Sample Research Paper on Liberalists view of International Relations

International relations (IR) stand for the foreign interaction and worldwide issues among countries within the international structure. These issues arise from; multinational corporations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and states. Formal explanation and learning of international relations (IR) started in the 20th century. According to James Roservat (2007), “The idealistic view of human nature and the possibility of human progress propounded by liberalism are rooted in the writings of such Enlightenment philosophers as Immanuel Kant, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau”. These were the founders of democracy in America. There are many theories about international relations. James Roservat further states that, “The Liberal perspective was dominant in many intellectual circles in the aftermath of World War I”. However, many changes occurred especially at the end of the cold war due to new hypothetical discoveries and the materialization of new challenges. These challenges included; the formation of politically aligned multi states, strong nongovernmental organizations influencing decision making in foreign policy, materialization of international terrorism, emergence of global markets as well as the possibility of individuals to control global behavior.

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In the liberalism perspective on international relations, the state is seen as an entity of analysis which encompasses international laws, nongovernmental and international organizations which are considered to be important elements in global politics. Gilpin Robert (2001) states that, “the liberalist theory is a political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual”. The theory favors public and opinionated autonomy, administrative by law with the approval of the people, and fortification from illogical power. Gilpin Robert further argues that, “in international relations, liberalism covers a broad perspective ranging from Wilsonian Idealism through to contemporary neo-liberal theories and the democratic peace thesis”. In this context, the state is viewed as a single actor in international politics. States are autonomous although international and transnational corporations play a major role.

Liberalists view of International Relations

Liberalism assumes that what the state prefers is the basic determinant of its behavior, rather than the state’s capacity. Plurality in the dealings of the state is allowed in liberalism. Preferences therefore vary in different states owing to several factors such as; the fiscal system, type of government and the state’s culture. In the liberalists view, there are no limitations of interaction amongst states to the political alignment. More over, there are no limitations in the financial dealings, be it through money-making firms, businesses or individuals. Liberalism promotes abundance of chances for collaboration and a wide concept of power, such as inventive capital. On the other hand, it discourages the revolutionary international system. Liberalism assumes that collaboration and interdependence brings about overall achievements which helps negotiate peace between states.

There are various types of liberalism that have emerged over time. Several of them include;

  1. Commercial liberalism. This is part of the liberal international relations theory. This theory assumes that peace can only be achieved through promotion of free trade and economically interdependent states. This theory has found a backing in international institutions as well as multinational companies. Most western countries’ policies are derived from this theory.
  2. Liberal institutionalism. Institutionalism in international relations assumes that there is no anarchism in practice within the global system. It postulates that the international system has an inherent or unambiguous organization that establishes the behavior of the states within the system. Institutions are systems that establish the administrative process.
  3. It hypothesizes that a country should make its domestic political values for the purpose of its foreign policy. A good example of idealism is belief such as; ending poverty within a state should be accompanied by attempting to reduce poverty out of the country. In the liberalist theory, the international law plays a major role together with international organizations in policy formation. Idealism holds that similarities in methods of democratic governance help in keeping peace between states. Idealism goes beyond the left-right political field. Human rights campaigners and American conservatism are part of the idealists.
  4. Regime theory. This is a view from the liberalist tradition that assumes that global institutions or governments affect the behavior of states or other global actors. It postulates that collaboration is possible in the revolutionary system of states. According to Franceschet (2006) “Liberalist interest-based approaches to regime theory state that cooperation in anarchy is possible without hegemony because there is a convergence of expectations”. Regimes make it easy for collaboration by developing principles of behavior which are a pointer to all affiliate states that every state is cooperating.

Liberal institutionalism and idealism are the predominant theories in liberalism. Liberal institutionalism proposes that with the necessary factors, the global system provides chances for collaboration and relations. The triumphant integration of Europe through the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement is an example of liberal institutionalism. The implications of this view are that if states do not collaborate, they should to be restricted, economically or military wise. A recent example was before the United States and the United Kingdom invaded Iraq in 2003, the governments alleged that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. This portrayed Iraq as an uncooperative state that needed to be restricted but not in the view of it being a security threat to either European or American security. This justified the invasion as a way of restraining Iraq which was a dreadful state under institutionalism.

Idealism portrays a view to support a further peaceful world arrangement through global organizations or Inter Governmental Organizations; an example of this is through the United Nations. In recent years, liberalist views have taken a new approach among policy makers and scholars in the economic and political fields. This has come in the form of neoliberalism. Individual freedoms, free markets and free trade are advocated in this new form of liberalism. According to Michael Doyle (1997), “liberalism proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, and free trade”.

In the context of the United States, neoliberalism is a political organization that authorized free market positions like anti-unionism, welfare reforms as well as liberated market economy. The liberal theory emphasizes on ways of avoiding conflict amongst states by controlling state actions. It mainly emphasizes on global institutions and organizations. Fukuyama Fakari (2006) states that, “Liberal International theory is comparable to the social contract of Rousseau”. Sovereign states value their autonomy to satisfy their self-interest. They understand that they lose a quantity of of that liberty to operate if they are constantly in disagreement with other states. International institutions are created as a result when the states give up some of that freedom. Contacts are created by these states for international collaboration and set collective rules to deal with interstate disagreements. Fukuyama Fakari (2006) further states that, “Liberal theorists often study institutions such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization of American States”.

