Introduction to International Relations

Enduring Questions and Contemporary Perspectives

by Joseph Grieco, G. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno


Click on the letter links below to access definitions of all key terms from the textbook.

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Absolute advantage: A situation in which one country has a productive advantage over another in two (or more) goods, but trade can still be mutually beneficial due to the principle of comparative advantage.

Absolute gains: An important element of economic liberalism, absolute gains is the idea that economic interactions create only winners, even if some gain more than others. Contrasts with relative gains.

Alliances: coalitions of states formed for mutual protection.

Ambassadors: Official representatives of a state’s government representing that state diplomatically in another state.

Anarchists: Late nineteenth-century Russian terrorists who used assassination by bomb as a means to incite popular revolt against the state.

Anarchy: The fact that in international relations there is no centralized authority, no government of the whole world to adjudicate disputes among states and protect weak ones from strong ones.

Anti-dumping duties: Tariffs that offset the price cuts offered by foreign suppliers below what they charge in their own markets (dumping).

Anti-dumping: A type of policy designed to prevent dumping by other states. Permitted by international law, anti-dumping policies constitute one sort of nontariff barrier (NTB).

Appeasement: An effort by one state to reduce conflict with another by accommodating the demands of the latter.

Arab Spring: Near-simultaneous eruptions of revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East that began in 2011.

ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA): A trade agreement formed between ASEAN members with the initial goal of eliminating tariffs between the six original members.

Asian Tigers: Originally Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, countries that achieved rapid growth rates using a strategy of export-led growth, causing many Asian countries to follow in their path. Now many rapidly growing Asian countries are considered ‘tigers.’

Assured destruction: The ability and will to inflict unacceptable damage on an adversary – even after the adversary hits first with its best nuclear attack. Also known as second-strike capability.

Austerity: A policy by which governments raise interest rates or reduce government spending in an effort to discourage consumption and investment at home and, in so doing, reduce inflation and inflationary pressures.

Autarky: The separation of a country from the world economy in an effort to protect its economy from the effects of the global market.
Authoritarian capitalist model: An economic model in which a state employs a capitalist model but maintains control over the key economic actors. Unlike in a liberal model, the state is hands-on to the extent of owning and controlling the major firms.

Axis of Evil: A term coined by US President George W. Bush to refer to Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, states which he deemed to pose the greatest threat to US and global security.


Balance of payments: A summary of the international transactions of a state’s residents, including individuals, households, private enterprises, and the government, with residents in the rest of the world during some fixed period of time, usually a quarter (three months) or a year.

Balance of power: Any situation in which a rough equality of power exists between the major states in the international system at a given moment in time. Balance of power is thought by many scholars to be an important condition for peace.

Bandwagoning: When smaller, weaker states ally with a larger, powerful state for protection. Contrasts with balancing behaviour.

Bank deposits and lending: One sort of investment transaction involving multiple currencies, in which banks headquartered in one country might extend loans to a foreign individual or enterprise.

Battle of Britain: A campaign of air attacks starting in June 1940 by Germany against Britain intended to compel Britain, at the time the only remaining German opponent, to surrender. British air defenses held.

Battle of Stalingrad: A battle between September 1942 and February 1943 in which Soviet forces destroyed a massive German army. It was a major turning point of World War II’s European Theater.

Beggar-thy-neighbor policies: Policies designed to shift the negative consequences of the global economic downturn onto a state’s neighbors, pursued by many countries during the Great Depression.

Beijing Consensus: The idea that, for some poor countries, development can be best attained in a world of economic turbulence by following the Chinese model of systematic government controls on the pace of trade integration, capital inflows and outflows, the movement of labor within the country, and the external value of the national currency.

Berlin Conference: A conference that brought together European leaders in 1878 to solve disputes over the division of Africa into colonies. The conference was sponsored by Otto von Bismarck in an attempt to stabilize European affairs in a manner favorable to Germany.

Berlin Wall: The wall that divided Soviet East Berlin from American, French, and British West Berlin during the Cold War, until its fall in 1989.

Bilateral diplomacy: The process by which representatives of two governments meet and discuss matters of common concern.

Biodiversity: (1) The variety of forms of life on earth, including different species of plants, animals, marine life, insects, and microorganisms (such as bacteria), or (2) variability within species, such as different types of corn, cattle, or bees. The maintenance of a diverse biological world ensures that humans will have many different sources of building supplies, clothing, food, and medicine.

Biological weapons: A category of WMD that kills people by spreading bacteria or viruses.

Bipolarity: In an international system, the characteristic of being driven by the existence of and competition between two especially powerful states.

Blast effect: The immediate explosive effect of a nuclear weapon. Can be powerful enough to level all buildings in a several-mile radius and to produce destructive winds of between 100 and 200 miles per hour.

Blitzkrieg: Lightning war, used by Germany to conquer westward at the beginning of World War II.

Bretton Woods system: The international system created in 1944 to encourage progressive trade liberalization and stable monetary relations between all the countries of the world. Although initial membership was fairly low due to Cold War tensions, membership in the resulting organizations steadily increased to include the vast majority of the world’s countries. The ITO, GATT, IMF, and World
Bank were all created as a result of the Bretton Woods system.

BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These five rapidly developing countries have the collective potential, within several decades, to overtake the combined economic weight of the industrial world.

Brinksmanship: A political tactic in which a country goes to the brink of war to convince an adversary they are willing to fight even though they would prefer not to.

Bureaucratic politics: A possible influence on a country’s strategy characterized by national leaders and their subordinates engaging in foreign policy debates, building coalitions, and generally seeking to influence each other.


Chemical weapons: A category of WMD that uses manufactured chemicals to kill people.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): A chemical commonly used in propellants in aerosol cans and fire extinguishers, and as a key ingredient of refrigerants used in air conditioners. CFCs were a primary cause of the hole in the ozone layer, and have been outlawed by international agreements.

Civil defense: Defenses, such as fallout shelters, designed to protect civilians in case of a nuclear strike from an adversary.

Civil war: A sustained clash between forces that are controlled by the national government and forces that are controlled by an organized opposition group within the country.

