Nature, Purpose and Scope of International Relations

Foreign policies To define the meaning and nature of international relations is a ticklish job. It has been a complex work owing to many reasons. First, the terms international politics and international relations were and still are used interchangeably and loosely. For many years scholars remained confused over the contents of these terms. They were not as clear as to what should be included in international politics and international relations? Works of many authors’ titles were on International Relations, whereas inside they discussed international politics only.

On the contrary, many titles on international politics discuss international relations indiscriminately. Second, the world community is so dynamic, and the international environment changes so rapidly that what one studied a few years ago with keen interest becomes hackneyed and obsolete today. This alters its approach and perspective. New developments at the global level bring new actors to the international stage. Third, many scholars put forward such definitions as explained the essence of the subject rather than its main inquiry areas.This caused further disagreement and confusion among writers as no one could give precision and authority to the definition of a discipline whose scope is ever-changing and growing. Fourth, the newness of the subject also creates many difficulties in defining it. If definitions of old social disciplines like political science and economics are still in the melting pot, then how can one take any definition of this young discipline as the last word.Notwithstanding ambiguity and disagreement over the definitions of international relations, we seek to analyze and classify some of the important definitions given by prominent scholars of the discipline. These definitions can be broadly divided into the following two categories:Traditional View International PoliticsIt is a state dominated view since definitions under this category emphasize the study of politics and relations among the nation-states. It considers nation-states as chief actors of international politics and focuses on their political and official relations. In other words, these were the definitions of international politics and not international relations. From the initial years of the beginning of the discipline up to the fifties, it was mainly known and studied as international politics. The most prevalent definitions in this category are:

Schleicher includes all inter-state relations in international politics, although he concedes that all the interstate relations are not political. 

Padelford and Lincoln define international politics as the interaction of state policies within the changing power relations patterns. In their later work, they defined it as individual nation-states’ interaction to pursue their perceived national interests and goals. 

Morgenthau’s definition deals mainly with political relations and the problem of power and peace. According to him, international politics is a struggle for and use of power among nations.Burton regards it as a peaceful communication system whereby states consciously and in their own interest would like to avoid conflict because conflict costs are too high. To  Frankel, international politics embraces the foreign policies of all the states in their mutual interaction as well as in their interaction with the international system as a whole, with international organizations, and with social groups other than states, the Operation of the international system and also the domestic politics of all the states.It is a comprehensive definition as it includes the interaction among states and their interactions with the international system, organizations, social groups, etc. He further clarifies that the foreign policies of different states are difficult to deal with comparatively because they cannot be studied singly and then compared, as domestic politics can, one can study them in interaction with the foreign policies of other states as well as with other elements of the international system.Harold and Margaret Sprout define international politics as those aspects of interactions and relations of independent political communities. Some element of opposition, resistance, or conflict of purpose or interest is present.

According to Thompson,“International Politics is the study of rivalry among nations and the conditions and institutions which ameliorate or exacerbate these relationships”.The defect of these two definitions includes only the conflictual and oppositional interactions between the states and not the cooperative and friendly one.“International Politics,” according to Quincy Wright, is the art of influencing, manipulating, or controlling major groups, to advance the purposes of some against the opposition of others.  It is the process b which power is acquired, maintained, and expanded; he further explains, As a discipline, it includes expositions instructing in the practice of this art, predicting the consequences of its application, evaluating it, and narrating its history.In this way, the essence and explanation of international politics vary from author to author. Indian scholars have not lagged in this respect.

An eminent scholar Mahendra Kumar, one of the few pioneer Indian scholars, has analyzed the theoretical aspects of international politics and presented its own definition. In his words, international politics is a process in which nations serve their national interests, which may conflict with those of other nations b means of their policies and action. According to him, this definition can be applied to international politics in any period of the twentieth century.

Another Indian author R.T. Jangam describes the nature of international politics in the following manner the existence of nations friendly or unfriendly relations struggle for acquisition, retention, and extension of power and other stakes instrument of accomplishing other principal stakes and the limitations on the use of power is broadly characterized international politics, throughout the ages.Baral suggests that the three principal components in international politics are the international system, the state, and the individual. Any foreign policy decision is likely to reflect the systematic interactions, the interests and strategies of the state, and individual actors’ motives and personalities.Further, the interest groups, bureaucratic organizations, and some other groups play some role in foreign policy-making.

