Feed on
Posts
Comments

The following are the “official” reading questions for this course. Students should feel free to offer their own replies to these questions via the “Comments” function below.

Unit 1: Studying International Relations

Topic 1: Introductory

Class 1: Introduction to and Overview of the Course (Tuesday, February 9)

  • [There were no assigned readings for today.]

Topic 2: Approaching International Relations: Conceptions of the International System

Class 2: Classical Realism (Thursday, February 11)

  1. In “The Melian Dialogue,” what do the various commentators suggest is the relationship between power and morality, between “might” and “right”?
  2. What do the various commentators suggest is the relationship between morality and self-interest? Is the “observation of right” “folly”?
  3. What do the various commentators suggest is the relationship between fortune in war and the righteousness of a cause?
  4. According to Hobbes, is there justice in the state of nature? What are the primary motives of human behavior?
  5. What did Hobbes see as the natural consequences of equality among individuals in the state of nature?
  6. In what ways is Hobbes’ account of the state of nature useful for understanding international politics? What did Hedley Bull suggest are the most useful insights?
  7. What did Carr suggest was the relationship between power and morality, between “might” and “right”?
  8. On what basis did Carr criticize internationalism?

Class 3: Realism: New Approaches (Tuesday, February 16)

  1. What is the role of the distribution of power in Waltz’s account of international politics? Which distribution of power leads to the greatest stability? Given the context in which he formulated his theories, which case(s) do you think he had in mind when he formed this theory?
  2. Waltz & Mearsheimer are both systemic theorists. What does it mean to be a “systemic theorist”?
  3. According to Mearsheimer, what are the tenets of defensive realism? What are the tents of offensive realism? Which does Mearsheimer think more appropriately characterizes international relations? On what basis does he defend that claim? Do you think he is correct? Why or why not?
  4. What is the security dilemma?
  5. What is the offense-defense balance? How does it relate to the security dilemma?

Class 4: Liberalism: Cooperation and Institutions in the International System (Thursday, February 18)

  1. What is the difference between harmony and cooperation? Which is harder to achieve in international politics, and what is the significance of achieving it?
  2. According to Keohane, is hegemony necessary to secure cooperation in international politics? What functions/roles can international regimes play in securing cooperation?
  3. What are the strategies Axelrod & Keohane suggest lead to cooperation in IP? What is the special role played by reciprocity? What do they mean by “conditional cooperation”?

Class 5:  Domestic Politics Approaches (Tuesday, February 23)

  1. What, according to Russett is the single best predictor of electoral success? Why do you think this variable matters so much?
  2. What is the role of interest groups in Rogowski’s account? What determines actors’ economic interests? Do you think the Stolper-Samuelson model best captures actors’ economic interests? How else might we classify actors on the basis of their interests?
  3. Why, according to Bailey, Goldstein, & Weingast, did the Democrats pass the RTAA in 1934? What were the significant institutional innovations included in the law? How did these innovations influence subsequent policy?

Class 6:  Ideas and Culture in the International System (Thursday, February 25)

  1. What does Wendt mean by the suggestion that “anarchy is what states make of it”?
  2. What is the relationship between structure and process in the constructivist approach? What is the role of “culture”? What is meant
  3. How does constructivism compare to rationalism?
  4. Alexander Wendt has famously suggested that is it possible to be a “realist constructivist.” What did he mean by that? Do you agree that it is possible? Why or why not?
  5. What does it mean to suggest that ideas serve as “road maps”?

Unit 2: War and Peace

Topic 3: Theories about War and Peace

Class 7:  General Theories of International Conflict (Tuesday, March 2)

  1. What relationship does Carl von Clausewitz see between war and policy? How does Schelling see this relationship?
  2. What is the difference between a “rational” and “irrational” explanation for war? Under what conditions is war rational?

Class 8: Institutions and Norms as Determinants of Conflict (Thursday, March 4)

  1. According to Kant, what features of liberal republics will lead them to establish a “separate peace”?
  2. How does Kant’s understanding of these features compare to the understandings developed and deployed by Doyle and Russett?
  3. According to Farber & Gowa, under what conditions is the empirical regularity of the democratic peace robust? How, then, would they explain it?
  4. In class 7, you read Waltz’ consideration of “liberalism.” Does he think it is possible to establish a “perpetual peace”? Why or why not? What significance would he assign to the democratic peace, from the standpoint of formulating policy prescriptions?

Class 9: Grow or Die: An Imperialist Impulse (Tuesday, March 9)

  1. According to Lenin, what are the primary motivations for states to undertake imperialism? What level/image matters most in his analysis?
  2. What does Pagden suggest have been the principal motivations? How does his analysis compare to the analysis given by Lenin?
  3. What does Snyder mean by “the myth of security through expansion”? What challenges do aspiring empires face? How does his analysis compare to the theory developed by John Mearsheimer in “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics”?
  4. What does Snyder mean when he insists that “Realism must be recaptured from those who look only at politics between societies, ignoring what goes on within societies? How does his analysis relate to those within the Waltzian (systemic) paradigm?

Class 10: “The Savage Wars of Peace”: Universalism, Sovereignty, & Foreign Intervention (Thursday, March 11)

  1. What did Burke mean by the formulation “armed doctrine”? What might be some contemporary examples of “armed doctrines”?
  2. What is “the white man’s burden”? If one were to recast the burden as “the privileged person’s burden,” how would you find this policy prescription?
  3. What are the conditions under which imperialism–broadly construed (see course lectures)–is justified? Is protecting human rights such a condition? If so, how are we to determine which “rights” are included as actionable “human rights”?
  4. What are the conditions under which Luttwack suggests “giving war a chance”? Do you agree with his suggestion?
  5. Why did the US allow the Rwandan genocide to occur? What could the US have done to prevent it?  What course do you think the US should have taken?

Topic 4: Case Studies

Class 11: World War I (Tuesday, March 16)

  1. According to Gordon, what role does domestic conflict play in having caused the First World War? Do you agree with his accounts of the influence of domestic conditions in these two cases?
  2. What was “the cult of the offensive”? What role does Van Evera suggest it played in causing WWI? What role does Sagan suggest it played?
  3. According to Sagan & Van Evera, what is the relationship between military strategies and political objectives?

Class 12: World War II: The Twenty Years’ Crisis in Europe (Thursday, March 18)

  1. Why was Adolph Hitler such an asshole?
  2. According to Bullock, what was the relationship between Hitler’s fanaticism and his cynicism?
  3. In recent years, historians have increasingly focused on Hitler’s laziness, drug addictions, and military incompetence. How does that rendering compare to the rendering given by Bullock? Is there any way to reconcile to the two accounts?
  4. In several previous readings, we have seen authors using the particular rhetorical trick of framing their arguments in the same terms in which their opponents arguments have been framed. In what ways did Hitler suggest his policies were built on the same starting points as those in practice in Britain, the United States, and the other future Allies?
  5. What was “lebensraum”? How did Germany hope to secure it? To what extent was Germany’s pursuit of “lebensraum” a departure from the previous policies of other major European policies?
  6. What system-level variables contributed to the eruption of the Second World War?

