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Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

4. Liberalism  

This chapter examines the liberal tradition in international relations (IR). It first considers the basic liberal assumptions, including a positive view of human nature and the belief that IR can be cooperative rather than conflictual. In their conceptions of international cooperation, liberal theorists emphasize different features of world politics. The chapter explores the ideas associated with four strands of liberal thought, namely: sociological liberalism, interdependence liberalism, institutional liberalism, and republican liberalism. It also discusses the debate between proponents of liberalism and neorealism, and it identifies a general distinction between weak liberal theories that are close to neorealism and strong liberal theories that challenge neorealism. Finally, it reviews the liberal view of world order and the notion that there is a ‘dark’ side of democracy.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

12. The Big Question: World Order or World Chaos?  

This final chapter addresses a really big question: are international relations heading towards order or chaos? To answer this question, it interrogates the different IR theories presented in previous chapters. An initial section provides a conceptual map, based on a review of different understandings of the concept of world order. The chapter proceeds by discussing the effect of the rise of authoritarian power such as China, new challenges in established democracies, fragile states in the Global South, and the governance provided by international institutions. The chapter ends by arguing that the glass is at the same time half-full and half-empty: the world faces new and formidable challenges and we are very far from meeting current aspirations for world order; at the same time, global relations are much more ordered than they used to be just a few generations ago—and things are far better than many pessimists claim.

Chapter

Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

18. Chinese Grand Strategy  

Oriana Skylar Mastro

This chapter considers how China’s grand strategy has evolved over time from strategies of survival under Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping to regaining its standing as a major power under Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and now Xi Jinping. It looks at the way Xi’s China has been particularly proactive about building Chinese economic, military, and political power and the way he has leveraged this power to make China a global power and a dominant power in Asia. In addition to external threats and opportunities, it considers how domestic factors have also shaped the contours of Chinese grand strategy. The chapter then analyses how debates about Chinese intentions, in particular towards international institutions and military expansion, colour perspectives on the potential impact of Chinese grand strategy. The main focus is on the evolution of Chinese grand strategy, its drivers, and its implications.