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This book traces discussions about international relations from the middle ages up to the present times. It presents central concepts in historical context and shows how ancient ideas still affect the way we perceive world politics. It discusses medieval theologians like Augustine and Aquinas whose rules of war are still in use. It presents Renaissance humanists like Machiavelli and Bodin who developed our understanding of state sovereignty. It argues that Enlightenment philosophers like Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau laid the basis for the modern analyses of International Relations (IR). Later thinkers followed up with balance-of-power models, perpetual-peace projects and theories of exploitation as well as peaceful interdependence. Classic IR theories have then been steadily refined by later thinkers – from Marx, Mackinder and Morgenthau to Waltz, Wallerstein and Wendt.

The book shows that core ideas of IR have been shaped by major events in the past and that they have often reflected the concerns of the great powers. It also shows that the most basic ideas in the field have remained remarkably constant over the centuries.

A Model for Historical Reflection in the Humanitarian Sector
Kevin O’Sullivan and Réiseal Ní Chéilleachair

robust engagement with humanitarianism as an historical phenomenon help us to better navigate the contemporary aid environment? If so, what steps can we take to translate the lessons of the past into future policy? This article outlines the results of a pilot project conducted by Trócaire and National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway on using history as a tool for policy-making in the humanitarian sector. It begins by reflecting on the need for adaptability and

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
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Why a history of International Relations theory?
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

recalled at all, he is often ridiculed for having been wrong; his original message is regularly twisted into its opposite and confused with somebody else’s claim that war had become impossible (Knutsen 2012 ). IR history is replete with such oversights and misinterpretations. Instead of building on old insights and continuing old conversations, International Relations scholars have too often followed fads and fashions. Easy prey to the pressures of current events, International Relations has too often leaped at new questions, dropping old issues and leaving them

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
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Becoming contemporary
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

confidence in the symmetry of the universe and the self-regulating properties of human action, and that this informed new, nineteenth-century views on the progress of history and the evolution of humankind. Nineteenth-century international thought differed from that of earlier centuries in several respects. One of them concerns diversity. In the case of previous centuries, it is easier to identify a particular theme which characterized the age and a distinct ‘voice’ which expressed it. The nineteenth century is different. In some ways it resembles the sixteenth

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
The nineteenth century and the rise of mass participation
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

divided German people through a string of quick, successful wars. Prussia’s crowning achievement was its rapid mobilization of over a million soldiers in 1871 and its quick victory over France. This success led almost all other states in Europe to emulate Prussian military organization. The application of science and technology to warfare tied the national security of states intimately to the nation’s economic health and rate of development, setting the stage for a new phase of military history characterized by a self-reinforcing armaments spiral. Whereas past

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

great transformation ‘In the history of the world, no civilization has appeared to be more completely rural than that of the Middle Ages,’ writes Georges Duby ( 1968 , p. xi) about the sparsely populated, heavily forested Far West of the tenth and eleventh centuries. In spite of powerful, centralized institutions like the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy, medieval Europe was fragmented. It was plagued by invasions and shifting personalized rule. Under these conditions, life and property were precarious. Social and economic relationships were organized in

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
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The end of International Relations?
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

Syria found themselves economically constrained. So did the PLO, whose role faded into insignificance and whose organizational role was taken over by radical Islamic groups. Many academic observers noted that history mattered – that in order to understand the events and the world it produced, it was necessary to understand patterns of the past. The events which brought about the beginning of the Cold War in 1945 and 1946 also framed its end. The four powers which had divided Germany in 1945 reassembled to negotiate Germany’s unification forty-five years later

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
The revolutionary rise of popular sovereignty
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

, 1678–1751) had been Secretary of War under Queen Anne and chief architect of the Peace of Utrecht. When he retired and wrote his Letters on the Study and Use of History [1738], notions of equilibrium intrude upon his discussions of European affairs. But he, like Defoe, seemed to take the notion of equilibrium for granted; he made no attempt to account for the workings of the balance-of-power principle. Among the most famous applications of the Newtonian principle of balance to international affairs were made by David Hume (1711–76) and Adam Smith (1723

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
Guns, ships and printing presses
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

international order was to be based. The long interval between the two treaties of Augsburg and Westphalia marked a steady increase in the pitch of the religious war in a divided Europe. It also marked one of the most formative periods in the history of International Relations theory. Contradictions of the age The mounting pace of social change divided social philosophers. Several political thinkers struggled to re-establish the old intellectual certainties in the face of turbulent times and uncertain futures (Ferrari 1860 , pp. 298ff). But all were torn

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

Where should we look for the origins of an International Relations theory tradition? 1 On the one hand are authors who claim that we should begin with World War I. This is too late. Long before World War I, a large body of literature existed which discussed issues of war, wealth, peace and power in international relations – as this book seeks to show. On the other hand are authors who argue that we should begin with the dawn of recorded history. But this is too early. No sustained connection exists between the famous discussions of Xenophon

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)