The upcoming of ISIS and the international intervention The upcoming threat of ISIS in Northern Iraq and Syria is one I have been wanting to investigate further for a while. In the paper below I will discuss five important theories in international relations and discuss how they can be applied to the crisis between ISIS and the West. First, I will approach the conflict with a nonrealistic view and Unrealism is a study of power relations between states and the nature of states.
States are considered the only important actors in our international system. According to nonrealistic ‘power struggles’, such as wars, are created because of the anarchy in our world system. Nonrealistic study the origin of power, they make assumptions about states intentions and they explain the consequences of changing power structures. It is therefore certainly relevant to analyses the events in Iraq and Syria from a nonrealistic approach. An important question one might ask himself is why ISIS is currently fighting for its own state, and also why Western countries are so keen on constraining ISIS?
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Nonrealistic think that states are always searching for more power because power is the currency of international politics. They claim that there is no higher authority above the individual states, which means there is no state security from external perpetrators. States want to survive by all means and are maximizing their security by achieving more power. ISIS, even though they are officially not yet a state, try to gain more power, both tangible power, such as territory, military strength and a larger population, and as well latent power, such as the conquest of oil refineries in Abaci, Iraq in June 2014.
They also try to improve their relative power position by repelling attacks from Western troops and conquering ore land in Iraq and Syria. On the other hand, the same can be said of the Western alliance that has agreed to take action against ISIS. They are trying to as well to improve their relative power position by defeating an organization with completely different norms and values. They are trying to restrain ISIS now before the situation will get more out of hand and they will lose more power than they had before.
The United States in particular had a relatively good relationship with the Iraqi government which allows them to have more power over the Middle Eastern region. If ISIS would succeed, an Islamic state could have highly undesirable consequences for the power position of the U. S. In the Middle East. A possible aftermath might be that ISIS decides to cut off oil supplies to the West, which would lead to disastrous effects. Nonrealistic would argue that the situation could only stabilize in a few ways. One possibility concerns the acquiring of nuclear weapons.
It is known that some Western states, such as the U. S. , France and the U. K. , possess nuclear weapons but it is unknown whether and which Middle Eastern states and/or groups possess them. For he sake of this analysis I will assume that ISIS could have access to nuclear weapons, for example through obtaining them in conquered territories. Nonrealistic claim that stability can be recovered when conflicting states are deterred by each other’s possession of nuclear weapons and its capability to “MAD”- destroy everything. But a more suitable solution would be a bipolar system, that nonrealistic argue for.
One could argue that we currently live in a hegemonic world where the U. S. And Western countries dominate. A nonrealistic could normally argue that hegemonic stability will occur but this has clearly failed in the past. Not everyone in the world feels represented by Western values and Western power, so a bipolar system could distribute power more equally. Middle Eastern actors, such as ISIS, could restore the balance in the international system and prevent the U. S. From having too much power. Another way to approach the conflict is through liberalism.
Liberalism is in general a study of freedom: the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom of trade. However, different freedoms can interfere with each other and cause conflicts. For example, the freedom to practice one’s own religion (ISIS) and the redeem of not being killed (Wheezy people, or Western Journalists). Therefore it is necessary to look further into the topic and apply the theory of unilateralism to this case. Unilateralism, much like unrealism, believes anarchy underlies our international system and states are rational actors. They disagree in the sense that states are the only actors of importance.
Unilateralist claim that organizations and multinational corporations are also determining the decision-making in international relations. They would find ISIS a perfect example as ISIS is officially not yet a state, but without ISIS there would be no conflict. Another example is the role of the Kurdish people in the war against ISIS. The Kurds have been living in and around North-Iraq and were one of the first to be attacked by ISIS. The Kurds have also been one of the main actors to fight ISIS with great military force and to defend several Iraqi towns and villages.
For example in the battle for Cabana, in which the Kurds were on the frontline to defend this strategically import border town. One might only guess what would have come of North-Iraq if the Kurds would not have been there to defend it. Unilateralist stress the importance of recognition of those non-state actors, like the Kurdish people or ISIS itself. Another point that unilateralist make is the possibility for international cooperation through international institutions. This would provide a way to regulate the anarchy in our world system and to get closer to final world peace.
