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Global politics have impacts on almost everyone in various significant ways. In order to understand the concepts of global politics, different intellectual views have been brought to light. Most of these theories are based on traditional and cultural concepts all of which represent issues such as social justice, level of security and freedom among others.
Approaches to international politics also entail concerns about fundamental reasoning. A lot of concern has been on the intellectual approaches to global politics which are likely to grow outside the traditional and cultural context of political views. The focus on international relations theories has been driven by the many questions having been raised on how the behavior of a state can be examined as well as the role of the state.
This is the reason behind policymakers’ and other practitioners’ concern on international relations studies. This is because there is a close link between abstract theories and real world policy (Walt 1). Since there is no single theory on international relations that can fully explain the complex content of world politics, this paper will examine the competing arrays of theories in order to draw a close understanding of international affairs.
Realism maintains that states are the key players of international relations. The realism theory defines a state as that which is free from external control and thus the state has a significant role of driving power and security and most importantly, pursuing the entire interests of the nation.
As far as realism theory is concerned, states should perform in a self involved approach rather than focusing on external concerns. The main theme in realism is the significant characteristic of the state which is a defined territory and a government which has sovereign authority over its people.
Domestic liberalism, on the other hand, denotes the behavior of states rather than the positive behavior. In this case domestic liberalism is characterized by state’s behavior rather than the expected behavior. Unlike realism where states operate as single actors, domestic liberalism denotes individual and group operations from both domestic and transnational perspective. The decision making theory of international relations falls largely on foreign policy part of international relations.
The main focus of the decision making theory is on the foreign policy makers themselves rather than the structural process itself. This is because the decision making process itself is determined by other variables and theories such as use of power and internalization of state interests (Walt 1).
Domestic-interest group theory challenge on realism
Realism has been the dominant epitome in the study of international relations and political science over the years. For instance, there has been growing conflict between the theories of deterrence and that of state-centric realism.
Despite the fact that the two theories attempt to analyze the circumstances under which international war and crises are likely to occur, they both differ in the way each one of them views as most important in determining the role of state as well as state behavior. The domestic-interest group presented by Snyder has raised much concern which challenges the realism theory of international relation (Mercer 1).
To begin with, the realism theory lacks adequate explanatory as far as conflicts within some of the great powers are concerned. On the other hand, deterrence theory which is a prominent competitor of the realism theory, gives a greater insight on the same. According to the theory of realism, wars and conflicts are caused by state leaders as they are the prime decision makers. As a result, the structure system provides the leaders with information which gives them an insight of possible conflicts.
This may often lead to over confidence in some leaders while others may be less confident about conflict outcomes. This is likely to result to uncertainties resulting from the link between the decision makers and the structure of the system. On the other hand, state leaders may be willing to engage in a conflict behaviors since they are the decision makers.
The domestic-interest group as presented by Snyder assumes that there are no leaders that can give a concrete explanation of conflicts amongst other states. This therefore means that decisions by state leaders made in regard to escalation of conflicts in other states are made on mere assumptions and uncertainties and may therefore be ineffective or cause more conflicts in such states.
In this case, when the leaders do make such decisions, their tendency to take or not take risks is actually what determines their behavior which may not have the interests of the citizens at hand.
This therefore means that any impacts of the system structure will be dealt with in accordance with the decision makers’ who are, in this case, the state leaders’ ability to take risks (Mercer 1). Since the realism theory presents a system structure which may have a great number of actors, it gets more difficult to make predictions on conflicts because the leaders and decision makers have to identify individual behaviors of the many actors and in a correct manner.
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For instance, the incentives presented may be opposing and cause complication of the decision making process as the leaders cannot determine which actors will support them on their incentives. This also leads to reduced confidence by leaders in making decision on international conflicts.
Similarly, the system structure presented in realism theory focuses on distribution of capabilities amongst great powers. For instance, as the distribution of military gets more and more even, the predictions of armed conflicts by decision makers become more difficult as sensitivity to outcome errors increase due to the number of actors involved.
