Assad’s regime is fighting for survival, and the silence or indifference of the international community makes his survival a question of tactics rather than moral. It is almost a known secret that the international community has given Assad the go ahead with its survival tactics without much ado. Using international relation theory, we can make an argument that Assad is a realist, and because of that, he employs a strong state to protect himself. John Meirshmer is a realist in political thought. His argument is that states act on interests, and that the international political system is anarchic. He goes ahead to argue that states are skeptical of the interests of other states and would never fully understand the doings or plans of the mentioned states. In such arrangements, states work by constant militarization the perceived threats from other states. In realism, the state interests are self-centered and states would do anything to foster those interests. When interests conflict with the interests of other states, there is the use of violence as the media of diplomacy in the absence of dialogue and other motives. Using John Meishmer’s argument one could make a case that Assad’s use of chemical weapons it totally rationale and in line with the demands of a realist centric argument. Still, it would be curious to question the legitimacy of the Assad’s regime and it is working for the interests of the Syrian political entity. Is Assad representing the entire nation state or a function of it?
Answering this questions call for the examination of the origin of the concept of the nation-state. Max Weber’s writing on the state offers an insightful look at the functioning of the concept of interests in the idealization of the Westphalia idea of the state. Interests such become powerful tools in the functioning of diplomatic apparatus such as League of Nations, agreements, and charters among others. Perhaps the best demonstration of realism is on the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq. The invasion provided a platform where the United States security interests, commercial interests, and geopolitical interests was threatened by the increasingly powerful Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Even though the United States had vanquished Iraq in the First Gulf War, there was continued pressure on the part of the United States to ensure that the Iraq was not capable of making any weapons of mass destruction. In addition, the United States was concerned about the security threats arising from 9/11 attacks as well as the desire to seize control of the commercial interests in the Middle East in the name of Oil. Assad’s use of chemical weapons is for the most a part a function of lack of interest on the parts of the powers that be. Joshua Keating’s article “When Chemical Weapons are Smart Politics” that Assad’s use of chemical weapons has been a function of the reluctance of the United States, the United Nations, and The European Union to engage him and account for his actions. On the part of the United States, there is a financial fear, and the moral lack of authority and guts to invade another Middle Eastern country. The message that the international community is sending to Assad is that the use of excessive brutality, force, and clumping down on the opposition is fine as much as the interests of the surrounding nations is not at stake.
The most common view of the contemporary discipline of international relations still relies on key principles first promoted by scholars in the post-Second World War era. These arguments, articulated by classical realists remain some of the defining concepts in IR and still shape the general orientation of scholarly study in the field. The arguments first emerged victorious from the first of the discipline’s ‘great debates’, the realists provided theoretical response to ‘idealist’ approaches such as those opposed by Woodrow Wilson in the interwar period. Two of the most significant formulations of realist thought were written by Hans Morgenthau and E.H.Carr, both of whom objected to what they saw as idealism’s failure to take into consideration the underlying natural laws that caused humankind to tend towards violence and aggression and this become c relevant when we offer an examination of Syria and the use of Chemical weapons. John Keating argues that the notion behind Assad’s use of chemical weapons lies on the perception of no-soft landing for him in terms of pushing over his agenda. Domestically, Assad he has a coalition that believes that they have no option other than to stick with the leader through thick and thin. Bashir-Al Assad knows that he has crimes against humanity over his head and this means that he will not stand a chance of doing anything other than pushing forward.
This argument is furthered by Greek Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had studied the concept of nation state and emphasized the importance of war for military defense of the city states. Thycidses, coming on shortly after the Greek philosophers, observed and analyzed the problems of diplomacy, imperialism, the making of alliances, war and peace. He later went on to summarize that the “motives that drive political actions are fear, honor and interest, and the dialectic clash of power versus moral values.” Thus, classical realists had challenged cooperation even before the new world and the evolution of International Relations as a discipline. However, realism as a theory in IR, has evolved to take account of changing realities. This explains why realism still stands as the most dominant and realistic theory. At the end of the cold war, D& P writes that “realism had no credible rival when it came to explaining the characteristic features of the cold war.” However, realism failed to forecast the fundamental change in international system such as the end of the cold war. How come then that we say that realism still outshines other theories?
