What Role Did Ideas Play In The Cold War Essay

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For example, neither realists nor liberals predicted the end of the Cold War, nor could they explain it satisfactorily after the fact. Constructivists emphasize the importance of ideas and culture in shaping both the reality and the discourse of international politics. They stress the ultimate subjectivity of interests and their links to changing identities. There are many types of constructivists, but they all tend to agree that neither realism nor liberalism paints a true picture of the world and that we need not just explanations of how things are, but explanations of how they come to be. Constructivists have focused on important questions about identities, norms, culture, national interests, and international governance.5 They believe that leaders and other people are…show more content…
For example, both slavery in the nineteenth century and racial apartheid in South Africa in the twentieth century were accepted by most states once upon a time. But both later came to be widely condemned. Constructivists ask: Why the change? What role did ideas play? Will the practice of war go the same way someday? What about the concept of the sovereign state? The world is full of political entities such as tribes, nations, and nongovernmental organizations. Only in recent centuries has the sovereign state been dominant. Constructivists suggest that concepts such as “state” and “sovereignty” that shape our understandings of world politics and that animate our theories are, in fact, socially constructed; they are not given. Nor are they permanent. Even our understanding of “security” evolves. Traditional international relations theories used to understand security strictly in terms of preventing violence or war among states, but in today’s world “human security”—a relatively new concept—seems at least as problematic. Moreover, a wider range of phenomena have become “securitized,” that is, treated politically as dire threats warranting
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