Class 13: World War II: The Empire of Japan (Tuesday, March 30)

  1. According to Sagan, what impelled the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor? Was their decision rational?
  2. What impelled the Japanese to build an empire? In what mode did they build this empire? What were the principal similarities and differences between the approach to IP taken by the Empire of Japanand the approach taken by the Nazis?
  3. What were the key variables at each level of analysis that led to the Pacific War?

Class 14: The Cold War: East versus West (Thursday, April 1)

  1. According to Kennan, what were “the sources of Soviet conduct”? What are his primary explanatory variables? Which level(s) of analysis does Kennan emphasize? Which sources do you think mattered the most?
  2. What was the strategy of “containment”? How was this theory implemented in the context of Western Europe, Korea, and Vietnam?
  3. What was the “domino theory”? What was the relationship between the “domino theory” and Kennan’s theory of “containment”?

Class 15: Nuclear Weapons and the Cold War (Tuesday, April 6)

  1. According to Brodie, how does “the weapon” change the nature of warfare? How ought it influence our strategies in conducting foreign policy?
  2. Did JFK handle the Cuban Missile Crisis in the right way? Which theory or theories of international politics best explain JFK’s approach? Were his threats credible?
  3. According to Waltz, what role did nuclear weapons play in shaping international politics during the Cold War? What role do nuclear weapons play in assuring deterrence? How effective is deterrence? How do his views compare to the views developed by Jervis and Mueller?

Unit 3: International Political Economy

Class 16: Models of Trade Policy (Thursday, April 8 )

  1. Why do economists think that free trade is mutually beneficial? If that is the case, how do we explain the reluctance of states to embrace free trade in their foreign economic policies?
  2. According to Barton, et al, what is the role of power in shaping international trade negotiations?
  3. What have been the principal factors that have driven the evolution of the trade regime?
  4. According to Rogowski, what is the role of domestic interest groups in shaping foreign economic policy? What determines the composition of the coalitions? What variables might drive the coalitions to form along lines other than those suggested by Rogowski? What other variables–besides domestic interests–shape foreign economic policy?

Class 17: Bringing People to Capital and Capital to People (Tuesday, April 13)

  1. What does it mean to suggest that trade and factor mobility are “substitutes”? In what ways are they not substitutes?
  2. As the Second World War drew to a close, international regimes were created to manage international trade (the GATT/WTO) and the international financial system (the IMF); but there has never been a regime to manage migration. What is the significance of this “gap” in the IPE regimes? How do we explain this gap? If a new regime were to be created, what do you think would be its main features and why?
  3. What variables determine the amount of bargaining power enjoyed by states and MNCs? In what ways can states increase their bargaining power? In what ways can MNCs?

Class 18: The International Monetary System (Thursday, April 15)

  1. What is an exchange rate? What is an exchange rate regime? What role do exchange rates play in shaping international economic relations?
  2. Are exchange rate regimes defined de jure or de facto? What variables cause the two to separate?
  3. What type of explanation does Jeff Frieden offer for states’ exchange rate policies? What are the key variables in his analysis? How well do these variables explain the exchange rate policies of the US, the EU, and China today?
  4. How does Barry Eichengreen explain exchange rate policies? What type of explanation does he offer? How does his explanation compare to the explanation offered by Frieden? How well does Eichengreen’s theory explain the exchange rate policies of the US, the EU, and China today?

Class 19: The Mexican Case: NAFTA, Crisis, and Bailout (Tuesday, April 20)

  1. What was the role of political unrest in triggering the Peso Crisis?
  2. What does Edwards mean when he says that the “Mexican miracle” was an “invented miracle”?
  3. If the US, Canada, and Mexico are all part of the WTO, how is it legally possible for the three to share a preferential trade agreement?
  4. Did NAFTA create or divert trade? What does it mean to say that trade agreements “create” or “divert” trade?

Unit 4: International Organization

Class 20: The United Nations (Thursday, April 22)

  1. What are the founding premises of the United Nations? Are these premises at odds at all? Insofar as they are, which has/have traditionally taken precedence? Which do you think should take precedence? Why?
  2. What are the various mechanisms available to help organize the international system? What does it mean for the international system to be “organized”? Does that answer to that question vary depending on the issue area with which we are concerned?
  3. What is the significance of the UN Security Council?

Class 21: International Legal Organization (Tuesday, April 27)

  1. What are the principal organs that preside over international law? Who enforces their decisions? To what extent does international law influence state behavior?
  2. What are jus cogens, jus ad bellum, and jus in bello?
  3. Do treaties constrain international actors? According to Simmons and Hopkins, why do or don’t they?
  4. According to Abbot, how do each of the major schools and approaches to international politics think of international law?

Unit 5: Contemporary Issues in the International

System

Class 22: The Environment (Thursday, April 29)

  1. What was TR Malthus’ “principle of population”? What are the available types of “checks” to population growth? What role (if any) does Malthus’ theory play in contemporary debate?
  2. What is the tragedy of the commons? How does it relate to climate change?
  3. Does free trade lead to environmental degradation? Why or why not? What are the distributive implications of these effects?
  4. Why is Thomas Schelling critical of the Kyoto Protocol? Do you agree or disagree with him?

Class 23: Terrorism and the War on Terror (Tuesday, May 4)

  1. What do we mean by the term “asymmetric political violence”? How does this term compare to the term “terrorism”?
  2. According to Huntington, what will be the major axis of political conflict in the post-Cold War world? Do you agree? Why or why not?
  3. Is terrorism rational? What is the strategic logic of terrorism? Does it work?
  4. In what ways has US foreign policy changed since September 11th? Which theory best describes US behavior?
  5. Why did Mearsheimer and Walt think the war in Iraq was “unnecessary”?
  6. How does contemporary “faith-based terrorism” compare to the “faith-based terrorism” of the past? What lessons can we learn from our previous experience with this type of asymmetric political violence?

Class 24: Understanding and Evaluating Globalization (Thursday, May 6)

  1. What is the relationship between globalization and economic development? What is the relationship between globalization and political development?
  2. According to the advocates of globalization, what are its advantages?
  3. According to the critics of globalization, what are its disadvantages? What proposals do they make for reforming globalization?
  4. How does the current era of globalization compare to the First Era of Globalization (at the turn of the 20th Century)? What lessons can we learn from that past that might help us today?

92 Responses to “Reading Questions”

  1. Robert LaMoy says:

    On 20 September 2001, President George W. Bush gave an address to Congress that sought to explain why Islamic fundamentalists hate America. Bush said, “They hate what they see right here in this chamber, a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other…these terrorists kill not merely to end lives but to disrupt and end a way of life.” Rhetorically, this reasoning was very effective—it pitted America in the middle of an epic battle of competing ideologies. However powerful the rhetoric, it was oversimplified.

    Our readings this week suggest that terrorism can serve either minimalist or maximalist goals. According to David Lake, Osama bin Laden (assuming he is still alive) wants to “stop the West from polluting Islamic culture, force the United States to withdraw from the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, and destroy Israel.” (Lake, “Rational Extremism,” 19). Conspicuously absent from these goals are “destroy the Western way of life” or “overthrow Western democracies.” These sort of misperceptions, put forth largely by the Bush Administration, were a leading cause of our foreign policy blunders over the last decade.

    As we discussed in lecture, the term “War on Terrorism” is a misnomer if we consider terrorism to be a tactic that advances political goals. It is possible to wage war on a specific terrorist cell, but hard to wage war on terrorism as a whole. Terrorists have varying political motivations; as a result, their goals will not necessarily be maximalist in nature. To be sure, terrorism is a desperate tactic, and the demands of terrorists should rarely be granted. However, the moderate success of terrorism in the Palestine-Israel conflict suggests that terrorism is not a hopeless tactic. Whenever retaliation plays into the hands of terrorists, compromise with non-state actors might actually be a better path for states to pursue.

  2. Alexandra McAtee says:

    In last weeks reading, I thought Malthus presented an interesting point on the “evils” of charity. He argues that underprivileged people are part of the problem causing rapid population growth and thus they should not receive donations. In Malthus’s opinion, extending charity to the poor will only make them continue to reproduce at high rates and their offspring will not be able to escape the poverty cycle. While I think this is an interesting point, I do not agree with Malthus’s stance that it is God’s will that these people starve. I feel that charity is a tricky situation because it is difficult to initially determine lazy people from the ones who are actually trying to create a better life for themselves. In my opinion, effort should be acknowledged in some way whereas laziness should not be rewarded. Malthus’s harsh opinion reminded me of the opposition to low-income housing in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, but the reasoning is a little different. In the novel, the argument against low-income housing is that it supports incompetence because you cannot make over a certain amount of money to qualify to live in this type of development; people who are slightly better off economically than the very poor are not deemed poor enough to live in the subsidized housing must struggle more to afford unsubsidized housing.

  3. Tina Williamson says:

    According to Huntington, my favorite, the major axis of political conflict in the post Cold-War world will be cultural, with which I agree to some extent. He describes how people will be divided not by economic or development, but by culture and civilization. While this is an interesting distinction, I do not find it helpful as many of the major groupings of civilizations are found within the borders of nation states. Also, while an increasingly “smaller world” does increase interactions between peoples of the world, I think that this has introduced a level of homogeneity unknown to mankind; today people are united around the world through shared economies, culture, food, even by MNCs. In short, he argues that the decline of the nation state and globalization will being cultural differences to the forefront, which I somewhat disagree with as I think those two changes will and have a level and growing homogeneity to the world stage.

  4. Nicole Glaser says:

    I found Mearsheimer and Waltz’s article, “An Unnecessary War,” to be the most interesting of the readings for Tuesday’s upcoming class, especially because we are able to evaluate their predictions with the clarity of hindsight. In it, Mearsheimer and Waltz argue against preventive war with the Iraqis, promoting a policy of containment due to their belief that Saddam is inherently rational and can be influenced through deterrence. While reading this article, I could not help being reminded of both Sagan’s “The Origin of the Pacific War” (about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in WWII) and Kennan’s prescription of containment (about communism during the Cold War). Sagan retroactively evaluates the Japanese as rational actors looking to maximize their self-interest, even though they did choose war in the end. While Mearsheimer and Waltz both argue against preventive war in the case of Iraq, they, like Sagan, similarly categorize the important political actors in this case as rational. For the Japanese, it was in their best interest to attempt to strike early, whereas the Iraqis’ best interest lay in deterring war as a result of the prevalence of nuclear weapons and second-strike capability in today’s war. As a disclaimer, I do not know how the Iraq situation (and the war on terror altogether) would have evolved if Mearsheimer and Waltz’s policy had been implemented by the Bush administration, and am not trying to argue in favor of one course of action other another, but am simply comparing this article to other sections of the course.

  5. Riley O'Rourke says:

    The problem with the UN tribunals in particular and international agreements in general is that the United States does what it perceives to be in its interest regardless of the law. Even when it does not directly block UN decisions like the US-Nicaragua issue it can still interfere. In the current case of the prosecution of former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic. He is claiming that he is immune from prosecution because the US envoy, Richard Holbrooke, allegedly told him the US would not seek prosecution if he got out of politics.
    ‘The indictment should be dismissed, or the proceedings should be stayed, so that the hands of the tribunal are not stained with Holbrooke’s deception’ the motion said.”
    While Holbrooke denies this, regardless of its truth the notion that a US guarantee overrides a UN tribunal points out a prevalent opinion of the UN’s authority, largely thanks to the Security Council Veto. This same veto problem is shown in how Darfur got no real UN help because China wanted Sudanese oil.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8067078.stm

  6. Mila King-Musza says:

    Abbott’s article delves into the differences between the main IR schools, and how looking at more a situation (more specifically, the atrocities regime) through the lens of more than one of these schools is helpful. As he says, “many intellectual approaches can shed light on such complex social phenomena” (pg 379). I appreciated his idea of treating these understandings as “cumulative rather than alternative” (368), and his comparisons of different schools of thought, along with how he applied different theories to the same situation, is really just similar to what we ourselves do in class (just on a more complex level). I agree with him that this is the best way to fully understand and comprehend complicated issues, but I feel his academic approach cannot be fully applied to real-world time sensitive issues. It seemed to me that he was submitting a better way to study international law and international/internal crises rather than a different method for actually solving them.

  7. Nejla Calvo says:

    This week we will be discussing international organizations and law. Currently, I am taking Professor Stroup’s International Politics of Humanitarian Action. If there is one thing I learned from that course, it is that humanitarian law is messy, unenforceable, fluid, and complicated. Kenneth Abbott’s piece on international relations theory, international law, and regime governing atrocities in internal conflict discusses the construct of international organization through the lens of the four schools of IP: realism, liberalism, constructivism, and institutionalism. He discusses how they can explain the distinction between international and internal armed conflict, the emergence of norms governing human rights abuses, and the increasing reliance on criminal responsibility.

