Plural International Relations in a Divided World
March 2017, Polity
The world is troubled and full of misunderstandings. It seems a new world order of fundamentalist violence and meaningless atrocity is upon us, whilst civilised instruments for cooperation and compromise are becoming increasingly ineffective.
In this timely book, Stephen Chan explores the historical and philosophical roots of difference and discord in the international system. He begins with the introduction of the Westphalian system, showing how, throughout the 20th century, new states - from the Middle East, Asia and Africa - entered that system with reservations, preconditions, and great efforts to introduce new forms of concerts and congresses but without seriously challenging the international status-quo.
By contrast, the 21st century has brought turmoil and change in the form of militant Islam - be it the Taleban, Al Qaeda, or ISIS - whose varied roots and fluid emergence have so far prevented the West from being able to understand and combat it. Developing Kissinger's suspicion of Saudi Arabia as an Islamic state in Westphalian dress, Chan argues that what is at stake today is not the development of a new Caliphate or an old radicalism - but the effort to supplant and replace the Westphalian system itself. This is the complex and challenging reality to which a truly modern and persuasively relevant plural international relations must now adapt. Whether it can do so remains to be seen.
Chapter One WESTPHALIA AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THEORY
Chapter Two THE SYSTEM UNDER STRAIN: NEW WORLD VISIONS EMERGE
Chapter Three REGIONAL SEARCHES FOR THOUGHTFUL VALUE
Chapter Four VIOLENCE, MEMORIES OF VIOLENCE, AND EFFORTS AT SOLIDARITY AND UNION
Chapter Five THE REVENGE OF THE POST-SECULAR
Chapter Six NEW WARS, NEW STATES, AND NEW STATES OF OLD THOUGHT
Chapter Seven WILL THE FOUNDATIONS STAND?
Chapter Eight THE END OF UNIVERSALISM: TOWARDS A SETTLEMENT OF WORLDLY CONDITIONALITY
"Stephen Chan is a rare voice of originality in the study of international relations. He also writes well, a relatively unusual trait in a subject befogged by jargon. Chan cuts through the thickets to make a clear and impassioned plea for more openness and intellectual honesty in the subject. In the process he tells a rattling good yarn, with marvelous character portraits, momentous events and synthesis of very difficult ideas, all in clear language. I can only applaud him for it." - Andrew Williams, University of St. Andrews, UK