Religion and International Affairs

By Hehir, J. Bryan | Nieman Reports, Summer 1993 | Go to article overview

Religion and International Affairs


Hehir, J. Bryan, Nieman Reports


The old question of religion and politics, the relationship of spiritual and temporal power, has a new and sharper edge to it in the 1990's. During the last decade the role of religion as a catalyst for change--at times destructive, at other times constructive--was evident in Central America and Central Europe, in South Africa and South Korea, in the Philippines and in the Middle East. Each of these situations had its own causes and complexity, but the pervasive role of religious ideas and leaders was evident to the most casual observer. In the 1990's the pattern continues, most dramatically in the Balkans but also in Haiti, as well as in the new states emerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In reporting and analyzing the changing pattern of international affairs, the press faces today a challenge that also confronts academic specialists, policy advisors in governments and the staffs of international corporations. The challenge is how to assess the deeper forces of change in world politics, which have swept away the Cold War configuration of states and ideologies, and left all of us--specialists and citizens alike--with very different issues of foreign policy than we have faced for the last 50 years. From Somalia to Sarajevo the most difficult questions today are strikingly different from the dangers of superpower confrontation, nuclear deterrence and endless negotiation about arms control, which consistently absorbed the headlines and the attention of senior policy officials for the last four decades.

The role that religion plays today within societies and across the international spectrum of states should be understood as one piece of the broader pattern of an altered agenda of world politics. This article attempts to locate the religion and politics question within this wider framework, and to suggest perspectives for integrating the role of religion into the analysis of international relations.

I. World Politics: Dimensions of Change

The global politics of the 1990's are the product of two major shifts in the life of states and nations. The first has been a change in the structure of power in the world; the second, a change in principles of international order. The alteration of the structure of power was a revolutionary process, occurring as it did in a very brief period of time, with relatively little violence and affecting the entire pattern of world affairs. The structure of power that defined the post-World War II era was bipolar in character and nuclear in its content. The two superpowers dominated world politics, and the nuclear threat they posed to each other and to the world was the defining reality of statecraft. Between 1989 and 1991 the bipolar structure of power collapsed, and analysts since then have been trying to make sense of what structure of power will fill the void. Proposals abound: Charles Krauthammer is confident that a unipolar world, with the United States as the remaining superpower, is our fate and our future.

Henry Kissinger has advised us that we should watch for the emergence of a multipolar world encompassing the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and China. Joseph Nye finds neither of these views convincing, and sees the emerging structure of power as militarily unipolar (the United States), economically tripolar (the U.S., the European Community and Japan) and at a third level of relationships, multipolar, with corporations and international institutions competing and cooperating in the shadow of the unipolar and tripolar configurations of power.

The debate about what the structure of power will be is the topic that attracts the most attention in the scholarly and policy communities. It is the other major change, in the principles of international order, which needs more attention. Its implications are potentially as significant as the changing structure of power and it is precisely the combination of both changes--the structure of power and the substance of international relations--that creates the challenge of world politics in the 1990's. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Religion and International Affairs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.