    International law is hard to enforce because states have a right to soveriegnty. There are exceptions in humanitarianism where military intervention was allowed by UN mandate in cases of civil conflict: Somalia and Yugoslavia. States are more likely to comply to international norms because they are aware of their reputation in the international realm. Individuals groups in internal conflict, however, may resort to dirty tactics against superior groups. Abbott explains that Humanitarian law reflects a welfare-enhancing equilibrium through reciprocated compliance and “payoffs”. But how are these norms created, by who, and for what reason? Finnemore’s liberal-constructivist account of humanitarian law is that is is a product of private political action and an expression of social values by committed private individuals. She shares an optimistic perspective that national interests and preferences can be modified through persuasion in both democratic and nondemocratic states. It is difficult for me to believe that nations willingly accept morally imposed norms without national interests in sight. In my view, international law is not effective due to externally modified national interests, but because nations stand to gain from compliance and lose from violation. Of course, Western democratized nations will be responsible for constructing international organizations, and have the right to impose their view of humanitarian/human rights morality because they have the means to interfere effectively in times of conflict. “Might” nations must be the enforcers of international norms.

  8. Derrick Angle says:

    This past week, Sam Huntington’s article, “The Hispanic Challenge,” proved to be the most interesting, and aggravating for me. This topic also led to a somewhat heated debate in my discussion section. Should the United States allow the immigration of Hispanics to this country? Sam Huntington would answer no to this question. According to him, Hispanics do not assimilate into the American culture and cause a division between the Americans. The heated debate that occurred in my discussion section was about whether or not it is a good thing that the Hispanic brings their ideas to the United States. Do people want the Hispanics eventually enforcing rules upon the Americans or changing the way we live? It was brought up that the country, in many ways, is becoming bilingual. Especially in the southern states, there are many people who can only speak Spanish. Is this a bad thing? Huntington would say yes, but I disagree. I think it would be good if the Hispanics learned to speak English, after all isn’t the United States supposed to be a melting pot? I do not agree with Huntington’s arguments and feel as though he fails in explaining his beliefs. He fails to tell us why assimilation is such a good thing, which is a main point to his argument.

  9. Nicole Glaser says:

    Thursday’s readings all discussed the important role that exchange rates play in the international monetary system. According to the Grieco and Ikenberry reading, the exchange rate is the price that a person must pay in his own country’s currency to purchase one unit of a foreign currency. Additionally, an exchange rate regime is the state’s policy that determines the exchange rate between its country and those of other nations. States can pursue either a flexible (floating) regime, determined by the relationship between supply and demand for their currencies, or a fixed (pegged) regime, which is created by the governments’ fiscal and monetary policy and currency-market interventions. I found this reading to be especially helpful in providing a good background for the other two articles that were assigned.
    Exchange rates play a large role in shaping international economic relations, especially depending on state’s policy focus – domestic or international – and their priorities in a global context. Frieden, in his article, “Exchange Rate Politics,” implies that a government can “only ensure its currency’s stability by giving up its principal instrument of monetary policy” (258). If a country has many international ties and finds itself in an economically interdependent alliance, fixed exchange rates have the potential of causing more economic disruption than a more flexible rate. Oppositely, if a government values domestic policy concerns more, then it will generally pursue a pegged exchange rate in order to achieve domestic price stability. In this construct, price stability will help the state avoid both slow growth and inflation. While I found parts of Frieden’s article to be dry, I found that his use of exchange rate politics in the United States and European Union helped to support and explain his theories more thoroughly. Additionally, I agreed with his prediction that “political debates over exchange rates can be expected to grow as the world becomes more financially and commercially integrated,” especially based on the conclusions drawn from his case studies (268).

  10. Nicole Glaser says:

    The readings for this Tuesday’s class deal with immigration and the effect on economies that increased (or decreased) labor sources have on countries’ income levels. Because production in each country depends mainly on two factor inputs, capital and labor, immigration levels strongly affect output. In addition to capital flow and investment, immigration is an example of factor mobility between countries. Factor mobility is important because it increases the supply of capital and labor, making production more efficient and increasing welfare for both producers and consumers in an economy. We learned last week that trade, on the other hand, occurs between two countries when they have comparative advantages in the creation of two different goods, which encourages specialization of production and trading for the good no longer produced in their own economies. Both trade and factor mobility have the potential to increase countries’ consumption and therefore welfare, which is why some economists view the two as “substitutes,” as they can create the same outcome. Borjas, in his article, “The Economic Benefits from Immigration,” uses statistics to show that both immigration and “the principles of free trade suggests that allowing factors of production to move from one country to another increases total welfare and efficiency” (5).

  11. Mehdi Prevot says:

    Unit 3) class 16) question 1)

    In “The Economics of International Trade”, Grieco and Ikenberry present the Ricardian Model of Trade as cornerstone for the argument of all those in favour of Free International Trade. For David Ricardo, who thought up the Ricardian model, free trade is mutually beneficial in the context of “comparative advantage”. This “comparative advantage” stipulates that one country can produce a greater amount of a given good than any other country, and therefore the same country should specialize in producing this given good. If each country applied that model, they could maximize the production of each good produced, which would then lead to a greater world consumption.
    However, G&I also report that the Stolper-Samuelson theorem, considered to be the only valuable argument against free trade, suggests that a group of people (what they call “owners of the relatively scarce factor” p48) would not benefit from free trade but on the contrary “would experience a decline in their returns” (48). Hence some people’s tendency to call for protectionism.
    They still believe free trade is more valuable than economic closure and argue that consumers don’t perceive goods belonging to the same category as “homogenous” but as “differentiated” (52). Concretely, it means that a country might be good at doing one variety of car while another country will have a comparative advantage in the production of another variety of car. Consequently, it seems obvious that Free Trade should be favored by all countries.

  12. Samantha Kaufman says:

    In this weeks reading on the GATT/WTO, in light of smaller talk that Professor Morrison gave to the college dems this past week was great. One thing I was slightly confused about was the distinction as to political, economic and judicial lines by which the author suggested the WTO be revised and amended. I was unclear what types of specific changes, other than further legalization by viewpoint of the judicial activists. But, besides that, the idea that an organization set up to be both temporary and nominal for a small set of specific and pretty homogenous countries became an organization that is now very much entrenched within the international system is both encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging, in that it shows some level of acceptance by the international organization in submitting some level of control to an international body, a system that many agree is necessary on the international level. However, it is discouraging in the sense that the organization has not been created with the necessary levels of dynamism that is urgently needed for such an organization to be applicable and relevant and useful in the international system as it exists and evolves today

  13. Nejla Calvo says:

    This is the second time I have read Sam Huntington’s “Hispanic Challenge”. Obviously, this is a controversial piece that is outright offensive to some audiences. However, for the purposes of this class I will not address that issue. Neoracist undertones aside, I would like to consider the main points of his arguments. Huntington argues that the inflow of Hispanic immigrants causes a division between the peoples of the United States. He states that Mexicans and Latinos do not assimilate into U.S. culture, rather, they reject Anglo-Protestant values and threaten the American identity. Huntington observes that the current influx of Hispanic and Latino immigrants is causing the nation to be bilingual and bicultural. It seems like he would like to say, “Watch out, they are taking over.” I think he has a point that it is important for immigrants to learn English rather than rely on solely Spanish speaking communities in the U.S. However, would it be that bad for Americans to become bilingual? In other countries, bilingualism is the norm. It could be advantageous trade-wise and in the job market for Americans to have language skills beyond English.

