The weekly newspaper The economist has celebrated his 175 years of existence and has published in September 2018 a manifesto in favor of liberalism that turns out to be criticized « Liberalism made the modern world, but the modern world is turning against it ». Liberalism would be de?ned as a « political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties » (Merriam-Webster dictionary). According to the Oxford dictionary, peace is de?ned as « freedom from disturbance; tranquillity; a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended » (Oxford dictionaries). The world is facing con?icts in the Middle-East region, there is a raising of populism and nationalism in elections’ outcome for instance in Hungary, the USA, and Brazil more recently. This results in the fact that the people wants more security and protection : consequences of the con?icts and insecurities present at the beginning of our 21st Century which have suggested that liberal democracies are at best an incomplete project . Liberalism might have shown that in theory prospects for peace were important, in practice liberalism is in crisis because i t has not eradicated the atrocities present in our world and it has even made them worse . Firstly, I will talk about the classical concept of liberalism and develop the de?nition given previously and give its limits. Secondly, I will focus on the Democratic peace theory ?rstly developed by Kant which has shown not to be e?ective in all the circumstances. I will then give some data about the link between inequalities and liberalism. Finally I will point out the role of international institutions and the fact that nowadays they are slightly disregarded.
Liberalism was born in Europe between the 17th and 18th centuries, it is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, on the rise of the rule of law and on an organization with the market economy. This is what has founded democracy, universal su?rage, but also the rule of law.
Liberalism is a philosophy of law, of right of property. Philosophy that proclaims that the individual owns his life, his body, his person, his property. The opening to free trade would be bene?cial, we exchange because we are not su?cient to ourselves. Furthermore liberalism of the English industrial takeo? and the American industrial takeo? is a liberalism which put in its heart the idea of free economic activity and political freedom of the individual but which fully integrated the idea of a national collective around this individual. These major takeo?s were made under protectionist conditions: political freedom inside, freedom of the market inside and protection outside. Moreover, Neoliberalism is freedom of the market, it is to exceed the idea of the national collective and it is to exceed the very idea of society (for instance under Margaret Thatcher), the society does not exist, it is the generalized free-trade.
Concerning democracy, liberals do not seem to take « no » as an answer. Democracy no longer represents the people. We can take the exemple of the 2005 referendum on whether to accept a treaty on European constitution, there was a victory of the « no » but in 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy rati?ed by parliamentarian way the Lisbon treaty which was quite similar to the latter.
There is an important cleavage within liberalism which has become more pronounced in a globalized world. Some scholars would argue for more
interventionism (interventionist foreign policies and stronger international institutions), it is their responsibility to advance democracy worldwide, to impose democracy in a way we shape international order in their image. They have an activist conception of liberalism. Others would have a more pragmatic conception, they would place priority on toleration and non-intervention (The globalization of World Politics: an Introduction to International Relations, p118).
When thinking of intervening in the spreading of democracy around the world politicians tend to embrace the Democratic Peace theory which is a commonly considered theory.
The Democratic Peace Theory takes its origins from Immanuel Kant and also Adam Smith. The idea is that democracies do not ?ght each other.
According to Doyle the democratic peace is the proposition that democracies are more peaceful in the foreign a?airs, foreign relations.
On Domestic political system they argue that liberal democracies are much more peace loving and they are less warlike because the decision whether to go on war lies in the public’s decision, it is decided by the people. Particularly people in democracies share certain values with people in democracies elsewhere. They are like-minded. The people would believe that peaceful resolution of con?icts are more or less superior to any kind of violent behavior. They would believe in reasoning and therefore this leads to the peaceful relations between democratic states. Economic interdependence and cooperation between states result in mutual gains, mutual bene?ts. It is about The Kantian peace, the perpetual peace based on democracy, interdependence and institutions rather than any kind of Hobbesian war where life is brutish and short and it’s all about competition and con?ict. So it is through this argument that scholars like Doyle argue that liberal states are more peaceful in the foreign relations with one another and that we can think about this as a liberal zone of peace.
The international system would become more peaceful with the increase of democratic states. The spreading of democracies around the world would bring about peace. In 1993, the Democratic Peace Theory has started to be statistically signi?cant, it has become a commonly accepted theory.
