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“Introduction to International Relations” by Michael Cox Essay


The book “Introduction to International Relations” was written by Michael Cox and then improved by Richard Campanaro in 2016. It is an up-to-date source full of the relevant theoretical information about international relations that was published this year. In general, the book is considered to be a subject guide for students who decided to attend an undergraduate course. Being prepared by the professionals who work at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of London International Programs, and the Political Science Department of the University of Prince Edward Island, it is likely to be mainly used by learners who are enrolled in them.

Still, there is no particular limitation regarding the usage, which proves that other professionals and students are allowed to make use of it. The book is meant to be helpful during international programs. The authors indicate that those who focus on “economics, management, finance and the social sciences” are likely to benefit due to it (Cox and Campanaro 1). In general, the information discussed in this book is aligned with the programs of the London School of Economics and Political Science. However, the materials represent rather common knowledge, which allows them to be adapted to various educational plans.

As it was already mentioned, the book was initially written by Michael Cox. This man is an outstanding professor who entered the top three university-affiliated think tanks of the world just a year ago. Cox is also a director of LSE IDEAS. This organization aims to provide professionals with the foreign policy and diplomacy information they require for working effectively. In addition to that, he copes with the role of an editor, which allows him to ensure the quality of his books; there are more than 25 of them. He is a member of the editorial board of various peer-reviewed scientific journals, such as The Review of International Studies and International Relations.

The professional is also highly valued by his colleagues, which can be proved by the fact that he was asked to hold appointments at various universities, including the foreign ones. Right now, he works as a visiting professor at LUISS School of Government and the Catholic University in Italy. Moreover, the author had a chance to try his hand at senior professional positions. He was a director, chairman, associate research fellow, and senior fellow at different organizations that operate in the field of international relations. The author is a speaker on global affairs who holds lectures in various countries. He is recognized in the USA, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Cox focuses on the global issues currently faced by these and other countries.

This year, “Introduction to International Relations” was improved by Dr. Richard Campanaro due to the feedback he received from his past students who studied international relations. The professional is occupied in the provision of “online educational support for the University of London International Programs and lecturing in the Political Science Department of the University of Prince Edward Island” (Cox and Campanaro 1). In addition to that, he educates at the UPEI Institute of Island Studies. Campanaro is highly interested in international relations and public education.

International relations turned into a discipline at the beginning of the 20th century, even though some elements of them started to be discussed much earlier in the 5th century BC. They discuss relations between different nations and countries. Much attention is paid to foreign policies, as they define the framework for various affairs. International affairs start with the rejection of the total state of anarchy, which presupposes independence and sovereignty of each state and a non-state actor.

When they pay attention to the reactions from the others, the parties start adapting their actions so that they align with particular rules and ensure positive outcomes. Cox and Campanaro state that the professionals were motivated to make such a step because of the effects of the First World War (22). Society was greatly affected by it and wanted to create a more peaceful world. However, international conflicts continued, which made the scientists expand their interests and consider politics from new perspectives. International relations thinkers often discuss anarchy, order, government, and human rights as integral elements of the topic.

They emphasize the role of economists and politicians in the framework of the global, interstate system. Professionals believe that the behavior that originated in a country depends greatly on the interactions with others. It is determined by various foreign institutions that communicate at different levels of human aggregation to ensure the ability to reach a compromise and maintain peaceful relations. Private and public, governmental, and non-governmental institutions can be involved in this process. Trying to find out why policymakers and politicians make particular decisions, the authors encourage their readers to analyze theories and key concepts of international affairs.

They believe that each action conducted by a country requires social-psychological understanding and has particular goals that are achieved through this behavior. In addition to that, the relations among the participants are critical. They can cooperate to reach mutual goals, such as the balance of power, collective security, or distribution of wealth. In the framework of international relations, that world is treated as a single system that is built of different elements. The way they interact determines the state of the whole system.

The book consists of an introduction and 20 chapters that are gathered in 5 parts for them to be properly organized so that the readers do not face any issues while navigating through the book. In addition to that, it provides the users with the opportunity to make notes at the beginning of the book and leave comments regarding its usefulness at the end.

