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a proposed explanation of an event or behaviour of an actor in the real world. Definitions range from "an unproven assumption" to "a working hypothesis that proposed an explanation for an action or behaviour." In international relations we have intuitive theories, empirical theories, and normative theories.


the condition of a state having control and authority over its own territory and being free from any higher legal authority. It is related to, but distinct from, the condition of a government being free from any political constraints.

Civil society

(1) The totality of all individuals and groups in a society who are not acting as participants in any government institutions, or (2) all individuals and groups who are neither participants in government nor acting in the interests of commercial companies.

Ethic of responsibility

For historical realists, an ethic of responsibility represents the limits of ethics in international politics; it involves the weighing up of consequences and the realization that positive outcomes may result from amoral actions.

Security dilemma

in an anarchic international system one with no common central power, when one state seeks to improve its security it creates insecurity in other states.

Anarchic system

a realist description of the international system that suggest there is no common power or central governing structure

Classical Realism

the drive for power and the will to dominate are the fundamental aspects of human nature. The behaviour of the state as a self-seeking egoist is understood to be merely a reflection of the characteristics of the people that comprise that state.

Moral relativism

If all states have a right to do anything to survive, then there is no moral constant of behaviour to obey

Structural Realism

international politics is essentially a struggle for power, but they do not endorse the classical realist assumption that this is a result from human nature. They attribute security competition and interstate conflict to the lack of an overarching authority above states and the relative distribution of power in the international system.

Neoclassical Realism

a version of realism that combines both structural factors such as the distribution of power and unit-level factors such as the interest of states.


a political orientation that favors social progress by reform and by changing laws rather than by revolution. In essence it argues for human rights, parliamentary democracy, and free trade - while also maintaining that all such goals must begin within a state.


the process by which states work together to solve a common problem

Liberal internationalism

a perspective that seeks to transform international relations to emphasize peace, individual freedom, and prosperity, and to replicate domestic models of liberal democracy at the international level

Weapons of mass destruction

Classified by the UN as weapons that could really *** *** up


a system operating in the absence of any central government. It does not imply chaos but, in realist theory, the absence of political authority


the practice of foreign conquest and rule in the context of global relations of hierarchy and subordination. It can lead to the establishment of an empire.


associated with rationalist thinkers of the 18th century. Key ideas include: secularism, progress, reason, science, knowledge and freedom

Democratic peace thesis

Makes two claims (1) liberal polities exhibit restraint in their relations with other liberal polities (2) they are imprudent in relations with authoritarian states

Free trade

an essential element of capitalism that argues for no barriers to the exchange of goods, services, and investments between states


a distinct type o political entity, which may or may not be a state, possessing both a home territory and foreign territories. This may include conquered nations and colonies

Collective security

a security arrangement in which all states cooperate collectively to provide security for all by the actions of all against any states within the groups which might challenge the existing order by using sanctions and force.


a process of ever-closer union between states, in a regional or international context. The process often begins with cooperation to solve technical problems.


An idea that suggests that cooperation should begin with efforts aimed at resolving specific regional or transnational problems.

Transnational non-state actor

any non-state actor or nongovernmental actor from one country that has relations with any actor from another country or with an international organization.


political power and influence in society does no belong just to the elite groups in various sectors of society, but I distributed among a wide number of groups in society. It can also mean recognition of ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity.


condition where states (or people) are affected by decisions taken by others. Can be symmetric or asymmetric.

Relative gains

states are less concerned about whether everyone benefits (absolute gains) and more concerned about whether someone may benefit more than someone else.


see the international system as archaic but believe the establishment of international institutions and regimes can manage relations. Purports that actors with common interests will try to maximize their gains.

Liberalism of privilege

developed democratic states have a responsibility to spread liberal values for the benefit of all peoples of earth.

Radical liberalism

This is the utopian side of liberalism. Scholars advocated a world in which states promote values like social justice, economic well being, peace, and ecological balance. These scholars see the liberal order as predatory and clearly in need of transformation.

Democratic deficit

leaders have created to many policy making institutions at the global, regional, and national levels with policy-making power led by individuals who are appointed and not elected. Thus policy decisions are not subject to review by citizens.

Society of states

an association of sovereign states based on their common interests, values, and norms.

Cosmopolitan society

a condition in which international organizations, transnational corporations and global markets are accountable to the peoples of the world.

Interparadigm debate

debate between two theoretical approaches namely liberalism and realism

Normative theory

systemic analyses of the ethical, moral, and political principles, that either governs or ought to govern the organization or conduct of global politics. The belief that theories should be concerned with what ought to be, rather than diagnosing what is.

Non-state actor

any actor that is not a government


we can explain the social world the same as scientists do with the natural sciences. Post-positivists believe we cannot possibly be objective observers because we are actively or passively a part of the events and issues unfolding before us.

