p.p1 specific outlook on power that differs from

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Liberals argue that international institutions are a good thing as their ultimate aim is to create a world where increased cooperation exists between states with the possibility of lasting peace. Liberals assert that international institutions help facilitate this by increasing dialogue between states, aiding the flow of information, assisting with the ease of trade and formation of economic ties and foster a sense of peace, stability and prosperity on all fronts. The aim of creating a framework of mutually reinforcing institutions is welcomed by liberals who consider international institutions to be a powerful force of stability. This essay will explore this idea further with an examination of the United Nations Security Council, arguing that the presence of international institutions within the realm international politics is more of an asset that it is a bureaucratic liability. 
Liberalism is one of the key schools of thought in international relations theory, rooted in the idea that states are fixed in a domestic and transnational civil state society and that pluralism imposes constraints on state behaviour by shaping the underlying preferences on which its foreign policy is based. The theory revolves around the inherent goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual, emphasising individual rights, constitutionalism, democracy and limitations on the powers of the state. Liberalism is divided into many strands, one of them being liberal institutionalism, the idea that international institutions are significant in altering incentives for people, states and organisations so that cooperation becomes the logical solution to global issues. This links to arguments on functionalism in the sense that the world has undertaken such rapid change and global issues have become so complex that no single state could face issues such as counterterrorism or migration independently. 
Liberals tend to have a specific outlook on power that differs from that of the realist view in that for liberals, military power is ineffective in terms of its ability to shape outcomes in international politics whereas for realists, military power dictates everything. Liberalism values the idea of interdependence and places a heavy emphasis on the importance of free trade and the removal of barriers to commerce. For example, the rise of economic integration in Europe was guided by the belief that a shared common interest in trade between states in the same geographical region could reduce conflict. This would encourage states to cooperate within an agreed economic and political framework for their mutual benefit rather than resolving differences through military means, with states having a joint stake in each other’s peace and prosperity. The European Union is a key example of where economic integration and interdependency has brought about closer economic and political ties, enabling cooperation in a region that was historically plagued by national conflicts. This idea of interdependence between states fits into the idea of another strand of liberalism; commercial liberalism. This is one of the more recently argued theories that rests on the idea that participation in international institutions could help overcome self-serving state conduct by encouraging states to forgo immediate gains for the greater benefits of enduring cooperation.  Another strand of liberalism is the idea that the spread of democracy is essential in the goal of world peace, based on the assumption that democratic states were inherently more peaceful than authoritarian states, which Woodrow Wilson was a proponent of.
Realists think about sovereign states operating in a world where, as Mir phrases it, ‘anarchy is the ordering principle of the international system’ as the basis for understanding what happens in international relations, where the balance of power in the Western order was maintained by the formation of Western institutions in order to counter Soviet threat, providing an mutually understood incentive for Western countries to cooperate, where the balance of power is ‘simply a theory about the outcome of units’ behaviour under conditions of anarchy’, as argued by Waltz.  In contrast, liberals such as G. John Ikenberry are proponents of the liberal international order that emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War in order to promote peace and global prosperity. This is the idea of a ‘ settled arrangement between states that define the terms of their interaction …. that is open and rule-based’. The liberal international order expanded by establishing international laws which national governments must comply to, ‘underpinned by international institutions such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as new norms like the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) – seeking to shape the world in the West’s image’. G. John Ikenberry’s argues that the institutional structure of the international order faces a crisis which is exacerbated by the ‘difficulty in realising common interests among major powers’, ‘the erosion of sovereignty norms without a clear and shared set of agreements’ and ‘the emergence of global powers (such as India and China)’. One could agree with Ikenberry’s theory given the decline in support for the liberal international order exemplified through the 2016 European Union referendum in the UK, the 2016 USA presidential election, as well as the rise of China. 
International institutions are an agreed upon set of rules that stipulate the ways in which states cooperate and compete with one another  that are formalised in international agreements. They are set up to promote peace, prosperity and development with many different types of institutions existing in order to achieve particular goals or set certain standards.  By encouraging cooperation between sovereign states, international institutions play a role in changing the structure of situations by altering the incentives involved so that cooperation rather than confrontation between states becomes the logical option as a means of reciprocating ‘behaviour encouraged by a norm(the reciprocity principle), while also constraining the behaviour of powerful states through rules that govern behaviour’. International institutions have the means of influencing cooperation and decisions, as they have the capabilities to ‘prevent conflict by legitimating collective decisions and changing perceptions of identity and self-interest’.  International institutions were not considered by academics to be of importance with the failure of the League of Nations in an attempt to construct an institution for multiplayer diplomacy until the founding of the United Nations in 1945 which received strong support from the United States and had been organised into specialised branches with specific tasks.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is an example of arguably one of the most powerful and important international institutions with the responsibility of maintaining international peace and security with the aims of developing a greater capacity for collective security which is where ‘each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and agrees to join in a collective response to aggression’ . The UNSC employs a membership system with five permanent members reflecting the end-result of the Second World War – France, USA, Russia, UK and China, plus fifteen rotating non-permanent members. Each of the permanent members have veto power over all Security Council decisions, which Lawson argues exists because ‘unless the most powerful states are given greater authority and status in the Security Council, they are unlikely to remain committed to the organisation as a whole’. The UNSC holds coercive powers in order to enforce and regulate its resolutions via negotiation, arbitration, or other peaceful means and prevent the outbreak of large-scale conflict.
