Ch. 2, The Historical Context of Contemporary International Relations (18-65)

Global Perspectives (57)

  1. How can we balance the traditional view that Western economic and military dominance caused a Soviet "defeat" with the Soviet view that internal weaknesses and contractions were primarily to blame?
  2. Glasnost was supposed to make it possible for Soviet citizens to share information, but it also made it possible for them to compare their own lives with those beyond the USSR. How might this development have affected the legitimacy of the Communist Party?
  3. If states "learn" from their own mistakes and achievements as well as those of other states, what might a state like China have learned from the collapse of the USSR?

Discussion Questions (65)

  1. The Treaties of Westphalia are often viewed as the beginning of modern international relations. Why are they a useful benchmark? What factors does this benchmark ignore?
  2. Colonization by the great powers of Europe has officially ended. However, the effects of the colonial era linger. Explain with specific examples.
  3. The Cold War has ended. Discuss two current events in which Cold War politics persist.
  4. The developments of international relations as a discipline have been closely identified with the history of Western Europe and the United States. With this civilizational bias, what might we be missing?

Additional Analysis

  1. How are key terms that O'Neil introduces in his book discussed differently in this chapter? Be specific.
  2. Do you think political units other than states will ever supersede or replace states? Why or why not?
  3. Does European history suggest that alliances are a good thing, a bad thing, or both? How so?
  4. Compare and contrast this chapter's discussion of WWII to other treatments you've encountered.
  5. Respond to the questions posed in the last full paragraph of page 67. Explain your answers.