IR changed during World War II. This chapter tries to show how. First, it presents the war aims of the major belligerents – Germany, Britain, the USSR and the USA. It spends some time on Germany’s war aims before it zeroes in on the US approach to the war and its visions of the post-war peace. The main vision was liberal and internationalist in nature. It was expressed by President F.D. Roosevelt who drove a purposeful war-time diplomacy to lay down the institutional foundations for a liberal post-war order. The chapter discusses Roosevelt’s war-time conferences with Churchill and Stalin. It then takes up the criticism of the Roosevelt administration. George F. Kennan thought that it was naïve about Soviet affairs and the ‘realities of power’. Reinhold Niebuhr was critical of the ways in which the administration gullibly negotiated peace with master-Realists like Stalin. However, the sharpest attack came from Hans J. Morgenthau. In the wake of the war, he claimed that the Roosevelt administration was composed of naïve technocrats who did not know the first thing about the power-based politics among nations.
The atomic bomb ended World War II. It also opened up for a new, post-war peace: a world order divided between the USA and the USSR. The two, rivalling, extra-European powers were trying to outdo each other in ideological prowess and atomic capabilities. Their efforts divided the world in two ideological camps and two spheres of influence. Within the Western camp, interstate relations were largely conceived in terms of liberal internationalism. Relations between the two atomic superpowers, however, were approached in power-political terms. The USA knew little about the inner workings of the USSR. US analysts compensated for scant empirical knowledge by developing theories about Soviet behavior and models of US-Soviet interaction. Such efforts, which drew heavily on rational-actor models and statistical techniques from Economics and Engineering, stimulated several new approaches – more technical or scientific than those invoked by IR scholars in the past. Among the new approaches were game-theory and systems-theory. Their advance sowed the seeds for a big debate about the most suitable methodology for the study of IR: the new, behaviouralist approach or the traditional, historical approach.
This chapter presents the early, tense period of the Cold War and examines the IR theories that evolved under its impact. First, studies of the superpower rivalry stimulated the rise of the new field of ‘security studies’ – a scientific spin-off from the Realist tradition. On its heels followed the development of ‘peace research’, informed by an anti-war sentiments and left-wing theories. Second, studies of the increasing cooperation within the West revived old, liberal theories of interdependence and triggered new and special theories of integration. Third, anti-Western rebellions and wars in the colonies – what was increasingly termed ‘The Third World’ – brought in radical theories of exploitation and dependency to IR. This proliferation of approaches spurred IR scholars to chart and systematize the theories of their field. This chapter discusses two such efforts during the 1950s. First, those of Martin Wight who sought to chart the three different traditions of Realism, Rationalism and Revolutionism. Then, the efforts of Kenneth Waltz, who mapped IR theories in terms of the three different images or levels of analysis: that of the individual, the societal and the systemic.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a turning point in the Cold War. On the one hand, the crisis convinced the two superpowers of the necessity to establish diplomatic relations and regulate their nuclear arms race. On the other hand, the superpower competition for influence in the Third World increased, as the USSR began to support rebel movements which opposed the colonial domination of Western powers and fought to obtain self-rule and sovereign status for their nations. During the 1960s, national liberation-movements in Africa and Asia introduced radical, anti-capitalist arguments to scholarly IR. Not only did the number of theoretical traditions increased from two to three – in addition to Realism and Rationalism, there emerged a radical, revolutionary tradition; this revolutionary tradition, based on the anti-capitalist political economy of Marx and Lenin, gained an enormous influence. This chapter examines the way in which the new logic of structuralism affected and altered IR theory. In particular it traces the impact of structural analysis during the 1970s by discussing the very different theories of Immanuel Wallerstein, Kenneth Waltz and Hedley Bull.
At the end of the 1970s the West reasserted its liberal ideals of rational individuals and free, self-interested interaction. Britain, the USA and other nations along the north-Atlantic rim initiated structural reforms to deal with problems that plagued their modern, industrial societies – economic stagnation, uncertain energy supplies and environmental pollution were foremost among them. Liberal reforms soon swept other regions of the world as well. Even some communist nations embraced market-economic principles. This rise of a liberal sentiment also impacted IR, whose theorists toned down the simple structural approaches of the past and were deeply affected by actor-focused assumptions of individual rationality and models of free-market interaction. This chapter focuses on one theoretical debate that dominated IR throughout the 1980s: that of the merits of Neorealism – an approach which relied on structural as well as on rational-actor based assumptions.
The collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War altered the international system. For half a century, its bipolar structure had affected the behavior of the world’s states. Suddenly, the collapse of the USSR left the USA as the world’s only remaining, ubiquitous superpower. The collapse suddenly released a score of states from Soviet dominance; all of them sought to preserve and enhance their new-won independence while scrambling for new alignments to help maximize their wealth and security. The result was realignments and flux. Pessimistic observers saw breakdown of order and increasing uncertainty. Optimistic observers saw new opportunities and a new world order based self-determination. The optimistic attitude prevailed in the West. This chapter explores this optimism. It considers in particular the resurgence of neo-idealist values which informed the liberal-democratic activism of the USA and its Western allies. The prime reflection of this neo-idealist thrust was the theory of the democratic peace, which is presented and assessed in this chapter.
The terrorist attack on New York and Washington on 11. September 2001, challenged the post-Cold War, neo-idealist attitudes of the USA and its Western allies. The attack was planned and executed by Islamic extremists who resented the intrusion of Judeo-Christian powers in their holy lands. The 9-11 terrorist attack caused the USA to launch a retaliatory invasion of Afghanistan and, later, Iraq. Both invasions led to unmanageable open-ended war. They stimulated the rise of Islamist radicalism which in turn alerted the Western world to new security challenges in an oil-dependent, rapidly changing world. This chapter addresses some of the forces of change and some of the new theories that purported to account for the new situation in the post-Cold War world. Some of the new theories started out as reactions against the structuralist approaches that had been developed by the previous generation of scholars. The new, post-structuralist theories regularly drew on sociological and anthropological approaches which portrayed international relations in terms of culture and patterns produced through processes of social interaction.