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Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

4. The US rise to world power, 1776–1945  

Walter LaFeber

This chapter focuses on the emergence of the United States as a ‘superpower’ in 1945. It begins with a discussion of how America rose from being a group of British colonies to a continental empire containing human slavery during the period 1776–1865. It then examines how the reunification of the country after the Civil War, and the industrial revolution which followed, turned America into the world’s leading economic power by the early twentieth century. It also considers Woodrow Wilson’s empire of ideology and how the United States got involved in World War I, how the American economic system sank into depression between 1929 and 1933, and US role in the Cold War between 1933 and 1945.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

3. The US rise to world power, 1776–1945  

Walter LaFeber

This chapter examines how the United States evolved as a world power during the period 1776–1945. It first considers how Americans set out after the War of Independence to establish a continental empire. Thomas Jefferson called this an ‘empire for liberty’, but by the early nineteenth century the United States had become part of an empire containing human slavery. Abraham Lincoln determined to stop the territorial expansion of this slavery and thus helped bring about the Civil War. The reunification of the country after the Civil War, and the industrial revolution which followed, turned the United States into the world’s leading economic power by the early twentieth century. The chapter also discusses Woodrow Wilson’s empire of ideology and concludes with an analysis of U.S. economic depression and the onset of the Cold War.

Chapter

Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

5. The Causes of War  

John Garnett and John Baylis

This chapter examines theories that explain the causes of war. It considers ideas advanced by political scientists, sociologists, biologists, and philosophers, showing that different explanations of war give rise to different requirements or conditions for peace. After highlighting the difficulties in studying war, the chapter discusses human nature explanations of war, citing such factors as frustration, misperception, misunderstanding, miscalculation, and errors of judgement as well as the role of human collectives including factions, tribes, nations, and states. It then describes the bargaining model of war before turning to inter-state wars, intra-state conflicts, and ethnic conflicts. It also explores the debate over whether ‘greed’ or ‘grievance’ are the main causes of civil wars. The chapter concludes that identifying a single cause appropriate to all wars is an exercise in futility and that a worldwide ‘just’ peace is unattainable.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Security Studies

14. Military Security  

Sheehan Michael

This chapter examines the continuing importance of military security. It notes that International Relations has historically seen security almost entirely in terms of the military dimension, before going on to review the impact of the broadening of the concept of security on approaches to the study of its military dimension. It then analyses the key aspects of the traditional approach to military security and some of the most common ways in which states have sought to acquire it historically, such as war, alliances, and, more recently, nuclear deterrence. The chapter then reflects on some of the difficulties in acquiring military security, and ways in which its pursuit can sometimes reduce, rather than increase, security, before concluding with a reminder of the continuing centrality of military security, even within a significantly broadened understanding of security as a multifaceted concept.

Chapter

Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

17. Geopolitics and Grand Strategy  

Stefanie Ortmann and Nick Whittaker

This chapter discusses the concept of geopolitics and its role in formulating and implementing a grand strategy. It first provides an overview of the relationship between grand strategy and geography, before explaining how the meanings of grand strategy and geopolitics evolved in response to changing world historical contexts. It then considers the reasons why geopolitics and grand strategy are linked to the politics of great powers and why these concepts are currently making a comeback. In particular, it examines the revival of geopolitical thinking after the Second World War and how geopolitical reasoning informed containment as a grand strategy during the cold war. The chapter also takes a look at the pitfalls and problems associated with formulating a grand strategy, especially in today’s complex international environment. Finally, it argues that there is a need to rethink geopolitics with the ultimate goal of balancing ends and means.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

7. St Augustine  

Jean Bethke Elshtain

This chapter examines Augustine of Hippo's political thought. After providing a brief biography of St Augustine, it considers the fate of his texts within the world of academic political theory and the general suspicion of ‘religious’ thinkers within that world. It then analyses Augustine's understanding of the human person as a bundle of complex desires and emotions as well as the implications of his claim that human sociality is a given and goes all the way down. It also explores Augustine's arguments regarding the interplay of caritas and cupiditas in the moral orientations of persons and of cultures. Finally, it describes Augustine's reflections on the themes of war and peace, locating him as the father of the tradition of ‘just war’ theory.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

13. International ethics  

Richard Shapcott

This chapter examines how we should think about ethics, starting with three framing questions: Do states and their citizens have significant moral duties to the members of other countries? Should states and their militaries be morally constrained in the conduct of war? Who is morally responsible for the alleviation of global poverty? The chapter proceeds by defining ethics and considering three significant and difficult ethical issues entailed by globalization: cosmopolitanism, statism, and realist ethics. It concludes by examining the ethical dimensions of global poverty and just war. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with the ethics of migration and the other with the ethics of just war. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that debates who bears most responsibility for addressing global warming.

