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Question 1

Question 2


Question 1

i. Consider the involvement of Russia, United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other powers in the Syrian crisis. What theory explains this political dilemma?


Syria, a once prosperous Middle Eastern nation, has been reduced to a land of rubble post the highlight complex and the devastating civil war situation that is still ongoing. A number of world powers have been involved in terms of mediation with the most prominent forces including the United States of America, Russia, Turkey and a host of Middle Easter nations comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and others. The study takes on an evaluative approach in terms of deciphering the Syrian crisis and the involvement by world powers along with establishing the theoretical underpinnings of the same.


The field of international relations and geopolitics has been subject to a number of academic developments and theorized conceptualizations over the past few decades. Right from the World War era and even before, nations from around the world have engaged in varying measures of attempts to exercise international authority and diplomacy. While some have been more aggressive and explicit by essence, numerous attempts have also been found that were inherently subtle and implicit by nature. Considering the situation of the civil war within Syria, it would be important to discuss the back story as to what led to the civil war and how the demand for a localized Presidential resignation came to be a full blown international affair.

The Arab Spring protests are highly relevant in this regard, which included a range of anti government protests that took place within the Middle Eastern sub continent during the 2010 and 2011. Anti government stances were the key highlight, with the Syrian consensus calling for the resignation of the then president Bashar Assad. In terms of the United States, the country has consistently maintained that it is fighting the IS or the Islamic State and has publicly maintained how the Syrian government has had close ties with the militant organization (Pantti, 2016). Considering the above stance, the Western superpower has aided rebel factions in Syria ranging from weapons and funds to even military training. Contradictorily, Russia, another global superpower, has taken the opposite stance and has publicly gone on to support the Assad government.

The country has aided the government with air support and weapons along with rigorous diplomatic backing at the United Nations. Similarly, Turkey has backed the Syrian opposition, often supporting the rebels with troops and funds and publicly acknowledging the Free Syrian Army as a faction (Williams, Dicker & Paterson, 2018). The key objective for the country was to prevent the territorial gains post the war by Syrian Kurds. Contradictorily, Iran has taken the stance directly opposite to that of Turkey and has maintained continued support towards the Assad government. Tehran, Iran’s capital, has been supporting the Syrian government right since 2012 and has given extensive amounts of military aid to the war struck nation.

Based on the above discussion, it is clear that while the crux of the conflict is taking place within Syria, the determinants and the causal factors inherently entail an international affair. Several theoretical concepts relevant to the field of geopolitics are applicable to the Syrian crisis. However, the most prominent among them relate to the shatter belt theory, which came to be popularized by Saul Cohen in his 2003 publication “Geopolitics of the World System”. The concept of the theory essentially puts forward how strategic locations that are located between two or more superpowers tend to suffer from internal division and how this leads to external intervention by the superpowers due to the location based advantages (Simons, 2019). The term shatter belt essentially refers to the geographical region, which in this case is Syria, as a region being subjected to endangerment from localized conflicts with a subsequent involvement of opposing powers outside the region. The theory compares geo politics from a geological point of view, where shatter belts refer to fault zones that lead to places of earthquake occurrence (Brown, 2019). The key underlining within the shatter belt theory is that while most geopolitical regions benefit from a certain degree of cohesion, the shatter belts tend to manifest as fragile bands that eventually turn into sources of global instability.

The Syrian crisis has certainly led to international discussion and debates as to how the situation could be handled and how the country was being used as a scapegoat to leverage personal interests by the two superpowers including the Russia and the United States. Similarly, international politics experts have also hinted at the lack of administration and poor management of the Assad government that gave way to the extensive nature of international involvement within domestic affairs and how it eventually led to the outbreak of the civil war, causing damages in million and killing people in an unrestricted manner. The situation is highly relevant to the key propositions within Galtung’s Conflict Triangle, which puts forward that societal systems often suffer from a potential of conflict in the behaviours, attitudes and the contradictions are available in plenty (Mitchell, 2019). The key conditions as put forward within the theoretical model that increases the probability of violent conditions within a geographic region include limited availability of democratic measures to solve disputes, poverty and governmental superiority, interfered judicial systems, elite control of wealth and resources and abuse of human rights. While the factors would not appear to be explicitly present within the country of Syria, several instances in the past have seen examples of these factors albeit in an underlying manner.


In conclusion, it could be stated that the Syrian civil war and the crisis is both a result of poor management by the domestic government as well as an over emphasis by external agents to pursue personal interests. The shatter belt theory and the theory of Galtung’s Conflict Triangle were found to be relevant to the situation, especially when discussing the involvement of highly modernized and developed superpowers such as the United States of American, Russia and others. While the protests within Syria were initially aimed at uprooting the government, a number of international issues gradually came to be clubbed within the Arab Spring protests fuelled by the external agents, and eventually led to the outbreak of an extremely devastating war that tore apart the Middle Eastern nation.

Question 2

iii. The individual plays different roles and has been given different properties and characteristics in different theories of global politics. How do the different theories vary in their understanding of what constitutes an individual? Consider two theories in your answer.


The role of the individual along with the properties and characteristics is central to the discussion of global politics in the modern era. Individuals play a significant role in the context of global politics and international affairs and while their importance has been highlighted by theories over the years, the differentiation within their approaches is a key area of consideration. The study takes on a critical approach in discussing the role of the individual along with its entailed characteristics and properties within the purview of two prominent geo political theories comprised of realism and liberalism.


