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International relations


International relations (IR) is an academic and public policy field, a branch of political science , dealing with the foreignpolicy of states within the international system, including theroles of international organizations , non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and multinational corporations (MNCs). Becauseinternational relations seeks to analyze as well as formulate foreign policy, it can be either positive and normative .

It draws upon such diverse fields as political science , economics , history , law , philosophy , social studies , sociology , and other social sciences . International relations involves a diverse range of issues,including the environmental movement , nuclear proliferation , nationalism , foreign aid , economic development , and human rights .

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There are many ways of thinking in international relations theory, including constructivism , institutionalism , Marxism , and others. However, two schools ofthought are predominant: realism and liberalism .

Realism makes several key assumptions. It assumes that the international system is anarchic , in the sense that there is no authority above states capable of regulating their interactions;states must arrive at relations with other states on their own, rather than it being dictated to them by some higher controllingentity (that is, no true authoritative world government exists). Italso assumes that sovereign states ,rather than international institutions, non-governmental organizations, or multinational corporations, are the primary actors ininternational affairs. According to realism, each state is a rational actorthat always acts towards its own self-interest , and the primary goal ofeach state is to ensure its own security . Realism holds that in pursuit of thatsecurity, states will attempt to amass resources , and that relations between statesare determined by their relative level of power. That level of power is in turn determined by the state's capabilities, bothmilitary and economic.

There are two sub-schools of realism: maximal realism and minimal realism. The theory ofmaximal realism holds that the most desirable position to be in is that of the hegemon , the most powerful entity in the world, and that smaller entities will align themselves with the hegemonout of political self-interests. Under maximal realism, the position where there are simultaneously two equally powerfulco-hegemons (such as was the case during the Cold War between the United States and the SovietUnion ) is an inherently unstable one and that state will inevitably collapse into a more stable state where one is morepowerful and one is less powerful.

The theory of minimal realism holds that non-hegemonic states will ally against the hegemon in order to prevent their owninterests from being subsumed bu the hegemon's interests. Under the minimal-realism theory it is possible to have two equallypowerful co-hegemons with whom a smaller entity may ally in turn depending on which hegemon better fits with the smaller entity'spolicies at the moment (playing both sides against the middle).

Liberalism holds that state preferences, rather than state capabilities, are the primary determinant of statebehavior. Preferences will vary from state to state, depending on their culture, economic system, or type of government. Manydifferent strands of liberalism have emerged; some include commercial liberalism, liberal institutionalism, and idealism.

Recently, realism and liberalism have evolved into neo-realism and neo-liberalism.

Different schools of thought in international relations can predict the same events. The theories are differentiated by theassumptions they make in their reasoning toward predictions. For example, both realists and liberals claim that events asdisparate as World War I , the ColdWar , and the relatively conflict-free post-Cold War Europe were predicted by their theories. The theories differ in thefundamental assumptions they make in predicting state behavior. It is possible that one liberal theorist will predict war while another liberal theorist will predict peace ; theirdisagreement arises from how they interpret events, but their fundamental assumptions are the same. Similarly, it is possiblethat a realist theorist and a liberal theorist could both predict peace, but their fundamental assumptions as to why that occurswould be different.


Many diplomats and scholars havecontributed to the field of international relations, including:


Topics in international relations

anti-globalization - anti-globalization movement - arms control - civilsociety - culture - diplomacy - economic development - environment - foreign affairs - foreign aid - globalization - human rights - international law - international organization - international political economy - international trade - multiculturalism - nationalism - nuclear proliferation - peace - poverty - terrorism - war

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