Int'L Relations

Topics: United Nations, League of Nations, Cold War Pages: 3 (791 words) Published: December 7, 2012
'TOPIC 1: STUDYING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
* What is the purpose of a theory of international relations? * The human race has deliberated endlessly on history, philosophy and politics. While the relations and between nations were studied within these fields, international relations (hereafter "IR), as a separate discipline, emerged after the Great War. The purpose of IR was, at the time of its conception, to understand the relations among states and identify the causes of conflict, and thereby take measures to prevent future wars. It advocated the principles of idealism; that through applying scientific/rational solutions to problems and promoting human understanding/knowledge, peace would be ensured. 

It was immediately challenged by realism (a millennia old, commonsense, approach) and lost the first inter-paradigm debate with the onset of WWII. Many such debates took place since then but realism and liberalism (as grandtheories) still remain the most popular approaches to IR.

The thing is, IR has expanded into (rather, is borrowing from) a vast variety of different disciplines and deals with a wide variety of issues, some of which have nothing to do with peace. Furthermore, in most cases, the IR discipline, rather than promoting the betterment of humanity, has become a legitimate means of furthering national interests and justifying state behavior. While I espouse the virtues of realism, I can't help but feel that the presence of realism in IR academia is counterproductive to promoting international peace. On the other hand, I can't help but feel that liberalism, despite all of its inherent soundness, is destined fail because of its fundamentally naive (in my personal opinion) inception of human nature and, therefore, it will never be able to completely end war.

So, I ask you: Should IR be purged of realism so as to return the discipline back to its roots and to silence those academics who legitimize power politics? Or is the discipline...
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