Feed on

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


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. Katy Magill says:

    I think that one of the most interesting things to note about Lenin’s piece on imperialism is the fact that it was written in 1916, at the height of both WWI and a new wave of imperialist expansion. Lenin’s focus on the importance of raw materials in establishing monopolies reflects the recently developed scramble for territory in Africa, exemplified by the aftermath of the Berlin Conference in 1884&5. Africa offered a wealth of unclaimed (at least from a European perspective) resources that European powers saw as vital in achieving the goal of a capitalist monopoly. Post-independence discussions of imperialism in Africa have been characterized by racial and social themes, but it is important to note that at the time that the process of colonization was actually occurring, the most important driving force was a specifically economic one.

  2. Diana Gor says:

    In one of the readings from last week of Waltz’s theoretical analysis of “Man, the State and War”, Waltz begins his second chapter of a discussion about the second image with a reference and acknowledgment that human nature is an important factor that causes conflicts. He notes that: “Wars would not exist were human nature not what it is…” (Waltz, 80). This is the beginning of what soon after becomes a criticism of liberalism and their excessive optimism. I thought it was interesting because in this case he starts with the basic assumptions on the first image –the nature of man– and continues into a larger picture demonstrating why the first image is not a sufficient factor for the explanation of international discord. Waltz’s attention on the nature of man and the appreciation of sociology and psychology to be relevant to his argument strengthen his argument against liberalism. It strengthens Walt’s argument because he does not immediately turns to critique liberalism but starts with a discussion of other important factors (although less important) that complement the third image.

  3. Derrick Angle says:

    This past week, I found the different opinions on war very interesting. It is evident that Thomas Hobbes and Carl Von Clausewitz have completely different views on this matter. Hobbes believes that war is the “antithesis” of politics. In other words politics was created to eliminate war. Von Clausewitz seems to have the opposite opinion. He states that war is basically the continuation of politics. I would have to agree with Von Clausewitz in this case. I agree especially when he talks about how war is an instrument of policy and that it “cannot be divorced from political life.” I feel as though many wars are fought strictly because of poor policy decisions and other relating factors. Therefore, in my opinion, it would make it impossible for war to be the antithesis of politics.

  4. Alexandra McAtee says:

    Kant presents insightful rationale in his arguments in Perpetual Peace. He acknowledges that in the natural state, a mere peace treaty cannot conclude the state of war. Also, he notes that republics are the ideal system of government since this more balanced system makes a nation place more consideration in the possibility of going to war. What could be problematic is Kant’s tendency to have impeccable moral standards. He strongly believes nations can unlock their inner moral capacity to overcome their “evil principles” and achieve this state of everlasting peace in the world. Kant’s strong reliance on morals and his goal to end war forever seem a bit idealistic, as well as somewhat impractical. Not every nation will necessarily be capable of easily discovering their inner morality or perhaps choose a republic as their form of government. The idea for a League of Peace is realistic (today we have the United Nations), but because not every nation necessarily wants to be democratic it would be difficult for this league to completely prevent war.

  5. Nejla Calvo says:

    In the first chapter of “Myths and Empire”, Snyder discusses the myths of security though expansion, or the underlying incentives of imperialism. He explains the overexpansion of great powers through to the role of strategic concepts and their function as ideologies in domestic politics (Snyder 1). There is a myth that state security can be insured by expansion. However, Snyder points out that aggressive policies actually undermine state security. Motives that encourage states to consciously engage in imperialism include security form other powers. Nations may think it wise to secure military resources and bypass negotiation for international trade. Also, there is no sovereign in international relations, which leads to competition. So, I can see how imperialism is tempting. However, Snyder would argue that the consequences of overexpansion include the upsetting of the international balance of power and the cost of expansion. For example, “the most aggressive states make the most enemies.” Therefore, these states face the problem of self-encirclement. States that engage in imperialism usually have ideas prevalent surrounding national security through expansion. Yet, these ideas may lead to self-defeating aggressive policies.

  6. Patrick says:

    the constructivist problems with rationalists revolve mostly around the creation of interests and identity: rationalists argue that these interests and identity are formed by the structure of the international system, whereas constructivists believe that they are the creation of process of social interaction. to me it seems reducible to the classic, unanswerable riddle of the chicken and the egg: what came first, the ideas or the actor? constructivists would argue the ideas do, rationalists the actors. it seems to me that the two interact, are always interacting, and always will. i suppose this is largely what constructivists argue, so i guess i largely agree with the constructivists!

  7. Charlie Wemyss-Dunn says:

    Looking ahead to this week’s readings I wish to return to Waltz and his article ‘Man, the State and War.’ Waltz seems to reverse Keohane’s tactic of starting with realist principles and a realist framework before advocating a different response in the form of liberal international cooperation. Waltz achieves this by starting with a history of liberal thought in the domestic sphere and then in the international sphere before critiquing the liberal argument that a world without war is possible, instead coming to the conclusion that even good democratic states look for war. This takes the argument back to Waltz’s familiar balance of power theory as all states look to respond to the threat of another state’s threatening actions. Furthermore, at the very beginning of Waltz’s essay he asserts that governments use the external tool of war to solve and prevent internal problems such as civil war, sedition and rebellion (in Bodin’s words). “Internal defects” therefore, lead to an external lust for war-making. Waltz ultimately disagrees with the liberal position that domestic pacification without war can be translated to the international sphere for the simple reason that there can be no world government to effectively enforce pacification through other means other than war. In a domestic setting the government has the benefit of a complex judicial system to effectively punish rebels but this is simply not the case in international relations where many governments do not want to become capitalist democracies and be in harmony with western governments. Waltz asserts that a vicious cycle then occurs as the capitalist governments seek to forcibly transform these other rogue governments through the only means available to them i.e. war. I accept Waltz’s conflict of interests argument but I disagree with his over reliance on state’s need for war. I believe that peace could potentially flourish when state’s realize that cooperation is in their best interests economically and socially.

