c) world is viewed as inherently conflicted and dominated

c)  Neorealism:  There is an aspect of regional cooperation
which poses a direct threat to realism. The world is viewed as inherently
conflicted and dominated by the power balance equation. The appearance of
‘peace and cooperation islands’ in that world is an anomaly and difficult to
explain.  A lot of early literature on
regionalism focused on explaining this anomaly and shed light on this
controversial coexistence. Despite this, neorealism has some substantial
contribution to make to the idea and meaning of regionalism (Hurrell,

Neorealist explanations of regionalism, however, shift
analytical focus from states being rational actors in an anarchical
international system, to the argument that this integration emerges from their
concern for their own security from external threats. In this context,
neorealists mention some key criteria with which to explain the possibilities
and rationale of integration in a realist world. The relative gains and losses
involved for the states that join a regional institution are their basis for
cooperation and not their attempt to inhibit cheating states collectively. Furthermore,
since every state is concerned with their own private gain and loss because of
cooperation, the gains and losses will be unequal. This uneven distribution
creates a sense of insecurity for some and dominance for others. This is what
makes it difficult to maintain regional arrangements and becomes a challenge
for regional institutions to overcome. The hegemonic power exercised by
influential states also affects the dynamics of regional institutions on which
they function. Using this theory, neorealists put forward two arguments. When
the power of a hegemon declines in the global arena, they create a regional
economic bloc to exercise and reinstate that power. The second argument is that
the existence of global hegemons leads to the creation of regional institutions
supporting small, medium-sized, and less powerful states on economic, military
or social fronts. (Buzdugan, 2007:810)

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The cases

Following the World War 2, the European states lost
their global influence and power to USA and USSR. European states had so much
to recover while the Cold War began between the two world powers. To recover
from this impact, the European governments set themselves up to economically
integrate. (Norris, 2002)

The USA and USSR also participated in integrating
their powers in Europe. The USA created NATO and admitted West Germany in the
agreement while USSR set up the Warsaw Pact, incorporating Poland in the Cold
War. As the USA perceived the Soviet Union as a threat building up, it deepened
its relationship with Western Europe who were allies to the US. These states
were not powerful enough themselves and sided with the US to gain maximum
benefit of the whole situation. The world had to remain bipolar, the US side or
the USSR. As long as the balance was there, the polarity would persist and so
would peace. (Norris, 2002)

However, in 1985, when the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan and protests in Eastern Europe, followed by independence of Soviet
states especially Russia, led to an ultimate collapse of the USSR. This led to
a unipolarity where the USA emerged as the world’s super power.

The Cold War has been the most important example of
neo-realism in the history of the world and the emergence of United States. It
stands as a global hegemon and icon of power, and has reinforced the
neo-realist theories in many respects. Many states maintain their alliance,
cooperation, and partnerships with the USA because they have much to gain from
that power against other states. Hence, the USA in the loop for any international
conversation means an added assertion of power. This is exactly what the
neo-realists explain regional integration.

Another major case of neo-realism is that of
Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. This was signed in 1995 in Barcelona and its
members states included  European,
African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries including; Albania,
Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania,
Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.

There is barely any economic dependence of Europe on
the Mediterranean. The sole intent for this partnership was that of security.
Europe pushed forward to build trust and confidence in the intentions of Europe
towards these states. Moreover, Europe wanted to feel a sense of presence in
one of the world’s most important conflicts, the Gulf War. (Norris, 2002)

Again, neo-realism patterns and trends are clear.
Partnerships for the sake gaining benefit and maintain a sense of peace imply a
balance of power and the players involved, sign integration agreements for the
main objective of asserting their presence and reinforcing the power that they possess. 


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