International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific

International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific

International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific

International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific


What will the Asia-Pacific rim look like in the years ahead? What tools will international relations theorists need to understand the complex relationship among China, Japan, and the United States as the three powers shape the economic and political future of this crucial region?

Some of the best and most innovative scholars in international relations and Asian area studies gather here with the working premise that stability in the broader Asia-Pacific region is in large part a function of the behavior of, and relationships among, these three major powers. Each author analyzes the foreign policy behavior of one or more of these states and/or relations among them in an effort to make claims about the prospects for regional stability. Some of the chapters focus on security relationships, some on economic relations, and some on the interaction of the two. The authors do not promote any particular theoretical perspective, but instead draw on the full diversity of theoretical approaches in contemporary international relations scholarship to illuminate international interactions among the Pacific powers.

The creative collaboration of international relations and Asian studies specialists presents the opportunity to assess the applicability of Western categories of analysis to the beliefs and behaviors of Asian actors. The scholars in this volume share the conviction that a deeper understanding of the effects of cultural divides between Asian and American policymakers is essential if the Pacific rim's economic and regional security is to be safeguarded.


G. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno

Since the end of the cold war, the problems and prospects of the Asia-Pacific region have drawn increased attention from students of international politics and foreign policy. Interactions among the major powers of the region—the United States, China, and Japan—have taken on a particular significance. Scholars seeking to explore these renewed relationships in a dynamic and uncertain international context face a double challenge.

One challenge is to bridge the gap between the rich comparative and foreign policy scholarship on China, Japan, and the United States, on the one hand, and the wider world of international relations theory on the other. The two worlds of area specialty and international relations theory often do not meet. As a result, policy debates about the stability of Asia-Pacific relations tend to be under-theorized, while theoretical arguments about the region are often undertaken without the benefit of historical or comparative perspective. The contributors to this volume begin with the premise that the theoretical insights of international relations need to be brought more closely into contact with the rich history and complex reality of the Asia-Pacific region. Since there should be a payoff for both worlds, the chapters below are motivated collectively by this goal of helping to bridge the gap and bring theory to bear on the international politics and economics of the region.

In doing so, a second interesting challenge emerges. International relations scholars, particularly those trained in the United States, employ theories that . . .

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