Chapter

Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

2. The History of the Practice of Strategy from Antiquity to Napoleon  

Beatrice Heuser

This chapter discusses the history of the practice of strategy from Antiquity to the First World War. After introducing the reader to the various definitions of strategy, the chapter considers sources of Antiquity about warfare, from ancient Greece and Rome to the time of Rome’s Constantinopolitan (Byzantine) successors, Justinian I and Heraclius. It then examines episodes of European history since Antiquity for which historians claim to have found evidence of the practice of strategy. In particular, it looks at the West European Middle Ages, which saw the rise of complex decision-making involving multiple tools—strategy. It also analyses the transformation of warfare and of strategy in early modern Europe, covering case studies that span the wars involving Philip II of Spain, Louis XIV of France, and Frederick II of Prussia, as well as the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars.

Chapter

Cover Issues in Political Theory

13. War and Intervention  

Helen Frowe

This chapter assesses war and intervention. Just war theorists share two beliefs: that wars can, at least in theory, sometimes be just, and that the fighting of war is governed by moral rules. Just war theory is usually divided into jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum. Jus ad bellum (justice prior to war) sets the conditions under which it is just to declare war. Jus in bello (justice during the war) sets the ‘rules of engagement’, governing the conduct of combatants during a conflict. Jus post bellum (justice after war) deals with topics like war reparations and punishment of aggression and had, until recently, received comparatively little attention in the just war literature. Meanwhile, pacifism and realism offer alternative approaches to the ethics of war.

Chapter

Cover Security Studies: Critical Perspectives

16. Security and design  

Mark Lacy

This chapter illustrates how ideas of design and security become more complex and diverse in light of different states, actors, technologies, and security objectives in the twenty-first century. It looks at how two different groups of security professionals are responding to this complexity. In particular, the chapter shows how two very different approaches to security and design are engaging with complex problems of global politics in a moment that some argue is a time of radical technological and geopolitical change. The first is the work of ‘critical design’, which focuses on our understanding of security in the broadest sense—encompassing all aspects of life, society, technology, ecology, and policy. The second is the ‘military design’ movement, focusing on questions of war in the twenty-first century.

Chapter

Cover Security Studies: Critical Perspectives

7. War and socio-political orders  

Victoria M. Basham

This chapter evaluates the relationship between war and society. The tendency to define war as fighting has led humanity to collectively condemn and attempt to curtail war horrors through international laws and regulatory practices. It is therefore easy to see why states around the world see preparing for war and waging it as vital to their security. The chapter focuses on three key questions: where is war? How is war possible? What (or who) does war secure? Asking these questions enables a deeper understanding of the choices that societies make about why, when, and where to fight and prepare for war; how the choices of actors and their actions make war possible; and the benefits and costs to people's security that wars can bring about. Indeed, such questions can help us to evaluate whether we should continue to prepare and wage war, and for what purposes.

Chapter

Cover Poverty and Development

11. War and Armed Conflict  

Tim Allen and Tom Kirk

This chapter illustrates the nature of current wars and armed conflicts and explores contemporary responses to them. Whatever criteria are used for war or armed conflict, it is clear that large numbers of people are impoverished by them, and globally the numbers of those affected is not declining. There are characteristics of contemporary wars and armed conflicts that make non-combatants especially vulnerable. Since the end of the Cold War, there have been important initiatives aimed at controlling wars, and at alleviating their effects, but the effects have been limited, and controversial. Particularly since 2001, there are has been a marked tendency for high levels of insecurity to spread across borders and take on global dynamics. In large parts of the world, enhancing security remains a key challenge in alleviating poverty and is a prerequisite for achieving development goals.

Chapter

Cover International Relations of the Middle East

3. The Cold War in the Middle East  

Louise Fawcett and Peter Sluglett

This chapter highlights the legacy of the Cold War in the Middle East and shows how it continues to resonate, including Russia’s ‘return’ to the region via its presence in Syria. It examines traditional interpretations in the historiography of the Cold War which are linked to dominant realist paradigms in international relations and attribute great importance to external agency. It also covers the US policy which was viewed both by contemporaries and subsequent scholars as a reaction to the Soviet threat. The chapter reviews accounts released from post-Cold-War archives, which add more nuance and detail to the role played by domestic actors in shaping the conflict. It emphasizes the persuasive power of realism and the dominance of material interests and recognizes the role of local actors and forces in determining the trajectory the states of the Middle East.

