Balancing Act

And when you add rising interest rates to the mix, the potential path towards bankruptcy and failure for the American state opens up even further. Why the United States spends more on “defense” than the next nine countries combined means that the aim of defense spending is not to defend, but rather, the aim is to dominate. And when the aim becomes one of domination rather than defense, then one can no longer defend. It all amounts to a complex and sophisticated chess game, in the sense that there has to be a fine balance between offense and defense. Too much isolation and too much of a defensive posture invites pressure from the opposition. On the other hand, too much offense and too much of an attacking posture can leave one vulnerable to an attack and one ultimately loses the ability to defend. 

And as we see now, when the balance of power shifts and when one’s own money and fiscal policy ends up becoming an instrument and weapon of the opposition, the opposition will invite and egg on an arms race which is unfeasible, even though before the balance of power shifted, we were the ones who were pushing the envelope against other countries in terms of arms and weapons development and were spending more on defense than the next nine countries combined. In short, an offensive and hegemonic posture ultimately invites evils and misfortunes upon oneself which were initially unforeseen. 

In turn, an offensive and hegemonic posture is prohibited by international law. The fact that we even have an international society is by virtue of the existence of international law, as some scholars and thinkers would suggest. Without international law, there would be no notion of an international society. Some experts and scholars of international law have suggested that international law is essentially a “social process” with a set of social, political, and moral goals embedded in it. These social, political, and moral goals are then achieved through the evolving social, political, and moral outlook of international society, hence the notion that international law is a “social process” rather than just an empty and hollow body of rules and regulations. 

And as we see in this day and age, the basic social, political, and moral outlook amongst international society is indeed changing and evolving. Hence, international law is becoming more and more relevant to the affairs of individual nations than ever before as a result of an evolving social, political, and moral outlook amidst international society. In a sense, the gap between the behavior of states as prescribed by international rules and norms and the behavior of states outside of international rules and norms is beginning to gradually close. Moreover, the more international society becomes interconnected and interdependent as a result of rapid advances in globalization, the more it will be required out of states in the international system to close the gap between the behavior which is prescribed by international law and the behavior which exists outside of international law. 

Aside from rules and norms are also duties and obligations set out by international law which states are expected to fulfill. And perhaps most importantly, and as Hedley Bull suggested, this social process of international law between states must coincide with the preservation of what is “the supreme normative principle of the political organization of mankind” which is based on none other than the sovereignty of the various states in the international system. Thus, conformity to a social process between states which is aimed at the achievement of certain social, political, and moral goals always coexists with the reality that there will be distinct and sovereign states in the international system with distinct economic, political, and social realities that are shaped by distinct cultures, experiences, and histories, and thus the core task of international relations is perhaps to balance between both the social process and the core principle of political organization in the international system. 

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