The conflict resolution to the civil war in Syria cannot be resolved until the United States can agree upon a strategy that will finally halt the blood shed witnessed by Syrian civilians on a daily basis. An unbiased, comprehensive analysis of theoretical research must take place before concluding the most probable cause of conflict. We must also consider motivators that led to this conflict, and ultimately decide on the most effective resolution we must use in order to cease the hardships and violence forced upon Syria’s innocent civilians. In order to establish a long term, strategic plan for peace among the people of Syria, we must accept the fact that the struggle does not lie anywhere else except within the borders of Syria. At its core, the main conflict in Syria is the balance of power among actors residing in its region. As the death toll of innocent civilians in Syria rises, the rest of the world must ask itself whether the United States should take the Neo-Realist, Neo-Liberal, or Constructivist approach, in deciding the most efficient and effective way of bringing the Syrians long-term peace. By applying each theoretical approach to International Relations to the Syrian crisis, and by using examples of these approaches in describing the primary factors that led to the current instability of Syria, I will argue and ultimately determine that the most useful resolution to the conflict in Syria can be best accomplished through a neo-realist approach.
Prof. Mohinder Kumar in his “Theoretical Aspects of International Politics” has identified three basic assumptions on which Morgenthau’s Political Realism is based; these are
Firstly, the statements desire to pursue their national interest.
Secondly, the interest of every nation lies in the expansion of its influence, territorial, economic, political and cultural.
Thirdly, States use their power, which is also defined as influence, in the protection and furtherance of their interests. According to Morgenthau power is most fundamental of all political activity. As he says “all permeating fact which is the essence of human existence Power is “Control of man over man.” “Political power is a psychological relation between those who exercise it and those over whom it is exercised.”It is primarily an end but can also be a means to other ends. Since the national interest does not remain static, the possession and expansion of power remain essential to safeguard national interests. Every political action seeks to keep power, to increase it, or to demonstrate it.
Structural Realism, also known as Neorealism, sets out to explore the conditions under which peace is the most likely outcome. Neorealism claims that the best chance for the survival of a state is power. In other words, this perspective causes us to assume that the more powerful a state is in comparison to others, the more chance it has to survive. Therefore, states are always seeking to tip more power in their favor. The other basic assumptions of Neorealism are summarized as follows: 1. States are always the most important actors. 2. No central global authority, the world is anarchic. As opposed to classical realism, which distinguishes the ideas of self-interest and human nature as being the problem, this outlook on realism is a more inclusive one. It tells us that anarchy is the real problem. 3. The main goal of states = survival. 4. States are rational actors. The realist approach to international relations holds the perspective that each nation is virtually on its own and in constant pursuit of power and security. For this theoretical approach, power equals peace. In other words, a nation that contains power is capable of regulating peace. This resolution on creating peace requires full U.S. cooperation. In order to end the Syrian conflict and help restore peace for the Syrian regime and its people, the United States must intervene. According to a neorealist, this approach would also benefit the United States because it could gain more power in the Middle-East by intervening in the conflict. This method would definitely help ensure security in the Middle-East, while theoretically gaining power for the U.S.
In contrast, neoliberals suggest taking more peaceful actions by entering in international negotiations with the participation of organizations such as the UN and NATO. Together, they attempt to involve realist methods in finding solutions, while incorporating these international organizations and/or agreements in finding alternative, peaceful solutions. The goal of this perspective is to create effective international institutions and agreements that aim to avoid war as an outcome, and at all costs. An assumption made by Liberal institutionalism is that all states are rational actors. Therefore, it is assumed that since states behave as rational, they must view war as unpredictable and outrageously expensive. The final assumption made by neoliberalism is that the world is already naturally anarchic and that states are always self-interested. In other words, self-interested states are in opposition to the maintenance of an anarchic international system.
A constructivist argument would say “in order to cease the bloodshed in Syria. Then the system that was in place, or Bashar Alassad, will need to step down and be replaced by a group or system that is either more inclusive or holds the most social clout with the Sunni majority.
International and intrastate theories eventually reside in the question of power. In the situation of Syria, realist ideals, such as those of Morgenthau, relate to the people of Syria’s attributes by claiming human nature as being the motivator for the desire for power. This classical realist aspect may be fitting when it comes to a particular actor, such as Bashir Al-Assad. A political actor seeking stability in power, for both himself and his country. As he attempts to control and maintain the balance of power within the Syrian region, one could contest that this containment of power will inevitably end in struggle and could have been related to the cause of the Syrian System of Government to fail in an attempt to gain control of too much power. The balance of power, especially in the regions of Syria and the Middle East, is a never ending battle in seeking the most amounts of power for their individual governments and people. Therefore, Morgenthau was correct in stating that human nature, is merely a natural motivator in seeking the desire for power, one could argue this natural instinct will always inevitably end in war or conflict, no matter how hard a government tries to prevent it from happening.
In conclusion, Realism as a theoretical perspective within international relations theory is often conflicting with the liberalist view of war and peace. It is understood by Realists that war is a tragedy. However, it is deeply understood that war is inevitable within the current system of international relations. According to classical realist Kenneth Waltz’s archetypal view on three images of war, he determines that war is, in fact, a distinguished product of human nature, a product of state behavior, and a product of the anarchic international system. Therefore, seeing as how human nature cannot be subject to change, there should be no question as to whether or not a state should be able to use its right to military capabilities and force, in order to defend itself and protect its people.
© [Karen Ben-Moyal]. All Rights Reserved.