The development of the classical liberal paradigm is neoliberalism (sometimes it is described as the independent IR paradigm ‘transnationalism’). The neoliberals (M. Doyle[i], J. Rosenau[ii], Jr. Nye[iii], R. Keohane[iv] etc.) paid special attention to the globalization process, the creation of the united economic, informational, cultural and social space, as well as spreading the West’s democratic values in all other countries and their deep introduction into social structures and life. The neoliberals regard globalization as the approval of their paradigm, taking claim for the creation of national structures, even the world government (world management). The neoliberals stress that NGOs, social structures (human rights movement, Médecins Sans Frontières, election observers, Green Peace, etc.) together with the states start to have great influence in the modern world that affect the processes of the state foreign politics.

Robert Keohane: Interdependence and Actor Diversification

The classical neoliberal theory (the theory of interdependence) was created by American political scientists Jr. Nay and R. Keohane[v]. They are said to be the main theorists of transnationalism.

The British liberal Ramsay Muir (1872-1941) was at the root of the creation of this theory, introducing the concept of “interdependence” in 1933, and announced that the destruction of the distance between people through techniques changes the parameters of the war and peace[vi]. Later, the other liberalist, Karl Kaiser, who introduced the concept of “transnational politics”[vii], developed this idea. Keohane and Ney formed this theory in the system.

According to this theory, the era of national states as the main actors in the international relations had passed, and now sovereign states are a part of active unities along with industrial (inside the country) structures and different social groups, receiving wider access to the international relations domain and increasing its activity at the transnational level[viii].

In his theory, Keohane stresses that the interdependence of modern society complicates the system of international relations.  

The relations between states are international. They are important only for classical IR theories, and the realists insist on their predominance. The infra-state structures (different industries, political parties, etc.) have different intergovernmental relations, whose importance grows gradually. The situation is complicated due to the intensification of the third type of relations, the transnational ones.  The most important modern trend is the fact that the hierarchy between those levels gradually disappear. Therefore, under such circumstances, the use of military force looses its utility. Keohane offers to accept the following condition as the status of the international relation development phase: “while interdependence grows, the risk of solving the problem by military means decreases”.

Keohane worked on the “global governance”[ix] issue. The thesis of “governance” has a key meaning in the context of neoliberalism, as two states and societies become closer, the neoliberals regard it not only as the creation of the global State, but as the social organization, based on the principals of democracy and open society where, instead of “vertical power” (the government), the flexible governing institutions would prevail.  

Joseph Nye: “Soft Power”

It was Joseph Nye who introduced the definition of “soft power”[x] to stress the importance of the idea, standards and intellectual methodological factors of globalization and democratization on the world scale[xi]. The realists are adherents of “hard power”. The liberals accent the more delicate, network tools of influence. The neoliberals developed the typical-for-liberals division on “high politics”, including the states’ relations, and “low politics”, including cultural, social, as well as economic relations, appearing at a more low level then direct political ties. The “low politics” may strongly have an effect on “high politics”, as the films’ export on a global scale may increase the State’s prestige, even though art is not a direct political sphere. The same thing applies to the development of trade networks, brands, etc. All these factors, according to Nye, are a part of  “soft power”. The other similar concept, offered by Nye, is “smart power”, using rational codes, attraction, temptation and other delicate strategies instead of rough physical compulsion.

Such events as the creation of the EU, the European Court of Human Rights and Hague Tribunal, according to the neoliberals, is the prototype of the future world order where the institution, which is more competent than national States, would appear. The State’s functions would gradually be limited until they would completely disappear.

Walter Russell Mead: “sticky”, “sharp” and “sweet” power

There are other power descriptions that may be called intermediate or mixed of “soft” and “hard” power. Thus, Walter Russell Mead offered the terms “sticky”, “sharp” and “sweet” power, which is the basis of American hegemony.

The first one is connected to economy and, as the rule, to the different US donor programs for other countries, as well as bilateral trade relations that allow them to “stick” to the USA in terms of economic dependence.

The second one, i.e. “sharp power”, is connected to military power, however this military machine is aimed at engaging targets, not conducting full-scale war. Thus, the development of “smart weapons” such as drones etc. is important.

The third one, “sweet” power is a synonym of Ney’s “soft power”.[xii]

James Rosenau: IR turbulence

The most detailed and general image of the IR neoliberal paradigm was elaborated by the American political scientist James Rosenau (1924-2011). Rosenau introduced the “IR turbulence”[xiii] theory that is mostly the sum of transnational tendencies.

It says that beside democratization and globalization, the international relation structure changes and complicates in its quality. The options, characterizing the international relations, are fundamentally changing since the Westphalian system. Earlier, there were two levels of international interrelations: individual (citizen) and structural (state). Home politics is the relations between individual and structure, the foreign policy – structure and structure. The government was a structure where the individual was unimportant and had no influence on foreign policy. It allowed the establishment of other IR models where the dominant axis was the structure-structure axis. In the modern world, by transferring from Modernism to Post-Modernism (from industrial to post-industrial society), the role of individual grew significantly. Rosenau introduced the notion of the “skillful individual”, instead of “ʎ-individual”, i.e. an ordinary individual that has no competence in foreign politics, no capacity to effect it and leaves the whole power to the structure (that is evident in international relations). The “skillful individual” gets an opportunity to participate in a network of cultural and economic processes on a transnational level, and finally has an effect on the political structure. So the NGO’s, transnational corporation’s and networks’ influence is growing. That makes the system of international relations non-linear and turbulent.

