When President Obama proclaimed his goal of a world free of nuclear weaponry within a satellite of the old Eastern block, he did so as high dreamer. A high dream that may perhaps be viewed as the corner-stone of the twenty-first century or perhaps simply as one of the many great naiveties of this century. Still, it may be naive to believe that a world only comprised of self-help anarchism is the only world that can prosper, thus requiring an infinite nuclear military complex for the nations of the globe.
In either case, the theories of neoliberalism, constructivism, and neorealism shall play a major role in regard to this matter, and two out of three theories will keep the Obama’s nuclear goal a plausible hope. A world without these Cold War relics is indeed something difficult accepted. President Obama himself stated that it may take more than one life time to fulfill such a goal. There are many forces that encourage the stockpile of nuclear weapons, especially when described by neorealism and international anarchy. In a world governed by self-help states, it is only too obvious to encourage a surplus of nuclear weapons.
Without such armament, a nation’s preemptive response to impending attacks is null and void. Thus, a world populated by self-help nations regulated only by impotent international authorities, would permit for the destruction of those states without nuclear capability. That is assuming that such nations are desired for destruction by enemy-states. That is also assuming that said enemies exist. Most nations have long established rivalries, so it is only logical to believe that a nation with nukes and a nation without, will lead to the conventional nation’s assured destruction.
A mild example can be drawn from the Iraq-Iran war when the Hussein regime broke the Geneva Gas Protocol, a regulatory byproduct of World War I, by using gas and chemicals against Iran, “Faced with a choice of losing the war or facing the condemnation of the world, they chose condemnation as the lesser evil. (Ziegler 82)” This fits into the role of neorealism quite well, as it illustrates that two rival nations were willing to submit to any tactics of warfare to survive. At the same time, this war proves that such selfish thinking may not be as beneficial as a neorealist may project.
After all, there were no true victors of such a war as is the case of many wars. Yet there is an unhealthy behavior of nations, especially those ruled by rogue dictatorships, to wage war without assured victory. Regardless if there is no defeat, a war without victory only proves that such nations are better off without war. The ability to instigate peace could have allowed the Hussein regime to survive instead of acting as a bully to the Middle East and inviting international consequences.
Essentially, the Iraqi policy to act only in self-interest encouraged its eventual subordination to foreign powers. This being stated, the neorealist anarchy between Iran and Iraq does not cancel out the other two theories. Nor does it share an exact parallel to a nuclear war. In fact, the only nuclear war, which was void of any international regulatory body, was World War II. The detonation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the stepping blocks to Japan’s complete destruction, but the end to the Empire’s militaristic aggression.
The end of this war led to an economic and military partnership between the U. S. and Japan, thus serving as a perfect example of neoliberalism in action. Though the U. S. had the capability to destroy the Japanese government and culture, it did not believe such an action was in U. S. interest. Though the immediate and primary concern of the United States was indeed, self-indulgent, it also led to a mutually beneficial allegiance with a former adversary. This partnership proved that a self-helping nation can utilize international cooperation.
A Japanese surrender curtailed the destruction of Japanese civilization as it also curtailed the massive quantities of American casualties required for a land invasion estimated from 33, 500 to nearly a million according to military and political advisors to the President (McClain 513). These are the pieces of neoliberalism in the anarchic world. However eventual it was, the international cooperation of Japanese surrender was necessary to serve the interest of both nations. The real question is whether such mutually-beneficial relations can serve a world harboring not two atomic devices, but several thousand nuclear bombs.
It may be premature to say “yes, we can,” but is by no means impossible. The key aspect to accomplish the dream President Obama has set in place is to not only understand the school of neoliberalism and how international cooperation can serve self-interests, but also building on the very nature of constructivism. The idea of nations constructing shared interests that would eliminate the need for self-interests may be difficult to achieve. Still, the basic building blocks are found in neoliberalism: a way of fulfilling self-interests by mobilizing the forces of international cooperation.
It’s an international evolutionary process that allows for all international cooperation to act in a nation’s self-interests along with all other nations. A construction of shared interests that have grown from an anarchic world to a civilization of interdependent states does give hope for a world free of nuclear weapons. The United Nations is a current institution designed for such constructivism. A meeting-ground for all nations to consistently strive for one common goal: the continuation of international stability and peace.
After all, is it not in the shared interest of nations to continue to exist? States that are willing to wage a nuclear war with other nuclear powers are only doomed to radioactive ruin. The Western and communist superpowers of the Cold War knew and agreed to avoid this calamity. Instead, the Cold War would be fought with ideals. As President Obama stated in his book, The Audacity of Hope, “the battle against communism was also a battle of ideas, a test of what system might best serve the hopes and dreams of billions of people around the world.
(284)” Essentially, the democratic and communist nations gave the world a choice of principles to rule by and most of the world constructed the shared-interest of avoiding communism, if not fully embracing democracy. The rest of the Cold War was governed by mutually assured destruction, one of the world’s greatest ironies. A reason to harbor a nuclear stockpile in order to deter nuclear war is both logical as it is dangerous. Though the weapons remain inactive, this deterrent cannot guarantee to halt an attack.
Certainly al Qaeda’s terrorist strike on the World Trade Center proved such a point. Thus the self-interests of nations no longer lie in the destruction of enemy-states, but in the evasion of war itself. This concept can be considered a form of neoliberalism, but when all nations realize that the threat of nuclear war is not only a deterrent, but the only true enemy to civilization, constructivism finally takes precedence. The post Cold War era is beginning to show such signs of international enlightenment.
It is a relatively new concept for nations to grasp. The idea that weapons of mass destruction are not only dangerous to implement in times of war, but is in itself a threat to humanity is a relatively new concept. Still, it is only in a nation’s self-interest to strive for the shared-interest in nuclear disarmament based on both theoretical neoliberalism and constructivism models. Since a nuclear war will eventually lead to self-destruction, the idea of acting in the strict self-interests of neorealism is annulled from modern international relations.
True self-interest concerning international relations lies in the construction of shared-existence. The prime reason being that even in an anarchic world of self-help states, self-interests are not always the best policies. Self-interests can lead to the belief that preemptive warfare is a survival tactic. However, the destructive force of nuclear war outweighs the self-help behavior of irrational interests. The risk of a selfish regime to initiate a war is too great a risk to allow for the stockpile of nuclear weapons to exist.
Thus a goal to eliminate such stockpile is indeed in the interest of not one nation, but of all nations so that even the foolish actions of a single national leader will not lead to the annihilation of all mankind. Work Cited Obama, Barack. The Audacity of Hope: Thought on Reclaiming the American Dream. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2006. McClain, James. Japan: A Modern History. New York: W. W. Norton and Company Inc. , 2002. Ziegler, David. War, Peace, and International Politics. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 2000.