Contending Theories of International Relations
Nathan Staunton - Chapter 1: Theoretical Approaches to International Relations - •
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the tumult of the Central-Eastern European Theater there has been a major shift in the international community. •
The social science community studied the international state based on a bipolar framework present during the Cold War. o
Movement from Bipolarity to Multipolarity, paradigm shift post CIS collapse.
Michael Howard (Optimistic View): It is quite possible that war between highly developed societies may not recur, and that a stable framework for international order will become firmly established.
Charles W. Kegley Jr. (Realist View): The disappearance of large-scale warfare concomitant with the ascendance of small-scale warfare has produced two systems, a stable ‘central system’ and an unstable ‘peripheral system’.
Both were theories of the 1991 Gulf War period, who knows if either theory was right, perhaps we never will. o
Samuel Huntington was skeptical of ‘endism’ (end of cold war, history, war)
His hypothesis was that the fundamental source of conflict was cultural.
The principal conflicts of global politics will be between nations and groups of civilizations…the clash of civilizations. o
Steven M. Walt (1998)
The study of international affairs is protracted competition between the realist, liberal, and radical traditions.
Realism emphasizes enduring propensity for conflict between states.
Liberalism identifies several ways to mitigate conflictive tendencies.
Radical tradition describes how the entire system of state relations might be transformed. •
Quincy Wright outlined four ways to approach the study.
The actual (history):
What was or what is, known through the method of description. o
The possible (art):
What can be, known through the method of theoretical speculation. o
The probable (science):
What will be, known through the method of...
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