Here is why, Lakato argues that “A scientific theory T is falsified if and only if another theory T’ has been proposed with the following characteristics: 1) T’ has excess empirical content over T: that is, it predicts novel facts, that is, facts improbable in the light of, or even forbidden by, T; 2) T’ explains the previous success of T, that is, all the unrefuted content of T is included (within the limits of observational error) in the content of T’; and 3) some of the excess content of T’ is corroborated.” When World War 1 ended, realists proved to the Wilsonian liberalists that utopianism wasn’t the way forward with the world. The realists proved that International relations as a scholarly field has dominated
In August 2012, Obama announced that military action would be used if there was enough evidence that Assad was using chemical weapons. The president said that “we cannot have a situation in which chemical weapons and biological weapons are falling in the hands of wrong people” (CQ Press, 2013, p.84). Is this a structural argument for the Syrian issues? Well, neorealist’s structural theorists derive from classical realism except that instead of human nature, its focus is predominantly on the international system. While states remain the principal actors, greater attention is given to the forces above and below the states through levels of analysis or structure-agency debate. The international system is seen as a structure acting on the state with individuals below the level of the state acting as agency on the state as a whole. Among the proponents of neorealist is Kenneth Waltz. Waltz, instead of disagreeing with the classical realist human nature, asserts that classical realism is not scientifically knowable and therefore cannot provide solid foundation for theory. Instead, he argues that it is more prudent to study the structural constraints that encourage modern states and humans to vie for power, no matter what human nature might or might not be. To a large extent, Waltz’s assertion has encouraged scholars of world politics to move away from explicit claims about human nature and to focus on the identity of the state. The identity of the United States is freedom, democracy, and human rights, all nation-states are subjected to the same treatment. This is perhaps the reason why the United States called on the rebels as cohorts of freedom.
Neoclassical realism, according to D& P, argues that relative power distribution and perceptions of this relative power profoundly impact, if not define, foreign policy. The neoclassical realist reformulation of realist theory attempts to bridge domestic and and international politics. Neoclassical realism takes into consideration Wendt's notion of social theory and the idea that domestic level opinong impacts upon foreign policy. While Wendt concedes that there are undoubtedly domestic determinants of policy, he agrees with Waltz that states are the primary unit of analysis in the international system. Wendt then goes on to argue that shared ideas, or "intersubjective understandings," between states about international politics are what constitute the international system rather than the distribution of capabilities. Thus, neoclassical realists are the most pragmatic realists of the world today.
Realism has evolved scientifically and theoritically to comform to current needs. But the original ideas of power, the world as controlled by anarchism, states as unitary actors, and human nature as evil still stands. This is the reason why realism has failed to cope up with some needs such as war in Iraq and Afghanistan at the expense of issues that require attention. There is a need for the theory to change its perception of the world in regard to key actors, that in some cases , are nolonger the states. Realism cannot explain the roles played by terrorists groups, lobby groups or even religion as big factors that affect nations’ interests. Similarly like Wendt assert realism cannolonger account for the increasing poverty in the developing world, role of individuals in the rapidly globalizing world. As if that is not enough, realism was unable to predict the end of the cold war. This expalins why there is need of critical theory to help realists see the world in a more pragmatic way.
Moral and political knowledge is the preamble of ethics and morality in a society. Without political knowledge, rationality would be hard-nut to crack. In Introduction to Virtue, “the relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or as they see it”, here truth is diverted from the original conception of higher being as the source of truth and reason, instead the fundamental American value of equality takes the principle of logic and ration. American societal ethics and its codes would that be arguably a function of Natural Law and slow transformation to accept relativity of truth, and solidified by the supreme law of the land that advocates for equality of mankind. Like the United States founding fathers, most inhabitants of earth believe in the concept of a higher being that magically guides people towards some moral grounds. The belief on the role of a superior being as the mastermind of rationalism is exhibited by the writings of George Washington in his inaugural address where he said “inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the civil administration”. George Washington was a believer in the concept of a higher power that reigns over humanity, thus defining what was right and wrong. In one statement George Washington admits by saying “Almighty Being rules over the universe”. Being from the earth society, my concept of rationalism would therefore cloud the judgment I make when confronted by people from other places of the world.
While I agree with the sentiments expressed here, I beg to disagree with opinion of anarchic role and super central role of the state. Instead, I am a proponent of collective security. Tenets of collective security continue to be behind much famous current and historical and military realignment among great nations. Most notable of all, is the Allied force in the World War 2 and the current NATO. The term has also been cited as a principle of the UNO. By employing collective security, the UN hopes to any member state from acting in a manner likely to threaten peace, thereby avoiding conflict.
According to the underlying rules behind collective security, a nation that threatens the security of other nations is bound to be attacked by the combination of the allied states. Coincidentally, Iran’s nuclear position will emerge as the first ultimate test of collective security in the new world order. Already, Iran has threatened to go on with her nuclear programs even if the big powers of the world have refused. A move which many political pundits have argued that will result to a military action by the big nations such as USA, France, Britain, Japan, among others except for China and Russia. Iranian government argues that there nuclear program is a path towards modernizing their energy production. This argument has received numerous skeptics from the world leaders especially USA, France, Britain, Germany and other members of the G8.
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