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Chapter 2 The Evolution of World Politics. This chapter has two goals: 1- General background on the most important events that have shaped the world of today. (Three Chapters of Modern World Drama) 2-The major characteristics of the current world system. . 1.

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Chapter 2 The Evolution of World Politics

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Chapter 2 the evolution of world politics l.jpg

Chapter 2 The Evolution of World Politics

This chapter has two goals:

1- General background on the most important events that have shaped the world of today. (Three Chapters of Modern World Drama)

2-The major characteristics of the current world system.

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What is the International System?

An abstract concept that encompasses global actors, the interactions (especially patterns of interaction) among those actors, and the factors that cause those interactions. The international system is the largest of a vast number of overlapping political systems that extend downward in size to micropolitical systems at the local level. (Rourke's glossary, p. xliv)

The notion of "system" suggest three meanings:

-There is an "organic interaction" among different parts, components and players of this system. (organic means that every component affects and gets affected by other units.)

-It would suggest that these interactions are not fully random and unpredictable. Rather, there are general patterns of behavior in human life, groups and even nations.

-The "international system," moreover, assumes that the distribution of the power within the system determines (and in some cases dictates) the behavior of different actors.


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How did we reach the point that we are in (Nation-state building and erosion)?

  • 1- The World Drama: First Chapter (15th and 17th centuries)

  • The story of the international system could be put under the title of the ”Rise and Fall of two concepts: nation-state and state sovereignty.”

  • The starting point could be the 15th century. In the 15th century there were two major trends that led to the emergence of sovereign nation states: integration of dukedoms and principalities and disintegration of empires such as the Holy Roman Empire.


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Holy Roman Empire

  • Thirty Years' War, series of European conflicts lasting from 1618 to 1648, involving most of the countries of western Europe, and fought mainly in Germany.

  • Treaty of Westphalia 1648:

    • Religiously: It gravely weakened the Holy Roman Empire and the Austrian Hapsburgs' empire and their religious influence.

    • The treaty led to the establishment of Switzerland and the Dutch Republic (the Netherlands) as independent states.

    • It ensured the emergence of France as the chief power on the Continent.

    • It disastrously retarded the political unification of Germany.


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What is the effect of the Religious Wars on Nation-building and Sovereignty?

  • These four developments led to a crucial result which put the seeds for the sovereign nation-state in Europe. the

  • Sovereignty means the legitimate right of states to run their own affairs domestically and internationally without being accountable or questionable by any authority such as the Pope, international community, or even its own people.

  • Note that there are three stages in the evolution of sovereignty: Starting from the middle ages (12th century through 15th century) the sovereignty was in the hands of the popes and priests (and their fellow princes and dukes) and then it shifted to the absolute hands of the monarchs especially after the religious wars. In the 18th century the sovereignty shifts to the of the people "popular sovereignty."

  • According to this absolute sovereignty, international relations occur within an anarchical political system that lacks a central legitimate authority that can make laws and guarantee their honest implementation. (Compare the domestic society and the international community regarding the ability to punish disobedience.)


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2- World Drama: Chapter two (18th and 19th centuries)

  • 1- The Coming of Popular Sovereignty: Popular Revolutions in USA and France which led to democracy and nationalism. The new emerging democratic nationalism had to fight against the traditional divine-right based dynasties in China, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, the Ottoman Empire in the early 20 centuries.

  • 2- Westernization of International System:Western Europe were before the Chinese, Muslims, Mogul (Indians), Persians and others in exploring the globe and in inventing the steam machine that was the corner stone of the Industrial Revolution, capitalism, the need of raw materials, open markets and eventually colonialism.

  • 3- The Culmination of multi-polar system (balance of power): This balance of power system that existed theoretically between 1648 and 1945 was characterized by shifting alliances designed to prevent any single power or combination of powers from dominating the European continent and, by extension, the world.


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3- World Drama: Chapter three (The Twentieth century)

  • First Scene: Two world wars

  • 1-The continuation of the disintegration of multinational empires. After the defeat in the WWI, the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian-Hungarian empires broke up.

  • 2-The (re)establishment of countries such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Other countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine/Israel cam under the mandate (control) of the League of Nations and finally became independent after World War II.

  • 3-The end of the balance of power that governed European politics during the 1800s which led to the eruption of the First World War.

  • 4-As an attempt to retain the balance of power again, Britain allowed Germany under Hitler to rearm itself so that it could counterbalance the growing force of France and the Bolshevik regime in USSR. France itself thought that a relatively powerful Germany would be able to stabilize Europe against the growing communist menace in USSR. In Munich Conference, British prime minister Chamberlain and other leaders accepted Hitler's venture to annex some parts of Czechoslovakia. This was a mistake that the entire world would endure its consequences for decades to come.

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    Second Scene: The Cold War

    • -The WWII destroyed the European colonial powers capacity to maintain their colonies and the European-based multipolar system.

    • -In the place of the traditional colonial powers (Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Germany and Japan…etc.) two hostile superpowers emerged to lead two poles: USA and USSR and a bi-polar system.

    • -USA adopted the containment doctrine that transformed USA from prewar norm of isolationism to a postwar globalism. NATO (established in 1949), Korean war (starting in 1952), Vietnam War (starting in 1968) were examples of this doctrine.

    • -USSR, from its part, tried to adopt an offensive doctrine toward the USA and its allies. Building atomic and nuclear arsenal (starting from 1949) Warsaw pact (established in 1955), Cuban Missile crises (in 1962) were examples of this doctrine. However, the war remained cold as both poles recognized the nuclear deterrence (the credibility of the second nuclear strike).

    • -Under Brezhenve (1964-1982) and Nixon (1969-1974), USSR and USA relationships began to improve under the policy of détente.


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    The Third Scene: the end of the cold war

    • In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev took office in 1985 with two domestic policies of glasnost (political openness) and Perestorika (economic and bureaucratic reform). At the international level, Gorbachev sought better relations with the west. Gorbachev could not control the powers that he unleashed by his policies. It was like a row of dominos falling rapidly. In 1991, the red hammer-and-sickle Soviet flag was lowered for the last time from the Kremlin's spires and replaced by the red-white, and blue Russian flag. The Soviet Union was no more. (Have a look at the picture on Rourke's book, page 36).


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    The Future of the World System:

    • Political Structure.

    • Security Demands.

    • Economic Interdependence.

    • Emphasis on Quality of life ( Environment and Human Rights)


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