Economic base

the substructure of the society is the relationship between owners and workers. Capitalists own the means and production so they exploit their workers


the government or political structure that is controlled by those who own the means of production


social group that in Marxism is identified by its relationship with means of production and the distribution of societal resources. Examples: bourgeoisie, and proletariat (worker)

Monopoly capitalism

A term introduced by Lenin that suggested that competitive capitalism had been replaced by large corporations that control the market in specific sectors

Washington Consensus

the belief in Washington that global welfare would be maximized by the universal application of neoclassical economic policies that favour a minimalist state and an enhanced role for the market

Problem-solving theory

Realism and liberalism are problem-solving theories. Example: How can we fix capitalism? How can we make society more democratic?

Critical theory

theories that are critical of the status quo and reject that things can be fixed under present system.


refers to ideas like democracy, capitalism, peace and social justice

Game theory

a branch of mathematics that explores strategic interaction

World order

This takes its unit of order not states, but individual human beings, and assesses the degree of order on the basis of the delivery of certain goods (be they security, human rights, basic needs, or justice) for humanity as a whole

International order

The normative and the institutional pattern in the relationship between states. Includes issues such as - sovereignty the forms of diplomacy, international law etc.


a political project to understand so as to change women's inequality, liberation, or oppression. Make it so gender no longer matters.

Sex and gender

"Sex" is biological difference, born male or female, the sex act; sexual difference. "Gender" is what it means to be male or female in a particular place or time; the social construction of sexual difference

Foreign policy

the articulation of national interests and the means chosen to secure those interest, both material and ideational, in the international arena


the methods and tools that national leaders use to achieve the national interests of a state


the idea that the world is divided into nations that provide the overriding focus of political identity and loyalty, which in turn should be the basis for defining the population of states. Nationalism also can refer to this idea in the form of a strong sense of identity (sentiment) or organizations and movements seeking to realize this idea (politics) Example: the idea of 'American exceptionalism', US is a place unlike any other, with values and traditions others should emulate

National self-determination

the right or desire of distinct national groups to become states and govern themselves

Failed (or failing) state

a state that does not command the primary loyalty of its citizens or subjects. These states have no monopoly of force at home and lack complete control over their own territory

Material interest

the tangible physical goals of state officials as they set foreign and domestic policy. Example: trade agreements, energy resources, control over strategic territory

Ideational/ideal interest

the psychological, moral, ethical goals of a state as it set foreign and domestic policy. Promotion of values, norms and policy ideas that enhance the security and prosperity of a nation-state

National interest

the combination of material and ideal goals that comprise the goals of the governments of a state. Morgenthau considered "national interest as the pursuit of power" the essence of politics.

Vital nation interests

national interests over which a state is willing to go to war

Public diplomacy

the use of media, the Internet, and other social culture outlets to communicate the message of a state

Coercive diplomacy

the use of diplomatic and military methods that force a state to concede to another state. These methods may include the threat of force and the actual mobilization of military forces so as to gradually "turn the screw" but exclude the actual use of force. The implication is that war is the next step if diplomacy fails

Hard power

the material threats and inducements leaders employ to achieve the goals of their state

Soft power

influence and authority deriving from attraction that a country's political, social, and economic ideas, beliefs, and practices have for people living in other countries


an international system which power is not concentrated in a few states but is diffused among a variety of state and non-state actors

Standard operating procedures (sops)

the prepared-response patterns that organizations create to react to general categories of events, crises, and actions


a form of statecraft that employs retaliatory strategy, only cooperating if others do likewise

Foreign policy style

this describes how a country deals with other states and how it approaches and decision making situation. Example: does the state act multilaterally or unilaterally, does it seek consensus on an issue or go with majority rule.

Foreign policy tradition

a tradition includes national beliefs about how the world works and a list of national interests and priorities based on these beliefs. It also refers to past action or significant historical events that act as analogs and give guidance to leaders about what strategy would best secure their national interests.

Promotive foreign policy

a foreign policy that promotes the values and interests of a state and seeks to create an international system based on these values

Intransigent foreign policy

a foreign policy that challenges the rules established by the great powers or rule-making states

Adaptation strategies

a foreign policy based on reacting to international events and adjusting national goals to conform to the effects of events external to that state

Great power

state that has the political, economic, and military resources to shape the world beyond its' borders. In most cases such a state has the will and capacity to define the rules of the international system.

Security dilemma

in an anarchic international system, one with no common central power, when one state seeks to improve its security it creates insecurity in other states.

Middle powers

liberal states with social democratic political systems and economies based on trade

Niche diplomacy

involves concentrating resources in specific areas best able to generate return worth having, rather than trying to cover the field.

