- Dele-Adelodun Mobolaji
Critically evaluate the claims made by Liberals regarding how we might best promote peaceful cooperation between states.
Liberalism can be described roughly as the ‘freedom for the individual’ as it believes that humans are good natured beings. It is often perceived as the only true “persuasive and alternative view” of International Relations. The core of the liberal peace theory constitutes a definition of long-term peace and security which is based on both the values of democracy and justice. Liberals have made certain claims as to how its theories can help create peaceful cooperation among states. The concept of liberal peace was first suggested by liberal classical analyst Immanuel Kant in the late 18th century. His dream was that all countries become incorporated into a web of political, commercial and organizational arrangements that are mutually reinforcing and rewarding and thus reduce, if not eliminate the probability of conflict. Kant suggested that economic mutuality and trade creates favourable conditions for international cooperation among states. His suggestion also includes the implementation of democracy functions as the basis for global peace, democracy will also check the power of leaders and states, wars are likely to become less prevalent when and if democracy flourishes throughout the world. Lastly, through the formation of international organisations for the regulation of the international interdependence, their good relationships are secure. It is not individual factors, which lead to a more peaceful world, but rather all the element working in conjunction which eliminates conflict. Where these settings are present, state liberalists believe there is peace or these conditions are ideal for building peace.
Their main claims are democracy, interdependence (commerce through trade), and international organizations systematically and symbiotically enhance the absence of warfare and the creation of enduring peace. The core concepts, claims and foundations liberals came up with will be explained in this essay, how Interdependence, democracy and formation of international organisations would help attain world peace.
The concept of liberal peace was first suggested by liberal classical analyst Immanuel Kant and referred mainly to democratic states. This association of democracy with peace is based in Kant, who believed that lasting peace would only occur after states had a representative government with separation of powers and civil constitutions respecting private property and asserting equality before the law. Leaders of democracies as well as the citizens generally benefit from avoiding conflict especially with one another because the political cost of fighting wars are higher for democratic leaders. If they win a costly war, the domestic political cost may be high. Jack Levy’s famous assertion encapsulates the idea behind Democratic Peace Theory as well as any written, which is perhaps why it is referenced so often: “The absence of war between democracies comes as close to anything we have to an empirical law in international relations.” Liberals suggests that democracies will rarely go to war against one another or even threaten each other. This has almost become a statement of truth. Arguably one of the forerunners of modern liberal democracy, the United States, has an international policy based upon the principles of the democratic peace theory, President Clinton stated in his 1994 state of union address that ‘Democracies do not attack each other’ meaning that ‘ultimately the best strategy to insure our security and build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere’.
Democracies do not usually go to war with each other mainly because of institutional constrains and because of the democratic norms and cultures they have. The first institutional constraint, explains that democratic governments are reluctant to go to war because they must answer to the citizens, Michael Doyle builds on Immanuel Kant proposition. The second institutional constraint include checks and balances, it looks at three specific features of a state’s domestic political structure: executive selection, political competition and the pluralism of foreign policy decision making process. States with executives answerable to section body should be more highly constrained and hence less likely to go to war. The democratic norms elucidation holds that “the culture, perceptions and practices that permit compromise and the peaceful resolution of conflicts without the threat of violence within countries come to apply across national boundaries toward other democratic countries.” This means that democratic states have developed a positive view of other democratic states. Many liberal theorists are of the view that it is only when there is an end of tyranny around the globe and universal liberal democracy and respect for human rights that international peace will prevail.
They also make claims that when democracies come into conflict with each other, they only rarely threaten to use force, because it is illegitimate to do so and believe that conflicts are to be resolved peacefully by negotiation and compromise. According to Doyle “liberal democracies are uniquely willing to eschew the use of force in their relations with one another.” There have been debates in International Relation about whether democracies are generally more peaceful than other types of systems. The issue of the proposition that democracies do not fight one another does not mean that democracies do not fight at all. For example the Second World War could be seen as a fight against fascism and therefore for democracy. More controversially one justification for the Vietnam War of the 1960s and the 1970s was that it was necessary in order to protect the values of the free world. The argument here is that liberal democracies are much more inclined to conduct their relations with others on a peaceful basis. From this it follows the best way to ensure a long lasting peace in international relations through the spread of liberal democratic government on a global scale.
Economic interdependence has similarly made a contribution to our understanding of peace. There have been harmony of interest between the states and people of the world, these mutual interests are rooted to mutual benefits which arise from commerce through trade. As Angell suggests, war can become obsolete if trade flourishes between countries because trade brings mutual gains to all the actors, irrespective of how powerful they are. Moreover, free trade mitigates barriers and tensions between countries and propels interaction, friendship and understanding. Trade is a one of the major parts of liberal tradition as well as of Kant. Other theorists like Montesquieu claim that
“Commerce is the cure for the most destructive prejudices,” and “Peace is the natural effect of trade.”
