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This new textbook presents security studies as a branch of international relations theory, providing readers with the critical conceptual tools to develop their expertise. The author evaluates the claims of rival theories-realism, neorealism, liberal institutionalism, classical economic liberalism, and Marxism-to explain why international actors choose or eschew force and coercive threats in order to elicit favorable outcomes in their interdependent exchanges. Also assessed are behaviorism and constructivism, contesting approaches to validating prevailing security paradigms. The author argues that only an interdisciplinary approach to security, drawing on the insights of each perspective, can meet the rigorous requirements of testable theory and the practical needs of actors in an increasingly globalizing world. The book will provide students and scholars of international relations and security studies with a valuable new survey of the subject, and includes essay questions and guides to further reading.

About the Author:
Edward A. Kolodziej is Director of the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a valuable resource for scholars as well as a text for students. It is the most comprehensive survey of alternative ways of thinking about international security available. Maintaining theoretical and methodological rigor while integrating security studies into the larger field of international relations is a monumental achievement." David A. Baldwin, Professor of World Order Studies and Political Science, Columbia University

"Security and International Relations is a very welcome addition to the literature in both the field of international relations and that of security studies. Clear and forceful prose, balanced analysis, and comprehensive coverage make the volume a superb introduction for both advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Unlike so much of the recent literature in the field which begins with the assumption that the author has found "truth" and proceeds to demonstrate the superiority of "this approach" over all others, Kolodziej's text guides the reader through the complexities of identifying the problems of concern in determining why and when state actors decide to use force, as well as to the strengths and weaknesses of the myriad theoretical approaches to IR and security studies." Roger E. Kanet, Professor of International Studies, University of Miami

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521001168
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2005
  • Series: Themes in International Relations Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 362
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward A. Kolodziej is Director of the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is also the first Director of the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security at Illinois. Professor Kolodziej has written or edited thirteen books on security and foreign policy. His latest publication is an edited volume, A Force Profonde: The Power, Politics, and Promise of Human Rights (2003).

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Read an Excerpt

Cambridge University Press

0521806437 - Security and International Relations - by Edward A. Kolodziej



"For every complex problem there is a simple solution. And it's always wrong"

- H. L. Mencken

Security is a complex and contested notion - heavily laden with emotion and deeply held values. Most people would agree that a security problem arises when someone - a person, gang or group, or state - threatens another's life, limb, or livelihood; say, a gunman in a dark, dead-end alley demanding your wallet or your life. Consider the dread that the inhabitants of London and Berlin must have felt during World War Ⅱ when bombed by enemy planes or missiles. Think also about the Japanese survivors of Hiroshima, the first city to be destroyed by an atomic bomb. Put yourself in the place of New Yorkers on September 11, 2001, who witnessed first-hand the destruction of the World Trade Center, not to mention millions more on television around the world in real time. Imagine, too, the terror of the Tutsi and Hutu peoples of Rwanda in 1994 when thousands were killed in three months - estimates run to 800,000 - by a genocide launched by Hutu extremists using primitive machetes and garden hoes.1

While few would likely dispute these examples of a security threat, many would extend the meaning of security to other values and interests. They would apply the term to environmental damage caused by global warming; or to the struggle for subsistence of billions of peoples in the developing world; or to human rights protections from capricious incarceration, torture, or genocide. For these observers, their competing images of security are very real, urgent, and threatening; for some even more so than notions of security associated with violence and coercive threats.2

Where do we draw the line in studying security? What should be included or excluded? If a broad and inclusive understanding of security is taken as the starting point, coterminous with whatever is in the mind of the observer, then it would be tantamount to saying that almost every human value and interest, if perceived by the affected party to be threatened, is a security issue. We may be including so much in our definition of security that we have posed the problem in ways that impede or preclude our quest for knowledge about this vitally important human concern. Conversely, if a narrower conception of security were adopted, identified solely with force and coercive threats, we may be excluding actors and factors bearing crucially on security.

