War and Change in World Politics


Robert Gilpin - 1981
    Arguing that the fundamental nature of international relations has not changed over the millennia, Professor Gilpin uses history, sociology, and economic theory to identify the forces causing change in the world order. The discussion focuses on the differential growth of power in the international system and the result of this unevenness. A shift in the balance of power - economic or military - weakens the foundations of the existing system, because those gaining power see the increasing benefits and the decreasing cost of changing the system. The result, maintains Gilpin, is that actors seek to alter the system through territorial, political, or economic expansion until the marginal costs of continuing change are greater than the marginal benefits. When states develop the power to change the system according to their interests they will strive to do so- either by increasing economic efficiency and maximizing mutual gain, or by redistributing wealth and power in their own favour.

After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy


Robert O. Keohane - 1984
    Can cooperation persist without the dominance of a single power, such as the United States after World War II? To answer this pressing question, Robert Keohane analyzes the institutions, or international regimes, through which cooperation has taken place in the world political economy and describes the evolution of these regimes as American hegemony has eroded. Refuting the idea that the decline of hegemony makes cooperation impossible, he views international regimes not as weak substitutes for world government but as devices for facilitating decentralized cooperation among egoistic actors. In the preface the author addresses the issue of cooperation after the end of the Soviet empire and with the renewed dominance of the United States, in security matters, as well as recent scholarship on cooperation.

Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis


Kenneth N. Waltz - 1954
    He explores works both by classic political philosophers, such as St. Augustine, Hobbes, Kant, and Rousseau, and by modern psychologists and anthropologists to discover ideas intended to explain war among states and related prescriptions for peace.

The Nomos of the Earth: In the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum


Carl Schmitt - 1950
    It describes the origin of the Eurocentric global order, which Schmitt dates from the discovery of the New World, discusses its specific character and its contribution to civilization, analyzes the reasons for its decline at the end of the 19th century, and concludes with prospects for a new world order. It is a reasoned, yet passionate argument in defense of the European achievement -- not only in creating the first truly global order of international law, but also in limiting war to conflicts among sovereign states, which in effect civilized war. In Schmitt's view, the European sovereign state was the greatest achievement of Occidental rationalism; in becoming the principal agency of secularization, the European state created the modern age. Since the problematic of a new nomos of the earth has become even more critical with the onset of the postmodern age and postmodern war, Schmitt's text is even more timely and challenging.

The Myth of National Defense


Hans-Hermann Hoppe - 2003
    It argues that "national defense" as provided by government is a myth not unlike the myth of socialism itself. It is more viably privatized and replaced by the market provision of security.

The Wizard of the Nile: The Hunt for Africa's Most Wanted


Matthew Green - 2008
    The rebel insurgency in the north is led by "the wizard of the Nile," Joseph Kony, whose Lord's Resistance Army is infamous both for its wish to rule Uganda according to the Ten Commandments and its unrelenting brutality. Matthew Green journeys up the White Nile in order to answer what seemed at first a simple question: "How could one maniac leading an army of abducted children hold half a country hostage for twenty years?" His quest is complicated not only by his plunge into a war zone to find the notoriously elusive Kony, but because the conflict itself continues to resist his, and our, attempts to understand it. He meets the victims maimed or raped by Kony's soldiers; the soldiers themselves, who were first children, victims of abduction; the refugees living in poverty and fear in overcrowded camps; the foreigners working to bring peace; and the political leaders who have their own reasons for preferring war to peace. Green is an invaluable guide to this forgotten conflict, providing honest, intelligent insight into suffering too little understood and too long ignored.

Perception and Misperception in International Politics


Robert Jervis - 1976
    The New York Times called it, in an article published nearly ten years after the book's appearance, the seminal statement of principles underlying political psychology.The perspective established by Jervis remains an important counterpoint to structural explanations of international politics, and from it has developed a large literature on the psychology of leaders and the problems of decision making under conditions of incomplete information, stress, and cognitive bias.Jervis begins by describing the process of perception (for example, how decision makers learn from history) and then explores common forms of misperception (such as overestimating one's influence). Finally, he tests his ideas through a number of important events in international relations from nineteenth- and twentieth-century European history.In a contemporary application of Jervis's ideas, some argue that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 in part because he misread the signals of American leaders with regard to the independence of Kuwait. Also, leaders of the United States and Iraq in the run-up to the most recent Gulf War might have been operating under cognitive biases that made them value certain kinds of information more than others, whether or not the information was true. Jervis proved that, once a leader believed something, that perception would influence the way the leader perceived all other relevant information.

