The Relationship Between Liberalism and Peace
The paper is about the relationship between liberalism and peace. Liberalism is a school of thought that is based on equality and freedom. Liberal societies believe that all individuals are equal regardless of their gender and religion. Freedom of the press, democracy, internationalism, and civil rights form the foundations of these communities. Foreign affairs rely on power balance for execution.
The Balance of Power
The balance of power refers to the distribution of influence among many states so that no one country has excessive control over the other. In the paper, there is a question of whether liberalism is the main contributor to world peace or not. On one end, Kant suggests that freedom supports order as it leads to the contentment of every party. Also, there is proof that most wars that occurred were not in liberal nations. However, he states that liberalism is not always peaceful. In my opinion, liberalism is not the ultimate defining factor of foreign affairs and local peace.
Disputes Within Liberal Countries
In liberal countries, the citizens are free from arbitrary rule. As much as this may seem positive, the existence of many civic groups in a country is not beneficial. Three aspects of liberalism may cause disputes or confusion, which may lead to internal conflict: the first regards the freedom from the governing bodies, i.e., government. The main aspects are press freedom, free speech, and the liberty to exchange property as one pleases. Another one refers to the freedom of equal opportunities; this entails health care, employment, and education. The last one pertains democratic participation, i.e. the right to choose leaders and to vote on crucial issues. Every person in a liberal country has the right to be heard. However, it is impossible to form regulations that will cater to every individual. There will always be someone who is unsatisfied by the law. The right to own private property conflicts with the right to equal opportunities. The latter suggests that all citizens are equal and should hold the same amount of wealth. However, the former states that an individual can possess as much wealth as they want. The fact that another person is impoverished is not their concern. Here, we see equality and individuality collide in the name of liberalism. On the other hand, democracy states that the majority rule overrides any personal opinion. Therefore, democracy will dictate if a person can own a significant amount of land or whether it should be distributed equally among everyone.
Liberalism and the Balance of Power
Moreover, liberalism disrupts the balance of power; this is dangerous in this nuclear age. Liberal practices lower the likelihood of countries to behave in a restrained or peaceful manner. Liberalism frees nations from the restrictions of foreign policies; it entails that every individual has the right to do as they please. If we follow this line of thought, countries have the right to do as they wish, with limited control by the international body. Therefore, nations can make decisions without consulting others. These decisions may be beneficial to the individual country but harmful to the rest. The result is a conflict between the beneficiary and the countries that suffer from the decision. The realist model states that nations should determine their scope of authority, i.e. they should decide whether they want to be democratic or dictatorial. In the international scene, the model indicates that a sovereign state exists in an anarchical community in which it is independent. The nation is not bound by international treaties. A liberal country does not sign any international treaties, whether ideological or environmental agreements. For instance, countries that have not agreed on where the location of a boundary will always be in dispute since they both have the freedom to act in whichever manner they want as they did not sign any treaty, which prevents them from doing so.
The Existence of Peace
In addition to this, every country is prone to war despite its governance system. Peace is not dictated by the absence of war in a country; even the state of war is not a sign of peace. Hobbes states that three games challenge the existence of order. He said that the presence of cooperation between countries is futile without a treaty. A treaty binds nations to behave in a certain way, else they would face the consequences. Hence, a country can deviate from a business deal at any time; this destroys international relationships and causes conflicts. Also, countries are always preparing for war. Every peaceful nation is gathering weapons in case if an attack since they feel that this is cheaper than the repercussions of a surprise attack. Heavily armed countries use their credibility to prevent other countries from attacking them. Whenever a country develops a new nuclear weapon, it feels the need to make it known to the world so that they are not attacked. Doesn’t this sound like a threat? Currently, we would like to pretend that there is peace. However, fear is not a feature of peace. There are no wars because countries with weaker weapons cannot risk the loss and damage that they would suffer. For instance, the effects of the first nuclear weapons in Nagasaki and Hiroshima make many countries fear going to war with the US. The fact that countries without any conflicts, whether liberal or not, are constantly afraid of an attack means that liberalism is not the assurance of peace. Peace should not be dictated by the fear of a stronger country; it should exist due to mutual understandings. Peaceful nations without disputes with others should not feel the need to protect themselves. These situations indicate that liberal countries are not safe from war. Conflicts and wars and arise any time as Hobbes does not state that liberal countries do not prepare for war.
