International Relations, as an optional subject in CSS exams, has been most confusing subject for many students. It is not because it is a difficult subject rather it is because css aspirants don’t understand its language and rules for writing an answer. Majority does not know how to solve International Relations’ questions Since every subject has its own language and terminologies, so it must be written in the very style. But many students use general English for all other subjects that is a big mistake. Understanding the language of all the subjects is another challenge. We are starting International Relations series to make you all understand about its language and ways of writing an effective answer.
In this article we’ll try to make you learn How to solve International Relations’ questions in IR language.
All the issues and problems are written in the perspectives of IR approaches. There is a big difference between general and IR perspectives. Here is an example on How to solve International Relations’ questions , if we are asked to write about” WAR and its cause” we’ll write it in two ways
What is a war?
Causes of war
Japan’s aggression etc.
Implications of war
Second- IR language
What is war?
Causes of war
Realist school of thought
Liberal school of thought
Constructivist school of thought
Implications of war
In current affairs’ paper, we use general language and perspective along with our own opinion but in IR paper, we use IR approaches and language. We must have to use IR terms to elaborate an issue.
Here is an example of explaining WAR in IR
The theories of IR differ solely because they are built on different premises. Realism operates under the assumption that states are the only actors on the political stage, also known as ‘statism’ and ‘individualism. Additionally, the states work in an anarchical system, meaning in the absence of higher, trans-governmental and universally recognizable authority no rules are applied in the international realm. The other assumption is that politics is driven by law of human behavior- the mix of urges like the drive for powers, will to dominate, self-interest and ambition. How does all of this help us understand war? Realism offers a rather cynical explanation: we are destined to wage wars, for all politics is a struggle for power and survival. Wars may be fought either to protect or expand security of the states (both the aggressor and the attacked may fight to protect their security- one to defend its country directly, the other by eliminating the threat the other country poses to its security or interests).
A clear example would be the Second World War and events that preceded the outbreak of the war. Hitler’s violation of Versailles Treaty, Anschluss of Austria and incorporation of Czechoslovakian Sudetenland may be perceived as a direct way of securing Germany’s survival as a state. Starting war with Poland and Western Europe should be perceived as purely ideological move, though war with Russia (known as Operation Barbarossa) was aimed at securing oil resources in Baku and Caucasus. The reference to law of human behavior is probably the strongest argument of realists. For it is undeniable that in the history of mankind there were many leaders or generals that fought battles for the sole purpose to feed their personal ambitions, i.e. Alexander the Great, Julius Cesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Therefore, realism seems as a very feasible and reasonable theory.
The cynicism of realism comes from the assumption that war is unavoidable and a constant element of our nature, while ideas and ideologies are of no importance. That is ideologies serve the purpose of arguing in favor of war using various arguments at different times. We might feel insulted by this view, and yet whether it is Alexander calling his soldiers to fight for Greece, Attila the Hun persuading his to plunder the cities of Western and Eastern Rome, Napoleon fighting under the cloak of French Revolution and freedom, or Khrushchev pretending to care about working people- one thing remains constant- we fight wars. So even though it seems as there is some development in human thought, the true intentions remain the same through ages, and wars remain an extension of politics. It is hard not to appreciate realism and its account for war, since history seems to favor it.
Constructivism, on the other hand, represents much more complex approach. It views the priority of ideas and human consciousness, hence the core assumptions: holism and idealism. The striking difference between realism and constructivism lies in the approach to ideas – the latter demands that we take seriously the role of ideas in world politics, while the former completely disregards it. However, we already saw that realism has much historical evidence in its favor, so is it even possible to defend social constructivism? Not only it is possible, but constructivism even offers a much more accurate account for war.
To start with, statism is a flawed concept, for history has ample evidence that state power is being challenged from both above and below. The American War of Independence, French Revolution, or even the struggle between Huguenots and Cardinal Richelieu pose a certain problem for realism. Also, the logical consequence of the absence of world government is not the state of war. It is rather an option that people have selected. As the 20th century has shown, the trends changed and some attempts to create a world government, or at least regional governments, have been made. The United Nations, International Monetary Fund and European Union are the main examples of this. These problems are not encountered by constructivism. That is because constructivism understands IR as a social construction: a social theory that focuses on analysis and evaluation of various elements, such as culture, society, law, ethnography, economy etc. All these issues are of the highest importance to social constructivist, for they constitute differences between states and societies across historical and geographical context.
Simply put, social constructivism is capable of explaining all the wars by referring not to their common elements, but distinctive features and identity. The conquests of Alexander the Great, Julius Cesar and Napoleon may be perceived as embodiments of the same cultural legacy. And yet, it would be an oversimplification; it is necessary to place those leaders in the context of history, for it happens that some of them were actually devoted ideologists – like Hitler, Lenin, Mussolini, Mark Aurelius or even Charles the Great. So ideas, rather than political cynicism constituted those people. Constructivism’s advantage is evident in that by focusing on social factors and by stressing the importance of context, it is capable of addressing the current civil war in Mexico between the government and narcotic cartels, which is not in the scope of realism. Constructivism is therefore to be appreciated for its accuracy, while realism may be deemed oversimplified in comparison.
Another explanation of war is liberal explanation. Since liberals argue that the chances of war could be minimized by increasing mutual cooperation and coordination, the war is caused when this cooperative environment is missed. Before WWII, Germany and Japan didn’t cooperate with other states and resultantly war was started. Moreover, liberal school of thought also believes in international institutions. They believe that the strong and effective role of international institutions reduce the risks of war. League of Nations, an international institution, couldn’t play its effective and timely role that’s why war occurred.
This is the correct way of explaining an issue in IR language. We’ll be sharing more important tricks and techniques for How to solve International Relations’ questions in future. Please stay connected with us.