Thailand has experienced rapid economic growth since the 1980’s. The country has experienced contractions and troughs in its economic cycle on only three occasions since 1980; in 1998; during the 2010 world, during the Great recession in 2010 and in 2013. Currently, the country is ranked at 26th
by the IMF basing on its nominal GDP. Thailand’s GDP was 15.5 baht (US$ 455 billion) in 2017 (International monetary fund n.p). It is the 8th
largest economy in Asia. Thailand borders Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar. Vietnam and China can also be affected by Thailand’s aggressiveness because they within 100 kilometres of Thailand’s territory. Cambodia GDP for 2017 was US$ 20.2 billion, Laos’ GDP was US$ 15.9 Billion, Malaysia’s GDP was 296.4 billion while that of Myanmar was 67.43 billion. In total, the countries bordering Thailand had a combined GDP of 332.5 in 2017 according to IMFG figures. Using GDP as a measure of a country’s ability to make war, one can conclude that the nations bordering Thailand lack the ability to counter its aggressiveness if need arises. Therefore, the countries must persuade China and Vietnam to join their alliance. Vietnam has had a GDP of 202.6 billion in 2017. If it becomes part of the alliance, it will have a total of 534.5 billion against Thailand’s 455 billion. China is also within 100 kilometre from Thailand’s border. From the perspective of the elements of power, China is in a good position to stop Thailand’s aggressiveness. It has the ability to influence the formulation and enforcement of international laws. China’s real GDP was 11.2 trillion, which is more than twice that of Thailand. An alliance with China will lead to a power imbalance in the favour of Thailand’s neighbours.
2. Realism and Power in International Relations Today
International relations have not changed much from the time of the world wars and the cold war. The US has always been at the centre of debate on international relations. Its relations with Russia have resulted in alignments with most countries choosing either side rather than remain neutral. Major changes in today’s international relations are the growing importance of oil and the entry of China as a major power. Therefore, today’s international relations mainly revolve around US-China and US-Russia relations (Marcus, n.p). Russia seems to be the most aggressive country at the moment. Most countries have been avoiding any confrontation with the three major powers. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. The actions provoked an uproar from the rest of the world. All the countries, including the US did not take any serious action against Russia. The greatest action taken was Russia’s expulsion from the G8 alliance. During the G7 meeting in 2018 in Canada, some of the world leaders asked that Russia be readmitted to the G8 despite its open violation of international law (Collinson n.p). Therefore, today’s international relations are characterized an imbalance of power. The powerful nations have vast influence and can do anything according to their wishes, even if their actions entail breaking the law. Similar actions by the rest of the world are met by invasion, threats and sanctions. Russia has been accused of misusing the monopoly of violence against its citizens. Similar actions in Syria attract invasion from the powerful countries. The situation brings out the theory of realism where states are committed to promoting self-interest by violating laws, resulting in anarchy in the international system.
3. Realism and Power in International Relations Today
The concepts of realism and power are evident in today’s international relations. Assumptions of realism include the selfish nature of human beings, states as key actors in international relations, the existence of anarchy and rational pursuit of self-interest. Countries are keen to ensure that they promote security of their people and develop their economies. China for instance, has been at the forefront among the countries aiming for economic growth. China’s leadership has learnt that corruption, selfishness of the leaders and human rights violation are dominant in many countries. China chooses to do business with the countries while overlooking the negative aspects of their leadership (Crabtree n.p). This approach has made china outcompete western countries in the race for expanding markets in the developing economies. Therefore, countries are becoming selfish by overlooking issues such as human rights violation by their partner governments. Power imbalance is also evident in actions of rich countries. The US and Russia have been invading other countries against international law, especially where the safety of the citizens of powerful countries and economic interests are at stake. No actions have been taken against the powerful countries. Generally, it is easier for the powerful countries to get other nations do as the former wishes.
Collinson, Stephen. Trump's toughness on Russia judged against his predecessors. CNN, June 9, 2018. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/09/politics/trump-russia-historical-analysis/index.html. Accessed June 16, 2018.
Crabtree, Justina. China-style state-led growth won't work in Africa, former Nigeria finance minister warns. CNBC, 21 May 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/21/china-state-led-growth-wont-work-in-africa-former-nigeria-finance-minister.html. Accessed June 16, 2018.
International Monetary Fund. Report for Selected Countries and Subjects: Thailand: Gross domestic product, current prices (National currency). IMF, 2018, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2018/01/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2017"ey=2017"scsm=1"ssd=1"sort=country"ds=."br=1"pr1.x=27"pr1.y=16"c=578"s=NGDP%2CNGDPD"grp=0"a=. Accessed June 16, 2018.
Marcus, Jonathan. Russia v the West: Is this a new Cold War? BBC News, 1 April 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43581449. Accessed June 16, 2018.