Liberalism and Relations with Non-Liberal Countries
Besides, liberal nations only maintain peace with other like-minded countries. In the nineteenth century, England and France fought against China and Algeria in the 1940s and 1930s respectively. The US also fought Mexico in 1848 and 1914. If liberalism was an assurance of peace, liberal countries should have positive relations with all nations, not just the liberal ones. The evidence indicates that liberalism works against nations that are not liberal. The action goes against the foundation of liberalism, which is freedom. If liberal nations believe in freedom, they should let other countries operate as they please, instead of trying to sabotage them. Democracy, which is an element of liberalism, entails permitting views that are contrary to one’s own. The actions of France, the US, and Mexico indicate that liberalism can be exploited for selfish reasons. When the three countries fought the non-liberal states, they claimed that they fought for equality; they wanted the citizens of those countries to be free from dictatorial regimes. However, there might be a power play behind the wars. In the early nineteenth century, Germany was one of the most powerful countries in Europe and the world. However, the combined efforts of England, the US, and France weakened the nation. Presently, the US and the UK are the most powerful countries. Additionally, the existence of the “pacific union” is a clear indication that liberal countries are intolerant to the views of other nations. The union is committed to the expansion of liberal nations, prevention of war, and general maintenance. The pacific union permits citizens in the member states to reside in whichever country they want without the fear of hostility. The world cannot attain perpetual peace as long as there are treaties that only allow the prosperity of liberal countries. The pacific union sends a message that other nations are not part of the global alliance. Discrimination is fuel for conflicts as the victimized party will feel that they have to push for their voices to be heard. Nations outside the pacific union may decide to form another organization to compete with the liberal countries. The result is world divisions between two widespread ideologies; divisions brew conflict.
Civil Conflicts in Liberal States
Also, there is a significant connection between republican states and civil conflicts. Asocial responsibility refers to the coming together of like-minded individuals for security purposes and to engage in material warfare as there are disputes over the control and distribution of social products. Civil wars easily erupt where people are encouraged to voice their opinions. On the other hand, monarchs strengthen their political support by preventing the representation of subjects. If people are not represented, they have little incentive to cause problems for the ruling power. In liberal nations, people can form groups, which are opposed to the ruling party. In such countries, praetorian coups can readily occur; these are dangerous since they put the military in control of a country. A praetorian coup is primarily carried out by an army commander who served under the previous ruler. In monarchs, the opposition is suppressed; hence, there are limited chances of violence because the civil groups against the ruling party cannot recruit members easily.
Failure of Liberal Countries to Aid Like-Minded States
Finally, the failure of some republican states further proves that liberalism is not an assurance of peace. Liberal countries have failed to save like-minded states from conflicts. In the 1920s, liberal states were unable to prevent the collapse of republican Germany. The region’s market was in a crisis, but the international community did not provide any economic support. In the 1930s, the liberal government of Spain was removed from power by an armed minority. Again, there was no military assistance from the international community. In Czechoslovakia, the government was torn in between accepting the ideologies of Adolf Hitler and maintaining national security. During this conflict, the pacific union did not intervene in the matter. The author explains that being a part of the pacific union is not an assurance that the liberals in the country will prevail. The cases of Germany and Spain are a clear indication that liberal nations do not always help one another. In some cases, they will let fellow liberals suffer. The whole point of liberalism is to maintain peace. However, opposers to liberalism in Spain were able to overthrow the government without any resistance from other liberal nations. The liberal government should enjoy support from countries in the pacific union to prevent conflicts and maintain their dominance. However, they have endured suffering without any help.
In conclusion, there is a debate concerning the importance of liberalism in maintaining peace. Kant explains the contributions of liberalism to world peace. However, he also points out instances where conflicts arise despite the presence of liberalism. The paper attempts to explain the latter. The freedom from arbitrary rule brings conflict in administering the three aspects of liberalism: freedom from governing bodies, equal rights to opportunities, and democracy. Liberalism is a threat to power balance as it gives countries the freedom to act in whichever way they want. Also, liberal countries only maintain peace with like-minded nations. Liberal states are more prone to civil conflicts than monarchical ones. Every country is susceptible to war regardless of the governance system. For this reason, nations continuously prepare for battle and advertise the strength of their weapons. Lastly, there are liberal states that suffered without any help from the pacific union.
Doyle, Michael W. "Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs." Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 12, no. 3, 1983, pp. 205-235.