Why do we need International Relations?

This brief discussion is about the relevance of International Relations. The aim is to present this subject both as a scholarly discipline and as a sub-field of politics in general. Eventually, I will argue for a positive response in both cases. I take the liberty to express a personal and subjective opinion and thus, the argumentation is limited to my level of understanding.

First of all, the need for International Relations as a scholarly discipline is to my mind unquestionable. As any discipline, it consists of a series of theories that reflect opposing perspectives. The main critique brought the IR as discipline is that theorizing ends up in the loss of practicality of its subject-matter in the professional sense. Personally, I do not agree with this view. My argument is that in order to become a professional/specialist in a certain area, one must be very familiar with that particular area. A good understanding of the patterns operating in that field is required in order to take the best decisions. Theorizing has exactly this outcome because good theories are founded upon the verification of good conclusions. In order to have relevant conclusions, a proper debate is necessary beforehand as to eliminate any erroneous analysis of different situations. By all this I mean to say there cannot be too much theorizing, just as there cannot be too much debate and questioning. Professionals of all sorts, like for example decision-makers can this way get inspired by a multitude of theoretical approaches, and are free to decide on the basis of a clear understanding of the matter.


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Second, the relevance of International Relations as a sub-field of politics is also clear. Usually, politics refers to domestic politics. I mean by this that set of policies which have the purpose to better organize a certain society or state. International Relations as a sub-field deals more specifically with how different states relate to one another on the global arena. It is obviously a sub-field because it mainly consists of those specific policies that leaders put into place with regard to the relationship with other states. However, these policies are indispensable because nowadays, more than ever before, isolation in global affairs is impossible. A state that does not interact with others cannot exist due to financial, economic and security necessities and inter-dependencies. Therefore, developed and tactful internationally-orientated policies are essential.

In conclusion, IR is a very relevant domain. It starts with the need for states to interact with one another on an evermore globalized world stage. In order to take the best decision, policymakers are required to have a clear understanding of the issues and so they must have the resources that allow them to get inspired. Resources are usually produced by the academia, which is a lively circle of intellectuals that constantly debate amongst each other and come to theoretical conclusions about diversified topics. These theoretical conclusions can be universally- applicable or specifically-orientated.

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This is first article in the three article series on international relations. Subscribe to TWR to get notified when the other articles are published.

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First: Guide to International Relations: Realism

Second: Guide to International Relations II: Marxism and Constructivism


Claudiu Sonda
Passionate student of IR and European politics with an interest in developing a high-level expertise in International Security and geopolitics.