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Rethinking International Relations

Bertrand Badie

In this thought-provoking book, Bertrand Badie argues that the traditional paradigms of international relations are no longer sustainable, and that ignorance of these shifting systems and of alternative models is a major source of contemporary international conflict and disorder. Through a clear examination of the political, historical and social context, Badie illuminates the challenges and possibilities of an ‘intersocial’ and multilateral approach to international relations.
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Bertrand Badie


As we have seen throughout this book, misperception is definitely the main dysfunction in contemporary international relations. We can hardly be surprised by such a bias when we take into account the huge changes which have occurred within only one generation, through globalization and enlargement of the international arena from an old world, made of Europe and North America, to an inclusive international system covering the whole planet. In this transformation, international relations have progressively lost their main and fetishized concept of hegemony which appeared for a long time as the cornerstone of any international order. This form of domination no longer works: in a global world, it does not receive support from more and more diversified actors; it is less able than ever to achieve desired and fervent compliance; its resources are politically less and less efficient. However, the major part of the world is still playing the game as if nothing new had really happened.

The new international relations are in fact contained by the force of habit and by a too slow resocialization process. The American superpower does not have real doubts about a global change which would still meet its hegemonic expectations, even if the Obama presidency injected a dose of caution, and the Trump presidency demonstrates a certain mistrust toward globalization. The other actors feel, for their part, a “functional” double nostalgia. Old powers are still desperately trying to relive their past glories as real and competing hegemons. While...

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