Chapter

Cover International Relations of the Middle East

4. The Middle East since the Cold War: Movement without Progress  

Bahgat Bahgat

This chapter covers the post-Cold-War period, the late twentieth, and early twenty-first century with a focus on the major challenges the Middle East has faced in moving into the twenty-first century era. It introduces the key themes that have come to dominate the contemporary international relations of the Middle East, which includes oil, new and old conflicts, the variable impacts of globalization, and religio-politics. It also employs the term ‘intermestic’ to highlight the multiple linkages between domestic and international politics which are vindicated and reinforced by the events of the Arab Spring. The chapter reviews the 2020-Abraham Accords, the impact of Covid-19, and impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It discusses the arguments about the primacy of domestic governance issues that is confirmed by current problems in Lebanon and Tunisia.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

4. American foreign policy during the Cold War  

Richard Saull

This chapter offers a theoretically informed overview of American foreign policy during the Cold War. It covers the main historical developments in U.S. policy: from the breakdown of the wartime alliance with the USSR and the emergence of the US–Soviet diplomatic hostility and geopolitical confrontation,to U.S. military interventions in the third world and the U.S. role in the ending of the Cold War. The chapter begins with a discussion of three main theoretical approaches to American foreign policy during the Cold War: realism, ideational approaches, and socio-economic approaches. It then considers the origins of the Cold War and containment of the Soviet Union, focusing on the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. It also examines the militarization of U.S. foreign policy with reference to the Korean War, Cold War in the third world, and the role of American foreign policy in the ending of the Cold War.

Chapter

Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

4. Strategic Theory  

Thomas G. Mahnken

This chapter examines strategic theory and how it provides a conceptual understanding of the nature of war. It begins with a discussion of the logic of strategy and how it applies not only in wartime, but also in peace. It then considers some of the most valuable concepts in strategic theory as articulated by Carl von Clausewitz in On War and compares them with Sun Tzu’s ideas found in The Art of War as well as in the military writings of Mao Zedong and jihadist writers. Clausewitz’s views on war as a ‘paradoxical trinity’—composed of violence, hatred, and enmity—and his understanding of the nature of a war, limited versus unlimited warfare, the rational calculus of war, and friction are explored. The chapter concludes with a commentary on the debate over whether classical strategic theory is obsolete.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

15. International and global security  

John Baylis

This chapter examines whether international relations, especially in an era of increasing globalization, are likely to be as violent in the future as they have been in the past. It asks whether globalization increases or decreases international security, which international relations theories best help to provide an understanding of global security and insecurity, and what are the most important contemporary threats to international security. The chapter first considers existing disagreements about the causes of war and whether violence is always likely to remain with us. It then discusses traditional/classical realist and more contemporary neorealist and neoliberal perspectives on international security, along with a range of alternative approaches. It also explores recent debates about globalization and geopolitics. Case studies in this chapter explore insecurity in the post-cold war world and tension in the South and East China Seas.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

4. International history of the twentieth century  

Len Scott

This chapter focuses on some of the principal developments in world politics from 1900 to 1999: the development of total war, the advent of nuclear weapons, the onset of cold war, and the end of European imperialism. It shows how the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union became the key dynamic in world affairs, replacing the dominance of—and conflict among—European states in the first half of the twentieth century. It also examines the ways that the cold war promoted or prevented global conflict, how decolonization became entangled with East–West conflicts, and how dangerous the nuclear confrontation between East and West was. Finally, the chapter considers the role of nuclear weapons in specific phases of the cold war, notably in détente, and then with the deterioration of Soviet–American relations in the 1980s.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the Developing World

13. Violent Conflict and Intervention  

Astri Suhrke, Torunn Wimpelmann, and Ingrid Samset

This chapter analyses patterns of violent conflict in the developing world since the onset of decolonization. It examines shifts in how scholars and policymakers have understood such conflicts, and how these understandings have informed dynamics of foreign interventions and the international peace-building regime that developed in the 1990s. After providing an overview of decolonization and its aftermath, the chapter considers conflicts over social order during the Cold War as well as the nature of conflicts in the post-Cold-War period. It also discusses new forces that shaped conflict during the first decades of the twenty-first century, focusing on militant Islam and the ‘war on terror’, ‘people power’ and its aftermath, and the link between peace-building and military intervention in a multipolar world.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

3. International history of the twentieth century  

Len Scott

This chapter focuses on some of the principal developments in world politics from 1900 to 1999: the development of total war, the advent of nuclear weapons, the onset of cold war, and the end of European imperialism. It shows how the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union became the key dynamic in world affairs, replacing the dominance of—and conflict among—European states in the first half of the twentieth century. It also examines the ways that the cold war promoted or prevented global conflict, how decolonization became entangled with East–West conflicts, and how dangerous the nuclear confrontation between East and West was. Finally, the chapter considers the role of nuclear weapons in specific phases of the cold war, notably in détente, and then with the deterioration of Soviet–American relations in the 1980s.