  8. Otis Pitney says:

    While I saw Wendt’s heavy constructivism as somewhat radical overall–certainly when he claims that structure doesn’t matter at all–a few of his key points really resonated for me and highlighted the shortcomings of the rationalist approach. I think it is far too easy to simply look at outcomes and the status quo, to use state interests and strategies to explain their actions, blame it on the international system and call it a day. It seems so apparent that in such a highly theoretical realm of political science, the source of such a system would not factor significantly into every approach. Many of the main writers of rationalism seem to disregard the source of their self-help system and put little emphasis on examining it further. Rather, they callously attribute the source of this international system to human nature and a state’s innate tendency towards competition. The reason we have states is to reckon with such a quality in human nature. Often I think rationalist International political thinkers get carried away by the comparison between the human and the state and the argument that man’s collective creation necessarily mimicks his perceived human nature. For this reason it was great to read about Wendt’s “mirror theory” of identity formation and that “anarchy is what states make of it,” that the international system stems back to the process and state interpretation of foreign gestures. In such a complicated topic my views are constantly shifting with the addition of new perspectives but for the moment I tentatively side with Wendt’s argument that the self-help system we have seen for so long over the course of human history is “a function of process” and an institutionalized practice.

  9. Mila King-Musza says:

    In looking at two of our readings for tomorrow, the Clausewitz and the Schelling (both in Mingst & Snyder), I was struck by how strongly Clausewtiz’s ideas resonated in Schelling’s piece, though Schelling was writing much later. The military environment of the 1960s was incredibly different from the 1830s one from which Clausewitz was writing, but both underline the political side of war, leading one to believe that, though the tactics and technology of war have evolved immensely, the reasoning behind war has not varied too much. This was surprising to me, as I thought the advent of nuclear weapons would have a greater impact on the reasoning behind war. Clausewitz argues that war is simply a continuation of political bargaining. Schelling then explains that it is the political bargaining, and not the military strategy or victory, that is at the heart of the use (or threat of use) of force.

  10. Steven Dunmire says:

    In the Goldstein and Keohane piece that we began to look at last week, I finally began to see what feels like a more realistic picture of how decisions are made. I am of the opinion that we cannot totally divorce ourselves from culture and conditioning when it comes to making decisions. Goldstein and Keohane used the null hypothesis to emphasize that in many cases the variations in interests between two different parties are due to the variations in their ideas and beliefs. The way I envision this concept is that there’s a lens that we’re all looking through as we interact with the world. Our perceptions are naturally shaped by this lens, sometimes in significantly different ways than those of our neighbors. The lack of this concept in rationalism was my major problem with that approach to IP. We are not robots – I don’t think you can boil human choice and activity down to one or two driving influences alone.

  11. Diana Gor says:

    Waltz expresses a constructivist approach to certain extend while writing about the second image analysis. He writes that other aspects along side with political analysis should be considered when learning about war: “To understand war and peace political analysis must be used to supplement and order the findings of psychology and sociology.” He discusses and critics liberalism for its excessive optimism and assumptions about mankind. Waltz address questions for the liberals’ theory as to how transform a “bad” state to a “good” one? And how many “good” states need to exist to ensure peace? I though this criticism is valuable. We all assume that “good” states are democracies. Yet, even at the present with the amount of democracies around the world, we still experience conflicts and fight wars. It is an important question—how many states will we need to ensure peace? Do all states have to become democracies? Or maybe this theory is not possible at all?
    Other consideration then would be, if we continue to see “good” as democracy, should “good” states help transform other states into good ones as Wilsonianism suggests? Or wait for the process to naturally occur? Personally I don’t know if I believe this theory and I think it is a subjective definition of good and bad. What if a “bad” (non democratic) state is peaceful, should we still try and transform it?

  12. Sophie Gardiner says:

    Although Goldstein and Keohane shed some light on the many variations of policy that was lacking in the earlier Realist readings, I think that the weakness in their argument is the point that Carr made: that states opinions (which seem to be similar to “ideas”) stem from circumstances. Couldn’t you argue that the “idea” that human rights are valuable arose because we found that mistreated populations often cause disturbances that aren’t in our best interest? There are clearly examples in Goldstein and Keohane that show that there are ideas which are more complex and interests alone can’t explain, but I think Carr’s perspective is a valid one to consider.
    On another note, I think Wendt and Katzenstein bring up some good points on the social nature of the international system. The concept of “international regimes” doesn’t quite portray this the way I imagine it plays out in the world. Even if NATO, the IMF, the UN or any other institution existed I think states would still care about whether other states recognized them, or whether other states thought they were intimidating enough not to attack. I wonder if Keohane would consider this social environment an “international regime” even though it is just a sort of sense?

  13. Samantha Kaufman says:

    I really enjoyed Nejla’s comparison of Fearon’s explanation as to why leaders go to war with similar problems faced by feuding couple. I agree that in some cases, Fearon’s analysis of the reasoning behind a rational leaders pursuance of war over diplomatic solutions seemed reminiscent of a struggling couple. This was particularly true, I found, in his first reasoning behind the reoccurrence of war, namely that countries strategically misrepresent their ability and willingness to go to war at the bargaining table. This, in turn, leads to a miscalculation on the side of both parties, irrespective of their actual abilities. Like a couple that attempts to hide their own weaknesses or perhaps indiscretions, countries are not willing to openly communicate with those they see as in conflict with their national policy. Moreover, this lack of communication causes further detriment to all parties involved. I guess, what I’m saying, is that, like a healthy and honest relationship, it would be in the best interest of countries to be forthright with their readiness and inclination for war. Perhaps if people and countries were a bit more frank, we wouldn’t always be in the doghouse.