Thus, international politics must study all concerned actors’ roles and employ all three analysis-system, state, and individual levels.Politics about nations is international politics. It is a process of adjusting the relationship among nations in favor of a nation or a group of nations through power. Three important things relevant to international politics are national interest, conflict, and power.

The first is the objective, the second is the condition, and the third is the means of international politics. Therefore, it can be described as a set of relations among independent states in which some elements of conflict of interest are prevalent. Still, at times interests of some nations may be identical also. In this way, international politics involves conflict as well as cooperation. It is a phenomenon of recurring patterns of conflict and harmony. But cooperation is feasible only through control of conflict. Conflict can be regulated in the desired direction.

Thus international politics deals with the control of conflict and achievement of cooperation. By and large nature of international politics is conflictual.Current View -International Relations:The latest trend is to make extensive use of international relations in preference to international politics as it encompasses all the relevant actors, contents, and relationships. Undoubtedly, some of the above category definitions also cover areas other than mere politics among nations. But the following definitions are more comprehensive as they include state, international system, international organizations, other transnational and supranational agencies, non-state entities, groups, and relevant individuals as actors and the basic unit of analysis.

At the same time, they also cover larger areas of the relationship.Both conflictual and cooperative, friendly and unfriendly, power relationship and peace relationship, governmental and people-to-people relationship, etc. The contents and forms of relations among the different actors are varied, such as political, economic, social, cultural, educational, scientific, and technological, etc. All these are part of international relations. Scholars of international relations have also used comparatively sophisticated and scientific tools of investigation. The use of the term international relations is considered appropriate. It covers all those essentials included in international politics and over and above many other current trends and terms that make it more broad and relevant.

Some of the well-known definitions in this category are listed below:

In the words of Quincy Wright, It is not only the nations that international relations seek to relate. Varied types of groups, nations, states, governments, peoples, regions, alliances, confederations, international organizations, even industrial organizations, cultural organizations, and religious organizations must be dealt with to study international relations if the treatment is to be realistic.To Quincy wright, even the use of the term international relations is too narrow. He coined another term, relations between powerful nations, and yet preferred to use the prevailing term international relations.

He is also of the opinion that for a proper understanding of international relations, one has to include such partial studies as international politics, international law, international organization, international economics, international ethics, the psychology and sociology of international relations, world history, political geography, political demography, and technology.In sum, he defines international relations to designate the relations between groups of major importance in the life of the world at any period of history, and particularly relations among territoriality organized nation-states which today are of such importance to designate the studies or disciplines describing, explaining, evaluating, or assisting in the conduct of those relations.The above definition considerably broadens the scope of international relations to such an extent that it becomes unmanageable and unwieldy. 

Hoffmann and Adi H.Doctor endeavor to remove these drawbacks of the definition. Hoffmann presents a purely operational definition: The discipline of international relations is concerned with the factors and the activities which affect the external policies and the power of the basic units into which the world is divided. He further suggests that it is concerned, for example, with the United Nations, but not necessarily with the World Meteorological Organization, or that we should deal with private groups such as the United Fruit Company or the Socialist Internationale, but not necessarily with a group such as International Political Science Association.

Adi H. Doctor is also of the same opinion. In his own words, its study will be primarily of nation-states, because of all the interacting entities in International Politics, the sovereign State is, by all standards, the most important, but shall also include within the field of its study other important groups (race, private or cultural bodies, regional organizations like NATO) to the extent that they influence interaction among the major groups, i.e., the sovereign States. The study of inter-state relations primarily includes power or opposition relations and, to some extent, certain cooperative relations.Palmer and Perkins say“It encompasses much more than the relations among nation-states and international organizations and groups. It includes a great variety of transitional relationships, at various levels, above and below the level of the nation-state, still the main actor in the international community.”They believe that its study must include new and old elements. The emphasis is still on the nation-state system and inter-state relations.

