The Future Shape of International Relations: Terence O'Brien Reflects on the Shape of 21st Century World Affairs

By O'Brien, Terence | New Zealand International Review, July-August 2009 | Go to article overview

The Future Shape of International Relations: Terence O'Brien Reflects on the Shape of 21st Century World Affairs


O'Brien, Terence, New Zealand International Review


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This first decade of the 21st century has produced a global financial and economic crisis whose ramifications for international well-being and the future management of world affairs are likely to endure. The crisis denotes change in the international pecking order, which for so long has been dominated by a handful of powerful industrialised economies.

International relations are shaped by the way powerful nations emerge, behave and interact one with another; by the way economic opportunity and prosperity are shared or not shared, inside the international community; by issues that transcend boundaries like degradation of the global environment, or piracy, or security of energy supply; by the influences of militarism, of radicalism, of protectionism; and by the assertive (even coercive) spread of values--both secular and religious. The central question for 21st century global affairs is how readily nations are disposed to nourish and sustain an international framework through which to mediate these complex issues.

The 20th century revolutionised the conduct of international relations. Dazzling advances in science, technology and communications accelerated the spread of goods, people and ideas across boundaries. They collapsed time and distance so international relations became more expeditious. The clear distinction between what constitutes an internal or an external issue or interest disappeared. The overall process, christened globalisation, magnified forcefully interdependence between nations and between the modern challenges they confront. Globalisation bestows new opportunities upon those countries equipped to capitalise upon them, but not every country was, or is, so endowed. Globalisation thus served, paradoxically, at the same time to widen gaps between the successful and unsuccessful.

It empowered business and non-government agencies and organisations to play a larger part in international relations. Single-issue non-governmental organisations concerned with the environment, human rights and the like now influence governments and the fashioning of international policy. Business exerts comparable influence. These trends will extend in the century ahead, and the task of harnessing non-governmental involvement with global management in ways that are equitable and effective will remain key in the international affairs of the 21st century.

Globalisation multiplies risks as well as opportunities. Afflictions like terrorism, organised crime, drugs, people smuggling, and avaricious unprincipled behaviour in financial markets transcend boundaries--harming nations irrespective of size, power or location. In the globalising world, it is no longer sufficient to define security solely in military terms; size and great power provide no guarantee of immunity against the prevailing afflictions. By the same token, it is not necessarily more dangerous, therefore, to be a small country--providing the right policy settings are always maintained. Geographical remoteness is no protection either, but strategic invisibility of the kind possessed by New Zealand constitutes a solid foundation for a nimble, independent foreign policy in support of a fair and just order in the world.

Murderous warfare

The 20th century proved to be an age of murderous industrialised warfare on a global scale. Two world wars shaped international relations profoundly. They were the product of diplomatic miscalculation among Atlantic nations, the core of so-called Western Enlightenment, that pride themselves on rational civilising values. Their conflicts engulfed even the most distant countries, New Zealand included. In the aftermath, there ensued four decades of ideological confrontation between communist totalitarianism led by the Soviet Union and Western liberalism led by the United States, both backed by massive weaponry, which produced permanent tension and proxy wars. …

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

The Future Shape of International Relations: Terence O'Brien Reflects on the Shape of 21st Century World 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.