This book is the product of a consciously normative and value-oriented perspective on world order problems. Often neglected in the standard texts on international politics, such an approach seems to me essential for a number of reasons. First, the game of international politics is played in the normative framework, which provides the parameters within which international actors compete for power and influence. That framework is not an accident of nature but a human invention, created to rationalize and order the relevant social and technological capabilities of increasingly sovereign actors some three hundred fifty years ago and consciously enlarged and adapted to respond to changes in those capabilities ever since. It therefore should be regarded not merely as a footnote or an afterthought in the analysis of international politics but as the ordering, ideal structure that both shapes international behavior and makes its evaluation possible.
Second, the value-oriented perspective encourages analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the international normative system itself. Such analysis is particularly important now that the system's ability to maintain needed order seems more strongly threatened than at any time in the past. Politics shapes the normative structure, but the normative structure also shapes politics, with potentially disastrous consequences in a world where sovereigns hold weapons of mass destruction and they, and their societies, can inflict perhaps irreparable damage to the earth's environment. The structural reasons for our current peril need to be addressed in ways that are seldom possible in state-based analysis alone.
Third, this approach provides us as students with a critical orientation toward policy, for we are encouraged to judge international political phenomena on the basis of world order criteria. We are forced to examine our own values in the process and to consider whether and why they are congruent or incongruent with what other individuals or groups in the world desire. We are forced to think about global ethics as a result, and we do so with more objectivity than is usually possible when our analysis is heavily state based or oriented toward the outlook of particular decisionmakers.
The basic purpose of this book is to provide a kind of normative guide to the examination of the most important issues on today's international agenda. That is the major substantive component of the book in Chapters 5 through 8, in which the principal agenda items are considered. Chapters 2 and 3, meanwhile, constitute an excursion into the historical basis of our . . .