'Robert Keohane'에 해당되는 글 1건

  1. 2014.08.13 [IR-Neorealism and its Competitors] Institutional Liberalism

[IR-Neorealism and its Competitors] Institutional Liberalism

[연구] Research 2014. 8. 13. 20:32

Keohane, Robert (2012) “Twenty Years of Institutionalism Liberalism,” International Relations, Vol. 26, pp. 125-138.

*A paper that clearly outlines the theoretical relevance of Realism on Institutional Liberalism


Purpose of this paper:

-          to use Carr’s perspective in The Twenty Years’ Crisis to interrogate Institutional Liberalism

-          identify three trends (legalization, increasing legalism and moralism, decline in the coherence of some international regimes) – reviewed in light of Realist critiques of liberalism





1.       What is Institutional Liberalism (IL)?


Institutional Liberalism (IL): Cooperation in world politics can be enhanced through the construction and support of multilateral institutions based on liberal principles.

-          (Keohane) originating from John Ruggie’s conception of international political authority (30yrs ago) – IL as one basis for the political authority – ‘fusion of power and legitimate social purpose’[1]

-          Institutions and rules can facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation within and among states

-          The social purpose: “to promote beneficial effects on human security, human welfare and human liberty as a result of more peaceful, prosperous and free world.” (126)

-          Yet, realist assumptions are not negated (“[no belief] in a harmony of interests” – 126)


*Note on the difference between IL and Liberalism:

-          IL “very different” from what E.H Carr describes as “liberalism” (“which is the 19th century liberalism based on abstract rational principles” – “harmony of interests based on a ‘synthesis of morality and reason’”; “separated power from economics” (126)


2.       More on Ruggie (from which IL originates, according to Keohane) – “embedded liberalism”


Ruggie’s notion of “embedded liberalism compromise”[2]

-          emerged as “the result of the Depression and World War II” (126)

-          seeks to “foster pluralism in economics and politics and promotes international cooperation” (126) – like 19th century liberalism.

-          yet, difference from 19th century liberalism: Ruggie’s notion is “multilateral in character… and predicated upon domestic interventionism”[3]; like IL, “dependence of economics on politics” and no belief “in a harmony of interests” (126)


3.       IL – Pluralist conception of power and interests


“The people… should rule, but they have to rule through institutions”

“an antidote to fatalism and a source of hope”[4] – unlike Realism (127)





Questioning Institutional Liberalism


Purpose here: Evaluation of the last 20 years of liberal dominance (after the collapse of Soviet Union)


1.       Overview


-          Before 1991: Institutions – security justification (US and its allies against Soviet Union)

Ø  “to create economic prosperity and patterns of cooperation that would reinforce the position of the West in the struggle with the Soviet Union” (127)

Ø  American hegemony, esp the institutions created after WWII – “ ‘constructed on the basis of principles espoused by the United States, and American power was essential for their construction and maintenance’” (127)

Ø  Realist relative gain competition between the West and the Soviet bloc; Cooperation among the West (mutually beneficial cooperation)

Ø  Cooperation on the basis of “mutual self-interest and reciprocity, without much legalization

Ø  Towards many “robust international regimes”: monetary regimes (esp. 1958-1971, fixed EX), GATT (127)

Ø  1980s projection: “a continuation and gradual strengthening of international institutions grounded in domestic politics and achieving substantial cooperation on the basis largely of specific reciprocity” (128)


2.       Main Question

-          Since the early 1990s: the three trends noted above (legalization, increasing legalism and moralism, decline in the coherence of some international regimes)

=> Reassessement of IL in the light of the experience of the last 20 years

Ø  Does IL contain a hidden logic (explanation) for these three trends? Or has liberalism become inconsistent with the changes in power structures? (129)


3.       Definitions First:

-          Legalization: “property of institutions” where the rules are “precise and obligatory, and they provide arrangements for third-party adjudication” (128)

-          Coherence: “also a property of institutions, but refers more to the relationship among institutions than to the properties of any single institution” – Note on decline in the coherence of international regimes , becoming ‘regime complexes’ – “loosely coupled arrangements of rules, norms and institutions”\

-          Legalism and Moralism: “not properties of institutions but rather of the human mind” (130); Legalism: “the belief that moral and political progress can be made through the extension of law”; Moralism: “the belief that moral principles provide valuable, if not necessarily sufficient, guides to how political actors should behave….” (130)


4.       Critique

-          Keohane’s “ambibalen[ce]” on legalism (130):

Ø  Serves as a “veil” to the “hiding exercise of power” (130)

Ø  Stehen Krasner: “organized hypocrisy”[5] (130)

Ø  Overall, Keohane’s purpose to distinguish legalization from legalism.


-          E.H Carr also critical of moralism and legalism – calling them “utopian thinking”




Idealism and interests: the revival of moralism in world politics


1.       Since 1991: Language of moralism now “detached from great power struggles” (after 1991) (131)

-          Topics now: human rights, democracy, themes decried by ppl like Morgenthau and Kennan.

