In ancient times, Aristotle said: “Man by nature and necessity is a social animal.” A man who can live without other beings is either a God or a beast. In modern times we can safely say that no nation or country can live in isolation. Co-existence of nations is the order of the day. No doubt, every nation is independent and sovereign, nevertheless it counts on other nations of the world in several respects. Cordial relations and understanding among nations have become an important phenomenon of modern life. International Relations have thus assumed great pragmatic and academic significance in present times.
Though International Relations as an academic discipline is of a recent origin yet relations among nations were as old a phenomena as history. There were inter tribal inter city state and inter Kingdom relations even in ancient age. One can find incidental references to the issues of war and peace in the religious texts and epic literature of the ancient time, mostly with pacifist approach. Ancient civilizations like the Egyptian the Sumerian, the Assyrian, the Indian, the Chinese, the Greek and the Rom had evolved a distinct code of inter state conduct and a pattern of international relations. Out of the Fifteen Books of Kautilya’s Arthashastra, one was devoted exclusively to diplomacy.
But in ancient world, international relations were incidental sporadic and limited in nature. Mostly they were not global but merely regional in character. They were actually not international relations of the true sense of the term. They can at best, be described as parochial and occasional interstate relations.
With the Renaissance and the reformation, international relations assumed an new character. After the Peace of West-Phalia in 1648, statehood became an ideal unit of mankind. With this, territorial sovereign and nation state emerged as a basic political unit and an effective actor in international relations. These sovereign states were very much aware of their independence yet they were also conscious about the reality of inter dependence in the modern word. Modern international relations began to grow in the paradoxical situation of independence and inter dependence separateness and closeness individuality and mutuality nationalism and internationalism. They continued to develop as a process of co-operation and conflict.
There was manifold increase in the wants and needs of the various countries after the industrial Revolution. Its was considerable after the industrial Revolution relations was considerable improvement in the means of transport and communications. Trade, transit and transactions between the nations became the order of the day. Scientific and technological revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries further brought the nations nearer and closer. All these developments made international relations more regular, more comprehensive, more valuable day by day.
Their character became more and more global and broaden instead of regional and narrower. The industrial and scientific innovations had their impact on war technology and armaments. The trauma of the First world War together with the demand for democratic control of foreign policy, stimulated the public urge for better understanding of foreign relations. The issues of war and peace came to the forefront. All these developments attracted people’s attention towards the growing importance of international relations and provided the ground for the creation of international Relations as an academic discipline.
Development As An Academic Discipline
Although international relations as a traditional feature of mankind is as old as the state itself yet its study as an autonomous discipline is of comparatively recent origin. This discipline is so new that in can be called as the youngest of all social sciences. As a separate subject and as an endeavor to an analyze the content and nature of inter state cooperation and conflict coercion and persuasion. International Relations is integrally related to the first World War. Before this tragic event, in the words of Zimmern, “there was no teaching of the subject as such, and very little conscious study.”1 After the first world war, its study was initiated by the north Americans and the West Europeans.
By 1914 the History faculties of some universities in the United states organized lecture courses on regional history of the Far East and Latin America, Diplomatic history and United state foreign policy. Topics like foreign trade, international exchange and foreign investment were incidentally taught by the Departments of Economics. But there was no regular and systematic course of International Relations prior to the First World War.
The first chair of International Politics was founded in historians like Alfred Zimmern, C. K. Webster, E.H. Carr etc. were the early occupants of the Chair. With the seed of International Relations as an autonomous academic discipline was sown. In the 1920s the rise of the USA as a global power encouraged the teaching of International Relations as an independent subject there. But in the USSR it was not recognized as a separate discipline even after the Second World War. It was still a part of history in the Moscow State University right up to the mid sixties. In Afro-Asian countries its study was gradually started by different universities after the process of decolonization in the post Second World War period.
