How International Relations Theories Affect Us

Since there are many people who misperceived me as a literature student, I’d like to reaffirm that no, I’m not that lucky to be able to study languages. Instead, I’m happily trapped in the major of international relations. I sometimes pay unequal attention to the textual aspects in my papers, but still, the issue in my hands involve or more two state/non-state actors e.g. France and Japan–not French and Japanese (as a language).

To begin with, I’m not the most brilliant student in the class–we have someone way smarter to bear that title, but I need to reveal that I score quite amazing in our the theory class(es)–because I have a fond, very fond interest in the subject. I believe that everyone else should also experience the same excitement, so here go examples of international relations (IR) theories–traditional ones–that explain human traits:


1. “Great powers will ally with weaker ones.”

Or, to inverse the premise, “great powers will not ally with other great power.”

The case happens with leaders who seek for influence and glory (two main interests that states as well strive for). In simpler words, when your alliance gets stronger and threatening, you’ll instinctively leave him and find a weaker person.

Remember when Wiranto created Hanura or when other political leaders separate and build their own squad under a new party? They might defend themselves with the notion of ‘principal-differences’, but the basic objective is clear–to seek for feebler actors whom you can control and induce with your own ideas and concepts. Just as Schweller says, weak actors tend to be opportunist and willing to bandwagon.

Another model to explain this: when the staff of an organization have increased their level of scrutiny and send protests to their boss’s policies, these employees are actually gaining their strength. Their boss, the great power, instead of getting his hands dirty with problems and difficulties, will prefer to search for new people.

2. “The more number of states is, the more likely dyadic relation to happen.”

Most people will reject an invitation to join a dinner of two lovers. In Indonesian language, we call this third party as obat nyamuk or kambing congek, and it does not sound so nice. (Tell me about that.)

However, with a little (too many) experiences, I can tell that you’re not actually ignored when you go out together with a couple. Because, ladies and gentlemen, with only 3 states existing, a bilateral interaction between any 2 states will be seen by the other person, and it will make them feel uneasy about it. In the end, the situation will yield in a decent multilateral relation between the 3 states.

Yet again, when the number of actors increase to 4, 5, or 6, the number of dyadic relations will also rise along because they know that other actors are also performing a dyadic relation with another actor–yielding a perspective of ‘we’re cool here’. You see–when there’s a couple hanging out with a number of friends they’ll most likely reserve their own seats and private talk instead of bothering to talk with the other folks.

This dyadic relation is stronger especially when 2 states have a similar interest, a huge one to each other, be it romance or whatever. If the number of actors has reached dozens or hundreds, indeed these connections will occur to every possible direction.

3. “International agreement will never, ever, work.”

So back then I made an agreement with Kiki to stay up all night and finish our international relations theory paper. If you expect us to completely fulfill this agreement–you’re wrong. We’re both deadliners by nature (just as states are evil by nature), so it is just easy for us to break the ‘law’ which was based on such bilateral agreement. That night, instead of keeping an eye to Microsoft Word, we chatted and Tumblr-ed. Kiki even forgot the regulations we agreed upon. Thenceforth, agreements or laws that need a ratification from states will never be effective. I can guarantee you that.

Here I am, amazed by the study of international relations that can explain almost every phenomenon in our lives. Those three examples are picked because they happened lately. As a matter of fact, there are many other examples that I’d like to share. Later, readers.

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