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  • Series: Rethinking Political Science and International Studies series x
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Bertrand Badie

International relations were not ignored before the Westphalia Peace (1648), but were not properly made of inter-state relations, as nation-states did not exist. This chapter follows the invention of international relations which took place in Europe, and progressively extended to all the world, in order to shed light on the basis of our present international system, its main concepts, its ambiguities and its current practices. It discusses the variety of the pre-Westphalian systems whose characteristics are still present in many areas, in Asia and in Africa, and still impact their foreign policies. For their part, cities, empires, or fragmented political orders have fueled many alternative visions of international politics which are taken into account in this book. The chapter poses the key question of this volume: if our order emerged with the Westphalian Peace, what about a possible “post-Westphalian” international system?

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Bertrand Badie

The modern international system, sprung from the Westphalia treaties, has been strongly impacted by three “great transformations” which have totally questioned its main structures, as well as its capacities. Decolonization has deeply challenged its Western identity, as well as the main traditional categories of international law and international relations theory; globalization has disturbed its interstate configuration; while the fall of the Berlin wall has initiated a depolarization which outdates many paradigms of the traditional theories shaped during the Cold War. The chapter focuses on this crisis of the concepts, and also on their amazing resilience. It also discusses new perspectives (on culture and IR, on imported states, and on new approaches to globalization).

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Bertrand Badie

The Westphalian order has been mainly challenged in its territorial dimension. Decolonization brought to light other conceptions of space (tribal or imperial), while globalization still questions the relevance of state borderlines and cuts through all kinds of delimitation. The new communication technology makes sovereign separations inefficient, while traditional visions of space management come back and partly restructure the international order. This chapter revisits the territorial principle and asks: what does it mean? What does it imply from an IR point of view? What is the “deterritorialization process” that we can observe here and there? How does it explain some of the major changes in our present world system? What are the main “post-territorial trends” and how do they transform the present international arena?

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Bertrand Badie

The “great international transformation” mainly resulted in the emergence of an “inter-social system” which henceforth permanently challenges the traditional inter-state system. This new inter-social system covers the major part of the new international relations and is addressed as such in this chapter. It may be considered through a multitude of new international actors who are more and more successfully competing with states in the international arena: religious actors, corporations, NGOs, and also many kinds of individual actors (migrants, investors, consumers, and even public opinion). These actors promote new and impactful transnational relations by getting around sovereign inter-state relations; they also transform the traditional international agenda by pointing out international social issues (environment, food security, human rights). They are also setting up new international relations, bridging or not the relations between societies.

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Bertrand Badie

The traditional concept of the state needs to be revisited, as it is commonly and too simply considered as a synonym of political system. However, it has particularities, historical and cultural roots, while it is currently challenged by many other kinds of political order and does not match all the historical lineages of politics. In its European conception, it is tightly related to territory, sovereignty, and power competition which was likened by Hobbes to a “gladiator struggle.” This chapter asks: is this competition nowadays as obvious as it was previously? Has the state kept its original capacity? Or, has power become powerless? Is hegemony still possible? How can we then understand the so-called “resilience of the state”? How to revisit the main orientations of the subsequent foreign policy? How can “weakness politics” sometimes take the place of the well-known “power politics”?

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Bertrand Badie

Regional integration is commonly considered as a reply to an emerging global world and to the decreasing capacities of states. After a moment of optimism, all the regional constructions are nowadays severely challenged and even substantially weakened. Is this a failure or an effect of transition? This chapter addresses the concept of integration: what type of integration is it? Political? Economic? Social? Is this new integration an old-fashioned “association” or a new “solidarity”? In this perspective, the chapter considers the uncertain future of sovereigntism. It also compares the different kinds of regional construction which take place everywhere around the world, with unequal successes.

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Bertrand Badie

The traditional – and old-fashioned – vision of war (from Clausewitz to Morgenthau) is deeply questioned by the “new international conflicts” (NICs). Beyond this revisited conception of war, this chapter takes into account, more broadly, the new international violence, its social nature and its social roots, as well as what is commonly called “terrorism” that here is investigated though the concept of “violence entrepreneur.” The discussion shows that war is no longer a competition of power, but a “competition of weakness,” as its main factors have to be found in the weakness of the states, of the nations and of the social bonds inside the societies which are involved in the new conflicts. In a dangerous way, these new wars are also creating new kinds of integration, resulting in sustainable “war societies.” Obviously, they strongly challenge the traditional ways of conflict-solving.

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Bertrand Badie

In spite of the resilience of the old states, we are now far from the well-known “Westphalian diplomacy” which is more and more removed from the “new diplomatic game.” Non-state actors have their “private diplomacy” and their own game, while the main issues which are at stake on the international agenda are far from the traditional duality constituted by “war and peace” or “the diplomat and the soldier.” In this perspective, states are pushed to follow new “social routes” for adapting their foreign action to the new challenges. Bilateralism which was formerly the main core of diplomatic interventions is presently challenged by multilateralism, in spite of the old state sovereign culture.

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Bertrand Badie