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Theories are created to address the reasons why events occur or why people or things react, act, or behave as they do. Theories are used to support known information and to create the foundation for finding more support to address the unknown. Not all theories support every situation and for some, providing a theory based on their own perception is needed. The theories presented in this class are both applicable and not applicable in the study of international relations, dependent on the lens through which is each used. The theories may account for some of the behaviors and actions in international relations, but not others. Deciding on the best theories will depend on the answer to the question, "Is the state the key or are non state actors the key?" This is in addition to the author's point of view. This paper seeks to analyze this question to determine the best theory or theories to apply.
The choice of the term war is not subjective. What is war for one country is civil unrest for another. Currently the war between Crimea and the Ukraine is not what one might consider a war, nor is the current conflicts between the Palestinians and Israelis. This is, unless you are part of the conflict or an unwilling bystander. The War on Terror is a larger scale operation, fighting different forms of terrorism and different terrorist groups (Boko Haram, Taliban, ISIL, Chechens). These are shadow groups and not state organized or state sponsored. Again, this could be considered in light of what is applicable to the person and if they are affected by the terrorism. However, this is not a war like World War I, or World War II or the Gulf War. It is not like the police action of the Korean War or the Vietnam War that engaged mostly Western states in Asia. So deciding what is a war, defining it is important.
War is a function, dependent on the issuance of violence and the persuading of people to fight, kill and run the risk of being killed, without which there is no war (Black, 2007). The model of war is organized conflict based on a specific act of policy (Black, 2007). This would be the explanation of wars from the ancient times like the Peloponnesian War, and more modern war such as World War I and World War II, Vietnam and Korea. It also explains why the genocide occurred under Hitler and in Rwanda are not considered wars in the same modeling framework. The treatment of people and the policies that allow this are and should be "war", if not state driven, but instead are considered as reasons for war.
Theories and wars
According to Hobson (2000), the IR theorist has a couple of choices of paradigms to consider IR relations. One is normative, the other explanatory. He explains "given that normative concerns often creep into explanatory theory and, as one commentator put it, political philosophers often `see what they think the state ought to be like in the state as it is' (Held, 1984)", the choices are often skewed. Explanatory theories are found across many of the disciplines. States have the ability to make decisions that affect the domestic environment and the international environment. However, if the state has the powers, do the societies within them have the power and ability to affect those decisions, making them choices of the state or the people?
Neorealism gives this power to the state. Unlike liberalism or Marxism, where the people have power or focus, neorealism focuses on the power of the state to create war and then coerce or persuade the society to participate in it. With realism, the state is autonomous and does not answer to the society, while neorealism keeps the power with the state, but does serve some variations of that autonomy (Hobson, 2000). Marxists and constructivists see the state as having lower power to overrule the desires of the individuals and society, but they still maintain the state power to some degree. In the current wars like the war on drugs or the war on terror, the non-state actors are providing new concerns about state centric decisions and how to combat the threats each provide.
Constructivism is a worldview that all things—military, trade, international and state institutions—that have social meaning and are based in the society and norms and beliefs of that society. It helps to define some of the issues of wars. Constructivism gives different meanings based on history or ideals of how the society as a whole considers the different aspects associated with wars. For example, is it more dangerous for the country of Iran to have a nuclear program than the country of Great Britain? We, as people and as states decide this based on our perspectives and historical experiences.
Marxism as a single theory began with the thoughts of Karl Marx. He saw the world in terms of class and ...
A review of the reasons for war as applied to theories of liberalism, neorealism, constructivism, marxism, and sub theories.