- For Teachers
* We are often affected by global events regardless of where we live. Changes in world oil prices have an impact on people in Canada as well as in Nigeria. The issue of Global Warming has prompted Europe to North America to try to reduce carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere. The September 11 has resulted in a New American foreign policy of a preventive “War on Terrorism”, forcing all other states to respond with support, opposition, or resignation. Even though we might not be aware of the events that influence our lives, they are there nevertheless. International Relations theory represents the study of foreign affairs and global issues among states within the international system. In President Barack Obama’s first United Nations speech on climate change given on September 23, 2009, I find that the international relation of Idealism being a prominent part of his speech, while the theory of realism appears to be missing entirely.
The theory of Idealism assumes the best of human nature; which means that assistance and cooperation are possible and natural. In President Obama’s first United Nations speech he says “now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.” He calls for help from all the other nations to all join forces and try to overcome the challenges that we face such as global warming and the economic crisis that touches every corner of the world. President Obama believes that “The cooperative effort of the whole world” is needed order to overcome these crises. In addition Idealist assumes that the main problem in international relation is war, war can be prevented and international cooperation will promote peace. He says that “Our efforts to promote peace… we will strengthen our support for effective peacekeeping, while energizing our efforts to prevent conflicts before they take hold” He ask for nations to decide which they want “either accept that outcome as inevitable, and tolerate constant and crippling conflict, or we can recognize that the yearning for peace is universal, and reassert our resolve to end conflicts around the world.” Hence there are many evident of Idealism in President Obama’s first United Nation speech.
I find that the theory of Realism is notably absent from his speech. Realists assume that people are essentially selfish and acquisitive by nature. President Obama show that he does not care just for his own nation but the welfare of others; to try and help the world economic crisis they “ worked with the G20 nations to forge a coordinated international response of over $2 trillion in stimulus to bring the global economy back from the brink. We mobilized resources that helped prevent the crisis from spreading further to developing countries.” Realists believe that military power is the most important factor in determining state power and security, yet President Obama has sought to substantial reduce strategic warheads and launchers “At the Conference on Disarmament, we agreed on a work plan to negotiate an end to the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.” President Obama’s main objective is not to focus on national interests in terms of power, but he is concern with global problems and has invested 80 billion dollars in clean energy and fuel-efficiency standards. He also joined others to launch a 20 billion dollars global food security project that will lend a hand to those who need it most, and help them build their own capacity. In doing so he is not trying to put all the country’s money and resources into building weapons to gain more power but trying to help those in need. Thus I believe that his speech to the United Nations lacks many aspects of Realism.
In conclusion, President Obama’s speech has many aspects of Idealisms such as believing if all nations worked together that wars could be prevented and that everyone could live in peace. He also believes that social progress is possible that society can develop and continue to do so, by trying to help less developed countries build their own capacity. His speech lacks many aspects of Realism in that he talks about using money to help others such trying to prevent the economic crisis from affecting other people, trying to reduce the amount of carbon emission to the environment; instead of trying to use it for power gain.