World Order [15 marks]


Disagreements about unipolarity

Intro - Unipolarity (otherwise known as hegemony) is defined as a lack of contraints/potential rivalry to the one pre-eminent power. Post-cold war saw the US rise as the global hegemon after the collape of the Soviet Union.

1st - Realists argue that hegemony is a natural consequence of states seeking power and security in an anarchic system. They believe the only way to protect that state from threats is to become the hegemon, whom thus becomes the "world police officer", and can maintain the ground rules for economic stability and prevent war. This way, the hegemon can be seen as a "benign hegemon". This is illustrated best by the US and its dominance in IGOs.

2nd - Liberalists argue that the emergence of a predatory hegemon would lead to the "security dilemma". All states seek to maximise their power and security in an anarchic world order, which creates an environment of suspicion, resentment and fear among states. All states biuld-up a defensive military power which leads to an arms race. This increases the likelihood of war between states. This was illustrated best by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Significance of hard power

Intro - Hard power is the ability of one state to influence another through the use of compulsion or inducement in the form of threats or rewards. The standard tools of hard power are military ‘sticks’ or economic ‘carrots’, although military hard power has declined

1st - Hard power may be less significant as a consequence of the rise of an alternative soft power. Soft power = attraction and negotiation more compelling than coercion. Interdependence/interconnectedness ensures hard power is considered more damaging than soft. The spread of democracy promotes soft rather than hard power with democracy operating as a stabilising force which makes hard power less acceptable to citizens.

2nd -  Hard power may have damaged the credibility and standing of the states who employ it. Bush used hard power in Iraq and ‘war on terror’ = hard power failure with a loss of hearts and minds. Reflected in the shift in policy under Obama. Despite this, hard power still used e.g.  Russian intervention in Ukraine, which suggests that hard power is still considered to be a viable option. 

3rd - Joseph Nye proposed "smart power". Both hard power and soft power are important. E.g., the fight against ISIS is fought best by combating exremists (hard) and changing the hearts and minds of potential ISIS inductees (soft)

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Bipolarity and implications on peace/order

Intro - Bipolarity is defined as a balance of power between two states, e.g. USA and Soviet Union during Cold War. It is argued that this has implications for peace and order

1st - Realists argue that bipolarity is a natural tendency toward world order. For example, Both the US and Soviet Union matched in terms of power, and, although not allied, lived in "peaceful coexistence". Thus, by establishing a balance of power, states are less likely to seek hegemony, and an equilibrium is achieved. 

2nd - Liberalists, however, argue that bipolarity has implications for peace and world order. States may vie with each other in anticipation of one becoming more dominant than the other. This may lead to a building atmosphere of tension and suspicion, whereby both states will seek to maximise their power which could lead to an arms race, exemplified by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Therefore, conflict is likely. 

3rd - Realists, however, argue that bipolarity brought a degree of peace and stability between 1945 and 1990. Due to M.A.D, states would not try to overthrow each other as nucelar war would cause the annihiliation of both sides, which is counterintuitive. However, the relationship between the US and Soviet Union was based on a ‘balance of terror’ - the likelihood of conflict is reduced as miscalculation is less likely between 2 actors

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Intro - Multipolarity is defined as an international system in which there are 3 or more power centres which may include military, economic or structural power. 

1st - Military power. There are a number of significant actors e.g. US, Russia, China and even nuclear powers such as UK and France. Although US military strength remains unrivalled, the existence of nuclear weaponry in states like UK/France and the pariah state North Korea suggests the power is thinning out between states, each with the ability to utlisie their weaponry to a devestating effect. Although, this remains stable due to M.A.D.
2nd - Economic power. Growth of the BRICS states, regional bodies such as the EU and the strength of the US economy. US economy is being tailed by China, whom are suspected to pass US by 2020. Furthmore, size of EU economy (GDP averaging $17.1 tril, $3 tril below US) suggests multipolarity in terms of economic power
3rd - Structural power. Institutions such as the UN Security Council, G8/G20, IMF, etc. P5 = US, UK, Russia, China, France. All with veto, so US dominance isn't as prominent. Existence of G20 allows banks from across the world to meet and deliberate so voice is heard. EU allows smaller states e.g. Malta to be heard

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Great powers vs. superpowers

Intro - In the current international system, both great powers and superpowers coexist. An example of a great power could be the British Empire in the 20th century, and a superpower could be the US after WWII.