Clash of Civilizations: The idea that international conflict in the future will be characterized not by interstate conflict but rather by conflict between civilizations, a loose term that incorporates religious, cultural, ethnic and, to some extent, linguistic similarity.

Class conflict: Conflict between the capitalist owners of wealth and industrial production and the workers they employ. Class conflict is driven by antagonistic economic interests and, according to Marxism, will increasingly define the relations between workers and capitalists.

Clean Air Act: A US Congressional Act originally passed in 1963 in response to the danger of acid rain in the US and Eastern Canada and amended in 1990 to mandate limits on emissions by American power plants of sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides.

Coercive diplomacy: aggressive actions short of the immediate large-scale use of military force (such as moving an aircraft carrier closer to the shores of another country) designed to convince a country to rethink some behavior.

Cold War: Period from the mid-1940s to the late 1980s in which there was high tension and risk of war between the United States and the Soviet Union

Collective security: Security provided by the members of an international cooperative institution in which, if any state threatened or actually used military force illegally against a member state, the other members pledged to form an overwhelming coalition to defeat the aggressor.

Colonies: Areas conquered by a colonizing power over which the colonizer has political and economic control. Colonizers exploit colonized lands and peoples through trade or settlement for economic and political gain.

Commercial liberalism: The idea that market society and economic interdependence tend to have a pacifying impact on relations among states. As the economic relations between two states increase, the interests of these states in stable and continuous relations grow.

Commitment problem: A state’s fear that any diplomatic agreement it reaches with an adversary to stave off a war might be violated at some point in the future when that adversary is in a position to be more deadly and demanding. The commitment problem arises due to the anarchic nature of the international system.

Comparative advantage: One country has a comparative advantage over another in the production of a good if, in order to make one more unit of that good, it has to forego less of another good.

Competing economic blocs: Groups of states in economic competition organized around the economies and currencies of major economic powers.

Conditionality: An IMF practice in which the IMF would lend foreign currency to a state running a deficit to allow that state to buy its own currency on international markets and, as a condition for receiving the loan, the IMF could prescribe policies for the receiving country to enact in its domestic economy to help solve economic issues and avoid future problems.

Contagion: The spread to neighboring countries of an internal war in one country, often caused by rebels seeking shelter in a neighboring country and beginning conflict there. Contagion can also refer to the spread of a financial crisis from one country to another.

Containment: a strategy by which one state employs diplomacy, economic assistance, and militay power to counter and check what it believes are efforts by an adversary state to extend its global aphere of influence.

Convention on Biological Diversity: An international agreement aiming to protect and preserve biodiversity, passed in 1992.

Convention to Prevent Pollution from Ships (MARPOL): A 1973 agreement that was the culmination of numerous international efforts, spearheaded by the United States, to reduce pollution from oil tankers.

Convertible currency: A currency that can be exchanged at market price for the currency of another country.

Cosmopolitanism: The tendency of peoples in different countries to embrace each other as fellow global citizens. Cosmopolitanism can be contrasted with nationalism.

Covert operations: Activities that a government directs against the interests of another government or non-state actor in such a way that the foreign targets and others are kept from knowing that the initiating government is responsible for the activities. Covert operations are a form of coercive diplomacy.

Crisis diplomacy: Emergency diplomacy in a crisis situation, designed to defuse tension between relevant states and decrease the likelihood of conflict.

Cruise missiles: Missiles, capable of being launched from land, air, or sea, that can travel below radar detection and guide themselves around obstacles to deliver the warhead they carry.

Currency market intervention: The purchase or sale of currency by a government in international markets to maintain a constant exchange rate between that government’s currency and another currency.

Currency union: A group of countries in which each has given up its respective national currency in favor of a common currency.

Current account: The current account consists of the country’s balance of trade in goods and services (the value of exports minus the value of imports), plus its income receipts such as the receipt of earnings from past investments abroad or the payment of such earnings to foreigners, and other transfers such as remittances that workers send out of the country or local residents receive from abroad.

Cyber-warfare: The use of the internet and related technologies by governments to damage or disrupt the activities or systems of an adversary or a private entity of value to an adversary.


Decolonization: The process by which imperial powers relinquished their overseas holdings leading to an upswell in the number of independent nations around the world. In the years following World War II, decolonization swept the globe.

Deforestation: The clearing or over-harvesting of forests, an especially acute problem in the tropics.

Demand curve: A demand curve specifies the quantity of a good that consumers wish to purchase at different prices. Along with supply curves, demand curves can show the likely price of goods, including currencies, in international markets.

Democratic peace theory: The theory that democracies are unusually peaceful toward each other. Democracies, or republics, are understood as states that have elected governments, a free press, private property, and the rule of law.

Demography: The makeup of a state’s population. This includes population size as well as the balance between young and old, working-age and retired, etc. A state’s demography is an important element in determining its capabilities relative to another state.

Dependencia: A school of thought that argues that international economic linkages hinder development in developing countries. Proponents of dependencia argue that the connections between developing countries and wealthy countries are designed for the benefit of the wealthy countries (often former colonial powers) and the people in the developing country who benefit are in the small elite that promotes the international linkages.

Détente: A relaxing of tension in the middle of the Cold War in which economic interdependence began to develop between East and West and global trade increased.

Deterrence: Using the threat of retaliation to protect oneself from an attack. Nuclear states use the threat of nuclear retaliation to deter other states from attacking them.

Devaluation: A downward change in the official price of the currency often undertaken to more accurately reflect its market value.

Developed countries: Wealthy countries with advanced economies.

Developing countries: Poor countries with small economies whose residents have not, on average, attained the living standards typically enjoyed on average by residents of wealthy countries.

Diplomacy: The process by which representatives of two or more governments meet and discuss matters of common concern.

Diplomatic immunity: The privileges and immunities granted by a host country to foreign ambassadors and embassy staff, exempting them from the full force of local laws.

Dirty Bomb: A device that, without the profound power of a nuclear explosion (and its attendant heat and blast effects), disperses some type of radioactive material.

Dissatisfied states: States who feel that their influence, status, and material benefits should be higher than what they are actually achieving.

Dollarization: A monetary policy in which a country substitutes a foreign currency for its own in its home market. Historically the US dollar has been the most commonly substituted foreign currency.