Yet, various organizations and groups’ actions and interactions and many underground forces and variables must be considered.Previously Frankel defined international politics and titled his book as such. After ten years, he, in his other work, used the term international relations. In it, he defines: his new discipline is more than a combination of the studies of the foreign affairs of the various countries and international history; it also includes the study of international society as a whole and its institutions and processes. It is increasingly concerned with the states and their interactions and the web of transnational politics.Though his previous definition of international politics was also broad, this one is broader than that. Moreover, he goes one step further by suggesting that World Politics describes its contents more truthfully than the traditional name.

International Relations a Few years back, scholars were reluctant to use the term world politics, but many like Roseau, Calvocoressi, Kegley, Wittkopf, etc., are adopting it now. Roseau maintains that world politics comprises the nation-states primarily as the prime-actors. With all other actors essentially subordinated to the requirements of the nation-state system. 

However, Roseau acknowledges that these nations consistently demonstrate inter-dependence and interpenetration and that sub-national, transnational, and even supranational (e.g., EEC) groups characterized a greater impact on the course of events.According to Trygve Mathiesen, international relations embraces all kinds of relations traversing state boundaries, no matter whether they are of an economic, legal, political, or any other character, whether they be private or official.

All human behavior originating on one side of the state boundary affects human behavior on the other side. This definition also enlarges the horizon of international relations.The essence of the above definitions can be summed up in the following words. International relations mainly study nation-states, their political and non-political relations, foreign affairs and policies, their interaction with each other, and various other political and non-political groups-alliances, regional and international organizations, sub-national, trans-national, and supra-national agencies.It also includes, to some extent, the study of international history, international law, international society, and other psychological, cultural, and strategical factors that influence the interactions and relations among states and groups.International Politics and International Relations:Both these terms are used loosely and interchangeably by scholars. But of late, a distinction is made between the two. The differences among them can be enumerated as follows:

1. International politics is concerned with the international community’s politics in a rather narrow sense, focusing on diplomacy and the relations among states and other political units. In contrast, international relations consist of the totality of the relations among peoples and groups in the world society. The former describes political relations only, whereas the latter describes all types of relations between countries and peoples, political or non-political, peaceful or warlike, legal or cultural, economic or geographic, official or non-official, formal or informal. Merely the political aspect of international relations is international politics.

2.International politics emphasize official relations between the states and their governments and officials. On the other hand, international relations also include non-official, informal, and private relations among groups and peoples. It encompasses all human behavior on one side of the national boundary affecting human behavior on the other side. One is interested in state-to-state relations, and the other goes beyond it and covers people to people relations.

3. International relations is a wider and international politics a narrower concept. The scope of the former is broader than the latter. When states cooperate to maintain postal or transport services or prevent the spread of epidemics or suppress the traffic in drugs, these activities are described as non-political. But as soon as an issue arises which involves, or is thought to involve, the power of one state about another, the matter at once becomes political. Thus international politics includes only those aspects of international relations in which some conflict of purpose or interest is involved.

4. Methodology to study them is different. The study of international relations is being enriched by the wider and more versatile and scientific approaches and methods. In contrast, international politics was mainly studied with historical descriptive and analytical methods.

5. Adi H. Doctor distinguishes them from another angle. According to him, Those interested in oppositional relations label their study International Politics, those who also include cooperative relations name their study as ‘International Relations.’Thus the current nomenclature International Relations-i covers a wider relationship between states, groups, institutions, and individuals across the respective national boundaries. Yet, it has to be admitted that political relations still over-ride in this field of study. 

Scope And Subject-Matter:Sometime back, scholars of international relations thought that its scope was not yet delimited. One cannot settle once and for all the subject matter of a discipline as it tends to vary with time and the emergence of new conditions and factors. But there must be a separate core of the discipline to qualify itself as an autonomous discipline. To this extent, its scope has been settled.

