Realism and Neoliberalism: International Relations Theory and Southeast Asian Security

  • Citation: Simon, Sheldon W. "Realism and neoliberalism: international relations theory and Southeast Asian security." The Pacific Review 8.1 (1995): 5-24.
    • Topics:
    • IR Theories
    • Keywords:
    • ASEAN
    • security
    • realism
    • neoliberalism
    • APEC

Realism and neoliberalism, two schools of international relations theory, provide contending explanations for state behaviour in the international system. The latter believes that interstate cooperation will create institutions and regimes for the peaceful settlement of conflicts. The former argues that only ‘self help’ — the building of individual state military capabilities — can assure that state interests will be protected. A review of Southeast Asian security policies demonstrates that both paradigms coexist as the region’s members enhance their individual military capabilities because of territorial disputes with neighbours, while simultaneously entering into new collaborative arrangements such as the ASEAN Regional Forum. The ARF has begun as a venue for discussions and reassurance among Southeast Asian states and external powers in hopes that the zero‐sum character of pure realism may ultimately be transcended.

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