Complex Interdependence in
The World Today
Joseph Nye raises an interesting theory of modern international relations through his concept of complex interdependence. Nye describes interdependence in an analytical sense, as “situations in which actors or events in different parts of a system affect each other.” (Nye 179) Nye continues his definition of interdependence by stating that the results are often varied and although the potential for benefits exist, the potential for tragedy exists as well. Despite this potential for varying results Nye also notes that it is very difficult and very costly for a country to try and cut itself off from the world, such as Myanmar or Albania did.
According to Nye interdependence can be divided into four separate dimensions, which are its sources, benefits, costs, and symmetry. These dimensions can originate in both the physical and social aspects of society.
The idea of economic interdependence is an idea that cannot be disputed as a reality in this modern world. Economic interdependence is a concept that gained great popularity prior to World War I, and then again very slowly after America’s isolationist period post-World War II. According to Nye, “economic interdependence involves policy choices about values and costs.” (180) These policy choices are based most often on the ideas of supply and demand; in the sense that what one country cannot supply for its citizens, can be supplied through trade with another country. These policy decisions however, are quite often not as simple as just supply and demand, but instead are largely dependent upon the distribution of resources, especially those resources considered to be “power resources”. In Nye’s explanation of complex interdependence, he is very quick to point out that in and of itself, interdependence is neither a good thing nor a bad thing.
The results of economic interdependence can be extremely varied in th...