  14. Nicole Glaser says:

    Class 7’s readings all dealt with the relationship between diplomacy and force in international conflicts. I found it particularly interesting to look at these theories about international clashes through the lenses of realist and constructivist approaches which we had just discussed in detail. In particular, Carl von Clausewitz’s article, “War as an Instrument of Policy,” describes war as being just one aspect of political policies. The author maintains that war is “nothing but a continuation of political intercourse with a mixture of other means” (334). It is important to note that war cannot be separated from politics because the relationships between states are necessary to understand this violence. In reality, wars are not caused by or based on pure hatred but rather disagreements over policy differences among governments and their political actors. Consequently, judgments about war are not made solely on military strategies but also political strategies. I agreed with von Clauswitz’s assessment that war is best viewed as the sum of its parts, as “every War should be viewed above all things according to the probability of its character, and its leading features as they are to be deduced from the political forces and proportions” (335). All of the different facets of martial action combine together to individually define each state’s specific course of warfare. The author concludes that war is one of many political tools, which “takes up the sword in place of the pen” (337).

  15. Syd Schulz says:

    I found Goldstien and Keohane’s analysis of ideas very interesting, mainly because it made me notice the extent to which writers like Waltz and Mearsheimer had disregarded the notion of ideas. There is a difference between acting on preference and acting on an idea. Ideas give the actors a much more important role. In the Goldstein/Keohane scenario, the actor has some power to determine his/her own direction. To Mearsheimer and Waltz, the actor follows blindly some path that has already been set out for him. However, while I like this idea, I am not sure the distinction is as clear as Goldstien and Keohane seem to think. For example, when they talk about ideas being embedded in the system, I wonder what the difference is between embedded ideas and blind preference. This demonstrates the fact that regardless of how the situation is approached, actors often follow in a predetermined path.

  16. Nejla Calvo says:

    Fearon’s Rationalist explanations for war offers valuable insight as to why wars seem to reoccur although they are costly. He supports the view that rational leaders who consider the risks and costs of wars may still decide to take part in them. Rationalist explanations of war must go further than merely explaining why armed conflict is attractive for a rational leader. We must also explain why states cannot decide on an alternative outcome. There are five main arguments in the rationalist explanation for war: (1) anarchy; (2) expected benefits outweigh expected costs; (3) rational preventative war; (4) rational miscalculation due to misinformation; (5) rationalist miscalculation or disagreement about relative power. Fearon argues that all fail to address why rational leaders turn to war instead of other forms of diplomacy to settle issues. He offers three explanations as to why leaders turn to war instead of negotiation: (1) private information and incentives to misrepresent this information; (2) commitment issues; (3) issue indivisibilities. I admire Fearon for taking the rationalist explanations one step further in explaining why leaders will willingly go into war after realizing its costly effects. Although, I feel as if his three explanations generate somewhat of a conspiracy theory about rational leaders. His terminology for war incentives sounds more like a power struggle within a couples therapy session than a international relationship between political leaders. They don’t trust each other, they can’t keep bargains, and they’d rather fight to get what they want rather than settle issues in a less risky manner.

  17. Derrick Angle says:

    This past week I found the Goldstein and Keohane chapter Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework to be an interesting read. At first, I felt that the chapter was somewhat repetitive due to its stress on ideas. However, as I continued reading I realized that there was much more to this article. It became evident that Goldstein and Keohane were not just simply stating that ideas play a large role in political outcomes, particularly related to Foreign Policy. In fact, they were showing how these ideas lead to alternative outcomes. The main argument that they were proving through this chapter was that ideas influence policy under three conditions. These conditions are that ideas serve as roadmaps that make end goals clear, they affect outcomes of strategic situations with no equilibrium, and they are embedded into political institutions. In the latter part of the chapter Goldstein and Keohane discuss three types of beliefs that affect the modes of discourse and thought. These beliefs are market rationality, sovereignty, and personal privacy. They state that when these ideas take the form of world views they have the biggest impact on human action. The last part I found to be interesting was where the authors distinguished between principled beliefs and causal beliefs. Principled beliefs are defined by the authors as normative ideas that specify criteria for distinguishing right from wrong and just from unjust. They use the example of slavery because many people knew it was wrong but did it anyway. Causal beliefs are beliefs about cause and effect relationships, which is important in understanding the outcome of international policy decisions.

  18. Logan Gallogly says:

    There was one part of Waltz’s “Second Image” that I found particularly interesting. In a discussion of the strategy of non-interventionist liberals, Waltz asks “can one wait with calm confidence for the day when despotic states that have made wars in the past have been turned, by the social and economic forces forces of history, into peace-loving democracies?” (p. 108) Waltz indicates that although the evolution of states may eventually turn “bad” states into “good” ones, this process may not happen fast enough. To me, this is similar to Keynes’ famous line – “in the long run, we’re all dead.” It’s all well and good to believe in cooperation and peace through the development of international regimes, but these are long processes and individual states may see it in their best interest to pursue what they want by themselves rather than wait for what they want to come about naturally. This is especially true for powerful states like the United States who are able to get what they want by themselves and so might override an authority like the United Nations to do so. The difficulty then is to extend these states’ views of the future and convince them to wait for the liberal process to take place.

  19. Patrick says:

    response week #2: waltz’s notion of “cooperation” seems to revolve fundamentally on dialogue and diplomacy. in the much used example of “prisoner’s dilemma,” if both parties can discuss their decisions truthfully, they both avoid the worst consequences. my concern about the use of “prisoner’s dilemma” is that in the diplomatically “best case,” both parties end up with the same jail time. this isn’t how it works in real life: one party might have to be willing to settle if the other has some leverage. obviously game-theory is a simplification of any real life event: in real life, one party often has to be willing to cooperate more than the other.

  20. Patrick says:

    response week #1: the most interesting idea for me in bull’s “hobbes and the international anarchy” is the notion that “it is, of course, one of the classic obstacles to the political unity of mankind as a while that no external enemy exists agains which a common defense is needed”(726). if this is the case, it seems to me we can’t help but be moving towards a political unity of mankind, then, with globalization. with issues like a “global economic crisis,” “global warming,” and “global humanitarian efforts,” the scope of human problems seem to become more and more global, and our defense might very well have to be more and more global in turn.

