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International Relations Essay: The Korean War and Political Realism

Essay, MLA, Undergraduate
5 page, 5 sources

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Sample Essay on International Relations

The Cold War was a period in history when the world superpowers engaged in an economical and ideological warpath that later threatened to result in another World War. At the center of the controversy was the United States under the leadership of J.F. Kennedy against communist interests advocated for by Russia. This situation was further aggravated by ideological differences in the Korean Peninsula. The North supported communist ideas, while the South embraced democratic tendencies. This situation was worsened by North Korea's attack of the South. Fearing that the communists were dominating the political and economic ideologies of the world, the United States sent military aid to assist the South in protecting their sovereignty against communist tendencies.

The American attack on Korea, which was also supported by some other states, is a presentation of realism in the name of international security. The Korean War is believed to have begun when a revolutionary regime emerged in the Soviet Union that was committed to spreading the spirit of communism all around the world, at that time industrialized. The Korean War purely represents the realist paradigm. Scholars that subscribe to the realist school of thought believe that the United States attack on Korea had less to do with international security. The United States wanted to use this war to extend its hegemonic power. It is believed that the policymakers of the United States had to wage war on Korea no matter what. Thus, American claims to be concerned with international security and acting as a leader in the war were by far dishonest. The US would have equally considered the impacts of the fighting because many people were to lose their lives. The United States had its own interests since it engaged in the war amid opposition from other states.

Realism is very dominant in the issues concerning international relations. Political realism is distinct from other theories in the sense that it gives a clear explanation of international events. In the assessment of realism, an examination of all the events that occurred at the time of and after the Cold War is a relevant undertaking. The era of the Cold War showed the domination of realism among all other alternative theories for providing a vivid explanation of the events that took place between the USSR and the West. The world was divided into two parallel ideological camps as a result of the Cold War. One was a bloc largely described as capitalist that was under the leadership of the United States, and the other block was the communist bloc that was under the leadership of the USSR. Both of these leading superpowers got engaged in a very intense struggle, which was characterized by the formation of alliances and waging of the war. All that happened during this period of the Cold War is vividly analyzed the realism school of thought.

In the international arena, states develop cordial relations with other nations that are actors in the international world. There is no particular state that may go through all the challenges and meet all its needs without involving other states. The claim that proposes that there is actually no government over all the nation states is a description of anarchy. States are independent in external and internal affairs.

Realism is often blamed by being pessimistic in the sense that it tends to dwell more on the negative or darker side rather than towards the positive side. The main interest of any particular state is to achieve international security against any likely external threats. States may choose to cooperate in order to be strong enough to shield their borders against any possible threats. The world states are, however, known to watch their interests from a keen perspective even as they form alliances amongst themselves. The different states have their own varying interests that they normally watch cautiously, and they are greatly inclined towards ensuring that they are in a position to safeguard their interests and gain from international cooperation.

The crisis of the Korean War tested both countries in their capacity and willingness to wage a war that could escalate in a nuclear conflict. The crisis reached a climax on October 14th once a report of the intelligence sources was released. A group of experts that worked as a team warned the president that only 10 days had remained for him before the launch of the missiles that would have served to operationalize the whole activity. President Kennedy had no choice other than urgently addressing this very important matter of national security. The president initiated the blockade that has been largely described as naval, where there was a deployment of 52 nuclear bombers.

The United States government had several options within its reach that it employed to remove missiles from the country of Turkey. At this moment, the Russians were very engaged in building the bases for missiles. Kennedy had planned an offensive, military in nature that he wanted to launch against Cuba. Active diplomacy was employed later to avert this crisis for fear that both actors in this crisis would have been affected or their people were going to suffer from massive deaths since the war was going to be nuclear.

Ultimately the end of the Cold War came at the power time when there was the disintegration of the USSR. The United States of America emerged as a single power that operated on a global scale. There was a transformation of world politics but what remained unchanged was the political realism because of the superpower state that was acquired by the United States.

North Korea is known to have initially enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth. But then it has been thrown to an economic stagnation evident in north East Asia over the last about two decades. More paradoxical is the fact that the present liability has been converted by the leaders into a form of a strategy that is now proving to be an asset. North Korea's strategy of a series of wars and conflicts has more to do with other nations as well. For instance, it is believed that due to the constantly waging war, North Korea will release very many refugees that will be crossing to the Republic of China, and this is not so good for China since it has a potentially negative effect on the economy of China. Experts across many fields in the world are actively debating in an attempt to assess the potential motives of the Korean Republic.

In general terms, it can be established or debated that as much as the state entity still exists, the security of such an entity can never be irrelevant. The army will always remain the most important institution that is concerned with the matters of security of any particular nation. Wars and also several other forms of conflicts or disagreements will remain to be evident and the most recurrent scenarios that will feature in international relations in the name of national interests or security. Cooperation among nations can never be permanent, especially in circumstances when security or national interest is under threat. Through the above-discussed events, it is evident that realism is present and will dominate international relations.

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In order to comprehend the possibility of peace and cooperation among different nations, it is important first to understand that war has continuously been resorted to by many nations. Realism and liberalism are two theories, which have attempted to explain the reason for this situation. Liberalism can be termed as the right to individual freedom. It dwells on the notion that human beings are natured by the circumstances that they live in. The basic ideals propounded by liberalists include individualism, upholding of human rights, freedom from authority, right to fair and equal treatment, compliance with the rule of law, universality, and freedom of social action.

Liberalism advocates for the superiority of an individual. Seemingly, an individual is expected to act in such a way that promotes his or her own interests. The argument that was presented by liberalists is that if in the pursuit of individual interest, the whole society would be better off. When the North Koreans set out to attack the South Koreans, the general belief behind their minds was that Korea could only be united by forcing the South to abandon their liberalist tendencies. Realism involves dealing with the true issues that affect relations between disagreeing parties. During the Korean War, the United States claimed that it had gone to assist the South against the offenses of the North. They claimed that the North's invasion of the South was an exercise that suppressed the sovereignty of South Korea. However, this was not a realistic approach to the issue. This is because the United States had no reason meddling in the affairs of an Asian country far away from its borders. They only reason why the United States got involved in the war was that they did not want communist ideas to dominate the world.

In conclusion, both the realism and liberalism theories explain the Korean War to some interest. The United States used liberalism as a way of safeguarding its own interest in South Korea. There was no reason to wage war on North Korea because this also hurt the domestic economy. Democracy was an ideology that the US used to fight communist tendencies that were spreading very rapidly all over the world.

Work Cited

  1. Bolsinger, Eckard. The Autonomy of the Political: Carl Schmitt's and Lenin's Political Realism. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001. Print. Edwards, Paul M. The Korean War. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2006. Print.
  2. The Korean War. San Diego, Calif: Lucent Books, 2001. Print.
  3. Lawson, Stephanie. International Relations. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003. Print.
  4. Spegele, Roger D. Political Realism in International Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print.
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