Just and Unjust Military Intervention (cover)Just and Unjust Military Intervention is a superb collection of essays by leading scholars examining the continuing relevance of the political thought of classical thinkers such as John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Edmund Burke, and John Stuart Mill among others. Stefano Recchia and Jennifer Welsh, the editors of the volume, are quite conscious of the central issue involved in any research project that seeks to explore the contemporary relevance of classical thought. While they are sympathetic to the “contextualist” viewpoint of Quentin Skinner, which is skeptical of the idea that classic texts can be of much use to understanding the present, Recchia and Welsh believe that there are several reasons to believe that “a close reading of classic texts can enhance our understanding of intervention, in terms of both its origins and its controversial status in international society” (6).

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Congress of Vienna RT coversThis year marks the bicentennial anniversary of the Congress of Vienna. From September of 1814 to June of 1815, over 200 representatives met in the Austrian capital to rebuild the foundations of European diplomacy, which lay in shambles after over twenty years of war. It was the great powers, the “Pentarchy” of Austria, Britain, France, Prussia, and Russia, who dictated the territorial and political agreements that formed the core of a European grand settlement. And more importantly, at Vienna these powers laid the groundwork for what Mark Jarrett calls “an audacious experiment in international cooperation” (205): a congress system, in which powers would engage in “habitual confidential and free intercourse between the Ministers of the Great Powers as a body” in hope that “many pretensions might be modified, asperities removed, and causes of irritation anticipated and met” (205).

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How does peace between states become an established social fact or part of the unquestioned order of things? This question drives Vincent Pouliot’s International Security in Practice, an innovative and provocative contribution to the theoretical literature on international security, with an empirical focus on post-Cold War Russian-Atlantic security relations.  While the challenge of theorizing the causes and conditions of war and peace between states is ‘ancient’ in the discipline of International Relations (IR), the challenge of enacting transatlantic peace became a novel and urgent practical concern in world politics following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the U.S.-USSR superpower rivalry, a set of events which opened up a rare opportunity for the pacification of relations between former enemies.  Although there were initial promising signs in the early 1990s of great transformations in security relations between Russia and the West, transatlantic peace has materialized only as a fragile and somewhat fleeting achievement.  Why was the hope of a robust and enduring post-Cold War transatlantic peace stillborn (p. 191)?

 

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