The world has witnessed tremendous growth of various organizations in recent years. These organizations have been vital in championing interests of members in various jurisdictions they are found. We have two types of these organizations; international and regional. There is no big difference between them.
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In fact, a regional organization is an international organization because it draws global membership and has an element of geopolitical feature that in operation it surpass a single state. Membership in a regional organization is determined by a demarcation or a boundary. In most cases, a regional organization is formed to promote political, cooperation and economic integration among member states within specific geopolitical boundary.
On the other hand, an international organization posses elements of global membership and has a wider scope and presence. An international organization is further classified into two categories, that is, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations.
In this paper, the writer discusses the international and regional organizations by illustrating their similarities and differences. Further, the writer gives an overview of the post-Cold War and how it contributed to the world economy. And finally, the writer gives a case study of the US as a country practicing open economy and free trade and describes the US international political economy over the years.
International and Regional Organizations
Buzan and Little (2000) define an international organization as an institution drawing membership from at least three countries, having activities in many countries and whose members are bound together by an official agreement. International organizations are further divided into two groups; nongovernmental, for example Amnesty International, and intergovemental, for instance, the European Union.
Moreover, Buzan and Little (2000) explain that the proliferation of international organizations has increased due to the fact that countries are calling for a stronger sense of interdependence and cooperation in solving global challenges.
Closely related to international organizations is regional organizations. Regional organizations are independent bodies whose memberships are drawn from states sharing the same values and missions (Oman, 1994). Similarly, they have some aspects of global membership and their operations involves some elements of geopolitical aspects that span beyond a single nation state (Fawcett, 2004).
Some of these regional bodies include; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), East African Community (EAC), Association of South Asian Nations Free Trade Area (AFTA) and North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among others (Gaddis, 1990).
Similarities and differences of International and Regional Organizations
International and regional organization have some common similarities. They are both established to further a common goal. For example, if the goal of formation is to enhance the rule of law, both organizations work towards realizing this goal by developing standards and strengthening the rule of law among member states at both regional and global levels.
Also, both organizations are in the lead in promoting development. For instance, they assist member states to access grants which enables them to enhance development in their individual states (Gill, 1988). They encourage multilateral and bilateral trade by eliminating trade barriers and coming up with fair rules that minimize monopoly in international and regional trade.
Membership in both organizations is voluntary. The organizations do not compel states to be signatories; individual states have an option of being a member or not. For instance, some states have voluntarily refused to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). Besides, member states can decide to withdraw their membership to the organization at will if proper withdrawal procedures are followed.
Talbott (2009) explains that international and regional organizations aim at promoting peace. For instance, international organizations have been promoting peace throughout the world by disrupting terrorism networks and deploying peacekeeping troops in war torn countries.
For example, currently, international organizations are helping countries such as the Afghanistan to attain peace. Regional organizations have a similar goal. They are actively involved in promoting peace within their borders and assisting neighboring countries ravaged by war (Talbott, 2009).
Both organizations aim at promoting cooperation in various aspects such as politics, culture and social cohesion among others. Oman (1994) points out that because these organizations are established with a common goal, they cooperate so as to realize a common goal.
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Despite close similarities between the two organizations, their jurisdiction differs. For instance, international organizations are global based whereas regional organizations are based on geopolitical elements that span beyond a single nation state.
Post-Cold War and how it Contributed to Our Economy
The Cold War was a continuous state of military and political hegemony prevailing between the Eastern Bloc comprising of the Soviet Union and the Western Bloc led by the United States. The War began after the Second World War II. The Cold War received its name as these two opposing powers were threatening each other with destruction using nuclear weapons. Cold War was never fought with the military but opposing blocs were engaging each other in terms of psychological warfare and persistent conflicts using proxies.
In a nutshell, the post-Cold War was defined by three significant aspects. One was that the United States became the world superpower in terms of political, economic and military activities. Moreover, Gilpin (2001) notes that after the Cold war, China emerged as a rising superpower in in terms of establishing global industries based on low wages.
In Europe, there was re-emergence of new powers as a result of strong and integrated economic influence. Meanwhile, Japan took a histrionic turn and followed a different economic model whereas Russia, the only relic of the Soviet Union was weakened.
