Peace And War A Theory Of International Relations Pdf

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What is peace according to IR theory? This question appears to have been settled in favour of the liberal peace. Unable to display preview.

International relations theory is the study of international relations IR from a theoretical perspective. It attempts to provide a conceptual framework upon which international relations can be analyzed. The three most prominent theories are realism , liberalism and constructivism.

Realism, Liberalism and the Possibilities of Peace

Scholars of international relations IR have been confronted with ideas and concepts from a wealth of theoretical camps within the discipline. Each of these theories consists of their own notions of peace and war, while offering recommendations as to how nations can best create harmony with one another. What is surprising, however, is that the field of IR does not encompass its own separate field of peace studies, for students and scholars who are drawn to learning particularly about peace in IR.

This article will consider theories of IR, mainly from the realist and liberal theoretical camps, by analyzing the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in answering two specific questions: First, how does IR theory account for peace and can these theories be applied to the case at hand?

This article will seek to answer the questions presented above by arguing that IR literature does not sufficiently account for peace and differing theories of peace IR do not present a cohesive approach to peace. Peace is sought out and desired by leaders of nations as an alternative to war and conflict.

However, defining what peace entails is often challenging. It is easier to recognize what peace is not rather than what it ought to be. So, as scholars of international relations we may ask ourselves, how do we recognize when peace exists among nations? This phenomenon may not be completely obvious and a closer look into the current academic literature can shed some light on understanding peace.

Within IR, peace research has been a trending topic although it continues to be marginalized Neufeld Perhaps this avoidance comes from the fact that peace is often difficult to identify and recognize; further, absolute peace may not be fully achievable. For example, the fine line between lasting peace and temporary peace, such as a ceasefire, is often muddled as there may be a lack of conditions as to what such peace involves and who is the proper authority, if there is one, to enforce peace.

Regardless, such an occurrence does not mean that peace is impossible. Therefore, it is important to define the concept of peace so that its place within IR can be more easily identified and better applied to a case of ongoing ethno-political turmoil and violence, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Such an example may be seen with the Camp David Accords, which were signed in between Israel and Egypt with a framework implemented with the assistance of the U. Despite this fact, several measures have been taken to bring peace to the region.

For example, peace treaties, such as the Camp David Accords mentioned above, are a positive step towards peace although they do not prevent conflict from erupting between states. They merely commit states to refraining from conflict through negotiated conditions, although violence may still occur without a lack of severe penalties imposed on the offending nation. In essence, ceasefires are another method of securing temporary peace between nations. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have both agreed to temporary ceasefires on numerous occasions although violence has endured.

For example, in , Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire that was evidently a failure as a result of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza several months later Milton-Edwards Both peace treaties and ceasefires do not permanently halt nor prevent conflict, particularly in the Middle Eastern region. This is likely as a result of low stakes and a lack of genuine commitment from those involved to agree to the proposed terms. Moreover, there is little that can be done when a state violates a peace treaty or ceasefire.

Peace evidently means different things to different people, particularly within a heated conflict such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Israelis, relative peace may be a period without rockets launched from the Gaza Strip or suicide bombings in Israeli cities, which in principle resembles a ceasefire. On the contrary, for Palestinians, peace may merely be perceived as freedom from Israeli occupation, which goes beyond the notion of cessation of violence and also comprises a psychological component of autonomy and recognition.

Many Israelis and Palestinians were optimistic about the potential for harmony between both sides as a result of the Accords; however, like many peace treaties both before and after their time, Israelis and Palestinians ultimately failed to see eye to eye on many issues. In some ways, peace in the region may not appear to be realistic given past events.

Therefore, proper political and social conditions may be necessary to ensure the implementation of a long-lasting peace. Israel and Palestine can be characterized as being situated between a hot and cold war because violence between both sides is a necessary occurrence although actual wars are not as frequent. Whereas a hot war is a situation involving the actual use of force, a cold war is one where hostilities can break out at any moment, though there is no actual shooting Miller Warm peace might be considered an ideal category because it is the only condition in which a certain degree of disarmament is considered Miller This article will now turn to addressing the two questions posed earlier.

Although peace is an increasingly relevant topic, not only within IR but academia itself, it does not have clearly demarcated borders within the field. Instead, it is an interdisciplinary field within the social sciences that draws on political science, sociology, history, anthropology, theology, psychology and philosophy Kroc Institute. Perhaps the lack of a specific peace studies agenda in IR is due to the fact that the topic of peace can be found in almost any area within IR and political science more generally.

On the contrary, theoretical approaches within IR can each be said to have their own perspectives on peace. Oliver P. This may also be as a result of the fact that peace between states is difficult to achieve, and so scholars may tend to avoid providing prescriptions but instead seek to analyze and question the phenomenon of peace.

It is surely less challenging to study and investigate a conflict such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than conjure up its prospects for peace, a term that a universal definition remains without.