Agreeing on a common definition for security will not be easy. Unless we can find common ground, we will be talking about different things designated as security. We will be unwittingly relying on conceptual filters that project widely contrasting and refracted images of what security is and how to address it. This volume will try to help you think about security and to view security as an autonomous domain of human behavior. It will equip you with basic conceptual tools to pursue the study of security as a discipline and to use these tools in making knowledgeable evaluations and informed choices about security policy. I would like to challenge you, the reader, to judge the success of this volume by the degree to which it enables you to explain and understand international security and its entangling connection to international politics and to use this knowledge for your benefit as a citizen of an open society and as a member of an ever more expanding and globalizing world.

Roadmap: Organization and Rationale of the Volume

My task is to convince you that my understanding of security makes sense. More pointedly, I wish to show that it can be a useful tool of analysis by which you can assess the claims of what this volume identifies as the leading schools of thought about security contesting today for our attention and allegiance. Once you get a hang of how to evaluate these rival positions, you will be able to fashion your own theory and approach to security studies.

The volume is divided into three sections. The first, composed of three chapters, lays the foundation for the evaluation of seven schools of security thinking and practice. Chapter 1 presents a broad understanding of security and distinguishes this human concern from international relations. For the purposes of this volume, security as a humanly created phenomenon embraces both the use of force and coercive threats by humans and their agents and the transformation of these exchanges, charged with real or potential violence, into non-lethal, consensual exchanges. These twin and contesting incentives capture the implicit choice posed by interdependent social transactions between humans, their agents, and human societies: viz., whether to use or not to use force to ensure their preferred outcomes of these exchanges.

An inclusive and reliable theory of security must include those non-violent means and strategies devised and relied upon by actors to reduce and potentially surmount the incentives to employ force and threats to resolve conflicts and to foster cooperation. In other words, from the perspective of international politics, students of security studies are obliged, simultaneously, to develop a theory of war and peace. Short of this ambitious aim, what knowledge we acquire about security will be flawed in one of three ways.

First, there is the serious conceptual (and normative) problem of determining whose notion of security should count. Should it be the actors whose behavior is being described, explained, predicted, and understood or the perspectives of the theorist, policy analyst, or decision-maker in security? This volume privileges actors - humans and their agents, like states, Intergovernmental Organizations (UN), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), etc. - and how and why they address security issues. What do they mean by security? How do they respond and solve these problems? It is their thinking, decisions, and actions that matter most. This priority is often neglected or marginalized in the debates between rival schools of security thought. They tend to have a bias of presenting their selected notion of security as if it were coterminous with what actors think and do about security, as the latter perceive this multifaceted issue. This volume will try to keep actors at the center and evaluate contending schools of thought by how close they come to capturing the actors themselves.

As this discussion proceeds, it will become clearer that to capture what actors conceive to be a security issue, we need a definition of the phenomenon of security that maps as closely as possible with the wide range of conflicting perceptions and perspectives of actors about security. We need a definition of sufficient scope that includes all possible choices and behavior by actors in responding to security imperatives. Such a definition would stipulate that security arises as a human experience and phenomenon when interdependent actors decide to use or not to use force to get what they want from each other. This understanding of security is sufficiently capacious to include, in principle, within a set marked "security" all relevant human choices and actions through time and space. A less inclusive test of security - say limited to using force or searching for peace - would leave out critical observations or, worse, load on the interests and biases of the observer rather than privilege the actor.

