How do I get into an international relationship


Gert Krell

To person

Dr. phil., born 1945; Professor em. for International Relations in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 6, 60323 Frankfurt / M.

Peter Schlotter

To person

Dr. phil., born 1945; Professor of International Relations at the Institute for Political Science at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Bergheimer Str. 58, 69115 Heidelberg. [email protected]

At all times people have assumed that the world in which they lived had a certain order. The cosmos was always included in the early conceptions of world order, and actors other than humans, i.e. animals, mythical creatures, spirits and, above all, gods played an important role. The mythical or religious historical worldviews have become secularized in the course of modernity and have been replaced by political ideologies, with some traditions of salvation history surviving in rationalistic disguise. The conservative ("realistic" [1]), liberal, Marxist, and recently also feminist worldviews in international relations - large-scale patterns of interpretation of the "essence" of world politics [2] - are closely linked to ideas of world order, its possibilities and limits.

Concepts of world order deal with how the world is organized or structured or how it should be. The question always arises as to what a "good" (world) order is. This ranges from minimum conditions for coexistence to an order that institutionalizes cooperation and limits conflicts in such a way that all nations and their populations live in peace and prosperity, improve sustainability and comply with minimum standards for human dignity. In the following we consider a few selected concepts of world order that are based on different traditions of thought, and span the arc from sovereignty-based, i.e. state-centered, ideas to supranational world orders and models of global socialization and world statehood.

State competition

Since the emergence of advanced civilizations in East Asia, in the land of the two rivers and in Egypt, we have found societies organized similarly to the state: Antiquity knew the Greek polis, the Hellenistic monarchies, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire - according to Max Weber's typology "traditional states" . But it was not until the beginning of the modern era that the result of long political, social and economic disputes in Europe developed what we mean by "state" today. As a result of the European state-building process, constituted societies emerged that promise their citizens security and order, above all protection from civil war, prospectively prosperity, and in which their existence is centrally determined by life in a state.

In the course of colonialism and imperialism, this idea of ​​statehood was universalized as an instrument to guarantee security and prosperity. There are no state-free spaces on earth today in the sense that not every corner of the world would be state-owned or at least be claimed by some state. International law, which has been developing parallel to the development of the Westphalian order since the 17th century, is essentially a law of international traffic. The UN is a confederation of states; stateless peoples have a hard time making the world heard. States only acquire external sovereignty when they are recognized by other states.

This model is based on the fundamental fact that a solution to the problem of human insecurity, as it is possible in the internal social sphere, namely to install a sovereign state authority, cannot be realized at the intergovernmental level. How can there still be order, because the world of states is also a model of order? The theories of realism assume that the competition for security and power is in principle insurmountable and therefore peace can never be more than an unstable ceasefire between states that have to rely on power politics for their security and on punishment for doom. The fact that there is not always war is due to two patterns that determine world politics. On the one hand, a balance of power continues to settle behind the backs of the states, which prompts them to behave cautiously; on the other hand, hegemony, i.e. the leading position of a state, can enable cooperation in the form of alliances or international regulations. [3] The guarantee of security through military reinsurance, however, remains the basis of international politics.

Liberal Peace Orders

Since the Enlightenment, but above all in the 19th century, concepts of global order have emerged that are based on the sovereignty of the individual states, but combine them with ideas of peace. Despite the competition between states, cooperation and (world) peace are viable perspectives for the liberal tradition. Liberalism relies on free trade and democracy, among other things.

The hopes of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) that trade would have a positive impact on human progress were initially shared by many enlighteners and, above all, by the free trade movement of the 19th century. Freedom of trade, as it is called in contemporary texts, promotes prosperity; it basically only leads to an expanded form of division of labor from which everyone benefits. Trade even has peace-promoting effects. This positive assessment of free trade had a particularly large number of supporters in Great Britain, at that time the most economically developed country.

The German entrepreneur and intellectual Friedrich List (1789–1846) was one of the first to take a critical look at free trade liberalism. [4] He, too, was fundamentally convinced of the advantages of free trade, but said that the positive effects of the "cosmopolitan economy" would only come into play when industrialized countries had approximately the same level of development. Otherwise the superior British economy would simply compete with the largely agrarian states of the German Customs Union and not allow them to develop economically. The decisive factor is not whether the same values ​​are exchanged, but the question of whether the goods manufactured for export support their own "productive forces" (which he also counted on education and good governance) and thus promote the process of industrialization. England itself did not grow up through free trade, but through a deliberate protective tariff policy. With this, List had drawn attention to a general problem of modernity: catching-up development.

As far as the connection between trade and peace is concerned, World War I at the latest showed that even intensive economic relationships are not enough to prevent a major war if there are no institutional structures to deal with security problems or material rivalries. Conversely, with the global economic crisis and the Second World War it became clear that protectionism, economic isolation and the creation of (supposedly) self-sufficient large areas through conquest do not offer alternatives to trade, even within the framework of an aggressive power-political logic. That US post-war planning is based on the model of a liberal hegemony (leadership) was not only due to a narrow calculation of interests, but also a consequence of the existential experience of the war with Germany and Japan.

Kant also assumed that the broadening of political participation would curb the war inclination of the ruling elites, because more people would have the opportunity to have a say in activities whose burdens and risks they would have to bear themselves in case of doubt and could no longer pass on to others. However, this idea of ​​democratic peace, which has been intensively researched over the past thirty years, is still controversial today. The statement that democracies internally are less violent than non-democracies. A second widely recognized finding relates to foreign policy: leading democracies among themselves As good as no wars, but against non-democracies, and by no means just for defense. Nevertheless, one can assume that functioning democracies are less dependent than authoritarian regimes on artificially stabilizing themselves through hostile demarcation from the outside world.

If one adds the north-south relationship, however, this assumption is shaken, even for stable and mature democracies. For example, the Algerian War (1954–1962), the Vietnam War (1945 / 64–1973) or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (since 1948) cannot be explained by security issues alone. This was and is also about power interests of democracies. Ultimately, it is important to consider the various forms of intervention with which democratic industrialized countries have hindered progress in the "South" or directly and indirectly promoted violent conflicts in developing countries. [5]

The borderline of democratic peace therefore not only runs between democracy and non-democracy, it also runs right through democracy or liberalism. This also applies to the gender ratio, for example. The interesting question here is whether war and peace are "only" organized based on the division of labor along gender lines, or whether gender relations themselves are a cause of war. There is empirical evidence for both. [6] There are many indications that societies in which women have the same rights as men and "feminine" values ​​are valued by both sexes as much as "masculine" are not only fairer but also more peaceful societies. This, however, confirms the need to add the gender dimension to the democratic theory of peace, if only because even the democratic state is internally partisan on gender issues, and even often tolerates systematic violence against women - entirely by dictatorships or militant archaic movements apart. There will be no peaceful world without the abolition of superiority and violence in gender relations.