Trevor Taylor: Scope of International Relations

It is known by now that international relations encompass a myriad of  discipline. Attempts to structure and intellectualize it have often been  thematically and analytically confined to boundaries determined by data.

The core concepts of international relations are International Organization,  International Law, Foreign Policy, International Conflict, International  Economic Relations and Military Thought and Strategy.

International/Regional Security, Strategic Studies, International Political  Economy, Conflict/War and Peace Studies, Globalization, International  Regimes.

Moreover it covers , state sovereignty, ecological sustainability,  nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, terrorism,  organized crime, human security, foreign interventionism and human rights.

These have been grounded in various schools of thought (or traditions)  notably Realism and Idealism.


International relations are thus concerned with every form of interaction between and amongst nations. Such interactions can also occur between corporation and social groups. Examples are interactions between member  states of the OPEC or the International Human Rights Commissions.  The moment such interactions cross a state boundary it is of interest to  the study of International Relations. International relations recognize and respond to the fact that the foreign policy goals that nations pursue can  be a matter of permanent consequences to some or all of the others.

International Relations Defined: Since its inception, international relations has been defined in many ways. Writers differ greatly upon the definition of the subject. It appears quite natural, as Stanley Hoffman says, "how could one agree once and for all upon the definition of a field whose scope is in constant flux, indeed, a field whose fluctuation is one of its principal characteristics". As such, international relations cannot be defined in any generally acceptable way. Nature and Scope of International Relations:

(a) Conflict as the essential element of relations: Since politics is a necessary element of relations, for an understanding of the nature and scope of international relations, a brief discussion of the term "politics" is necessary. Everything in politics, whether domestic or international, flows from the fact that people have needs and wants. The efforts to satisfy needs and wants bring people into contact with one another.

This contact leads to the formation of groups. But the needs and wants of various groups are bound to differ, though the need and wants of the members of one group are normally supposed to be common. Groups do certain actions and follow certain relations in order to satisfy the needs and wants of their members. Politics, thus, arises from the very existence of groups and disagreement among them and from the efforts of men to create relationships under which their needs and wants can be fulfilled to the maximum possible extent.

Thus there are three important characteristics of relations; the existence of groups, disagreement between groups and the efforts of some to influence or control the actions of others. Relations, then, is a phenomenon of groups, disagreement, and group action.

Disagreement, however, should not be total so as to exclude every possibility of co-operation, Relations cannot exist in a state of complete disagreement as it cannot exist in a state of complete agreement. Relationships between groups should be somewhere between the two.

The purpose of a group trying to influence or control the actions and policies of other group or groups is to alter this type of relationship in its own favour. That is why, Sheldon Volin has described politics as the process of our continuous efforts to establish such relationships with others as could be most beneficial to us. This definition of relations as a process is of special significance.

This is so for two reasons. One is that our wants and desires are unlimited and the other is that we always go on trying to achieve their maximum satisfaction, even though we realize it well that their complete satisfaction is never possible.

Thus the relationship between all units participating in the process of politics is inherently full of conflicts. (b) Conflict differentiated from Disputes:

We should not, however, confuse conflict with disputes. Conflict is that state of relationship among the units participating in the process of politics which arises, and continues to exist, from the fact that the wants and desires of those units are unlimited and from the further fact that they regard one another as their rivals.

Disputes, on the other hand, arise from specific issues. Thus conflict is abstract and dispute is the concrete manifestation of conflict. Disputes can be counted but conflict cannot be. It can at best be measured in terms of degrees. Whether a group of two or more countries have a large or small number of disputes, depends upon how acute is the state of conflict between them. (c) Conflict is a permanent phenomenon in relations:

This state of conflict can at times be more acute and at times less acute but can never cease to exist. Thus conflict is the permanent phenomenon in relations. Bertrand de Jouvenel has rightly pointed out that conflict can never be eliminated from relations and therefore, political disputes are always "solved" only temporarily.

He explodes the "myth of solution" in relations and holds that what we often regard as "solutions" of disputes are in fact nothing else than compromises reached between the parties to a dispute only temporarily. Briefly stated, the conflict nature of relationship among the participating units means that those units should ceaselessly try to control or influence the behaviour of each other so as to alter that- relationship in their own favour.

(d) Relations is a Struggle for Power: The ability or capacity to influence or control the behaviour of others is, generally speaking, called power. It should, however, be remembered that this definition does not exhaust either the meaning or the content of power. But an essential characteristic element of relations is an effort on the part of some to control the actions of others.

And since the ability to make such efforts is power, relations also involves power. It is in this sense that all relations is considered to be a struggle for power. Power becomes a means for the fulfillment of needs and wants. Relations without power is unthinkable. Power thus becomes the means for the achievement of our wants and desires.  hypothetical models of global political organisation.

1. The Balance of Power System : This system prevailed in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this system some powerful states seek to maintain equilibrium of power individually or in alliance. Usually there is a 'balancer' - a state which assists anyone who is likely to become weaker than others so that balance is not disturbed. 2. The Loose Bipolar System : This was the situation during the days of cold war politics. Despite bipolar division of the global power scene, some countries refused to align with either block. They hang loose in an otherwisc stratified global order. Examples : Non-aligned countries (NAM).

3. The Tight Bipolar System : Think of a situation where the international actors like NAM countries are forced to align with either block, the result is -one of the tight bipolar system. 4. Thk Universal Actor System : In this system, an international organisation or actor commanding universal allegiance becomes the centre of power. Whether big or small, all states will accept the superiority of a universal actor like the United Nations.

Thus, without giving up their sovereignty, nation-states will strengthen the United Nations and generally abide by its decisions. This may eventually pave the way for a world government. 5. The Hierarchical International System : In this system one country will become so powerful that all other states will be virtually dictated to by that one Supreme Power. This situation may be described as a 'Unipolar World Model'. The U.N. may still exist, but there will be no true non-aligned country and even the U.N. will not have enough power.

6. The Unit Veto System : Morton Kaplan's Unit Veto System in international context resembles the 'state of nature' as defined by Thomas Hobbes. Each state will be the enemy of every other state, because almost all the countries will possess nuclear weapons. Thus, all the international actors will be capable of using nuclear weapons against their enemies.

International organization in IR: An international organization (also called intergovernmental organization) is an w:organization of international scope or character. There are two main types of international organizations: international intergovernmental organizations, whose members are sovereign states; and w:non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which are private organizations. Generally the term international organization is used to mean international governmental organizations only.

Thus international organizations in a legal sense are distinguished from mere groupings of states, such as the w:G-8 and the w:G-77, neither of which have been founded by treaty, though in non-legal contexts these are sometimes referred to as international organizations as well.]

International organizations must also be distinguished from treaties; while all international organizations are founded on a treaty, many treaties (e.g., the w:North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)) do not establish an international organization and rely purely on the parties for their administration International law. International law is the set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and nations.[1][2] It serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations.[3]

International law differs from national legal systems in that it primarily concerns nations rather than private citizens. National law may become international law when treaties delegate national jurisdiction to supranational tribunals such as the European Court of Human Rights or the International Criminal Court.

Treaties such as the Geneva Conventions may require national law to conform. International law is consent-based governance. This means that a state member of the international community is not obliged to abide by international law unless it has expressly consented to a particular course of conduct.[4]

This is an issue of state sovereignty. The term "international law" can refer to three distinct legal disciplines: * Public international law, which governs the relationship between provinces and international entities. It includes these legal fields: treaty law, law of sea, international criminal law, the laws of war or international humanitarian law and international human rights law. * Private international law, or conflict of laws, which addresses the questions of (1) which jurisdiction may hear a case, and (2) the law concerning which jurisdiction applies to the issues in the case.

* Supranational law or the law of supranational organizations, which concerns regional agreements where the laws of nation states may be held inapplicable when conflicting with a supranational legal system when that nation has a treaty obligation to a supranational Foreign policy:

A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu.[citation needed] The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries. In recent times, due to the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, the states will also have to interact with non-state actors.

