In today’s world of politics, International Relations (IR) is considered as one of the major aspects. IR refers to the branch of political science having concern in the field of foreign affairs among the countries. For this reason, it is considered as an important filed in Political Science (Gilpin, 2016). Thus, more specifically, IR is regarded as the study of relationship among states, countries, inter-governmental organizations (IGO) and others. In the vast filed of IR, the presence of many theories can be seen as it is not possible for one single theory to explain everything about IR. Among all the theories of IR, two of the major theories are the theories of Realism and Idealism (Baylis, Smith & Owens, 2017). The following discussion attempts to evaluate various aspects of these two theories.
As per the above discussion, the theory of Realism is considered as an important part in the concept of IR. It needs to be mentioned that the focus of Realism theory is on the states and their relation with the others states in respect of power (charlesstrohmer.com, 2018). This theory states that the states are required to maximize their security in order to increase the chances of survival. Thus, basically, it can be said that the theory of Realism is based on self-interest. Under this theory, the countries or the states are required to ignore culture and moral considerations while developing the foreign policies. At the same time, they are only required to follow the dictation of their leaders for the maximization of powers in comparison with others (Guzzini, 2013). In this process, one country does not care about the human right polices of the other countries. Under the use of this theory, one mostly used phrase is “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. In this context, the example of China and Taiwan can be considered. It can be seen that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) considers Taiwan as a principal administrative division of china. However, at the same time, Taiwan has considered themselves as a democratically elected government. Thus, in this case, it can be seen that both China and Taiwan is concerned about their own states. Some major conceptual piece can be seen under the theory of Realism. The first aspect is States of Nature, anarchy and war. In this context, European Realism can be mentioned as it is based on the assumption that there is s state of disorder between the relation between the countries. The next conceptual piece is The state and sovereignty. It implies that the states are considered as sovereign and they are also considered as the main actors in the world stage. Another main aspect is National Interest (Beer & Hariman, 2012). It implies that the countries are required to put prime interest to the national interest of states. Another major non-negotiable principle of Realism is Balance of Power. In this process, two or more states work together to hold in checks the powerful states from gaining more power (charlesstrohmer.com, 2018).
The theory of Idealism is the opposite of the theory of Realism. It needs to be mentioned that the focus of Idealism theory is to create a peaceful world with the help of integration. For this reason, this theory is based on the assumption of innate goodness of the people of the world and the value of the political institutions for the promotion of social progress (jcer.net, 2018). In this context, the example of European Nation or European Union can be used. It can be seen that there was a major idealistic argument behind the creation of European Union that is the creation of a peaceful and democratic world. In today’s world, EU has become a pragmatic organization where the independent countries have the option to discuss about the mutual problems so that shared approach can be developed (Weber, 2013). Thus, it can be observed that there is a clear difference between the ideas of Idealism and Realism theories. The theory of Realism focuses on the tragic side of human nature, but the theory of Idealism puts emphasis in an optimistic manner. In case of the state and balance of power, the Idealism theory talks about much wider possibilities for cooperative arrangements among the states and the countries. Moreover, the more optimistic view of Idealism about human nature provides a broader frame for considering national interests (Burchill et al., 2013). In this context, the example of the president of United States, Woodrow Wilson can be provided. He fought for long time against the powerful arguments in order to keep America out of the First World War and this aspect can be used as an example of Idealism. Thus, the decision to take America into the First World War is considered as the ‘agony of Wilson’ (jcer.net, 2018).
Application of Realism and Idealism in International Relations
The above discussion evaluates various aspects of both the theory of Realism and Idealism. Now, it needs to be mentioned that the components of both these aspects can be applied in the in the study of IR. In terms of IR, it can be seen that the key features of Idealism are realistic and their relevancy is highly applicable in the current international policitical system. The components of IR theory have been developed based on the normative view that peace is not a natural state of being (Bull, 2012). According to Idealism, it is required for humankind to establish institutions for allowing humanity towards peace. For providing the realistic example of the application of Idealism and Realism in IR, the creation of European Union (EU) can be provided. As a result of globalization, the European markets have become more integrated from the time of nineteenth century. Due to the application of Idealism and Realism, free trade has become a political policy for all the member country of EU and it has made them interdependent (Light & Groom, 2016). Thus, the two major aim of the establishment of EU are to ensure economic growth and to endorse peace. Hence, it can be clearly observed that the main aim of EU was to avoid another major war like First World War or Second World War. For all these reasons, the establishment of EU can be considered as the practical example of the application of the theory of Idealism and Realism in IR. In addition, from the above discussion, it can also be seen that there is a relation between the theory of Idealism and Realism. Moreover, the above discussion also demonstrates how the theories of Idealism and Realism are the part of the global political system (Bull, 2012).
Mutually Exclusive or Overlap
The above discussion shows the application of Idealism and Realism in the theory of IR. In this context, one of the major concern is whether the theories of Idealism and Realism are mutually exclusive or overlap. It needs to be mentioned that the countries have to make crucial decisions by considering the interest of the country (Fawcett, 2016). There are many instances where the whole world become beneficial from some specific decisions of the country. Thus, it can be said that the Idealism decisions become beneficial from the Realism decisions. Hence, in this case, it can be observed that the theory of Realism and Idealism overlap. However, there are many situations where the countries are forced to take some major decisions for the good of their own and these decisions do not make the whole world beneficial. This situation implies that the countries need to sideline the whole world to think about the good of their own country (Neumann, 2016). Thus, in this situation, it can be seen that there is not any connection between the theory of Idealism and Realism and this aspect makes the theories of Idealism and Realism mutually exclusive to each other.
Are the States Behaving in a Realist Way of Idealist
The above discussion shows whether the theories of Idealism and Realism are mutually exclusive or overlap. Now, it needs to be mentioned that sometimes the states or countries have to act in Idealistic way and sometimes they need to behave in Realistic manner; and this aspect depends on the needs of the countries or states. In this aspect, the example of EU, United States (US) and China can be provided. In case of US, it needs to be mentioned that there is history of the country to follow the theory of Idealism in IR. In this context, the example of Woodrow Wilson can be provided as he tried hard not to include America in First World War (Jackson & S?rensen, 2016). After that, the adoption of the policy of Idealism can also be seen in European Nation and the establishment of EU largely supports the adoption of Idealism. The main aim of the development of EU is to bring peace among the member countries with the help of integration. However, difference can be seen in case of China as the country has adopted Realism; and the conflict between China and Taiwan supports this argument (Onuf, 2012). Thus, from the above discussion, it can be seen that states or countries adopts Idealism or Realism based on their interest and needs.
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