The Second World War

The Second World War brought about a significant shift in the world's political and economic landscape. Following the war, significant political realignment occurred, shaping the future of international relations. According to Lebow, the events of World War II convinced significant political forces in Europe, America, and Asia of the importance of having a robust international relations doctrine (262). The struggle for power was at the heart of the postwar ideological conflict known as the cold war. A critical examination of the events that preceded and led to the conclusion can reveal the application of various theoretical perspectives. Slaughter asserts that the core theories of international relations that include liberalism, realism and constructivism played a significant role in the initiating, propagation, and end of the cold war (1). While it is clear that the two theories of liberalism and realism sustained the cold war, it was the entry of the constructivism view that changed the status quo of the international conflict.
Overview of the Theoretical Perspectives
International relations scholars believe that the three core theories that include constructivism, realism, and liberalism, underlie the actions of the states and leaders for most of the world's history. Walt explains that realism holds the basic assertion that power is the most coveted need by the state (33). States that gain power are able to terminate their threats by the use of military superiority. Therefore, it is the interest of all the states competing for power to acquire advanced military capabilities that will guarantee them global power. This is the position that enabled great empires and leaders to rule the world. The Roman Empire, Alexander The Great, Napoleon of Bonaparte, among many others engaged the realist theory of gaining and sustaining power using military force.
On the other hand, even though liberalism agree that military prowess is the power to reckon with, the powerful states can avoid physical conflicts by forging alliances and institutions the promote peace. The proponents of liberal theory believe that alliances and institutions formed by the powerful states are in a position to create common grounds of international cooperation and avert armed conflict (Snyder 52). The views of President Woodrow Wilson argued that liberalism advocates for global democracy that will help maintain global peace as opposed to authoritarian rules. With democratic states, the complex system of governance can check the powers of a leader and avoid unnecessary conflicts with foreign countries through diplomacy. That is not the case for autocratic states that follow the decisions made by an individual or a few people who want to protect their selfish interest.
Constructivism defies the views of both realism and liberalism. It introduces a new perspective that diverts from power and veers towards ideas. According to Slaughter, the individuals control the power vested on the states and institutions. Therefore, the people who are in control of the states can decide on either peace or war based on the ideas they have in mind. Even with good institutions and alliances, it is possible for the people to think otherwise and go to war because it supports their ideology. Walt believes that conservatism is a new position that brings into focus the concept of "idealism (1)." States are willing to go into power to support their ideas or ideologies on matters of trade, religion, economy, politics, and so on.

The Aftermath of World War II
The events of World War II were triggered by the realist ideological perspective. Adolf Hitler and other state leaders wanted to use military means to gain power. Eventually, the world was destroyed by the war, especially after the tragic Hiroshima bombing. Lebow says that it became clear that war is not the best way to gain power (259). Millions of people died while the global economy was ruined by the war. Therefore, the conflicting nations leaned towards liberalism theory that advocated for democracy, institutions, and alliances. In particular, the formation of the United Nations in 1945 was a big step towards embracing liberalism (Slaughter 1) The UN served as an international police that could mediate between states and call for sanctions on states that failed to adhere to global agreements. Besides, the allied nations also established The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as one of the security institutions mandated to protect the member states from common enemies. Koslowski and Kratochwil (1994) believe the NATO alliance enabled the western forces to negotiate peace with the Soviet Union as opposed to individual states (231).
Therefore, the aftermath of WWII was marked by a major shift from a realism inclined world to that of liberalism. It became clear that the security and future of the world could not be entrusted to the selfish interests of states. The state leaders needed to yield to a higher power such as the UN. They could no longer use their military powers to interfere with the sovereignty of another state. The United Nations also encouraged democracy and independence of states. The European imperialist that had colonized countries in Africa and Asia had to let go off the colonies (Snyder 52) This was an important period in the world as institutions and alliances helped to restore peace after the war.

