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The Cold War and AfterHistory, Theory, and the Logic of International Politics$
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Marc Trachtenberg

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152028

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152028.001.0001

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The Problem of International Order and How to Think about It

The Problem of International Order and How to Think about It

(p.44) Chapter Two The Problem of International Order and How to Think about It
The Cold War and After

Marc Trachtenberg

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that, to get at the issue of international order, one must first deal with the theoretical question of how politics works in the highly stylized world associated with the term anarchy—a world where security and thus power are the only things that matter, a world in which no effective international society can be said to exist. The workings of such an idealized world are worth examining not because the real world necessarily works the same way, but simply because that sort of analysis is a necessary point of departure for thinking about real world problems. Only when one understands how a highly stylized world of this sort works can questions about the role of various factors—international law, for example, or economic interdependence—be posed in any meaningful way. If the goal is to understand what difference those factors make—that is, whether they contribute to order—one needs to start with a certain preexisting frame of reference, one that only theoretical analysis can provide.

Keywords:   international politics, international order, anarchy, theoretical analysis

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