Contemporary issues and popular IR theories

Contemporary events are in contradiction to previously existing theories and norms and these events are now demanding a shift in policies and laws in order to avoid further chaos

By Noor-ul-Ain Zahra Sherazi

Here the major concerned crises are the global pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine Conflict as well the emerging threat of biological warfare in the sense of the evolution of a new pandemic i.e. Monkeypox. The article is concerned with analyzing the realist and liberalist views and applying them to these disastrous circumstances bringing the world to an edge of destruction, especially in the times when the states are so anxious to achieve nuclear arsenals. Let’s look at them one by one:

Global pandemics challenge previously existing ideologies as Realists interpret that war is unavoidable because it is human nature to protect themselves from external threats by the use of force which eventually leads to conflict and in wider case scenarios, may lead to war. War is inevitable and necessary as well in order to survive in an anarchic world where the realists are not concerned about International organizations and laws. Realists also claim that there are no ethical norms to be followed in war and states in an anarchic world cannot afford morality.

So, according to this concept which is clearly depicting the ideology of “might is right”, states are allowed to use weapons of mass destruction in order to secure their survivability, but, there is a contradictory ideology among neo-realists as they talk about deterrence and that state’s leaders behave in a completely rational way, however, they do not deny the inevitability of war. So according to neo-realists, states are more prone to go towards a balance of power, and for that nuclear proliferation is necessary, which obviously includes weapons of mass destruction. The logic they give in the favor of proliferation is that, as mentioned above, the state’s leaders behave in a completely rational way and when there is a balance of nuclear weapons between the two states, those states will never go to conduct war as there would be the catastrophic destruction and that destruction is obviously, mutually assured between them. So this ideology raised a question doesn’t the concept of mutually assured destruction fall in the category of norms and morality? Obviously, the two states having nuclear arsenals are not going to conduct war as they do have an understanding of its detrimental consequences, then why not be the case with Biological weapons as they are too the weapons of mass destruction and do have a catastrophic impact on humanity as well as have even more tendency to demolish one’s economic standing in world’s order.

Coming towards the recent global pandemic which is Covid-19, there are many arguments that this hasn’t evolved by itself and the tussle between the existing superpower and emerging superpower is the major cause in evolving of this virus. China accused the US of being the cause of this virus demolishing China’s emerging economy, however, US denied the accusations and said that China is already unclear about declaring its stockpiles of bioweapons according to the 1972 convention of Biological Weapons and that China, itself is the cause of this virus, however, Palestinian officials continued to argue that virus is the clear start of biological warfare by US. Whatsoever the cause is, as the conspiracy still exists, this pandemic caused more than 6.29 million deaths a lot more than the atomic bomb caused deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This number is really alarming and should bring the world’s attention towards developing the norm of morality in any conflict and should be more prone to resolve them peacefully. Finally, the liberalist point of view somehow soothes the tension by inflicting the idea which is in the favor of non-proliferation and coordination among the states to resolve conflict scenarios. But there should be an upper hand of international law upon the states and the concept of international law should not be considered vague as it is perceived in today’s world.

According to realists, state sovereignty of the state is an absolute need and it should be secured by all possible means. So, if we apply this idea to the case of the Russo-Ukrainian Conflict, Russia is concerned about the expansion of NATO and cannot let it come right in front of its doors as according to Russia it is something which is threatening the security of the state and eventually would have the damaging impact upon the sovereignty of Russia, so, does this scenario allow Russia to protect its sovereignty by any possible mean? And in this particular case scenario, the probability of the usage of nuclear weapons should also be considered as Russia is a nuclear state while Ukraine does not have nuclear weapons, however, US and all the NATO countries except Hungary are in direct support of Ukraine and US assured that it will help Ukraine in nuclear capability so that to stand against Russia. Even the slightest attack would be enough to destabilize the whole world’s peace and infrastructure of both countries and ashes will prevail.

However, the Liberalist idea of state sovereignty is to never intervene in a sovereign independent state and it is also supportive of international law which protects state sovereignty. The article, however, brings the audience’s attention to another phenomenon which is the “Domino effect”. The Domino effect should not be always taken in the sense of the cold war. If communism can spread from one state to another like Dominos falling, then the trend of stronger states attacking a weaker state can also prevail and it obviously provides confidence to those having territorial conflicts and other historic conflicts. These things should be discussed by theorists to dismantle chaotic scenarios.

The article draws the audience’s attention to the fact that how the world is on the verge of chaos as contemporary events are in contradiction to previously existing theories and norms and these events are now demanding to shift in the policies and laws in order to avoid further chaos. Once British Prime Minister Harold McMillan was asked what troubled him the most regarding the future and he replied: “Events, dear boy, Events”. An environment where the students who want to become leaders are forced to stick to the old theories and not giving them the chance to mould themselves according to present-day event, it is very difficult to demolish this chaos, the whole literature of international relations need us to find the loopholes in it and mend them according to the events of today’s world so that the international society should have a clear vision of how to tackle an event leading it to the great catastrophe.

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