International institutions that promote states to cooperate, have already existed in the form of the U. N. And NATO but as we currently see in the Middle East, they have not worked sufficiently. We should reconsider the flaws of such organizations, such as their western approach to conflicts. Many countries may not feel very well represented in he U. N. If we could improve these institutions and include all countries, we could encourage shared knowledge and cooperation. This could also lead to more interdependence, for example economically, and this would again diminish chances of war.
It is important that organizations like ISIS are also included in the organizations and recognized as an important actor. At first, it will of course be very hard to trust a state like ISIS but we can increase trust by making ‘cheating a highly disadvantageous move. We could impose economic sanctions or isolation on ISIS when it does not comply with our rules of peace. Further, we should also realize that ISIS distrusts the West Just as much as we distrust them. So in order for them to trust us, there should also be sanctions attached when Western countries cross the line.
Understanding the background of certain decisions, allows us to react differently when a country makes a choice. This is also something constructivism focus on. The constructivist theory claims that the fundamental structures of international politics are socially constructed rather than materially. When studying international relations, one must take into account those social relationships between ND within states because they are of great importance to the decisions that states make. Constructivist Went makes three assumptions about the social relationships between state.
He states they exist because of shared knowledge and understandings, that material resources acquire meaning through social relationships and that social structures exist as long as they are active. I will apply those assumptions to the case of ISIS and the West, to see in what extent they are true. First, we can note that in our case study there is hardly any shared knowledge at all between the West and ISIS. In fact, the conflict have started because of the complete incompetence from both parties to understand the other.
An example is a speech Obama gave earlier this month: “SILL speaks for no religion[… ], SILL has no ideology of any value to human beings they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior. “l This quote clearly shows Obama has a twisted image of an organization that considers themselves to be completely rational. It shows that the differences in ideologies creating a lot of ignorance about the other’s intentions.
If Obama truly believes what he states (which can be doubted) this would confine him greatly when trying to fight ISIS. Both the West and ISIS need to realize that the other party is doing exactly what they believe is the right and what is rational. However, rationality means something differently for them because they perceive reality differently. This is why ISIS perceives the invading of Western infidels’ as a huge threat, while Western countries perceive it as their duty to protect the human rights of the people in Iraq and Syria.
Realizing each other’s perceiving of the oral might increase the shared understanding between the two opponents. Constructivist also believe that material resources only mean something because of the meaning we attach to them. An example are the oil refineries that ISIS have confiscated in the last few months. To Western countries it was seen as a huge peril that ISIS now has control over these refineries because they could be a key source to their wealth. In co-operation with local oil-providing countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the AJAX, the U.
S. Led an attack to destroy the refineries. This shows how material sources can suddenly acquire meaning even though no one was worried when they were still in hands of the Iraqi government. Wend’s last assumption is that social practices exist only because people keep acting according to them. If we change those social structures, we can change old patterns and achieve the new. The troublesome relationships between Western states and Middle Eastern states have had a long history and will probably continue for some time.
Constructivist would encourage trying to end conflicting relationships. Like Agoraphobic once ended the hostility between Soviet Union and the U. S. One of the parties must decide now to end hostility between the West and ISIS. Another last advise to both parties is believing in trust and peace. With this, constructivist mean that it is possible for countries to live in peace when there is a peaceful social structure. For peaceful social relationships countries should realize that Just because they can be attacked, does not mean they will be attacked.
International politics is uncertain but this uncertainty can be decreased through friendly social relations between countries. An alternative view on the case is from Marxist theories, who generally assume hat not material resources or social structures, but economic processes determine the international relations. Marxism itself can be seen as both a theory and a method of perceiving the world. Marxism as a method is the most interesting when studying the case of ISIS. It is a way to study power relations between a dominant- and a submissive actor, traditionally the capitalist ideology against the oppressed class.
In the case of ISIS and the West, the West is clearly the capitalist culprit that wants to maintain the current power relations and oppress other ideologies. It is fundamental to realize that the capitalistic West has economic capabilities to oppress states that do not have these capabilities. Economy and material resources dominate the international system and crucially determine the decisions that are being made. Many agree that in our current world the Western world is still dominating the underprivileged countries.
