Historical Context of Contemporary International Relations

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HistoricalContext of Contemporary International Relations

Inthe study of international relation, war is among the major themes.Now, the big question is “What are the main causes of war?”However, the answer to this question cannot be accurate but onlybased on assumption. According to scholars, there are three differentcauses of war: human nature, state system nature, and state nature.In his book, “TheState and War”Kenneth Waltz classified the causes of war into “three images.”He based his first and second images on human nature and state levelrespectively (Waltz 56). Correspondingly, he uses the third image toargue about the characters of the anarchic state system. However,among the three images, the third image gives the best explanation ofwar. This is because it is more influential than the first twoimages. In addition, it describes the framework of the world politicsunlike the first two images, which describe the force of statepolicies. Further, the image posits the causes of war at thesystematic level. Waltz argues that the states have a high authority,and therefore, states intermingle in an anarchic realm. In his pointof view, Waltz states that international anarchy defines system statewhere there are major causes of war.

Waltzalso distinguishes between the “immediate” causes of war and the“permissive” causes of war to differentiate different causes ofwar (Waltz 126). He argues that the first two images consist ofefficient causes that explain that factors that cause war. On theother hand, the “permissive” cause is represented in the thirdimage. In addition, the “permissive cause” explains allpossibility of war. To conclude, Waltz says that war happens becausenothing can prevent it. He quotes characterization as the major“permissive” cause of war.


Waltz,Kenneth N.&nbspMan,the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis.New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. Internet resource.