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International Political Scene: Globalization and Peace Relations Essay

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Updated: Jan 5th, 2022

Globalization has resulted in several changes on the international political scene. With this, the role of the State in international politics has assumed a different turn too. While the state was at the core of international affairs, globalization has allowed other nonstate players to assume similarly important roles. Considering these changes, some political analysts argue that war will become unthinkable given the reduced role of the State. This could be an assertion founded on the hypothesis that individual states’ interests are the major causes of war. Contrarily, this paper seeks to argue that despite the changes in role playing on the international political scene, war can still occur in the contemporary society. The only difference is the design and nature of the war to be fought.

Although the role of the State in contemporary international system has been moved to the peripheral, it is arguable that the state still has a major role to play in conflicts. Although some theorists argue that this would result to peace, it is important to understand who the actors assuming the axial role are given the reducing role of the State as an actor. Globalization has led to rise in power of other actors like NGO’s, Multinational Companies and terror groups, et cetera. Most of these groups play a central role in the determination of peace or conflict. As a result, their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the international system could determine whether it remains peaceful or not.

History shows that general wars have always marked the turning point of the international political scene. As a result of these wars, the international system has acquired new directions. As quoted by Levy (1985), Robert Gilpin states that the cultural, social, political and economic state of certain groups and individual entities of political and social rule are strongly affected by general wars. The outcomes of these wars determine the State that emerges as the powerhouse over the whole system. As a matter of fact, the values and ideas of the dominant state hence become the yard stick for predominant values and ideas on the international scene. These values and ideas can on the other hand have grave impacts on the ideological and social not mentioning economic structures of individual actors of international politics. The individual actors hence affect the whole international system.

Given the empowerment of other actors of international politics, war ceases to be an affair of conflicting States. The role of other actors as dictated by globalization comes in to form other forces to reckon. This leads to the justification of the hypothesis that war in the contemporary international politics will assume a new dimension. This is further strengthened by Huntington (1993) who argues, “…the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural” (p.22). What, however, is the basic concept of Huntington’s assertions? According to him, the state still plays an axial role in international politics. However, the root cause of most of the conflicts of the future would be based on clash of civilization between the State and other groups whose civilizations tend to incline towards the opposite side of the State’s.

The given perspective shows that international political affairs will not be characterized by total peace making war unthinkable. It is only the nature of the war that will change. It is therefore evident that the actors in the conflict will not be a State and a State, but a State and a group or individual society whose cultural conceptions and perceptions collide with the State’s.

As argued earlier, wars have marked changes in the status of the international system. Through them, the most powerful State has assumed control of the whole system hence determining the international values and ideology. On the other hand, these values and ideologies affect individual groups and organizations and hence the whole international system. This argumentative position is particularly very important in supporting the argument that war is evident even with reducing role of the State. From this argument, a State assumes control over the international system (Mousseau, 2002). This State’s ideologies and values become the definitions of the international system’s norm. As a result, any other entity that finds their conception of ideologies and values contrary to this predominant perspective starts developing a collision of ideologies. A conflict hence ensures. This conflict is, in most cases between the State that controls the international system and some groups or individuals who find the state of affairs unacceptable. This leads to war between the group of individuals and the dominant state. In clear terms, this leads to terrorism. Unlike decades ago when States would amass their military resources to attack another State as a result of colliding ideologies, the contemporary international affairs dictate that individual groups will fight to withhold their usual values and ideologies. However, the powerful State will want to have their ideologies and values as the best. Eventually, the foreign policies of the State will try to stifle the individual groups. In their quest for survival, they will resort to terror activities (Duffield, 1994).

Change in the nature of conflict and war is further reinforced by the fact that interstate wars are most likely unthinkable. This is characterized by the long period of peace since the Second World War to the moment. Two outstanding explanations remain valid for this state. First, it is the fear for a nuclear war which can never be won and second, the subconscious nature of the aspect of war in the mind of the actors (Kaysen, 1989). These two reasons have ensured that war will never easily be fought on an interstate level. The only remaining possibility of conflict is terrorism.

To ascertain the thesis of this paper that contemporary war can only be fought between a state and some individual groups, the issue of terrorism comes in mind. While nuclear deterrents and the nature of interstate war dwelling in the subconscious stop countries from engaging in wars, the difference in ideologies and values of the United States as the Super Power dictating the issues of the international system leads to development of conflicts. Cronin (1958) argues that the weaknesses of the Arab region could trigger great conflicts between the United States and certain individual groups within the Arab fraternity. These nonstate actors hence become perpetrators of terror activities as they fight against the dominant values and ideologies of the international system. Al-Qaeda, for instance, is a nonstate actor that is determined to revolt against the ideologies and values of the United States which is at the helm of the international system.

In conclusion, the waning role of the State in international affairs is not a guarantee for peace. Globalization is only a phenomenon that has brought changes on the actors. With the change in actors, there is inherent change in the nature of conflicts and wars. This has led to the rise of terrorism. This is the future of war and conflict. However, interstate wars might be a thing of the past. Threats of nuclear weapons lead countries to identify better ways of solving their conflicts other than engaging into a war that would have adverse effects. As a result, peace can be guaranteed for the international community if political, social and economic expectations of the nonstate actors are addressed.

Reference List

Cronin, A. K. (1958). Behind the curve globalization and international terrorism. International Security, 27(3), 30-58.

Duffield, J. S.(1994). Explaining the long peace in Europe: The contribution of regional security regimes. Review of International Studies, 20(4), 369-388.

Huntington, S. P. (1993). The clash of civilizations. Foreign Affairs, 72(3), 22-49.

Kaysen, C. (1990). Is war obsolete?: A review essay. International Security, 14(4), 42-64.

Levy, J. (1985). Theories of general war. World Politics, 37(3), 344-374.

Mousseau, M. (2002). Market civilization and its clash with terror. International Security, 27(3), 5-29.

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