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International relations in theory and practice - Essay Example

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System theory deals, first and foremost, with two concepts: the actors and their interconnections; when changes occur at the systemic level, actors change their structure and attitudes; it is thus imperative to analyse the main players of the international system, in order to particularise their attitudes and foresee their actions, which in the end may offer a predictable perspective of the transformation of the global system.
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International relations in theory and practice
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Download file to see previous pages Its attributes, the population, the territory ("the very foundation of principality and sovereignty" (Foucault, 1991, p93) and the authority of the government exercised upon its subjects, demanded that a dominant role be played by the nation state.
Social and economic development were key factors for two seemingly antagonistic phenomena: on the one hand, there was the strengthening of the state power, and on the other hand, once World War I came to an end, the international system was faced with new actors exercising power of decision-making; the globalisation of political, economic, social and cultural relations gave rise to international actors, multinational companies, international organizations (the League of Nations, and then, the United Nations), integrating organisation (process which automatically implies a delegation of sovereignty to a higher level); among non-state actors, especially after 9/11 one can also mention terrorist organisations and "the new form of trans-national terrorism which is far more complex and difficult to monitor, analyse, and combat ()some claim that this 'new' terrorism is displacing the older forms of terrorism and has now become the major threat" (Wilkinson, 2001).
This multiplication is regarded, by some analysts as being a shift in orientation from the
"nation state" as the dominant actor on the international scene towards other types of actors; the motivation for such claims resides in the apparent loss of substance which the state has suffered, especially from the perspective of the integrationist process; furthermore, the arguments consider that this diminution in sovereignty is transferred to the other actors, in such a way as to legitimize their position on the international scene.
Thus, the position of the state as a principal actor represents one of the most controversial aspects of IR theory. On order to present the debates surrounding the issue, the arguments and its opponents, it is important to first analyse the realist perspective on the concept of "state" and the arguments supporting its central role in the international structure of the XXI century.
Seen from the perspective of the international relations, the political realism considers that if the behaviour of the states, as it had been shown up until then, cannot be reformed, it can at least be controlled. The realist tradition can be traced back to Thucydides and Hobbes, although it rose to great heights as the dominant paradigm in American policymaking during the Cold War (Roggeveen, 2001).Even so, the first valuable theory writings belong to XX st century.
The classic realist theorists start their argumentation from the clear premises stated by Morgenthau who acknowledges "the nation state as the ultimate point of reference of contemporary foreign policy" (Morgenthau, 1978); moreover, as one of the leading theoreticians of realism, Morgenthau pointed out a second principle that defined the goals of politics "The main signpost that helps political realism to find its way through the landscape of international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power". When correlating the two ideas, the conclusion is that the nation state regards the practice of foreign policy as a means to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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