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The fact that where there are politics there is power is a fact that has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt if what is happening around the world is anything to go by. The manner in which power is conceived is a formidable force that constitutes the definition of international relations. Therefore, understanding the concept of power and its role in international politics is fundamental in understanding international politics in details. Furthermore, power has a social domain that makes it more pertinent in running international politics, which in turn defines most aspects of international relations. According to VanHam (2010), social power lies deep into international politics. Social power leads to setting of standards, establish norms, and values that are believed to be legitimate or even desirable without necessarily coercion of any form. If this belief is true, then it may be used to explain the many differences that are experienced among countries. For instance, countries such as the United States have set various standards that determine the fate of any foreign content getting into its territory. His is evident in trade and matters of immigration. These standards are set because of power being a dominant force in politics. Therefore, the concept of power can be used to understand the manner in which international politics are driven.
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Social power is also associated with other non-state players who directly shape or influence that manner in which international affairs are run (VanHam, 2010). These players include non-governmental organizations, businesspersons, and the media among others. Non-state players can influence critical decisions that affect the world. For instance, businesspersons may influence a home government to do certain things; this may be done certain reasons. This implies that power does not only vest in the hands of politicians but also in other influential role. Furthermore, power is consolidated to control resources, which are not owned by those in power. Therefore, other forces influence how power is exercised both locally and internationally. This also means that non-state players can influence international politics indirectly by taking part in making internal decisions especially those that touch on the economy. A good understanding of how non-state players interact with those in power is also critical in learning and understanding international relations.
Power has been used in the past and is being used currently as a meant to the end by many nations. This observationis common in the world’s richest countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada among others. These nations are also way using power to influence international relations; thus, they are an indispensable case for understanding international politics. According to Barnett and Duvall (2005, p. 40), power can be viewed from a realist point of view as a means by powerful nations to use materials resources to compel other nations to do what they would not do. This implies that wealthy nations are powerful and can thus force poorer nations to take certain directions they would not have to, if they were let to do decide independently. In other words, power is highly critical for wealth y nations to influence global politics. The role played by the United States in the world can be used as a perfect example of this scenario. Invasion of Iraq in 2002 was prompted by a vehement desire by the United States to influence the Middle East politics. Although there were sufficient reasons to believe that Iraq was supporting terrorism and oppressing its own people, politics played a crucial role. First, terrorism did not subside because of the invasion because terror attacks are happening to hitherto. Second, Iraq is still unstable and the intended results are far from being achieved. Therefore, the state of power of the United States prompted its activities because it had the resources to do so. Beside, controlling the politics of the Middle East is critical for economic reasons.
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The influence of power is also responsible for some countries trying to influence others forcefully. The use of military aggression against countries perceived as enemies is a perfect example of how power can be used to force situations. This form of power in called compulsory power because some actors are forced to do things they do not prefer. According to Barnett & Duvall (2005, p. 49), power can be used to shape a range of the circumstances or actions between different actors directly. Some of the most renowned scholars have used this belief to define power. In this regard, Webber defined power as the probability of a party within a social relationship to push for its own position despite any form of resistance. This implies that power has immense potential to influence how a nation pushes for its interests globally. This can also be explained better using the way the United States pushes for its security agenda across the world. Military aggressions have been witnessed in incidents where the united states feel threatened especially by terrorism.
Although political power has been mentioned severally as a means to an end, it is worth noting that power is also used to denote a country’s military ability. In this regard, a country’s military ability can be used in a way to display its political capabilities at the global level (Holsti, 1964). This is evidenced by the present competition among countries with military might. For instance, the United States and Russia are always disagreeing on certain issues that touch on global matters. The recent disagreement over the decision to invade Libya by NATO and allied forces made Russia stay away from the military actions against Libya. Therefore, political differences that are sparked by power were the most probable reason that might have influenced the military action against the North African nation. In other words, power can also spark a military showdown among different countries across the world. This implies that understanding power, as a concept in international relation is pivotal in making the discipline more comprehensible.
Power has another distinguishable character in that it can be institutionalized both locally and globally. Institutional power enables people to control other indirectly even if they are socially apart. This means that some nations with enormous power can control or influence others indirectly in terms of their politics and the way they run their affairs. According to Barnett & Duvall (2005, p. 51), institutionalized power enable certain actors to control or influence others indirectly. A god example of such aspects of power at an international perspective can be illustrated using global bodies such as the World Bank and the international monetary funds. The United States can be said to influence the politics that surround economic policies of different countries or even regions through the World Bank. This is because it has significant influence over the bodies as the main contributors of the funds.
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Therefore, the developing world is sometime made to submit to some demands, which are mainly political in order to receive monetary support. There is the need to understand the power in this sense in order to enhance understanding of various phenomena of international relations. In conclusion, power is one of the principal forces that control the world and relationship between different nations. Therefore, power as a concept in international relations is critical in understanding international politics. This is because politics is the most outstanding element depicting power.
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