Think Tank: International Relation and International Politics - Alternative Media Forum


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Monday, 6 June 2016

Think Tank: International Relation and International Politics

International Politics is concerned with relations and interactions among nations. It has been identified and named differently by various scholars. Some prefer to use the name International Relations, where as several others prefer to call it International Politics. Some of other popular names used for this discipline are World Politics, World Affairs, International Affairs, Foreign Politics, Foreign Policies and International System. However, these have not been very popular.

1. International Relations and International Politics:

These are the two most popular names of the discipline. So much so these are quite often used as synonyms Several writers do not like to draw a line of demarcation between International Relations and International Politics. Even some top ranking scholars like Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Thompson use these terms inter-changeably as they regard “International Politics as an inalienable part of International Relations.”

There are several other scholars like Palmer, Perkins, Burton, Schwarzenberger, Schleicher, Theodore A. Couloumbis and James H. Wolfe, who prefer to use the name International Relations.

(a) International Relations:

Supporters of the name International Relations, regard it as a more comprehensive term which highlights the vast scope and the true nature of relations among nations. It covers all types of relations among states, their peoples and groups, as well as the relations among international actors and international institutions operating in the world. The relations among nations are both political and non-political.

These include social, economic, cultural, legal, official and non-official relations. All international transactions—financial and commercial, international, sports, technical, cooperation, cultural, visits, business visits, trade and economic relations, diplomatic relations, people to people relations and ceremonial visits, form part of international relations.

Since relations among nations form the core of the study, the term International Relations is considered more appropriate than other terms. Palmer and Perkins prefer to use the term International Relations on the ground that politics at international level in a product of relations of different types and this name rightly suggests the study of all aspects of relations among nations. “The term ‘International Relations’ is broader than International Politics and it puts a stronger emphasis on the interdependence of all the entities inside international society.” — Schwarzenberger.

(b) International Politics:

Several scholars, however, advocate the name International Politics. They hold that the term International Relations is too general, too broad and a loose term which fails to specify the true nature of interactions among nations. It gives no indication of the primary concern of study i.e. politics among nations.

It further tends to suggest an unduly vast scope of the subject—the study of all types of public and private relations among people, groups and nations of the world. The term International Relations is further regarded as inappropriate because it denotes cooperation and relations as the hall mark of international intercourse which is not in tune with the realities of the international system.

In reality, we find the arena of international interactions characterised by conflict, struggle for power, wars and disputes along with some cooperation and friendship. As such, the use of the term International Relations for designating the study of politics among nations is held to be inappropriate and misleading.

Legg and Morrison hold International Politics to be the correct name of the subject which studies power interactions among nations or politics among nations, “Since the core area of the study is the political aspect of relations among nations, we must stick to the use of the name International Politics.” This name truly reflects the true nature of relations among nations.

The main area of concern is struggle for power among nations which gives rise to a system of actions, activities, interactions and relations among nations. As a discipline, International Politics is concerned primarily with the study of power-relations among nations and the study of other aspects of relations is incidental to this basic necessity. To be specific, the use of the term International Politics is most appropriate for identifying the study of conflict of purpose and struggle for power among nations.

(c) Both the names, International Politics and International Relations, can be used:

The above discussion leads us to conclude that the term International Politics appears to be more specific and particularistic than the term International Relations. Nevertheless, it must also be accepted that in actual usage both the terms have been equally popular. Many scholars prefer to use International Politics for highlighting the distinctive property of relations among nations, whereas others prefer to keep the scope of the subject vast by using a comprehensive name i.e. International Relations.

In a broader and general sense we can use the term International Relations but to be specific in identifying the core of international relations and interactions, we must use the term International Politics. Undoubtedly, politics among nations is a product of various types of relations and hence we cannot be absolutely rigid in specifying a single term. We can use both the names International Relations and International Politics without any hindrance.

So for all other names—Foreign Affairs, International Affairs, World Affairs, Foreign Politics, and World Politics International System—are concerned these are very general terms. None of these has been in a position to get a universal acceptance. Against these, the terms International Relations and International Politics are being used by a large majority of scholars. Hence, we can accept these two names for identifying the subject of our study.

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