Moreover, in the previous chapter, its development as an autonomous discipline has been traced.Since World War I and especially after the Second World War, different scholars, universities, academic organizations, and institutions endeavored to carve out a specific study area for international relations. Some of them have put forward a limited list and another exhaustive list of contents. It gave rise to wide controversy among scholars.Rather than discussing their viewpoints individually and in detail, an attempt is being made in the following paragraphs to enlist commonly agreed points. It cannot be maintained conclusively that scope is fully decided because the international situation and this discipline are in flux. But by the early nineties, it can be safely said that b and large, its scope and main areas of study were distinctly demarcated. At the same time, prospects of its enlargement in the future are there, along with changes in world conditions.

State System. 

The study of international relations begins with the state system. One can see a great impact of the state system on the international scene for the last three centuries. The individuals organize themselves in sovereign states and, through them, strive to fulfill their interests. These sovereign states’ incompatible interests cause conflict, and international politics is the natural outcome of sovereign states’ conflict.Not all states assume every other nation-state. Some are significant because of their neighborhood, some due to their military or economic power, whereas others are due to racial or cultural links. In brief, inter-state relations are the result of sovereign state and international relations studies.

Relations in Conflict and Cooperation.

 International relations studies relations between two or more stats, which are often complex and influenced by various geopolitical, historical, social, religious, ideological, strategic, and leadership factors. Broadly speaking, these relationships have taken the form of cooperation and conflict. Cooperation and conflict are two sides of the same coin.Inspire that they were more conflict in international history than corporation Both  Co-Existed throughout the various periods of history. International relations is primarily a study of both conflictual and cooperative inter-state relations.

General and Diplomatic History. 

In the initial years of the beginning of the discipline, its studies were mainly historical. International relations were considered identical with international or diplomatic history for quite a long time. Under this tradition, certain major events were taken up for analysis against a historical perspective. After some time, the historical approach was replaced by many new and better approaches, yet historical facts and events have not their relevance for international relations. For example, to stud the recent Indo-Pak relations, one has to go back into the past to know their historical background. The study of general and especially diplomatic history cannot be separated from International relations. 


In the post, the Second World War, power became the central theme in international relations study. According to Morgenthau, international politics is nothing else but power Politics and can be realistically understood only if viewed as the concept of interest defined in terms of a national state’s power.Power has practical as well as theoretical relevance. It is a major determinant of the policies of the world’s leading states and international relations generally. In international relations, one studies the nature, elements, and measurement of national power, balance of power, power equations, and limitations on national power. Major limitations on power being studied are international law, international morality, world public opinion, the balance of power, collective security, and international organizations.

International Law

As mentioned above, international law acts as a restriction on national power and state action. Thus it is accepted as an essential aspect of the study of international relations. International law contains a set of rules, which regulate and determines the inter-state behavior pattern both in time of peace and war. Therefore, a sound knowledge of international law is a must for understanding international relations.

International Organizations.

 The United Nations, the most comprehensive of all international organizations, regional arrangements NATO OAS, EEC, and SAARC and other international or regional character organizations, has assumed a significant role in the present world. These international institutions provide forums for cooperation and conflict resolutions and are governed by their own rule. These organizations came into existence to nee economic, military, technological, or cultural cooperation among member states. Since all these organizations and institutions have bearings on inter-state relations, they become a subject-matter of international relations to that extent.

International Systems: 

The study of international relations has also been undertaken in terms of international systems. It involves applying system theories to a wide variety of international phenomena and developing a typology of systems in the international community. International systems have been studied historically or from the point of view of the present world. Ancient China, classical Greece, imperial Rome, Renaissance Italy, Mughal India, or nineteenth-century Europe are examples of the international system. Contemporary international systems have been built based on bipolarity and multipolarity of the region, such as continents or geographic areas of greater or lesser extent. Various regions are studied as international subsystems or as subordinate state systems.

Integration and Community Approach.

A working international system requires a high degree of integration. It is most effective if a community structure integration supports it is one of the focus points in the interdisciplinary approach to international relations. Studies of past am present tendencies towards integration and conflict in the international community may suggest factors that have an important bearing on contemporary diplomacy and political behavior. Certainly, the question of integration in the international community deserves thorough study and analysis.