Liberals tend to argue that international institutions, such as the UNSC, are not just mechanisms where states get together and the most powerful states assert their will by dictating the agenda and budget but that international institutions can have a more transformative effect. International institutions have the power to change the incentive structure so that rather than having all states compete with each other in every dimension, but it becomes in the interest of states to cooperate out of mutual benefit. Liberals believe that creating  agreed upon rules and norms will mean more stability and peace. This idea is implemented though UN peacekeeping operations that are authorised by the UNSC with peacekeeping operations met with success in Angola, Liberia, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti. The UNSC also intervened in major crises such as the Suez Crisis of 1956, where Egypt received support from the United States and the USSR, forcing the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli forces in the Suez Zone and preventing the removal of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. In this sense, liberals view international institutions as a good thing as they can protect and defend civilians of weaker states whilst maintaining peace and security in regions of high tension. 
The idea of international institutions such as the UNSC fostering peace and security is exemplified through the period of maximum cooperation experienced in the 1990s in which the council began with its response to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From 1990-91, the Security Council passed twelve resolutions dealing with the Iraq crisis with the United States showing full commitment in utilising the UNSC in order to legitimate action against Saddam Hussein and build the broadest possible international coalition. Without the strong US lead, France and Russia were expected to comply in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and in January 1991, military action was taken by the coalition forces in order to free Kuwait, with Saddam Hussein ordering a retreat from Kuwait leading President George H. W. Bush declaring Kuwait liberated. This successful example of the Iraq intervention as well as the end of the Cold War marked a period in which ‘discord among the permanent (and rotating) members of the Security Council was muted, and the body was able to function’ efficiently.  That being said, liberals recognise that the UN Security Council is not without major flaws and have criticised its failures in preventing and alleviating conflicts and genocides, most notably those that occurred in Rwanda and Bosnia during the 1990s, accounting for a major loss of human life.
The liberal international order that arose from the fallout of the Second World War paved the way for a new way of doing international politics. The Great Depression of 1929 can be seen as a major cause of the Second World War, where institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and what is now the World Trade Organisation (WTO) had to be created in its aftermath in order to solidify stability through a mechanism that would rebuild Europe by guaranteeing cooperation across all dimensions. Economic historian Charles Kindleberger argues for the need of a ‘stabiliser’ in order ‘for the world economy to be stabilised’  which could be applied to the Bretton Woods institutions set up in order to achieve said stability. Whilst these institutions have now become the topic for much contestation ,some commercial liberals argue that they have largely been beneficial for the countries choosing to participate in them. These institutions ‘constrain the behaviour of the most powerful countries and provide information and monitoring capacities that enable states to cooperate’, as Milner notes, with many international relations scholars arguing that countries should benefit from these institutions where states rationally decide to join them only if the net benefits are greater than those offered by staying out of the organisation. Lloyd Gruber argues that if the most powerful states define the alternatives open to the developing countries and set up multilateral institutions then developing countries are better off by joining them than staying out, but worse off than if the institutions never existed. International institutions make the use of force and power by states to achieve their goals less likely as the rules, norms and procedures established by these institutions mitigates the likelihood of propensity towards conflict and the use of military force. Ikenberry notes that they help to harness the behaviour of the most powerful states. By creating and complying with these institutions, the hegemon can reassure other states not take advantage of them, with liberals seeing this as a good thing as they see mutual benefit where the correct policies and practices are implemented.
 John J. Mearsheimer argues that liberal institutionalism fails to address how war can be prevented through international institutions but ‘instead focuses on the less ambitious goal of explaining cooperation in cases where states are not fundamentally opposed’, claiming that the theory disregards security issues and is instead fixated on economic and environmental issues. Mearsheimer goes on to argue that international institutions lack value in maintaining peace and security but rather are vehicles in furthering the hegemony of powerful states whilst subjugating weaker states. In the realist sense, international institutions are tools for power acquisition and the inhibition of other states to reach such power. He argues that the balance of power is the ultimate factor in determining war and peace and that international institutions such as the UNSC are merely a reflection of the balance of power rather than a useful institution. In response to this, liberals Keohane and Martin defend the positive significance of international institutions, alluding to the fact that in recent years ‘major governments have been emphasising the value of international institutions’, investing ‘significant material and repetitional resources in NATO, and the EU’. They argue the merit of international institutions by acknowledging that whilst state interests are essential in shaping state behaviour, other factors come into play such as flows of information provided by international institutions which facilitate cooperation. Keohane and Martin point to NATO, an institution solely focused on security, in order to refute the claim that liberal institutionalism disregards issues of security and indicate that liberals who ‘see institutions as rooted in the realities of power and interest’ recognise institutions such as NATO as making ‘a significant difference in conjunction with power realities’.  This argument put forward by Keohane and Martin illustrates why liberals think international institutions are a good thing in that they can have a transformative effect in altering state preferences and that their operation on the basis of reciprocity will be a necessary prerequisite of any lasting peace. 
Overall, one could agree with the argument proposed by liberals that international institutions are a good thing in creating a network of stability across many different dimensions regarding cooperation on economic, military and humanitarian fronts. Institutions such as the UN Security Council remain important regarding international peace and security and although it is faced with a plethora of criticism, there are still opportunities for the council to evolve. The liberal view that international institutions are a good thing is not a misguided idea, as it is better for the world that such institutions are implemented rather than being non-existent.