There is evidence that trade helps to reduce interstate conflicts, The World Trade Organisation (WTO) list ten benefits of the trading system it manages, the first being that it helps to keep the peace between states because ‘sales people are usually reluctant to fight their customers’. Trade depends on the expectation of peace from with the trading partner. Liberals have always argued that interdependence lowers the likelihood of war by increasing the value of trading over the alternative of aggression meaning that independent states would rather trade than evade. The use of force reduces the gains from trade and imperils the flow of information necessary for the development of mutual understanding.The pacific benefits of economically important bilateral trade seem well illustrated by the experience of the United States with China over the past twenty years. After the Communist government began to open its economy in the late 1970s, its political relations with the United States became far more peaceful than they had been during the Cold War. This thaw in relations began with a deliberate political decision to improve them, but as trade increased, both sides gained a greater stake in keeping the peaceful. This still happened considering the fact that China did not become significantly more democratic. Although there was a period in history, the period up to World War I where there was an inconsistency for the liberal theory, the Europeans reached an unprecedented level of trade, yet it did not stop them from proceeding into war. Realist argue to contradict the liberal theory claiming that the war was preceded by high interdependence level but trade levels had been high for the previous thirty years, but even if the interdependence was a necessary condition for the war, it was not sufficient.
Liberals also argue that economic interdependence between states reduces conflict as conflict discourages commerce. Economic interchanges favour world cooperation. Countries that are interested in benefiting from international trade and commerce necessarily need to create friendly relations with other states. On the one hand, economic interactions between two different states inevitably necessitate that those countries augment the number of their contacts for different reasons. Throughout history states have sought power by mean of military force and territorial expansion. But for high industrialized countries, economic development and foreign trade are more adequate and less costly means of achieving prominence and prosperity. That is the costs of using force have increased and the benefits have declined. For example, economically successful countries of the post-war period are the trading states such as Germany and Japan have refrained from traditional military political option of high military expenditure and economic self-sufficiency instead they have chosen the trading option of an intensified division of labour and increased interdependence.
Trade raises the cost of conflict and also the benefits of conflict avoidance and conflict management. The costly nature of conflict is also central to contemporary applications of the bargaining theory commercial relations increase the likelihood of peace because trade and investment make costly signals possible. This argument particularly corresponds to the idea that the risk of conflicts between states is reduced by creating a common interest in trade and cooperation for the state’s mutual benefits.
An intergovernmental organisation can be defined as a formal, continuous institution established by treaty or other agreement between governments with a long –range purpose. In the contemporary world, international law is often expressed in international organizations. International Organisations are included in the Kantian peace theory. Kant believed that international law would operate most powerfully among democracies (republics), which would form a loose “federation” of sovereign states (an international organisation) to facilitate their peaceful relations and provide a framework for collective security against threats from states that were not republics. The evolution of the European Common Market into the European Union required European states to restore stable democratic government to ease the flow of goods, services, capital and labour throughout Western Europe and this experience recorded great success. There has been growth in the number of international organizations since the end of World War II. In 1909 there were 37 increased to 293 in 1990, there would not have been an increase if these organisations had little or no contribution to peace creation which is usually set out in their goals.
International Governmental Organisations (IGOs), these organisations are usually multipurpose and they get involved in a wide range of activities which include promoting international commerce and investment, environmental concerns, health or human rights which all come back to the promotion of peace among its member states. International organisations may play a role in adjudication and arbitration of disputes by mediating among conflicting parties. These activities are important because they reduce the cost of enforcing contracts, encourage their creation, and promote exchange. Like in the case where the secretary general of NATO helped mediate the dispute between Greece and turkey over Cyprus in 1967 and was able to forfend the widening of the war. Norms and rules developed within IGOs may facilitate arms control and delegitimize the use of force. The Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, for example helped to free the region of nuclear weapons. Shared norms create common interest helps to promote cooperation. IGOs may develop interests and preferences that are more stable than and to a degree independent of those of their member state.
International Governmental Organisations foster ways in which countries may peacefully resolve their conflicts while expanding the ways in which they view commonalities among their interests with wide-ranging set of potential belligerents as well as potential allies. However, it is also important to note other extremely significant institutions that assist in the making the world more peaceful by providing economic stability, cooperation and growth in the world such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and others. The most notable international organisation for the analysis is the United Nations (UN). The United Nations recorded great success in the intervention in Mozambique where there was a struggle to transit into democracy. There was a civil war which broke out in 1997 the Mozambique Resistance Movement was formed to oppose Government (Front of Liberation of Mozambique) which was in power at that time. The conflict ended after the intervention of the United Nations in 1992 and a general peace was reached. During the ‘experience of Mozambique’, the United Nations managed to achieve one of its ‘rare peacekeeping successes. If not for the intervention of the UN the outcome of the civil war would have been disastrous. Liberal institutional theory argues that IGOs foster nonviolent conflict resolution and constrain the advent of disputes. This explains that IGOs resolve disputes preferably by the peaceful methods rather than the use of force.