Economic problem in the Post-Cold War Era
Roberts (2006) points out that Cold War contributed to many countries switching to consumerism. For example, the US de-emphasized saving and drummed support for consumption. In fact, the US went to an extent of waving tax pinned on consumer credit interest payments. Roberts (2006) explains that although consumerism was pivotal in supporting the evolving export development strategies of the US and its allies, it led to disruption of the saving power of the economy and high consumption rate.
Consumerism compelled the US to seek support from international financial institutions to assist its allies in financial recovery and encourage import substitution to fix development policies. Similarly, exportation systems in the US continued to weaken in 1990s. This aspect decreased the US marginal returns compared to export led growth it had achieved earlier.
United States: Open Market and International Trade
Open and vibrant markets for global investment and trade are important for a nation to prosper, creating new economic growth and fixing job opportunities for citizens (Roberts, 2006). The US has embraced open market for many years. It has taken an active role in international trade as evidenced in the number of regional and bilateral trade agreements it is a signatory to.
Besides, it has a sturdy system of multilateral agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO has assisted the US eliminate investment and trade barriers and prevent discrimination accorded to foreign services, investment and goods. Moreover, under the stewardship of the US various rules and regulations to encourage fair play have been devised.
International Political Economy of the United States
The US has gone through milestones in its economic growth over the years. According to Baughman and Francois (2010) at the end of the Second World War I, the US was a leading economic powerhouse in the world. However, Watson (2005) notes that the failure of the US to take over the leadership role Britain had failed to deliver contributed to the weakening of its economy.
This was demonstrated in increase in tax imposed on imports to the US to about 40%. Furthermore, at the onset of depression, things were very difficult for the US. It closed its markets to foreign trade compelling the global economy into its worst state ever. Further, failure by the US to coordinate its currency and monetary policies with other nations aggravated the condition (Baughman & Francois, 2010). This aspect of isolationism had negative impact for the US and its allies.
The US policy makers seemed to have learned lessons from the dangers of isolationism after the WWII. The US took an active role in the world leadership and moved with speed in creating an open trade system rooted in a stable monetary system. Besides, it established the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
In fact, Baughman and Francois (2010) explains that the establishment of the Marshall Plan symbolized the recognition of US special responsibilities and role in enhancing peace and prosperity beyond its borders. The new leadership created a favorable environment for a vibrant economic growth in the US until 1970s.
Over the years now, the US is leading by expanding and opening new market frontiers and fixing rules in view of maintaining and sustaining international commerce. Recently, the US passed trade agreements with Panama, South Korea and Colombia. There are other ongoing negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific partnership. These initiatives by the US are promoting freer trade besides opening new markets for other nations across the world (Gilpin, 2001).
International and regional organizations are closely related. They are organizations formed with an aim of accomplishing a common goal, enhance economic development and promote cooperation between member states among others.
The post-cold war led to the rise of the US as a superpower thus playing a significant role in global matters such as military, economic and political activities. Similarly, it contributed to the rise of China as an emerging economic superpower. On the other hand, Japan adopted a different economic framework to redeem its glory and Soviet Union was weakened economically.
The major problem in the post-cold war was a shift to consumerism. Most nations led by the US did not place emphasis on saving but supported consumption. This aspect compelled nations such as the US to seek financial aid from international financial institutions to enable it further its activities.
Over the years, the US has endeavored to support free and open trade across the world. It has been steadfast in supporting world trading organizations such as the WTO and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Similarly, it has consistently supported regional blocs in the Americas and devised favorable regulations to promote trade among its partners.
Baughman, L., and Francois, J. (2010). Trade and American jobs: The impact of trade on U.S. and state-level employment: An update. Washington, DC: Business Roundtable.
Buzan, B., and Little, R. (2000). International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fawcett, L. (2004). ‘Exploring Regional Domains: A Comparative History of Regionalism’, International Affairs, 80 (3), 429-446.
Gaddis, J.L., (1990). Russia, the Soviet Union and the United States. An Interpretative History. New York: McGraw-Hill
Gill, S. (1988). Global Political Economy: perspectives, problems and policies. New York: Harvester.
Gilpin, R. (2001). Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
Oman, C. (1994). Globalisation and Regionalisation: The Challenge for Developing Countries. Paris, OECD.
Roberts, G. (2006). Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939–1953. Yale: Yale University Press
Talbott, S. (2009). The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation. New York: Simon & Schuster
Watson, M. (2005). Foundations of International Political Economy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan