History & international relations by Thomas W. Smith

By Thomas W. Smith

This ebook is an important contribution to the talk approximately philosophy and process in background and diplomacy. the writer analyses IR scholarship from classical realism to quantitative and postmodern paintings.

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While historical anachronisms should be avoided in reconstructing the past, the reconstruction itself will always be influenced by, and relative to, the historian’s present. ” Ludwig Dehio’s Precarious Balance (1963), for example, traces the hegemonic designs made on Europe by men from Carlos V to Hitler, yet the book’s silent central character is Stalin. Peter Fleiss’s Thucydides and the Politics of Bipolarity (1966) recasts the Peloponnesian War in a distinctly twentiethcentury matrix. Paul Kennedy’s excellent Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987) reflects many of the insecurities of Western economic and military might in the late twentieth century.

This is the idea that the measures deemed necessary to protect a state inherently clash with the security imperatives of its neighbors. By many accounts, this is the central problem of international politics. It is also easy to see why Thucydides’ tale of politics, diplomacy, and war in a bipolar world, would ring so clearly with students and statesmen during the cold war. Marshall, in a 1947 speech at Princeton University, doubted “whether a man can think with full wisdom and with deep convictions regarding certain of the basic international issues today who has not at least reviewed in his mind the period of the Peloponnesian War and the Fall of Athens” (quoted in Connor 1984: 3).

Selection and interpretation become even more necessary, not because there is too little information, but because there is too much. Presentism and statecraft A further interpretive challenge lies in the historicity of theory itself. Like a work of history, theory may reveal as much about the author and his/her world than about the subject under scrutiny. Those who look to theory for anything resembling consistent “laws” or patterns of international behavior will be discouraged by how markedly theories parallel contemporary political problems and structures.

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