The Concept of Conflict and Cooperation

Critical Writing

In the current essay, the concepts of conflict and cooperation will be presented and discussed. They will be addressed in terms of whether we are a species doomed to self-destruction, as McNamara suggested, or human beings who have chances for peaceful coexistence. The present paper’s central argument is rooted in the neorealism theory of international relations that implies that states’ behavior heavily depends on the structure of the global system. Thus, it can be said that human beings will not lead the world to destruction, as McNamara stated, as the modern international system has a significant number of institutions to confront it.

Conflict Versus Cooperation in International Relations

The concepts of conflict and cooperation go along with all periods of the history of international relations. However, today, being more accurate the end of the 20th century, an essential shift in world politics could be observed: war and conflicts are not any longer seen as private issues of the states involved but rather as ‘international conflicts.’ It means that there is a threat to the collective world peace, and international organizations, such as the United Nations, fight for settlement of such conflicts (“Peace and Security”, n. d.). Usually, international conflicts imply conventional war with human rights violations, the overthrow of democratic institutions, and a state’s fall.

Cooperation is mainly based on strategies and tools for international conflicts’ resolution. In such situations, they are usually employed in combinations in order to prevent a serious political conflict with the least loss. Such tools might include economic sanctions, defense pacts, threats of force from most powerful countries, bargaining, problem-solving meetings, and involvement of international organizations in conflicts’ resolutions (“Peace and Security”, n. d.). Under certain economic and political pressure in combination with a system of checks and balances, peaceful cooperation between states might be achieved.

Neorealism and Conflicts’ Resolutions

The primary argument of the present paper lies in the theory of neorealism. It suggests that human beings are not doomed to self-destruction, as individuals’ behaviors are strictly limited by the existing complex international and national systems. Neorealism does not deny human nature but does not make it a major factor that explains international relations (as the classical theory of realism proposes) (Patel, 2017). Besides, conflicts and wars are explained by neorealists as a result of the lack of supreme authority. Thus, states behave in a way they find the most beneficial for them under existing conditions. It should be highlighted that the structure of the international system and its potential leverages are largely shaped by the above-mentioned behavior of the political actors.

McNamara’s Statement and Its Further Discussion

McNamara was an American Secretary of Defense during the Cold War, and he is well-known for his statement that human beings as species are doomed for self-destruction. The above-presented view on the current state of affairs in international relations refutes McNamara’s argument. Nowadays, the world does not depend on an individual’s behaviors but rather on international mechanisms. Thus, the existing economic and political pressures and the system of checks and balances help avoid the self-destruction of the world.


In conclusion, it should be stated that the present paper addressed and discussed the concepts of conflict and cooperation. It was done to answer whether human beings as species doomed to self-destruction, as McNamara suggested, or it is possible to achieve peaceful coexistence. The current essay rejects McNamara’s statement by demonstrating that the existing international system and its powerful mechanisms can successfully balance the states’ behavior in order to avoid self-destruction.


Peace and Security (n. d.). 2020, Web.

Patel, A. (2017). International relations: Classical realism vs neorealism. Medium. Web.

Video Voice-over

Cite this paper

Select style


DemoEssays. (2023, August 18). The Concept of Conflict and Cooperation. Retrieved from


DemoEssays. (2023, August 18). The Concept of Conflict and Cooperation.

Work Cited

"The Concept of Conflict and Cooperation." DemoEssays, 18 Aug. 2023,


DemoEssays. (2023) 'The Concept of Conflict and Cooperation'. 18 August.


DemoEssays. 2023. "The Concept of Conflict and Cooperation." August 18, 2023.

1. DemoEssays. "The Concept of Conflict and Cooperation." August 18, 2023.


DemoEssays. "The Concept of Conflict and Cooperation." August 18, 2023.