According to Hessler,“Geopolitics is the science of the relationship between space and politics which attempts “to put geographical knowledge at the service of political leaders. It is more than political geography, which is descriptive. It springs from national aspirations, searches out facts and principles which can serve national ends.  Anything which serves the national ends and interest comes closer to international relations. Geopolitics analysis can shed light on some of the major problems and attitudes prevalent in contemporary relations. Geopolitics is quite useful for the proper understanding of international relations Palmer and Perkins are right when they say: Undoubtedly, the struggle for space and power over the vast land and sea regions of the world and perhaps in outer space as well will be a central theme in the international relations of the future.

Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution

Much of international relations involves conflict, its management, and resolution. Their stud becomes a significant subject matter of international relations behavioral sciences with quantitative methods that have successfully dealt with these topics. Conflict management is a term that suggests various techniques for the control, if not always the resolution of international conflicts. Various international organizations and peace research institutes have been studying conflict management and resolution. Several journals, such as, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, have been published on this issue, and attempts are made to quantitatively analyze the factors that create conflict situations at the international level and the techniques to resolve such conflicts.

War and Peace.

 It is a problem of war and peace around which almost all the studies of international relations revolve. It is no less a problem than human survival. Conflict of interests and struggle supremacy among nations often leads to warfare between two or more nations or groups. War is as old a phenomenon as the state itself, and it essentially followed be some sort of peace activity and settlement.  War and peace activities are now studied more systematically in this sphere; international relations are of great importance for all humanity and require an interdisciplinary approach and analysis.

National Interest.

 National interests are the objectives of sovereign states. The purpose is with the help of power and through foreign policy. In a way, national interests are the pivot around which international relations cluster. 

Hartmann correctly says that international relations as a field of study focus on how states adjust their national interests to those of other states. Thus the concert of national interest becomes central to the Conduct national policies. The stud of national interest has become useful in analyzing the history and conduct of a nation’s foreign policy.


 The twentieth century is also marked by the rise of rival ideologies such as communism, socialism, capitalism, Nazism, fascism, totalitarianism, liberalism, etc. With conflict, political, economic, and social systems, ideological issues came to the international scene’s forefront. Since the first  World War, many of the international problems ha ideological overtones that further complicated inter-state relations. No doubt, for the last few years, there is the talk of the end of ideology and DE-idolization of international relations. Yet, ideological elements cannot be ignored in the study of international relations. To understand contemporary international relations, the process of both idealization and de-idealization has to be taken into account.

Nationalism, Colonialism, and Imperialism.

 Nationalism is an important factor of modern state s stern and the rise of non. Western international relations. It has changed the classical nature of international relations and is also responsible for decolonization and shifting emphasis from Europe to Asia and Africa. Nationalism has also caused the demise of traditional imperialism and colonialism. But new types of imperialism have also made their presence felt, e.g., communist imperialism or red imperialism, economic imperialism or Neo-colonialism. All these isms are the subject-matter of international relations.

Foreign Policy. 

The sovereign states conduct their foreign relations and interact with each other through their foreign policies. Thus, foreign policies are like a  charter containing national interests showing the areas of agreement and disagreement. It explains the ideals with which the state would exert its influence and the limit of its total effectiveness. Though foreign policies are not the be-all and end-all of international relations, they constitute a significant part of its study.


Of late, there has been a tendency among the scholars of international relations to study not only the contents of foreign policy but also the process of foreign policymaking. Decisions are taken at various levels and in an indifferent manner in different political and international systems, nation-states, or international agencies. On a national, international, or comparative basis, the study of the total political process has been undertaken by many scholars, especially in the USA. Such studies provide a broader setting for a detailed analysis of decision-making and policy formulation.

National Character.

 National character is another subject of study. Through it, one endeavor to analyze peoples and social groups’ distinctive attributes, especially those that compose modern international society’s national units. While it is cumbersome to generalize about a complex thing as national character, it is an essential venture for those concerned with nation-states’ mainsprings of thought and behavior. Notwithstanding the absence of precise and reliable tests and standards, useful work is being done in studying national character by employing various methods.

Psychological Factors.

 Social psychology provided new approaches and methods for studying and researching international relations through personality and background analysis of key leaders involved in international relations. Social psychology also opened up new channels for studying individual and group behavior patterns and the role of public opinion in war and peace. For instance, such studies explain the reactions and policies of the Soviet Union and why the Russians behave like Russians and not like Americans or Japanese. These studies provide a useful extension of research in the individual and international arena.

