This rendition of the politics of international organizations is somewhat more complicated, therefore, than that offered by many political scientists who subscribe to a liberal view of international organizations. Self-proclaimed liberals and neoliberal institutionalists are interested in identifying the conditions under which states cooperate, eschew short-term gains for long-term benefits, and abide by international agreements. International organizations are identified as an important instrument in the search for interstate cooperation, as they increase transparency in actions, establish common norms of behavior, and contain monitoring mechanisms that allow states to overcome collective action problems associated with interdependence choice.3 At the extreme, however, liberals equate international organizations with progress, and neoliberals celebrate their existence as evidence that states have been able to put aside immediate gratification for long-term harmony.
International organizationshave certainly played an importantrole in encouraging states to cooperate, but that is not the only role they are capable of playing. International organizations can become, first, a site for new political identities and definitions of interests that are inconsistent with their original intent and, second, a locus of authority far removed from those whose lives they affect and in whose name they operate. I have no desire to essentialize bureaucracies or to suggest a global "banality of evil,"but I do want to call attention to this often unrecognized feature of international organizations. (Barnett. 576)
About the Author
Michael Barnett is University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at The George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. He previously taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, Macalester College, Wellesley College, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; was a visiting scholar at the New School for Social Research and the Dayan Center at Tel-Aviv University; and was a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.
Professor Barnett has published extensively on international relations theory, global governance, humanitarian action, and the Middle East. He is the author of many books, including a history of humanitarianism, The Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism.
Professor Barnett is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the recipient of many grants and awards for his research. He most recently served as the Harold Stassen Chair of International Relations and professor of political science at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
His areas of expertise are as follows: International affairs, global governance, humanitarianism, and the Middle East.