The turbulence, according to Rosenau, is based on the identity which the modern individuals has developed in a democratic society:

1)      State identity (citizenship)

2)      Network identity (transnational ties)

3)      Local identity (common) ties

The second and third identities are not covered by the State and can be completely abolished by legal and qualified structures.  The second identity can effect the transnational nature though the borders and territories under the control of national administrations. The third identity is relatively dependent on the State, as well as may be eccentric to it: ethnos, confession, profession may unite groups in different states. In modern society, the role of the second and third identity still increases permanently, when compared to the first, which creates a new symmetry in politics, including international politics.

International relations created the turbulence model, where together with the state actors, the important roles are given to networks and local structures. All together they create the infirm, constantly changing, non-hierarchical system.

Dale Walton: Unpredictability and Revolution in Strategy

This model is close to the concept of Dale Walton[xiv] on a revolution on the issue of strategy. D. Walton believes that the modern situation in international relations is the transition period that is connected with the changes in the geopolitical world image, and is marked by the unpredictability of the actors’ behavior. A revolution in the strategy, according to Walton, requires a radical change of view on politics.

The last revolution was in the Age of Discovery (XVI century), after that the post-Columbian era began, which ended in the XX century. Each period has radically changed the world strategical image, space, and main challenges and created a comprehension transformation, dynamic game rule evolution.

Today, something similar is caused by globalization, when the balance of the important and unimportant became different in quality and, at the same time, is unstoppably changing. Small groups (for example, international terrorism structures) are able to effect big actors (States). Such an asymmetry brings a radically new world map where inside and outside the politics and the strategies are no longer fixed like they were earlier.     

Andrew Moravcsik: Liberal Structuralism

In response to the creation of neoliberalism structural theory of international relations, some neoliberal authors tried to create the liberal structuralized model. This was the initiative of Andrew Moravcsik. He offered the structural analysis of the globalization process, on the EU example, how the political circle and other actors interact, overcoming national borders by rational comprehension of the structural advantages which are gained though integration, intensification of economic processes, openness and globalization[xv].

According to Moravcsik, globalization and the increasing social and economic interdependence between societies is the main trend of world history, and the correct analysis of world politics can only be conducted though accepting this structural fact. The global world is the structure that is focused on the main trends of societies development and the relations between them. But if the neorealist continues to insist that this world structure is based on the balance of power, Moravcsik, taking into account the “advantages” of globalization, regards the world structure as a potentially united transnational structure, naturally aimed at openness and solidarity.

Zbigniew Brzeziński: World Chess

A completely different case of liberalism is the famous American strategist and geopolitical scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski, the constant partner and colleague of the realist Henry Kissinger. Brzezinski believes that the main trend of world politics is the globalization and the further creation of the World Government and State. Like Woodrow Wilson, he believes that the USA has a major role in this process: to be a flagman of democratization, modernization and internationalization. However if the majority of liberals focus on pacifism and peaceful conflict settlement, Brzezinski, on the contrary, pays attention to the destruction of non-democratic regimes, especially communist ones, insisting that the existence of non-democratic societies and totalitarian and authoritarian regimes threatens the peaceful development of humanity and slows down the establishment of the World Government.  That’s why the author bases his views on classical geopolitical texts and regards a capitalist and socialist, later NATO and Russia, confrontation as a competition between the two ideological world order projects: globalist and democratic (liberal), on the one hand, and authoritarian and non-liberal, on the other hand. Agreeing with the liberal formula that “democracies don't attack each other”, he insists on the other, unexpressed part of it: “but they attack non-democracies, fighting until the end”. Thus, he promotes strategic destabilization projects of those states that Brzezinski includes as “non-democratic”, especially Russia.

In his book “The Grand Chessboard” [xvi], Brzezinski describe the structure of American, and in general Western, interests in Eurasia which, according to him, consist of the weakening and dividing up of Russia, cutting off the CIS countries and integration of its parts in different neighboring regions. But his project is based not on the US’ cold national interests as a state, but on the demand of global democracy and globalization which, according to him, is prevented by sovereign and independent Russia.

[i] Doyle M. Liberalism and the World Politics // American Political Science Review, 80 (4), 1151-1169, 1986

[ii] Rosenau J. Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory of change and Continuity. Princeton. 1990

[iii] Nye Jr., Juseph S. Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature Of American Power. New York; Basic Book, 1990

[iv] Keohane Robert O. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton, 1984.

[v] Keohane Robert O., Nye Joseph S. Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1977 

[vi] Muir Ramsay. The faith of a liberal. London. 1933

[vii] Kaiser K. Interdependence and autonomy // Morgan R., Kaiser K (ed.) Britain and Germany. London: Oxford University Predd, 1971

[viii] Keohane Robert O. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton, 1984.

[ix] Keohane R. Power and Governance in a Partially Globalized World. New York: Routledge, 2002

[x] Nye Joseph, Soft power: The Means to Success in World, NY: Public Affairs, 2004

[xi] Nye Joseph, Soft power: The Means to Success in World, NY: Public Affairs, 2004

[xii] Mead W. Power, Terror, Peace and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk. Vintage. 2006

[xiii] Rosenau J. Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory of Change and Continuity. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990

[xiv] Waltlon D. Geopolitics and the Great Power in the Twenty-fist Century: Multipolarity and Revolution in Strategic Perspective. Routledge. 2009

[xv] Moravcsik A. Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics // International Organizations 51 (4): 513-53.1997.

[xvi] Brzezinski Z. The Grand Chessboard. Basic Books. 1997