Progress in International Relations Theory: Appraising the Field. MIT Press, 2003.

He, Kai. Institutional Balancing in the Asia Pacific: Economic Interdependence and China's Rise. Routledge, 2008.

Hoibraaten, Helge, and Jochen Hille. Northern Europe and the EU Future: Nordeuropa Und Die Zukunft Der Eu. BWV Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2012.

 Liberman, Peter. Does Conquest Pay? The Exploitation of Occupied Industrial Societies. Princeton UP, 2011.

Little, Richard, and Michael Smith. Perspectives on World Politics. Routledge, 2006.

Rice, Daniel F. Reinhold Niebuhr and His Circle of Influence. Cambridge UP, 2013.

Schweller, Randall L. Unanswered Threats: Political Constraints on the Balance of Power. Princeton UP, 2010. Waltz, Kenneth N. Theory of International Politics. Waveland P, 2010.

Søorenson, Georg. Rethinking the New World Order. , 2016. Internet resource.

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