An introduction to the Study of International Relations was the earliest text book in the discipline. It was jointly written by Grant, Hughes, Greenwood, Kerr and Urquhart and published in Britain in 1916. Lord Bryce delivered a series of eight lectures in the United states in 1921. Next year these were published an International Relations. He observed that me subject was rather vast, which was closely connected with nearly every branch of principal human sciences, Ethics, Economics, Law and Politics.2
He advocated that the cause of International peace could only be strengthened with the increase of popular grasp of the themes and issues of International Relations. In 1922 E. A. Walsh edited a volume on The History and Nature of International Relations from New York. In 1925, Professor Buell, Research director, Foreign Policy Association USA published a lengthy text on International Relations. All these earlier books helped in the growth of International Relations as an academic discipline. Another significant development in this regard is the preparation and publication by Professor Moon, of History in Columbia University (U. S. A) in 1926, a Syllabus on International Relations. It consisted of the following :-
- Nationalism, Territorial Conflicts and War,
- Imperialism and world Politics
- Militarism and Armaments,
- History of International Relations since 1914,
- Summary review of Policies of Great Powers,
- Economic Problems
- Problems of Diplomacy, and
- International Organization, League of Nations and the World Court.
Between 1900 and 1939, the study of International Relations was gradually progressing and its different aspects were explored. As an academic discipline it received a wider recognition during the inter war period, and each year provided additional justification for a more serious study and concern for International Relations. Its development was further aided by the following factors: Setting up of University Chairs
(i). In 1919 University of Wales (Britain) set-up separate chair on International Relations. Its first two incumbents were Sir Alfred Zimmern Sir Charles Webster-both historians.
(ii). In U. S. A School of Foreign Service came into existence at Georgetown University in 1919, and a School of International Relations University of Southern California in 1924. By 1930 most of the American Universities had one or more courses on International Relations.
(iii). In Paris the Institute of Advanced International studies was founded in 1923 under the Faculty of Law. The same Institute was reorganized in 1946.
(i). In U. S. A, in 1910 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was established at Washington, D. C. It organized conferences, exchange of scholars and promoted and published research papers.
(ii) In Union of Democratic Control of 1914 done the spade work in England for the exchange of International Relations as an academic discipline.
(iii) In 1918 two research bodies in New York were formed Foreign Policy Association and the Council on Foreign Relations. The aim of both to stimulate wider interest in International Relations, policy issues confronting the United States, and encourage more participation in world affairs by the citizens. They also publish important periodicals on International Relations. These are bi-monthly, headline series and quarterly, Foreign Affairs.
(iv) Royal Institute of International Affairs was established in 1920 in London. It had affiliated institutes in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan. Its annual publication. Survey of International Affairs and quarterly journal, International Affairs promoted study and research in International Relations.
(v) New Commonwealth Institute which was set up in London in 1934, was subsequently renamed as the London Institute of World Affairs. It release a journal world Affairs, and an annual volume. The Year Book of World Affairs.
(vi) By 1935 a research organization by the name of institute of International Affairs was formed in Paris also.
(vii) India did not lag behind. A non-government organization-Indian Council of World Affairs was established in New Delhi in 1943 for promoting interest in foreign relations and world affairs. It also publishes a journal India Quarterly and other significant documents and publications.
Role of League
The League of Nations also played its role in developing International Relations as a separate subject. The league encouraged the study by its work as a form in international discussions and by its sponsoring a series of International Studies Conferences through its Institute of International Cooperation. The Geneva Institute of International Relations served as an intermediary between the League and the growing subject of International Relations on the level on Universities.
After the Second World War
This total war once more exhibited the costly and perilous character of the institution of war, and underlined on compelling need to improve the techniques of inter-state relations for survival of the human race. During this War, the military installations in different parts of the world created the necessity to develop the regional of area studies as effective direction mark to assist the army personnel. This area study became a major breakthrough in the discipline of International Relations.
