The Contemporary International System

The Contemporary International System

Prepare: Read Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the course text.

Reflect: Realist, liberal, and identity perspectives provide excellent insights into today’s contemporary world. The realist perspective generally emphasizes the importance of power in international politics. In general, power is the capacity to influence others to do things that they would otherwise not be likely to do. Power is derived from many sources, but realists often emphasize in particular military power and the control of vital resources. Liberal views of the contemporary world focus on the integrating forces of international institutions and economic interdependence. The 1990s, according to the liberal perspective, provides extensive examples of the role of international institutions in collective security, legitimizing intervention into the affairs of other states. Identity perspectives focus on religious, ethnic, and national differences and on the role of political reform in integrating different groups and promoting tolerance. The identity perspective sees ethnic conflicts as socially created and advocates tolerance and democratization as the most effective answers to those conflicts. Consequently, knowledge of all three perspectives is needed in order to form a coherent, comprehensive picture of today’s international environment.

Write: In your initial post of at least 200 words, use one of the major IR perspectives (realist, liberal, or identity) discussed for support to explain which is the greater threat in today’s world: ethnic conflicts or terrorism? Why?

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