c) Neorealism: There is an aspect of regional cooperationwhich poses a direct threat to realism. The world is viewed as inherentlyconflicted and dominated by the power balance equation. The appearance of’peace and cooperation islands’ in that world is an anomaly and difficult toexplain. A lot of early literature onregionalism focused on explaining this anomaly and shed light on thiscontroversial coexistence. Despite this, neorealism has some substantialcontribution to make to the idea and meaning of regionalism (Hurrell,1995:339).Neorealist explanations of regionalism, however, shiftanalytical focus from states being rational actors in an anarchicalinternational system, to the argument that this integration emerges from theirconcern for their own security from external threats. In this context,neorealists mention some key criteria with which to explain the possibilitiesand rationale of integration in a realist world.
The relative gains and lossesinvolved for the states that join a regional institution are their basis forcooperation and not their attempt to inhibit cheating states collectively. Furthermore,since every state is concerned with their own private gain and loss because ofcooperation, the gains and losses will be unequal. This uneven distributioncreates a sense of insecurity for some and dominance for others. This is whatmakes it difficult to maintain regional arrangements and becomes a challengefor regional institutions to overcome. The hegemonic power exercised byinfluential states also affects the dynamics of regional institutions on whichthey function. Using this theory, neorealists put forward two arguments. Whenthe power of a hegemon declines in the global arena, they create a regionaleconomic bloc to exercise and reinstate that power.
The second argument is thatthe existence of global hegemons leads to the creation of regional institutionssupporting small, medium-sized, and less powerful states on economic, militaryor social fronts. (Buzdugan, 2007:810)The casesNeo-realismFollowing the World War 2, the European states losttheir global influence and power to USA and USSR. European states had so muchto recover while the Cold War began between the two world powers. To recoverfrom this impact, the European governments set themselves up to economicallyintegrate. (Norris, 2002)The USA and USSR also participated in integratingtheir powers in Europe. The USA created NATO and admitted West Germany in theagreement while USSR set up the Warsaw Pact, incorporating Poland in the ColdWar.
As the USA perceived the Soviet Union as a threat building up, it deepenedits relationship with Western Europe who were allies to the US. These stateswere not powerful enough themselves and sided with the US to gain maximumbenefit of the whole situation. The world had to remain bipolar, the US side orthe USSR. As long as the balance was there, the polarity would persist and sowould peace.
(Norris, 2002)However, in 1985, when the Soviet invasion ofAfghanistan and protests in Eastern Europe, followed by independence of Sovietstates especially Russia, led to an ultimate collapse of the USSR. This led toa unipolarity where the USA emerged as the world’s super power.The Cold War has been the most important example ofneo-realism in the history of the world and the emergence of United States.
Itstands as a global hegemon and icon of power, and has reinforced theneo-realist theories in many respects. Many states maintain their alliance,cooperation, and partnerships with the USA because they have much to gain fromthat power against other states. Hence, the USA in the loop for any internationalconversation means an added assertion of power. This is exactly what theneo-realists explain regional integration. Another major case of neo-realism is that ofEuro-Mediterranean Partnership. This was signed in 1995 in Barcelona and itsmembers states included European,African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries including; Albania,Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania,Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.There is barely any economic dependence of Europe onthe Mediterranean.
The sole intent for this partnership was that of security.Europe pushed forward to build trust and confidence in the intentions of Europetowards these states. Moreover, Europe wanted to feel a sense of presence inone of the world’s most important conflicts, the Gulf War. (Norris, 2002)Again, neo-realism patterns and trends are clear.Partnerships for the sake gaining benefit and maintain a sense of peace imply abalance of power and the players involved, sign integration agreements for themain objective of asserting their presence and reinforcing the power that they possess.