Concepts of International Relations Theories: Realism and Liberalism Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer


Nobody knows why many policymakers and practitioners are so much involved in the erudite study of international dealings. Majority of policymakers dismiss academic theorists of course terming their own reasons. Nevertheless, largely, these policymakers agree that there is an inexorable connection the world of theory and that of policy. Theories are imperative to the blizzard of information that affects people’s lives. Although some theories may appear futile in policymaking, some of them are fundamental to the policymaking process.

To some extent, the two are interdependent in that good policies emanate form theoretical principles, while good theories come after understanding the real world. However, theories do not incarcerate the policymaking process. Instead, they offer an array of ideas on how to develop foreign policies from the theoretical orthodoxies.

Starting from the end of the Second World War, many policymakers have continued to fault international relations as a subject. This prompted scholars to develop several theories, which have since met criticisms between analysts and policymakers. The two main contentious theories are realism and liberalism (Stephen, 1998, p.1).


During the Cold War, realism was the dominant theory in explaining international affairs. Although elucidatory on the ways of eliminating conflict and war, many policymakers found it faulty in its approaches towards imperialism, international cooperation and competition.

Many policymakers believe that this theory ignored human nature and instead focuses on the international structure alone. Thus, employing this theory into practice means that the world will become unsafe through increased wars because every great power is seeking to control other nations (Wally, 1995. pp.13-21).

This theory makes assumptions that nations resemble each other even when there are rich countries and poor countries. Therefore, nations must look for modalities of amassing resources in order to determine the level of their powers. This perception can lead to security dilemma hence making many policymakers to pin down some of the theories of international relations. This theory makes nations appear individualistic, as the main aim is to protect self-interests for survival (Forde, 1995, pp. 141-160).


Liberalism is another theory of international relations that has met criticism from many policymakers. Just like realism, the theory assumes that all nations are equal economically and military. Many policymakers argue that economic interdependence of states will babysit other nations from developing their own economy using the available resources. Additionally, the theory principally selects few transnational actors for example, multinational corporations from rich countries to control the world’s economy.

This is disadvantageous to other smaller corporations especially in underdeveloped countries as they will not grow faster to reach the international standards. Through this theory, there is increased poverty around the world. Although this theory asserts that nations should strive to achieve economic dependence, it presents egoistic ideas under anarchical conditions.

The other problem with this theory as depicted out by many policymakers is that it assumes all people irrespective of their background are hungry for political, economic and military supremacy. From this assumption, it is hard to establish a policy that will cater for the needs of the whole people (Copeland, 1996, pp. 5-12).


The main reason why many theories of international relations are of no use to policymakers is that these theories are mainly assumptions and take all human beings and nations are unitary. In reality, this is not the case. Each region or country in the world has its own resources. These resources are the one that sets the foundation of building the economy of the citizenry.

Many of these theories assert that every human being should strive egoistically to achieve personal success. Whenever this fails to happen, the have-nots will turn to those who have and finally conflict and war ensues. Nevertheless, we cannot discard these theories as they give us the glimpse of our future. In the same case, the practical world of policymaking should dictate human beings to develop theories consistent with real life.


Copeland, D., 1996. Economic Interdependence and War: A Theory of Trade Expectations. International Security, 20(4), 5-12.

Forde, S., 1995. International Realism and the Science of Politics: Thucydides, Machiavelli and Neorealism. International Studies Quarterly, 39(2), 141-160.

Stephen, M., 1998. International relations: One world, many theories. Web.

Wally, Z., 1995. International Relations and the Process of Ending the Cold War. Web.

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