Great power. When first hearing the term, one envisions kings and prime ministers of Europe deciding the future of the globe in a room puffing on cigars and brandy. Generally speaking, this is how the colonizing giants divided the world, settled disputes and kept relative peace in the continent. These powers created a series of institutions during the World Wars and Cold emWar that guaranteed the development of a system of governance for Western Europe. In the years following the Cold War, these bastions of West Europe have been expanding to include their Eastern European neighbors and beyond. Today a series of overlapping institutions covering a variety of jurisdictions can be found on the European continent.
There are competing reasons for why Europe turned to rules but first I will be discussing realism in this theater. The tenets of realism show that states are warring bodies that are fighting to survive and inherently fearful of one another. This means that they are both offense and defense oriented in their policies. At times, agreements may be made between foes and allies alike. Let’s now look to where the great power clubs of yesteryear have gone and why they exuded such influence. The World News article highlights four requirements for a club to confer unto its members. They are to give rights, offer benefits and show a consensus of basic standards. Some examples here include NATO and the UNSC. In the case of NATO, Mearsheimer argues that it had either reorganize the stated mission or disband, for the original purpose as a deterrent to Soviet Eastern Bloc power has long gone. The Security Council is similar in that the permanent members are the victors of the Second World War, the powerhouse nations on the Allied side, but reality today has a very different set of nations on the rise that given no more weight than they had 70 years ago. Attempts at modern day variant of the old European power clubs has proven anything but successful. The mentioned group in the World News piece is the G-20. The detriment to its success is the power distribution among far too many members as the writers put it. What both articles seem to say overall, is that the institutions that have the most influence today were born out of the great powers of the time seeking to balance their own relative power amongst themselves while leaving the other nations in the dust.