The United States is increasingly being disturbed by the aggressive behavior of Iran, Russia, and China. For instance, China is making hostile moves in its coastal waters while Putin forces are grabbing Crimea. On the other hand, Iran is trying to employ its coalitions with Hezbollah and Syria to control the Middle East. As noted by Mead, outdated powers are already back in international relations (IR) (69). Mead further posits that the European Union and the US would instead move past the military power and geopolitical question of territory and focus on one of the global governance and world order such as human rights, nuclear nonproliferation, and trade liberalization. Since the collapse of the Cold War, the most significant objectives of the EU and US foreign policies is to shift international relations to win-win ones instead of zero-sum issues. Realism addresses the threats posed by Iran, China, and Russia by advocating for dialogue between these countries and the United States, while liberalism holds that more sanctions should be imposed on these countries to contain them.
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As one of the schools of thought in international relations, liberalism holds that no state should be subjected to the external authority of other nations. Liberalism further posits that the state should also not be submitted to other internal authorities such as the military. On the other hand, realism holds that IRs are a zero-sum game (Mead 69). It emphasizes the role of military power, national interest, and state in world politics. All nation-states, according to realism, are increasingly motivated by national interests.
Mead asserts that one of the biggest mistakes Europeans and Americans made was to assume that the most disturbing geopolitical concerns were settled following the collapse of the cold war. However, it appeared that Russia, Iran, as well as China never bought into the geopolitical settlement as most Europeans and Americans had imagined. Further, Europeans and Americans thought that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute would no longer concern sphere of influence, national self-determination, military base, or boundaries (Mead 70). The Russia invasion of Crimea, the deployment of new nuclear weapons, the collapse of armed control agreements, and the rising tensions in the Middle East are indicating that Russia and NATO are suddenly gearing up conflict (Moniz and Nunn 150). The tension between and Russia has been growing over the last few decades. The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight by a suspected Russian-made missile, Russia intervention in Eastern Ukraine, and the annexation of Crimea have ruptured the relations between the US and Russia. The US has responded with a broad range of economic sanctions aimed at isolating Russia and forcing a diplomatic crisis to the crisis in Ukraine. In spite of the two negotiated agreements that occurred in 2014, the tension between the US and Russia has not ceased. Both Russia and NATO continue to demonstrate their military prowess throughout the region (Muniz and Nunn 158). For instance, Russia and NATO forces are operating in close proximity around the Black Sea. A miscalculation or accident could lead to a catastrophic outcome. The US announced in 2019 that it has decided to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. On the other hand, Russia has suspended its implementation. Both sides have refused to extend the treaty, and the future of the 2010 New Start treaty is still not very clear. In the recent past, India, Russia, and China have built up their capabilities and antisatellite, and the US is contemplating a dedicated space force.
Despite his weak hand, Putin has succeeded in frustrating a broad range of US projects, particularly on former Soviet territory. For instance, Russia has caused trouble in Ukraine, tightened its hold on Crimea, brought Armenia into its orbit, and dismembered Georgia. From the US point of view, Russia increasingly appears to condemn itself to a dark future of marginalization and poverty (Mead 73). However, according to Russia, history has not ended and has continued to solidify its power at home. It further reminds the US and other hostile Europe powers, that it still bears sharp claws. Russia to have a close time with China and Iran, and this is increasingly making it difficult for the US to demonstrate its prowess in the world stage. In particular, Russia has succeeded in controlling the oil reserves located in the Persian Gulf, while China continues to gain control over maritime commerce located in the Western Pacific.
China has one of the largest economies, with growing, wide, and deep connections to countries in different parts of the world. Although China is a military and political rival to the US, it is also an important economic partner. In particular, the US depends on China to finance its deficits that it has been experiencing over the law a few decades (Mandelbaum 123). On the other hand, China still depends on the US to purchase a broad range of its products. Russian inferences in the European and US elections, coupled with its aggression in Ukraine, have increased the tension between Russia and the West. Under its immense nuclear power, rebuilt military, permanent membership in the UN Security Council, and vast geography, Russia has the potential of disrupting geopolitical currents in a broad range of areas that are of interest to the US, including the Arctic, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
To address these challenges, realists argue that the presidents of the US and Russia should share the responsibility of preventing a nuclear catastrophe. Further, both Moscow and Washington should create a climate of dialogue, cooperating when they can, and manage their differences. In the recent past, Donald Trump and Putin have demonstrated their willingness to work together. Presidential candidates in the US should ensure that one of the top priorities after being elected is to mitigate the short-term dangers of confrontation. Both Republicans and Democrats should understand that engagement with Russia is essential to keeping Americans safe (Muniz and Nunn 154). US commanders and their Russian counterparts should regularly speak to prevent nuclear disasters.
Increased communication between the US and Russia can help reduce tension and hatred. The US Congress should pass legislation that will allow the Russian military to cooperate with the US military. Further both democrats and republicans should be aware that by virtue of its immense nuclear power, powerful army, permanent membership in the UN Security Council, and vast geography, Russia has the potential of disrupting geopolitical currents in a broad range of areas that are of interest to the US such as the Arctic, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Russia and the US should start planning now to ensure that the deadly confrontations do not take place, including preventing any nuclear war. Moreover, the Congress should Trump and his successors the flexibility to lift a broad range of sanctions that have been imposed on Russia if they feel that they have attained their purpose of curtailing or changing the aggressive behavior of Russia (Muniz and Nunn 156).
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Leaders in Europe and the US should engage Russia with a clear-eyed mindful and understanding of the differences that exist between Russia and the West. Bipartisan leadership from Congress can play a critical in diffusing the tension between the US and Russia, including avoiding any military confrontation between the two countries. Senate and House leaders, including the Senate Majority Leader and House Speaker, should establish a liaison group aimed at diffusing the tension between the US and Russia and addressing nuclear dangers(Muniz and Nunn 157). Both Putin and Trump should follow on their promise to dialogue on nuclear threats and strategic stability at a meeting held in Helsinki in 2018. In other words, the two leaders should continue to embrace dialogue and live up to their promise of ensuring that there is a global peace devoid of nuclear war. The meeting between Putin and Trump should be expanded to encompass senior military officials and other government officials from both countries.
Conclusively, realists argue that Russia, Iran, and China never bought into the geopolitical settlement following the collapse of the Cold War. They further say that the US should restart a crisis management dialogue that includes nuclear commanders to increase trust and transparency between Russia and the US. The US and Russia should exchange more information regarding the operations and capabilities of each side to ensure that prompt-strike systems do not erode strategy stability. The US should understand that the sun of history in countries such as Russia, Iran, and China still shines. Moreover, the US should know that their publics are shaped differently and that their institutions work differently.
- Mandelbaum, Michael. The new containment: Handling Russia, China, and Iran. Foreign Affairs (2019): 123-131.
- Mead, Walter Russell. The return of geopolitics. Foreign Affairs 93.3 (2014): 69-79.
- Moniz, Ernest J, and Sam Nunn. The return of doomsday: The new nuclear arms race-and how Washington and Moscow can stop it. Foreign Affairs (2019): 150-161.
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