Military-Strategic Factors. 

Much of international relations are concerned with the problem of national security and defense as preparation for and protection against wars, bilateral and multilateral security arrangements, alliance diplomacy, military pacts, arms control, and disarmament measures; naturally, many studies in the discipline give special emphasis on military political-strategic analysis. The study of were and strategy is beneficial for understanding international relations, as foreign policy and military policy became integrally related to each other .with time.

Alliances and Groupings. 

Undoubtedly, most of the major multilateral alliances, including NATO, the Warsaw Pact,  SEATO, CENTO, etc., which flourished in the fifties and early sixties, have now lost their relevance. Yet, alliance politics became an important area of study in postwar international relations. The study of international relations focused on the factors that contribute to the growth of such military alliances, the degree of their unity, and their impact on the balance of power situation among the states concerned. There are also groupings other than military alliances such as communist countries, the free world, the Islamic world, nonaligned countries, the Arab world, African countries, etc. They function unitedly on many common issues inside and outside the UN. The uniting factors, the degree of their unity, and their conflicts with other groups form the subject matter of international relations.

Arms Control and Disarmament.

The devastating nature of the war in the nuclear age has Complected many statements to do something for arms control and disarmament. Lengthy deliberations have been taken place on these subjects inside and outside the UN. Related problems are the peaceful uses of atomic energy, with which the International Atomic Energy Agency and most governments are deeply concerned. The enforcement of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Non-Proliferation Treaty, SALT-I and SALT-ll, I.N.F. and START, etc. On all these issues, there is vast documentation and a lot of scholarly studies and investigation.

Demographic Factors. 

The population explosion is the most significant phenomenon of the contemporary world and is associated with many human problems. The question of population control is of great importance today. Centers and programs of demographic studies exist in many countries, and frequent conferences discuss population problems and their possible solution. Thus demographic factors must be incorporated in any balanced course in international relations.

Economic Factors.

Economic interests, like defense interests, play a role in political transactions among states,s and thus, they assume importance in inter-state relations. No one can ignore in international relations the economic factors such as food problem, economic planning and development, rates of exchange, tariffs, exchange controls, commodity agreements, international trade, the balance of payments, foreign aid, disparities between developed and under-developed economies, demand for New International Economic Order, international investment, multinational corporations, international economic agencies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and many other UN agencies and regional economic agencies. The Marxist approach to international relations lays stress purely on economic factors, and many non-communist theories also recognize the role of economic elements in international life. Economic factors are within the scope of international relations to the extent they influence inter-state relations.

Area and Regional Studies.

 The Second World War necessitated interest in the area or regional study to study history, language, sociology, anthropology, politics, and economics of selected areas. This area program was beneficial in providing appropriate knowledge to allied forces’ army personnel in different areas. It was equally helpful to conduct military government occupied areas. This war-time development became so popular that it was accepted as a major aspect of international relations’ post-war study.Two reasons that have encouraged area studies in the US in the post-war period were.

First, there was a genuine quest for knowing the developing and third world countries, which were still shrouded in academic darkness. Second, area studies were obviously in response to the requirements of the Cold War. In some cases, field studies were designed to gather vital information that the guest country-especially the US, could utilize in its rivalry against the Soviet Union and its allies. Area and regional studies, thus, become part and parcel of the contents of international relations.Purpose And Importance:Like any other discipline, international relations has its own importance, purpose, and value.

It has both theoretical as well as practical utility. It provides valuable assistance to general, leadership, professional, and research education. This discipline is useful for the college teacher, professional-school teacher, graduate-school teacher, the journalist and commentator, the statesman, diplomat and international official, the lawyer, economist, civil servant, statesman, and politician and research worker in the field. Quincy Wright well explains its utility in general education, practical action, and scholarly research.

General Education.

