2 security is regarded as the primary issue area in

This preview shows page 10 - 11 out of 22 pages.

(2) Security is regarded as the primary issue-area in international politics/ 0 which fits poorly with the fundamental assump-tions of the discipline of international political economy On the contrary, it has been argued that security has much to do with the very economic question of who gets what, when, and how. (3) The state is portrayed as a unified and autonomous rational actor, an assumption that has been revealed as problematic. In this sense, the impor-tance of non-state actors is usually overlooked and the relationship between the state and non-state actors in state decision-making processes receives little attention (though need not be excluded from analysis) . While the traditional realist approach was a flexible heuristic device permitting much rich his-torical understanding of the competitive dynamics of the system of states, and for understanding the difficult foreign policy choices facing states on mat-ters of international security, a coherent theory it was not. This perception led to the steady emer-gence of what came to be called the neo-realist or structural realist approach, encapsulated in the works of Waltz, who was immensely if briefly influ-ential in the period of the 1980s and the American 'new Cold War' policy of the Reagan era. He emphasized the importance of the anarchic struc-ture of the international system as a determinant of behaviour and outcomes in international politics. The competitive pressures of a system character-ized by anarchy, with states as the basic units, would lead to a persistently conflictual interaction and behaviour based on the principle of self-preservation. The distribution of power among the units under conditions of anarchy essentially deter-Conceptualizing the Changing Global Order 1 1 mined what states could and would do in their quest for self-help and security These competitive dynamics tended towards self-sufficiency and a low degree of interdependence (a theoretical prediction at extraordinary variance with any available evi-dence drawn from any one of the last four cen-turies!) and to the long-term preservation of the system itself, if not necessarily each and every one of the states constituting it. Waltz was therefore engaged in an attempt to create a coherent account of systemic dynamics in international politics, and as such it made the dubi-ous assumption that the dynamics of the domestic level were contrary to and indeed of little relevance to the dynamics of international politics. Waltzs theory, logically consistent as it may have been, was embarrassingly short-lived in terms of its perceived ability to explain the ongoing dynamics of the very international politics it claimed to understand so well. When the bipolar power structures of the Cold War world collapsed for reasons almost entirely related to the dynamics of domestic developments inside the former Soviet Union (under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev) and the Berlin Wall separat-ing East from West came down following unsustain-able internal

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture