The English School of International Relations: Theory Review

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Topic: Politics & Government
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The English school of international relations contributed enormously to the development of the existing theories. The theory observes that a society of states exist at the global arena, even though the system is anarchic. The school tends to suggest that the international system lacks an official government that can oversee the affairs of various actors at the global level. It underscores the fact that states cooperate at times whenever it is felt that national interests are at stake. For instance, the US has been providing foreign aid to states that are perceived to be anti-reformers, such as Egypt and China.

In fact, Egypt is one of the states that receive large amount of cash to fund programs aimed at developing the economy, yet it has never been in good terms with the west. However, the theory posits that aid or any form of assistance is given to a state only if something is to be given back. Egypt is a strategically located state in the MENA region and it would be suicidal for the powerful states to halt their relations with the country’s leadership. Egypt does not recognize Israel as an independent state in the Middle East region, but instead it has always claimed that the west forced the region to live the problem that it did not create. The feeling of a majority of the states in the Middle East is that the state Israel should not have been formed, as it interferes with the sovereignty of Palestine. However, a few states in the region, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia receive any form of assistance from the United States and Britain mainly because these states control the global oil market (Dunne, Kukri & Smith 2010, p. 6).

The school supports the realist assumptions that any state would have an interest of preserving its political autonomy, as well as territorial integrity. Regarding the intervention of powerful states, the main objective is to maintain the global power, which is defined in terms of military power, political domination, diplomatic power, and cultural power. Based on this view, the theory believes that the international system is anarchic, brutal, and life is short-lived as an actor engage in a zero-sum game whereby loss on the side of one actor is the gain of the other (Mingst & Snyder 2011, p. 87). In the global system, there is no Leviathan, which is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the affairs of all actors, instead the vacuum left is filled by the powerful states. In this regard, the international system exists based on the Hobbestian state of nature where life is short-lived and highly calculative. Peace in the international system is maintained by balance of power.

Whenever states intervene to salvage life in conflict-affected countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, they simply do so to show off their might and prove to other nations that they are capable of waging a powerful assault that cannot be matched with any other. In 2003, the United States made a decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq even after the United Nations Security Council had turned down the proposal. Similarly, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries in Europe have consistently been sending aid and technical assistance to the African continent whenever any country from the region is under siege.

Many believe that the move by the powerful states to extend a helping hand is out of good will, but the reality is that such moves only serve to fulfill their national interests (Falk, 2005, p. 43). France made it its responsibility to oust all despotic and tyrannical leaders in West and North Africa, including Ivory Coast and Libya respectively. The populace was convinced to believe that such international action was not meant to interfere with state sovereignty, but instead it was one of the ways of liberating citizens from brutally. The truth of the matter is that despots and tyrants were removed from power because they were uncooperative and they had started negotiating with the east, such as Russia and China, with a possibility of forming trade partnerships.

They had to be eliminated from office because they were interfering with the interests of the powerful states, which is mainly oil in Libya and natural resources in Ivory Coast. If it is true that powerful states intervene to protect life and property, then why have they never bothered to engage Somali leaders in talks? Somalia is of no interest to the powerful states because it does not have any resources hence military intervention would be a waste of public resources, yet national interests would not be achieved.

Walzer observes that the United Nations is competent in maintaining peace and security. Whenever a rogue state faces natural challenges, such as earthquakes, major accidents, and economic recession, the powerful states will always intervene because it is believed that the world is made up of a single society that has to cooperate in tackling the challenges (Walzer 2004, p. 112). When Russia faces economic problems, the US will definitely come in to help, irrespective of the ideological differences that have existed between the two countries since the Second World War. The entire world moved in to help in Japan during the nuclear accident, even though the US had strained relations with Japan over trade and political issues.

List of References

Dunne, T, Kukri, M & Smith, S 2010, International Relations theories: Discipline and Diversity, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Falk, R 2005, “Humanitarian Intervention: Elite and Critical Perspectives”, Global Dialogue, Vol. 7, no. 1, pp 1-7.

Mingst, K & Snyder, J 2011, Essential Readings in world Politics, Norton, London.

Walzer, M 2004, “The Argument about Humanitarian Intervention.” Forum for Intercultural Philosophy, Vol. 5, no. 3, pp 1-8.