The Impact Of Liberalism On International Relations

2052 words - 9 pages

Liberalism has contributed to the understanding of International Relations as an academic discipline and through organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the League of Arab States, and others in what many consider to be a very influential manner.
To start, Liberalism traces its roots back to the Enlightenment period (Mingst, 2008) where many philosophers and thinkers of the time began to question the established status quo. Such as the prevailing belief in religious superstition and began to replace it with a more rational mode of thinking and a belief in the intrinsic goodness of mankind. The Enlightenment period influenced Liberalism’s belief that human beings are ...view middle of the document...

Many libertarian ideals are exhibited in Locke’s thoughts and beliefs on private property ownership and the limited view of government. Liberalism was further influenced in the nineteenth century by the belief that democracy was a better alternative to the monarchy and free trade over isolationism (Mingst, 2008). The liberals of the nineteenth century and up until today believe that man’s best prospects to live a free and peaceful life were through free market capitalism and within a limited form of government. They believed that this would be the best system for people to show their full potential and believed free trade would create a positive link between states, making war impossible and unprofitable (Mingst, 2008). During the twentieth century “Wilsonian Idealism” would further influence much liberal thought (Mingst, 2008). US President Woodrow Wilson was the author of the covenant of the League of Nations and the namesake of “Wilsonian Idealism”. Within this idealism was the belief that war is preventable and this was showcased in the League’s covenant, where half of the twenty six provisions were aimed at preventing war (Mingst, 2008). One of the high points of liberal thought during the interwar period was the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1928, also called the Kellogg-Briand pact. In what was supposed to be simply an acknowledgement of US-French relations for the past one hundred fifty years turned into a treaty to abolish war forever (Brown, 2005).
The League of Nations was an important part of the liberal’s agenda at the time, especially after the events of World War One. After World War One many liberals developed the opinion that peace had to be institutionalised and perhaps it could not be naturally developed, they believed that through international organizations such as the League of Nations and through education efforts people would realize their true potential and basic and intrinsic goodness and overcome the scourge of war. Although this was not to be because the League of Nations ended up not being able to keep World War Two from rearing its head across Europe. And it was also plagued by other problems such as not being able to prevent the Manchurian crisis, break out of war in present day Ethiopia in 1935, and finally Hitler’s decision to reoccupy the Rhineland (Baylis and Smith,2001). Another big problem was the United States and Soviet Union’s refusal to become a member of the League of Nations even though it was President Wilson who authored the covenant of the League. After the collapse of the League of Nations and the outbreak of World War Two, realist thought became the prominent mode of thinking on the international stage. The constant outbreak of war during the beginning half of the twentieth century and the anarchic nature of international relations made people question whether the human race was really inherently good and also began to question the belief system behind liberalism, such as the idea of war...

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