International Relations Theory - Oxford Bibliographies
, it permits conflict resolvers to make a valid distinction between struggles that can be dealt with by employing the conventional trinity of force, law, and/or power-based negotiation, and those whose resolution requires other measures. "Needs and values are not for trading," Burton asserts (1990a, p. 39), distinguishing needs-based conflicts, and the processes of conflict resolution properly so called, from interest-based disputes and the processes characteristic of strategic studies, conventional diplomacy, and "alternative dispute resolution." Another Burtonian apothegm, "Deterrence cannot deter (1990a, p.34) calls attention to the inefficacy of coercive methods to modify behaviour when individuals or groups are impelled to act on the basis of imperative needs.
International relations (IR) theory is difficult to define
General overviews of the history of diplomacy, not surprisingly, tend to be historically oriented, although a number of studies especially recommend themselves to students of international relations. Undergraduates and graduate students, as well as veteran scholars, will find a wealth of ideas, insights, and possible research topics in these surveys. is an excellent starting point for new students in ancient and medieval diplomacy. Eleven well-written, wide-ranging, and accessible essays provide a solid grounding in the period, while also highlighting the many parallels and divergences between ancient and modern diplomacy. Designed primarily for undergraduates, is an excellent chronological and thematic introduction to early modern and modern diplomacy. takes a similar approach, outlining the evolution of modern diplomatic practice from the ancient period to the modern, primarily for an undergraduate audience. adopts a similar chronology, but focuses instead on the major diplomatic theorists from Machiavelli to Kissinger. For an introduction to 19th- and 20th-century diplomacy, is a lucid place to begin, combining a solid grasp of history with the author’s own personal experiences. is another excellent overview of 20th-century international relations that expertly introduces the student to every important diplomatic event of the period. Those seeking a more theoretical approach to the subject will find and easily accessible, expansive, and stimulating introductory readers.
These are only a few examples. However, they demonstrate that accelerating technological advances in telecommunications and their worldwide dissemination are profoundly changing the rules of international relations. On the one hand, they are facilitating transfers of science, technology, information, and ideas from the centers to the peripheries of power. On the other, they are imposing a new cultural hegemony through the "soft power" (Nye 1990) of global news, entertainment, and advertising. Globalizing the local and localizing the global are the twin forces blurring traditional national boundaries. The conduct of foreign relations through traditional diplomatic channels has been both undermined and enhanced by information and communication resources available to non-state actors. The emergence of a global civil society in the form of over some 30,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) alongside nearly some 200 state actors as well as intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), transnational corporations (TNCs), and transnational media corporations (TMCs), has added to the complexity of international relations (Commission on Global Governance 1995). Telecommunications is contributing to changes in the economic infrastructures, competitiveness, trade relations, as well as internal and external politics of states. It also affects national security, including the conduct and deterrence against wars, terrorism, civil war, the emergence of new weapons systems, command and control, and intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination. The Persian Gulf War provided a glimpse of what future wars might look like. The emergence of an international politics of cultural identity organized around religious, ethnic, or racial fetishisms suggests what the future issues in international relations might be.
Global communication is thus redefining power in world politics in ways that traditional theories of international relations have not yet seriously considered. More specifically, it is bringing about significant changes in four major arenas of hard and soft power (Nye & Owens 1996; Cohen 1996). Hard power refers to material forces such as military and economic leverage, while soft power suggests symbolic forces such as ideological, cultural, or moral appeals. Major changes seem to be taking place in both hard and soft power conceptions and calculations. First, information technologies have profoundly transformed the nature of military power because of emerging weapons systems dependent on laser and information processing. Second, satellite remote sensing and information processing have established an information power and deterrence analogous to the nuclear power and deterrence of an earlier era. Third, global television communication networks such as CNN, BBC, and Star TV have added image politics and public diplomacy to the traditional arsenals of power politics and secret diplomacy. Fourth, global communication networks working through NGOs and interactive technologies such as the Internet are creating a global civil society and pressure groups (such as Amnesty International or Greenpeace) that have served as new actors in international relations. Although no grand theoretical generalizations on the dynamics of hard and soft power are yet possible, trends indicate that the latter is assuming increasing importance.
International Relations theory has been dominated by five major schools of thought: Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, Communitarianism (also known as Institutionalism), and Postmodernism. Table 1 provides a synopsis of the major propositions, principles and processes, units of analysis, and methodologies of these schools. Realists have primarily focused on the geopolitical struggles for power, employed the nation-state as their chief unit of analysis, considered international politics as devoid of moral consensus and therefore prone to violence, and argued that the pursuit of national interest in the context of a balance of power strategy is the most efficient and realistic road to international peace and security (Morgenthau 1985; Kissinger 1994).