Second, if an inclusive definition is not adopted for the study of security, we risk falsifying the historical record where security issues are in play. Certainly history abundantly shows continuing actor reliance on force and threats. This is particularly true of states, since their inception as central international actors of the modern era. No adequate reckoning of the twentieth century's security problems would pass muster if World Wars Ⅰ and Ⅱ, the Cold War, and the armed struggles for self-determination of former colonial peoples were excluded. Conversely, we also know that bitter enemies have learned to make peace with each other. Witness France and Germany after World War Ⅱ or the United States and Britain in the wake of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Actors display impressive wit, imagination, and resourcefulness in creating social incentives and institutions to manage and even surmount their profound differences over fundamental interests and values. As one widely cited observer of state behavior suggests, states have been able to live under conditions of anarchy for a long time; peace, not war, largely characterizes their relations.3 Another internationally respected historian also suggests that the long peace in Europe between 1815 and 1914 can be explained by the shared view of leading statesmen who, in light of the Napoleonic Wars, were agreed, however much they remained adversaries, that war itself was a threat to the stability of their regimes and the survival of their nations and empires.4

Finally, the policy analyst and decision-maker should be mindful of the potential efficacy of soft and hard forms of power to get one's way.5 In the face of a determined adversary bent on using violence to impose his will on another state or people - say Nazi Germany or imperial Japan - it makes sense for threatened policy-makers to narrow their search to combat these aggressors with countervailing force. Similarly, few would expect terrorists to be credible partners in negotiating peacefully to spare the lives of innocent citizens they kidnapped.

In other instances, a one-sided approach to security as the use of force would be wrong and wrong-headed when there is some basis for optimism that competing high-stake interests can be optimally achieved through non-coercive solutions even under the continuing threat that one or more of the actors might defect and invoke force or war. If states and their populations, for example, mutually understand that armed conflict might preclude sustainable economic growth, an assumption that can be readily predicated of the states comprising the European Union and American-Chinese relations today, they can consensually agree to rules for market operations and competition even while deeply split by other policy concerns. Even seemingly implacable enemies - the United States and the Soviet Union - were able to reach arms control and disarmament agreements to limit their global rivalry and arms race and to restrain their clients and allies to preclude the expansion of local conflicts to a global conflagration.6 These examples meet a test of cases where powerful incentives are working on all sides to use force, yet actors choose non-violent means to manage or resolve their security differences.

Chapter 1 next identifies four levels of exchanges between human actors and their agents at which the incentives to use force or coercive threats are at work. These levels of exchange are important to distinguish the principal actors and the factors driving actor behavior at each level. The schools of security that will be discussed can be distinguished by the degree of significance and salience attached by each to one or more of these levels of analysis. Chapter 1 closes with a discussion of relevant criteria by which to assess the rival claims of the schools of thought contending for the crown of hegemon in security studies. These rely principally on the methodological tests devised by Imre Lakatos. These are widely used in the natural and social sciences to evaluate the explanatory and predictive power of opposing theories.

Chapter 2 introduces the reader to the three theorists who have had the most profound impact on security studies: Thomas Hobbes, Carl von Clausewitz, and Thucydides. More than any other thinkers, they established security studies as an autonomous sphere of human thinking, decision, and action. They laid the foundations for a science of security of potentially universal applicability over time, space, and social conditions. They are a useful starting (if scarcely stopping) point in learning how to think about security.

If security is a science in the sense of a body of acquired and accumulating knowledge, an implicit point on which these three thinkers agree, then we need to submit the seven contending schools of thought about security to a common test to see which has the greatest explanatory power. Chapter 3 develops a Cold War "laboratory" for testing and evaluating these schools. What is their relative capacity to explain the rise and demise of the Cold War from 1945-1991 and the passing of the bipolar system? Parts two and three apply Lakotosian criteria to each school of thought in responding to this question.

If an approach or theory of security is flawed in explaining the beginning, evolution, and end of the Cold War, we can scarcely be confident about its reliability to understand and explain the post-Cold War world in which we live today. Several considerations support this claim. First, the Cold War was global. It enveloped all of the peoples and states of the world in some measure, whether they wished to be implicated in this struggle for hegemony or not. Second, it posed the highest stakes for all of the peoples of the world. An all-out superpower nuclear war would have effectively destroyed these states and most of their populations. It would have killed or injured countless hundreds of millions more, as the deadly radioactive clouds created by triggering the nuclear "Doomsday Machines" of the superpowers would have hovered over the globe for decades.7 Any armed conflict that risks the extinction of human life on earth intuitively meets a test of relevance as a security problem of the first order.

