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International Law and War Crimes Tribunal

Which framework of international relations do you find the most compelling?

In my opinion, the various frameworks of international relations have different pros and cons. But, if I were to pick just one framework that I feel is most compelling, I would have to say the realist provide the necessary framework our countries values. At the end of the day, we are capitalist, both domestically and internationally. Though altruism might be the moral ideal, I feel that the world is a reflection of the human race and humans are not always so selfless. As far as human nature, I take a more Hobbsian approach. I feel that humans by nature are for the most part, self serving and insecure. On a bigger scale, countries or nations reflect this insecurity and ego. But this makes perfect sense, why should we look outside of our interest when it is not advantageous to our nation. A government’s purpose is to secure its people and provide order; this is part of our social contract.

The world is not a perfect place, and most values, laws and moral standings are not universal, they are relative to the different norms from different societies. There is a lot of anarchy and chaos that exist in our world. Universal standards do not work when not all of the nations agree to its universality. If this discrepancy between nations exists, the only logical step is to just worry about ourselves. We cannot force change on the world, because of this lack of control, we seek to maximize our security (Baylis 96). Eventually this will lead us to maximize our power. This “self-help” process ensures that we will be respected on a world stage, and this is exactly how the United States has managed itself after the cold war as a hegemonic power. You may not be able to change the world, but you can protect yourself from it. Statism shows that states reserve sovereignty for itself; this is proof that a country looks out for its own interests before another’s. Alternative frameworks for international relations such as Liberalism and Idealism are just too naïve in my opinion. They seem too “hippies” for the real world. It would be great if all of us could just get along and follow the same rules, but it is not a reality. I feel that this framework is too western. It is easy to act rationally and use reason, but what happens when your enemies or a nation doesn’t? How do you fight chaos and ignorance with reason? Peaceful relations would be ideal between all nations, but it is not presently a reality. Liberalism would work if we had a global government, but that type of cohesion between all nations does not exist, and international organizations like the UN don’t have the resources to maintain constant peace or enforce stability.

Marxism is another framework for international relations that is a bit idealistic. There is a constant struggle between the “haves” and “have not’s” and the exploitation of the poor directly advances the positions of the wealthy. This theory has truth to it, but in regard to communism and equality for everyone, we know it does not work. Capitalism and imperialism work to a certain extent, but the moral ground is defiantly shaky at best. The idea to exploit other countries and imperialize weaker nations to advance your own nation is self serving, but it is also a formula for war and revolution. Keeping your own security and building your power within your boundaries is much less confrontational than building your power and security through aggression and exploitation. I don’t believe that a global capitalist system is operating behind the scenes as they say.

Constructivism widely encompasses many of the inner workings of international politics and relations. We see how and why things happen and are also able to propose and present better ideas after reflecting on the reality of things. I believe that this is a great way to theorize and form theories on international relations, but this framework is a bit too speculative for me. The world changes in the blink of an eye, theorizing about what we “could have” or “should have” done, does not help the reality of things. It might help to prevent future problems, but the realist approach seems to be the only framework that addresses reality as is, not how it should be.

How has war and security changed in post-modernity?

Both war and security have changed along with the times. War defined by the book is “organized violence carried on by political units against each other” (214 Bull) and security is generally a freedom from threat. Through modernity, war and security have been outlined in different ways than we interpret them now. During those times from the mid 16th century to the beginning of the 19th century, nations were birthed and nationalism was the status quo. Today, things are not so black and white, our enemies are not always clear, and when this is the case, retaliation toward responsible countries is hard to pin point. Non-state actors, as well as private institutions have blurred the line as to who is responsible for acts of aggression. These concerns affect how we maintain security for our nations. With events such as 9/11 and other terrorist attacks on the west, it is difficult for us to hold a nation responsible. In the post-modern era, nationalism has played less of a role in international relations and conflict. Ethnicity and identity have become key factors in motivating terrorist or aggression. Places in the Middle East have bred radical Islamic fundamentalist that fight a war we cannot easily retaliate against. No longer are there direct nations responsible, we have to infiltrate makeshift organizations and revolutionist such as the Taliban or Al Qaeda that occupy desert and bordering nations, which make it all the more difficult to fight against. Post-modernity has also provided us with a plethora of technology. This technology has been applied to military use for both sides. We no longer have send millions of ground troops, many of the guns, missiles and war planes have made it possible to achieve the same result without risking human casualties. Non-state actors have also found technology useful to their cause. Cell phone use, internet, as well as anarchist guides, make it possible for theses terrorist to communicate, promote their cause and make suicide bombs.

