Q. ‘The will to power exists, but it can be tamed and guided by rationality and principles of moral duty.’ Examine this statement in the context of international relations. (150 words) (10 marks)
International relations are broadly governed by two opposing principles,that is, political realism and idealism. According to realists, world politics is always a field of conflict among actors pursuing power. Their philosophy assumes that mankind is not inherently benevolent but rather self-centred and competitive. Since there is a lack of central authority and enforcement mechanisms at the international level, no one feels safe as the world is seen as a zero-sum game where one nation's benefit is always another nation's loss. As a consequence, power maximisation, and therefore, enhanced security becomes all-important for every nation.
Political idealists rely on the goodness of human nature and advocate moral behaviour in international relations. If all nations think rationally and follow moral behaviour in international politics, like sovereign equality of states, refrain from using force, non-intervention, self-determination and respect for human rights, all nations are benefited and we can have a more peaceful and prosperous world.
Source : ‘Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for Civil Services Examination’by Dr Awdhesh Singh, available at