The introduction to the book provides the most general insights regarding the course. It is stated that this guide is meant to assist those students who study the introduction to international relations. It reveals the most critical issues faced by the professionals for years and even centuries. The authors believe that their work can make learners combine empirical observations and conceptual clarity so that they become able to notice those things that usually remain ignored and to reach well-grounded conclusions.

They pay much attention to the international actors and systems, the evolution of international affairs, the way they were influenced by historical events. Different approaches to the subject are also considered, including Liberalism, Realism, and Marxism. A wide range of traditional and alternative theories of world politics is included. The authors define war, peace, state, power, and security in the framework of international society. The professionals believe that after using this book, learners will be able to discuss international relations as an academic discipline. They will describe its evolution and explain key terms. Students will be able to analyze different theoretical approaches that can be used when dealing with international affairs and point out their cons and pros.

Each chapter starts with aims and outcomes so that students have an opportunity to get to know beforehand what they are going to learn and how it will benefit them. They also provide an opportunity to focus on the most important things found in the chapter, which ensures that expected knowledge is obtained. In addition to that, the guide has essential reading boxes that include those tasks which connect the user with the perceived material. A list of further readings is also provided so that students get to know additional information and deepen into the subject. This book is a great source for beginners because it makes it easier for them to grasp materials. For example, all significant terms are written in bold and then listed.

After the introductory part, the very guide begins with Part 1, which contains Chapter 1. It is focused on the roots of the discipline and political psychology. Chapter 1 discusses international affairs with reference to history. It goes back to the 17th century and then returns to nowadays for the readers to see how the main concepts of the topic developed with the course of time and what influenced them. It is stated that even though the issues discussed by international relations were initially asked and researched several centuries ago, the subject itself exists for about 100 years. For many years it dealt with the nature of people, society, and power, so that one needs to consider not only current events but also history to reveal it.

Part 2 includes Chapters 2-5 that also reveal some historical perspective. They discuss international events starting with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and ending with contemporary international affairs. Chapter 2 provides the readers with the opportunity to get to know some information about international relations between 1914 and 1991. Chapter 3 shows how the Cold War changed the situation. Chapter 4 focuses on globalization, which is often discussed nowadays. The way European countries expand after the 16th century is underlined. Chapter 5 emphasizes the fact that our world is not constant. In it, the authors are trying to teach learners how to support their analyses with historical information and real cases.

Part 3 consists of Chapters 6-11 and examines the theoretical part of the subject. It reveals different models of international behavior. In addition to that, the chapters provide some insights into the world. They discuss how the First World War affected international relations from various perspectives. The authors state that there is no theory that can always be considered to be the best when discussing some issues related to international relations.

They emphasize the necessity to be aware of a wide range of approaches so that those that can answer particular questions can be selected and altered when needed. Chapter 6 discusses the concept of international society and the importance of the English school. Chapter 7 reveals the notion of Liberalism in the framework of a highly interdependent world. It is stated that it used to be the dominant theory in such an environment, and now it can be used to cope with international conflicts when needed or just enhance cooperation between the parties. Chapter 8 moves forward to Realism. It provides several insights on why intentional affairs tend to entail some problems.

As a result, the readers get to know a compelling model of international relations. Still, the authors emphasize that it is rather single-minded, which means that a lot of aspects related to the subject are not properly discussed. They only are seen as the concepts that are tightly related to war and conflicts and fail for discussing peaceful time. Chapter 9 makes one more step forward and reaches Marxism that discusses the way economic and political powers are connected and coexist.

In this way, students receive an opportunity to try a chance to learn a new approach to analyzing international relations. Chapter 10 discusses newer theories that the most common models tend to ignore. Thus, it reveals the peculiarities of Constructivism and gender theory in the framework of international affairs. The last chapter of this Part is Chapter 11, a new sub-discipline. It focuses on the way economy and politics are related in the international framework. Still, the discussion is not limited to the Marxist model that mainly focuses on these concepts.

