Liberalism is a principle in Global politics theory that that is based on the hope of diligence, reason and universal ethics and that with the application of this the world will become a more orderly, ethical and cooperative. By achieving this it is hoped that international war can monitored by Non-governmental organisations. Liberalism is a philosophy championed by western nations such as the United Kingdom and the USA and some Non- Governmental organisations such as the United Nations. Liberals advocate the use of military force in order to help people for example Tony Blair invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein inflicted pain and violence on his population. Infringing people’s rights is typically against Liberal thinking because they believe in the sanctity of human rights and an end to human suffering. Another Liberal philosophy is to export their own domestic policies into the foreign arena, for example in Britain the current government wants to eradicate poverty, it exports this domestic policy to third world countries to try and eliminate poverty. But as with every international paradigm there are strengths and weaknesses.
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Collective security is a strength of the liberal perspective on world politics. Collective security replaces the realist idea of self help. For example in 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. The international community responded to expel Iraq from Kuwait. The Liberal countries did this to preserve liberty and resolve security in the Middle East. John Baylis and Steve Smith argue that “Liberalism is primarily a theory of government, one that seeks to reconcile order (security) and justice (equality) within a particular community”. (Baylis and Smith, 2001, pg 163.) Liberals argue the need for collective security as to prevent the world falling into international anarchism and up hold human rights, democracy and a free market where people are free to trade.
Liberals believe in international cooperation as a way to great global harmony this can be seen to be coupled with collective security as a way to achieve this. Liberal ideas and trends often over take local ideas which can be viewed as totalitarian, a view taken by Booth and Smith, “the assumption that universal norms and values will triumph over those based on particular local contexts is a feature which contemporary liberalism”, (Booth and Smith, 1995, pg 92). The harmonising of greater international cooperation can be seen through the creation of the United Nations which tries to peacefully sort out countries disputes; it also tries to promote liberalism. A strong case for Liberalism is that it can be viewed as peaceful due to the history of liberalism, never have two liberal democracies gone to war which shows the level of cooperation between them and that the balance of power within the world has been upset by authoritarian regimes and outdated ideas and polices, “the strand in liberal thinking which holds that the natural order has been corrupted by undemocratic state leaders and outdate polices”, (Baylis and Smith, 2001, pg 178). Liberal politics has shown to protect the harmony of interests, through commerce and travel. For example the European Union can be seen as the official regulator of interests in Europe because they try to harmonise trade and travel to prevent any disputes.
Liberal perspective on world politics is that they believe in minimal state intervention in peoples life’s they believe that this is the fundamental as it does not pose the risk of infringing on people human rights or interfere with the free market. Liberals argue about the preservation of individual liberty such as the freedom of free speech and freedom to trade. These are some fundamental guidelines which Liberal democracies adhere to. F. A. Hayek argues that Liberals try not to repress or discriminate their populace, “… every individual should be protected against all attempts to enforce them by violence or aimed discrimination…”. (Hayek, 1975, page 75). The preservation of liberties is seen to liberals as the basis of society and that they want to export it as it is way in which in reducing world anarchism and prevent war.
Liberal trade markets are also a way of keeping state intervention to a minimum. This is so to create international harmony and cooperation as countries are allowed to trade with each other. F.A. Hayek takes into account liberalism has to have some sort of minimal state intervention as to ensure there is perfect competition and no barriers to entry within the economy, it also tries to prevent the monopolisation of areas within the economy, “… economic theory calls ‘perfect competition’ but that there are no obstacles to entry into each trade and that the market functions adequately in spreading information about opportunities”, (Hayek, 1975, page 71).
Liberals always argue that for minimal state intervention in people’s lives but increasingly state centralisation is taking root within society as a result of the state trying to eliminate poverty and providing health care for the masses. J. S. Mill argues that the more the state increases its intervention in people’s lives the more they seem to look to the state for direction which eliminates independent thought, “… if government offices were universally filled by ablest men … to whom the rest of the community would look for all things: the multitude of direction and dictation in all they had to do”. (Mill, 1989, pg 111)
A weakness of Liberalism is that western democracies try exporting it to other countries that are sometimes unwilling to adopt. Liberalism only takes into account ‘western values’ for example democracy, free speech and equality, amongst others. “â€¦ universalising mission of liberal values such as democracyâ€¦ undermine the traditions and practices of non-western cultures,” (Baylis and Smith, 2001, pg 179). This shows that Liberal and typically western foreign policy has the ability to alienate other cultures. An example of the west trying to export democratic values in an ever internationally politicised world is on Iraq and Afghanistan, through the military intervention in Iraq 2003 and the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.
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A critique of the liberal perspective is that it wants to achieve world peace through international cooperation and the upholding of civil liberties, “it operates with the goal of achieving world peace through cooperation and respect for human rights”, (Larry Wilde, 2009, pg 4). Some countries see this as weakness and are prepared to exploit this to try and achieve concessions through taking advantage of Liberalism for example North Korea trying to get concessions for giving up nuclear weapons.
A weakness of the liberal perspective on the world is that of the Liberal institutionalism. This is the liberalisation of world institutions such as the European Union. Many countries see the benefits of joining the European Union such as the freedom to access European trade markets and expand their economies that they are willing to risk and give up national sovereignty to join, “The development of the European Union… the benefits of membership have proved so great that states have been prepared to pool sovereignty and adjust their legal systems” (Larry Wilde, 2009, pg 2). Realists view this much scepticism as they don’t see why a country would want give up their own national sovereignty.
A liberal perspective on the world has its strengths and weakness. Its strengths out way the weaknesses because Liberalism has influenced countries across the globe to operate free market economies which have adapted to globalisation and are now integrated into the global economy. The freedom of the economy has in some cases led to countries allowing freedom of speech and other basic human rights but it has also helped to alleviate poverty in certain areas of the world. Liberalism has also produced a network of greater collective security that helps protect nation states from attacks by aggressors such as in the 1990s when states stepped in to stop the bloodshed of the Balkan civil war. International cooperation has also helped harmonised trade and security agreements amongst states; an example of this is the development of the European Union in Europe and led to greater bonds and peace between nations. The belief of Liberals to give aid to those in third world countries has greatly helped and improved the lives of so many.
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