With the end of the Second World War came the nuclear technology, the U. N. O and political independence to Asia, Africa and the Latin America. Nuclear proliferation completely changed the factors governing international relations. The question of war and peach became the key issue for mankind. The political and military impacts of nuclear energy have opened up new frontiers for the study of International Relations. In fact, this study has already moved from a mere academic curiosity to the very defense of human civilization in a nuclear age.
The creation of a universal organization United nations and its specialized Agencies have given and additional stimulus to the development of the study of International Relations. The UNESCO sponsored conference of representatives of Universities in 1948 gave a call to establish chair of department for systematic teaching, study and research of International Relations. The UNESCO has also sponsored The University Teaching of Social Sciences. International Relations, and this International survey was edited by Professor Manning of University of London in 1954.
Asian, African and Latin American countries gained political freedom after the Second World War. With the emergence of these new state the scope of International Relations expanded. International Relations no longer remained the exclusive preserve of the Europe and the West. The domination of Europe in the last four hundred years came to an end. International Relations truly assumed an international character. This horizontal expansion of International Relations has led to the spread of courses and departments of International Relations in all new countries. These newly independent states had to develop foreign relations afresh and this required the development of the discipline of International Relations.
Along with horizontal expansion of International Relations, new frontiers were discernible on the vertical side. The socioeconomic and cultural-ideological aspects of inter state relations, the problems and programs of economic development demonstrate the vertical developments in post-Second World War international relations. Some of the international problems are erosion of national sovereignty and the phenomenon of trans-nationality, world oligarchy and world mass the problem of rich ‘North’ and poor ‘South’ in international society the threat of nuclear capabilities and the problem of demilitarization the protection of human environment and the alternative restructuring of the international system.3
The tendency of revolt against the existing sovereignty and an urge for a distribution of power and authority world over, seems to have acquired a global dimension. By 1989, this tendency has even crept into the once highly regimented and centrally controlled part of the world the soviet Union and the East Europe. The international systems has also developed natural resistance to the malaise of the political exclusivity of national sovereign powers. The working of various non-government, trans-nations and supra nations agencies are indicative of it.
The emergence of international agencies such as GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), IMF (International Money Fund), and the IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) has made possible a collaborative structure of world economy. These certainly show a trend from “trans nationality” to “internationality”. The proliferation of multi nation corporations (MNC) is another evidence of the expanding trend of economic enterprise beyond national boundaries. The U. N specialized agencies FAO, ICAO, ILO, IUU, UPU, WHO, UNESCO etc are also contributing their might to the various aspects of human life.
There is a combination of collaboration and collision in the relationship between the world oligarchy and masses, though collaboration arises out of expediency than mutual admiration. World’s rich regularly attract allies from the world’s poor with view to widen their sphere of influence and to consolidate their position in the factional rivalry of the oligarchy. This they do with the help of massive economic and military aid to world’s poor. The poor on their part, also chose allies among the oligarchy and, during the process often succeed in demonstrating how ably the week can use the powerful for achieving the desired goals. The small powers have more than once asserted that they require “Friends no Masters” and they want to be partners and not satellites.
Despite the collaborative nature of oligarchy mass relationship, there certainly prevails a big gap between the rich and the poor nations. This gap is increasing day by day. Economic inequality between the rich North and the poor South became another important world issue in the seventies and eighties. Poor Third World countries of the South raised the demand of new and just international economic order (NIEO). The need for disarmament and DE-nuclearization has been felt by the world community. Several partial steps have also been taken in this direction by the UN as well as by the big powers yet the problems call for a multi-tier efforts for its solution. SALT, START and INF etc are to be strengthened.
