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date: 20 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The perennial difficulty in the study of international relations is that general theories holding statically over time are unsatisfactory. The leading theories — emphasizing a single concept (‘realism’, ‘constructivism’, ‘liberalism’, and so on) — themselves either are unfalsifiable, or if falsifiable, are false. Both international and domestic factors have to be taken into account in order to develop a reasonable static approach to how nations behave. A three-variable conspectus that comprises: international restraints and availabilities; leadership preconceptions; and domestic restraints and pressures can explain international outcomes more fully than any of these variables taken individually. A regression equation, in short, is necessary. The coefficients of this equation, however, may have changed over time, with international coefficients having less strength than they once did and domestic ones more strength. These claims are elaborated in the first half of this article. The second half concentrates on some dynamic features of the international system that point to the possibility of different and more cooperative outcomes in the years ahead as the influence and content of these factors undergo change.

Keywords: international restraints, leadership, domestic restraints, international system

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