Dumping: The sale of goods by producers in a foreign market at prices that are lower than what those producers charge in their home market. Producers might engage in dumping to gain market share in the targeted foreign markets, drive out local producers in those markets, and, having done so, then increase prices and obtain very high profits.

Dynastic states: States ruled by ‘imperial dynasties’ or ‘dynastic families,’ in which members of a given extended family, over a number of generations, maintain power within a state or empire.


Economic development: The attainment by a poorer country of an increase in its rate of growth of GDP per capita.

Economic incentives: An instrument of persuasion in foreign policy. Economic incentives are basically carrots: country A promises some economic gain to B, and delivers it if B does what A wants it to do.

Economic sanctions: An instrument of coercion in foreign policy.

Economic sanctions are basically sticks: A threatens B with some form of economic loss if B does something A does not want it to do, or fails to do something A wants it to do.

Economic security: The ability to maintain prosperity in a world of scarcity.

Economic warfare: Aggressive economic actions by a state intended to damage another state economically.

Empires: Political entities that contain a substantial geographical space, often many different peoples, and over which a single powerful ruler governs.

Enduring questions: Questions which have engaged and challenged generations of international relations scholars and students - unresolved questions that have stood the test of time. This book is organized around these questions.

End of History: The end of ideological conflict and the victory of liberal values.

Environmental determinism: The view that changes in the environment like climate change necessarily and automatically will cause human beings and human communities to react in a particular manner.

Ethnic cleansing: Sustained, organized violence perpetrated against a particular ethnic group with the goal of eradication of that group.

Euro: the common currency of the Euro zone.

Euro zone: The world’s most prominent currency union, consisting of eighteen countries in Europe all using the Euro as a national currency.

European Union: A group of 28 European countries that abide by common laws and practices.

Exchange rate: The amount of one currency that must be offered to purchase one unit of a foreign currency.

Export-led growth (ELG): A strategy that argues that international economic linkages are good for developing countries because the international economy presents important opportunities for development. The strategy entails switching preference for government credit and foreign currency from firms producing for local markets to firms producing for export markets.

Extended deterrence: The threat by one country to use its nuclear forces to protect other countries.

External balancing: The process by which states enter into security alliances with other states to balance the power of a particularly strong state or coalition of states.

Externalities: The benefits and costs not reflected in a good’s price, such as ideas on how to improve a product in the future (positive externality) or pollution (negative externality).

Extra-state war: A violent clash – resulting in at least 1,000 combat deaths – between the national government of a recognized state and an entity that is not an internationally recognized state, or a non-state actor located in a foreign state.


Failed states: States that lack the basic institutions and capacities of government – taxing, policing, upholding the rule of law, protecting property, providing public roads and services, and maintaining control over territory.

Fallout effect: The tertiary effect of a nuclear explosion. Because nuclear weapons cause dirt and air particles to become radioactive, an explosion can expose people hundreds of miles from the blast site to fatal cancers over time. This exposure to radiation is the fallout effect, and affects a much wider range than the blast or thermal effects.

Feudalism: A system in which individuals act as ‘vassals’ and receive land in exchange for swearing loyalty to specific high-ranking leaders (e.g., counts, dukes) and, at the apex of the system, the king.

First-strike capability: The negation of another country’s second-strike capability. A state has first-strike capability if it has sufficient nuclear capability to eliminate an adversary’s capacity to respond to a preliminary strike.

Fission: An atom-splitting chain reaction that is central to the working of a nuclear weapon.

Fixed (or pegged) exchange-rate system: A system in which a currency trades at a government-specified rate against a particular currency or a group of currencies, and the government intervenes in the foreign exchange market or takes monetary or fiscal policy measures to keep those rates in place. Fixed alliances: Alliances in which countries remained allied with the same partners over long periods of time.

Fixed capital: The value of assets a company utilizes in an ongoing way in the production of a good or service.

Flexible (or floating) exchange-rate system: A system in which a government allows supply and demand in foreign exchange markets to determine the exchange rate of its national currency.

Flexible alliances: Temporary alliances in which states form pacts but shift from one partner to the other depending on the circumstances.

Foreign affairs media: those individuals and organizations who report or comment on foreign developments in print, on television, over radio, and through the internet.

Foreign direct investment (FDI): (1) One sort of investment transaction involving multiple currencies in which residents in one country – most typically multinational enterprises – may establish wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries, or buy enough shares of a foreign firm to control the operations of that firm, or (2) when an enterprise (usually an MNE) in one country moves capital to another country with the intention of establishing an on-going business presence.

Foreign exchange market: The marketplace (important locations are in London, New York, Frankfurt, and Tokyo) in which individuals, firms, and even governments sell and buy foreign currencies.

Framing: The process by which media participants select or present particular elements of a news story in such a way as to influence the opinions of recipients of the story.

Free Trade Agreement (FTA): An agreement between two or more states to eliminate tariffs, preferences, and import quotas on all (or most) goods between those states.

Functionalism: The liberal idea that institutions are tools that allow states to develop more efficient and durable forms of cooperation.


Garrison state: A highly militarized state in which the government controls economic, social, and political life in order to maximize military power.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT): When the ambitious ITO fell through, GATT represented an initial, less ambitious attempt by the United States and other Western countries to lower their respective tariff rates on a wide variety of goods and to establish a first set of rules to resolve trade disputes among nations (finalized in 1947).

General war: A war that involves many or all of the most powerful states in a particular historical era. Synonymous with major war.
Geo-economic competition: A situation in which traditional military competition is replaced by economic competition – a ‘struggle for the world product’ – and international dominance is measured by economic security.

Glasnost: An increase in political openness in the USSR led by Mikhail Gorbachev between 1985 and 1989 designed to keep the Soviet Union internationally competitive. However, providing Soviet states with political openness gave them the strength and motivation to rebel against Soviet rule, and the process ended up aiding in the collapse of the Soviet Union. See Perestroika.

Global civil society: The realm of private activity that lies outside the political system, where religious, ethnic, and civic groups flourish. Civil society exists within countries but it also operates between countries, often manifest in transnational groups and associations. Global civil society is, in effect, the sum total of these transnational groups and activities.