-          Unlike the realists view, Carr: Criticizes both realist (denial of values) and liberal (utopian) views “there is a world community for the reason (and for no other) that people talk, and within certain limits behave, as if there were a world community” – but this world community is thin – “the role of power is greater and that of morality less” and any “international moral order must rest on some hegemony of power”(131) – against the utopian view and also the realist denial on morality

-          Note on the potential danger of moralism:

“A concern for morality is therefore both essential and dangerous… a concern for morality is dangerous because in the hands of fools or demagogues it can become a pernicious form of moralism, serving not to check power but to justify its use in ways that are false and typically damaging” (131)


2.       Overall, moralism provides:

-          “impetus to social movements” (132)

-          “enhance the legitimacy of hegemonic states and the orders they seek to maintain” (132)

-          “moralism and also generate arrogance, facilitate the distortion of reality, and even conceal nefarious purposes” (132)


The revival of legalism and its penumbra (“increasing legalized”(133) IL since 1991)


1.       Four prominent examples of international legal institutions since 1991 (132):

-          The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (1993)

-          World trade law legalized in WTO (1995)

-          The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – permanent basis in 1998

-          The International Criminal Court (ICC) - 2002

* Efforts to “domesticate world politics” (133) – against Realist view of anarchy (vs. order of domestic politics)


2.       Yet, problematic of legalism:

-          “misattributed causality”: “law always rests on power and interests” (134)

Ø  E.H Carr: “‘the law is not an abstraction. It cannot be understood independently of the political foundation on which it rests and of the political interests which it serves’[6]” (134)

-          “straitjacket for policy-makers” (134)


3.       Overall,

-           (+) “It can provide a rationale for smoothing the edges of rough order, motivating people to create more consistent legal arrangements that do, under the right conditions, have a positive impact” (134)

-           (-) “But legalism that ignores power and interests misattributes causality and limits adaptation to change.” (134)


Changes in structure and the decreasing coherence of international economic and environmental regimes


1.       Realist Scenarios of the past:

-           Gilpin: ‘recurring struggle for wealth and power among independent actors in a state of anarchy’[7]

-           Mearsheimer: Collapse of the USSR -> ‘back to the future’ to a world power politics in Europe’[8]

-           Waltz: dominance of US would generate a blocking coalition (balance of power theory; that “power generates attempts to counter it” – 134)

* above scenarios did not occur. Yet, the point is that “there is a counter-narrative to the progressive and pacific narrative of Institutional Liberalism” (134)


2.       Striking Changes during the last 20 years:

-           Development of the Third World

-           Diversified interests -> “a progressive extension of international regimes… has been halted if not reversed” (134)


3.       Implications on Realism and IL (Mix of the Two) – Remaining relevance of Realism

-           Realism remains relevant: power and interest structures that lie below “the veil of rhetoric and law” (134) = “With the rise of China, India and other emerging economies, structures of power and interest have become more diverse; and as Structural Realism would have anticipated, the institutions that link major powers have been weakened, with more contention (134)

-           “As institutional theorists anticipated, many of these institutions persist despite changes in patterns of power and interests; but as Realists claimed, it has become increasingly difficult to construct strong new institutions” (135)

-           “We need to be careful, as E.H. Carr was, about the ways in which Realism remains relevant” (135)


4.       Is Realism then a good?

-           As E.H Carr, Keohane also views it as “not a good moral guide: it dodges many issues of ethical choice by unduly discounting how much choice leaders of great powers have. ‘Necessity’ is not a convincing justification for the very powerful.” (135)

-           Yet major lesson from Realism: “Institutions rest on power and changes in power generate changes in institutions.” (135)

-           Realism + the fact on domestic politics and learning




-           Overall, here, projection for the rise of “newly strong countries, as well as the obstacles that domestic politics places in the way of farsighted adaptation.” (136)

ð  Yet, this doesn’t mean a collapse of the existing system as “‘a set of networks, norms and institutions, once established will be difficult either to eradicate or drastically rearrange’[9]” (136)

-           Going back to Keohane’s first question: whether the changes of post-1991 are within the IL tradition:

Ø  His answer is “mixed”

Ø  Intrinsic features of liberalism: the first two trends (legalization, moralism and legalism)

Ø  Yet, decline in liberalism: the third trend (decline in the coherence of international regimes)

-           What to do now: Efforts less in legalism and moralism but to “form coalitions that will build and maintain coherent multilateral institutions to address the major challenges of our time” (136)



-           “Moralism, legalization and legalism reflect the fusion of power and social purpose represented by the dominance of liberalism since 1991” (136)

-           “decline in regime coherence stems from a divergence of interests, a diffusion of power, and the difficulties of persuading domestic democratic publics to bear the costs of adjustment” (136)

-           “Power continues to be important but institutions can help to tame it, and states whose leaders seek both to maintain and use power must be attentive, as E.H. Carr recognized, to issues of legitimacy. At the moment, legalism and moralism thrive, but the comprehensiveness and coherence of multilateral institutions are suffering. We need at this time less to profess and preach legalism and moralism than to figure out how to form coalitions that will build and maintain coherent multilateral institutions to address the major challenges of our time. The fact that these institutions are not foolproof is less a counsel of despair than a motivation to build them on as firm foundations as we can” (136)



Comment/Critique points:

-           realist tenet on power + institutions, idea of legitimacy

-           Keohane’s proposal: “form coalitions that will build and maintain” the institutions


[1] John Gerard Ruggie, ‘International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order’, International Organization, 36(2), 1982, pp. 379415, quotation on p. 382.

[2] Ruggie “International Regimes,” p.393

[3] Ruggie “International Regimes,” p.393

[4] Robert O. Keohane (2002) Power and Governance in a Partially Globalized World, p. 59

[5] Stephen D. Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).

[6] Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, p. 179.

[7] Robert G. Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 7.

[8] John J. Mearsheimer, ‘Back to the Future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War’, International Security, 15(1), 1990, pp. 5056; the quotation is on p. 8.

[9] Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Power and Interdependence, 4th edn (Boston, MA: Longman, 2012), p. 46.

Trackbacks 1 : Comments 0

Write a comment