  14. Logan Gallogly says:

    Not one of the three reading questions for tomorrow, but I wanted to briefly address Mueller’s argument. I disagree with his assumption that things would have played out the same way in the past 50 years in the absence of nuclear weapons. Some of the reasons he gives are questionable – he says that the memory of WWII was enough to deter states from entering another world war but doesn’t provide a very compelling reason for why WWI wasn’t enough to stop WWII. He also states that a WWII repeat is just as frightening as nuclear war and that’s how we can explain the peace of the past half century. However, I feel like the idea of nuclear war is a definite threshold that states don’t want to cross. As frightening as a WWII repeat is, we have dealt with conventional warfare before and it doesn’t offer the possibility of total annihilation.

    If nuclear weapons are irrelevant, I don’t think it’s because things would have played out the same way without them, as Mueller says. It’s more because deterrence works, and when the most important players in the international system have nukes but would never dare to use them, it leads us to a situation where nuclear war is highly unlikely.

  15. Momo Sae-Lee says:

    According to Waltz, nuclear weapons increase the cost of going to war; thus making deterrence more likely and preferable than devoting lives and resources to the war, which the consequences of it are more immense than ever. Waltz consistently explains this phenomenon in the same way since he developed the balance-of-power theory. He explains that states’ primary concern is the continuing existence of state. As the result, states are not likely to engage in a nuclear war since doing so might put it at the brink of irrevocable ruination. Furthermore, even though the increase in the number of nuclear states might increase the possibilities that one state might accidentally fire a nuclear weapon, it will not actually be as likely as it is initially thought. The reason given by Waltz is that the serious consequences ensued such a foolish act forces nuclear states to keep vigilant eyes on their weapons. Also, historical evidences suggest that it is very unlikely that a major war is initiated merely from an accident. Second, nuclear weapons give power to small states. The higher military power possessed by small states causes bigger states to take these small states more seriously and somewhat discourages bigger states to pursue hegemony through aggressive action due to the fear of nuclear weapons. In conclusion, nuclear weapons, according to Waltz, are likely to promote deterrence and the balance of power accordingly since the destruction of nuclear weapons is extremely deleterious and rapid.

  16. Riley O'Rourke says:

    John Mueller’s thoughts on the role of nuclear weapons and Hollandization seems to run in direct opposition to Mearsheimer’s assertion that all states seek to be hegemons. While nuclear weapons have made such intentions impossible to realize in most areas of the world it seems that even in the 1700s many advanced states were giving up on such bellicose desires. The fact that “Holland abandoned the struggle for power” and was soon followed by denmark and the greater powers of Sprain and Sweden shows that not all states follow the siren’s call for hegenomy advocated by Mearsheimer.

  17. Alexandra McAtee says:

    Kennan’s “long telegram” delivers an interesting perspective on reasons for varying Soviet interests and actions in the postwar international community. He specifically mentions the Soviet dislike of capitalism as an explanation and a history of insecurity for their conduct in foreign affairs. According to Kennan, Soviets feel like capitalism only creates conflict that will hinder their nation’s development. Kennan emphasizes the individual and state/unit analyses. On the individual level, he acknowledges that many of the Soviet opinions displayed through propaganda are not indicative of the opinion of every citizen in the Soviet Union, and that selfish leaders take advantage of the internationally ignorant citizens. On the state/unit level he discusses how the Soviet Union as an entire country views policy and it portrays itself in the international community. I think the Soviet Union’s past with insecurities is interesting because it offers an explanation for their strictness in regards to what they demand from individual citizens. People in power want citizens to put the nation first to ensure loyalty.

  18. Nicole Glaser says:

    Eisenhower outlines his “domino theory,” an extremely important part of the United States’ foreign policy during the Cold War, in a news conference held in April of 1954. He hypothesizes that if one country falls under the influence of communism, then its neighbors would eventually follow, creating a falling domino effect, which would be the “beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.” The domino theory expands upon the geographic and economic consequences of the spread of communism. Some communist countries have the potential to expand into other territories, like defensive islands, in order to gain geographic security in case of war. In addition to numerous lives, important economic resources could be lost, putting communist-leaning countries at a significant disadvantage. Eisenhower concludes his “domino theory” by impressing upon the reporters that the “possible consequences of this loss are just incalculable to the free world.” In order to survive in this type of world economy, free countries may feel forced to turn to communism in order to survive, which the United States strongly wanted to prevent in the Cold War.

  19. Sophie Gardiner says:

    Clearly the war with Japan was a massive failure of communication and overall deterrence. Had the Japanese been willing to get out of China instead of entering a war with the US, negotiations could have been successful. Unfortunately, Sagan implies that the many individual actors in each government impeded the process.
    One of the keys to deterrence that Sagan mentions is the importance of a military being capable of harming their enemy even if they are attacked first. This implies that having a conflict prone country should actually have a strong military in order for deterrence to be successful. Is it ever possible to have deterrence if one state is significantly weaker? It seems as though in our world today “the weak suffer what they must” is fairly relevant because the U.S. can begin wars with anyone less powerful and deterrence will fail.

  20. Nejla Calvo says:

    In discussion section last week, a fellow student asked a common war history question: “Why the hell did Hitler invade a German ally, Russia, during WWII?” It seems like a plausible reasoning for Hitler attacking Russia may be for Nazi Germany to perpetuate its aim of creating “lebensraum” or living space. This idea of “lebenstraum”, described in Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle), was that Germany must expand its territory and create a superior Aryan empire. Preceding the attack on Russia, Germany had needed Soviet assistance in the fight against the British. Soviets supplied most of the raw materials that the Germans used to fight the British, yet the Germans still lost the Battle of Britain. Hitler knew that his defeat in this battle made it nearly impossible for him to achieve his goals of expansion and power in Europe. So, the attack on his greatest ally, Stalin, was not for military gain but reasons of last minute ethnic cleansing before Hitler’s own demise. Also, he promoted ideals of “lebensraum” for the basis of his expansion Eastward and invasion of Russia in 1941. Hitler violated the Non-Aggression Pact with the Soviet Union, but it did not fare well for him as a military tactic.

