Institutions: Anymore Effective Now? – Graham

Mearsheimer takes a very bleak stance on institutions in international institutions. He states in the opening of his article that his “central conclusion is that institutions have minimal influence on state behavior, and thus hold little promise for promoting stability in the post-Cold War world.” ( He spends the majority of his article showing how none of the institutionalist theories work in the real world for using institutions to prevent war and promote peace. He spends almost no part of the article trying to think of ways in which an institution might work.

When Mearsheimer was writing this article back in 1995 the Cold War had only recently ended and was a new phenomenon. Never before had spying and information gathering been used in such a way to ensure both sides’ security while both also had nuclear arms pointed at the other in case the moment ever came when they were no longer in a stalemate. These factors are much different from the one’s facing international relations today. I would argue that since the publishing of Mearsheimer’s article that much has changed and that institutions are effective at promoting peace and preventing war. Today we are faced not only by issues of war and economic growth, we are also paying more attention to human rights, animal rights and climate change. We have UN panels where these issues are debated and actions decided upon. (

I agree with the institutionalist theories on what the effects of rules are in the international arena. Issue-linkage is a major part of today’s world climate. The IMF is one of the largest parts of issue-linkage today. We can look for example at Russia. The IMF placed economic sanctions on Russia after they invaded Crimea and now could be facing a recession as a result. (

In regards to the article by Professor Schroeder and Banks there is also a lack of respect between power states and rising power states. The institutions, as they exist today, have had the same power players for decades and now that other countries have caught up it’s time to make room for them. This is one of the new issues we are facing today. Power countries are not sure if they can trust these new powers just yet and so they do not want to entrust as much to them as they do to each other. If Mearsheimer had his way no country would ever have any reason to trust the other. This is Mearsheimer’s article fails. He doesn’t take into account the progress that almost all countries are desperate to achieve. If one state needs to be able to import food at a lower cost and this means getting a tariff on food dropped by another country at the cost of a military alliance, chances are they’re going to accept it. This is due to their need for food and the unlikeliness of a major war at this time.

In conclusion, Mearsheimer’s article, while correct about the flaws of the three institutionalist theories, was incorrect about how ideas and politics would change. Today there seems to be almost a rebirth of morals in the international community. This means more openness to cooperation and the need for institutions. No one country can completely take care of itself in an age that may go on to be known as the interdepende


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