The larger issue of environmental protection is another aspect of the contemporary international politics which has been troubling practically every thinking person and community in the world. The environmental problem is primary being viewed as a global concern. Similarly the World Order Models project (WOMP) has been another international trend both as an institution as well as an intellectual tradition. It is a trans-nations research endeavor initially intended to explore the problems of the elimination of war as a human social institution. Later on, many distinguished scholars and thinkers from various nationalities joined it to project issues and problem of global reform both political and no political. In brief, the WOMP is for searching the “normative basis and the constitutive structure of the global community.”4
Stages of Development:
International Relations as the youngest social science had its genesis in the first half of the twentieth century and attained its adulthood in the post second world war period passing through several trends and stages. Kenneth Thompson has summed up its development in the following four stages.5
In the first stage, which runs up to the end of the First World War, International Relations were taught by diplomatic historians who were more interested in history than in politics. Their main concern was description of past events rather than the analysis of present ones and their projection into the future. This historical approach could not develop a theoretical core for the discipline.
During the second stage staring after the end of First World War, only the study of current affairs was stressed. Hence this approach was also partial, inasmuch as it gave importance to the present without much reference to the past. Thus both in the first and second stage the approach was one sided.
Like the second period, the third period also began after the First World War and continued to exist throughout the inter war years and even after. Suffered by the First World War, the prevailing scholarship adopted an essentially moralistic legalistic approach and renounced the war. The emphasis was shifted to reformist, the objective was to establish a healthy world order free of war and conflicts. Much hope was pinned on the League of Nations which was expected to replace narrow nationalism by internationalism and to remove the threat of war. International law as well as international organization were given importance.
The statesman like President Wilson and scholars like Potter, Shot well, Fenwick etc, had great faith in the newly set up League of Nations. The thrust during the period was not to understand the nature of international relations but to develop legal institutions and organizational devices. In short, this approach too was not sound as it emphasized ideals and ignored the hard realities of international life.
The fourth stage came after the Second World War. The War and its devastation shake people’s faith in the utility of international organizations and law as instrument of peace. The emphasis shifted to making a scientific analysis of the developments in international politics. Scientific studies were undertaken on what causes war and how to avert it. Forces and influences which shape and condition the behavior of states became the chief concern of the study. These forces and influences were determinants of foreign policies, techniques of the conduct of foreign relations, the mode of the resolution of international conflicts and crisis management. The objective of studying international problems was not to praise of condemn them but to understand them.
In 1950s and early 60s the Realists became the prevalent school. Among the principal prophets of the political realism were E. H. Carr, Hans J. Morgenthau, Kenneth W. Thompson, Reinhold Niebuhr, George F. Kennan, Henry A. Kissinger. Their collective message about how world politics and international behavior ought to be, can be described as opposite to what idealists said. According to realists, power is a means, as well as end in itself. International politics is nothing but struggle for power. Every state seeks more power to use it to have more of it and with its help fulfill other important national interests.
On the other hand, during this stage, Marxist scholars retained their views about the inevitability of communism’s victory over capitalism.
Thus the thrust in and subject matter of International Relations altered in the fourth stage after the Second World. This change was the outcome of various new factors in international life, such as technological development, growing liquidation of colonialism, the rise of the new nations the emergence of new universal values, demographic shifts, invention and expansion of nuclear technology, the emergence of multilateral enterprises, growth of international institutions and above all, the desire for seeking a theoretical order in the knowledge of international affairs.
Thompson described these four stages of the development of International Relations in the fifties whereas so many new things have happened in the world since then and the study of International Relations has accordingly taken several new forms and contents. The following stages may be added to understand the development of the discipline up-to-date.
The fifth stage may be counted from mid-sixties to the seventies. In the words of Kegley and Wittkopf, “the post realist paradigm is appropriately labelled the behavioral approach to the study of International Relations. What ensued as this paradigm-shift occurred was an extensive and often heated debate over the principles and procedures most appropriate for investigating international phenomena.”6 The behavioral approach sought law like generalizations about international phenomena, that is, statements about patterns and regularities presumed to hold across time and space. Thus, the quantitative study of International Relations was made by Singer (1968), Zinnes (1976), Hoole and Zinnes (1976), La Barr and Singer (1976) and Rosenau (1969 and 1971).
