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Idealism versus Realism in International Politics


The idealists believe in selfless human character, the likelihood of improving culture, the uncertainty of war, and the need for multi-lateral global efforts to eradicate war and prejudice universally. Realists deem that ethics and virtues are a barrier to the quest for state power and that the efficiency of policies should be moderated based on serving state interests, rather than devotion to the aforesaid principles.

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Realism was relevant in the middle period of the 20th century, before the Second World War (WWII), and at the last part of the Cold War when global relations were characterized by imperialistic aspirations, power struggles, and arms contests. Following the conclusion of the Cold War, when the dispute was no longer a prevailing feature of global relations, several realist theories turned out to be immaterial. Consequently, the realist model lost its capability to envisage future dealings between countries. Hence Roskin & Berry (2010) alludes to the propensity toward idealism in global politics before the end of WWII in 1945, but the propensity toward realism after that year.

Two Countries that are Currently at War

North and South Korea are examples of two countries that are currently at war. The two countries have conflicted for a long period. In November 2010, the North and South Korea exchanged weaponry fire after about175 bullets fired from the North hit a South Korean isle close to the countries’ conflicted maritime boundary.

Recently, the two countries came up with joint ventures aimed at settling differences between them. Some of these ventures include North Korean tourism, the institution of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), and family gatherings between residents of the two states. These ventures, as it appears, are at lucid odds with realism. This is because North Korea and South Korea have stuck to rival economic and political principles in addition to having a record of violent conflict. The most striking feature about the recent ventures amid these two nations is that they are officially at war with each other.

America’s Vital Interests

The United States thought that it was pursuing its national interests, in the 19th century, by way of cash and might in eliminating non-hemispheric authorities (Roskin & Berry, 2010). For all this time, the United States regarded its actions as national interests. A decade later, national interest in the United States acquired a backbench in moral and normative approaches to global relations.

America in Vietnam

The way the United States undertook the Vietnam War was deemed unethical and unjust by most people. For a war to be considered just, it must: be for a just reason, be legally affirmed by a legitimate authority, have a good objective, be conducted after all other methods of resolving the trouble have been attempted, have a logical chance of victory, and employ an approach that is likely to attain the required end. In addition, correct force should be employed so as not to hurt non-combatants and blameless people.

Should the United States Lead the World?

The United States should lead the world. This can be attributed to several reasons. First, the United States has leaders who are always ready to make solid verdicts, even when they are likely to annoy everybody. Second, the United States is always eager to admit when they make faults. For instance, the US admitted to making errors by conducting unjust wars and came up with measures to stop them. Third, the United States government has safeguards that create room for change, unlike most other governments.

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The Collapse of the Soviet Union

Roskin & Berry (2010) discuss three theories on the causes of the fall down of the Soviet Union. These theories include defective system, imperial overstretch, and bungled reform. The defective system theory claims that USSR’s deprived political and economic system, from fundamental planning to Communist Party cartel, couldn’t maintain a multifaceted economy nor offer sufficient incentives for citizens to buy in the regime, resulting in mass disgruntlement. This theory mostly relates to Soviet Union’s external foreign policy since market failure came as a result of poor policies like the war in Afghanistan and the blast of the Chernobyl atomic power plant. Although the defective system theory appears it was the major cause of the USSR’s demise, all the three causes were equally responsible. This is because the economic factors that led to the demise were associated with both political and psychological factors.

Legacies of Colonialism

Colonialism had both benefits and harms. First, slaves were mistreated and made to provide hard labor in foreign countries like America. However, blacks who worked as slaves in America and other foreign countries emerged very successfully after slavery ended. Right now, you can not compare the average earnings of a black American and a black in Africa.

Second, North and South America were flippantly inhabited by Stone Age natives, who were very cruel and violent. Europeans arrived and coupled in on the fixture, much to the mortification of the natives. Ailment and warfare abridged many of these natives to shells of their earlier selves. Hitherto if we examine the benefits they are seen. The verity that they had not advanced further than the Stone Age and now exist with the complete benefits of modern civilization is a quantum bound ahead for them. The Americans did not have horses up to the time the Europeans fetched them on their ships. Despite the benefits, colonialism committed the greatest crime since it led to the devastation of more than twenty million lives.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

There are many reasons for hope in the future of the conflict between Israeli and Palestine. One of these reasons is that the two nations have established a collaborative health care system, with personnel from the two nations, meant to provide health care to citizens in the two nations. Thus the two countries are ready to accommodate each other.

In prospect, negotiations between the two countries will be very effective in resolving the conflict. Thus there is a need to revive the idled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as planned by the EU and the Middle East Quartet foreign ministers.

Egypt in Turmoil

The turmoil experienced in Egypt in the early months of the year as a result of increased oil and food prices due to poor rule. The activists joined in command for Mubarak and his rule to resign though they were not sure of how they would substitute him. Some activists praised the moderation of the military for not hushing up the protests. Others predicted civilian power of the military and liberated elections, a thing that was not too pleasing to generals.