 A discipline of international relations has a broad utility in international relations inasmuch. It emphasizes the general facts of world geography, the general trends of history, the philosophical analysis of values, and the scientific analysis of international relations. It cannot ignore the various interpretations which each country has a distinct culture and value system, is giving to its generalizations. Notwithstanding its scientific nature, the presentation of international relations’ discipline would have to be adapted for general education in each community and each country. Topics of international relations are included in the paper of general education or general knowledge of almost all universities and competitive examinations.

Practical Importance.

 Apart from persons’ education before taking the practical assignment, a general discipline of international relations might contribute much to the day by day conduct of international affairs, whether by national or international officials. It assists in the practical activity of military officials, diplomats, colonial and overseas administrators, statesmen, politicians, international lawyers, international financiers, international propagandists, international educators, journalists, and media men. No doubt, these activities differ greatly from one another, and specialized disciplines for each are essential. Still, they share, and with all the practice of all arts and professions, not only the need for skill derived from experience but the necessity

  • (a). To define situations sought to be tackled
  • (b). To obtain relevant information
  • (c). To frame the goals
  • (d). To make decisions initiating action.

The art of statesmanship, the art of diplomacy, and the art of conducting foreign relations are inseparable from the discipline of international relations.

Research Purpose.

 Research like statesmanship seeks new ways of looking at situations. Still, a discipline serving as a logical catalog of what is known indicates gaps to be filled, hypotheses to be verified, shortcomings to be overcome. Advancement of the science of international relations is also one of the purposes of the discipline.On the one hand, this discipline makes men aware of their participation in the universal society and how society is moving. On the other, to mention shortcomings in knowledge, both theoretical and political, challenging further research. Both these services would contribute to peace if it is assumed that men want to survive and enjoy life, and that action is most likely to contribute to those ends is based on an accurate estimate of its possible outcome.The purpose and utility of the discipline, as observed by Palmer and Perkins, are supplemented below.

Human Survival and Progress.

 The discipline explains how men and nations tend to act in given circumstances, which tells us what conditions should be encouraged and what conditions discouraged us from promoting international harmony and well-being. Through it, one learns that war deferred is a kind of peace, perhaps the only peace that nations will ever know. One also gains a sense of realism–a realization that the road to a better order is filled with complex hurdles, that it can be overcome only by men who see the horizon ahead and the soil below.

Understanding and Controlling Problems.

 If the study of international relations cannot solve. All the problems of international life can at least help us in grappling with and controlling those problems. Many of the problems of international relations are unsolvable under present conditions. However, not all of these problems constitute major threats to peace and security. Those who are unsolvable and dangerous may take on a different shape and decline in importance with time, even if they are never really solved. For example, the problem of war may never be solved, but there is the possibility of keeping it under control, and that total war in the atomic age, with all of its frightful consequences, can be avoided. The only feasible way in some cases may be to keep the problems under control as much as possible, to do everything that can be done within the range of practicable alternatives to deal with them, and to understand and worry along with them as circumstances allow. Controlling conflict and the related problems and striving for peace are the main purposes of international relations.

Objectivity, Balance, and Perspective.

 The study of international relations aims at objectivity, balance, and perspective. The study has to be carried out in the face of obstacles of prejudice, ignorance, emotionalism, and vested interest-often, including the scholar’s own. The world is its laboratory, and a mix of approaches-realism and idealism, science and art is a way of exploring. Its students must beware of simple solutions to complex problems, and they must also renounce the thesis of the inevitability of war, the wave of future approach, and all such paths to doomsday. The discipline teaches us to understand the world as it is, and at the same time, to keep an eye on the world as it should be. It cautions that never mistake the ideal for the actual. Or conclude that what must be will, in fact, occur. On the value and purpose of the study, Adi H. Doctor has remarked.

Understanding the Role of Subjectivity.

 The study of international relations helps understand the part played by-subjectivity in judging human behavior in the international field. Its own national interest conditions every nation in judging international events. Every nation speaks of justice and fair play, yet we see much conflict between nations claiming to speak in the name of justice. This happens because nations tend to judge problems subjectively or in terms of national interest. It teaches that so long as the various nations try to look at international problems subjectively, conflicts are bound to rise. Terms like justice, fair play, equality, peace, non-interference, nonviolence, friendship, etc., are interpreted by nations differently. Nations preach these values, and at some time in actual conduct, they act contrary to these values. Often, endeavors towards world peace are conditioned by subjectivity, which must be replaced by an objective outlook.

