Theories on International Relations: Liberalism and Neo-liberalism

The article by Deudney and Ikenberry on the nature and sources of International Liberal Order provides a more optimistic perspective to that of the neorealist views on the ‘cooperation within the West: balance of power and Hegemony'(Ikenberry, p. 179) within an anarchical system . Instead of conceiving the securitization of and cooperation between Western states as involving a balancing against hegemonic powers (Ikenberry, p.179), the neoliberalists emphasise the existence of  ‘too many consensual and reciprocal relations’ within the Western order as a justification for arguing beyond the concepts of balancing of power and hegemony. ( Ikenberry, p.180) .

In evaluating the neoliberal critique of neorealism one may question the extent to which the practice of co-binding by liberal states-‘the attempt to tie one another down by locking each other into institutions that mutually constrain one another’ (Ikenberry, p.182) -is descriptive of and empirically supported by the practices of liberal States.To this extent, one may consider the underlying justifications for the US middle eastern policy specifically in relation to Israel and the US refusal in the UN to condemn Israel’s continuing illegal blockade of Gaza and occupation of Gaza.

Mearsheimer argues that ‘thanks to the Lobby, the United States has become the de facto enabler of Israeli expansion in the occupied territories, making it complicit in the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians ( Mearsheimer, p.41). Mearsheimer poses the question of why the United States been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the interests of another state? ( Mearsheimer, p.41). The seemingly inexplicable relationship between the US and Israel is further complicated by the fact that ‘the United States gives Israel access to intelligence that it denies its NATO allies and has turned a blind eye towards Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.’ ( Mearsheimer, p.3). In this respect, it is difficult to conceive Israel’s partnership with the US in the context of the Neorealist paradigm that is underpinned by Israel’s fear for its security from states in the Middle East, especially since Israel itself is understood to be a nuclear power with one of the most lethal airforces in the region ; Neither is there a plausible basis for arguing that ‘American backing is often justified by the claim that Israel is a fellow‐democracy surrounded by hostile dictatorships.’ This begs the questions of why Israel among all other global democracies was chosen by the US to be the recipient of such immense military and economic aid.

Mearsheimer argues that the underlying justification for alliance ‘lies in the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby…. the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro‐Israel direction.’ (Mearsheimer, p.14). Perhaps the neoliberalist,just like the neorealist, does not ignore the problems posed by anarchy, but attempts to overcome them ‘by establishing institutions of mutual constraint’ such that ‘co-binding reduces the risks and uncertainties associated with anarchy’.(Ikenberry p.182). It is unclear, however, why the US has chosen to be constrained by the ideologies of lobbyists, who for instance, advocate against criticizing Israeli policies on issues such as the use of force on Gazan civilians.



Daniel Ikenberry (1999) ‘The Nature and Sources of Liberal International Order, Review of international studies. ,Vol.25(2), p.179-196.
Mearsheimer, John J. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. New York :Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008
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