Woodrow Wilson who was the 28th president of the United States from 1912 to 1919, was amongst the most powerful supporters of the International Liberal theory. According to Albright Martin (2004) “Woodrow pushed for the creation of the League of Nations after World War I as an institution that could provide a forum for resolving international disputes”. However, the League of Nations failed to avert World War II. Even so, the International Liberal theory is powerfully evident in the formation of the United Nations as well as European Union. These are two of the thriving post World War II global organizations. There is a belief by the liberal internationalists that worldwide progress is achievable.

The liberalist view is that progress is a process of dispersion of Western replica of democracy. Liberal internationalists generally have a common believe on the continuous progress of international relations. According to Carr, E. H. (1991), “one elementary thought by the liberalists is that people are mainly interested in becoming well-off”. From this thought, it is believed that resolutions contributing to the accomplishment of such aims will make certain the government’s continuity in power. It is therefore less likely for dependent states to be conflicting with each other. In some cases, the liberal views are short of a particular scheming idea. Difficulties occur, particularly, when states endeavor to put into practice the policy of promoting democracy. Liberals prefer the implementation of democracy since they believe it is a better system. However, implementation of this view has more often than not been a consequence of the harmonizing of control between states, or within a state.

The notion of liberal internationalism is somehow imperfect in that interdependence is not essentially a direct way to collaboration and advancement. From history, it is clear that citizens and their countries can be subjected to suffering in order for the superseding intention of bringing suffering to other countries or citizens suffer more to be accomplished. The human race is particularly susceptible to such risks in cases where there is no fairness in interdependence. Wealthier and stronger states have larger impact in general compared to the inferior and weaker nations.

Liberalists argue that global administrations can raise the likelihood of collaboration through various ways such as;

  1. Availing information concerning the activities of other regimes through keeping an eye on the actions of members and exposing their adherence and observance. In order to achieve this, liberalists propose that governments make a clear definition of desertion and failure of compliance to the set standards and procedures and also recommend the necessary penalties that befit such action. Through this, the liberalists feel a reduction in the fear that the state is undergoing exploitation by other members within the cooperation as well as decreasing the chances of misinterpretation. They also believe that recommending sanctions decreases the inducement to defection.
  2. Institutionalizing collaboration to lessen the price of prospective accords. The liberalists believe that on dropping the price of attaining an agreement, the probability of future cooperation is raised. A good example is the way that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was created just after the Second World War in 1946 determined many routine problems every time which did not have to be tackled in successive times, which made it easier for collaboration.
  3. Creation of the anticipation of collaboration amongst the affiliate states. The liberalists suppose that generation of expectancy and promotion of the confidence that the relations will carry on for the predictable future, governments augment the significance of reputation and permit for the use of multifaceted approaches.

Liberalists’ views in modern day world

Liberalist views are still relevant in modern day word. The views are powerfully manifested in the United Nations as well as European Union. These are two of the thriving post World War II global organizations. These international organizations have attracted collaboration amongst many regimes in the world. They have institutionalized the collaboration between states as well as setting standards to be adhered to, with penalties set for noncompliance. They have succeeded in negotiation of peace between conflicting countries as well as helping to solve internal conflicts within states.

The recent war in Iraq had an element of liberalist views. It was in the view that if states do not collaborate, they should to be restricted, economically or military wise that formed the background of the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraq was allegedly uncooperative through possession of weapons of mass destruction that has been banned amongst various international regimes. Neoliberalism is a liberalist approach that is effective in the modern day world. It allows freedoms of individuals, free markets as well as free trade.

The liberalist view that people tend to struggle to get wealthier is evident in modern day. Many regimes tend to collaborate in order to find market for goods produced from within as well as encourage investment in foreign countries. Others collaborate in order to establish a source of raw materials for their industries. This interdependence ensures a harmonious relationship between democratic states which view conflicts as a drawback in their development agendas.


The Liberal viewpoint was overriding in scores of intellectual spheres in the after effects of World War I when Woodrow Wilson who was the 28th president of the United States and other optimists encouraged the League of Nations and treaties that aimed at bringing wars to an end and many others. There have been changes in the International Relations theory due to more sound theoretical investigations that have led to development of neoliberalism in the modern world. Nongovernmental organizations have exerted much influence on foreign policy formulation. There has also been emergence of international terrorism and the minorities as well as the tendency by the marginalized populations to demand a hearing on their standpoint concerning international activities.

The Liberalist views ignore the presumption of the Realists which tends to portray that worldwide associations are a “zero-sum game” the strong view of the liberalists is worth paying a second thought since it tries to portray a scheme of connections that present a forthcoming reciprocated gain. Even though Liberalism has long been portraying a situation whereby financial and political collaboration results in to peace, some liberalists have at one time called for unpleasant economic and political integration produce peace, some scholars have called for offensive armed forces measures against opposition by liberal regimes.


Albright, M. The United Nations: “The Indispensable Institution”, New Perspectives Quarterly, 21(3), (2004), pp. 15–25.

Carr, E. H. The League of Peace and World Freedom: International Affairs, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1991, p. 37-44.

Doyle, M. Ways of war and peace: realism, liberalism, and socialism. London, New York, Norton, 1997, p 17-24

Franceschet A. A New World Order by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Ethics & International Affairs, 20(4), 2006, p. 63–76.

Fukuyama, F. There Are No Shortcuts to the End of History, New Perspectives Quarterly, 23(2) 2006, p. 24-28

Gilpin R. Security as Practice, New York: Routledge, 2001, p. 21-26

Roservat J. National Interests in International Society, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007, p. 124-128




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