On the whole, in the modern globalized world, it is quite difficult for a state, even for one of the most powerful ones, to completely preserve its autonomy from the rest of the world. This is because nowadays, most countries have strong connections with other countries, and most of these connections make them at least partially dependent upon their partners.
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For instance, it is stated that Germany, which is among the strongest economies in the world (O’Neil et al. 254-255), exports a major share of the energy that it utilizes from other countries; in particular, approximately ¼ of its energy needs are satisfied using natural gas, and a considerable part of that gas is purchased from Russia (O’Neil et al. 258), which makes Germany partially dependent on Russia, for the latter can use its ability to potentially “turn off the taps” as a means of control.
In addition, it has been stressed that due to the relatively high cost of labor in Germany, local investors rather often opted to invest in foreign industries, where it is possible to exploit cheaper labor and, consequently, gain higher profits (O’Neil et al. 255). This resulted in a situation when the German home industry is not as strong as it could be, but certain private parties from that country possess manufacturing facilities overseas. While this strengthens Germany’s position in the world, it also limits its autonomy due to the fact that the country’s economy depends on these facilities situated in foreign countries.
It is also possible to observe that at least in some cases, it might be more profitable for an economy to specialize on a certain type of industry, so that it produces high-quality goods that can easily compete in the international market, rather that evenly develop all the areas of industry, which might result in highly varied goods that, however, would be not of the highest quality. Nevertheless, it is the latter path which may ensure a greater autonomy (but probably also a greater isolation) of a country, because in this case, a country would be able to produce everything it needs. On the whole, however, pursuing the former path of development leads to an increased competitiveness in the international market, but also to a greater dependence upon other countries (for instance, due to the need to import the lacking goods).
As for imposing a country’s “will” on other countries, it should be stressed that doing so is also limited by the extent to which the country in question depends on other countries. For instance, Germany could attempt to impose its “will” on Russia, but Russia, in response, could limit the amount of the above-mentioned natural gas that it exports into Germany (O’Neil et al. 258). The same could be done if Germany tried to impose its “will” on some allies of Russia. Thus, any attempts to impose a state’s “will” on others will most likely be closely observed by other countries, which could also introduce their own sanctions and limitations, thus putting the imposing country into a losing position.
Finally, it should also be stressed that the international private sector transcends the borders of separate states, and its agents may also have a considerable impact on the international policies.
On the whole, the very notion of globalization, which includes the increased interdependency between countries, apparently contradicts the notion of complete autonomy of a state from other countries.
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- Autonomy – the ability to exert control and administration independently of external parties.
- Globalization – international integration resulting from the increased amount of economic and cultural connections between countries and economies (Sassen 1-4).
- International market – the market of goods and services which extends beyond the borders of a single country.
- Isolation – the condition of being separated from others; the term carries a negative connotation.
O’Neil, Patrick H., et al. Cases in Comparative Politics. 5th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2015.
Sassen, Saskia. Losing Control? Sovereignty in the Age of Globalization. Columbia University Press, 2015.