Chapters 12-17 belong to Part 4 and reveal those events that have happened not so long ago, for example, the appearance of new security and China’s development. However, they still focus on theory and discuss the key concepts, such as global governance. The authors believe that the fact that these concepts alter their definitions also has an enormous influence on current events that take place internationally. Chapters 12-15 focus on such things as war, peace, state, and power, pointing out how they changed with the course of time and affected the world.

Chapter 12 reveals the notion of state. It points out what is peculiar in the sovereign states and provides several examples for students to understand them better. Those issues that states usually face and those elements that lead to their success are also discussed, which ensures that learners obtain enough knowledge to conduct their own analysis later. Chapter 13 focuses on the notion of war. The authors disclose their considerations regarding the reasons people start wars and get involved in them.

Then, they use several examples from real life to support their point of view. Such an approach is very useful for educational purposes because it allows students to align new information with the one they have already known, as there they have heard about the majority of the discussed wars but have never considered them from this perspective. New, liberal, and just wars are described. They are differentiated as those that took place in the name of identity, connected with the Portuguese Civil War, and those that tend to be justified.

Chapter 14 discusses peace. Cox and Campanaro start with the very meaning of this term and provide several definitions for the readers to grasp the main ideas because no universal definition can be used to explain it (193). Such an approach also allowed the authors to avoid biases that they could have implemented when choosing one particular definition. They also point out the theories of peace for the student to use when speaking about peace treaties, processes, and movements.

They also include some ideas regarding the possibility of the creation of a more peaceful world but leave the students a chance to form their own opinion. Chapter 15 reveals the most significant information about the notion of power. The authors discuss how different professionals define it to ensure readers’ understanding of the topic. Then they focus on the way a particular geographical location can be used as a source of power, for example, access to the sea.

The decision to underline such a perspective is rather advantageous for students because it allows them to evaluate the power of different countries later. This chapter also includes information about different types of power and their peculiarities, which is also needed for analysis. Finally, the authors refer to particular examples, such as Europe and the USA.

Chapter 16 reveals the nature of local, regional, and global affairs in modern international relations. It also gives insights on how to manage them in real life. Chapter 16 discusses the role of international organizations, their goals, and structures. It reveals the influences of regionalism on regimes and companies. The authors point out that international governments and organizations are different things, emphasizing that people tend to mix them.

In this way, it would also be rather advantageous if they presented the main differences in a table for students to deepen into this issue. Still, main organizations, which names are familiar to many people, are described decently. Chapter 17 discusses security. It identifies new threats, including climate change, energy insecurity, health issues, and demographics. Problems connected with resources are also taken into consideration. In addition to that, the ways to overcome these challenges are considered.

Part 5 gathers Chapters 18-20. It tends to ensure that learners are able to use their skills when analyzing literature and various disputes that occur in international society. For example, Chapter 18 reveals an essay that describes those obstacles China faces in its development on the way to international leadership. It is made to allow learners to assess the future of international society. They are provided with a text that reveals the way power switched from the West to the East.

This topic is up-to-date, and students are aware of this situation partially. When analyzing it, they can enhance their knowledge and find out whether their assumptions were correct. The fact that many professionals have already investigated this issue provides an opportunity to ensure that students can search for some hints in the related authoritative literature if they cannot cope themselves.

Chapter 19 requires an analysis of China’s internal issues and recommendations regarding the improvement of the situation. Chapter 20 is a conclusion of this guide that provides insights into the current situation in international society. It points out some considerations regarding the future of international relations on the basis of the theoretical knowledge that was obtained in the previous chapters. In this way, it also serves as a bridge to the next course of this subject.

All in all, this book is not very challenging. It is organized so that students can grasp all main ideas related to the topic of international relations and then deepen their knowledge with the help of additional sources. The authors use various approaches to simplify the information and ensure the readers’ ability to analyze international affairs in practice, which proves them to be sophisticated scientists and educators. I believe this book to be very useful for learners because it raises many questions and encourages students to answer them using new knowledge and skills.

Works Cited

Cox, Michael, and Campanaro, Richard. Introduction to International Relations, London: University of London. 2016. Print.

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