Global Environmental Facility (GEF): A program managed by the World Bank and the UN that provides grants to developing countries to help them meet international legal obligations in four areas: climate change, desertification, international water pollution, and biodiversity.

Global fracture: A model of the future international system in which sovereign states give way to various ‘zones’ with differing characteristics.

Globalization: The ongoing process of international economic and technological integration, made possible by advances in transportation and communication.

Good governance: A country with good governance at home typically possesses transparent and consistent political and legal systems, combats official corruption, and protects property. These factors encourage individuals to save, make investments, and pursue technological innovations that promote economic growth.

Government procurement: The purchase by government agencies of goods and services from private suppliers. Because national governments spend so much money every year, government choices in how to purchase such goods and services can have a major impact on international trade. Thus, government procurement constitutes a possible non-tariff barrier (NTB).

Great Depression: An international economic disaster precipitated by the 1929 crash of the US stock market. The disaster blocked Europe’s path to economic recovery and political reconciliation.

Greed: A person’s intense desire to possess goods or money. On the individual level of analysis, a primary mechanism that increases the likelihood of internal war.

Greenhouse gases: Certain gases, such as carbon dioxide, that accumulate in the atmosphere and trap some of the infrared heat produced by the sun’s warming of the earth that would otherwise escape back into outer space.

Grievance: A person’s belief that he or she is being victimized by or excluded from important institutions in a country. On the individual level of analysis, a primary mechanism that increases the likelihood of internal war.

Gross fixed capital formation: The total increase in fixed capital that occurs in a country or in the world during a given period of time, usually a year.

Group of 20 (G-20): A broader group of states, including the G-8 members along with newly rising economic powers like China and India, oil producers like Saudi Arabia, and middle powers such as Australia, Turkey, and Argentina, which has replaced the G-8 in international economic decision-making.

Group of 7 (G-7): The group of seven countries (United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada) that governed international economic relations after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system by coordinating their exchange rates and their domestic monetary and fiscal policies.

Group of 77 (G-77): Spawned by UNCTAD, the Group of 77 is a loose coalition (now grown to some 130 countries) of developing states that seeks to further the economic interests of its members through collective diplomacy at the UN.

Group of 8 (G-8): The Group of 7 (G-7) plus Russia. In the aftermath of the Cold War, Russia was added for political and symbolic reasons.

Groupthink: The idea that a psychological need on the part of individuals to be accepted and liked by their work colleagues can lead national leaders and especially their advisors to make serious errors of analysis and judgment in the midst of a foreign policy crisis.


Hegemonic war: A war the outcome of which determines which states will have predominant influence in the international system in the coming years or even decades.

Hegemony: The dominance of one state over other states. Many scholars believe that a hegemonic international system is most prone to peace.

Human development: A process of enlarging people’s choices and giving them a means to lead lives that they value. Measurements of human development include such factors as life expectancy, income, and education.


Idealism: The notion that ideas matter in international relations.

Imperialism: A state strategy in which one country conquers foreign lands to turn them into colonies.

Import quotas: Government-imposed numerical limits on how much of a particular good or service may be imported during some period of time, usually one year. Import quotas are a form of non-tariff barrier (NTB).

Import-substituting industrialization (ISI): A national development strategy that seeks to minimize international economic linkages in favor of focusing on domestic production. High tariffs and other similar measures encourage the local economy to forego imported goods in favor of goods produced locally by national champions.

Incentives: Rewards of some form offered by one state to another designed to influence the foreign policy of the recipient. Incentives are a form of persuasion.

Individual level of analysis: A level of analysis focusing on the impact of individual decision makers (like presidents and their main advisors) on international relations and foreign policy.

Infant-industry protection: A policy in which imports of a certain type of good are restricted (in theory temporarily) to allow for the development of the capacity to produce that good domestically.

Inflationary expectations: The belief on the part of individuals, firms, unions, and other economic agents that price increases are always just around the corner.

Institutional constraints: The constitutional or customary checks within a country that impede, slow, or limit the capacity of a leader unilaterally to undertake some action.

Inter-communal wars: A war in which members of different religious communities in a country become embroiled in large-scale organized violence.

Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM): Missile that in under an hour can travel thousands of miles through outer space and release multiple nuclear warheads, each carrying a payload of several hundred kilotons and independently guided to explode within several hundred feet of their respective targets.

Interest: Some condition of the world sufficiently important that a state is willing to pay meaningful costs to attain or maintain it.

Interest group: Individuals or organizations that share a common set of political concerns and band together in an association to persuade leaders and the public to pursue, support, or accept policies that are in accord with the preferences of the association.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): A panel established by the UN in 1988 that studies climate change and informs the world of its effects.

Internal balancing: The process by which states muster their own power to balance rival states by mobilizing their economy and increasing their defense capabilities.

Internal war: Any war within a state, contrasted with war between two or more states.

International bank loans: A kind of international private capital flow in which banks in one country supply loans to individuals in another country.

International bonds: A kind of international private capital flow in which individuals or firms in one country buy bonds originating in another country.

International commodity agreement: An agreement, generally sought by developing countries exporting a particular commodity, on the supply and price of that commodity. The goal is not to maximize prices but rather to establish an acceptable, consistent price that the developing country can rely on.

International commodity cartels: Groupings of developing-country governments that try to control the supply of a raw material or agricultural product on world markets in order to drive up prices and maximize revenues.

International customary law: The accumulation of principles and norms that states have put forward over the centuries and which have come to be widely seen as legitimate and authoritative, enshrining basic ideas about international organization and the standing of states and reflecting basic principles such as sovereignty, recognition, freedom of the seas, international responsibility, and self-defense.

International financial flows: The movement of capital – sometimes in the form of actual cash, but usually as a result of electronic transfers – from private or governmental individuals or organizations inside one country to private or governmental individuals or organizations inside another country. These flows consist of both private and official financial flows.

International governmental organizations (IGOs): Organizations that states join to further their political or economic interests.

International law: The body of rules, norms, and standards that states have crafted over time that give those states and other actors rights and obligations in their interactions with one another.

International level of analysis: A level of analysis focusing on the international system.

