May 15, 2012 · 1 Comments
Smith and Holsti (1990) suggest that realism considers International Relations as a behavior of nation-states which is informed and propelled by national-interest, and it has no regard for moral sentiments. Furthermore, Buzan and Little (2000), point to the fact that realism places too much emphasis on the military-political dimension. Hence according to Burchill et al (2001), realists consider the world to be an insecure and a dangerous place where violence is prevalent but regrettable.
Indeed the world is a dangerous and violent place because the state is a central figure in International Relations. There is too much room for cynicism by the ruling elites to pursue their own economic advancement agenda. As it stands, realism fosters machismo, patronage and conservatism.
For an example, soldiers are socialized into masculinity through the process of military training. It is through the very process of military training that candidates are drilled into following orders without question and not to be “sissies” about it. Some might argue against this by claiming that the military offers discipline, employment and an opportunity to travel. If this is indeed the case, why is it that the militaries world wide, seem to target the youth in poorer communities – as the most likely candidates to accept a career in the military? Does it then mean that children of the poor are ill disciplined; or are they using them as subjects of maintaining the perceived desire by the ruling elites to continue doing so?
The coalition of the willing, under the leadership of the United States, convinced the world that Iraq possessed the weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s). Therefore it was argued that Saddam Hussein had to be removed from power because he was perceived to be unstable and was sympathetic to Al-Qaeda. What is important to note is that, no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq! Will the citizens of the world ever know the truth about the “real” reason behind the war in Iraq? Many have said the reason was the need by the West to access the oil, there. Whatever the reason, my guess is as good as yours; but what seems to be clear is that the coalition of the willing employed the realist approach in dealing with Saddam Hussein.
Critics might point to the fact that Iraq is not an African state and therefore the example is misplaced. In part, this would be true, maybe I should have used the Libyan example and Muammar al-Gaddafi’s plight. However, the point to be stressed is that, realism has led to prolonged challenges in both Iraq and Libya.
The concept of institutionalism believes that institutions are essential in the quest for global governance. Their arguement is that political phenomena cannot be reduced to individual behavior, but rather it must be explained in terms of institutions – this according to Ma (2007).
Whereas, with institutionalism the problem seems to be, whoever contributes the most (financially) to the running of an institution holds the power dictate to organizational development and agenda. Why is the United Nations reluctant to publicly reprimand transgressors from the global north?
South Africans woke up the one morning to hear that they could no longer import crude oil from Iran, otherwise the country could loose donor funding it receives from the West!
Is it correct for the global north to dictate to the global south regarding the latter’s development course?
The Southern African Developmental Community (SADC) is painfully slow in articulating how it perceives its development course. Looking at the treaty that established the regional body, member states are at liberty to enter into international agreements with whom ever they like. This has the potential of not consolidating SADC’s objectives because, unfortunately, members states are first and foremost out to look after their national interest.
Various member states within SADC have certain resources unique to them. It would seem logical for SADC to take charge of the strategic development of those unique resources, in a bid to realise the maximum development.
Could it be that SADC suffers from the effects of what can be called institutional realism (given the brief explanation of realism and institutionalism)?
- Mfanelo Zamisa