  21. Riley O'Rourke says:

    The readings for Class 5 revolve around the role of economics plays in determining the actions of governments or as Bruce Russet says “a clear association between the state of the economy . . . and actions in the international arena (p. 25).” In his article “Controlling the Sword “ the link between the two and the most effective ways to exploit them are explored. The appeal of the “possibility of distracting attention or diverting anger (P.33)” can be very tempting to leaders besieged by low popularity rations or a bad economy. While the trend of everyone loving a scapegoat is far from original Russet casts the spotlight on its role in international politics. A great example of a war used to distract a displeased populace on both sides (although one was a democracy and the other a military junta) that he employs is the Falklands war. The similarity in reactions regardless of type of government surely supports the realist point of view. I thought the other readings reinforce this one nicely. Especially, in “Commerce and Coalitions: How Trade Affects Domestic Political Alignments” when Ronald Rogowski uses the Stopler-Samuelson theory of international trade to explain why factions within individual nations (based on the scarcity or presence of land labor and capital) react differently to international trade.

  22. Nicole Glaser says:

    The three readings for this week all discuss economic policies (i.e. trade) that influence states’ domestic and international political policies. In his article, “Commerce and Coalitions: How Trade Affects Domestic Political Alignments,” Ronald Rogowski explains and then extends the Stopler-Samuelson theory of international trade, which says that forms of trade protection, like tariffs, benefit the owners of factor in which that society is relatively poor while liberalization of trade harms these owners. Additionally, when declining state security or rising costs “substantially increases the risks or costs of external trade, the gainers and losers in each situation are simply the reverse of those under increasing exposure to trade” (323). Rogowski expands this theory to show that exogenous changes have the same effects as tariffs on who benefits from the importation and exportation of goods. For example, a cheapening of transportation costs acts in the same manner as a liberalization of trade policies because the transaction costs of trade are lower for consumers in both instances. Another important effect of the Stopler-Samuelson theorem is that, when joined with “a stark and unexceptionable model of the political realm, it implies that changes in exposure to trade must profoundly affect nations’ internal political cleavages” (326). Rogowski presents a model of factor endowments based on this idea that creates four general divisions with which one can categorize the economy of any given country. The categories are separated by different combinations of the three main factor inputs necessary for production in economies: land, labor, and capital. The model, when combined with the theory of international trade, predicts various political outcomes for each of the four categories, including class conflict and a divide between rural and urban areas. Nevertheless, Rogowski acknowledges that part of his analysis may be “historically conditioned,” in that advancing technology in certain countries may make production factors more mobile and economic adaption easier, which would result in a less accurate model. On a side note, I found this article to be especially helpful when read prior to the Bailey, Goldenstein, and Weingast article, “The Institutional Roots of American Trade Policy: Politics, Coalitions, and International Trade,” also for Tuesday, because it was an interesting theoretical argument to compare to the empirical facts in the Bailey article.

  23. Diana Gor says:

    A response to Sophie Gardiner post-
    I think the UN is quite a new body. In order for it to gain more power we have to give it more time. I also think that Keohane did not mean that it has to be the most powerful body in the world; it is only an organization that was designed to help the process of cooperation between states. I don’t think it will ever be the most powerful political force. The more powerful states within it will always have a greater effect on other states’ behavior and on the decisions that are made within the organization. However I do agree with you that the UN is not as powerful as was envisioned when it was created, but I think that by giving it more time it will adjust and perhaps gain more power of influence.

  24. Diana Gor says:

    Robert Keohane discusses the difference between harmony and cooperation. Harmony is apolitical; status quo exists among countries. No direct action has to be taken for different interests to be met; however, this is not a very likely possibility when there are so many actors involved in a world of scarce resources. It is more realistic to expect conflict. Siding with the realistic school of thought on this matter is only to make basic assumptions. Keohane furthers describes (and that’s when he moves away from the realistic theory) the possibility for resolving conflicts and that states are not necessarily destined to be in conflict for eternity. A way to resolve conflict is by cooperation. For a cooperation process to take place, a number of adjustments to the original goals of states have to be made. Each side reviews their approaches, which in a good ending result in understanding and acceptance of each others goals and in a bad ending discord continues. Achieving cooperation can maintain stability and peaceful environment in the international arena.

  25. Mehdi Prevot says:

    To the question “what is the difference between harmony and cooperation?”, Keohane has a very straightforward answer: “Harmony is apolitical [whereas] cooperation, by contrast, is highly political” (53). I found his argument tremendously clear and convincing. In fact, the distinction between the two turns out to be very important since, logically, harmony and cooperation can never cohabit. The cooperation of several units is required precisely because harmony among those states doesn’t exist: they simply don’t share the same interests. That’s when cooperation enters in the game of International Politics. Keohane presents cooperation as a Realist approach of a problem, which seems not only reasonable but truthful: “cooperation therefore does not imply an absence of conflict” (53). To some extent, cooperating States still struggle in order to make their sacrifices as little as possilbe. Keohane also states that cooperation in world politics can be a failure, whenever the interests of states are too antagonist. Because cooperation is sometimes extremely hard to carry out and, at any rate, always harder to carry out than harmony (which is, by definition, a natural state of entente), it is obviously more rewarding to achieve cooperation. A successful cooperation demonstrates the rational endeavor, by egoistic units, to solve issues peacefully.