  21. Derrick Angle says:

    The “Origins of the Pacific War” written by Scott D. Sagan was an interesting article portraying what exactly led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The first page of the article begins with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s thought on the attack which he believes to be “unprovoked and dastardly.” Hamilton Fish, agreeing with FDR, stated that “The Japanese have gone stark, raving mad, and have, by their unprovoked attack committed military, naval, and national suicide” (893). However, the article moves on to state how this outlook on the Japanese attack has “plagued” the understanding of the origins of the Pacific War. Unlike FDR, Sagan would argue that this attack was a rational, necessary one that would help the Japanese not only by means of military but also economically. An economic reason was the embargo that was placed on the exports of oil to Japan, which would also affect the Japanese military for the worse. The Japanese were also demanded by the United States to accept their defeat to China. After looking at the costs and benefits from the Japanese lens, Sagan believes that the attack was indeed rational, serving the best interest of Japan.

  22. Robert LaMoy says:

    Truman’s decision to intervene in Korea coincided with NSC-68’s contention that all points around the communist perimeter would be of equal importance to America’s interests. Unfortunately, as Gaddis points out, this created a situation where the United States defined its interests in proportion to Soviet threats. NSC-68 stated, “In the context of the present polarization of power, a defeat of free institutions anywhere is a defeat everywhere.” According to this reasoning, it was in the United States’ interest to practice some form of intervention every time a nation looked as if it would capitulate to communist influence. This strategy assumed that virtually unlimited means to check communist advancement existed and called for a symmetrical response to such threats (real or perceived). NSC-68 clarified Kennan’s omission of the difference between vital and peripheral interests, but it did so in a way that invariably involved the United States in the internal affairs of countries that posed no immediate (or even tangible) threat to the mainland.

    Whereas Kennan noted that regimes needed a way to manifest their hostility towards the United States, NSC-68 argued that any advancement of Communism would “raise the possibility that no coalition adequate to confront the Kremlin with greater strength could be assembled” (Gaddis, 89). The Korean War was fought on the grounds that “losing” Korea would be a triumph for the Soviet Union, even though this correlation was not necessarily accurate, and certainly not inevitable.

    NSC-68 rejected Kennan’s strongpoint strategy, opting instead for the perimeter strategy, where every area along the border of Communist expansion was of equal importance to the United States. The decision to correlate American interests with Soviet threats, in turn, skewed the American perception of threats: “Judgments based on such traditional criteria as geography, economic capacity, or military potential now had to be balanced against considerations of image, prestige, and credibility. The effect was vastly to increase the number and variety of interests deemed relevant to national security, and to blur distinctions between them” (Gaddis, 90). In this case, one can easily side with our defensive theorists and conclude that American intervention was more conducive to American security when the U.S. did not obligate itself to an all-out defense of the perimeter.

  23. Momo Sae-Lee says:

    From Kennan’s “The Long Telegram”, I think that Kennan emphasizes his level of analysis in constructivist approach. Kennan states that USSR had “instinctive Russian sense of insecurity”, which such characteristic resulted in the unwillingness of USSR to open their country to the Western World, and therefore attempted to undermine it. From this point, he attempts to speculate both official and unofficial foreign policies of USSR based on the effects of such characteristic. For example, USSR’s rejection to capitalism (Western idea) may make them to restrict their trade to only “Soviet’s own security sphere.” Furthermore, since USSR rejected the Western world, they tried to create their own regime by unofficially penetrating communism to domestic institutions and organizations, such as religious institution, labor organization, and ethnic groups, and undermining the existing liberal regime in other countries. As we can see here, Kennan bases his analysis largely on constructivist approach, using USSR’s characteristic of “feared direct contact to Western World” to assume USSR’s foreign policies.

  24. Riley O'Rourke says:

    Sagan’s argument seems to be a restating of the old maxim that “desperate times call for desperate measures.” Japan’s us and them mentality that had fueled the building of the empire, in order to avoid being subjugated by the West, was also the reason they could not surrender their empire. Such acquiescence would run counter to their culture, religion, and foreign policy of the last 80 years. Their decision was extremely rational. However, it was also a misjudged one. The Japanese strategy was predicated on a total victory in Pearl Harbor allowing them enough time to capture and fortify much of the Pacific. Had they hit the aircraft carriers the strategy might even have worked. The rapid surrender of the British and Dutch colonies as well as the crushing US defeat in the Philippines serve to support this theory.

  25. Urvashi Barooah says:

    According to Sagan, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was indeed made rational as a preventative strike, a “necessary and desperate” measure taken by the Japanese. Japan rightly predicted that any attempts of theirs to expand into East Asia could be deterred by the US naval forces. However, considering their dependency on US for oil (US accounted for 80% of Japanese oil imports), the desire for a full-fledged war with US was lessened. The possibility of US imposition of embargo on oil imports also increased the need for Japan to attack the US. Also factors like US demand that Japan accept defeat in the “China Incident” made this a necessary measure. In Admiral Nagano’s explanation to the Emperor, he equated the situation to a dying man where “an operation, though extremely dangerous, would still offer some hope of saving his life”. This Japanese attack on Pear Harbour represented the better of the two evils, a decision though rational, did not work out in Japan’s favor.

  26. Mila King-Musza says:

    As Sagan’s article deftly illustrates, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was in fact a rational decision. Japan was stuck between a rock and a hard place, faced with economic collapse or withdrawing from recent conquests (and therefore losing face on the international scene), Japan concluded that not going to war had a higher cost. The country needed the resources controlled by Western powers, and came to the conclusion that the longer they waited, the lower the expected success rate of war would be. While certainly a decision made out of desperate straights, it was seen as the lesser of two evils. Japan concluded that its only chance of defeating the US would be a preemptive and decisive blow (rather than a log, drawn out war). They also believed that it would demoralize the American people and decrease the will to go to war with Japan. Just because this was a mistaken belief, does not mean that it was irrational.

  27. Nicole Glaser says:

    Sagan’s article, “The Origins of the Pacific War,” systematically outlines his belief that Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor was rational. Contrary to many scholars’ use of the Japanese “insanity plea” to explain the failure of the deterrence theory, Sagan shows that Japan in fact found that bombing the United States was the “least repugnant alternative” (895) when faced with the threat of war. Originally, the desire for Japanese hegemony in East Asia sparked concern in the West, as Japan looked for colonies towards the south which in turn threatened America’s presence there. Japan recognized that their hope for a naval victory in a conflict with the United States would grow smaller as time wore on, especially with war appearing inevitable. Because the country imported 80% of its fuel supplies from the U.S., the threat and implementation of an American oil embargo increasingly weakened their military. After weighing the costs and benefits of attacking Pearl Harbor, Japan rationally concluded that it was in their best interest to do so as “the costs of not going to war were considered even higher” (920). When examining Japan’s initiation of the Pacific War, Sagan concludes that “one finds not a thoughtless rush to national suicide, but rather a prolonged, agonizing debate between two repugnant alternatives” (894).

