The liberal perspective

One strength of the realist perspective is in the name itself; it is the most closely based on the reality of today’s world. Right or wrong most countries must maintain an us versus them perspective because of the instability of a variety of world leaders. A weakness of the realist perspective is that it could be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy. As one country takes moves to protect their self-interest, other countries may feel threatened and take additional moves as well. Eventually you end up in a place similar to where the United States and Russia were during the Cold War.

The liberal perspective looks to overcome the self-interest problems with the realist perspective. “The liberal perspective pays more attention to interdependence than to independence or self-help” (Nau, 2018). A primary strength of the liberal perspective is that it recognizes that no man, or country, can stand truly alone. In this day and age of modern technology and conveniences, most people are not willing to go without in the name of overt Nationalism. A problem with the liberal perspective is that it ignores the realities of the types of world leaders that sometimes find power. The United States is a prime example. This idea of cooperation and interdependence has been a theme for many decades, however the elections of 2016 has placed a person in charge who is more focused in self-interest. I feel many do not realize the price they will pay in loss of luxury if things continue to progress as they are.

It is harder for me personally to find much strength in the identity perspective. I think it can be very dangerous when carried to extreme. “Identities are not given or exogenous—that is, taken for granted—as in realist or liberal perspectives, but are themselves aspects of reality that have to be accounted for” (Nau, 2018). The dangers of the identity perspective can be clearly seen in the terrible years in Nazi Germany, and some of the same dangers can be seen in the present day United States. The swelling America First movement of the past 2 years has led to an increase in violence and intolerance for those of other races and nationalities. While some strength can be identified in this perspective, the tendency for it to have negative outcomes is great.

While I think it would be lovely if the world adopted a more liberal perspective of cooperation and mutual benefit, the fact is that the realist perspective is the most closely able to express the reality of the current world stage.


Nau, H. R. (2018). Perspectives on international relations: Power, institutions, and ideas (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.

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