Pick a contemporary inter-state conflict between a ‘western state’ (i.e. the UK, US,
Canada) and a ‘non-western’ state (excluding China) and critically assess two
competing explanations to the question ‘Why do we fight?’. This question can be
interpreted more generally as follows: Why did State A (and/or an international
coalition or alliance) engage in hostile activities of a military OR economic
nature (perhaps involving sanctions) against State B? Of the two explanations you
provide, you must assess which is the most convincing and why.
For the purposes of this assignment you must:
1.) Illustrate two competing explanations with references to their sources (e.g. the
news media, academic sources, or a politician’s speech).
2.) Compare and contrast the explanations in terms of a broader debate within IR
about the merits or limitations of any particular IR theory. This demands that
you reflect not only upon the explanations themselves (and their evident logic
and evidence), but also upon the ways in which they reflect or challenge a
particular world view/theoretical perspective.
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3.) Develop your own argument – outline why you think one explanation is more
convincing and why – and situate it within broader IR theory debates.
(Alternatively, you may provide an argument to convince the reader as to the
merits of another alternative entirely – i.e., arguing that neither explanation is
satisfying – so long as you situate your argument within or against any
particular IR theory.)
Outside research should consist of the following (please note, students are expected to
meaningfully engage with these sources):
? a minimum of two independently located journal articles on the topic.
Independently located journal articles are those that are not listed in the module
handbook. The study skills session in Week 9 will teach you how to independently
locate and access academic journal articles relevant to your topic.
? a minimum of four additional independently located research resources
relevant to the topic. These may be academic journal articles, but they may also
be books, book chapters, government or NGO reports or documents, speeches,
news media sources, etc.
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