Is the state based international order is being transformed ?
I am going to answer this question by looking at supra political and economic organizations like the UN, WTO, IMF, World Bank and EU.How these organizations are transforming the state based international order. I will also analyse American power and the liberal international order it has tried to impose on the world.
Linked to the above is the issue of globalization and global finance and trade aided by icts.i will use Realism and Marxism to analyse the international order. I will argue that the state system though geographically defined, functionally internally and externally has always been subject to change. Some functions of the state have been relinquished while in other areas it has increased in scope. I am going to show how political and economic power can change international order, and states can be transformed through institutions like the UN, WTO, EU, IMF and World Bank
The state system
The modern state system according to most historians emerged with the West phalian system, modern legal independent states with defined borders and sovereignty and recognition by other states. Within the state system has arisen geopolitics, how politics organizes societies through the state system to co-exist with others. This encompasses political and economic relations with other states at the international. The inter-actions of which gives rise to different forms of international order
By analysing the principle units of the international system of states, the structure of the relations of the units(states), the interaction and capacity and dominant processes of interaction, we can arrive at some logical conclusions of the state system and its possible transformation. How state systems common concerns of security and power can make them behave similarly or not. So the distribution of power distinguishes at the international, as anarchy changes distribution of power among units in a never ending balance of power. This is the Realist’s interpretation of the international state system
For Marxism social property relations which at the moment is capitalism which is expressed as patterns of class power at the state level, among states which leads to a structure of geo-politics at the international, this leads to uneven and combined development at the international with the spread of capitalism i.e. an Industrial capitalist core which dominates the geo-politics and influences states at the periphery. This uneven relation for Marxists defines the international order
The UN is the the most serious attempt in the 20th century to bring political order among states at the international. The intention of the UN to replace the rule of coercion and anarchy among states with the rule of international law. The UN as a world government has failed, although as a political institution it has succeeded in organizing states among some common principles. Its ability to enforce international law has been very limited and selective, due to the structure and the internal dynamics of its workings
Its most important charter is the human rights agenda. It applies to all signatory members. The permanent 8 members of the Security Council can veto any resolution, even if the majority countries vote for it. This puts the UN resolutions at the mercy of the 8 members. The effect at the international is that resolutions end up reflecting the interests of the permanent members, not always as intended.
Applying Realist analysis states align themselves along common interests, the US and the EU will often align themselves on issues which affect them, this often means rich countries interests versus poor countries. Intervention in other states affairs on the grounds of human rights abuses being one of the most contentious issues at the UN and how it has affected the state system and international order
Realist distribution of power in the UN means intervention is often based if self interests are threatened, so the West intervened in Iraq to defend oil interests and not in the Rawanda.For Marxists the rich countries are protecting capitalist interests, so the UN reflects the distribution of political and economic power at the international, which often means rich countries interests dominate UN resolutions.
Realist’s distribution of power at the UN does change as does the change in alignment of power. So the rise of China, Russia, Brazil, and India is changing the international order as these states can be a counter balance to US and Western power. They themselves are trying organize willing states within their sphere of influence. So states might have sovereignty but to achieve many of its aims at the international they must align themselves with other states in order to achieve the things they need. Even powerful States like the US need to co-operate with other states like on climate change in order to achieve success. The obvious limits of the original human rights charter where intervention is very limited, a much sturdier UN charter referred to as R2P has been designed. The idea being that every state must protect its citizens i.e. not mistreat minorities, protect the vulnerable even in conflict situations, failure to do so means that the UN can intervene. The r2p tries to overcome the issues where internal conflict i.e. civil wars where the UN has not been very successful at stopping, but the UN can now hold states accountable in international law, which can lead to sanctions or intervention.
States by signing up the UN charter implicitly if not always in reality, to behave ethically and morally among a community of nations, as Winston Churchill once said it is better to jaw jaw than war war.
As a political organization the UN is gradually bringing nations towards commonly agreed norms and values. The UN trying to overcome anarchy among states by providing limited security of some kind for all nations. For Marxist’s the nature of capitalism is that it needs political and economic stability among nations for it to succeed, to expand and accumulate, anarchy among nations is anathema to capitalist expansion as it creates uncertainty. Since the formation of the UN there has been no major nation to nation conflict. By getting states to abide by UN resolutions the UN is creating inter dependence between states, which hopefully will reduce anarchy among states and provide better security if states feel they get equal representation of their concerns. The UN may not be able to prevent wars among states, but unilateral action by any state not sanctioned by the UN can and does affect a state’s political, economic and security future.
