Man has many needs which can only be satisfied in company with others. Some of the needs are common to some members who form a group for their satisfaction.
So, these needs keep the members of a group together. However, some of the needs differ from man to man and from group to group. Difference in the importance attached, the methods adopted, and the way it is pursued, lead to disagreements and conflicts among the groups.
Action is also taken to resolve differences through persuasion and pressure. All these activities undertaken for the satisfaction of needs give rise to what we term Politics. Politics, in this way, means achieving one’s own purpose or realising one’s own interest through persuasion or pressure at the cost of others.
Prof. Quincy Wright defines politics as “the art of influencing, manipulating, or controlling major groups so as to advance the purpose of some against the opposition of others”.
Politics thus refers to the existence of groups, disagreement and conflict among them, and the tendency to control or influence minds and actions of others. In this way, conflict is the most important feature to identify an activity as political.
However, politics generally tends towards the management of conflict. Management of conflict is done through the element of power or capability. The faculty that controls or influences the actions of others is known as Power. Politics without power is unthinkable.
This politics when taken to the field of nations is known as International Politics. International Politics thus does not mean conflict alone. It means co-operation also. It is through both- conflict and co-operation that national interest is sought to be realised.
There is, however, abundance conflict rather than co-operation. The process of politics is set into motion by the application of power for influencing or controlling the behavior of others. Thus, power serves essentially as a means. It is why politics is regarded as a struggle for power.
The struggle for power is carried in through foreign policy. But foreign policy is not all politics. Foreign policy, however, lends a great help in understanding international politics.
In spite of the fact that conflict is the most important element of politics, there are others who regard it as an activity of conciliation and consensus building. Resolution of conflict may be achieved through violent or non-violent means.
That is why even co-operation within the States also falls within the area of political activity.
Charles Reynold sums up the whole position in these words: “International Politics refers to the process by which conflicts arise and are resolved at international level.
In this environment nation-States try to serve their national interest by means of their policies and actions which may be in conflict with those of other nations.
Thus, the study of international politics is the study of conflicts, how they originate, how the parties to the conflict be have in an attempt to deal with conflict and how they are resolved.
Its study also involves an examination of political system context—the Constitution and norms, within which the conflict takes place”.