International relations (IR) or international affairs (IA) — commonly also referred to as international studies (IS) or global studies (GS) — is the study of interconnectedness of politics, economics and law on a global level. Depending on the academic institution, it is either a field of political science, an interdisciplinary academic field similar to global studies, or an entirely independent academic discipline in which students take a variety of internationally focused courses in social science and humanities disciplines. In all cases, the field studies relationships between political entities (polities) such as sovereign states, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and multinational corporations (MNCs), and the wider world-systems produced by this interaction. International relations is an academic and a public policy field, and so can be positive and normative, because it analyses and formulates the foreign policy of a given state.
As political activity, international relations dates from the time of the Greek historian Thucydides (c. 460–395 BC), and, in the early 20th century, became a discrete academic field (no. 5901 in the 4-digit UNESCO Nomenclature) within political science. In practice, international relations and international affairs forms a separate academic program or field from political science, and the courses taught therein are highly interdisciplinary.
For example, international relations draws from the fields of: politics, economics, international law, technology and engineering, communication studies, history, demography, philosophy, geography, social work, sociology, anthropology, criminology, psychology, gender studies, cultural studies, culturology, and diplomacy. The scope of international relations comprehends globalization, diplomatic relations, state sovereignty, international security, ecological sustainability, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, global finance, as well as terrorism and organized crime, human security, foreign interventionism, and human rights, as well, as, more recently, comparative religion.
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization established 24 October 1945 to promote international co-operation. A replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, the organization was created following the Second World War to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The headquarters of the United Nations is in Manhattan, New York City, and enjoys extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict. (more...)
Kenneth Neal Waltz (; June 8, 1924 – May 12, 2013 was an American political scientist who was a member of the faculty at both the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University and one of the most prominent scholars in the field of international relations. He was a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. Waltz was a founder of neorealism, or structural realism, in international relations theory. Waltz's theories have been extensively debated within the field of international relations. In 1981, Waltz published a monograph arguing that the proliferation of nuclear weapons would increase the probability of international peace. The monograph was The Spread of Nuclear Weapons. Waltz developed this theory in later publications, including one that argued peace in the Middle East would be secured if Iran were to acquire nuclear capability. Leslie H. Gelb has considered Waltz one of the "giants" who helped define the field of international relations as an academic discipline. Columbia University colleague Robert Jervis has said of Waltz, "Almost everything he has written challenges the consensus that prevailed at the time" and "Even when you disagree, he moves your thinking ahead."
Waltz's initial contribution to the field of International relations was his 1959 book, Man, the State, and War, which was based upon his dissertation of classified theories of the causes of war into three categories, or levels of analysis. Waltz refers to these levels of analysis as "images," and uses the writings of one or more classic political philosophers to outline the major points of each image. Each image is given two chapters: the first mainly uses the classical philosopher's writings to describe what that image says about the cause of war; the second usually consists of Waltz analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of that image.
The first image argues that wars are often caused by the nature of particular statesmen and political leaders such as state leaders – example like Napoleon – or by human nature more generally. This is basically consistent with Classical Realism, which dominated the International Relations discipline at the time of Man, the State, and War but which Waltz would contest more fully in his next book, Theory of International Politics.
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