Its role is to regulate free trade between nation states and to ensure a level playing field in international trade, the life blood of the world economy, so it is essential that all states follow the rules of international trade to ensure that all states benefit.
Every state has equal vote and can participate in its rulings. In reality the outcomes are not the same for all states. Most international trade is between rich countries hence the rulings of the WTO tends to favour those rich states.
Political relations between nation’s states at the WTO are dominated by national economic interests. So for the US the tripps agreement and international patents rulings to be rigorously enforced, it also wants tariffs reduced on goods which it would benefit directly. Political elites in powerful nation states like the US and EU are able to determine to a considerable extent the agenda at WTO meetings.
Applying Realist logic we find states organize themselves along political and economic interests. The US and EU will often act as an economic block to ensure its interest are represented. Poor states are often outmanoeuvred within the complex technical details and negotiations, as a consequence poor nations often end up signing to rulings which are often against their self interest. The transformative nature of the WTO on nation states is that it tries to reduce anarchy among states, by making states trade inter- dependent, co-operation has been replaced in some instances by opportunism where states pursue short term gains rather than absolute long term gains without resort to violence.
The transformative nature of the WTO is that states give up the right to determine some independent economic policies, even if they are against its economic interests, because locking yourself out of the WTO system means no gains from trade, so poor nations would rather participate even if the gains are small. Therefore the state needs to increase in scope to ensure it meets its WTO obligations, while at the same time it gives up rights to per sue some wholly independent trade policies which may conflict with WTO rulings.
So states can no longer control capital flows within borders, dominant financial institutions like wall st and London make investment decisions on where to invest, states now have to compete to attract these capital flows offering, low taxes, few worker rights, low wages. On a global level the state’s ability to make investment decisions independently in a global environment is becoming increasingly difficult
Applying Marxist analysis the dominant form of property relations being capitalism it succeeds by expansion and accumulation. Trade being the primary means of capitalist accumulation, dominated by financial centres like Wall Street and London. They want all states to be open to global finance which has now been aided icts which has made the financial flows quicker. The effect on states is that states can no longer control international capital flows within its borders due to WTO rulings. States now have to compete for global capital investment.
The international order that has emerged is that the core rich countries the main consumers of transnational goods and periphery states who provide the cheap labour for production and raw materials has emerged. This has created combined and uneven development. The rich states continue to have high living standards while poor states are locked into low growth or stagnant economies from which they find hard to break out off. The workings of the WTO continue to replicate the disparity between rich and poor states despite political representations at the international. The WTO has been able to change the international order relating to international trade by having conflict resolution methods and tries to bring international order to trade so that beggar thy neighbour policies, cannot be used by states which in the past led to conflict. Also by avoiding trade conflict between states, the WTO has transformed the state based international order through its enforcement and rulings into compliant trading nations among a community of nations in now a highly complex integrated globalized world, aided by icts and international capital flows.
The rise of India, Brazil, China and Russia is changing the distribution of power among states at WTO meetings as these states want their priorities to be more represented.
The European community (EU) is the most ambitious project to merge economics and politics of nation states. The idea being political and economic integration is to avoid realist’s anarchy and security issues which have afflicted states in the past. By pooling sovereignty, by getting rid of border controls, a common legal system of EU human rights, with laws increasingly made by the EU politicians and officials which then once agreed all states must comply with.One of the conditions of the EU any disputes with member states must be settled peacefully.
The EU as an economic block is the largest in the world. This gives the EU at the international huge political and economic influence. States within the EU by giving up sovereignty and subjecting themselves to EU laws and regulations, hope to overcome the Realists anarchy and security issues among states and thus states in the EU have been transformed at the international with now a common foreign policy, economic and political relations with other states. In the now multi-polar world of the US, China and Russia and Brazil and India, the EU.It is now becoming inevitable states need to co-operate to achieve the things they need at the international, hence the rise of economic and political blocs. Political and economic Trading blocs are also rising in other parts of the world as a result of trade and globalization, and common concerns about security.