International Monetary Fund (IMF): An international institution created in 1946 to facilitate and reinforce the exchange-rate system created in the aftermath of World War II. The IMF remains one of the world’s most important international economic institutions.
International order: The method by which the world’s states organize themselves such that state leaders can develop somewhat stable expectations about the behavior of other states. War, peace, cooperation, and international institutions like the UN are all aspects of international order.

International Political Economy (IPE): The subfield of international relations that seeks to understand how politics and economics interact and shape one another in the international domain.

International portfolio investments: A type of international private capital flow in which an investor in one country buys shares (but not enough to have any management say) in a firm located in another country.

International relations: The field concerned with the political, economic, social, and cultural relations between two countries or among many countries, and those relations involving other important actors such as multinational corporations or international organizations.

International system: States and non-state actors, taken collectively, co-existing and interacting at some point in history.

International Trade Organization (ITO): An ambitious scheme for global trade management proposed in 1947. The ITO eventually failed because the United States refused to support it, and was largely replaced by the less ambitious GATT.

Internationalism: A strategy in which a state is fully engaged with other states through institutionalized arrangements directed at maintaining world security and promoting global economic prosperity.

Internationalization of civil war: The process by which, during a civil war, one or more foreign states intervenes and supports one or another of the warring sides, possibly by introducing combat forces, but does not take over the bulk of the fighting.

Interstate war: When two or more national governments direct military forces against each other in organized, sustained, and oftentimes deadly clashes.

Intra-firm trade: The cross-country movement of different components that are put together at one or more final assembly plants in one or more countries.

Invisible hand: A term coined by Adam Smith to describe the uncoordinated behavior of individuals and firms acting in their own selfish interest in the marketplace.

Iron Curtain: A term coined by British leader Winston Churchill to capture the profound political and human divisions separating the western and eastern parts of Europe.

Iron Rice Bowl: A guarantee from the government of Communist China of job security and access to basic necessities for Chinese citizens.

Isolationism: A strategy in which a state avoids engaging with other states through any sort of international institutions or agreements and focuses solely on itself and its domestic politics.


Janjaweed: Local Arab militias in Sudan allied with the central government in Khartoum against the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement in the Sudanese civil war.


Kellogg-Briand Pact: A 1928 international pact outlawing war, authored by US Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briande.

Kyoto Protocol: A multilateral agreement negotiated in 1997 to reduce the total emissions of signing states. The Protocol came into effect in 2005 but was ultimately unsuccessful in curbing emissions.


League of Nations: An international body established by the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I and designed to provide states with an ongoing international legal and institutional framework to solve their disputes and avoid war.

Legitimacy: A sense of rightness and acceptance of a state’s authority by other states.

Levels of analysis: Different ways of looking for answers to questions in international relations, generally grouped into the individual, state, and international levels.

Limited war: Smaller war in which major powers avoid fighting each other directly, contrasted with general or major war.

Lobbying: Meeting and speaking with members of legislatures and officials in executive departments in an attempt to influence policy. Interest groups often engage in lobbying.

Locarno Accords: In a step toward European political reconciliation after World War I, Germany accepted its borders with France and Belgium, Britain and Italy promised to guarantee Germany’s compliance with those commitments, and Germany promised to resolve border disputes with Poland and Czechoslovakia via arbitration rather than force.

Long Telegram: Written by US diplomat George Kennan from Moscow in 1946, the Long Telegram argued that the Soviet Union could not be treated as a cooperative partner.

Lootable wealth: Natural resources that can be readily acquired, transported, and sold for cash. In some countries, greed and lootable wealth combine to make internal conflict more likely.


Major war: A war that involves many or all of the most powerful states in a particular historical era. Synonymous with general war.

Manhattan Project: The secret project that brought together expert scientists to build a super weapon, culminating in the creation of the first atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project was begun by the United States around the time it entered World War II.

Marine Mammal Preservation Act (MMPA): A US law passed in 1972 which set limits on the number of dolphins that US tuna fleets could kill annually as a result of harvesting tuna. The law proved ineffective as implementation was weak and international parties were not answerable to US law.

Marshall Plan: A plan developed by Secretary of State George Marshall to counteract Soviet influence in Europe by providing economic aid to help European nations rebuild after World War II.

Meiji Restoration: The leaders of a modernizing element of the Japanese nobility who, beginning with the rise of Emperor Meiji in 1868, set Japan on a course of selective adaptation of Western science, education, and industrial technology for the purposes of strengthening Japan economically and militarily.

Mercantilism: A doctrine that states that military power is the central goal of states, such power rests on financial wealth, and the financial wealth of the world is a fixed quantity. Thus, the best way to gain wealth and thereby power is to pursue export surpluses, often through imperialism.

Mercosur: A free trade agreement (the ‘common market of the south’ or Mercado Común del Sur) formed in 1991 between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay; Chile and Bolivia were added later in the decade.

Militarized interstate dispute: An instance in which a state threatens to use force against another state, mobilizes or moves military forces against the other in a threatening manner, or two states engage in military clashes at a level of severity below full-scale war.

Military force: A form of coercive diplomacy in which a state actively uses its military to influence another state’s foreign policy.

Military-industrial complex: The combination of a large military bureaucracy and a powerful network of defense industry firms, united to obtain a disproportionate and overly powerful influence over national security policy (generally applied to the United States).

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): A series of goals agreed upon by world leaders at the UN in September 2000, include cutting extreme poverty by onehalf, achieving universal primary education and gender equality at all levels of education, reducing the mortality rate of children under five and new mothers by two-thirds, and cutting the incidence of AIDs/HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases.

Mode of production: The basic organization of the economy – the way in which people relate to one another and to the material world.

Modernization: The idea that mankind is constantly inventing, innovating, improving, and creating, and that process itself.

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer: An international agreement passed in 1987 that has successfully combatted the depletion of the ozone layer by banning CFCs. Ozone layers are expected to return to normal by 2050.

Moral hazard: When an individual or some other actor believes they can take very great risks because, if things go badly, someone else will pay for the consequences of the risky behavior. Some accuse the IMF of encouraging moral hazard.

Multilateral diplomacy: The process by which representatives of more than two governments meet and discuss matters of common concern.

