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Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World

Akira Iriye
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Pages: 255
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  • Book Info
    Global Community
    Book Description:

    The "global community" is a term we take for granted today. But how did the global community, both as an idea and as a reality, originate and develop over time? This book examines this concept by looking at the emergence, growth, and activities of international organizations--both governmental and nongovernmental--from the end of the nineteenth century to today. Akira Iriye, one of this country's most preeminent historians, proposes a significant rereading of the history of the last fifty years, suggesting that the central influence on the international scene in this period was not the Cold War, but rather a deepening web of international interactions. This groundbreaking book, the first systematic study of international organizations by a historian, moves beyond the usual framework for studying international relations--politics, war, diplomacy, and other interstate affairs--as it traces the crucial role played by international organizations in determining the shape of the world today. Iriye's sweeping discussion of international organizations around the world examines multinational corporations, religious organizations, regional communities, transnational private associations, environmental organizations, and other groups to illuminate the evolution and meaning of the global community and global consciousness. While states have been preoccupied with their own national interests such as security and prestige, international organizations have been actively engaged in promoting cultural exchange, offering humanitarian assistance, extending developmental aid, protecting the environment, and championing human rights. In short, they have made important contributions to making the world a more interdependent and peaceful place. This book, tracing the development of the global community in a truly innovative way, will win a wide readership among those interested in understanding the growing phenomenon of globalization and its meaning for us today.Global Communityis based on Iriye's Jefferson lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93612-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    This book seeks to examine the roles that international organizations play in modern world affairs. There are three principal reasons for undertaking this task. First, there is the obvious fact that international organizations have steadily grown in number and in the scope and variety of their activities since the late nineteenth century, to such an extent that the contemporary world would be incomprehensible without taking them into consideration. Second, most writings on modern world affairs, especially by historians, have nevertheless almost entirely ignored this fact. This scholarly void somehow must be filled. And finally, a focus on international organizations, rather...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Origins of Global Community
    (pp. 9-36)

    How did the global community, both as an idea and as a reality, emerge and develop? This question may be examined in many ways, but one possible approach would be to look at the creation, growth, and activities of international organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental. The number and functioning of these organizations may be taken as a good measure of the degree of “globality” at a given moment in time, a circumstance that contributes to establishing transnational connections and to shaping a world community existing in conjunction with the international order made up of nations. In this and the following...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The New Internationalism
    (pp. 37-59)

    Shortly before Germany’s spring offensive began in 1940, Leonard Woolf was reflecting on the meaning of the war and its possible consequences. He had been one of the first writers to stress the theme of global interdependence and, in particular, to note the growing importance of international organizations. He retained his faith in these organizations in the aftermath of the First World War, but as totalitarianism arose and began waging aggressive wars during the 1930s, he grew less and less optimistic about world trends. As another war began in Europe, he was convinced, despite his continued pacifist leanings, that the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Beyond the Cold War
    (pp. 60-95)

    The 1950s are usually seen as a period when the Cold War intensified. According to this view, during the second half of the 1940s, the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union had been largely confined to Europe, and the two sides had mostly employed nonmilitary means to combat each other’s influence, whereas between 1949 and the early 1950s, the Cold War became both more global and militarized. With China falling to the communists and a war breaking out in the Korean peninsula, Asia now became a major theater of the superpower conflict. Other parts of the world,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 More States, More Nonstate Actors
    (pp. 96-125)

    Self-consciousness about global community may have been a key aspect of international relations of the 1960s, a decade that is usually seen through such geopolitical dramas as the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Chinese-Soviet rift. Historians speak of the “eyeballto-eyeball” confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union over the latter’s introduction of missiles into Cuba, which was swiftly followed by the superpowers’ agreement to limit nuclear testing and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms. By the end of the decade, Washington and Moscow were pledging not to unleash these weapons against each other, and...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Growth of Civil Society
    (pp. 126-156)

    Historians agree that international relations entered a new phase during the 1970s. Whereas the period between 1945 and 1970 may possibly be comprehended within the framework of the Cold War—although this book argues that there are other ways of conceptualizing the quarter century—during the 1970s so many drastic changes occurred that the decade may be said to have marked the beginning of a new period of world affairs. Among such transforming events were the rapprochement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, the deterioration in Soviet-Chinese relations, and the détente between Washington and Moscow. The...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Toward Global Community
    (pp. 157-194)

    International organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental, continued to grow in number and scope during the 1980s and the 1990s. Little was qualitatively different about their activities from what they had been in the preceding decade, but their cumulative and combined importance in the world increased because of the dramatic turn of events at the level of interstate affairs. In most accounts of the last two decades of the twentieth century, the erosion and eventual end of the Cold War are presented as the key themes of international relations, which are then considered to have ushered in a new age known...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 195-210)

    At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, few phenomena attracted more attention, and at the same time aroused more controversy, than globalization. The twentieth century, Ralf Dahrendorf wrote in 1998, “has been largely . . . determined by divisions which led to wars, hot and cold, but which also provided sources of identity.” All that had changed. Globalization had come to “dominate people’s lives, hopes, and fears,” and people everywhere had “to think globally to respond to an increasingly global reality.”¹

    In the rapid advancement in information technology, in the development of a global...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 211-236)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 237-246)