International Organizations, In a World of Pessimism, The Optimist in Me is Going Down Swinging

I have always admired international organizations, and going into this class, I felt that they were necessary for world order and even proper in natural human progression. I confess that I have even nursed a desire for a true global government. Though in this class, I have seen a shattering of many of my lofty thoughts of many organizations. Many are inefficient and misguided, and most are weak, without the real power to enforce their own laws and guidelines. The UN in particular has been a let down in of so many cases. Even today, Ukraine and Syria being prime examples, the UN is powerless to impose any real will to stop these conflicts. However, on top of everything, I still believe that these types of IO’s are a good thing. Formed in the aftermath of arguably the most destructive conflict in human history, the UN, with other organization, still had a collective sprit in many cases, formed from years of war. That spirit has atrophied over time, and in so I belive has given in the false assumption that the UN, as well as other organizations, is in decline. I would argue that it is far from it, and that it is merely in a more natural state of progression than that of the post war days. In this case I think that contention within International Organizations is a sign of healthy debate in most cases (though admitably, in cases such as syria and Ukraine, it is not). As we saw in the Steil readings, States will try to get the best deal for themselves, such as the British and their empire during the war. The way that global governance works best is when all nations are faced with a threat that is so great that one stateor a group of states can cojol the rest of them into cooperation. This takes strong leadership in the international order, as well as the ability to placetate the major powers. IO’s have done amazing work in some areas, such as stopping smallpox, and attempting to educate the world. I believe that right now, the most oppertun issue that would work to this advantage would be the global climate change issue, which represents a threat to the entire planet. If the US were to get China on it’s side, than it might be able to force a new global system on the level of the Bretton Woods institutions, and create a global force against climate change. But I digress. To sum up, I think that while IO’s certainly have their problems, and progress is slow and not as satisfying as we would like, the world is gradually getting better, and while this class has shaken my confidence in them to an extant, it remains unbroken by and large.

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3 thoughts on “International Organizations, In a World of Pessimism, The Optimist in Me is Going Down Swinging”

  1. I appreciate your optimism and your willingness to believe that the world is getting better. However, I would argue that we may just be getting worse, and it is of no one’s fault but our own. As the world faces increasingly pressing crises, IOs can no longer afford to be as slow as they once were. I think the reason for the efficiency in the past, was that there was an ever pressing issue that was willing to sink everyone ships of state, and so they could rally together. On this point, I agree with you. However, I believe that in today’s world, the price of fighting these new developing issues, such as climate change, will need to be the sinking of some states to a lower level. This is why China is so hesitant to work with the US; because in order to effectivly fight climate change, China is going to have to slow and/or halt its industrial revolution. The problem with this, is that countries, like China, who have felt it is their turn to begin rising, are being told to stop in a sort of “I did bad, so you can’t do what I just did,” manner. It is these type of actions towards states that causes animosity, and causes states to begin to feel like their voice in an international organization, is slowly being muffled out, in favor of the greater good, but at the cost of their own state advancing. I hope your optimism proves truer than my pessimism.

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  2. In the same vein of your blog post, I too see an uncertain future for international organizations in our lifetime. The most well-known organizations were created in the aftermath of the last world war. You mention the recent failings of the United Nations to deal with current issues are indicative of the gradual erosion of its power. When it was initially founded, it was building off of the power vacuum present after the Second World War. It was able to address some of the concerns that it faced, and was an experiment in global governing. The victors of the war were able to coerce the rest of the world to join in on whatever they crafted, the results of which we’re still trying to determine and keep relevant. You rightly point out that the post-war feeling of unity has certainly subsided; do you think we ought to keep those same organizations in place or try to adapt what already exists? What hope do we have to ensure that the world doesn’t descend into the sort of chaos in the midst of these weakening? Like you, I share an optimism that the system will survive or evolve in a way that keeps us all in good standing. Tackling the impending global climate change, as a planet, might be this generations Second World War moment. The only difference being instead of fighting amongst one another, we fight together to solve the issue.

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  3. In many ways I agree with you that the international system (as taught to us by Prof. Schroeder) has been particularly pessimistic considering the large amount of inefficiencies and failures that the system produces. Yet in many ways, I am glad that these systems exist and are currently in effect considering that a 1 in 10 chance of successful actions or outcomes are better than uncoordinated unilateral efforts or (more realistically) no efforts at all. While the system in not perfect it does have its successes, from coordinating humanitarian efforts (Haiti, Chile, etc.) to peacekeeping efforts around the globe. The international organizations that compose the Liberal world order (while inefficient and sometimes misguided) are doing good around the globe. These organizations could do with more reorganization and reform to get them to peek levels of efficiency and progress, but this does not mean that they do little to no good.

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