Multinational enterprise (MNE): A firm that has its headquarters in one country and ongoing business operations in one or (more typically) several other countries.

Munich Analogy: A reference, sometimes invoked by political leaders, to the 1938 transfer of a part of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany by Western European democratic leaders. It is generally invoked as a criticism of policy or strategy that resembles appeasement.

Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD): (1) A situation in which two adversaries each possess assured destruction capability, meaning that a nuclear conflict would likely inflict unacceptable damage on both countries. (2) A theory favored by many Cold War policymakers. This theory argues that a state should want second-strike capability but not first-strike capability.


Nation: Collections of people who share a common culture, history, or language.

National champion: In a state pursuing a strategy of ISI, firms the government believe could do the best job of producing the substituted industrial goods.

National interest: An interest of a country as a whole.

National leaders: Individuals who hold executive offices as a result of which they are entitled to make foreign policy and military decisions on behalf of their countries.

National treatment: A clause in the EEC that allows American-based companies operating within EEC member countries to be treated legally as the same as European companies.

Nationalism: A term that describes an intense political identity a people share, or a sense of collective fate as a political community.

Nation-state: A political unit inhabited by people sharing common culture, history, or language.

Nazi–Soviet Non-Aggression Pact: A pact signed between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in 1939 in which the two countries agreed not to attack each other and to jointly attack Poland, dividing the country between them. The pact came as a blow to Britain and France, who had sought to enlist the Soviet Union as an ally against Germany.

Non-Aligned Movement: A movement founded in 1955 to create a pathway by which member states could remain aloof from the confrontations of the Cold War. The NAM now includes over 100 countries, representing over one-half of the world’s population.

Non-state actor: Actors others than states that operate within or across state borders with important consequences for international relations.

Non-tariff barrier (NTB): Policies, such as anti-dumping duties, import quotas, or controlled government procurement, by which a state can control imports and import prices without imposing tariffs.

Normative change: The idea that as global learning and international socialization occur, ideas about what is or is not acceptable or ‘normal’ change. As normative change occurs, it can impact international relations.

Normative constraints: The beliefs, values, and attitudes that inform and shape the behavior of leaders.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): A free trade agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico, signed in the early 1990s.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): A defense pact formed in 1949 between the US, Britain, and several other western European states. It has since expanded and is still very active today.

Nuclear club: The group of states believed to possess nuclear weapons.

Nuclear freeze: A plan that would stop an arms race in its place by simply preventing two adversaries from developing or deploying any new warheads or delivery systems.

Nuclear trip wire: The practice of placing one country’s military forces within the borders of an allied country to assure that, if the ally is attacked, the former country will become directly involved in the conflict and thus be more likely to maintain its commitment to respond to the attack with nuclear weapons if necessary. This practice enhances the credibility of extended deterrence.

Nuclear Utilization Theory (NUTS): Contrary to MAD proponents, many Cold War policy makers followed this strategy, which argues that the United States should do everything it can to be prepared to fight a nuclear war. Then, in the case of a Soviet strike, the US would be prepared to respond with full force and protect its civilians.

Nuclear winter: A situation, feared by many scientists in the 1980s, in which the smoke and soot resulting from numerous nuclear explosions blocked out the sunlight from the earth’s surface for extended periods of time.


Objective: A state’s goal in IR, generally the attainment or maintenance of some interest.

Official Development Assistance (ODA): The provision by a donor government to a developing country of grants or loans with highly favorable repayment terms (for example, 50 years to repay, at 1 percent interest).

Official financial flows: International financial flows that originate with governmental entities.

Oil curse: Over-reliance on the proceeds from oil sales in some countries of the Middle East and Latin America has been associated with autocratic rule, large gaps in the distribution of income and wealth, and a failure to move beyond oil to a more diversified set of economic activities. Thus, developing countries that rely on the export of natural resources must be wary of being trapped by this ‘curse.’

OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries): A cartel of the world’s oil-producing states. By working together to control oil supply and prices, OPEC can wield considerable political clout in the international system.

Opium Wars: Two wars, fought in 1839–42 and 1856–60, in which the British defeated the Chinese. The result was the opening of China to British (and eventually American) trading communities and the weakening of China as a world power.

Opportunity cost: The cost of producing more of a certain good in foregone production of another good. Opportunity costs are crucial in considering comparative advantage and the possibility for mutual gains from trade.


Peace movements: Popular movements by a state’s citizens protesting wars and pushing for peace.

Peaceful change: The problem of how the international system copes with the relative transition among rising and declining great powers.

Peace of Westphalia of 1648: The treaty that ended the Thirty Years War. The treaty divided Europe into sovereign states independent of higher authorities, giving rise to the state system that characterizes the international order today.

Peacekeeping: UN operations in which UN-sponsored troops are deployed in countries in the aftermath of war or civil violence to keep the warring groups apart and enforce the peace settlement.

Peacemaking: UN action before war breaks out designed to prevent two states from going to war with each other by brokering peaceful settlements. Contrasts with peacekeeping, which occurs in the aftermath of war.

Perestroika: The Russian name for Mikhail Gorbachev’s plan to reform and restructure the Soviet economic system during the 1980s.

Pirates: Non-state gangs who commit robbery or criminal violence on the high seas.

Plutonium: Along with uranium, one of the two materials that can be used to create a nuclear weapon. Rarely found in nature, plutonium is found as a byproduct when energy is generated by a nuclear power plant, and must then be extracted and reprocessed to become weapons grade.

Policy instrument: A tool used by a state’s government to attain its interests. Policy instruments come in many forms, divided into persuasive and coercive forms.

Pollution haven: Countries that have low standards or lax enforcement of their environmental rules and regulations, which may attract foreign companies.

Portfolio investment: One sort of investment transaction involving multiple currencies in which residents in one country – individuals, mutual funds acting on behalf of individuals, or firms acting on their own – may purchase foreign securities such as bonds, or purchase equities of foreign firms in amounts that do not confer managerial control.

Positive illusions: The idea that what we think we can accomplish is often greater than what we would expect to achieve if we had a truly accurate picture of ourcapabilities.

Post-modern world: States that have given up their sovereignty in favor of larger, civilian-led cooperative unions (such as the EU). The post-modern world is one zone in a potential model of global fracture.

