History of International Relations

A Non-European Perspective

This is a textbook on international politics that takes history seriously and which puts Europe firmly in its place. Europe matters as well of course, but, as it turns out, not all that much — not once we take a historical look at the world as a whole. It is simply not the case that the history of other parts of the world began the day the first European colonizers arrived. The Europeans did not, as a previous generation of scholars used to argue, “awaken” the natives, or “invite them into world history.” Non-Europeans were always plenty awake, thank you very much, and the idea that the history of Europe is equal to the history of the world is just ridiculous. In this book, it is these non-European histories we are going to tell, and we will tell them on their own terms, not as they were impacted by, or had an impact on, Europe.

"China was the all-dominant country in East Asia and international relations in this part of the world were more than anything organized by the Chinese and on Chinese terms. China itself was an empire, but the international system of which China was the center concerned the external relations of the empire — its relations with the rest of East Asia. In order to describe these relations the metaphor of a “solar system” is sometimes used. Here China is the sun around which other and far smaller political entities, located at increasing distances from the center, are circulating in their respective orbits."
"All coffee comes originally from Ethiopia where the coffee tree grows wild. By the fourteenth century, the tree was cultivated by the Arabs and exported from the port city of Mocha in today's Yemen. But it was once the Ottomans occupied the Arabian peninsula in the first part of the sixteenth century that the habit of coffee drinking really took off. The first coffeehouse opened in Istanbul in 1554, and before long sipping coffee, eating cakes and socializing became a fashionable pastime."
"While the attacks on China were taking place, the Mongols successfully invaded the Korean peninsula where the kings agreed to pay regular tributes. Kublai Khan also tried to invade Japan. He assembled an army of some 100,000 men for the purpose, but the ships which they constructed were not quite seaworthy and besides the invaders were unlucky with the weather. The first invasion in 1274 had to be aborted and the second invasion in 1281 failed miserably. Japan, as a result, was never occupied. Cut off from China by the presence of the Mongols, Japan had to depend on its own resources."
"Muhammed Alim Khan tried to reform the country but soon realized that any lasting changes only were going to make his own position more precarious. He was challenged by modernizers who sought a far more radical transformation of society. After the Russian Revolution, these radicals called on the Soviet state to help them and in September 1920 the Red Army intervened. This was exactly 800 years after Genghis Khan himself first had invaded Bukhara. Muhammed Alim Khan was the last of Genghis Khan’s direct descendants to rule a state."