  26. Steven Dunmire says:

    Axelrod and Keohane compare decision-making in international relations to “games” like the Prisoner’s Dilemma at length. What I particularly liked was their emphasis on the fact that states do not simply engage in isolated rounds of decision-making; each round of the “game” affects the next. With this in mind they advocate the idea of punishing defectors in order to ensure future cooperation. This is done either through reciprocity, where states reward each defection by others with a defection of their own, or through an international regime capable of punishing the defecting party. The main problem, for which they don’t really have a clear-cut solution, is how to punish defectors that are either unidentifiable, too powerful to begin with, or lack a stronger party willing to punish them. I liked the idea of nine-tenths reciprocity, which would eventually render any echo effect negligible. This at least seems feasible right now, whereas I’m not sure we have an international regime capable of overseeing state relations in the way that Axelrod and Keohane envision. I’m still curious as to how their strategies have played out in the real world.

  27. Sophie Gardiner says:

    What is preventing me from being completely convinced by the liberals’ theories is the relative weakness of the U.N. Keohane and Axelrod have suggested that states have much to gain from making short term sacrifices for cooperation and encouraging the development of international regimes. Why then, is the U.N. not the most powerful global political force? I think that Mearsheimer would respond that everyone’s perceived self-interest keeps them from trusting each other fully and they remain slightly aggressive. Is there potential for more to be gained from cooperation in the world or have we reached a limit to the benefits?

  28. Derrick Angle says:

    This past week, I found the writings of Robert O. Keohane and Robert Axelrod to be an interesting read. It became evident that idea of cooperation, which is different than harmony, plays an important role in views of liberalism. Harmony is defined as the natural convergence of interests whereas cooperation is the intentional alignment of interests. Unlike realists, liberals are more optimistic when it comes to the ability of states to be able to cooperate in anarchy. I also found it interesting how Robert O. Keohane and Robert Axelrod started their liberalistic theories with the foundations of realistic views. In order to model their ideas they use the Prisoner’s Dilemma. This relates with international politics because Keohane and Axelrod believe that similar to the Prisoner’s dilemma, something is desired but not assured. In the case of International Politics this desired attribute is cooperation.

  29. Mila King-Musza says:

    To truly understand the definition of liberalism, it is first necessary to comprehend the meaning of cooperation in international politics, and how it differs from harmony. Harmony is the natural confluence of interests, whereas cooperation is a deliberate alignment of interests by two or more parties. Liberals focus on cooperation in anarchy, not harmony. Cooperation is harder to achieve in international politics, for, as we have discussed, states are self-serving entities. The benefits of cooperation must outweigh the costs of compromise. International regimes, in modern times, have facilitated cooperation among states by tweaking or changing the payoff structure, making it more appealing for states to work together than to be isolated.

  30. Nejla Calvo says:

    The link that I have provided leads to a brief article posted on November 26, 2009 for the People’s Daily Online website of a Chinese newspaper titled “President Hu elaborates the theory of harmonious world”. It highlights how Hu believes that, “The international community should build a harmonious society featuring sustainable peace and common prosperity.” His definition of harmony reflects that of the liberal international relations theorists. For Axelrod and Keohane, harmony is the natural confluence of interests while cooperation is the deliberate alignment of interests (Morrison, Lecture 4, Slide 28). President Hu suggests that the global community has naturally aligning goals in the interest of the world in the areas of economic globalization, the environment, and fast development. Hu points out that, “all nations attach great importance to dialogue and cooperation, as well as disputes settling through negotiations in spite of the regional unrests and conflicts from time to time.” He promotes peace through the elimination of power politics and proposes that IR should strive toward democracy. As of now, mutual respect and equal treatment is what is aimed for in the dialogue of International Relations. Is he supporting the Waltzian theory that anarchy can lead to peace and order when powers are balanced? Or, as China has a growing economy and is emerging as a leading political force, is this simply a ploy to enforce their mightness and rightness as a possible hegemon, which Mearshmier would suspect?

  31. Alexandra McAtee says:

    According to Mearsheimer defensive realism is when states pursue security through gaining power; power is merely a means to an end. With this view, states determine that their survival in the international community is dependent upon how effective their security is, and more power enhances effective security. Since power is not the end, the balance of power can be maintained. On the other hand, offensive realism is when power is the end, and the state seeks hegemony. Along this line of thought, the state is willing to gain power at the expense of other states, so long as there is substantial benefit. Mearsheimer believes offensive realism is the approach states should be taking in the dangerously competitive international society. Choosing defensive realism is risky because eventually a power hungry offensive state will become an imminent threat; this type of situation is synonymous with the kill or be killed mentality. I agree with Mearsheimer’s cynical view. How does anyone know for sure that a state’s motives for gaining power are truly solely for safety measures? Hypothetically, security could just be an excuse for a state’s underlying desire for hegemony. States should be somewhat suspicious of one another when dealing with international relations. Though a state is a collective, it is run by individuals who may have ulterior motives. A state should take advantage of weakened rival states because in the reversal situation, these other states would be likely to do just that.

  32. Isabella Tudisco-Sadacca says:

    Harmony and cooperation are two terms which can easily be misinterpreted. Harmony entails that all interests are met. This is because harmony is reached when all peoples’ or states’ interests benefit those of each other, therefore there exists a balance of all needs and no need to make sacrifices. Cooperation, however, requires negotiation. When cooperation is reached, people or states have made sacrifices and have negotiated to come to a conclusion in which a majority is content. In International Politics cooperation is harder to achieve. This is because it requires nations to sacrifice their power for the better good. With cooperation nations work together to form a decision rather than acting with rational-egotism; deciding whose ideas will prevail is a difficult task especially when it involves the great powers of the world. However, when cooperation is achieved it shows potential for the coexistence of our world. Also, cooperation is usually a response to conflict; this means that if internationally cooperation is met after conflict there is a reduced chance of reoccurrences.

