Topic: Explaining stability and instability in the international system.
Prompt: From the readings and videos this week, consider the historically amorphous nature of international relations (IR) over the centuries. The diverse tools of analysis in table 1.2 provide only one clue to why experts disagree about the precise nature of IR then and now (note the MACAT videos on prominent IR theorists). With such analytical diversity and disagreement in mind, answer the following three prompts in any manner you choose, integrated or separately:
- Why do most historians of IR view the Treaty of Westphalia as a permanent legacy of modern international relations? What are its benchmarks?
- Consider major IR events in the centuries since Westphalia— the French Revolution & the rise of nationalism, the Concert of Europe (balance of power) from 1815-1914, the concurrent onset of modern European colonialism during the same period, the breakdown of peace with WWI & II, the Cold War, and finally, the post-Cold War present. From this wider horizon, identify at least three key factors / elements that appear to influence whether the system becomes stable or unstable— Explain.
- Finally, historians often trace the decline if not ‘death’ of European Christian civilization to the various crises mentioned above. Does this view seem justified— could the health or wellbeing of the Church actually depend upon the behavior of states? Bearing in mind the distinction between ideas and institutions, be as brief and clear as you can.