A former U.N. representative, Mohammed ElBaradei, dissatisfied with the U.S. efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear plan, attempted to form a union with an Islamic group called the Muslim Brotherhood, which desires to revolve Egypt into a theocracy.

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The United States and Central America

The United States has frequently mediated in the associations of many Latin American states in the past based upon the Roosevelt Corollary and the Monroe Doctrine (Roskin & Berry, 2010). The

Monroe Doctrine affirms that extra efforts by European countries to inhabit land or obstruct American states will be regarded as acts of violence that call for U.S. intervention. The Roosevelt Corollary, which was later added to the Monroe Doctrine, asserts that the United States is legally entitled to mediate in Latin America in times of deliberate offenses by Latin American countries.

The Monroe Doctrine was developed at a time when several Latin American nations were on the edge of becoming sovereign from Spanish dominance. The United States, mirroring issues raised by Great Britain, eventually hoped to evade having any European authority capture Spain’s protectorates. The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine was called upon to mediate militarily to end the increase of European control in Latin America.

The Monroe Doctrine was employed in Latin America by the creators of U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War. When the Cuban Revolution instituted a socialist regime with binds to the Soviet Union, after attempting to found productive associations with the U.S., it was disputed that the fortitude of the Monroe Doctrine must be again invoked, to prevent more extension of Soviet-supported Communism in Latin America. Throughout the Cold War, the United States offered intelligence and martial aid to Latin and South American regimes that claimed or seemed to be endangered by Communist rebellion.

United States Intervention in the Dominican Republic

To guard his Panamanian ventures, US President Teddy Roosevelt declared his corollary to the prior Monroe Doctrine, affirming that the U.S. could take action unilaterally to defend against European involvement in the Caribbean. He acquired the rights to manage Dominican society its chief source of revenue. Later, the U.S. attacked and instituted military control in the region.

From my standpoint, the Corollary merely asserted the U.S. control in that region, basically making them appear like hemispheric detectives. Thus, the U.S. was not justified in its actions. However, in practice, the Monroe Doctrine worked as an assertion of domination and a right of independent involvement over the American field of influence.

Turning to a Market Economy

Liberalization of domestic and foreign trade and establishment of free trade is the market economy policy that the Dominican Republic seems to be following (Roskin & Berry, 2010). This is because the country is restructuring its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policies to attract foreign investors.

There is a likelihood of achieving a prosperous market economy for the Dominican Republic because the liberalization of trade will increase the rates of FDI. Privatization of state-run enterprises is the least effective market economy policy that can be employed in the Dominican Republic. This is major because the infrastructure, skill-plan, and regulatory structure of labor supply in the country are insufficient.

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Current Events – the Rich and the Poor

Southern Sudan is a country in the Global South that has recently been in news. Southern Sudan is at a low-level stage of economic development due to its long-term warring with the North. The country is trying to establish a market economy. The public policy objective of the new Government of South Sudan (GOSS) is that civic expenses and fiscal policy should decrease poverty and the consequences of poverty. In the next five years, the country’s economy will have heightened since security will allow farmers and pastoralists to swiftly attain incomes and the citizen’s standards of living will improve as a result of chances for trade-in simple consumer commodities such as stoves and lanterns.

National Security Theories

Deterrence and détente diplomacy are among the four strategies that are used to preserve security (Roskin &Berry, 2010). The strategy of deterrence is normally founded on the assumption of common rationality and the capability of opponents to make cost-benefit computations. Conversely, détente diplomacy assumes that the concerned parties should have more mutual interests than conflicts and deem that a negotiated resolution will fetch more benefits than other options such as continued impasse or increase of hostilities. For instance, North and South Korea considered détente more alluring with their June 2000 summit.

Give an example of each of the two strategies in current world politics and speculate on their effectiveness.

Current Events – Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Energy

Supporters of nuclear energy use regard it as a type of clean energy as it releases almost none of the detrimental CO2 emissions linked with fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the building of nuclear power plants produces vast amounts of CO2, as building tools rely on energy from fossil fuels. In North Korea, nuclear energy was used peacefully for some time before the country allied with Iraq in producing nuclear weapons under the pretext of peaceful nuclear energy use.

The use of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons both pose threats. However, the effects of nuclear energy use are long-lasting, since the creation of nuclear power plants leads to the vast production of greenhouse gases.

From my standpoint, is impossible for nuclear disarmament to occur worldwide since nations are still in conflicts and continue to compete for technological supremacy.

Coping with Terrorism

The United States is making progress in reducing and preventing terrorism. Recently, it has been working tirelessly to form alliances and empower existing allies to counter-terrorism. However, there is a need for a comprehensive approach that engages the international community since no sole state can deal with the threat of terrorism.

Current Events – Terrorist Acts

On 22 July 2011, Norway experienced two chronological terrorist attacks in opposition to the rule, the civilian residents and a summer camp in Norway. The perpetrator agreed that he was accountable for both the bomb and the shooting, but denied fault, as he claimed that his deeds were appalling but essential. Following these happenings, the country modified its immigration policy.


Roskin, M.G. & Berry, N.O. (2010). IR: the new world of international relations. 9th ed. Ontario: Pearson Education Canada.

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