inr international relations essay

Write a one-page, single-spaced reaction paper of approximately 600 words (minimum 550 words, maximum 650 words; I will not accept a paper that is longer than 650 words) pertaining to a topic in international relations. By a reaction paper I mean that I want you to engage some topic(s) in a thoughtful, analytical, and argumentative way, and write an essay on that topic. Remember that essays are always argumentative, and argumentative papers should be anchored with a thesis statement early in the paper. The topic may pertain to any area of international relations, and may include such things as one or more theories or concepts from class, and/or current events. I like papers that include a theoretical or conceptual point from class, though that is not required. Note that I am interested in reaction, perhaps even personal reaction based upon experience; the paper is not to be a summary. The central objective of this assignment is to enhance your critical thinking skills. And, I want you to really care about the topic, engage it, make it come alive for you — react!

Since this is an argumentative essay, be very careful to make a central, normative argument in your thesis statement (typically marked by words like should/should not or ought/ought not). Here’s an example of a thesis statement: “I think Israel should bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.” (Since I am providing this topic as an example, do NOT use the topic of Iran’s nuclear facilities.) Also be very careful that your thesis statement is not simply a description (which is sometimes called a “positive argument,” though it really isn’t an argument at all). Here’s an example of a descriptive thesis that is not good: “I believe Iran has dangerous nuclear weapons.” Many students will make this kind of mistake, so beware! Here’s the problem: it kind of sounds like you’re making an argument against Iran, in part because of the words “I believe,” but really all you are doing is providing a description: you are simply stating your opinion about a factual matter, and that is not an interesting, normative argument. Think of it this way: I could say “I believe it is raining outside.” That’s not an argument; it’s simply a description. It could be a correct description or an incorrect one, but it’s still nothing more than a description. It’s exactly the same with the statement, “I believe Iran has dangerous nuclear weapons.” You may think it sounds like an argument, but it is really just a description (which may be right or wrong, but it’s still just a description). Make sure your thesis statement is NOT just a description!

Once you have written a clear, normative thesis statement, then the rest of your paper should include supporting arguments for that specific thesis statement. So, back to the Iran example, here’s an outline of a good argumentative essay:

Paragraph one: provide an introduction to the topic and specify a thesis statement: I think Israel should bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. (I suggest you underline your thesis statement, so you are clear about it.)

Paragraph two: Provide supporting argument number one, something like: “If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it will be a direct threat to the existence of Israel.” Then discuss that argument and explain it in the rest of the paragraph.

Paragraph three: Provide supporting argument number two, something like: “Eliminating Iran’s nuclear potential will make the Middle East and the world a safer, more peaceful place.” Then discuss that argument and explain it in the rest of the paragraph.

Paragraph four: Provide supporting argument number three, something like: “Following the tenets of realism, Israel must continue to demonstrate its power and resolve against threatening enemies.” Then discuss that argument and explain it in the rest of the paragraph.

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