In conclusion, the claims made by liberals to achieving peaceful cooperation among states are possible through the casual effects of democracy, interdependence and membership of international organisation. This three elements work best when they are applied together. The essay explains that if the Kantian elements are set at high levels, the incidence of fatal disputes will drop. Liberal analyses indicate that each of the three elements of Kantian peace does make a significant, independent contribution to peaceful interstate relations.
Alec Stone Sweet and Thomas Brunell. “Constructing a Supranational Constitution: Dispute Resolution and Governance in the European Community” American Political Science Review 92 (1998): 63-81.
Bruce Russett ‘Liberalism’ in International Relations Theories 3rd ed.Angell, Norman: ‘The Great Illusion’, London: Heinemann, 1910.
Burchill, Scott et. al: Theories of International Relations. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009
Bruce Russett and John Oneal. 2001. Triangulating Peace: democracy, interdependence and international Organizations.
Christopher Layne, ‘Kant or Cant: The Myth of the Democratic Peace’, International Security, Vol. 19, No.2 (Fall, 1994), pp. 5-49
Dale C. Copeland, “Economic Interdependence and War: A theory of Trade Expectations,” International Security, Vol. 20, no.4 (Spring 1996)
Jill Steans & Lloyd Pettiford, International Relations: Perspectives and themes
John M. Owen, ‘How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace’, International Security, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Fall, 1994), pp. 87-125
Kant, I.,Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, 1975, at http://www.constitution.org/kant/perpeace.htm.
Karle, Warren: Realism and Liberalism continue to shape the ways in which policy makers conceptualize international relations, Australian Public Service Center, Shedden Working Papers Series, 2003.
Levy, Jack. “Domestic Politics and War.” In The Origin and Prevention of Major Wars. Robert Rotberg and Theodore Rabb, eds. Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Michael N. Barnett and Martha Finnemore, The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations (1999).
Michael W. Doyle, ‘Kant, Liberal legacies, and Foreign Affairs’, Philosophy and Public affairs, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer, 1983), pp.205-235
Ray, James Lee (1998),, “Does Democracy Cause Peace?”Annual Review of Political Science, 1. pp. 27-46
Russett Bruce Martin (1993), Grasping the Democratic Peace
The Cyprus conflict at http://www.cyprus-conflict.net/narrative-main-%203.html
Weinstein, Jeremy M., January 2002. Mozambique: A Fading U.N. Success Story. Journal of Democracy, 13 (1), 141-156
World Trade Organisation, http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/10ben_e/10b01_e.htm
 Michael W. Doyle, ‘Kant, Liberal legacies, and Foreign Affairs’, Philosophy and Public affairs, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer, 1983), pp.205-235
 Karle, Warren: Realism and Liberalism continue to shape the ways in which policy makers conceptualize international relations, Australian Public Service Center, Shedden Working Papers Series, 2003.
 Bruce Russett and John Oneal. 2001. Triangulating Peace: democracy, interdependence and international
 Ray, James Lee, “Does Democracy Cause Peace?” Annual Review of Political Science, 1.
(1998), pp. 27-46
 Bruce Russett and John Oneal. (2001) n 4 above
 Levy, Jack. “Domestic Politics and War.” In The Origin and Prevention of Major Wars. Robert Rotberg and Theodore Rabb, eds. Cambridge University Press, 1989.
 John M. Owen, ‘How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace’, International Security, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Fall, 1994), pp. 87-125
 Christopher Layne, ‘Kant or Cant: The Myth of the Democratic Peace’, International Security, Vol. 19, No.2 (Fall, 1994), pp. 5-49
 Ibid page 9
 Russett, Grasping the Democratic Peace, p. 31
 Jill Steans & Lloyd Pettiford, International Relations: Perspectives and themes
 Bruce Russett ‘Liberalism’ in International Relations Theories 3rd ed.
 Jill steans & Lloyd Pettiford n 12 above
 Angell, Norman: ‘The Great Illusion’, London: Heinemann, 1910.
 Burchill, Scott et. al: Theories of International Relations. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009
Michael W. Doyle, n1 above Pages 205-235
 World Trade Organisation, http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/10ben_e/10b01_e.htm
 Dale C. Copeland, “Economic Interdependence and War: A theory of Trade Expectations,” International Security, Vol. 20, no.4 (Spring 1996)
 Bruce Russett and John Oneal. (2001) n 4 above
 Dale C. Copeland n 20 above
 Robert H. Jackson, Georg Sørensen, ‘Introduction to International Relations’ Oxford University Press, 2007 – Political Science
 Russett, Bruce & John R. Oneal., (2001) n 4 above
 Alec Stone Sweet and Thomas Brunell. “Constructing a Supranational Constitution: Dispute Resolution and Governance in the European Community” American Political Science Review 92 (1998): 63-81.
 The Cyprus conflict at http://www.cyprus-conflict.net/narrative-main-%203.html
 Michael N. Barnett and Martha Finnemore, The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations (1999).
 Weinstein, Jeremy M., January 2002. Mozambique: A Fading U.N. Success Story. Journal of Democracy, 13 (1), 141-156
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