  28. Nejla Calvo says:

    In “The Origins of the Pacific War”, Sagan discusses the variables that impelled Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. The article opens with FDR’s view on the attack, and that it was “unprovoked and dastardly” and that the Japanese had gone mad. It is a constant trend in American media and literature to portray the Japanese decision on Pearl Harbor to be completely irrational. However, Sagan points out that there were several economic and military impetuses for the rational move. The United States attempted to prevent Japanese expansion through an embargo placed on oil exports to Japan and by demanding that Japan accept defeat in the war in China. Also, Japan was often misguided by US information and there was an overall lack of communication regarding military protocol. Japan’s reaction to the American embargo was desperate, because it put immense time pressures on Tokyo. The decision to bomb Pearl Harbor was one out of military defense and to some extent necessity. There was no possibility of avoiding war and Japanese leaders were fearing an strike from the US first. With both sides under threat, Japan made the bold move.

  29. Syd Schulz says:

    Bullock’s article was interesting because it negated the black and white picture of Hitler that we are inclined to make when examining one level or analysis or another. (In fact, I think you could argue that this is part of the appeal for looking at things one level at a time–black and white solutions are very satisfying). From a unit level perspective it’s pretty clear that Hitler was nuts. From a system level perch, it’s obvious that conditions in post-WWI Germany were ripe for a Hitler-esque figure. Bullock gently reminds us that these two things are not mutually exclusive. Bullock’s Hitler is a fanatic AND an opportunist, a calculated policy maker AND a rash risk-taker. Yes, Hitler took advantage of the conditions presented to him, and yes, he was a product of his times. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a crazy asshole.

  30. Sophie Gardiner says:

    I think Bullock makes some thought-provoking comments on the Hitler’s intentions of war that I have never heard before. Looking back on the outbreak it is easy to imagine Hitler plotting his conquests and the deaths of millions, yet when considered chronologically this is less clear. Bullock claims that Hitler was only preparing to go to war with Poland and that he was waiting on the reactions of the British and the other Western Powers before he invaded. Would Hitler have agreed to settlement talks, if they were very favorable, as Bullock suggests? What sorts of consequences does this have for our modern world if we can’t look back on Hitler and claim he fully wanted World War II? Does it change our perspective on leaders we think of today as violent beyond reason?

  31. Robert LaMoy says:

    Bullock’s depiction of Hitler as an opportunistic and rational actor is a much needed contrast to the standard explanation that Hitler was a psychopath (which is also accurate, especially if one is referring to his time spent as commander-in-chief). Bullock’s article points out how Hitler used political rhetoric to hide his long-term intentions from Europe and other Western powers. The Hossbach Memorandum noted Hitler’s intention to control Austria and Czechoslovakia as early as 1937, around the same time that Hitler contrasted the “National Socialist Revolution” with the Bolshevik Revolution by noting that the revolution in Germany was carried out “with a minimum of loss and sacrifice.” Hitler considers this fact a “great source of pride” to the German people, even though he would eventually incite one of the most deadliest conflicts in world history. Even though we cannot consider Hitler to be a very good commander (as Charlie noted in lecture), he was a masterful politician who exploited the fears and hopes of his populace. The individual-level explanation to the Second World War is insightful for explaining Germany’s military strategy (or lack thereof), but unit-level considerations, in my opinion, explain why the conflict was possible in the first place.

  32. Nicole Glaser says:

    Sagan’s article, “1914 Revisited: Allies, Offense, and Instability,” examines the origins of the First World War and examines previous theories about its foundation, applying these conclusions to contemporary American political and military strategy. During the beginning of WWI, the political leaderships’ “understanding of military operations and control over critical war preparations were often tenuous at best” (Sagan 151). Resulting from an escalation of military action due to increasing pressure for mobilization, negative political consequences included a decrease in the freedom of politicians to make informed and educated decisions. This implies that the events of the July Crisis and the Great War occurred because not just because they simply spiraled out of the control of the states’ involved political actors. Sagan goes on to criticize the idea of the “cult of the offensive,” arguing that World War I was not caused solely by the interests of the professional military, but also by the political objectives and alliances of the involved countries. The offensive military doctrines from 1914 do not accurately portray the “negative consequences that would have resulted if the great powers had adopted purely defensive military doctrines” (159). Sagan concludes by applying lessons learned from the causes of the Great War to contemporary political alliances, like NATO, noting that while international organizations can have defensive political objectives, they must also have offensive military capabilities to safely offset the contrasting aspirations.

  33. Alexandra McAtee says:

    The US allowed the Rwandan genocide to occur because they felt that intervening in would be too costly and yield little benefit for American interests. The situation occurring in Rwanda was difficult for politicians to grasp; civil war and genocide were happening simultaneously, though politicians sought to classify the conflict into one category and avoid the “g word” as long as possible. Another issue was the failed intervention in Somalia, which was an embarrassment to the US and the UN and resulted in American casualties. The US did not want to risk American lives in another case of tumultuous African discord. Expanding the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda would be very expensive for the US because the US is one of the largest economic supporters for the UN, and they already owed the UN money for other missions. The US could have spent money and supplied troops to intervene in the Rwandan genocide. They also could have used their technology to prevent the organization of the killings. Instead, they looked at the situation in Rwanda from a pragmatic standpoint based solely on US interests, and the idea that the US alone would be supporting the mission. Politicians wanted what was best for our country, and Rwanda offered no incentive for involvement with the exception of morals. I feel that the US should have done more. At time, our country had the money and other resources that would have been helpful in lessening the casualties. You cannot fault the US for not wanting to risk American lives because the government’s responsibility is to foremost protect its own citizens; however, the US refused any form of aid and wanted peacekeepers already stationed in Rwanda removed. If the US would have gotten more involved, other countries might have stepped in and helped as well.

  34. Nejla Calvo says:

    According to Gordon, a wider perspective must be adapted in studying the origins of the First World War. He describes how there are drawbacks in observing a state as one unified actor. So, Gordon offers a comparison of the domestic impact on foreign policy in Britain and Germany before and during the crisis in July in 1914. Gordon asserts that the formation of foreign policies stem from domestic politics. An example is the ineffectiveness of British foreign policy. He explains that the reason why the Liberal government failed in pursuing a full-fledged alliance with France can be attributed to a domestic resistance to a reoriented policy on the part of the radical wing within the Liberal party and cabinet (196). German policy, on the other hand, was “rash and aggressive” due to an internal social base for powerful reactionary mass movements. Another difference between the German and British situation is that a state apparatus existed in Germany and not in Britain (strong state + weak regime –> extremist activity). Thus, Gordon explains that domestic conflict highly influences international conflict.

