This chapter examines relations from the national and multinational point of view; we begin by tracing the way in which countries have developed, and how their individual paths to nationhood have influenced (and are influenced by) the relationships that they have with other states. In this context, the cultural environment is introduced, and we see how it has an effect on all levels of society. The first part of the chapter also looks at ‘special relationships’ between countries (generally two), and examines bi-lateral aid. Following this, international relationships are examined in terms of multilateral organisations such as the UN, WTO, IMF, and World Bank. From this, we move on to the various trading blocs throughout the world; we look at how such trading blocs were initially based on trading relationships, yet in practice, are now driven largely by politico-social aims, tempered with no small measure of political expediency. It is suggested that it is this change of focus that largely accounts for the problems that exist within such groupings. The chapter concludes with a section looking at the various ‘G’ groupings, starting with the G3, and concluding with the G20. The chapter case study features the European Union – possibly the best example of multilateral relationships that exist in the world today, as it binds together most of Europe. We look at the varying national attitudes towards this relationship and how they have changed over the years, and the more radical attitudes that seem to have emerged since the Euro crisis of 2010.
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