  33. Mirwais Hadel says:

    I found Waltz’s theory to be very interesting, especially the fact that he argues about the importance of balance of power among the international system to sustain peace throughout the world. His theory is based on offense vs. defense argument, which indicates that most states would choose a defensive position for their long term survival in the international system, while some states that are passionate about power choose offensive position to become more powerful and have control over smaller nation states. Furthermore, Waltz’s argument indicates that nations are motivated by expanding power for their self interest, which often times can lead to conflicts and wars such as World War I and the Cold War. However, he resolves this difficult position by offering the argument of balance of power in the international system so that each state will have enough power to maintain stability within their domestic system, while having a cooperative relationship with other countries for the world to exist in peace.

  34. Wil Hardcastle says:

    “…despite whatever measures we take to AVOID conflict,” I mean

  35. Wil Hardcastle says:

    For me, probably the most interesting section of this past week’s readings is Bull’s discussion of nuclear weapons in Hobbes and the International Anarchy. From it, most notably, that the verdict is still out on what effect these WMDs have on international politics. For three hundred years after Leviathan was published no single event challenged Hobbes’s ideas more than the coming of the Atomic bomb. On one hand it reversed the inherent equality man sought to overcome through state creation—the playing field again leveled by the existence of a force that can not only destroy entire countries but all of humanity. However, on the other we’ve seen this fact produce an unprecedented amount of restraint and cooperation among the world’s most powerful nations. Ultimately Hobbes’s views still ring true; that peace is kept by fear. My fear is that he’s still correct about the Nature of War in this world with nuclear weapons, that despite whatever measures we take to conflict, “there is no assurance to the contrary.”

  36. Diana Gor says:

    I am writing in response to the question about our reading of “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” by Mearsheimer. Mearsheimer presents a very clear and convincing argument about offensive realism. He describes offensive realism as a theory which argues that states constantly seek power in order to maximize their security and ensure their survival; he writes: “survival mandates aggressive behavior” (p.21) and claims that in an anarchic system of states, it is of their interest to posses more power, which could be achieved through aggressive means, in order to guarantee their survival. The difference between defensive and offensive realism is the belief of an existent status quo in the international arena. Defensive realists think that natural advantages of defense over offense discourage states from seeking additional power, whereas offensive realists believe that there is not such status quo and states’ goal is to become hegemony. It seems like further in the book he is going to analyze different historical events that support his theory, while disproving liberals’ prediction of a peaceful international community after the end of the Cold War in 1990.
    I think Mearsheimer presents a good argument that convinced me in many ways. It is true that our international community has not turned peaceful as the liberals predicted, and in many cases it seems like countries are more offensive than defensive, for example, Iraq during the Gulf War. There are always many factors leading to wars and the argument of offensive realism seems to be convincing and relevant in the present as well as in the past.

  37. Derrick Angle says:

    I found Thomas Hobbes’ chapter interesting about his belief on the state of nature and its direct correlation with conflict. Hobbes states that “For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, wither by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself.” In other words, if everyone was equal and no person could possess power over another, then the level of conflict would increase drastically. If everyone desired the same ends, according to Hobbes, then they would become enemies due to the fact that it is impossible for them to both obtain what they are striving for. He believes that it is this fear of the power of others that leads to conflict. The last two points of the chapter that I found interesting are the explanations that he gives for quarrel and “the passions that incline men to peace.” Hobbes states that the three principal causes of quarrel are competition, diffidence, and glory. On the other hand, he believes that the reasons for peace consist of the fear of death, the desire of things necessary for living, and a hope to obtain these necessities.

  38. Syd Schulz says:

    I also found Carr’s section on the “Relativity of Thought” fascinating, partly because it had never occurred to me how little control we have over our own thoughts. Carr makes the argument that political circumstances directly influence the thought and actions of people living in a state. This is a scary idea as obviously we all like to think that we alone determine our philosophies and tastes. Carr talks about how philosophies go in and out of style (he uses the example of Hegel in England before and after WWI) and how theories and morality are bent to fit the times. This is evident in today’s politics. An easy example is Barack Obama’s “Hope” campaign. He portrayed hope as the most crucial value, the one on which our country depended. If it hadn’t been a time of recession, he probably would have chosen another slogan.

  39. Nicole Glaser says:

    In Jervis’s article, “Cooperation under the Security Dilemma,” he outlines the problems found in international relationships between states, especially with their varying degrees of willingness or hesitation to cooperate politically. The security dilemma holds that an increase in the security of one state decreases the security of the other states; however, if there is a difference between defensive and offensive policies, then it is possible to make one state more secure without making the others less secure. It is at its most “vicious when commitments, strategy, or technology dictate that the only route to security lies through expansion” (351). On the other hand, if the emphasis is on defensive policies rather than offensive policies and the states are similar in size and power, “not only will the security dilemma cease to inhibit status-quo states from cooperating, but aggression will be next to impossible,” effectively negating international anarchy (352). Jervis notes that the offense-defense balance presents two important questions for international security: how much does a state have to spend to offset the money the other side places on offensive forces, and whether it is better to initially attack or defend. The answers to these questions have many implications on the states’ respective security strategies, including the arms race between nations and their short-run stability. Jervis argues that the technology (weapon types) and geography (natural barriers) found within the states are the two most important factors in determining the proper balance between offense and defense, which in turn allow the states to work towards a better solution to their security dilemma.

  40. Nicole Glaser says:

    In Jervis’s article, “Cooperation under the Security Dilemma,” he outlines the problems found in international relationships between states, especially with their varying degrees of willingness or hesitation to cooperate politically. The security dilemma holds that an increase in the security of one state decreases the security of the other states; however, if there is a difference between defensive and offensive policies, then it is possible to make one state more secure without making the others less secure. It is at its most “vicious when commitments, strategy, or technology dictate that the only route to security lies through expansion” (351). On the other hand, if the emphasis is on defensive policies rather than offensive policies and the states are similar in size and power, “not only will the security dilemma cease to inhibit status-quo states from cooperating, but aggression will be next to impossible,” effectively negating international anarchy (352). Jervis notes that the offense-defense balance presents two important questions for international security: how much does a state have to spend to offset the money the other side places on offensive forces, and whether it is better to initially attack or defend. The answers to these questions have many implications on the states’ respective security strategies, including the arms race between nations and their short-run stability. Jervis argues that the technology (weapon types) and geography (natural barriers) found within the states are the two most important factors in determining the proper balance between offense and defense, which in turn contribute to the solution of their security dilemma.