Normative orientation

in foreign policy this means promoting certain norms and values and being prescriptive in one's foreign policy goals

Non-polar world

a world in which there are many power centers and many f them are not nation-states. Power is diffused and is in many hands in many policy areas

Peace dividend

the misplaced belief that the end of the cold war would bring about fundamental change in international relations and provide funds for domestic programs or even result in a reduction of taxes


the belief that a country has a unique set of domestic and foreign policy traditions. An implication is that other countries should embrace the same set of policies

Preventive war

launching a war to eliminate a perceived threat from another country, often started prior to the escalation of a crisis of before he enemy is itself prepared to attack

Sticks (threats)

Military tools ought to be used to secure the states interests. Example: G.W. Bush's administration supported the development and deployment of a ballistic missile defense system in Eastern Europe to protect Europe and missiles from Iran or other parts of the Middle East. The US has a military hegemony in the world today, but this does not guarantee safety.

Carrots (inducements)

Foreign assistance is used as a means of securing policy goals. Project aid, program aid, technical assistance, humanitarian and disaster assistance, and military and security aid. Example: donating food helps the poor but it also helps the farmers in the donor state who sell their crops and cattle to the government. USAID: main goal is the enlargement of democratic and capitalist states. Reflected the neoliberal goals of the Clinton administration that trimmed its goals from 30 to 5.

Sermons (moral suasion)

These might include demarches, or simple warning, directives or position statements sent to governments as a form of moral suasion. The key to this method is diplomacy. Example: President Obama's speech in Cairo, Egypt, addressed a global audience and was a clear attempt to convince the Muslim world that the US policy toward Islam was going to change.


US foreign policy is all about trade and economic prosperity. Strong alliance between US govt. and big business, free trade and US economic hegemony are essential to US foreign policy.


Foreign policy should focus on policies that strengthen our society and safeguard values and institutions of American democracy.


Focuses on the idea that power comes with obligations and responsibilities. The united States has a moral obligation to spread American values to build an international community based on rule of law. They Support the ICC


The US must be stronger than all other countries, and its' leaders must use their power to protect the citizens of the US and promote its national interests

Rise of Neoconservatives

America is an exceptional nation and we should be willing and able to play the role of benevolent hegemon. Roosevelt and Reagan.

Pragmatic Internationalism

Obama's Foreign Policy: Engaging the world and using diplomatic and nonforce options to secure US national interests


measures taken by states to ensure the safety of their citizens, the protection of their way of life, and the survival; of their nation-state. Security can also mean the ownership of property that gives an individual the ability to secure the enjoyment of enforcement of a right or a basic human need

National security

a fundamental values in foreign policy of states secured by a variety of tools such as military actions, diplomacy, economic resources, and international alliance. It also depends on a stable and productive domestic society.

Widening school of security

A.K.A Copenhagen School, this refers to authors who extend the definition of security to include economic, political, societal, and environmental policy areas.

Common security

A.K.A. cooperative security stresses noncompetitive approaches and cooperative approaches through which states - both friendly and foes can achieve security. Sometimes expressed, as until all people are secure from threats of war, no one is secure.


Fundamental shift in the spatial scale of human social organization that links distant communities and expands the reach of power relations across regions and continents


the use of violence by non-state groups or, in some cases, states to inspire fear, by attacking civilians and/or symbolic targets, and eliminating opposition groups. This is done for purposes such as drawing widespread attention to a grievance, provoking a severe response, or wearing down an opponent's moral resolve, to effect political change


A human association in which member share common symbols and wish to cooperate to realize common objectives


In realist theory, in an anarchical environment, states cannot assume other states will come to their defense even if they are allies. Each state must take care of itself.

Balance of power

in realist theory, refers to equilibrium between states. In structural realist theory, regards the system as having a tendency toward a natural equilibrium.

Absolute gains

all states seek to gain more power and influence in the system to secure their national interests.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

organization established by treaty in April 1949 comprising 12 (later 16) countries from Western Europe and North America. The most important aspect of the NATO alliance was the American commitment to the defense of Western Europe. Today NATO has 28 member states.

Security community

a regional group of countries that have the same guiding philosophic ideals—usually liberal-democratic principles, norms, ethics—and tend to have the same style of political systems

Democratic peace

Democratic states don't fight with each other and they are imprudent with authoritarian states.

Social structure

an arrangement based on ideas, norms, values, and shared beliefs. According to constructivists, the social domain does not exist in nature but is constructed through processes of interaction and the sharing of meaning

Material structure

an arrangement based on economic, political and military resources


first used to describe the foreign policy of Bismarck in Prussia, it describes the practice of diplomacy based on the assessment of power, territory, and material interests, with little concern for ethic realities


They specify general standards of behaviour and identify the rights and identify the rights and obligations of states. Together, norms and principles define the essential character of a regime, and these cannot be changed without transforming the natures of the regime.


the postmodern international system is one where domestic and international affairs are intertwined, national borders are permeable, and states have rejected the use of force for resolving conflict. The European Union is seen as an example of the evolution of the state-centric system.


the spread of American values, practices, popular culture, and way of life

Weapons of mass destruction

weapons that can f*** us all over if used.

