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(politics) Essentials of International Relations

(politics) Essentials of International Relations - Chapter...

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Chapter 1: Approaches to International Relations I. International Relations in Daily Life Seemingly remote international events quickly can become both highly related and personally salient to any or all of us International activities have historically been the results of decisions taken by central government and heads of state. Increasingly, these activities involve different actors, some of whom you influence directly The variety of actors in international relations today includes not only states, their leaders and government bureaucracies, but for-profit and non-profit organizations, and you. International relations is the study of the interactions among the various actors that participate in international politics. It is the study of the behaviors of these actors as they participate individually and together in international political processes II. Thinking Theoretically Prominent international relations theories developed in depth in this book are liberalism and neoinstitutional liberalism, realism and neorealism, and radical perspectives whose origins lie in Marxism. Also introduced is the theory of constructivism Liberalism: human nature is basically good. States generally cooperate and follow international norms and procedures that have been mutually agreed on. Realism: states exist in an anarchic international system. Each state bases its policies on an interpretation of national interest defined in terms of power. Radicalism: actions of individuals are largely determined by economic class; the state is an agent of international capitalism; and the international system is dominated by the capitalist system Constructivism: the key structures in the state system are not material but instead are intersubjective and social. The interest of states is not fixed but is malleable and ever changing. Different theoretical approaches help us see international relations from different viewpoints and competition between theories helps reveal their strengths and weaknesses and spurs subsequent refinements III. Developing the Answers History: history invites its students to acquire detailed knowledge of specific events, but it can also be used to test generalizations and explain the relationship among various events o Thucydides described the patterns leading up to war; he found that what made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power o History may be a bad guide; the "lessons" of Munich and Allied appeasement of Germany before World War II or the "lessons" of the war in Vietnam are neither clear-cut nor agreed upon o Stephen Biddle argues that comparing Vietnam to the current war in Iraq is an oversimplification that is misapplied in a historical context. Such inaccurate
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application of the "lessons" of historical comparison occasionally leads to poor policy prescriptions, yet history cannot be ignored.
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