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By Jill Steans, Lloyd Pettiford, Thomas Diez and Imad El-Anis

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Extra info for An Introduction to International Relations Theory Perspectives and Themes Third edition

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Taken from: B. Russett and H. H. Freeman, p. 66 Liberal pluralists see a complex web of interactions in International Relations that goes beyond the mere interaction of states. Politically this translates into support for limited government and political pluralism. We will summarise the main assumptions of liberalism below. First, we need to consider further the historical and intellectual origins of liberal thought. LITERATURE BOX The Brandt Report The report North–South: A Programme for Survival, published by The Brandt Commission in 1980, is an example of liberal internationalist sentiment and Keynesian economic philosophy in practice.

It is argued that ultimately this will make economies more efficient. In the short term, however, ‘spend less’ means sacking government employees and slashing welfare budgets rather than buying medicines and building schools. Meanwhile ‘earn more’ can lead to wage reduction, chopping down forests, selling off assets to foreign firms at cut price rates and so on. In recent years SAPs have been heavily criticised by NGOs like Oxfam and Greenpeace as well as by former members of the World Bank. Consequently SAPs often include some notional safety net beyond which basic services and welfare goods should not be cut.

According to liberals, the advantages of trade are numerous. This is, of course, a very strong argument against economic protectionism, which, from a liberal perspective, is a consequence of states acting according to short-sighted and perverse conceptions of the ‘national interest’. Left to itself, trade would prove to be mutually beneficial by, for example, bringing about interdependence among states and generating wealth, both of which would reduce the likelihood of conflict. This is because, in the case of the former, integration between states and people leads to shared interests and an increase in the costs of conflict.

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