Statesare considered to be the fundamental actors in internationalrelations, henceforth there is no higher jurisdiction in theinternational system than that of the state itself. The sovereigntyof states themselves, as the most essential player in world politics,is self-governing and self-reliant; as a result an anarchicpredicament exists. The lack of sovereign authorization hinderscooperations, as it becomes arduous for nations to be confident inone and other. Therefore, there lies a perpetual angst of contentionand security threats.
In this essay, I will begin to examine why theinternational system is influenced and governed by anarchy and not bylaw and cooperation. For this intention, I will explore what is meantby anarchy in the international system. In addition to that, I willelucidate how the conditions of anarchy define a states demeanour andhow this configures and shapes the international system.Thestate exists as a fully self determined and as a paramount of its ownpeople and territory.
States retain the right to do as they please asno association, foundation or organization has the capability orinfluence to govern their actions. There is no hierarchic planetaryauthorization which can ordain and assert law to create order in theinternational system. It is due to this destitution of a centralgoverning of corporations, that the international system is oftencharacterized as an anarchic system. Anarchy is, therefore, merelythe absence of a higher jurisdiction.Althoughmany states may have the same freedoms and rights, they do not havethe same capabilities.
The arrangement of influence and power in theinternational system is not proportionate, and the importance ofinfluence is constantly shifting from one state to another. Statesexist in an anarchic repugnant global surrounding as nothing willimpede the possibility of aggression of a powerful state, and theprospective of a state is never fixed as its power can change at anypoint in time. Therefore, in such a world, withstanding survivalbecomes the principle motive and goal of most states.Inorder for a state to withstand survival, a state will attempt tosubjugate any outward threats that could jeopardize its entity. Asthe arrangement of influence in the system is not adequately equal,some states enjoy more control than others. Therefore, to hindernations from becoming too controlling of one another of theircountries themselves, a balance of power will emerge, through which astate will be able to counter the growing strength of others.
Thestate will attempt to guard itself by lengthening its capabilitiesmilitary wise and forming a confederacy with other states. For statesto withstand survival, they must put protection as their most basicgeneral interest. Without protection, no other goals are practicable.The daily life in the international system is always characterized bya rivalry among nations with the contingency of hostility and war intheir rearview, as states gravitate towards examining foropportunities to benefit off of each other by any means possible.
Inthe withdrawal of a predominant jurisdiction, the struggle forinfluence could put any nation on the verge of hostility towardsanother nation or worse, war. Each nation is held accountable interms of ensuring its own existence and survival. Ergo, each nationmust continuously increase their respecting influence capabilities.An instance of this in history is the nuclear testings done by Indiaand Pakistan. As perpetual security measures already exists betweenthe two nations due to lawlessness, both of them seek to lengthentheir power and influence in order to ensure their survival.
However,since the security issue is inherently zero-sum, it composed the “socalled” security dilemma. The more influence held by one nationwill in-turn cause the other state to be uncertain, which will makeit seek to grow its influence as well. Therefore, any attempt a stateconstitutes to advance its own protection, will really just diminishits own security. An example of type of security dilemma is therivalry between US and Soviet Union during the Cold War. Although,both countries had acquired a secure second strike capability, theystill continued to raise their nuclear arsenals.
According to thesecurity dilemma, as a nation can never precisely know the intentionof another nation, every attempt to grow a nations influence, evensafeguarding efforts, can be perceived as abhorrent. For instance, in2003, the United States plunged an invasion and succeeding vocationof Iraq. The argument behind the trespass was that Iraq’s SaddamHussein had posed a direct threat to the United States nationalsecurity because it was assumed that he had possession weapons ofmass destruction and that he supported several terroristorganizations. Consequently, it was later revealed that Iraq did nothave any weapons of mass destruction in possession. The securitydilemma in part elucidates why the US might have thought that Iraqposed a threat. Thus, it is due to the anarchic construction of theinternational system that wars constantly occur. The reason being isbecause there is no higher authorization to keep states in check.
Wars then occur as a preventive action against any state thatthreatens to become too efficacious.Theprimitive goal of the uncontrolled state is to increase its nationalinterest. States put a immense deal of solicitude on their nationalinterests and the desire for influence. States connect internationalorganizations and sign bilateral or multilateral agreements for thepurpose of only their national interest benefiting from it.States also configure short-lived alliances and cooperation’s amongother states for only a short period, which consequently fails tocreate a sense of security for all states in the internationalsystem. During critical points in time, states will choose theirnational interests rather than mutual interest or interest of otherstates.
For instance, during the US and Iraq war, the US chose todisregard the reciprocal interest of other states in the SecurityCouncil and continued to wage a war against Iraq. Anarchynecessitates states to cooperate, but only temporarily to enhancetheir interests. In order to guard their national interest, stateswill ally with other states to countermand the growing influence ofanother. Once the influence balance is restored, the united nationsand states will be back to pursuing their independent interests.Furthermore,the international system is governed by an anarchy as it lacks afocal authority that can constitute and strengthen bindingagreements. This anarchic international system encourages states toseek influence, and not to have belief in other nations, which makescooperations among states very laborious to obtain. Conflict andhostility is a perpetual threat in such a system, as each state seeksto ensure its own survival at the disbursement of others.
International anarchy prescribes how states should act, rather thanhow they might actually act, thus making anarchy the determiningcharacteristic of the international system. The states underlyingconstrain for influence and national interests makes theinternational system anarchic, and impedes the shaping of a unitedinternational community through cooperation.