Poverty trap: When a country is so poor that most of its national resources must be used to satisfy the immediate day-to-day needs of the population, with insufficient resources left for savings or investment.

Power balancing: Efforts by states to protect themselves in a dangerous world by arraying power against power, consisting of both internal balancing and external balancing.

Power transitions: When the relative power of two (or more) states changes, often due to technological innovations and uneven economic growth.

Pre-modern world: A haven of lawlessness where states have either failed completely or cannot wield authority over sub-national actors who control territory, command the allegiance of parts of the population, and may even control their own private or local armies. The pre-modern world is one zone in a potential model of global fracture.

Price inflation: A situation in which too much money is chasing too few goods, pushing up prices of goods and services.

Prisoner’s dilemma: A helpful analytical device from game theory used to model certain instances of state behavior. For a discussion of the prisoner’s dilemma, see Chapter 5.

Private financial flows: International financial flows that originate with non-governmental entities, such as individuals, private charities, or private firms such as banks or multinational corporations.

Private information problem: The tendency of states to overstate their resolve and capabilities during a diplomatic or military crisis because there is no international authority to force states to reveal their true preferences, intentions, and capabilities. This tendency can make a diplomatic solution more difficult to obtain and war more likely.

Privateers: Privately owned ships hired by European governments, primarily in the seventeenth century, to attack and harass Spanish ships in the Caribbean. In addition to taking half of the spoils, European governments benefited from not having to build larger navies to deal with Spanish dominance.

Privatization of war: The idea that the states no longer have a monopoly on the effective use of violence. As technology advances, private parties have greater and greater capacities to wage war and engage in violence.

Production possibilities frontier (PPF): A graphical representation of the different combinations of goods that a country may produce during some period of time with the resources it has in its possession.

Propaganda: The selective use of information, and at times misinformation, in order to advance a state’s interests.

Protectionism: Any of a number of policies in which a country puts restrictions on incoming goods in an effort to protect the domestic economy.

Proxy wars: Military conflicts of the Cold War in which the US and USSR never directly engaged each other, but instead backed opposing sides of smaller conflicts in an effort to gain influence throughout the world.

Purchasing power parity (PPP): A measure economists use to compare the value of a similar basket of goods across countries with different living standards and exchange rates.


Race to the bottom: A situation in which two or more countries put into place progressively lower policy rules and standards regarding the environment and worker rights out of a fear of losing, and perhaps out of greed for attracting, foreign investments from multinational enterprises.

Rally ’round the flag effect: A commonly observed boost in the popularity of a leader due to external conflicts or war.

Regional blocs: Groups of smaller countries dominated by great powers, put in place by those great powers to help their domestic economies in the face of the Great Depression.

Reinsurance Treaty: A secret 1887 treaty between Germany and Russia in which the two nations promised not to be dragged into war against each other by their respective allies, Austria and France.

Relations of production: The system by which the people in a productive system are related, or the relations between those people. According to Marxism, these relations are shaped by the mode of production. In a capitalist industrial mode, the relations of production will be characterized by class conflict.

Relative gains: (1)The gains a state makes relative to other states, as opposed to absolute gains, which are simply the total materials gains made by a state, relative gains focus on the gains one state makes compared to a rival. Realists emphasize the importance of relative gains. (2) An important element of economic nationalism, relative gains is the idea that some gain more than others in economic interactions, and those who gain less lose out, even if they have positive absolute gains.

Responsibility to Protect: An international norm that says that if a particular state is inflicting harm or violence on its own citizens or if it is unable to protect its own citizens from harm or violence, the international community has the right – indeed the obligation – to act.

Revolution: According to Marxism, in any instance of class conflict a breakpoint is eventually reached when the workers take control from the capitalist owners. Revolution is the dominant mode of political change in the Marxist school.

Rhineland Crisis: In March 1936, in clear violation of the Versailles settlement, Hitler ordered troops to reoccupy the Rhineland. Britain and France consulted and decided to do nothing, allowing Hitler to continue to bully Europe.

Ruhr Crisis: When Germany failed to meet its reparations payments in 1923, France occupied Germany’s Ruhr valley. Germans replied with work stoppages, the German government paid its workers simply by printing more paper money, hyperinflation ensued.

Rum Triangle: A trans-Atlantic trading triangle active in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries between Europe, West Africa, and the Americas. The Rum Triangle was the result of European imperialism, and the exploitation of West African and Native American populations by the imperialists was catastrophic to those populations (and highly beneficial to the imperialists).


Schlieffen Plan: A German military plan believed by the Germans to be foolproof in which German forces stand on the defense against Russian forces, undertake a massive sweep through Belgium and France and, after outflanking and destroying French forces, then turn east and destroy the Russian army. The plan was not foolproof; hubris about the ease of military victory was a major cause of World War 1.

Scramble for Africa: The carving up of Africa by colonial powers after 1870.

Secessionist civil war: A civil war in which the rebel group seeks to bring about the breaking away of a part of the territory of a country to form a new, separate state.

Second-strike capability: The ability and will to inflict unacceptable damage on an adversary – even after the adversary hits first with its best nuclear attack. Also known as assured destruction.

Security dilemma: A security dilemma exists between states when one state seeks to ensure its survivability in the international system by acquiring military power but, in doing so, triggers insecurity in another state, leading it to try to protect itself by acquiring military power – thus making both states less secure than when they started.

Self-determination: The idea that every people should determine and manage their own political systems. Self-determination was a popular idea among colonized people fighting for independence and decolonization.

Sensitivity: A state is sensitive to another state’s actions if those actions can temporarily hamper a state until it finds a replacement for the good or service from another location.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): An agreement among Russia, China, and the central Asian states of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan formed in 2001 to enhance the security of member states against threats of terrorism and ethnic conflict.

Six-Party Talks: Diplomatic talks between North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, Russia, and Japan intended to convince North Korea to suspend its nuclear program in exchange for normalized relations with the rest of the world.

Smoot–Hawley Tariff: A 1930 US law that raised tariffs to high levels in an attempt to protect the US economy. The act had disastrous consequences and contributed to the Great Depression in the United States, and globally.

