As we all know , complex interdependence is a concept developed by Robert keohane and Joseph Nye in order to demonstrate that states are completely tied together in various aspects of their national resources , whether they be economic , military , agricultural , o political amongst others. The main characteristics of Complex Interdependence are three , in first place multiple channels , because these facilitate actions between communities either they be interstate or transnational. In second place low salience , this shows the use of force as a non viable tool in international relations and offers diplomacy and policies as substitute routes , and finally in third place we have issue areas and regimes , which show us a wide agenda of topics that link states together in order to reach their objectives , in other words the line between domestic and foreign policy becomes blurred in this case, as realistically there is no clear agenda in interstate relations.. If we analyze these three points we can see this as an attempt to synthesize elements of realism with liberalism.
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For millennia, a large and well-equipped army was all that was required to make one’s voice heard and power felt on the international scene. As technologies evolved , the possession of a powerful economy and the threat of retaliation have proved as effective , if not more effective than the exposure of weapons and the threat of war. With the growing complexity of interdependence, fewer and fewer goals are achieved by relying exclusively on military threats but also on raw economic incentives. The utility of hard power methods has in general shrunk , as it is less likely than in the past to produce the desired outcomes.
The current definition of International Relations is the study of human interactions through national borders and the factors that affect those interactions. But if we look back at the origins of International Relations as a field of study in the early 20th century we can see that it was mainly centered on Great Britain’s affairs. After the first world war International Relations appeared as a field of study in order to understand the war , its main causes and consequences. In the early 1920’s universities across Great Britain and the United States founded faculties and departments devoted on this new and vital subject that was International Relations , because experts saw the dawn of a globalization and the future ties of the states with each other , this was conceived as liberal internationalism. The first academic institution dedicated to the study of international relations was Aberystwyth University founded in 1919 in Wales.
The concept of complex interdependence was created in 1977 , after the world had seen two world wars and a number of conflict situations between nations , the devastating consequences that these acts of violence left on mankind where proof of the intrinsic connections one state has with another , even if they are from different religious or political backgrounds , or if they are located on the other side of the globe. The truth is that we are all linked with each other one way or another, and that is what complex interdependence made emphasis on. This opened up a whole new world in the study of international relations , showing how dominant nations such as United States , Great Britain , and Russia where involved in interdependent relations with under developed nations.
The growing rate of transnational flows and the increase in channels of communication are creating an uprising in interdependence between states and nations , these relations influence them in many ways not only referring to material needs or objects but also in political and ideological concepts. Today’s complex interdependence has become a multifaceted interdependence , one that includes a diversity of issues from cultural problems to environmental concerns , far from what it used to be , solely dependant on economic objectives and the support of military strength. This in terms of international relations shows us that the evolution of international relations has gone from military and economic dominance to an environment of general concern referring to as much aspects of one notion as possible ; “everything, from the strength of our economy to the safety of our cities, to the health of our people, depends on events not only within our borders, but half a world away. [â€¦] We must see the opportunities and the dangers of the interdependent world in which we are clearly fated to live” – President of the United States Bill Clinton during a press conference in 1999 -.
Environmental issues are becoming very important in transnational relations today , further more than any other issue contemplated by complex interdependence. For example the biological problems we have nowadays with bacteria’s , viruses , and other living organisms that can have disastrous consequences to the nation that receives them. Like the A1H1 virus , that spawned in Mexico and shortly after it spread throughout the globe causing thousands of deaths and creating a tense situation for Mexico’s leaders , because they were held responsible for allowing the exit of such virus to rest of the world. In the twenty-first century, British foot and mouth disease or the SARS disease originating in Hong Kong cause fear the world over , precisely because of bacteriological interdependence and the speed at which the diseases propagate through out the planet with incredible ease.
Another aspect that is going through everybody’s minds as far as international relations goes is ecology and all topics related , ecological interdependence is only now taking on its current importance as a result of the major advances in technology , manufacturing , transportation and mass consumption during the course of the twentieth century. One result of these qualitative changes is that any alteration in a local environment can have both major ecological and political repercussions on a global scale , creating a conservationist mentality across the globe. For example, the deforestation of the Amazon jungle has had serious repercussion as far away as Italy and Japan as well as more locally in Brazil. As a result of phenomena such as this , environmental interdependence is having increasing political impact on national societies. Japan is sponsoring tree reforestations worldwide , providing governments with monetary incentives to plant trees and creating awareness within the population to help with these issues.
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The complex interdependence has created a major boost in international relation in the 21st century , by creating better and deeper relationships amongst nations , but certain academics have seen a growing problem in international relations in the new millennia ; “while the central problem of international relations in the 20th century was states that were too strong like Germany , Imperial Japan , and the Soviet Union , the primary problems of international relations in the 21st century are states that are too weak for example Afghanistan , Pakistan , Mexico , amongst others” – said Thomas Friedman , of the New York times. This is mainly because these states are going to need more detailed and consistent help from the global community , this is a positive aspect for these developing nations , but it could be seen as a negative for stronger states , because of the setbacks these relations can create in their domestic economies and issues.
Today’s international relations experts fully understand that globalization has taken over , and that the only way nations are going to improve their qualities of life , improve their domestic economies , and be seen as a strong and potential hot spot for external investments is to create deep rooted bonds with states worldwide. Nations used to have pretty much basic foreign policies , mostly limited to imports and exports , but thanks to the breakthroughs in international relations , most foreign policies have expanded exponentially in the matters of agriculture , fiscal aid , terrorism , the environment , health , and education. After the world trade center attacks on September 11 , 2001 , the world realized that terrorism is a major threat for everyone , because it can happen to anyone , anywhere , at anytime , therefore it became a top priority topic in international relations , leaded almost entirely by the United States and Great Britain , these new alliances wanted to create a worldwide network of nations fighting against terrorism , in order to avoid such regrettable acts such as the ones lived the citizens of New York City. Another topic created taken account in recent years is the war on narcotics processing and international distribution. One clear example is the agreement between drug enforcement agencies form the United States of America and Colombia , also known as “the plan Colombia” which basically consists in D.E.A cooperation with police training and financial aid.
Without complex interdependence international relations would never be as important and as relevant as it is today , because without it nations would still be focused on domestic issues , and wouldn’t be as concerned of other aspects of nations problems , because if it wasn’t for the current interdependence situation states would only be interested in military power and economic benefits they could obtain from other nations. The 21st century is only beginning and the problems that the world and its nations are going to face to face are only revealing their selves, this is going to mean more work for embassies , consulates , diplomats , and heads of state worldwide in order to join together in search for the greater good.
WHICH IS THE IMPACT OF COMPLEX INTERDEPENDENCE ON THE EVOLUTION OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AS A DISCIPLINE AND WHICH ARE THEIR THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY?
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ESSAY
JULIO URIBE RESTREPO
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