However, we should note that in the current crisis with ISIS these economic structures have changes. ISIS have developed into one of the richest terrorist groups mainly collected through criminal activities but also through he captured oil refineries in the last few months. This allows ISIS a lot more breathing space to revolve against their government and repel Western military attacks. One of the Marxist theories is the dependency theory. Dependency theorists study the conditions and consequences of the dependent countries in a capitalist world system.
They analyze the internal constraints of impoverished countries for developing. One of those internal constraints is called the ‘comparator class’ and refers to a national bourgeoisie, in those impoverished countries, that prevents the country from growing. In the Middle East we see the same thing happening with ISIS. They have become incredibly wealthy in a short time, but they are not (yet) using this money to encourage development in the region. It has been reported that most of the money goes to military equipment and recruitment. It is of course questionable if the money would truly come in people’s hands if ISIS would not have possessed it, but at least it would have gone into governments expenditure instead of illegally financing a terrorist organization. Last, we will take a look at the conflict between ISIS and the West from a impolitely different angle, namely from a feminist perspective. Feminism is not a theory like liberalism or realism in the sense that it explains the nature of war or the value of power. Feminism is rather a method of looking at the world, emphasizing the social constructions that determine our decisions, like constructivism.
One of the social constructions that feminists especially focus on is the gendered social life. Feminists prefer a “humiliatingly oriented methodology’ instead of the state- oriented focus that is currently used in international relations. Applying this to the rent crisis between ISIS and the West, feminist would stress the importance of understanding the humanistic background of both parties. Gender structures have been intertwined in theories of international relations for so long, that they need to be thoroughly analyzed before any outcome can be useful.
When investigating ISIS and the gender structures in their ideology, feminists would see many flaws. News articles above rape, slavery, female mutilation and forced marriages might leave a feminist quite desperate about the position of women in the Islamic State. However, also on the side of the U. S. Gender equality is not achieved. Solely 30% of employees in the defense department of the Obama administration are women 3, which seems high compared to their opponent ISIS but low considering the fact that their decisions influence the lives of millions of other women.
The Obama administration has called ISIS irrational, but what does rationality mean if you realize this concept has been constructed in times when women were not even allowed to vote. It is necessary to reanalyze concepts like rationality or autonomy before we draw conclusions about the rationality of ISIS. When analyzing those concepts it is important to realize that femininity needs masculinity, and the other way around, to acquire meaning to the gender structures. One should also realize what masculinity means to different people and how this effects their decision making.
In the Muslim culture, for example, the man is usually required to be dominant and the patron of the family. Therefore Muslim men might feel it is their duty to take certain decisions for the benefit of his family or for the good cause of Islam. These decisions need to be approached from a feminist perspective so we can understand why ISIS takes retain decisions, while the West finds them irrational. Finally, feminism is a study of the dominant power relationship of men over women.
This relationship is similar to Mart’s theory of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and in general the same as any relationship between a dominant state and a submissive state. What we can learn from this is that certain power structures might have been intertwined in our system for a long time and it takes a lot of time and effort to remove these old structures. Known concepts and theories must be analyzed to erase those old structures and build theories that put states equal to ACH other. Considering the above theories, there are some themes that keep reoccurring to the story.
For example that the Western world has dominated international politics for decades and have been oppressive of less privileged states. I have also seen that not all countries feel represented in our current world system and that organization like the U. N. Contribute to this feeling (despite their opposite intention). Therefore I conclude a few things, but mainly that ISIS should be taken seriously and recognized as an influential actor in our current system. We cannot approach them like they are n organization of irrational terrorists who want to kill their neighbors.
We should acknowledge that their perception of the world is Just as valid as ours, and should be respected like ours. Although we might not come to a shared value system, we should try to integrate them in our international system as much as possible. I agree with the unilateralist that this could lead to interdependence, starting economically, and decreases the chances of war. However I do not think this will be enough to keep ISIS restrained, and therefore I also agree with the nonrealistic view that a bipolar system eight be Just what we need to restore balance.
SIS’S, or perhaps a more moderate country, could be leading in creating a second powerboat. I believe that a combination of economic interdependence and military equality will make it easier for both parties to trust each other. They know about each other’s intentions, they know about the consequences of a war and they know about their own chances in this war. I believe this would leave both parties, as well as the rest of the world,