Applying Marxist logic we find the EU gives primacy to capital accumulation and expansion, this is the whole idea of the EU to create a huge market for goods and services within EU borders. Within the EU we find core big economies like Germany,France,Italy,UK,Spain and peripheral states like the new Eastern states like Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, even within the EU we see uneven and combined development where the new Eastern states of the former USSR provide cheap labour for corporations within the EU.So transformation of the state based order within the EU reflects dominant interests of the rich and powerful states like Germany, these then become reflected at the international.
The US as the hegemon of the last 70 yrs has maintained international order without major conflict like WW11, first it kept order in bi-polar world with USSR now in a mutli-polar world it continues due to its economic and military might. Without US influence and the security umbrella it has provided the EU and other states there would have been more serious conflicts, Realist’s anarchy and security issues would have created more turbulent and uncertain world.
The US by projecting its power has tried to impose its liberal international order on states, of democracy and free flow of capital, of individual and property rights. The way the US has done this is those states which have come under the US security and economic umbrella have seen development and progress, so the EU has developed under the security umbrella of NATO backed by the US. EU has managed to avoid conflict for over 70yrs, by avoiding Realists anarchy by transferring its security obligations to the US. Under the US the capitalist club of states like the EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, and South Korea have done very well politically and economically. There is considerable co-operation between the US and its allies, relations between both have been transformed at the international, there are very close political and economic ties between the US and its allies, and despite occasional disagreements no major conflict has arisen.
This is a remarkable achievement considering their histories. In the now mulit-polar world we see re-organization taking place with, China, Russia, India and Brazil rising politically and economically which may rival the US, although they all have chosen co-operation with the US rather than conflict. So China is now a member of the WTO, Russia is intending to become one. The UN is being increasingly used to air disagreements.
The Transformative nature of this is the even great powers like the US, China, the EU and Russia are limiting themselves, mindful how they will be perceived among a community of nations. The US is now slowly retreating back from its role of the world’s policeman and wants political and economic issues to be settled by states themselves and through supra-international institutions like UN.WTO ,World Bank IMF,and other international bodies like the World Human Rights Court, all of which the US has been instrumental in creating. With military bases all around the world the US can still intervene militarily anywhere in the world, so states are well aware of US military power
. The US as the world’s hegemon contrary to popular opinion has been very successful through a mixture of, coercion, trade, co-operation, alliances and often cash incentives with other states to achieve peaceful existence and international order.
It must be stated that American power has been used around the world reflecting American corporate interests at home. States at the international through co-operation and coercion to open their economies so that American corporations may benefit, hence the American liberal international order has been based around, free flow of capital and private property rights .
Under the American system using Marxist analysis some states in the world have transformed into peripheral states to supply resources or cheap labour, while others have become markets for these goods, now in a global supply chain supplying global markets. So the EU have done remarkably well under this system while other states less so. China is now playing the same game as the US locating industries to cheaper production areas of the world. As the level of resources, changes in technologies and changes in alliances shift to reflect the new realties, their will emerge new powerful states, they may morally restraint themselves or be opportunistic. In this new unstable environment with the rise of China,India,Brazil and Russia Realist uncertainty of anarchy and insecurity may rise again, their is an element of this with China and Japan having an escalating conflict over a few disputed islands.
With the demise of Communist Russia, from the 1980’s there has been huge increase in global finance and international trade. States have been integrated in closer economic and political integration, even communist China is embracing capitalist development. This has been greatly aided by the revolution in information technology such as the internet and satellite communication, and reduction in transport costs. The transformative nature on states is that there is no part of the world not linked directly or indirectly in this global era of politics, trade and commerce. Globalization has transformed some nations those with technology, resources or access to capital to become more powerfull, while those states less fortunate have seen their economic and political position decline in relation to other states.
This has been most reflected in the statistics of the UN and World Bank where the inequalities between nations have increased. Applying Marxist analysis we see the core rich nations like the US and EU have been able to lock many poor states into an uneven economic relationship. So the Nafta agreement has benefited US and multi-nationals to use cheap Mexican to produce goods for a global market, but Mexicans have not benefited much because the wages are too low to raise living standards. Mexico was in a weak position to negotiate a better deal, the Realist’s distribution of power favouring the US, so Mexico’s options were limited. These types of trade agreements are being replicated all over the world in countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Philippines.
Applying Marxist logic, capitalism needs to expand to accumulate, and the core rich state like US uses the peripheral state of Mexico as cheap labour, to accumulate capital in global production chain for global markets.
