Emilian Kavalski. (2018). The Guanxi of Relational International Theory

Published date01 August 2019
Date01 August 2019
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 221
While the United Kingdom and Australia maintained their deployment in
Afghanistan, other nations ended their contribution when the opportunity
presented with natural end points, either seeking to cut their losses or simply
considering their duty done. For example, Howard Coombs chapter explores
Canada’s evolution of conducting a new way of fighting through to its 2014
departure. Similarly, Rem Korteweg presents the case of the Netherlands and how
Afghanistan gave this smaller power the opportunity to unshackle the burden of
Srebrenica before increased financial burdens in 2010 brought to an end the Dutch
expeditionary force based in Uruzgan Province. However, the coalition’s alliance
of armed force contained a number of more willing participants, some of them
being non-NATO members.
Interesting and contextual topics frame the book’s later sections. They include
chapters on the Afghan government’s role in the war by Rebecca Zimmerman and
Romain Malejacq’s work regarding Afghan warlords and the coalition in
Afghanistan. Despite the best efforts of a broad international coalition that
comprised sizeable military commitments and civilian contributions, the
Afghanistan War has proved costly with regards to lives and material. The internal
insecurity situation in Afghanistan remains entrenched and seemingly intractable,
prompting many nations of the coalition to maintain their military presence. Thus,
the lessons within Coalition Challenges in Afghanistan: The Politics of Alliance,
especially concerning the lack of overarching strategy and the limitations of the
coalition’s national governments, remain relevant even today.
Gavin Briggs
School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Curtin University, Perth,
Western Australia
E-mail: Gavin.Briggs@curtin.edu.au
Emilian Kavalski. (2018). The Guanxi of Relational International
Theory. London: Routledge. 129 pp. ISBN: 978-1-138-08878-8.
DOI: 10.1177/2347797019842719
Most international relations (IR) theory studies revolve around the question,
‘What shapes or drives state behaviour?’ Classical realism focuses on the motives
of the state and sees world politics as a quest for security, power, prestige, and
wealth. Neorealism privileges the states’ security motives and emphasises the role
of international structures, most prominently the lack of a hierarchical order and
the distribution of material capabilities among states, in shaping state behaviour.
Liberalism rejects the view that states are the basic units of world politics and
decomposes the state into individuals and groups. From the liberal perspective,
state behaviour reflects the interests and ideals of the individuals and groups that
capture governmental authority, or, in the neoliberal variant, it is determined by
the domestic political structure of the state. While realists and liberals take the
interests and ideals of individuals, groups, and states as given, constructivists
contend that they are made, moulded and transformed by social forces. In the

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