  41. Isabella Tudisco-Sadacca says:

    According to Hobbes, in the state of nature men live in anarchy. He claims therefore that no justice exists while in the state of nature. Hobbes states that in order for there to be justice there must be laws, and therefore there must be one great power. He also believes that all men are equal, and that each man’s strength and weakness are cancelled out by those of others. However, each man inherently believes himself to be the strongest, the smartest, and the greatest. Therefore, in the state of nature men act on behalf on their own needs, causing a conflict of interests. Hobbes believes that we must decide on one person to accept as being the superior. But if all men are equal, what qualifies one to rule us all?

  42. Robert LaMoy says:

    Above all other variables, classical realists define power in terms of military might. In both realism and liberalism, the existence of the state is taken for granted. But realists (especially classical realists), following the teachings of Thomas Hobbes, tend to believe that war is inevitable. As such, the state functions to provide security that individuals cannot possibly attain on their own. The state of nature—a condition in which man wages war on others out of fear for his own safety—is, in the view of Hobbes and the other classical realists, the worst condition that mankind can fall victim to. Even though states are still bound to wage war on one another, Hobbes was contented by the fact that a security apparatus would at least allow man to live a life of relative industriousness and security. Even an oppressive leviathan would be better than no protection at all, Hobbes reasoned.

    Taking Hobbes’ “state of nature” concept and applying it to the international system, we see that states still wage war on each other for a variety of reasons. International institutions—governing bodies that are composed of representatives from several states and have some measure of legal authority—sometimes act as a “super-leviathan” of sorts that mediate disputes between states. But the impact of these international institutions in preserving the peace is often ineffectual, since a major power cannot delegate too much authority to an institution of this kind without sacrificing a measure of its autonomy. As Hedley Bull suggests, states must develop internal security forces to assist with domestic tranquility. But these internal security forces can also be used externally in an attack against another state. Under the realist framework, a world government or a commonwealth of sovereigns is not a viable possibility in a multipolar world. It seems that even if all of the states were consolidated under one security apparatus, the populace itself would have no means of overthrowing an oppressive leviathan that does more harm than good to its subjects.

    Thucydides’ dialogue between the Melians and the Athenians provides us with a rough sketch of the liberal and realist camps. The Melians, in a position of weakness, argue that the concept of justice transcends time, and that conduct in the international arena ought to be executed according to its principles. The Athenians, in a position of strength, counter that “might makes right”. The rest of Thucydides’ account reads like a realist exemplum—the Melians are promptly wiped out because of their appeal for external standards of diplomatic behavior and their miscalculation that their Spartan allies would come to their aid.

    Modern realists, who suggest that thought is relative and pragmatic, tend to argue that there is a profound gap between rhetoric and practice in reference to matters of state and security (Carr, 86). These realists suspect that idealism is often used as a guise by shrewd politicians who articulate liberal ideals but necessarily subscribe to a realist understanding of power. Carr writes, for example, that “propaganda against war itself is a type of type of war propaganda.” (Ibid., 85). According to this relativistic understanding of state behavior, liberal ideals are nothing but pragmatic justifications of actions that are designed to maintain the status quo or maximize state power. Running with this reasoning, it seems that a state utilizes liberal rhetoric when it declares war out of fear that an acknowledgment of its realist motivations would threaten the legitimacy of its actions. In other words, the United States would never say, “We want to invade Iraq for its oil”, even if this statement were empirically true. Indeed, in the age of mass communication, states are particularly constrained by the need to justify its actions to interested onlookers. Realists suggest that the gap between rhetoric and practice stems from the need for states to attain and preserve some level of security. Liberal rhetoric, they claim, has more to do with the constraints of domestic politics than the realities of the international arena. But it is uncertain whether the realist definition of power provides one with a conceptual framework that is broad enough to understand the full range of outcomes in the international arena. In this sense, understanding realism and liberalism as distinct schools of thought with nothing in common will only lead to case studies that appear anomalistic.

  43. Greg Dier says:

    I found Carr’s writing on “might makes right”, power and morality particularly interesting and relevant. Carr claims that states with power are going to do what maximizes their economic and political interests. Morality is the product of power in the sense that political institutions will shape the understanding of morality to make a particular decision seem intrinsically moral. Although initially these decisions are purposefully crafted to appear moral, they soon are recognized just for their ethical merit and not their underlying political intentions. By this manner “circumstances are the creators of most men’s opinions” as Carr quotes in his essay. This relativity of thought allows us to satisfy our own preferences and further our own interests while providing moral justification.

  44. Zoe Hamilton says:

    Hobbes suggests that the equality between men in the state of nature leads to conflict because if no man is above any other, then no man is more entitled to a benefit than any other. If two men want the same thing, neither has more of a right to it than the other. They cannot both have the thing so they naturally become enemies and attempt to destroy the other. Thus, equality leads to conflict on even ground.

    But if one man is deemed the “winner” when he achieves his goal of destroying the other, is he not better? Has he not proved that he is superior in the faculties of body and mind by outwitting the other?