This locks Mexico into equilibrium of poverty of low wages and little investment into the real economy. Even China is now losing more jobs than it creates as its wage costs rise (www.china labour watch).China has the same problem as Mexico as it cannot control global production and capital flows. As trans-national corporations have no regard for borders or local laws of states and as states have to compete for finance and investment, they have to behave in a similar way, offering low wages, few environmental regulations, few worker rights, low taxes and often full profit repatriation to attract investment. So many functions of the state through globalization have been hollowed out leaving the state and its functions limited in scope
These two lending institutions have had more affect on states than any war. Over 100 states of the world (Russia Today TV interview with World Bank President March 2013), rich and poor are subject to policy conditions of these bodies. Through policy conditions they have been able to change the internal political and economic dynamics of states, through structural adjustment polices on such states as Tanzania through macroeconomic policy implementations. Greece is suffering the same fate as its policy conditions bite on the people of Greece, so states might be sovereign, have monopoly of legitimate use of force, in both cases now the state’s ability to use either is becoming limited in scope and action.
The IMF and World Bank impose inter-nationalization of the economy of states, free flow of capital and foreign investment which helps the expansion of capitalism to every part of the state, through privatization and openness. The transformative nature of debt on the state is, it has less control over its economy, hence less political and economic security at the international, this means it has fewer options for independent development, due to its debt obligations to international lending instituitions.They then have to behave similarly politically and economically at the international to meet their obligations.
The nation states legitimate use of monopoly of force remains, as well as the integrity and sovereignty of borders, in this respect security for every state is still an important issue, so security is the foundation of every state, which is reflected in foreign policy of every state. Globalization is eroding the distinction between domestic and foreign policy, i.e Investment decisions in Japan can affect jobs in the EU.The mass privatization of many public services, wether done voluntarily or through loan conditions of the World Bank and IMF.
The affect of this has been that the core element of the state in domestic control and on the monopoly of force and to enforce laws is being weakened. Its capacity though has been increased to join international bodies like the WTO to make international agreements, so become functionally similar in the way they behave The supra-international institutions like the UN,WTO,World Bank,IMF the polices of which are creating universal conditions. Trade agreements bind states together, since foreign policy not based on trade but security issues, if foreign policy through such trade deals become domestic policy then the level of violence among states must become reduced, as this reduces anarchy and increases security.By this analysis to overcome Realists anarchy, there must be international agreements on transport, trade, telecoms, sea routes, banking, airlines etc.These agreements may make states more secure,by making co-dependency through such long term agreements, anarchy may be reduced by implication as anarchy in one state will affect others, chaos leads to disorder among nation states.
Security is now seen more through transparency, inter-dependence is creating the conditions for this. Those states that are nuclear powers are subject to inspection by the IEAA, an independent body which tries to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities and ensure that states comply with their international obligations. Any attempt to prevent this process can and does lead to sanctions or worst, as Iran is finding out.
The role of the US in international order has been more by agreements and alliances, soft power than brute force which has been limited, and often not successful. The security of the US on the global level has protected the capitalist’s states, and enabled liberal democracies and capitalism to expand. This is a remarkable achievement,even Communist China is becoming more capitalist and may become democratic. As democracies expand anarchy and chaos must decline based on the thesis that democracies do not go to war.
As I have stated earlier that the scope and the functions of the state internally and externally have always been subject to change, in some aspects its functions have been reduced i.e. domestic control of the economy and in others its scope has been increased i.e. its obligations to international treaty agreements. Today states and nationalism on which the state is built on is giving way to inter-nationalism, freedom of the person protected by the state and protected from the state, as the UN human rights r2p is trying to do. In the new co-operative international infrastructure some functions have been transferred to international institutions. The idea being to reduce anarchy and chaos, and to allow expansion and accumulation of capitalism. As the financilization of the US and the EU economies is spreading to the rest of the world, as states are becoming functionally similar.
The States monopoly of the use of force is now very problematic. Force is unpredictable and has no logical outcome often creating disorder and chaos among states. Rogue states and international terrorism cause havoc among nation states, hence efforts to eradicate these threats to ensure a stable international order.
In our concept of the Good Society we are not against Supra International Organizations as long as they work for societies and nations.
At present the situation is Powerfull states can use these organizations to bully and coerce smaller nations in to doing what is often against their self interest.Untill this situation can be remedied these supra national organizations will lack legitimacy
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