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The following are the final exam questions for International Politics (2009-2010) with James Morrison. I recommend you copy and paste these questions to your hard disk to ensure you have access to them in the event of a network issue.

Exam Questions

Respond to the three following prompts (plus the bonus question, if you would like) within the prescribed word limits. All told, your final exam should have no more than 1700 words. When writing this exam, remember to answer all of the questions raised by each prompt. (Do not ignore any of the questions within the prompts!) This is slightly different from writing an essay in which you construct and defend an argument. Here your primary purpose is to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding by answering pitched questions.

PROMPT ONE: Answer either (a) or (b) in 400 (or fewer) words.

  • (a) 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? What exogenous changes might also explain the subsequent policy shift?
  • (b) Alexander Wendt has famously suggested that it is possible to be a “realist constructivist.” What did he mean by that? Do you agree that it is possible? Why or why not?

Respond to the following prompt in 650 (or fewer) words.

  • By many accounts, the distribution of power within the international system is the most important variable in international politics. This is true in both realms of international politics (international security and international political economy) where many of our most influential theories take the distribution of power as their starting point. But it is not clear that the “power”  considered (the theories’ independent variable) is defined in the same way in both realms. Nor is it clear that power (however defined) is used to explain the same sorts of effects on international relations (the theories’ dependent variable). This prompt will press you to compare and contrast the use of “power” as an explanatory variable across the two realms of international politics. How is “power” (the IV) understood within each realm? What are the sorts of effects (the DV) the two realms attempt to explain using power? From an empirical standpoint, has one realm been more successful than the other in its use of “power” to explain its outcomes of interest? If so, how would you explain the different success rate? While you are encouraged to think about and discuss this prompt in terms of specific theorists and theories, remember that you must also tease out the common elements of the theories in each realm. In other words, you must highlight the contrasts between the realms as well as between individual theorists.

PROMPT THREE: Answer (a) or (b) in 650 (or fewer) words.

  • (a) Some have suggested that the United Nations, in particular, and the post-war international order, in general, were founded on two contradictory premises: the advancement of self-determination and the protection of universal human rights. Brian Urquhart, a former United Nations official, summed up the tension as a question of “Sovereignty versus Suffering.” What is the nature of this tension? Is this tension inevitable? From an empirical standpoint, which principal has taken precedence since the end of the Second World War? Looking back over the whole course, who has argued that sovereignty ought to take precedence and on what grounds? Similarly, who has argued that protecting human rights ought to take precedence and on what grounds? How do you think we ought to negotiate the tension? What can you say in support of your conclusions?
  • (b) “Do you have a flag?…No flag, no country. You can’t have one.” So says British comedian Eddie Izzard. (YouTubeNetflix)  While Izzard can be quite colorful (read: offensive) at times, there is some truth in his jest. In particular, he prompts us to question: what has it taken to be considered a “country” in the international system at different times and in different places? Who (or what) determines what it takes to be a “country?” What are the benefits and obligations that come with being a “country?” Whose interests are at stake in these classifications and designations? Consider these questions (in bold) with specific reference to empirical cases. For instance, you might consider what Hitler, Wilson, and Churchill considered to be the defining features of a “country.” And/or you might consider the cases of Kosovo, Palestine, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Are these entities “countries”? Why or why not? And/or you might analyze the European Union. When does it stop being a confederation and start being a state? Similarly, should Walmart, BP, and Toyota have seats at the UN? Should the Red Cross? Should California? Should the Vatican? Whichever examples you choose, be sure to speak to all of the questions marked in bold.

BONUS PROMPT: Answer either (a), (b), or (c) in 100 (or fewer) words. (Bonus is worth only glory and honor.)

  • (a) If it were possible for Group 1 to share the glory and honor of being the best group, would we expect Group 1 to do so? What logic would animate Group 1’s decision?
  • (b) If Group 2 were an animal, what animal would it be and why?
  • (c) What’s the deal with Group 3?
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