Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation: An Introduction to Theory and History

Joseph S. Nye / David A. Welch  
Total pages
July 2013
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Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation: An Introduction to Theory and History
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Written by celebrated scholar Joseph Nye and new co-author David Welch, Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation is a concise and penetrating introduction to world politics in an era of complex interdependence.

This text employs lessons from theory and history to examine conflict and cooperating among global actors and thus to provide readers with a durable analytical framework. From twentieth and twenty-first century wars to global finance and global governance, Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation, formerly known as Understanding International Conflicts, expands substantially on a classic work and continues to deliver a thought-provoking survey of international relations today.


· Employs an analytical framework that pulls from history, theory, and policy to help students fully understand the complexities of world affairs in two ways. The first is an emphasis that conflict and cooperation are two sides of the same problem: namely, resolving disputes. The second is an emphasis that pressing problems are decreasingly international and increasingly global; interstate conflict is still an important problem but conflict within states is now more common than between states and it almost always reverberates internationally. (ex. p. vi)

· Introduces three major theoretical paradigms—realism, liberalism, and constructivism—and discusses how each can or cannot explain conflict and cooperation among international actors. (ex. p. 62)

· Explores international politics throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, comprehensively surveying everything from wars among great powers to the rise of globalization and complex interdependence. (ex. Ch. 7)

· Poses normative questions to help students consider practical answers to how actors should approach problems in international politics.

· Features chronologies, primary source excerpts, maps, and photos to deepen the historical context and to enliven the text. (ex. p. 34)

· Includes an extensive list of suggested reading to help both instructors and students build on the ideas presented in the text.

New to this Edition

  • Chapter 1 now provides a clearer introduction to the purposes and themes of the book designed specifically to draw students’ attention to elements both of continuity and change in world politics from ancient times to the present. (ex. Ch. 1)
  • Chapter 2 provides expanded discussions of constructivism and counterfactual reasoning as well as enhanced historical illustrations. (ex. p. 69)
  • Chapter 3 includes a new section on balance of power theory. (ex. p. 84)
  • Chapter 5 features a new analysis of the Vietnam War that is better connected both to the concept of containment and to the problem of moral judgment in world affairs. (ex. p. 159)
  • Chapter 6 includes enhanced discussions of collective security, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding; provides a revised discussion of the responsibility to protect in light of recent events in Libya; and includes a new section on the South China Sea as a potential flashpoint for international conflict. (ex. p. 215)
  • Chapter 7 connects oil politics more to the sensitivity and vulnerability dimensions of interdependence. (ex. p. 278)
  • Chapter 8 covers the Arab Spring to expand and deepen the analysis of how changes in information technology, and in particular the rise of social media, empower and constrain both state and non-state actors. It also discusses the significance of the death of Osama bin Laden and subsequent deepening tensions in U.S.-Pakistani relations for the battle against transnational terrorism. (ex. p. 286)
  • Chapter 9 reflects upon the impact of the 3/11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear crisis, for energy security and climate change. (ex. p. 335)
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Are There Enduring Logics of Cooperation in World Politics?

Chapter 2. Explaining Conflict and Cooperation: Tools and Techniques of the Trade

Chapter 3. From Westphalia to World War I

Chapter 4. The Failure of Collective Security and World War II

Chapter 5. The Cold War

Chapter 6. Post-Cold War Cooperation, Conflict, Flashpoints

Chapter 7. Globalization and Interdependence

Chapter 8. The Information Revolution and Transnational Actors

Chapter 9. What Can We Expect in the Future?