1st - A great power is a state deemed to rank amongst the most powerful in a hierarchical state-system. Neo-realist Kenneth Waltz distinguished great powers by their economic strength, their economic power, their global, and not merely regional, spheres of interest, and their ‘forward’ foreign policies. Great powers were oringally used to describe the combarants of the Napoleanic wars; Austria, Francem UK, Prussia and Russia. 

2nd - The term superpower was coined in the aftermath of WWII to indicate a power that is greater than a traditional great power. The term tends to be used specifically to refer to the USA and the Soviet Union during the Cold War period, and to the USA alone in the post-Cold War period. A superpower possesses great power ‘plus great mobility of power’. Superpowers typically possess a global reach, a predominant economic and strategic role within their respective ideological bloc or sphere of influence, and preponderant military capacity, especially in terms of nuclear weaponry. The US, for example, domineers global GDP with $20.20 trillion (2018)

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Hard power vs. soft power

Intro - Both hard power and soft power are utilised by states usually to coerce or attract other states into doing what the more powerful state wishes. However, there are stark differences between the two:

1st - Hard power is the ability of one actor to influence another through the use of threats or rewards, typically involving military "sticks" or economic "carrots". This is power as compulsion or as inducement. It often draws on resources such as force, sanctions, payments and bribes. An example is UN sanctions on North Korea for failure to adhere to their view of non-poliferation of nuclear weapons. As a result, the UN have curtailed the imports of coal, fuel and metals.

2nd - Soft power is power as attraction or identification, rather than coercion. It is is the ability to influence other actors by persuading them to follow or agree to norms and aspirations that produce the desired behaviour. It operates largely through culture, political ideals and foreign policies. This is perpetuated by globalisation. For example, South Korea have a significant reach over surrounding Asian states (Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc) due to "K-pop", which has marked the rise of the "Korean wave"; the rising popularity of Korean culture around the world, and has made Korea a leading exporter of music and films to Asian countries, e.g. the Korean film "Sonata"

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Intro - Hegemony = dominance and leadership within the international system. Usually defined by a significant economic power, alongside military, structural and cultural power and influence. There can be regional or global hegemons (e.g. the US post-Cold War)

1st - Realists/neoliberals have argued that a hegemon is necessary to create stability and order within a liberal market economy, thereby bringing benefit to all the states within such an economy. It does this by enforcing the rules of the economic game, the USA could be said to do this through the role of the dollar as an international currency and by its influence over the institutions of global economic governance. This is called hegemonic ability theory.

2nd - By contrast, liberalists suggest hegemony can stimulate resentment and hostility, particularly amongst second-level powers, who may have an incentive to unite to undermine the hegemonic power. In this case, hegemony may lead to conflict and disorder, possibly through shifting patterns of alliances. Hegemonic powers remain dominant in part through their ability to prevent anti-hegemonic alliances being formed amongst second-level powers, as they become the "world police officer". 

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Significance of soft power

Intro - Soft power is the ability to influence other actors by persuading them to follow or agree to norms and aspirations that produce the desired behaviour. It contrasts with ‘hard’ power, in which power is exercised through threats or rewards, typically involving the use of military ‘sticks’ or economic ‘carrots’. Soft power operates through intangible factors i.e. culture, morality, institutions

1st - Soft power has become more important. Due to growth of global interdependence and freer flows of communication and information. Interdependence encourages states to achieve goals by working together, ‘soft’ power facilitates co-operation. ‘Soft’ power is most often associated with the rise of globalisation and  ‘complex interdependence’.

2nd - The limits of ‘hard’ power are evident in the ’war on terror’, in which an emphasis on military force and unilateralism weakened the USA’s ‘soft’ power in terms of its ability to build a wider coalition of support within and beyond the Muslim world. Thus, soft power needed to win hearts and minds

3rd - Joseph Nye proposed "smart power". Both hard power and soft power are important. E.g., the fight against ISIS is fought best by combating exremists (hard) and changing the hearts and minds of potential ISIS inductees (soft)

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