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Can Regionalism Be A Principal For A Stable World Order?

3289 words - 14 pages

Regionalism appears, alongside globalisation, to be one of the forces shaping the world order of states today. It is credited with diminishing the power of traditional state sovereignty, especially evident in the example of the EU. Globalisation and nationalism are other forces which seem to be pulling apart the conventional role of states, but can regionalism to reconciled with these? Can regionalism be an intermediate community between the state and a potential global village? The apparent breakdown of the traditional role of the nation-state, if many ever really existed, gives the impression that world order is changing - regionalism and return to neo-medieval structure could provide an ...view middle of the document...

Regionalism can be the result of conscious policies of governments or it can be the often autonomous and undirected process of economic relations and social connections - called regionalization. Regions can arise in response to a common security threat: baptised by Barry Buzan as a `regional security complex' . This is analysed in realist terms- looking from the `outside-in' and fitting regionalism within the context of the international system - in one of four ways: states trying to restrain a hegemon within the region, or additionally as better protection from a hegemon outside the zone. Thirdly as the response of weaker states seeking regional adjustment with a strong state - `bandwagoning', and finally as a process led by a hegemon to share burdens, and to widen or deepen it's influence, usually done by institutionalising it's power.

All of the above realist explanations for regionalism fit well with the development of the EU from its earliest stages of the ECSC. The EU is often cited as example as to how regionalism can create a stable world order, if other regions could eventually follow in their footsteps.

Regional integration constrained the local hegemon - Germany. It secured the area against invasion or attack by the USSR, and complied with American wishes and the global values they were espousing at the time. EU regionalism was embedded within a transatlantic security arrangement, and fitted with the US global world order of the time. As Henry Kissenger said `American is a global power and Europe is a regional power which should by implication accept it's ancillary role within an American-led international order' The geopolitical framework in which European integration took place was extremely important and created firm foundation for the union to achieve a very stable order. The principal of regionalism seems to be vindicated with the example of the EU; for if a region where many wars, including two world wars had started, was now managing to coexist co-operatively and experiencing huge economic growth, then regionalism could be a principal for a stable world order.

This optimistic outlook is one shared by Neo-liberal Institutionalists and Neo-functionalists. This contrasts to the approach of realism and its emphasis on security and hegemony, with an emphasis on the rationality of states and welfare goals. Neo-liberal institutionalists see the critical role institutions have to play in maintaining co-operation between states and neo-functionalists see regional interdependence, which may have grown organically, as an opportunity for formal integration. This will result in a spill-over effect, where economic rules call for increasing political and social laws to be created, thus unifying the states further.

This process has taken place within the EU and can result in a shift in loyalties and a redefinition of group identity around the region rather than the state. If this happens it makes war between the states...

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