  45. Katy Magill says:

    In “The Melian Dialogue” the Athenians argue that since “right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power”, the militarily inferior Melians have no legitimate claim to being wronged by the Athenians. The Athenians claim that their actions against the Melians are right because they serve their interests, and the simple fact of their superior strength allows them to preference their interests over those of the Melians. The Athenians also use the argument of self interest to try and convince the Melians to capitulate, asking them to consider the reality that their resistance would lead to their annihilation as a state and of individual Melians themselves.
    The Melians argue that as “just men fighting against unjust” they have a moral obligation to resist the Athenians. Here they exemplify Michael Walzer’s argument that the defense of the national “common life” is always a justification for going to war, and that such considerations should override calculations of the possibility of success. The Melians seek to fight the Athenians on principle, and because of their belief in their own moral justification for doing so.
    This case, as well as many others, raise the question of where states gain the moral authority to justify their actions. While organizations like the UN and the EU attempt to codify the rules governing interactions between states, these groups lack any real concrete means of enforcement. Given this lack of international police force, might may not make actual moral right, but realistically it still determines what a state can or cannot do. This was demonstrated in the complete destruction of the Melians at the hands of the Athenians following their refusal to surrender. While it would be difficult if not impossible to argue that the Athenians were morally correct in killing the Melian men and selling the women and children into slavery, moral considerations did not stop this event from occurring. In a world where states exist in competition and conflict, power is realistically the factor governing interactions.

  46. Charlie Wemyss-Dunn says:

    Carr picks apart the concept of internationalism or an ‘absolute’ standard with a realist view of human nature. This view points to the inherently selfish nature of any policy which is advertised as being beneficial for all mankind. Carr points to Walewski’s maxim to effectively argue that a state or indeed an advocate of Utopian thought clothes “his interest in the guise of a universal interest for the purpose of imposing it on the rest of the world.” The example Carr uses to illustrate his argument is of the British Empire whose contemporary writer’s believed that the “maintenance of British supremacy is the performance of a duty to mankind.” A modern example of Carr’s point is of course the current world superpower the United States when in 2001 the Bush administration argued that the US War on Terror was a global war that all governments must support in order to better their standards of living. An interesting point Carr makes however, is that the interests of the dominant power being imposed on the rest of the world may not entirely be a bad thing as certain benefits are a resulting factor. Although Carr does criticize the Utopian ideal of universal peace as again a product of dominant power interests rather than the interests of many other nations whose ultimate goal may be clean water or popular revolution.

  47. Mila King-Musza says:

    As we talked about in discussion, the Melians and the Athenians have opposing views as to the definition of justice, and what exactly is “right.” The Melians argue that justice is an absolute standard, and that it will eventually prevail, for it is a universal principle. The Athenians simply say that might makes right, and if the Melians were in their position, they would be acting in exactly the same way. Both parties are justifying their policy with moral rhetoric. As E.H. Carr would say, it is the “adjustment of though to purpose.” The weak cite universal, external standards of justice, while the strong argue the powerful may do what they can, as they have the means. Both parties are claiming morality that is on their side, finding principle to back their policy.

  48. Tina Williamson says:

    6. Personally, Bull’s most useful insight on Hobbes is: That social life for polities IS possible while in the ‘posture of war.’ Hobbes states that without a power to be in ‘awe’ of, men will be forever warring in a ‘brutish’ state where no industry, culture, or growth is possible. Yet Bull contends that polities CAN have growth and be socially productive while participating in the ‘international anarchy’ that is national defense. For example, the US in engaged in conflict and yet maintains what some have called a ‘cosmopolitan’ society where social growth is evident in both industry and art.

  49. Nejla Calvo says:

    Hobbes’ account of the state of nature is useful for understanding international politics in several aspects. Hobbes asserted that the state of nature is a state of war, and that in order to keep peace humans must be in awe of common power. Bull suggests that Hobbes appeals to international relations, because of independencies among nations, there are inevitable continual jealousies. The relation of states to one another is not that they are always fighting, but that they have a disposition for it. Even though there are alliances at times, over time there is a disposition to fight every other, therefore, there exists no absolute “security communities”. The sources of war among nations, similar to what Hobbes suggests with the state of nature, include the competition for material possessions (for gain), the diffidence or mistrust (for security), and glory (Bull 721). Both authors suggest that these dangers cannot be averted. Bull asserts that Hobbes does not offer evidence against establishing a world government by conquest or contract, and that there no need for an individual to prefer his own sovereign to a foreign one. Furthermore, sovereign powers create the international anarchy, and internal security forces translate to international relations (i.e. disarmament plans). Hobbes states that all men are driven by passions that incline them to peace, including the fear of death, desire of things necessary for commodious living, hope of attaining them. Men use natural reason to follow the rules (laws of nature/civil law) in order co-exist in the international anarchy. In our seeking peace, we must sometimes sacrifice liberty while entering into agreements. Finally, Bull sums up Hobbes’ theory in relation to international politics with his definition of international society: “a functioning system of international or world law, now geographically extended to embrace extra-European as well as European states, and functionally extended to include economic and social issues as well as political and strategic ones; a universal system of diplomacy and a multiplicity of international organizations, including the UN, the chief symbol of the existence of international society, a world economy embodying shared interests in intercourse and creating new networks of interdependence (736).”

    I agree that men must seek peace through contract an agreement, but also that war is inevitable due to variety and independence between international regimes. I am not sure that a global Leviathon would solve the issues that arise in international politics. Yet, while countries remain politically separate, classic “Othering” will persist.

  50. The notion of justice arises twice in the extract of Hobbes’ “Leviathan” concerning “the naturall condition of mankind”. On one hand, the absolute justice lies in the natural state of mankind since “the difference between a man, and a man, is not so considerable…” From this perspective, attaining justice is deemed as utopist, since socialization between humans inevitably leads to conflicts and wars. Socializing also breaches the original equality in consistency with in-built desires and passions of a human being. To ensure development and progress the humankind needs to create an alternative arbitrary system of justice based on law. Hobbes points out that for a successful enforcement of the Law a society needs an institutionalized hierarchy, which is inconsistent with the original natural equality of human beings. Justice is, then, an arbitrary product of a society since it requires a certain system of values as well as an enforcement agency to base upon. This suggests that justice can be altered, either by society or by various external forces.

Leave a Reply

Sites DOT MiddleburyThe Middlebury site network.