  35. Sophie Gardiner says:

    Human rights have evolved as our global society has realized that there is more to our existence than what free competition leads to. If there were no concept of universal human rights, and everyone did what was in there own self-interest, we end up with a world full of horrors. This discussion reminds me of Hobbes’ argument about the life of man without a Leviathan being “nasty, brutish, and short.” Are universal human rights the foundation of an international sovereign as Hobbes might imagine?
    One of the more interesting points from the readings this week was Ignatieff’s argument that proponents of universal human rights shouldn’t get bogged down in the cultural sensitivity disagreements and forget what they are fighting for. Every time cultural relativity discussions come up I think people are too willing to make concessions in order to stay politically correct. If there really are things we can stand behind and say that no human ought to endure, then we should fight for them. I understand that currently there are many controversial human rights, but we can’t forget the few we all agree on.
    Finally, I think that really the only solution to the international intervention conundrum is to establish some way of knowing if a country desires our involvement. From a simplistic standpoint, it makes sense that if a country were asking for military assistance to fight human rights violations we should absolutely intervene. However, is it ever really possible to know what a country wants? Who do you ask? Would it be in the form of a statement from the government or could you develop some manner of asking the people? For example, many Rwandans clearly wanted U.S. military intervention to stop the genocide, yet the government and the Hutu tribe members probably did not. If opposition to U.S. intervention was the majority, were we right in staying away? In Iraq, it would have been wise to more accurately assess the public’s opinion of U.S. invasion, but would this have really helped our foreign policy or just given irrelevant information?

  36. Derrick Angle says:

    This past week in our discussion class, the idea of imperialism was an interesting, but debatable topic. The discussion made me think more about the United States and its international affairs and whether or not morality is existent when making decisions. Should the United States get more involved with other countries? This question leads us to the idea of imperialism, which is the attempt of one political entity to extend its control over another political entity. In last week’s discussion, we had a somewhat heated debate about the United States and its ability to intervene in other countries. The first thing that came to my mind was that the United States should focus on domestic affairs before worrying about other countries. However, after hearing the arguments of both sides, it became evident that there are many reasons for the United States to get more involved in other developing countries. Expanding on Syd’s post, Edward Lutwack poses an answer to this question. He believes that you should not intervene and wait to see the outcomes. In my opinion, this is an interesting, but unrealistic view. If you let things play out, anything could occur. In order to maintain peace I think that the UN is necessary and does not prolong the conflict.

  37. Samantha Kaufman says:

    In last weeks reading, I was particularly drawn to Amartya Sen’s short pice “Universal Truths: Human Rights and The Westernizing Illusion.” The issues she spoke to, namely the idea of cultural imperialism on the part of western countries attempting to impose their own ideals on other parts of the world, are ones that I myself have grappled with. I thought that her look into the veracity of ideas of “western” and “asian” ideas was a helpful line of investigation for someone like me who has mixed feelings as to whether or not the ‘west’ should be or has the legitimacy to impose such morals that we might see as positive.

  38. Syd Schulz says:

    This week’s discussion and reading touched on what to me is one of the hardest debates out there–where should the US get involved in the world? at what point does intervention for humanitarian needs turn into something more sinister? to what extent is there a universal moral code? does the fact that we have the power and resources to stop humanitarian abuses mean we have the responsibility to do so? And if so, how do we choose which causes are worthy of our attention?

    Lutwack provides one potential answer for this question. He says that we should let situations play themselves out–he believes that the worst human rights abuses have been escalated by ideas of “self determination.” UN intervention, he says, only prolongs the conflict. Better to let things take their natural course. This overlooks the fact that the peace may only come after unspeakable carnage. Which begs the question, if the price of “real” peace is genocide, is it worth the cost?

  39. Isabella Tudisco-Sadacca says:

    I found that Snyder’s analysis of the issues behind overexpansion and the causes of it were interesting. He explained how the myth that security can only be found through expansion is the cause of overexpansion. Snyder explains the several myths of imperialism and expansionism. Starting with that of security, he quoted Catherine the Great, “That which ceases to grow begins to rot” to show the mentality instilled in nations during that time period. This mentality of needing security and power is one we have seen in Realism. There is resemblance in some of Synder’s points with those of Fearon in “Rationalist Explanations for War.” Fearon and Snyder both mention the cost issue of war or expansion, and that it is an important factor often ignored in rationalist theories and actions. There is also a similarity in the topic of offensive advantage. Snyder shows, that overexpansion can lead to self-encirclement economically as well as politically.

  40. Charlie Wemyss-Dunn says:

    Snyder ‘Myths of Empire’ piece essentially attempts to refute Mearsheimer’s offensive realism theory by arguing that, in fact, over-expansion has led to the demise of many empires over history. This over-expansion takes two forms: self-encirclement and over-extension. Self-encirclement is the creation of hostile neighboring states as a result of imperial expansionist foreign policy. This takes on a hint of Jervis’ security dilemma as neighboring states are simply reacting to behavior they deem threatening to their national security. A familiar example of this is Nazi Germany, who through an imperialist policy of expansion for ‘lebensraum’ were forced into an ultimately fatal war with the allies. Over-extension is a more economic based explanation for the demise of Empires, and focuses on persistent expansion leading to a point where the costs outweigh the benefits and ultimately financial ruin. Ancient Rome is an example of over-extension but more in the sense that it became impossible for the Romans to defend all of their empire at the same time. Attempting to amass the finances needed for this endeavor led to financial problems and weakened the Roman empire enough for the barbarians to take advantage. According to Snyder an Empire is a liability and attempting to establish one is solely detrimental.

  41. Logan Gallogly says:

    To continue Samantha’s discussion of Lenin’s piece, I agree that he sees capitalism and monopoly as linked. However, I think Lenin was saying that they are linked because capitalism is a fundamentally unsustainable system. To him, capitalism is designed so that people always want more, more, more, and the only way that cycle can continue is if a country is constantly finding new places to get raw materials and new markets for its goods. This is shown in his choice of the quote from Cecil Rhodes about Britain: “…we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced by them in the factories and mines.” By creating an empire, a great power has a monopoly on all of that land, population and production power, and since capitalist countries don’t provide directly for their citizens like Lenin would want, they have to continue to grow in order to keep the citizens happy. Either way its ironic that Lenin indicts monopoly as part of imperialism when most communist governments were ultimately known for monopolistic control of industries within their country.

  42. Samantha Kaufman says:

    In reading Lenin’s text, I realized that some of my comments and observations have directly correlated to those of my classmates. I too found the links he makes between imperialism and capitalism insightful and more importantly, realized many of my own views on early-century imperialism are quite anachronistic.

    However, one aspect I noted was Lenin’s linkage of capitalism and imperialism as a transition from capitalism to monopoly, which would he considers to be an anathema to capitalism because it inhibits free trade. While I agree that a monopoly can damper free trade due to its monolithic nature, I do not necessarily agree that it could be considered a system that is transitioning out of capitalism. And yet, Lenin does recognize that the monopoly is alongside and part of the capitalist market. I guess I was a bit lost on his point in this section, but I saw it in some ways as the natural extension. But perhaps we are saying the same thing. But I thought the idea of imperialism as capitalism to be a concept I had not considered before, and a compelling one at that.

Leave a Reply

Sites DOT Middlebury: the Middlebury site network.