Liberalism, Globalization and the Constraints Derived from Economic Interdependence

Topics: Globalization, International trade, European Union Pages: 5 (1938 words) Published: November 10, 2013


Liberalism, Globalization and the Constraints Derived from Economic Interdependence Introduction Brooks and Wohlforth centre on the topical issue of globalization with a particular emphasis on economic globalization with respect to U.S hegemony. Important focus is placed on the increasing exposure of the U.S to the international global market in the trade, finance and production spheres. The U.S has undoubtedly become increasingly linked and therefore increasingly dependent on the global financial market. The classic liberal argument within IR implies that increased economic interdependency which the U.S is experiencing at present has the potential to influence state behaviour in relation to security policy, by primarily using economic leverage to effect change. I intend to discuss this issue on the basis of the primary conclusion drawn by Brooks and Wohlforth in relation to U.S hegemony. The primary conclusion being that the liberal argument holds substantial weight concerning other state actors apart from the exceptional case of the U.S. In other words the liberal argument is credible however it does not apply to the U.S given its unique, dominant stance on the international world stage. The standing of the U.S as the current hegemon state and the primary world actor in globalization marks its status as exceptional or as Brooks and Wohlforth put it ‘’ in a class by itself’’ (P. 135, 2008). I will discuss this topic overall on the basis of the main conclusion assessed by Brooks and Wohlforth; the liberal argument does not apply to the U.S and furthermore due to its status as the world hegemon state the U.S and its security policy remains largely unthreatened by the possible threats posed by economic interdependence. Firstly I intend to explain why the limitations of the liberal argument are exposed when applied to the exceptional case of the U.S. I will argue that the most prominent potential threats such as international trade and financial dependency fail to pose plausible threats to U.S security policy at present. Throughout this essay I will balance the theories of Brooks and Wohlforth against the analysis of Keohane and Nye, Pape and Betts in relation to the liberal theory and U.S hegemony in IR. Finally I will discuss economic interdependency and its influence on policy direction, holding the U.S as an exception and the European Union as a prime example. Firstly let us acknowledge clearly the case put forward by the liberal argument; international institutions, domestic politics and economic interdependence have the potential to influence international security policy (Brooks and Wohlforth, P. 98 2008). If we consider the issue of economic sanctions for example, the sanctions placed on states by other international actors are illustrative examples of economic interdependency attempting to influence security policy. Although the effectiveness of economic sanctions remains largely debatable by IR scholars it cannot be denied that sanctions have a specific purpose; to restrict access to markets in order to incentivise policy changes. Professor Robert A. Pape of Stanford University is a renowned critic of economic sanctions, describing sanctions as the ‘’liberal alternative to war’’ (Pape, 1997). Economic interdependence has the potential to direct state policy using economic leverage to effect change. As Keohane and Nye concluded from their analysis, interdependent relationships will always involve costs as interdependence restricts autonomy (Keohane and Nye, 1997). However are the costs that accompany interdependency as high for the U.S as other international state actors? Empirical evidence confirms that the hegemon state is exceptional in this regard. As Brooks and Wohlforth point out clearly, there is no recorded evidence to date of a single incident where a state has imposed economic sanctions on the U.S. In contrast the U.S has...

Bibliography: 1. Richard K. Betts (2002) ‘The Soft Underbelly of American Primacy: Tactical Advantages of Terror’ The Academy of Political Science (APS).
2. Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth (2008) ‘World Out of Balance – International Relations and the Challenge of American Primacy’ Princeton University Press.
3. Robert O. Keohane and Robert S. Nye (1997) ‘Power and Interdependence’ Harvard University.
4. Mary Ellen O’Connell (2002) ‘American Exceptionalism and the International law of self-defence’ University of Denver.
5. Robert A. Pape (1997) ‘Why Economic Sanctions do not work’ International Security, Volume 22, Stanford University.
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