Revolution in military affairs (RMA)

This is the effect generated by the marriage of advanced communications and information processing with state-of-the-art weapons and delivery systems. It is a means of overcoming the uncertainty and confusion that are part of any battle in war


the conduct and management of military capabilities in or near the battle area.

Asymmetric conflicts

When stakes are high and those actors in conflict are not equal in terms of weapons and technology, the weaker side adopts asymmetrical tactics. These include guerilla warfare, roadside bombs, attacks on civilians, and other terrorist tactics.

New wars

wars of identity between different ethnic communities or nations, and wars that are caused by the collapse of states or the fragmentation of multiethnic states. Most of these new wars are internal or civil wars.

Third-tier states

sometimes called the "less-developed states" or the "postmodern states." These countries fail to provide the basics, such and border protection, law and order, and maintenance of a functioning economy

Nuclear weapon state (NWS)

A state that is party to the Nonproliferation Treaty and has tested a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device before Jan. 1, 1967


the threat or use of force to prevent an actor from doing something the actor would otherwise do.

Non-nuclear weapons state (NNWS)

a state that is party to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, meaning that it does not possess nuclear weapons.

Epistemic community

a knowledge-based transnational community of experts and policy activists

Nuclear deterrence

the possession of sufficient power to inflict unacceptable damage on a potential adversary. Nuclear deterrence must involve explicit threats in order to effectively prevent a state from using weapons. These threats must be seen as credible and must be clearly communicated.

Transnational actor

any nongovernmental actor, such as a multinational corporation or one country's religious humanitarian organization, which has relations with any actor from another country or with an international organization\

Nuclear terrorism

the use of or threat to use nuclear weapons or nuclear materials to achieve the goals of rouge states or revolutionary or radical organization


the failure of states or other actors to abide by treaties or rules supported by international regimes

Vertical proliferation

an increase in the number of nuclear weapons a state possesses and in other technologies used for delivery of weapons. Recently, concerns were raised about the production of tactical nuclear weapons like bunker busters that could be used in cave and underground facilities in Afghanistan

Horizontal proliferation

an increase in the number of actors who possess nuclear weapons


a situation suffered by people who do not have money to buy food and satisfy other basic material needs

World Bank Group

a collection of five agencies that promotes development in medium and low-income countries

World trade Organization

permanent institution covers intellectual property and investment issue

Bretton Woods System

name given to the three institutions that comprise the post WWII international political economic system.

Great depression

global economic collapse that ensued following the US stock market crash in 1929


large capital investments in large projects; advanced technology, expansion of private sphere. Top down. Participatory reliance on appropriate knowledge and technology; small investments in small-scale projects; protection of the commons. Bottom up.

Trade liberalization

the removal or reduction of barriers to free trade such as tariffs or quotas on the trading of specific goods.

Marshall Plan

financial and economic aid for Europe after WWII

Dollar standard

An international financial system in which the US dollar is used by most countries as the primary reserve asset, in contrast to the gold standard in which gold played this role

Export-led growth

an outward oriented economy that is based on exploiting its own comparative advantages, such as cheap labour or resources


not an economic policy but a variety of political actions taken to protect domestic industries.

Summit diplomacy

a direct meeting between heads of government (of the superpowers in particular) to resolve major problems. The "summit" became a regular mode of contact during the Cold War.

Dependency theory

Wallerstein's theory


a condition where states or people are affected by decisions taken by other.

Free market

a market ruled by the forces of supply and demand, where all buying and selling is not constrained by government regulations or interventions

Global capital markets

these are banks, investment companies, insurance companies, trusts, hedge funds, and stock exchanges that transfer funds to industries and other commercial enterprises globally


the removal of all regulation so that market forces, not government policy, control economic developments

Washington Consensus

global welfare would be maximized by the universal application of neoliberal economic policies, which favour a minimalist state and an enhanced role for the market


when regional or international lending agencies require that recipient national governments accept certain policy conditions in order to receive a loan or some form of assistance

Intellectual property rights

this is yours globally; Nike swoosh.

Invisible hand

proposed governments leave trade and financial sectors alone

Zero-sum world

a pessimistic view of any interaction that suggests that another's gain is your losses


the mercantilist recommendation that states strive for economic self-sufficiency by using trade protectionism or policies of complete isolation

Political-economy approach

the study of the interactions between states or public actors and the market at domestic and international levels

Economic shock

an event that produces a significant change within an economy despite occurring outside of it.

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