For sometime, the national state, as a unit of analysis, seemed to lose its per eminence and attempts were made to search out the real forces of international politics and the more relevant unit of analysis such as small groups, trans-national organizations and bureaucracies. Non state actors such as international organizations, institutions and multinational corporations became the subject-matter of the study-this trans-national perspective (by Keohane and Nye, 1971) and 1977 and Feld, 1979) represents an theoretical attempt to respond to the development of these global circumstances. Few years later it was realized that in-spite of the intrusion of these new factors on the canvas of world politics, the national state continued to be an important actor, and despite arguments in support of the respective ideological international system, the nation-state remained intact and their interests supreme.
While the Cold War was the main subject of the scholarly output in International Relations in the fifties and sixties and it remained pervasive throughout the sixties, detente attracted the attention of many scholars throughout the seventies. Behavioral approach was discarded and post behavioral stepped in.
The disparities between the world’s rich and poor continues to grow and this widening problem has generated new debate on the global political agenda the North-South conflict, which overlaps and affect other more traditional differences. The North-South conflict has been caused by the disparities in global incomes and standards of living and three-fold increase in the number of independent nations-states since the end of world War-II.
During this stage, the demand of the South for New International Economic Order became a subject of discussion and analysis in International Relations. Other concepts used and studied were Neo-imperialism, dependence, structural aggression, political economy, inter dependence etc. Peace researches were also revived and some people looked to theories of arms control and to ways of balancing power with power. The issues of global stability, world order and control of global violence were discussed by functionalists, Neo-functionalists, world federalists and integration theorists.7 Ethically concerned futurologists came with their World Order Models Project that asked the people to contemplate different and alternative worlds for the better and peaceful future. These trends and studies were known as the post-behavioral era.
The Sixth stage runs from late seventies to the first half of eighties. During this period doubts were raised on the efficacy of the detente and the New Cold War emerged. Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan and Reagan administration of US threatened the world by talking of Star War programme Economic issues, ecological and environmental problems became the concern of the whole world. The study of International Relations was influence by these factors.
With the steady process of multi polarization, the scholars of the West, specially the United States, gradually showed interest in Third World countries. Area studies and programmes were undertaken by the universities of the US and Britain, and for field data researchers were sent to the countries under study.
In many important areas of the discipline, contemporary theorizing involves conscious or subconscious rationalization of the part played by the West, particularly the USA, in the International Relations of the twentieth country. But the Western perspective and the Western theories of International Relations were challenged by the intellectuals of the Third Word. According to them, western theories in many cases are irrelevant and inapplicable to the less developed countries, which constitute the two-thirds majority of the UN membership and a great majority of the human race. The inadequacies of the Western theories as well as the limitations of the Marxist-Leninist theory of international relations have been analyses the the scholars of the Third World.8
S. P. Verma explains the mood of Third World writers who feel that theories of International Relations “strongly favor capitalist countries and, unless extensive measures are adopted to eliminate the structures hampering development in the Third World countries, the character of international economic relations will not change. What the Third World countries ask for is that the industrialized countries give up the use of the concept of inter dependence as a smoke screen for promoting their own selfish interests. The demand a more credible effort on the part of the capitalist countries to establish a more egalitarian world economy.”9 In this way, Third World and non-Western perspectives came to the fore.
The seventh stage of International Relations began in 1985 when Mikhail Gorbachev came on the scene. International Relations have passed into a qualitatively new era with the advent of Gorbachev “new political thinking” for the world. It was a dynamic concept which continued to deepen and grow. New thinking recognized balance of interests instead of balance of power, co-operation instead of confrontation, internationalization instead of nationalization, disarmament instead of armament and DE-ideologisation of inter state relations instead of ideologisation , detente instate of Cold War.10 It believed in peaceful coexistence and equal security for all.