After Victory: Order and Power in International Politics


G. John Ikenberry - 2000
    Here John Ikenberry asks the question, what do states that win wars do with their newfound power and how do they use it to build order? In examining the postwar settlements in modern history, he argues that powerful countries do seek to build stable and cooperative relations, but the type of order that emerges hinges on their ability to make commitments and restrain power.The author explains that only with the spread of democracy in the twentieth century and the innovative use of international institutions--both linked to the emergence of the United States as a world power--has order been created that goes beyond balance of power politics to exhibit "constitutional" characteristics. The open character of the American polity and a web of multilateral institutions allow the United States to exercise strategic restraint and establish stable relations among the industrial democracies despite rapid shifts and extreme disparities in power.Blending comparative politics with international relations, and history with theory, "After Victory" will be of interest to anyone concerned with the organization of world order, the role of institutions in world politics, and the lessons of past postwar settlements for today. It also speaks to today's debate over the ability of the United States to lead in an era of unipolar power.

Political Ideologies: Their Origins and Impact


Leon P. Baradat - 1979
    It prepares students to understand and relate the various political ideologies to the general political values of the left, the mainstream, and the right as they appear in contemporary political events and issues and to see clearly how political theory applies to their own lives.

The Principles of Representative Government


Bernard Manin - 1996
    Challenging the conventionally held views on the subject, Professor Manin reminds us that while today representative institutions and democracy appear as virtually indistinguishable, when representative government was first established in Europe and America, it was designed in opposition to democracy proper. The author identifies the essential features of democratic institutions and reviews the history of their application.

Extremism


J.M. Berger - 2018
    It has never been more important to understand extremism, yet the dictionary definition—a logical starting point in a search for understanding—tells us only that extremism is “the quality or state of being extreme.” In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, J. M. Berger offers a nuanced introduction to extremist movements, explaining what extremism is, how extremist ideologies are constructed, and why extremism can escalate into violence. Berger shows that although the ideological content of extremist movements varies widely, there are common structural elements.Berger, an expert on extremist movements and terrorism, explains that extremism arises from a perception of “us versus them,” intensified by the conviction that the success of “us” is inseparable from hostile acts against “them.” Extremism differs from ordinary unpleasantness—run-of-the-mill hatred and racism—by its sweeping rationalization of an insistence on violence. Berger illustrates his argument with case studies and examples from around the world and throughout history, from the destruction of Carthage by the Romans—often called “the first genocide”—to the apocalyptic jihadism of Al Qaeda, America's new “alt-right,” and the anti-Semitic conspiracy tract The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He describes the evolution of identity movements, individual and group radicalization, and more. If we understand the causes of extremism, and the common elements of extremist movements, Berger says, we will be more effective in countering it.

Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, War


Mark Danner - 2009
    His perceptive, award-winning dispatches have not only explored the real consequences of American engagement with the world, but also the relationship between political violence and power. In Stripping Bare the Body, Danner brings together his best reporting from the world's most troubled regions--from the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti to the tumultuous rise of Aristide; from the onset of the Balkan Wars to the painful fragmentation of Yugoslavia; and finally to the disastrous invasion of Iraq and the radical, destructive legacy of the Bush administration.At a time when American imperial power is in decline, there has never been a more compelling moment to read these urgent, fiercely intelligent reports.

The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics


Hedley Bull - 1977
    Originally published in 1977, it continues to define and shape the discipline of international relations. This edition has been updated with a new, interpretive foreword by Andrew Hurrell. Bull explores three fundamental questions: What is order in world politics? How is order maintained in the contemporary states system? What alternative paths to world order are desirable and feasible? Laws and institutions, Bull points out, shift and change over time. "The Anarchical Society" addresses the unwritten rules which have allowed international order to exist across the ages.

The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza


Max Blumenthal - 2015
    The ensuing fifty-one days of war left more than 2,200 people dead, the vast majority of whom were Palestinian civilians, including over 500 children. During the assault, at least 10,000 homes were destroyed and, according to the United Nations, nearly 300,000 Palestinians were displaced. Max Blumenthal was in Gaza and throughout Israel–Palestine during what he argues was an entirely avoidable catastrophe. In this explosive work of intimate reportage, Blumenthal reveals the harrowing conditions and cynical deceptions that led to the ruinous war—and tells the human stories.Blumenthal brings the battles in Gaza to life, detailing the ferocious clashes that took place when Israel's military invaded the besieged strip. He radically shifts the discussion around a number of highly contentious issues: the use of civilians as human shields by Israeli forces, the arbitrary targeting of Palestinian civilians, and the radicalization of Israeli public officials and top military personnel. Amid the rubble of Gaza's border regions, Blumenthal recorded the testimonies from scores of residents, documenting potential war crimes committed by the Israeli armed forces while carefully examining the military doctrine that led to them.More than a chronicle of war and devastation, The 51 Day War is an urgent warning that the aftermath of the conflict has made another military assault on Gaza almost inevitable. And while the people of Gaza will once again prove their resilience, the world can no longer just stand aside and watch.

On Democracy


Robert A. Dahl - 1998
    The main anti-democratic regimes - communist, fascist, Nazi - have disappeared, and new democracies are emerging vigorously or tentatively throughout the world. In this book, one of the most prominent political theorists of our time provides a primer on democracy that clarifies what it is, why it is valuable, how it works, and what challenges it confronts in the future.