The focus of this chapter is the international context of state building, in particular the way in which different types of international system affected state development with primary concentration on the European and East Asian systems. In doing so, it also canvasses the arguments about the impact of war on the development of the state, arguing that it did not always have the rationalizing, state-building effects that many had earlier attributed to it. Hitherto state development has been treated as an endogenous process, but this was not so. Its course and contours were both shaped by the international context within which states existed. This has long been recognized in terms of the way that involvement in war shaped domestic development, and this will be discussed below. But also important has been the involvement of states in international systems. Rarely has a state, even the earliest, survived without developing a network of relations with similar units in close geographical proximity (e.g. on Sumer, see Watson 1992: ch.2; and Buzan & Little 2000: ch.8), and this clearly influenced individual states’ domestic development.
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