There is general agreement among those who study the international system that it is a system that is best described as one of anarchy.  Under conditions of anarchy there is no order, interrelations are based on power and influence, and the strongest and most powerful members of the system are also the most influential and privileged members.  The twentieth century witnessed two ‘Hot’ World Wars that were defined by the savagery of the conflict, the scope of nation-state participation and the near cataclysmic scale of death and destruction that resulted, and the latter half of the century was held in the grip of a Cold War that pit Western Capitalism against the Marxist/Communist states of Eastern Europe and Asia. 

The Twenty First century has ushered in an era of conflict and confrontation that has been defined by terrorism supported by rogue nation states and waged by ideologically motivated groups and individuals that claim legitimacy bequeathed to them from the heavens. As a backdrop to the issues of interstate conflict and contestation for power, wealth and influence are global issues such as human rights, environmental protection, democratization and economic development that affect us all.  Thus, the importance of the study of international relations becomes clear.