Introduction to International Relations: Theory and Practice

Introduction to International Relations: Theory and Practice

International relations, may on surface, appear to be a soft discipline. There is no mathematics involved. Not involved deep history. The world appears to operate on the grand plans of the great powers; which occasionally can lead to major frictions, even wars, since all sides may not agree on what is best for themselves, let alone the world. But it is precisely the speed and ease with which countries slip in, and out of a state of war, or, peace, that international relations deserve one's most ardent attention. As Sun Tzu, the famous strategist in China once acclaimed, "One only ignores national affairs at one's peril, as sheer indifference can lead to life or death."

"Introduction to International Relations: Theory and Practice," takes the avid student of world affairs through different theories of looking at the world. In Harvard University, these theories are known as "lenses". Each lens can produce a completely reality. For example, is the US always out to protect its interest and nothing else ? This may be true from the realist standpoint. But the US has, from time to time, also urged more countries to adopt democratic governance. To the extent it failed to counsel the latter, the US has tried to encourage more countries to adopt good governance, through institutions connected to it, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

But since both institutions belong to the American elites, almost all of whom do not agree on the importance of global financial reform, one has to wonder if the US will always have the best interest of the world at heart. This is just as true with Russia, or, China, or, even some other unknown country like Faroe Islands. 

The book does not delve into all dilemmas. It can't. The world is too big to be encapsulated in one textbook. But the book helps students and professional thinkers alike on the importance of the world-----it assists their efforts to organize their thoughts and values on how the world should be assessed; indeed from which theoretical standpoint. In this sense, this is a useful book, into a complicated subject. Written closer to major events like Brexit, or, the current tiff of US and China on the South China Sea, this book would have been a major eye opener too. 

But since the book focuses on the importance of understanding the role of state and non state actors, indeed, even super empowered private citizens, like Osama Bin Laden at one stage, that brought the US literally to its knees on September 11th,  it has done a fairly good job of covering the ground (of international relations as a discipline).