The Failure of Static and the Need for Dynamic Approaches to International Relations

Richard Rosecrance

in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199219322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


 The Failure of Static and the Need for Dynamic Approaches to International Relations

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The perennial difficulty in the study of international relations is that general theories holding statically over time are unsatisfactory. The leading theories — emphasizing a single concept (‘realism’, ‘constructivism’, ‘liberalism’, and so on) — themselves either are unfalsifiable, or if falsifiable, are false. Both international and domestic factors have to be taken into account in order to develop a reasonable static approach to how nations behave. A three-variable conspectus that comprises: international restraints and availabilities; leadership preconceptions; and domestic restraints and pressures can explain international outcomes more fully than any of these variables taken individually. A regression equation, in short, is necessary. The coefficients of this equation, however, may have changed over time, with international coefficients having less strength than they once did and domestic ones more strength. These claims are elaborated in the first half of this article. The second half concentrates on some dynamic features of the international system that point to the possibility of different and more cooperative outcomes in the years ahead as the influence and content of these factors undergo change.

Keywords: international restraints; leadership; domestic restraints; international system

Article.  3211 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Methodology

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