Third, while the Cold War was a deadly contest, it surprisingly did not end that way. Since the dawn of the modern nation-state a half millennium ago, the competition for dominance between implacable state rivals typically ended in war to decide who was on top. This had pretty much been the pattern of nation-state competition until the end of World War Ⅱ. Yet despite this long record of big power clashes, which claimed by most estimates over a 100 million lives and produced untold misery for hundreds of million more in the course of the twentieth century, the Cold War ended abruptly and unexpectedly with hardly a shot being fired. What happened? Any security theory worth its salt should be able to explain this unexpected outcome as well as the transition and workings of the post-Cold War.

The second part of the volume is straightforward. Chapter 4 reviews realist, neorealist, and liberal institutionalist thinking and submits them to a Cold War test. Chapter 5 develops a similar critique for neoclassical economic and neo-Marxist theories of conflict and security. The third part of the discussion departs from these paradigms, as theories of security and international relations, and presents two broadly defined, rival approaches to the development, testing, and validation of prevailing paradigms. However much scholars in these two camps may otherwise clash, they are allies in problematizing the theories of security discussed in part two. They are especially useful as critical methodological, epistemological, and ontological tools (terms to be defined along the way) to assess the claims of disputing security positions.

Chapter 6 focuses on behaviorism or what some would prefer to call rational or empirically based and driven approaches to theory-building about security. Behaviorism concentrates, by and large, on what can be observed, counted, measured, and replicated by other researchers using the same methods and data. Scholars working in this tradition rely on methods drawn principally from the physical and biological sciences. Chapter 7 introduces the reader to constructivism. This is a complex and contentious school of thought. Its partisans disagree fundamentally as much among themselves over the question of how to study international politics as they are united in their rejection of prevailing paradigms and behavioral approaches as sufficient to explain or understand security. Constructivists of all stripes try to explain how actors construct their identities and the social structures these actors author to enable them to define and pursue their interests, aims, and values. They contend that understanding how this ceaseless process of actor re-affirmation, mutation, and transformation of their identities and social constructions is the key to explaining the creation and surmounting of security concerns.

The volume argues that each of these schools of thought has something to offer. This said, the user of these bodies of thought must still be alert to their strengths and weaknesses to effectively exploit their knowledge about international security for social and personal benefit. These theories, if applied with care and discrimination, can provide some foresight, however dim or slim.8 Each will be found to explain part of the unfolding, evolutionary process of international security. Each will be found wanting, too. Much like the parable of the blind men and the elephant, partisans of each paradigm or approach explains security (the elephant) by way of selective observation of what they "see." Some seize on the tail and proclaim the beast a snake or rope. Others fall against its shoulders and call it a wall. Still others, feeling the elephant's curling trunk or drenched by water issuing from its end, conclude that the object is a fountain. In evaluating these several paradigms of security we can conceivably rise above them to "see" the whole elephant - an integrated understanding of the relation of security and international relations.

Let's try.

Edward A. Kolodziej

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,

October, 2004

Part I

Introduction to International Security and Security Studies

© Cambridge University Press
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Table of Contents

Pt. I Introduction to international security and security studies
1 International relations and international security : boundaries, levels of analysis, and falsifying theories 11
2 The foundations of security studies : Hobbes, Clausewitz, and Thucydides 48
3 Testing security theories : explaining the rise and demise of the Cold War 77
Pt. II Contending security theories
4 Realism, neorealism and liberal institutionalism 127
5 Economic liberalism and Marxism 175
Pt. III Validating security theories
6 Behaviorism 227
7 Constructivism 259
8 Whither international security and security studies? 307
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