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PSIR 2A-5.1 Idealist / Liberal Tradition – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] What is ‘complex interdependence’? Discuss the role of transnational actors in the international system. [2021/15m/200w/2c]

The model of ‘Complex Interdependence’ was developed by Robert O Keohane and Joseph S. Nye in the late 1970s. The complex Interdependence model tried to synthesize the realist and liberal perspectives and highlighted the emergence of transnational actors vis-à-vis the state.

Following the rise of international regimes and institutions, the traditional military capabilities have been compensated with the importance of welfare and trade in foreign policy matters. The neoliberal perspective has attained much importance and the states are entering into cooperative alliances with one another under conditions of anarchy and dependence even.

Transnational actors play an important role in such an interdependent world. However, not all are positive forces. The multi-national corporations have their supply chains distributed all over the world and are acting as a source of employment for many. There are also many NGOs that are working for the welfare of people all over the world.

On the flip side, informal organizations like terrorists are working to wage war against people and states. These transnational actors operate beyond national boundaries, and it has become impossible for state actors to counteract them. With recent examples of the United States giving up on its Afghanistan project.

Due to entrenched interests, the role of transnational actors has become more important and has enforced global cooperation in many respects. The theory of complex interdependence is a very good explanation of current reality and also holds the power to give solutions to contemporary problems. [240 words]

2] What are the core assumptions of idealism as an approach to study International Relations? Explain its continuing relevance in peace building. [2020/10m/150w/1e]

Idealism is an optimistic doctrine that seeks to transcend international anarchy and create a more cosmopolitan and harmonious world order. Although idealism is often related to the documents like Woodrow Wilson’s fourteen points, its roots can be traced to Christian morality.

At its core, idealism assumes that human nature is essentially good and capable of good deeds in international relations. Human welfare and the advancement of civilization are concerns of all. Bad human behaviour is a product of bad institutions and by reforming the institution, bad behaviour can be eliminated. Wars, violence and tyranny can be and should be eliminated.

Idealism was attacked by realists like E. H. Carr (The Twenty Years’ Crisis). Idealists are considered to be out of touch with reality, putting moral principles before practical or prudential considerations.

However, as suggested by Hedley Bull, the distinctive characteristic of idealists is their belief in progress: the belief, in particular, that the system of international relations is capable of being transformed into a fundamentally more peaceful and just world order. Idealism can help us tackle the ever-new challenges of the changing world order, the prospect of a new cold war, the rise of xenophobia, ‘cyber-insecurity’ etc. and assist in shaping a better world. [204 words]

3] What according to Joseph Nye, are the major sources of a country’s soft power? Discuss its relevance in contemporary world politics. [2018/10m/150w/1e]

According to Joseph Nye, soft power is the co-optive power of a nation and it rests on the ability to shape the preferences of others by attraction rather than coercion.

Nye has given three major sources of soft power; culture, political ideals and foreign policies, especially when they are attractive and are seen as legitimate or possess moral authority.

For instance, many third-world countries have adopted the English language as a result of colonisation. This has helped the USA to become culturally hegemonic. On the other hand, China has not become a cultural hegemony yet because of the language constraint. It is not easy for it to sell its stories even after millions of projects, all over the world.

Soft power is cheaper and easier, with less collateral damage. A strong national brand allows a nation to promote itself as a place for people to visit, invest in, and build a reputation for their quality of goods and services.

However, soft power cannot work in isolation from hard power. If the USA becomes a poor economy, its soft power will also lose its influence. Hence, a country should look forward to becoming a Smart power. [195 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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