Over the past few decades, IR has witnessed a trajectory from a discipline focused largely on the creation of peace to one in which the cessation of war has become paramount, which in many aspects does not imply peace. This shift in focus is quite diverse. Although more critical theories, including post-colonialism, post-structuralism and feminism, which each differ in their own ways have made major headway in the discipline, a state-centric view in the field continues to linger.

IR continues to be prejudiced and gendered despite this push. Therefore, regardless of efforts by many scholars who emphasize the significance of non-state actors, the state and international levels of analysis often continue to be privileged over the individual, the latter of which often appears to be a much weaker actor in IR.

The shift in adopting one theoretical perspective over another in the field of IR was not as a result of coincidence, but instead of a need. In a time when the global political climate was relatively quiet, the paradigm of liberalism was dominant. Liberalism enabled scholars and students alike to describe global events, offer explanations and apply the theory of liberalism, which happened to be most relevant at the time. Conversely, at the height of the Second World War, priorities and demands changed.

Realism emerged as the most appropriate theory to explain why nations around the world broke out into a state of chaos. This shift in thinking went from a possible universe in which idealism reigned, to one where pessimism took over the minds of many and essentially erased the thought that peace was possible.

Events such as the Cold War and the fall of communism across Europe further confirmed that realism was the theory best suited to explain international events. Although the popularity of realism continues today, it is no longer the dominant theory as it once was. Global events have changed drastically and although wars have continued to break out, they are sporadic and to a lesser extent than they once were. Based upon what has been mentioned in this article regarding the topic of peace in IR, it is evident that IR theory does account for peace to an extent, although much more work is necessary to bridge a gap that leaves many questions unanswered.

Peace literature is evident through the wealth of theoretical perspectives within the field, each possessing their own viewpoints as to what peace entails and if, as well as how, it may be realistically implemented. Human beings by nature possess their own biases and prejudices, ultimately influencing their thoughts and actions.

Liberal views of peace are often directly opposed to realist ideas, with other approaches falling somewhere in-between, and so the question becomes how to best integrate theories of peace so that there can be a common understanding in IR. This task may appear ambitious and unrealistic, since attempting to bridge diverse viewpoints together will likely prove challenging. However, the common goal of peace is relatively the same. One reason as to why IR might not have an overarching theory of peace is because it may be viewed as largely theoretical and not practical.

Therefore, it is not expected that a scholar will successfully implement a peace theory in solving a global ethnic conflict. Perhaps realists, liberals, and thinkers alike, should focus less on the ultimate goal of peace and instead work towards greater empathy that can hopefully lead to a better understanding between individuals and groups. Empathy is another area of IR that is not sufficiently theorized as one scholar notes Head This leads us to tackle the second question posed in this article in considering whether peace is possible between Israelis and Palestinians based upon IR literature.

Traditional IR literature does lead us to believe that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a viable prospect although, as previously mentioned, the current material is not sufficient to assess the application of concepts of peace to conflict. Regardless of the lens utilized by IR scholars, almost every theory within the discipline deals with the topic of peace in one form or another. For example, realists are pessimistic in regards to the potential for peace and view peace as the period between two wars.

In other words, they believe in the inevitability of the return to a state of war given the anarchical international arena and seek to prolong this period between wars. Thus, realists essentially argue that peace is possible in some instances although it is likely not permanent. Liberals, on the other hand, have traditionally been criticized for adopting a utopian point of view, with many of them believing that permanent peace is both viable and realistic.

Any theoretical perspective, both within and outside of the field of IR, possesses its own strengths as well as weaknesses, and liberalism and realism are no different. Merely adopting one approach over the other is unnecessary and impractical. On the one hand, although individuals and states can compromise and conflict can be avoided in many situations, depending on the circumstances or context, it cannot completely disappear.

On the other hand, human beings have wants, needs and desires, which are often at odds with one another and often lead to disputes and even violence. Liberals are more likely to perceive mankind positively, whereas realists view individuals as selfish beings who will always act in their own self-interest. One can only imagine the state of the world today if it were not for these social contracts, which bind individuals together under a common rule — the nation-state.

Essentially, a social contract includes a provision of norms that have resulted in rules and regulations for what is morally acceptable and unacceptable within a society. All citizens are expected to follow these laws or else be subject to punishment. Nevertheless, assuming that human beings will always resort to violence in one form of another is a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is a criticism that has been levied on realists many times.

This theory largely introduced the liberal approach in IR that many scholars have come to adopt and defend. His writings paved the way for thinking how peace could be realistically implemented, even in a time of incessant conflict. Although he argued, similar to Hobbes, that the natural state of man was one of war, he believed that the cessation of violence between states was possible.

More specifically, Kant argued:. A state of peace among men who live side by side is not the natural state, which is rather to be described as a state of war: that is to say, although there is not perhaps always actual open hostility, yet there is a constant threatening that an outbreak may occur.

