Nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, not answering the call for help in Rwanda, allowing Germany to take over Czechoslovakia, supporting the creation of the state of Israel, giving out loans (with interest) to developing countries, and the creation of the United Nations are all forms of international interference and cooperation amongst states. When looking at these examples and many more, it begs the question, does morality play a role in international affairs of a state? George Kennan, a prominent Skeptic, would argue that in international politics “other criteria, sadder, more limited, more practical, must be allowed to prevail.”
In this essay, I will first present the Skeptic argument that morality either plays no role or gives way to prudential reasons that serve the self interest of the state. During that I will give a brief explanation of Skepticism as a theory of morality in international relations. Following that I will explore ethics in the Morality of States and Cosmopolitan schools of thought in comparison to Skepticism.
Skepticism, often known as realism, is one of the oldest perspectives to observe ethics in international relations. The basic premise of international skepticism is that states are selfish actors and when necessary, a state should act in its self-interested over any moral proclamation. (Forde, 8) This belief is derived from the ancient belief that humans are naturally evil, evolving into the more modern form stating that humans are naturally selfish actors. (Donnelly, 20)
To compare states with individuals, you open up the gates for questions, like how can a state be compared to an individual, and if they are comparable, then don’t we see examples of ind...
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...alition of states risk war, which would not be the common good of the earth.
In conclusion, Skeptics hold a firm belief that morality plays little to no role of foreign policy, especially when it comes in conflict with the states self interest. Due to the anarchic system of international politics, there is no enforcing any state to comply to international law or morality. However other theories help highlight key phenomena that may lead to an international morality not founded on self interest. Morality of States core belief of state sovereignty and non-interference has definitely come to play (borders had hardly grown since the creation of the Westfalian state). And cosmopolitans have demonstrated an ideal path for human rights and peace where we can see possibilities already like the formation of the United Nations and the spread of democracy.
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