The other conception of system structure presented in realism theory is the extension of allies across boundaries. This is challenged by the domestic-interest group in that the increased alliance coalitions of any state, reduces support reliability from members of the coalition as security interests are diverse within the coalition members (Mercer 1).
Cognitive psychology theory challenge on realism
Cognitive psychology theories as presented by Jervis and McDermott have as well challenged the realists’ state centric theory of international relations. This theory has only been influential amongst theorists of international relations especially those studying international security. Little attention has been given to this theory in American politics.
Even political economists have paid little attention to the realism theory. According to McDermott, the cause for little attention on the realism theory has been its focus on security at the expense of other aspects of political science and this is where the cognitive psychology theories come in (Mercer 1).
In order to describe the little interest on realism theory among political scientists, McDermott presented the most problematic aspects of the theory in a generalized perspective. The first problem with the realism theory is that there is no distinct perception of a state’s actors’ field of function in case of losses or gains.
Instead, it is the actor’s field of function that determines the rest of the theories aspects. The second problem as presented by McDermott is that of risk assessment where it may be easy to assess risks acceptance or distaste but working on the risks at the field gets much harder. Since the strongest aspect of realism theory is the determination of people not to lose rather than to win, the problem of assessing risks causes a bias to the people’s attitude towards such political risks.
Psychologists use variables that enable them to measure interests in regard to realism theory. Assessing the actor’s domain entails the studying of the goals and motivation of the decision maker (Mercer 1). For instance, deterioration of a political position makes the leaders feel like they are domain losers.
McDermott gave a good example of President Carter during the crisis of Iranian hostage where certain setbacks in foreign policy made the decision makers opt for pre-crisis status. Political psychologists have demonstrated how cognitive ways of locating domains of gains or losses can lead to biased judgment. This is because of our inability to hold on to the customary models of decisions.
The causal mechanism
Causal mechanism is described as the means through which a certain outcome is brought into existence. The outcome is explained by giving a hypothesis about what caused the outcome to occur. For instance, an outcome of a reduction in consumer consumption results from increase in price.
In this case, the causal mechanism relating the cause and the effect involves careful observation of prices by the consumers. Causal mechanism constitutes two types of theories where one of the theories is the human theory which maintains that causation results from regularities on observable variables which are constituted by facts. Thus, causation does not occur due to authority, nature or requisite. The other theory is the causal realist which holds that power and mechanisms are fundamental constituents of causation.
According to this theory, scientific research is meant to justify hypothesis on the fundamentals of causation. A clear demonstration is that of a variable X causing Y to occur. In this case, X is a necessity or a condition for Y to occur which also means that if X had not occurred, then Y would not have occurred either. Therefore, the causal mechanism exists from the occurrence of X to the occurrence of Y.
The domestic liberalism theory seems to be more powerful than the others as it is based on the interests of individuals and groups rather than the interests of the state itself which are more concerned on international interests rather than those of the state. This is because the interest of an individual state should be the basis under which that particular state relates to international states and thus as long as the domestic liberalism theory is applied, the rest of the theories will automatically fall into place.
The realist’s centric state model, in particular, has faced a lot of challenge from the domestic-interest group theory and the cognitive psychology theories. The cognitive psychological theories have specifically challenged the realism theory in its inability to promote reinforcement and interactions between small groups as it focuses on international relations rather than state relations.
Inconsistency in management has also been a big challenge to realism according to the cognitive psychological theories which maintains that relations and other processes should start within the state (Walt 1). Similarly, the domestic-interest group challenges the realism theory in its focus on power on international states rather than using that power within the state to serve the interests of individuals and groups.
Mercer, Jonathan. “Prospect theory and political science”. 2005 – September 6, 2011, from https://politics.ubc.ca/
Walt, Stephen. “International relations: one word, many theories”. 2000 – September 6, 2011, from http://www.columbia.edu/itc/sipa/S6800/courseworks/foreign_pol_walt.pdf