Thus the state of peace must be established Kant 9. Therefore, Kant argued that conditions for peace did not naturally occur and had to instead be created by individuals. The central premise behind this theory is that because democracies possess similar values and beliefs about governance, rights and liberties, they are less likely to engage in violence with like-minded states.

In considering whether democratic peace theory is still applicable today, one can look to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as two nations with opposing styles of government and rule, where religions, cultures, ideologies, values, and beliefs constantly clash. Israel is largely considered a democratic state since it fulfills many of the criteria of what a democracy should entail, although it has been harshly and routinely criticized for its treatment of Palestinians. According to the central premise of the democratic peace theory, both nations would need to be liberal democracies in order for future conflict to be avoided.

Although IR theory does lead us to believe that some form of peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a viable prospect, the steps or methods necessary to implement peace are generally not offered.

Since each theory of IR offers its own perspective on peace, therefore, there is no proper way to approach the literature of peace, which is subjective in many ways. Subjectiveness arises out of various perspectives describing what peace entails and how it is best understood by various individuals whether they lie within or outside of academia. This article does not aim to offer solutions to the conflict, but instead to open a wider discussion as to how peace may be possible between Israelis and Palestinians.

Such a discussion can illustrate that peace might arise in different ways and through different means, even though the current literature on peace in IR remains unsatisfactory for the reasons stated earlier in this article. Taking these issues into consideration, scholars, however, should not be penalized for a lack of solutions in achieving peace since they are not expected to solve global crises.

Peace in International Relations Theory

How will the novel coronavirus pandemic affect the risk of violent conflict and prospects for peace around the world? There is no clear, easy answer—the crisis is still unfolding in surprising ways and assessments about its ramifications shift daily. To complicate matters, the impact of the virus has varied between different regions and conflict zones, making it difficult to render broad judgments about its consequences. The same uncertainty also surrounds current and prospective efforts to manage violent conflict. And just as progress in one area can help advance the cause of peace in another, so the reverse is often true.


Raymond Aron, Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations. Translated from the French by Richard Howard and Annette Baker Fox. (Gar- den City.


International relations theory

Realism is an approach to the study and practice of international politics. It emphasizes the role of the nation-state and makes a broad assumption that all nation-states are motivated by national interests, or, at best, national interests disguised as moral concerns. At its most fundamental level, the national interest is generic and easy to define: all states seek to preserve their political autonomy and their territorial integrity. Once these two interests have been secured, however, national interests may take different forms. Some states may have an interest in securing more resources or land; other states may wish to expand their own political or economic systems into other areas; some states may merely wish to be left alone.

The Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and Theories of Peace in International Relations

By Raymond Aron. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. Don't already have an Oxford Academic account? Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

It would have been easy, choosing other texts, to lay more emphasis on Treitschke's nationalism or cynicism. For example, the idea of various peoples all illuminated by a ray of the divine light might have laid the foundations of a philosophy of modesty or tolerance. But, in fact, the German historian draws a lesson of pride from it. A people does not achieve self-awareness without overestimating itself.

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Scholars of international relations IR have been confronted with ideas and concepts from a wealth of theoretical camps within the discipline. Each of these theories consists of their own notions of peace and war, while offering recommendations as to how nations can best create harmony with one another. What is surprising, however, is that the field of IR does not encompass its own separate field of peace studies, for students and scholars who are drawn to learning particularly about peace in IR. This article will consider theories of IR, mainly from the realist and liberal theoretical camps, by analyzing the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in answering two specific questions: First, how does IR theory account for peace and can these theories be applied to the case at hand? This article will seek to answer the questions presented above by arguing that IR literature does not sufficiently account for peace and differing theories of peace IR do not present a cohesive approach to peace. Peace is sought out and desired by leaders of nations as an alternative to war and conflict. However, defining what peace entails is often challenging.

Liberalism (international relations)

Democratic peace is the proposition that democracies are more peaceful in their foreign relations. This idea dates back centuries, at least to Immanuel Kant and other 18th-century Enlightenment thinkers. In recent decades it has constituted a major research agenda, competing with and arguably supplanting other research agendas such as neo-realism. The democratic peace proposition has many possible empirical and theoretical forms.

S President Barack Obama. When Plato said that only the dead have seen the end of war, his remarks echoed the history of his time. Peace has been central to this process of inquiry and thought which has led humanity to its present condition. Theories of peace and war have been central to this cognitive exercise. However, in the last three centuries, relations between nation-states have taken the central stage.

Liberalism is a school of thought within international relations theory which can be thought to revolve around three interrelated principles:. This school of thought emphasizes three factors that encourage more cooperation and less conflict among states:. Liberals believe that international institutions play a key role in cooperation among states. States interact in various ways, through economic, financial, and cultural means; security tends to not be the primary goal in state-to-state interactions; and military forces are not typically used.

3 Response
  1. Maira G.

    Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature.

  2. Ofethomha1969

    JPWS aims to promote and disseminate high quality research on peace and war throughout the international academic community.

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