Initially US was suspicious about Gorbachev’s moves. But later on it realized his sincerity of purpose and started responding positively towards new political thinking. It has made a positive impact upon various aspects of international relations, e. g. end of Soviet-American Cold War and revival of detente, thaw in Sino-Soviet split, solution of regional conflicts, freedom of East Europe, improving of relations between the Soviet Union and West Europe, unification of Germany, progress towards disarmament, etc. Failure of Communism, collapse of East bloc, German unification and US success in getting Kuwait vacated from Iraq, all these developments have enhanced the power of the US vis-a-vis the USSR. These happenings and changes became the subject of analysis in the discipline of International Relations in late eighties and early nineties.
The eighth stage commenced in the early nineties when discipline of International Relations witnessed another turning point with the disintegration of the Soviet Union as a super power. Republics of the USSR and Yugoslavia became independent States. On the other hand West European countries became more integrated into European Community. It seems that the US is the only super power left and the world is becoming unipolar. Third World countries are facing worst economic crisis. These countries and the countries of the erstwhile disintegrated communist bloc are desperately seeking help from the Western nations and especially the US. The US on its part is pressurizing and bullying these countries to toe its line and to accept its conditional ties. Pattern of international relations in the post-communist world will be different from the previous pattern. The study of this new pattern will be main focus in this stage of development.
The origin, growth and development of the subject of International Relations can be traced to the twentieth century. It is therefore a comparatively new discipline. During this short span the subject has passed through different phases and stages. Every phase is marked by its own perspective and approach. With the change of International Relations there was corresponding change in its study and emphasis. Despite this growth the discipline is still young and it may pass through several more stages of development in the years ahead. It is being studied as a part of political science, history, economics and at the same time as an autonomous academic discipline.
This discipline began after the First World War and grew rapidly after the Second World War. In the post world War-II period, the factors that contributed towards its development can be summarized as the fear of total war, technological development, establishment of UNO, emergence of new states after decolonization, coming on the scene of trans-national and supra-national agencies, economic inequality between North and South, concern for environmental protection, nuclearization, and DE-nuclearization, bi polarization and multi polarization, cold war and detente, idealization and DE-ideologization, desire for theoretical framework, concern for peace and new world order etc.
International Relations is inter disciplinary, iconoclastic and of recent origin. It developed from normative theory to causal theory, from idealism to realism, from realism to behaviorism and scientism and so. Though it is neither well organized nor fully scientific nor having complete conceptual framework yet it has developed itself from allied branch of political sciences and history to an autonomous discipline.
1. A. Zimmern (ed., University Teaching of International Relations (Paris, 1939), p. ix.
2. J. Bryce, International Relations (London, 1922), p. I.
3. Anam Jaitly, International Politics Major Contemporary Trends and issues (New Delhi 1984), p. 14.
4. Saul H. Mendlovitz Introduction, depicting the genesis and growth of the WOMP in Mendlovitz (ed. On The Creation of a Just World Order-Preferred world for the 1990s. New Delhi, 1975, p. xii-xvii.
5. Kenneth W. Thompson, The Study of International Politics A survey of Trends and Developments Review of Politics (Note Dame), 14 Oct. 1952, pp. 433-67.
6. Charies W. Kegley, Jr. and Eugene R Wittkopf, world Politics : Trend and Transformation (New York, 1981), p. 22.
7. For a detailed study of all these see, ibid.
8. For detail see: Jayantanuja Bandyopadhyaya, North Over South A Non Western Perspective of International Relations (New Delhi, 1984) K. P. Misra and Richard Smith Beal (Ed. International Relations Theory Western and Non-Western Perspective (New Delhi, 1980).
9. S. Verma, Inter Dependence : The Third World Perspectives in K. P. Misra and Richrd Smith Beal (Ed.), ibid. p. 135.
10. Vinay Kumar Malhotra, Gorbachevian Revolution in the Soviet Union collapse of Renewal of Socialism (New Delhi, 1991) p. 88.