Define and discuss the two competing theories of international relations.
Realism in many ways can be considered as a theory that suggests that there is no real authority in foreign relations. Since there are so little and generally weak international institutions of government, the most important elements of foreign affairs are what is the interest of that particular state. This view of realism come from the notion that international, governmental agencies, have no real authority in preventing aggression or aggressive action between nations. This being said, since there is little power of the UN for instance to keep peaceful order, then the idea of international accountability through the UN is effectively rendered null. The role of government is to protect the values of the culture it resides within, and since the UN and other international bodies encompass such a large body of values with no actual military authority, the ultimate consequences that face individual citizens scarcely can be applied to entire nations. The only hope of a realist political environment is a somewhat equal balance of power.
Liberalism on the other hand, refers to a theory of international relations that focuses on the individual state and its political and economic liberty. This has not actually been the most popular theory in American history because it is idealistic in its nature. The idealism of liberalism comes from its stance that, in this case, the United States is the most important entity in the outlook of the United States. This led to the isolationist policies of Woodrow Wilson prior to the American entrance into World War I. liberalism however, has ventured more into the realm of realism in that it accepts the importance of global interconnectedness that is proposed in realism. However, there is still a liberal leaning away from war as it would destroy the interconnectedness of the global community that is based in commerce and trade.