Idealism and Realism in International Relations Essay

Idealism and Realism in International Relations Essay

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In regards to the recent events in Ukraine, international relations (IR) have become a popular topic among people again. However, not many truly understand what the term ‘international relations’ entails. Unlike what we usually see in TV dramas, it is more than just people sending representatives to different countries to visit or negotiation about debatable agreements. International relation, sometimes known as ‘world politics’, began after the First World War. This field of academic study concentrates on the, as its name suggests, the politics on the global level with states as the units, relations between states, and maintaining peace in the international system. Areas of international relations include diplomacy, international law, international finance, etc. Within this field of study, idealism and realism are two main theories. The two rivaling theories have been on a great debate, or discussion, since the emergence of international relations. From interpretation to decision-making, they are on distinctive stand from each other. On one hand, idealism focus on what ‘should’ be rather than the reality, while realism focus on what ‘is’ rather than the ideal outcome. In this essay, I will discuss about the characteristics of the two theories and compare the proponents each theory is trying to achieve.
After the rise of total war in War World I, the president of United States, led the US in1917, despite the long fight he had put up to maintain United States’ status as a neutral party, into the war in hopes for peace by defeating those that are responsible for the conflicts. This is the beginning of idealism in international relations. Also known as liberal theory or liberalism in IR, idealism is a positive view of human nature c...

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...s. Retrieved from:
Buchanan, P. J., (2003). Why the League of Nations Failed. Retrieved from:
Garner, R., Ferdinand, P., Lawson, S., & MacDonald, D. B. (2013). Introduction to Politics: Canadian Edition. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopaedia, 6th ed. (2012). International Relations. Retrieved from:
Strohmer. C., (n. d.). Realism & Idealism. Retrieved from:
Wilson, P. (2011). Idealism in international relations. Retrieved from:

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