Global Dynamics

Inteligence Profiling

International relations has often  discussed the impact that the end of the Cold War has had on international relations as well as international organizations, for example Mearsheimer states that “since the Cold War ended, Western policymakers have sought to create security arrangements in Europe, as well as in other regions of the globe, that are based on international institutions.” (Mearsheimer 1994). Based upon current events in Russia and the Ukraine, I theorize that the Cold War may not be as over as previously believed and it therefore becomes important to learn lessons from the diplomatic past so as to give diplomats the ability to competently function in a world with the potential for a new Cold War.

For those not familiar with the violence in the Ukraine “For three months, anti-government protesters were involved in a stand-off with the authorities that oscillated between calm and violence. On 18 February, the violence escalated dramatically, with policemen being shot, and riot police moving in to clear the peaceful protest camp on Independence Square.” (Why is Ukraine in turmoil?) These events began taking place as the population of the Ukraine were seeking closer ties with the EU while the government of the Ukraine sought to maintain closer ties to Moscow and the Russian government “The protests broke out after President Yanukovych's government rejected a far-reaching accord with the European Union in November 2013 in favour of stronger ties with Russia.” (Why is Ukraine in turmoil?) These events have led to military movement by Russia, “Russian generals led their troops to three bases in the region Sunday, demanding Ukrainian forces surrender and hand over their weapons, Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for the Crimean Media Center of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, told CNN. By late Sunday, Russian forces had "complete operational control of the Crimean Peninsula," a senior U.S. administration official said. The United States estimates there are 6,000 Russian ground and naval forces in the region, the official said.” (Gumuchian, Wedeman, and Lee) This Russian troop movement is eerily similar to Soviet Troop movements which led to the creation of the Iron Curtin that spread across mainland Europe and a (failed) invasion of Afghanistan all in an attempt to expand land holdings of Russia.

The question becomes what the international community has learned from the original cold war and what steps (if any) will the international community take to end this crisis. As of March 2014 the UN has made the following statement “Describing strife-torn Ukraine as “a country on edge”, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today called for an end to the “provocative rhetoric” that was stoking tensions there, and stressed the readiness of the United Nations to facilitate meaningful dialogue among all the key parties to help ease the crisis.” (UN) The UN is making every effort to begin a dialogue between the Russians and the Ukraine in an attempt to de-escalate tensions in the region and to potentially end any future armed conflict between these nations.

In tying all of this information to the assigned readings for the week, Mearsheimer states that “before taking office Anthony Lake, the president’s national security adviser criticized the Bush administration for viewing the world through a classic balance of power prism, whereas he and Mr. Clinton took a more neo-Wilsonian View.” (Mearsheimer 1994) If only international practitioners and scholars has access to a crystal ball that would indicate what would occur in the future of international relations. However, there is no way to accurately predict the actions of nations in the future, as students and practitioners all we have are best case scenario based on past evidence that will impact the actions of nations.

One primary question that has been raised in this class as well as several others, are we living in a bipolar world (one in which superpowers are balanced by one another) or a unipolar world (where the United States is the sole remaining superpower). Recent international relations scholars have put forward a theory that states China may become the rival or power balance to the United States. “According to a survey of around 38,000 people in 39 countries released on Thursday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, majorities or pluralities in 23 of the nations surveyed said China either has replaced or eventually will oust the U.S. as the world's top superpower. The Chinese don't question their nation's eventual dominance, but Americans are split on the question, the poll found.” (Areddy) While so much effort has been put forth into explain why and if China will become a power rival (or have the ability to balance the power of the United States) other nations have been on the rise (in an attempt to also become a world super power). My theory is that for the last several decades the Russians were down (but not out) of the struggle to maintain its former world superiority.

Mearsheimer goes on to say that “this approach to international politics rests on the belief that institutions are a key means of promoting world peace.” (Mearsheimer 1994) International organizations have no particular national affiliations, their work is based completely around the desire to end suffering and to prevent (as much as possible) armed conflict. As the UN is currently attempting to do in the Ukraine. Continuing on “In particular, Western policymakers claim that the institutions that served the West well before the Soviet Union collapsed must be reshaped to encompass Eastern Europe as well. There is no reason according to Secretary of State Warren Christopher, why out institutions or our aspirations should stop at {the} old frontiers of the Cold War.” (Mearsheimer 1994) This is as much of a crystal ball as we are going to get in international relations. Instead of attempting to create new international organizations, organizations that have been established (and have proven effective in preventing war between the former great super powers) should be turned to once again and allow the latitude to function to prevent and/or end violent conflict.

Baylis presents an additional area in which international diplomacy has changed since the end of the Cold War, but still continue to have an impact given the events occurring in the Ukraine. For example “an important dimension of globalization has been the establishment of worldwide regimes rule-governed activity within the international system.” (Baylis, Smith, and Owens 2011, p 296) In a nutshell, regimes have rules and regulations that are meant to establish base lines of behavior that member-states will engage in. Given this definition the Regime of the Ukraine which is attempting to form a closer partnership with the EU is finding itself in conflict with the Russian regime that is seeking to maintain control over the Ukraine putting the entire issue center stage of international organizations as how to control this conflict.

According to the Realist theory of international relations “states in the international system fear each other. They regard each other with suspicion and they worry that way might be in the offing” (Mearsheimer 1994) This tie into the concept of the regime. As it is human nature for nations to fear one another rules and regulations need to be put in place that specifically to identify what actions nations will engage in and to (hopefully) prevent armed conflict between nations. Also, in the international system “states in the international system aim to maximize their relative power position over other states. The reason is simple, the greater the military advantage one state has over other states the more secure it is.” (Mearsheimer 1994) The idea behind this is that stronger states will have the ability to enforce its will (militarily) on weaker states, within the concept of the regime and international organizations rules will be in place to prevent stronger nations from forcing its will onto weaker states. As the events in the Ukraine have shown, regardless of the ability of international organizations to reform international structure. The fact is that at times, stronger states will still attempt to enforce their will on weaker states.

The question of how to handle the crisis in the Ukraine comes from the following “collective security directly confronts the issue of how to prevent war. The theory starts with the assumption that force will continue to matter in world politics, and that states will have to guard against potential aggressors.” (Mearsheimer 1994) Here we have it, the more things change, and the more things stay the same. The end of the Cold War has altered the balance of international power, however it does appear that Russia is attempting to make a power play against the Ukraine that shows that Russia is once again attempt to assert power. This will continue to be the case, as far as the nation moves away from armed conflict, the potential of armed conflict will continue to be to hover over international relations. The events in the Ukraine have shown this. NO matter how much change has occurred politically and how much globalization has caused a feeling of interconnectedness among the international community, the threat of conflict remains.

Reference List:

Areddy, James T. "U.S. Seen Losing to China as World Leader." The Wall Street Journal. (accessed March 7, 2014).

Baylis, John, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens. The globalization of world politics: an introduction to international relations. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Gumuchian, Marie-Louise, Ben Wedeman, and Ian Lee. "Ukraine mobilizes troops after Russia's 'declaration of war'." CNN. (accessed March 5, 2014).

Mearsheimer, John J. 1994. "The false promise of international institutions." International Security 19, no. 3: 5. International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed March 7, 2014).

UN. "Ukraine 'a country on edge,' says UN deputy chief, urging dialogue among all parties." UN News Center. (accessed March 7, 2014).

"Why is Ukraine in turmoil?." BBC News. (accessed March 7, 2014).