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Excerpt International relations is an area of study dealing with the interrelationships among nation-states in an age in which nation-states are the principal holder of political power.
The study concerns itself with the outcomes of war and peace; consequently, it has practical importance. However, the change in practice has generated considerable confusion as to who are involved as the principal actors; since there are different kinds of state and non-states actors. These actors lead to a wide range of stakes, diverse goals, complex modes of interaction, and diverse institutions within which the actors take actions.
The old convention which was the main contributor to the articulation of the definition of international relations was the distinction between civil society and the state. This distinction found currency in the eighteenth century when it delineated two distinct spheres of human interaction and practice; the emergent of a society of human beings characterized by contract and market relations, and a state whose principal function was to maintain internal peace and external defense.
In the present age, however, the state and civil society are intertwined that the international relation concept has become purely analytical.
According to Butterfield and Wight, international relation theory is a tradition of speculation about the community of states or the international community.
The scholars observed that; the speculation in regard to international relation theory was traditionally comprehended under international law.
However, the scholars are of the opinion that the international theory, as discussed by the earlier classical thinkers, is marked by paucity and lacks moral and intellectual characteristics. They opine that the principle that individuals need the protection of the nation-state, and represents him in the international community, is a juristic belief in a sovereign state as the embodiment of and consummation of political experience that has characterized the western world since renaissance.
Hence, the masterpiece of international relations is the system characterized by the balance of power.
Cox traces the evolution of the realist international relations theory from the political theory advanced by Machiavelli and espoused by the diplomacy of the renaissance Italian city-states. The realist theory is contrasted with the normative theory as propagated by Christian church that dominated the medieval society.
In this conception of international relations, it is viewed as a protracted competition between the several theories obtaining in the realm of international studies namely, realism, liberal, and radical traditions. The realism approach concerns itself with the enduring propensity for competition and conflicts between states, while liberalism looked at the various ways that could be applied to mitigate the conflictive tendencies.
The radical traditions school of thought concerns itself with how the entire state system relations could be transformed. It is notable that the boundaries between these schools of thoughts are blurred, and some of the works done by some theorist do not fit any of these theories, however, debates among and within the various schools of thoughts define the international relation discipline.
It is also notable that the proponents of the various schools of thoughts do not always agree with those who present a differing opinion. The literature under review is full of disdainful attitude towards the different opinions as the propagated by particular scholars.
According to Walt, the realism approach has been the dominant theory in the twentieth century and especially during the cold war. The realist perspective depicts international relations as a struggle for power between self-interested nation-states. The theory adopts a pessimistic attitude in regard to the prospect of eliminating conflict.
The acceptance of the realism approach gained currency in the cold war period because it provides simple explanations for war, imperialism, alliances, impediments in cooperation, and related international phenomenon.
The theory was seen to be consistent with the cold war scenario, where the competition was between the two leading world superpowers at the time. According to Walt, realism is not a single theory. Following the arguments advanced by Morgenthau and Niebuhr, he sees states behaving like human beings in that they display an innate desire for domination that could lead to war.
The international relations study can best be understood as a competition between the realist, liberal, and radical traditions. The boundaries between these schools of thought are hazy.The Master’s in Computational Science and Engineering is a multidisciplinary program taught in English over four semesters.
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GEOPOLITICS AND THE STUDY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS A THESIS SUBMITTED TO GEOPOLITICS AND THE STUDY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Gökmen, Semra Rana Ph.D., Department of International Relations and after having read and re-read the corpus of work on geopolitical theory, political geography, cartography and critical geopolitics.