While the realist perspective focuses on the balance of power, the liberal perspective focuses on the role of institutions, and the identity perspective focuses on ideas over power, “the critical theory perspective emphasizes all the primary causes and levels of analysis at once and adopts a holistic interpretation of reality, one that cannot be broken down into separate causes and effects or tested by rationalist means against alternative hypotheses” (Nau, 2017). The critical perspective believes that all three of the other perspectives have an intertwined effect and are not mutually exclusive. This is the same thing I believe. When you look at the current world situation you can see all three of the primary levels at play. You can also see how each one impacts the other two. The conflict in Syria is a great example of the critical theory perspective. The realist perspective would point out that Syria is a landlocked country with both enemies and allies around it, so creating a balance of power is important to regional stability. The Syrian conflict is then also impacted by liberal ideals. The institutions that are primarily at play are the Asad regime, the United States, and Russia. These institutions are all acting on specific ideas as well as power which represents the identity perspective. Each institution has an idea about how things should be done, and these ideas do not really mesh well, so it has created an impossible conflict. When you see how all three factors contribute to the region’s conflict, that is the critical theory perspective in a nutshell.
Nau, H. R. (2017). Perspectives on international relations: Power, institutions, and ideas (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.
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