The aforementioned interaction is evaluated and monitored in attempts to maximize benefits of multilateral international cooperation. Since the national interests are paramount, foreign policies are designed by the government through high-level decision making processes. National interests accomplishment can occur as a result of peaceful cooperation with other nations, or through exploitation. Usually, creating foreign policy is the job of the head of government and the foreign minister (or equivalent). In some countries the legislature also has considerable oversight. Alliances and groups: Rulers and national leaders have used political alliances for many different reasons.

Military alliances may serve as a deterrent against opponents because of the threat of multifront wars. Groups of nations have also come together to form multistate alliance networks during armed conflicts in order to counter perceived threats. Some famous examples of these networks include the Holy Alliance against Napoleon; the Triple Alliance and its rival, the Triple Entente, during World War I; and the Axis powers against the Grand Alliance during World War II.

Alliances may also serve economic, political, or strategic interests. For example, many leaders have forged alliances in order to expand their empires through tribal networks and colonial patronage. Aside from their usefulness in both war and peacetime, alliances may also have negative aspects. An alliance can limit the diplomatic freedom of a country. Lesser powers may use their alliance as diplomatic leverage or as an excuse to act irresponsibly because of their guaranteed protection from more powerful allies. Great powers may also use their alliance to coerce or limit the actions of their less powerful allies.

Ideologies: An ideology is a set of ideas that constitute one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology is a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things (compare worldview) as in several philosophical tendencies (see political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization). Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.

Many political parties base their political action and program on an ideology. In social studies, a political ideology is a certain ethical set of ideals, principles, doctrines, myths, or symbols of asocial movement, institution, class, or large group that explains how society should work, and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order. A political ideology largely concerns itself with how to allocate power and to what ends it should be used. Some parties follow a certain ideology very closely, while others may take broad inspiration from a group of related ideologies without specifically embracing any one of them. Political ideologies have two dimensions:

1. Goals: how society should work 2. Methods: the most appropriate ways to achieve the ideal arrangement. An ideology is a collection of ideas. Typically, each ideology contains certain ideas on what it considers to be the best form of government (e.g. democracy, theocracy, caliphate etc.), and the best economic system (e.g. capitalism, socialism, etc.). Sometimes the same word is used to identify both an ideology and one of its main ideas. For instance, "socialism" may refer to an economic system, or it may refer to an ideology which supports that economic system. State system

The state is central to the study of international relations and likely to remain so  into the foreseeable future. State policy is the most common object of analysis. States decide to go to war. They erect trade barriers. They choose whether and at what level to establish environmental standards. States enter international agreements, or not, and

choose whether to abide by their provisions. Even scholars who give prominence to non- state actors are typically concerned with understanding or changing state practice (for example, Keck and Sikkink 1998). International relations as a discipline is chiefly concerned with what states do and, in turn, how their actions affect other states.

Similarly, states are a common unit of analysis in theories of international relations. Many analysts focus on states and their interactions to explain observed patterns of world politics. The state is fundamental to neorealism (Waltz 1979) and neoliberal institutionalism (Keohane 1984). It is also key in many constructivist and English school theories (Bull 1977, Reus-Smit 1999, Wendt 1999). Even critical, post- modern, or feminist theories, which have arisen in opposition to existing forms of social

power, often focus on problematizing states and state practice. National interest The concept of 'the national interest' is an ever present feature of contemporary diplomatic discourse and has been widely analysed by historians and political scientists. However, there has not been a systematic investigation of the term from the range of theoretical perspectives which comprise the discipline of International Relations.

This book fills this gap by explaining how the term is variously understood by realist, Marxist, anarchist, liberal, English School and constructivist theories of International Relations. It is argued that far from having a clear and unambiguous meaning, 'the national interest' is a problematic term which is largely devoid of substantive content. While realists traditionally, and constructivists more recently, claim that 'the national interest' is a key explanatory tool in the analysis and understanding of contemporary foreign policy, Scott Burchill argues that beyond the narrow aspect of security policy, the national interest has little residual value as an insight into the motivations of state policy in the external realm.