The Management of International Affairs

It is also not a coincidence that the main sources of chaos and turmoil in the international system over the last couple of weeks – namely, Ukraine, Israel, and Pakistan – are the final three vestiges or traces of a two-century long period of Anglo-American hegemony. Hence, repression and turmoil in the international system can be directly linked to a source, and that source is two centuries of Anglo-American hegemony and repression over the international system. 

As Kenneth Waltz wrote: “In the relations of states, with competition unregulated, war occasionally occurs. Although in one of its aspects war is a means of adjustment within the international system, the occurrence of war is often mistakenly taken to indicate that the system itself has broken down.” In turn, the main question nowadays is: “With power internationally uncontrolled, is it reasonable to expect states to adjust their relations through their independent policies without war serving as a means of regulation?”

Waltz added that if collective management of the international system between the major powers can somehow come about in anarchic conditions, which he confessed and noted was hard to come about, the main tasks “in descending order” would be “the transforming or maintaining of the system, the preservation of peace, and the management of common economic and other problems.” If war and violence does break out in this day and age, these wars and these spurts of violence are aimed at “power-balancing” given that the global balance of power has now changed to a certain extent. Waltz also argued that the need for collective management of the international system grows as interdependence grows, which is exactly what is happening in this day and age. 

Smaller states will then seek to adjust one way or another to the changes in the global balance of power. Countries like Turkey and Morocco, for instance, who seek to hedge in this novel situation defined by a change in the global balance of power will take a hit to their currencies from the status quo power in the short run. But over the long run, these smaller states can then overcome the hits with adjustments to the global balance of power that are initiated from the top, which is exactly what is occurring nowadays. Obviously, a change in the global balance of power means that smaller states will have to take a more balanced approach between East and West. 

Self-interest and self-help “provides the spring of action” for states in the international system, with states being the primary units or building blocks of the international system, given that: “In a society of states with little coherence, attempts at world government would founder on the inability of an emerging central authority to mobilize the resources needed to create and maintain the unity of the system by regulating and managing its parts.” Moreover: “The prospect of world government would be an invitation to prepare for world civil war.” And the basic reality of the international system is such that: “National politics is the realm of authority, of administration, and of law. International politics is the realm of power, of struggle, and of accommodation.” 

Thus, beneath the surface of international law and a “social contract” which may arise as a result of the imperative that is eventual accommodation, there is a balance of power element which plays a fundamental role in international affairs and in international politics which in turn cannot be overlooked for too long. 

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