Liberalism in International Relations Essay

Liberalism is a theory based on ideas ranging from individual freedom to peace among states to legal equality as well as “equality of opportunity” (Doyle, Recchia 2011). In this essay, I would touch on these ideas, their relationship with international relations and its effect on the European Union.

Liberalism is a theory that believes “individuals should be free from arbitrary state power, persecution, and superstition” (Burchill 2005, p. 55). It is a theory that focuses on individual freedom with little interference from the state and ultimately promotes peace among liberals. Burchill (2005) stated that “the foundations of contemporary liberal internationalism were laid in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by liberals proposing preconditions for peaceful world order” (Burchill, 2005, p. 58). The liberals believed that war was a means by which the government maintained control over the peace-loving people, and it could be eliminated by democracy and free trade (Burchill, 2005). Furthermore, Burchill (2005) stated that for Kant, establishing a government in which the leaders are held accountable, and the individuals are respected could promote peaceful international relations. Thus, the liberals believe that the people should choose their representative government. In their hopes, the system of democracy must reduce conflict with each other as well as with other states. However, as Doyle has pointed out, Recchia (2011) “liberal states are peaceful with other but are also prone to make war with non-liberals” (Recchia, 2011, p. 1435). Simultaneously, Rawls (as cited in Burchill, 2005) claims that war with non-liberals is based solely on self-defense and does not believe that liberal states would deliberately wage war against non-liberal states.

Free trade would unite individuals all over the world; it would break divisions, promote and encourage friendships internationally (Burchill, 2005). These would go a long way in promoting international relations as liberals have shown and demonstrated that free trade and democratic governments would create mutual benefits, increasing co-operation and peace, but how does this relate to the European Union (EU)? The EU is a perfect representative of liberal theory, as states under the EU flag have the same democratic government, share common markets as well as the same currency (Carmichael 2013). Achieving this started with coal and steel co-operation which led to co-operation in trade then to share a common market and then a common currency. This process required a political evolution to affect the regulation of trade resulting in the political union of Europe. This was set up by institutions like the European parliaments. The founders of this organization believed that dictatorship was partly responsible for the world wars. Thus, they made it mandatory that joining states should run a democratic government and respect human rights (Carmichael 2013). By making this peace among member states is achieved, making the EU the world’s best peace propagating organization. However, such EU’s status “does not stop individual EU states, or coalitions thereof, from involving themselves in military adventures all over the globe” (Carmichael, 2013, p. 18).

Although there are shortcomings to the liberal theory adopted by the EU, the organization itself is not run in a democratic format. The shared currency still creates economic crises for countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain. The stronger the EU member states, such as France and Germany, still exercise economic dominance over the weaker ones it still does not take away the fact that it helps strengthen international trades, peace and democratic stability among its states.

In conclusion, the endpoint of liberalism as we have seen through this essay is to achieve peace and create international relations, and a perfect example in the form of the European Union was explained as well as how they achieved it, and even though it is not perfect, it still meets the theories of liberalism.

References

Burchill S, Linklater A, Devetak R, Donnelly J,  Paterson M, Reus-Smit C, True J (2005). Theories of International Relations. New-York. Palmgrove Macmillan

Carmichael, C. (2013). Liberal Theory and the European Union. Mapping Politics, 5. Retrieved from http://journals.library.mun.ca/ojs/index.php/MP/article/view/911

Doyle M, Recchia S (2011) Liberalism in International Relations. International Encyclopedia of Political Science. Retrieved from http://www.stefanorecchia.net/1/137/resources/publication_1040_1.pdf

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[Accessed: June 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 1, 2020]