Realism as a theoretical concept within the field of international relations and geo politics predominantly came into effect post the Cold War era, where the aspect of national security was prioritized over every other factor. Contradictorily, liberalism as a concept within geo politics is widely attributed to John Locke, where the key highlight was how the government obtains the consent from its subjects and it is a mandatory requirement for the government to be considered legitimate. Both the theories of liberalism and realism discuss states as the central actor within international relations and geo politics and place individuals as a secondary layer that function under the state (Bell et al. 2018). However, the roles of the individuals and the characteristics or the properties are distinctly different within the theories when looked at from a critical perspective. While the concept of realism places individuals in a more subdued phase and establishes the importance of the state as the key source of authority, liberalism takes on a contradictory approach and places the power within the individuals as the giver of consent to the government or the state.

Realism depicts individuals as present within the state with a very limit degree of ability to exercise power and authority. The primary area of concern for the realist perspective is that the state would be free to do anything it may deem fit and proper to ensure national security (Craven, 2018). The national interests of the state supersede any voice or opinion of the individual and essentially taken on a superior role to the presence of the individuals within the state. However, realism has as a theory has also put forward that individuals are essentially organized into states, and this inherently leads to a certain degree of impact that the human nature has upon the actions and decisions of the state. While the emphasis has been placed on the role of the state to operate at the best of the individuals to maintain national interests, the power and the authority of the individuals has substantially been reduced within the concept of realism (Bell, 2017). However, one of the major criticisms of the theory of realism in depicting individuals is that it vests an abundant amount of power within the state and its governmental actors and agencies. Realist states have often been found to disregard the voices of individuals under the guise of national interests, and this has certainly led to further criticisms in terms of how it remains relevant in the modern scenario of international affairs.

Liberalism, on the other hand, places a fair amount of power and authority in the hands of the individuals as a means to facilitate the process of governance within the state. While the theory also places the state as the central actor, the powers of the state have essentially been depicted to source from the consent of the individuals (Nili, 2016). Naturally, when compared to realist theories and proposition, the theory of liberalism is a lot more people centric and tends to emphasise on the aspect of pro active governance that forwards national interests on the basis of the opinions and perceptions of the individuals that reside within the state. Liberalism is largely based on the principles of individual liberty, albeit with a certain degree of limitation in the context of maintaining and upholding the rights of others within the state (Strunz & Bartkowski, 2018). A responsible use of freedom is the most fundamental understanding of liberalism, especially when discussing the role of individuals and how they manifest within the purview of international relations and geo politics. Liberalism also puts forward that it is the government’s right to protect the rights of the individual, and subsequently places a number of responsibilities and accountabilities on the state.

It is important to note that neither liberalism nor realism can function in an isolated manner, especially when looking at the complicated nature of international polity and affairs within the current ecosystem. While realism distinctly emphasises on the state’s ability to supersede the opinions and rights of the individuals to protect national interests as and when needs, the concept of liberalism puts the rights of the individuals within the state as the most important function of governance (Small, 2019). Modern day examples have seen conflicts in countries that follow both the principles, albeit the source of the conflict has been varied and dependent on a number of other factors. The role of individuals and individualism is certainly important when discussing the concept of international and global politics, and while the theories put forward different propositions and arguments, it is important to note that the source of authority of the state is certainly the individual.


In conclusion, it was identified that the theories of liberalism and realism were the most prominent conceptualizations within international affairs and global politics that discusses different perspectives regarding the roles and characteristics of individuals. Liberalism was found to extend a greater degree of authority to individuals within a state, while liberalism was found to limit the aspect of authority for individuals and put forward that the state was the supreme authority. In terms of the key fundamentals, the theory of liberalism was found as proposing the states must at all costs protect the rights of the individuals. Subsequently, the theory of realism in the context of global politics gave precedence to national interests and security over the rights and opinions of the individuals within the nation. However, an area of similarity within both the theories related to how the source of the state was established to be the collection of the individuals. While the characteristics and the properties varied, the depiction of the individuals within the hierarchy was somewhat similar.


Bell, D. (2017). Political realism and international relations. Philosophy Compass, 12(2), e12403.

Bell, D., Bellamy, R., Frazer, E., Freeden, M., Galston, W. A., Larmore, C., ... & Philp, M. (2018). Politics recovered: realist thought in theory and practice. Columbia University Press.

Brown, M. R. (2019). A Theoretical Frame Analyzing the Likelihood of Territorial Expansion

Craven, C. R. (2018). Critical Realism, assemblages and practices beyond the state: A new framework for analysing global diaspora engagement. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, 11(2017-2018), 100-116.

Mitchell, K. (2019). A Review of" Violence, Peace, and Peace Research".

Nili, S. (2016). Liberal global justice and social science. Review of International Studies, 42(1), 136-155.

Pantti, M. (2016). Seeing and not seeing the Syrian crisis: New visibility and the visual framing of the Syrian conflict in seven newspapers and their online editions. JOMEC journal, (4).

Simons, G. (2019). Russia in the Middle East:(Re) Emergence of a New Geopolitical Shatter Belt?.

Small, H. (2019). Victorian Liberalism and Political Realism.

Strunz, S., & Bartkowski, B. (2018). Degrowth, the project of modernity, and liberal democracy. Journal of Cleaner Production, 196, 1158-1168.

Williams, P. R., Dicker, L. K., & Paterson, C. D. (2018). The Peace vs. Justice Puzzle and the Syrian Crisis. ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law, 24(2), 7.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Political Science Assignment Help

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