Internationalism along with Nationalism. 

The study of international relations assists in developing a better perspective on nationalism. Nationalism is not an unmixed blessing. There are certain evils of nationalism, such as exclusiveness and narrowness, intolerance, hatred towards the people of other nationalities, etc. Undoubtedly, nationalism teaches us loyalty and gives security in an otherwise unsecured world, yet its abused and exaggerated form can become a major obstacle to world peace. Through this discipline, one learns that the traditional concept of sovereignty and nationalism are inapplicable today, and they need modifications in some respects.A Better World. 

The last but not the least purpose of the discipline is the attainment of a better world. It imparts knowledge of the concepts and instruments such as international organizations, international morality and law, world public opinion, collective security, the balance of power and balance of interests, peaceful coexistence and cooperation, pacific settlements of international disputes, arms control, disarmament, and denuclearization, North-South dialogue, etc., that help in building a new and better world order. Despite the difficulties that a student faces after his study, he has to be a part of the caravan marching ahead steadily towards better and just world order.


1. Charles P. Schleicher, Introduction to International Relations (New York, 1954) p. 31.

2. Norman. Padelford and George A. Lincoln, International Politics: Foundations of International Relations (New York, 1954) pp. 4, 6.

3.The Dynamics of International Politics (London 1967, 1976 ed.) p. 203.

4. Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (New York, 1954) pp. 14, 20.

5. John W. Burton, International Relations: A General Theory (Cambridge, 1965)

6. Joseph Frankel, International Politics -Conflict and Harmony (London, 1969) p. 11

7. Ibid.

8 Harold and Margaret Sprout, Foundations of International Politics (New York, 1963) p. 4.

9. Kenneth W. Thompson, The Theory and Practice of International Relations, p. 5.

10. Quincy Wright, The Study of International Relations (New York, y 1955 1st Indian edition 1970) p. 130.

11. Ibid.

12. Mahendra Kumar, Theoretical Aspects of International Politics (Agra, 1967, 2nd revised ed. 1972) p. 11.

13. R.T. Jangam, An Outline of International Politics (Calcutta, 1970), p. 3.

14. J.K. Baral, International Politics–Dynamics and Dimensions (New Delhi, 1987) p. 5.

15. Quincy Wright, The Study of International Relations (Bombay, 1970 Indian reprint, 1st ed. 1955) p. 6.

16. Ibid. p. 7.

17. Ibid. p. 8.

18. Stanley Hoifrnann (ed) Contemporary Theory in International Relations (New Delhi, 1964) 13.6.

19. Ibid.

20. Adi H. Doctor, International Relations An Introductory Study (New Delhi,1969) p. 4.

21 . Norman D. Palmer and Howard C.Perkns. Nature, Scope, and Purpose 39 Relations-the World Community in Transition (Calcutta, First Indian Reprint of 3rd Edition), p. xi.

22. See 2.6

23. JOSBPh Frankel, International Relations in a Chan (Oxford, 1979) p. 6.

24. Ibid. 

25. James N. Rosenau, Pei-Spectives on World Politics in lames N. Rosenau, Kenneth Thompson and Gavin Boyd, World Politics:  An Introduction (New York, 1976) p. 5.

26. Trygve Mathiesen, Methodology in the Study of International Relations (510, 1959), pp- 1,2.

27. Adi H. Doctor, n. 20, p. 5.

28. Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: Struggle for Power ~ and Peace (New York, 1973, 5th Edn.) p. 5.

29. William H. Hessler, A Geopolitics for Americans, US Naval Institute Proceedings, LXX (March 1944) 246.

30. Norman D. Palmer and Howard C. Perkins, n. ll, p. 45.

31. Frederick H. Hartmann, The Relations of Nations (New York 1962) p. 5. 

32. Quincy Wright, n. 15, p. 571-82.

33. Palmer & Perkins, n. 21, p. xxxi-xxxiii.34. Adi H. Doctor, n. 20, p. 21-

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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