Theories of International Relations

Pages: 3 (800 words) Published: May 25, 2014

Theories of International Relations

A theory of international relations is a set of ideas that explains how the international system works. Unlike an ideology, a theory of international relations is (at least in principle) backed up with concrete evidence. The two major theories of international relations are realism and liberalism. National Interest

Most theories of international relations are based on the idea that states always act in accordance with theirnational interest, or the interests of that particular state. State interests often include self-preservation, military security, economic prosperity, and influence over other states. Sometimes two or more states have the same national interest. For example, two states might both want to foster peace and economic trade. And states with diametrically opposing national interests might try to resolve their differences through negotiation or even war. Realism

According to realism, states work only to increase their own power relative to that of other states. Realism also claims the following: The world is a harsh and dangerous place. The only certainty in the world is power. A powerful state will always be able to outdo—and outlast—weaker competitors. The most important and reliable form of power is military power. A state’s primary interest is self-preservation. Therefore, the state must seek power and must always protect itself There is no overarching power that can enforce global rules or punish bad behavior. Moral behavior is very risky because it can undermine a state’s ability to protect itself. The international system itself drives states to use military force and to war. Leaders may be moral, but they must not let moral concerns guide foreign policy. International organizations and law have no power or force; they exist only as long as states accept them. Politicians have practiced realism as long as states have existed. Most scholars and politicians during the Cold War...
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