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International relations attempts to explain the interactions of states in the global interstate

system, and it also attempts to explain the interactions of others whose behavior originates within

one country and is targeted toward members of other countries. In short, the study of

international relations is an attempt to explain behavior that occurs across the boundaries of

states, the broader relationships of which such behavior is a part, and the institutions (private,

state, nongovernmental, and intergovernmental) that oversee those interactions. Explanations of

that behavior may be sought at any level of human aggregation. Some look to psychological and

social-psychological understandings of why foreign policymakers act as they do. Others

investigate institutional processes and politics as factors contributing to the externally directed

goals and behavior of states. Alternatively, explanations may be found in the relationships

between and among the participants (for example, balance of power), in the intergovernmental

arrangements among states (for example, collective security), in the activities of multinational

corporations (for example, the distribution of wealth), or in the distribution of power and control

in the world as a single system.

International relations is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of the interaction of

the actors in international politics, including states and non-state actors, such as the United

Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and Amnesty

International. One of the key features of the international system is that it's a state of anarchy -

each state in the system is sovereign and does not have to answer to a higher authority.

Imagine living in a confined space with a group of other people with limited resources. Further

imagine that there is no law enforcement and that the only 'law' is agreements between

individuals and self-help is the only means of enforcement. In short, every person can do

whatever he or she wants only subject to what the others in the space will do as a result. This

situation gives you an idea of the world in which states live.

International relations involves the study of such things as foreign policy, international conflict

and negotiation, war, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, international trade and economics, and

international development, among other subjects. As you may expect, international relations'

broad scope requires an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon the fields of economics, law,

political science, sociology, game theory, and even psychology.

The study and practice of international relations is interdisciplinary in nature, blending the fields

of economics, history, and political science to examine topics such as human rights, global

poverty, the environment, economics, globalization, security, global ethics, and the political


Exceptional economic integration, unprecedented threats to peace and security, and an

international focus on human rights and environmental protection all speak to the complexity of

international relations in the twenty-first century. This means the study of international relations

must focus on interdisciplinary research that addresses, anticipates, and ultimately solves public

policy problems.

International relations (often referred to international affairs) has a broad purpose in

contemporary society, as it seeks to understand:

 The origins of war and the maintenance of peace

 The nature and exercise of power within the global system

 The changing character of state and non-state actors who participate in international

For example, some institutions may study the psychological and social-psychological reasoning

behind the actions of foreign policymakers, while others may focus their international studies on

the institutional processes that contribute to the goals and behaviors of states. Ultimately, the

area of international relations studied depends on the goals or objectives of the organization.

The Value of International Relations in a Globalized Society

Although international relations has taken on a new significance because of our increasingly

interconnected world, it is certainly not a new concept. Historically, the establishment of treaties

between nations served as the earliest form of international relations.

The study and practice of international relations in today’s world is valuable for many reasons:

 International relations promotes successful trade policies between nations.

 International relations encourages travel related to business, tourism, and immigration,

providing people with opportunities to enhance their lives.

 International relations allows nations to cooperate with one another, pool resources, and

share information as a way to face global issues that go beyond any particular country or

region. Contemporary global issues include pandemics, terrorism, and the environment.

 International relations advances human culture through cultural exchanges, diplomacy

and policy development.

 Examining the Theories of International Relations

 The study of international relations involves theoretical approaches based on solid

evidence. Theories of international relations are essentially a set of ideas aimed at

explaining how the international system works.

 The two, major theories of international relations are realism and liberalism:


 Realism focuses on the notion that states work to increase their own power relative to

other states. The theory of realism states that the only certainty in the world is power;

therefore, a powerful state—via military power (the most important and reliable form of

power)—will always be able to outlast its weaker competitors. Self-preservation is a

major theme in realism, as states must always seek power to protect themselves.
 In realism, the international system drives states to use military force. Although leaders

may be moral, they must not let morality guide their foreign policy. Furthermore, realism

recognizes that international organizations and law have no power and force, and that

their existence relies solely on being recognized and accepted by select states.


 Liberalism recognizes that states share broad ties, thus making it difficult to define

singular independent national interests. The theory of liberalism in international relations

therefore involves the decreased use of military power. The theory of realism began to

take shape in the 1970s as increasing globalization, communications technology, and

international trade made some scholars argue that realism was outdated.

 Liberal approaches to the study of international relations, also referred to as theories of

complex interdependence, claim that the consequences of military power outweigh the

benefits and that international cooperation is in the interest of every state. It also claims

that exercising economic power over military power has proven more effective.

 Although the liberal theory of international relations was dominant following World War

I while President Woodrow Wilson promoted the League of Nations and many treaties
abolishing war, realism came back into prominence in the Second World War and

continued throughout the Cold War


 It is anarchical in nature that is it Is prone to war
 It is interdependent in nature.
 Sovereign states