As a result, our methods of security and warfare have altered and evolved to address those new threats. Various institutions have emerged as a result of past wars, these international institutions have become a way for multiple nations to balance power and maintain a regulated sense of security. Organizations such as the United Nations, NATO or other non-governmental organizations have begun a more bureaucratic process in keeping security. The League of Nations was a failure, but it is a growing trend to see more international organizations forming to ensure security. We find safety in numbers, forming organizations such as the UN or regional blocs like the European and African Unions are key in preventing conflicts. These regions form blocs based on similar views and ideals, working together to provide regional security. The UN is a great example of how security and warfare have been changed. The UN offers different methods of deterring war and maintaining security, they place sanctions on nations posing a threat, and this is one use of collaborating with nations in the UN. Instead of resorting to war, they place economic sanctions on a country and wait for them to comply. Inspections and other regulatory actions are provided by “international law”. The progression and formation of International law has played an integral role in altering how war and security are fought and maintained, along with technology and terrorism, the spectrum of war has a new face in post-modernity.

What does it mean when it is said that nuclear weapons are weapons of deterrence? What are the challenges to this theory?

Nuclear weapons could be used as a weapon of deterrence because the possible threat of obliteration is a deterrent from any outside aggression. No country wants to be the next Hiroshima. This idea proves to work so far. There has not been another use of nuclear weapons since its introduction in World War II. For the most part, countries without nuclear weapons don’t aggravate other countries with nuclear weapons, not until they get them too, “leading to the assumption that one of the principle motivations for acquisition was deterrence of other nuclear weapons-capable states” (393). No one is going to be the first to use a nuclear weapon; no one wants to be the country that started a nuclear holocaust. Having a nuclear weapon makes a country more prominent on a world stage. During the proliferation and introduction of Nuclear weapons after WWII, these weapons were considered the highest form of military weaponry. So the acquisition of Nuclear weapons made a country more internationally significant, with it, came prestige and respect. Just by possessing nuclear weapons, a country could secure itself from outside aggression.

There are obvious challenges to this idea. First and foremost is, just because it hasn’t happened yet, does not mean it won’t happen. Second, acquisition of nuclear arms is not so simple; there are multiple variables to consider in understanding the motivation. Many states have abandoned their nuclear programs. They can do this because they ally themselves with a member of the NWS and have no need for them, or they find that nuclear weapons pose more vulnerabilities than previously thought. Another concern is the role of non-state actors. It is easy to deter an entire country on the world stage from using nuclear arms, but it is much more difficult to stop someone from using nuclear weapons when they are not affiliated with any country. Nuclear terrorism has become a relevant concern. Today, nuclear weapons may not be as technologically advanced as it once was. It is not farfetched that a non-state actor could make a primitive nuclear weapon. The idea of terrorist or non-state affiliated actors changes the scope of accountability. What do we do with states that fund terrorism, or leak nuclear intelligence to terrorist groups or other countries that harbor them? It is no longer a matter of deterring another nation, but radical groups and idealist.

There is also a real possibility that a state may not care about the consequences and wants to acquire nuclear arms as a scare tactic or to institute social change. Weapons used to deter the use of other weapons, is not a secure enough arrangement. We need a way to enforce it while being fair, or regulating nuclear arms by setting criteria before acquisition. Non-compliance has few consequences, as we saw with Iraq and inspections. As long as these weapons exist, there is a possible threat. Though there is logic in acquiring weapons to hedge your bet, there is still a risk. If no wants to be nuked and no nations have used them since WWII, all nuclear weapons should be disarmed. There should be policing of pirating nuclear arms and the trade and trafficking of uranium should be stopped and regulated for energy use only.


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