Sustained Tension during the Cold War
Even with the formation of institutions and alliances, there was increased tension between the western allies and the Soviet Union. Lebow asserts that the shift to liberalism was not sustainable since each of the powerful country that included, the US and USSR, needed to gain ultimate control (270). Koslowski and Kratochwil agree that said that even with the formation of NATO, United States had selfish interests that focused on preservation of its global supremacy (216). The allied nations in Europe were only used to secure and preserve the interest of the US, in return of protection from the collective union. On the other side, the Soviet Union was threatened by the western forces that were inclined to bring down communists' states across the world and spread the capitalist/democratic ideologies.
Consequently, both the United States and Russia resorted to military power to secure their status in the global politics. Kuchins and Zevelev note that the Cold War was characterized by military propaganda that tried to elevate the powers of the conflict states (159). Reports of atomic bomb acquisition and testing send shivers across the world as both the United States and Russia seemed ready to go to war. Apparently, the rising tension introduced a clash between the liberalism world that advocated for peace and supremacy of institutions, and the realism side that gave powers to states using military strategies. It was clear that the USSR and the American government were inclined to use their security forces to bring down their perceived threats. Hundreds of spies and military surveillance equipment were engaged to find out the military capabilities of the enemy states because that was the acknowledged route to access power.
The fall of the USSR
Historians attribute the fall of Russia to the end of the cold war. However, neither the views of realisms and liberalism predicted the fall of the USSR. A new paradigm of conservatism took credit for explaining the events that triggered the fall of the Soviet Union. Koslowski and Kratochwil assert that the decision of the former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev to change the foreign policy of the country changed the direction of the Cold War (217). When Mikhail Gorbachev took control of the Soviet Union in 1985, he introduced new policies that focused on restructuring the foreign policy of the union and opening up the Soviet Union to the world. Kuchins and Zevelev (159) believe that despite the pressure from the West, Gorbachev political decisions contributed to the end of the Cold War and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was ready to work with the west and bring an end to the global hostility. His meeting with US President Reagan promised to engage nuclear disarmament programs for both countries.
When Boris Yeltsin took over leadership of the Independent Russia, he advocated for a pro-western Russia, especially during his first few years in leadership. The liberal approach to Russian foreign policy saw Yeltsin open up the Russian republic to the western world (Kasymov 61). There was proactive attempt to take up the western democratic and economic models. Russia collaborated with both Europe and the United States in critical security, economic, and scientific programs. For example, Russia collaborated with the US Space exploration programs. The "shock therapy" was also a move towards embracing the western style of governance with the help of international bodies such as IMF and the World Bank (Koslowski and Kratochwil 219). The move was interpreted as a radical change from the previous realism approach to one that accommodated liberalism. It was clear that USSR was ready to humbly cooperate with the rest of the world and forego its cold war objectives.

It is clear from the analysis of the events that followed the Second World War that all the international relations theoretical perspectives were applicable during the Cold War. The super powers that included the United States and the Soviet Union were all inclined to use their military might to rule the world. Immediately after the war ended, the states had decided to entrust the security of the world in the hands of institutions such as the United Nations and NATO. The liberal movement also promoted the practice of democracy that was perceived as softer then the radical authoritarian rules. However, the liberalism movement did not prevent the two major global powers, the US and Russia, from engaging in bitter rivalry. The two countries believed that only military supremacy would crown the world's superpower. Hence, they embarked on a mission to gain an advantage over their enemy using technology, spies, and military personnel. Eventually, a new ideology was introduced by Gorbachev and contradicted the views of both the realists and the liberalist. It was possible to transcend both perspectives with the use of constructivism theories that anchored on ideas and identities.

Works Cited
Kasymov, Shavkat. "Statism in Russia: The implications for US-Russian relations." Journal of Eurasian Studies 3.1 (2012): 58-68.
Koslowski, Rey, and Kratochwil, Friedrich V. "Understanding change in international politics: the Soviet empire's demise and the international system." International Organization 48.02 (1994): 215-247.
Kuchins, Andrew C., and Igor A. Zevelev. "Russian foreign policy: Continuity in change." The Washington Quarterly 35.1 (2012): 147-161.
Lebow, Richard Ned. "The long peace, the end of the cold war, and the failure of realism." International Organization 48.02 (1994): 249-277.
Slaughter, Anne-Marie. "International relations, principal theories." Max Planck encyclopedia of public international Law 129 (2011).
Snyder, Jack. "One world, rival theories." Foreign Policy 145 (2009): 52.
Walt, Stephen M. "International relations: one world, many theories." Foreign policy (1998): 29-46.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price