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What is Idealistic Approach? International Relations IR

Idealistic Approach

“Idealism in foreign policy holds that a state should make its internal political philosophy the goal of its foreign policy.”
Idealism (Idealist Approach) and Realism (Realist Approach) have been two competing traditional approaches, each of which wants recognition as the sound approach to the study of international relations. It advocates a particular view of the totality of international reality and believes that it can be adopted as the means for understanding and explaining all aspects of international relations. It also represents the classical tradition of the study of international relations. Both Idealism and Realism are normative approaches in essence and content. The Idealist Approach holds that old, ineffective and harmful modes of behavior i.e., war, use of force and violence should be abandoned in favor of new ways and means as determined by knowledge, reason, compassion and self-restraint.

History of Idealistic Approach

Since the 1880s, there has been growing study of the major writers of this idealist tradition of thought in international relations. Idealism is centered on the notion that states are rational actors capable of ensuring lasting peace and security rather than resorting to war. The concept of idealistic approach comes into mind before League of Nation came. According to this approach the issues should resolved peacefully. Wilson's idealistic thought was embodied in his Fourteen points speech, and in the creation of the League of Nations. Idealism may find itself in opposition to Realism, a worldview which argues that a nation's national interest is more important than ethical or moral considerations; however, there need be no conflict between the two. Idealist approach derives strength from the general idea of evolutionary progress in society and the spirit of liberal idealism which was at the back of American policies, particularly during the inter-war years. During the inter-war years (1919-39), the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson became its most forceful exponent. Wilson's views were based on the future welfare of humankind. He called for a world made safe democracy, this was organized around political, economic and social standards. These principles were stated in his 14- point peace program. Wilson thought of this program as an American commitment to show mankind the way of liberty. The core of Wilson's program was a league of nations committed to peace, and bringing down tyranny which was thought to be the root of war. The idea was that if democracy could be widespread peace and prosperity would prevail.

Importance of Idealistic Approach

According to most accounts, idealists emphasize the power of reason to overcome prejudice and counteract the machinations of sinister forces. They believe that the spread of education and democracy—including increasing democratic control of foreign policy—will empower world public opinion, and make it a powerful force that no government can resist. They view war as a disease of the international body politic, contrary to the interests of all bar a few special interests and unrepresentative governments. Idealists emphasize the importance of universal bodies such as the League and the UN in galvanizing and organizing world public opinion. Through such means, they contend, it will be possible to eliminate crude power from international relations, substituting research, reason and discussion in place of national armies and navies. Importantly, idealists tend to stress the existence of a natural harmony of interests between all peoples underlying the superficially conflicting interests of their states and/or governments.
While accepting that the different peoples exhibit different codes of behavior, cultural norms, values, habits and tastes, they contend that human beings are fundamentally uniform. Regardless of ethnic, social, cultural and religious background, all human beings desire the same things in terms of security, welfare, recognition and respect. All are bound by a common morality with its bedrock in basic human rights and the Kantian principle that human beings should be respected as ends in themselves and never treated as mere means. Many idealists share the belief of Mazzini that there is no essential incompatibility between nationalism and internationalism. There is a natural division of labor between nations. Each nation has its special task to perform, its special contribution to make to the well-being of humanity.

Idealistic Approach in International Relations

Idealism stands for improving the course of international relations by eliminating war, hunger, inequality, tyranny, force, suppression and violence from international relations. To remove these evils is the objective before humankind. Idealism accepts the possibility of creating a world free from these evils by depending upon reason, science and education. Political idealism in international relations represents a set of ideas which together oppose war and advocate the reform of international community through dependence upon moral values and the development of international institutions and international law.
The Idealist Approach advocates morality as the means for securing the desired objective of making the world an ideal world. It believes that by following morality and moral values in their relations, nations can not only secure their own development, but also can help the world to eliminate war, inequality, despotism, tyranny, violence and force.

“For the idealists, politics is the art of good government and not the art of possible. Politics provides for the good life and respect for his fellow humans, both domestically and internationally.” —Colombia's and Wolfe.

As such Idealism advocates the need for improving relations among nations by removing the evils present in the international environment.

Features of Idealistic Approach

Study of History, Legal and Political Institution

In this we study about the history of a specific or particular political institution. The study of the parliament that how it works and how the law-making process works. Apart from making study on the parliament one should also make study on global politics. To study the history of the world that how the politics comes into existence and grow with time. Political issues should also be in consideration which drives the politics (e.g. Agreement not to borrow oil from Iran ).

Utility of Psychology

As state is the basic unit of the world. A state head is a representative of the state and by understanding the psychology of the state head we can predict the behaviour of the particular state. As a head of the state he always thinks about the benefits of the state like money and power but if head is arrogant and greedy then his policies and actions will always be like his nature. By understanding the psychology, we can predict the issues and will make a new trend to resolve issues.
Amendment in Human Nature Is Possible
As by nature a person is greedy and also that man is selfish. A person always wants land, money and women. According to ideal school of thoughts we can change the human nature and amendment in it is possible.

Agreement Over Peace Collaboration

As all the countries have their issues in their boundary lines. All the countries agree on dividing certain lines to which all the countries have to agree upon. These are known as Fundamental Rights. United Nations is applying the laws and the countries have the pressure to obedient to law. If a country violates the rules UN will make military influence on that country.

Collective Interests 

There we have certain collective interests that is common for all the countries. As one agreement is that no country goes for war in any situation. These Interests are End of War, Education, Peaceful Solutions, Fundamental Rights, Teresian, Protecting Environment and Religion.

Wrong Concept of Power Politics

All the countries protect their rights they also protect their interests for their own welfare from every aspect this is basically power politics.

Other Features of Idealistic Approach

Human nature is essentially good and capable of good deeds in international relations.
Human welfare and advancement of civilization are the concerns of all.
Bad human behaviour is the product of bad environment and bad institutions.
By reforming the environment, bad human behaviour can be eliminated.
War represents the worst feature of relations.
By reforming international relations, war can be and should be eliminated.
Global efforts are needed to end war, violence and tyranny from international relations.
International community should work for eliminating such global instruments, features and practices which lead to war.
International institutions committed to preserve international peace, international law and order should be developed for securing peace, prosperity and development.

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