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  • Author: Anna Geis, Christopher Hobson
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Politics
  • Institution: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Abstract: There is an extensive literature on acts, events and people in international politics that may be described as 'evil' , but much less work specifically focusing on how this idea operates and is used in an international context. This has begun to change recently, however, as a result of leading international figures–most notably George W. Bush–using the term prominently. This special issue seeks to further advance scholarship on these issues by moving beyond purely philosophical accounts on the nature of evil, and considering: how it has been used to frame the identities of actors in international relations (IR); whether it works to enable or preclude specific kinds of behaviour; and what role it plays as part of our moral and political vocabulary. This introduction provides a brief survey of the literature on evil in IR, and gives an overview of the contributions to the special issue.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: David Chandler
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Politics
  • Institution: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Abstract: This article seeks to analyse the shift away from the moral certainties of the Cold War epoch and of humanitarian interventions in the 1990s, to suggest that 'evil' plays a very different role in politics and international relations today. In current constructions of the world – as much more global, complex and non-linear – the past certainties of liberal internationalism appear to be a symptom of problematic moral hubris. Rather than the transcendental moral certainties of good and evil, globalization and complexity seem to suggest a more immanent perspective of emergent causality, eliciting a reflexive ethics of continual work on 'good' public modes of being. In which case, 'evil' is no longer considered to be an exception but becomes normalized as an ethical learning resource. The 2011 case of the mass killings by Norwegian Anders Breivik will be highlighted as an example of this process. This article suggests that this 'democratization' of evil is problematic in articulating evil as a revealed or emergent truth in the world that requires social and personal self-reflexivity, thereby suborning moral choice to onto-ethical necessity.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War
  • Author: Harald Muller
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Politics
  • Institution: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Abstract: Liberal discourse should have a hard time looking for 'evil' in international relations. Standing on the pillar of rationalism and humanitarianism, there seems to be little space for the morally and emotionally charged notion of evil to enter considerations. Yet, the liberal belief in the freedom of will implies that humans are capable of turning against the advice of reason and opt for evil behavior and underlying principles. This possibility is epitomized by Kant's construction of the 'evil enemy'. Since 'evil' appears sporadically in international relations, with Hitler's Germany as prototype, its existence in the real world of international relations cannot be ruled out a priori. Designating an 'other' as evil is thus a discursive possibility. The practice to turn this possibility into reality is conceptualized here as 'evilization' in analogy to 'securitization'. There is strong variance among liberal democracies in applying this practice, ranging from 'pacifism' to 'militancy', which often leads to dire consequences. Deriving the principles of fallibility and prudence from liberal reasoning, this article concludes with the proposition that 'liberal pacifism' is the preferable option in most conceivable circumstances, but that the possibility of confronting political evil is rare, but existing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: Germany, Cameroon
  • Author: Mona K. Sheikh
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Politics
  • Institution: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Abstract: This article examines how evil has been conceptualised in the discipline of international relations and contributes to a body of critical literature that treats evil as a legitimacy bestowing label. By drawing on securitisation theory, it suggests developing a performative approach to evil as an alternative to descriptive and normative approaches. It is argued that such an approach would not only be valuable for understanding the effects of naming and grading evil, but also fulfils three additional functions. First, it facilitates a shift away from applying intention as the primary measure for determining matters of guilt and condemnation. Second, it challenges the privileged position of the powerful when appointing particular phenomena/adversaries as evil. Finally, it provides an analytical starting point for understanding conflict constellations where different parameters of legitimacy seem to clash. This last function requires particular sensitivity towards the audience and the cultural context of 'evilising' moves.
  • Topic: International Relations