Democracies have norms of compromise and cooperation that prevent them from escalating to con?ict with each other. However hostility is a precursor for open warfare. Wars do not occur without precedence. Let us take the example of Israel and Iraq. The political scientist Harvey Starr believes that the change from authoritarianism to democracy makes no di?erence in how Iraq relates with Israel. Instead structural constraints lead them to continue to act toward Israel in an overtly hostile manner. Edward Mans?eld and Jack Snyder both believe that although democracies do not ?ght each other, democratizing states, those in transition from authoritarianism to democracy, do and are even more prone to war than authoritarian regimes. Democracies are supposed to cooperate, not ?ght each other. Thus we cannot apply this theory to all countries of the globe (e.g. Iraq). We must consider ethnic, historical and cultural ties in order to understand the nuances of a particular situation. Moreover it can lead to unnecessary wars based on a commonly accepted theory (TEDxConnecticutCollege 2014 on Democratic Peace Theory).
Moreover Democratic peace theory is a key part of US foreign policy, it is the belief that the spreading of democracy would lead to a more secure place for the US and for the rest of the world. Democratic states will not go to war with other democratic states. Democracies will go to war for security reasons, economic reasons, humanitarian reasons, for regime change. However, Certain companies were in charge to persuade poor African and Asian countries to borrow money from the World Bank and the IMF to lead big projects in order to develop their country. This money would be invested in American ?rms so that the money would not have left the country. The aim was to lead these poor countries to bankruptcy so that they would forever be indebted to their creditors and so be easy targets when the USA would need favors in the form of military bases, votes in the UN or access to oil or any other natural resources. There is no direct link with the government because states should in theory not interfere in a country’s domestic a?airs. ( John Perkins, Confessions of an economic hitman) . Moreover, behind all humanitarian war there is an economic and strategic interest. There is no proper humanitarian war.
We can talk about indirect war, or proxy wars which « are an armed con?ict between two states or non-state actors which act on the request or on behalf of other parties that are not directly involved in the hostilities. In order for a con?ict to be considered a proxy war, there must be a direct, long-term relationship between external actors and the belligerents involved. The aforementioned relationship usually takes the form of funding, military training, arms, or other forms of material assistance which assist a belligerent party in sustaining its war e?ort » (Wikipedia) . This kind of war is less visible and less expensive.
War is used to control resources. Everything is now the object of a political and military economic battle. The war can be a source of enormous income because we will not pay the raw materials that have been looted. The war serves to plunder a country’s resources and to deprive the competitors of these resources.
Thanks to liberalism, poverty has diminished. Extreme poverty has been divided by 4 in the last 30 years according to the World Bank. Third World countries are catching up with Western countries.
In 2016, Liberalism would have taken 700 million people out of the greatest poverty in the world over the last 20 years. There has also been an enrichment of the population with the emergence of a middle class in China, in Asian countries for instance. However, liberalism promotes injustice. It makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Furthermore the calculation of GNP is biased, it can grow even if it bene?ts only to one person and even if most of the population is burdened with debt.
In oder to make the world a place where security and democracy reign, international institutions have been implemented. This has started with Woodrow Wilson and his 14 Points speech in January 1918 where he argued that « a general association of nations must be formed » to preserve the coming peace and the League of Nations was to be that general association. The league of nations was more of a universal membership whereas in the United Nations there are 5
permanent members which have the power of veto. So as referred in the United Nations Charter, Chapter V, Article 24: ‘In order to ensure prompt and e?ective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.’ However Sergueï Lavrov questioned the use of international institutions at the 7th Moscow Conference on International Security, «We see increasing disregard for international law and multilateral organisations such as the UN. The US ability to honor its commitments is raising questions, especially in light of the attempts to dismantle major international agreements such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, the UN decisions on the Middle East settlement, the Paris declaration on climate change, as well as basic WTO principles. Taken together, this amounts to attempts to revise the system of international a?airs ». He also said « The impression is that the Americans are trying to maintain a situation of controlled chaos in this huge geopolitical region, hoping to use it to justify the open-ended US military presence in the region within the framework of their unilateral agenda ». In order to maintain their hegemony over the world, the USA would have to divide the world in two. On one side, the stable states (the members of the G8 and their allies), on the other, the rest of the world, considered only as a simple reservoir of natural resources according to the American military geo-strategist Thomas Barnett.
To conclude, the concept of liberalism is ideal, however in reality it has not given proofs of concrete peace. Inequalities remain important whether inside international institutions’ system or economically speaking. Actually people want more security and protection which is what liberalism should have sought to provide. The question now is to know whether countries will turn away from liberalism and, if so, t what other alternative they will turn to. Finally I will quote the French President Jacques Chirac who said « Le libéralisme, ce serait aussi désastreux que le communisme », in other words : liberalism would be as disastrous as communism.
The Globalization of Wold Politics : an introduction to international relations, 2017
TEDxConnecticutCollege 2014 on Democratic Peace Theory
Des Paroles et des actes, 18th September 2014