Socioeconomic classes: Groupings of peoples based on their relationship to the economy.

Soft balancing: Steps to constrain or hobble a great power that fall well short of the significant mobilization of military power in opposition to that power or the formation of security alliances united against the power.

Sovereignty: The effective and recognized capacity to govern residents within a given territory and an ability to establish relationships with governments that control other states.

Sphere of influence: A geographic-political space, consisting of one or more countries, whose foreign and domestic policies and political institutions are greatly influenced by an external power.

Stabilization program: Essentially a contract between the IMF and a country receiving an emergency short-term loan stipulating what the country will do to ensure that its short-term foreign exchange shortfall does not become permanent.

State level of analysis: A level of analysis focusing on the particular political or economic characteristics of countries or states.

State system: A group of competing states

State: A political entity with two key features: a piece of territory with reasonably well-defined borders, and political authorities who enjoy sovereignty.

State-owned enterprises (SOEs): Companies owned directly by the government of a state. These are generally found in authoritarian capitalist models.

Strategic culture: Strategic culture refers to assumptions about the nature of the global system – for example, which states are friends and enemies – and strategies of action that are shared by government elites.

Strategy: The overarching connection of means to an end for a state. A strategy aims at a policy objective, and outlines what policy instruments will be used to attain that objective.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM): Missile that can produce much the same effect as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from a platform deep beneath the ocean’s surface.

Superpowers: Especially powerful states with disproportionate influence in an international system.

Supply curve: A curve specifying how much of a good producers are willing to offer at different prices. Along with demand curves, supply curves can show the likely price of goods, including currencies, in international markets.


Tariff: A tax collected by the government on goods coming into the country.

Terms of trade: The rate at which goods will be exchanged between two states.

Theory: A group of ideas intended to explain some empirical phenomenon.

Thermal effect: The secondary effect of a nuclear explosion, in which the heat waves from the explosion can cause third-degree burns up to five miles from the detonation site.

Thermonuclear bomb: A type of nuclear weapon, even more powerful than a conventional nuclear weapon, that relies on the power of a contained fission explosion to trigger the fusing of hydrogen particles, a process that yields even greater amounts of destructive energy than a fission reaction alone. Also known as a fusion bomb.

Third World: Poorer states, weaker than super powers or mid-level powers, largely in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. During the Cold War, the US and USSR competed for influence in the Third World to avoid a domino effect of poorer states falling one by one to the other side.

Tied aid: A practice in which donor governments require that the funds they give to a recipient country must be used to purchase goods and services provided by firms from the donor country.

Total war: War in which belligerent states mobilize all resources and target civilians as part of their war strategy.

Tragedy of the commons: A situation in which individual actors acting in their own rational self-interest combine to create a situation catastrophic to all of the individuals.

Transnational business: Businesses that operate across state lines. This tendency enriches capitalists and impoverishes workers.

Transnationalism: The tendency of groups within countries to build cooperative associations with groups in other countries.

Triple Alliance: A military alliance finalized in 1882 between Germany, Austria- Hungary, and Italy.

Triple Entente: A military alliance finalized in 1907 between France, Britain, and Russia, forming the other pole (countering the Triple Alliance) that divided early-twentieth century Europe.

Treaty: A formal agreement between two or more states designed to settle a dispute or set down guidelines for future action.

Truman Doctrine: The declaration by Harry Truman that US assistance would be given to ‘free peoples everywhere facing external aggression or internal subversion.’ Truman declared this pledge in response to perceived Soviet designs on Greece and Turkey.


UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): Formed in 1964, UNCTAD is a body that aims to highlight the special problems of developing countries in the world economy.

US–Canada Air Quality Agreement: A 1991 agreement between the US and Canada designed to curb the negative effects of acid rain between the countries.

Unacceptable damage: The level of damage that a state is absolutely unwilling to sustain. During the Cold War, a nuclear conflict was held off by each adversary’s knowledge that a nuclear retaliation from the other state would likely cause unacceptable damage.

Unipolarity: In an international system, the characteristic of being driven by the existence of a single especially powerful state wielding disproportionate power.

Uranium: Along with plutonium, one of two materials that can be used to create a nuclear weapon. Unlike plutonium, uranium can be found in nature, but is not suitable in that form (U-238) for nuclear weapon use. It needs to be highly enriched in a sophisticated technical facility to produce the concentrated uranium (U-235) that can sustain a chain reaction.

Utility: Well-being attained by an individual through the consumption of goods and services. That individuals seeks and attain utility through financial transactions is a critical assumption for economists.


Voluntary export restraint (VER): A restraint on exported goods that a country agrees to, technically ‘voluntarily’ but likely as a result of pressure from a trading partner.

Vulnerability: A state is vulnerable to another state’s actions if it is unable to compensate effectively for losses caused by the other state’s actions.


War lords: Private authority figures who control their own local armies or militias.

Warsaw Pact: An alliance between the Soviet Union and several mid-level powers in Europe during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact formed a Soviet sphere of influence in much the same way that NATO formed an American one.

Washington Consensus: A group of controversial US-backed policies (smaller state sectors, privatized markets, and liberalized trade and financial sectors) set forth by the IMF as the necessary path to prosperity from the 1980s until the Great Recession of 2008, when the Consensus began to be widely questioned.

Weak states: States with functioning central governments but only weak control over their territory and borders.

Weimar Republic: Republic formed by democratically elected German delegates in the aftermath of World War I to replace the old imperial system.

Westphalian state system: A state system in which each state is sovereign, with no higher authority, that has characterized the international system since 1648.

Worker productivity: The amount of output any worker can produce in a fixed period of time.

World Bank: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Initially created to provide loans to countries to help them with economic recovery from World War II, today the World Bank finances and manages projects – for example, the construction of a dam, the development of a communications grid, the building of highways – to foster the economic growth of developing countries.

World Trade Organization (WTO): The successor to the GATT. The great majority of the world’s countries are WTO members, and the WTO contains a more developed mechanism for resolving trade disputes among countries than was available under the GATT.


Zone of peace: The number of democratic countries and the geographic space they possess within which states do not want to use military force or believe it will be used against them, in keeping with the Democratic Peace Theory.