No Common Power: Understanding International Relations (3rd Edition)

ISBN 10: 067352390X / ISBN 13: 9780673523907
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Synopsis: This third edition of "No Common Power" integrates post-Cold War events with the underlying structural characteristics of the international system that continue to resist fundamental change: because states are "without common power" (to quote Thomas Hobbes) in their international relations, states exist in a system that lacks effective authority for resolving inevitable disputes. Yet at the same time, everyday realities of world affairs display a great deal of practical order. This paradox is examined in this book. It also looks at the future of international relations in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War. It devotes particular attention to revolutionary changes in the former Soviet Union and provides expanded coverage of North-South relations. Attention is also given to the implications of the Gulf War and to conflict in the former Yugoslavia, as well as to the problems of U.N. peacekeeping, arms control agreements, democracies and war, the Maastricht Treaty and European Union, the consequences of a rapid expansion in international economic relations and the opportunities and limits of interdependence.

From the Inside Flap: Preface

Dramatic, even revolutionary, changes have taken place in world politics in recent decades. Among them have been the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, an impetus toward democratization in important parts of the developing world and in countries formerly governed by dictatorships, the ebbing of some bitter regional conflicts, globalization of the world economy, the information revolution and the spread of instantaneous global communications, reinvigorated movement toward European Union, attempts to address global environmental dangers, creation of an international criminal court, and increased efforts at peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention through the United Nations.

In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, a number of these changes fostered optimism about the future course of international relations, and some observers even concluded that the world was on the threshold of an unprecedented era of peace and cooperation. Yet other major events have not been so benign. They include ethnic warfare and appalling abuses of human rights throughout the former Yugoslavia; clan warfare, starvation, and anarchy in Somalia; genocide in Rwanda; chaos and warfare among several former Soviet Republics in the Caucasus region; uncertainties about the future of Russia; regimes fostering terrorism in Iraq, Iran, and the Sudan; the emergence outside the East-West sphere of regional powers equipped with weapons of mass destruction (chemical and biological weapons, missiles, nuclear weapons); the failure of ambitious United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, Bosnia, and Angola; outbursts of fanatical ethnic, nationalist, and religious hatreds elsewhere; an Asian economic crisis; and severe problems of poverty, disease, and environmental degradation in parts of the developing world.

Together, these events represent the most profound change in international relations since the emergence of the East-West conflict in the years after World War II. In responding to them, this expanded fourth edition of No Common Power undertakes a number of fundamental tasks: It devotes attention to revolutionary changes in Russia and the implications for the post-Cold War international system; it provides expanded coverage of the Asian economic crisis, economic development, the debate over dependency, ethnic conflict, and the relationship of the developing world to international politics; it devotes attention to the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as to broader problems of UN peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention; it assesses the concept of the democratic peace and the achievements and limits of European Union; and it considers the consequences of globalization and the information revolution for world politics.

At the same time, No Common Power continues to integrate these events with an appreciation of the underlying structural characteristics of the international system that remain resistant to fundamental change. These realities are captured in a phrase by Thomas Hobbes more than three centuries ago: Because they are "without a common power" in their international relations, states exist in a system that lacks effective central authority for resolving the inevitable disputes that arise among them.

In essence, this means that states dwell in an environment of formal anarchy. Anarchy here is not synonymous with chaos. Instead, the term denotes the absence of established governance above the level of the state. This fundamental characteristic shapes the relations among states and it is what sets international relations apart from domestic politics.

The everyday realities of world affairs also display a great deal of practical order. Indeed, cooperation exists not only in the widespread observance of many international rules, but can also be found in the extensive patterns of international economic relations, interdependence, and the functioning of international and nongovernmental organizations. The contrast of these two forces, the paradox of formal anarchy and practical order, conditions the manner in which world politics takes place and at the same time constrains state behavior. This interplay shapes the approach of No Common Power.

Part 1, Introduction: The Context of World Politics, suggests how the reader can manage the task of making sense of international relations and devotes particular attention to the anarchy concept. It also addresses the security dilemma: the problem that in the absence of an effective international authority for resolving inevitable disputes, states need to rely on themselves for security. The result of this "self-help" system, however, is that other states face the same situation and also arm to provide their own security—as each defines it. Other things being equal, each state ultimately may become less secure. Chapter 2 goes on to assess the broad outlines of the international system in which the modern state functions. While considering the historical background, it devotes attention to the emergence of the post-Cold War international system as it exists at the start of the twenty-first century.

Part 2, Conflict in the International System, treats those phenomena that made international relations after World War II unique in contrast to the previous era and then assesses the transformation of the international system that followed. Chapters 3 and 4 analyze the origins and development of the Cold War and East-West relations, then consider the end of the Cold War and its impact on international relations at the end of the century. Chapter 5 deals with North-South relations, ethnicity as a major source of conflict, debates over dependency and development, the debt crisis, and the distinction between more and less successful developing countries ("third" versus "fourth" worlds). In turn, Chapter 6 addresses nuclear weapons and world politics, examining the implied penetration of the nation-state and basic concepts essential to the understanding of nuclear deterrence, arms control, and the conduct of international relations in a world in which there has not only been proliferation of nuclear weapons, but of other weapons of mass destruction (missiles, chemical and biological weapons) as well.

Part 3, Watersheds in International Relations, analyzes a series of formative international events and crises that are common legacies of the twentieth-century world to the new millennium. These watersheds not only reflect the interplay of forces the book is concerned with, but their impact conditions the wider understanding of international relations. Chapter 7 contrasts interpretations of the past based on 1914 (the outbreak of World War I) and 1938-1939 (appeasement of Nazi Germany and the start of World War II). Chapter 8 explores the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 and the different interpretations that have evolved from a confrontation that brought the world closer to the brink of nuclear war than at any time in its history. Chapters 9 and 10 consider the lessons of America's involvement in Vietnam, and then Oil and the World Political Economy.

Part 4, Order and the "Anarchical Society," shifts the focus away from conflict and competition and toward consideration of the ways in which states have sought to prevent war and to establish cooperation and order in their relations. The section begins, in Chapter 11, by considering the causes of war. This chapter emphasizes the systemic factors that create a propensity for periodic conflicts to erupt into warfare—as exemplified in such cases as the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina, the Gulf war, and war in Bosnia and Kosovo. It contrasts these cases with the manner in which domestic structures tend to contain conflicts and analyzes the relationship of democracies to war, including the propensity of genuinely democratic countries to refrain from going to war against one another. Chapter 12 then examines the search for order at the global level, through the League of Nations, the United Nations, and the development of international law, and it devotes attention to the problems of UN peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention, and the quest to establish effective war crimes tribunals. It also expands on humanitarian intervention and the tension between this ideal and the claims of national sovereignty. Chapter 13 explores efforts at order undertaken at the regional level and embodied in the experience of European Union. It devotes attention to the renewed impetus toward regional integration, including creation of the Euro and the deeply rooted difficulties in achieving cooperation in foreign and defense policy. Chapter 14 analyzes globalization and patterns of economic order. Modernization, technology, and the pursuit of economic well-being have resulted in a pervasive interdependence as well as establishment of international regimes to provide the framework—or rules of the game—within which much economic interaction takes place, though the limits of globalization and the role of states in the process deserve careful attention as well

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