International Relations in Robert O. Kehoane and Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Power and Interdependence

International Relations in Robert O. Kehoane and Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Power and Interdependence

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Robert O. Kehoane and Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
“Power and Interdependence”
In this text, Keohane and Nye try to shape and define a new concept of power applied on international relations based on the notion of interdependence, which is a concept broadly used and misunderstood in the discipline. Interdependence is getting more and more important in defining international affairs, inter-state relationships and worldwide behaviors; for a good understanding of the issue, we should now define the cornerstone, the backbone of the whole topic. Interdependence means, in Keohane and Nye's words, the situation of “mutual dependence [...] characterized by reciprocal effects among countries or among actors in different countries”. Although it is certain and it sounds nice, this definition lacks an important feature that is added later in the text: there is interdependence. We should avoid to consider interdependence as a static concept, a stone prisoned in theory, as the relativeness of the issue dealt with may show different varieties.
I think the general seperation done by Keohane and Nye in the text is to differentiate two main streams of thought in international relations: the modernists (they think the world is getting borderless) and the traditionalists (they believe the state remains the main actor and that military force is necessary in dealing with international relations). This is the starting point to confirm that contemporary world politics is not a seamless; it is a tapestry of diverse relationships” and that “interdependence affects world politics and the behavior of states; but governmental actions also influence patterns of interdependence.
Keohane and Nye present the breaking-point question : “what are the characteristics of wo...


... middle of paper ...


... complex interdependence conditions;
4. “above a certain level of conflict the international organization model and sensitivity interdependence become largely irrelevant”.
In the final part of the text, Keohane and Nye tell us that none of the models is sufficient alone to explain the world political behavior of such many actors; the best way they suggest for investigating the dynamics that take place in a context of complex interdependence is to proceed step by step, starting from the simplest model and adding a percentage of complexity to our model as soon as it reveals to be insufficiently explanatory, “combining explanations”. International relations theorists, considering all the issues that are affecting the world dynamics, should provide themselves a compass, in order to understand which role are they going to play, when and, most important, how.





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