The Majestic International Community

Dr. Demarche of the American Future has asked “What is the international community?”

“My questions for the project are: is there such a thing as “the” international community? If so who are its members? In what arenas does this community act? What is America’s role in this community, and that of the U.N.? Finally, what is the future of such a community when Iraq is terrorized by those who oppose democracy and no “community” reacts, genocide in Rwanda goes unchecked and N. Korea is still run by a madman?”

The Glittering Eye, Mark from ZenPundit and Callimachus at Done with Mirrors have given their take, so here’s mine:

The international community is that society of actors that can influence the relations between states.

Almost by definition the international community includes states themselves. The United States is clearly able to influence relations between the United States and Mexico, just as Palau is able to influence relations between Palau and Iraq. A Realist would say that States are the only members of the international community.

Additionally, many Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) are also part of the international community. The most powerful of the are the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. These economically-oriented institutions provide cash and new markets for States, so it is profitable for most States to join them.

Likewise, powerful Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are members of the international community. These include such household names as processes.

A “Liberal Institutionalist” would say that States, NGOs, and IGOs are teh only members of the international community.

However, as a Constructivist would say, the international community is broader than this. Some individuals have the ability to change the friction of states directly. Even if all believed he was speaking only for himself, Bill Clinton’s words would still carry weight because of his personal friendships and acquaintances. So would ’s. Properly speaking, we are all part of the international community, each and every one of us, and all of our networks and groupings, without exception.

However, the power law applies to the international community, just as it applies to the blog community. Perhaps only the uper .001% of humans and networks effect interstate relations substantially on their own It is this top tier — the USAs, WTOs, the al Qaedas — that we think of when we say “the international community”

As to what the future of the international community is…

What will be will be. The community will continue to exist as long as states interact with each other. Bad things go on in good states, worse things go on in worse states, and the international community abides. There are seriously plans to make the international community more effective, but no part of the international community’s definition requires the international community to be a force for good in any way.

0 thoughts on “The Majestic International Community”

  1. Your conception of the International Community works well with Barnett's thesis. Mainly, the Core becomes the “International Community” and his prescriptions for transitioning states from Gap to Core, is a prescription for expanding that community and shrinking the Gap. The Community, is defined by the acceptance of the rule-sets that govern its internal processes, in this case Globalization, democracy (err, movement toward democracy), rule of law, etc. Must think about this more…

  2. Nykrindc,

    I think this definition of international community is pretty standard, but I take a different view with how the size of the international community relates to shrinking the Gap.

    Gap states are part of the international community, because they effect interstate behavior. Iraq, North Korea, and Iran matter very much on the world stage, so they are definitely part of the IC. Interesting, very Core states like Luxembourg seem to matter not at all (no terrorists, no plagues, no refugees), so I wonder if they are “as much” part of the international community as Pyongyang and Tehran?

    Likewise, remember the power law [1]. Meritocracies are very unfair in outcome. If a successful Gap Shrinking means that there are very few rogue players, and only the Military-Industrial-Leviathan Complex and Military-Industrial-SysAdminComplex [3] as regime changers, the international community could steadily shrink as the world becomes better.

    But I agree – I need to think about this more!


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