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Lecture 2

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Political Science
POLI 244
Jason Scott Ferrell

ANARCHY AND THE STRUGGLE FOR POWER – MEARSHEIMER Why States Pursue Power Why great power strive for hegemony is derived form five assumptions about the international system International system is anarchic, which does not mean that it is chaotic Great owners inherently posses some offensive military capabilities, which gives them wherewithal to hurt and destroy each other States can never be certain about other states’ intentions Survival is the primary goal of great powers (maintain territorial integrity and autonomy) Great powers are rational actors (aware of external environment and think strategically how to survive) Three general patterns of behavior result: fear, self-help and power maximization State Behavior Great powers fear each other States must be suspicious of other states and reluctant to trust them in order to survive Consequence of falling victim to aggression motivates fear Each state tends to see itself as vulnerable and alone, alliances are only temporary States operating in a self-help world almost always act according to their own self-interest States understand the best way to ensure their survival is to be the most powerful in the system Look for opportunities to alter the balance of power by acquiring additional increments of power at the expense of potential rivals Pursuit of power stops only when hegemony is achieved Want to gain a power advantage (in relative terms) Calculated Aggression A great power who has a marked power advantage over its rivals is likely to behave more aggressively because it can Before great powers take offensive actions, they think about the balance of power and about how other states will react to their action A state needs to know its limitations to survive the international system Potential adversaries have incentive to misprision their own strength or weakness, and conceal their true aims Find themselves confronting situations and making decisions with complete information Some think great powers invariable end up being punish Threatened states balance against aggressors and ultimately crush them Offense-defense balance that is usually heavily tilted towards the defense Hegemony’s Limits A hegemony is a state that is so powerful that it dominates all the other states in the system A state the is substantially more powerful that the other great powers is not a hegemony because it faces other great powers Power and Fear Fear among great powers derives from the fact that they invariably have some offensive military capability that they can use against each other The reason is that anarchy and the difficulty of discerning state intentions are constant facts of life The more power a state posses the more fear it generates among rivals The Hierarchy of State Goals Great powers occasionally try to foster human rights around the globe Offensive realm: states can pursue them as long as the requisite behavior does not conflict with the balance-of-power logic Although, realism does not prescribe human rights interventions, it does not necessarily prescribe them When great powers confront a serious threat, they pay little attention to ideology as they search for alliance partners Cooperation among States Two factors inhibit cooperation: considerations about relative gains, and concern about cheating Absolute gains: each side is concerned with maximizing profits and doesn’t care what other side gets Relative gains: each side considers individual gains + what the other side gets Deals can be struck that roughly reflect the distribution of power and satisfy concerns about cheating Cooperation takes place in a world that is competitive at its core No amount of cooperation can eliminate the dominating logic of security competition ANARCHY IS WHAT STATES MADE OF IT – WENDT Classical realists emphasize egoism and power politics Structural realists or neorealist’s emphasize anarchy Anarchy is a permissive cause of war Self-help theories do the decisive explanatory work which structural definition cannot Principle of constructivist social theory: people act toward objects on the basis of the meaning that the objects have for them Collective meanings constitute the structures which organize our actions Identity is an inherent social definition of the actor Identities are the basis of interests We can’t always know the interests of others, and what ours should be Absences of roles in IR makes defining situations and interests more difficult, and identity confusion may result Institutions are fundamentally cognitive entities that do not exist apart from the actor’s ideas about how the world works Function of what actors collectively know Institutions may be cooperative or conflictual, but all are stable in self-other relations and are defined intersubjectively Self-help-preservation or security of the self Competitive security system: states identify negatively with each other’s security so that ego’s gain is alter’s loss (realist- power) Individualistic security system: self-regarding about their security, absolute gains, collective action is possible (neoliberal) Both above trade security as the individual responsibility of each Cooperative states identify positively with one-another, not self-help, produce security practices that are in varying degrees altruistic Waltz’s 3-part definition should add: the intersubjectively constitutes structure of identities and interests in the system Self-help is an institution, not a constitutive feature of anarchy What makes up a state before interaction with another? Material substrate of agency (organizational apparatus of governance Desire to preserve this material substrate Interests of state are exogenous to the system: individualistic Interests of state are endogenous to the system: fully socialized Structure conisitons state action through competition and cooperation Realists act on the basis of worst case scenario Many miscommunication of interests in IR, esp. when never having dealt with state before Process of signaling, interpreting, and responding completes a ‘social act’ and being the process of creating intersubjective meanings Reinforcement: relationship is strengthened (or weakened) with constant reciprocal actions Competitive systems are prone to security dilemmas Predator argument: one state is power-seeking, forcing the rest to follow suit because anarchy will let them be exploited if they do not Always lead victims to defend themselves If it stems from unit-level causes: trait teaches others to respond accordingly Is it stems from prior systemic interaction: response is that of learned identity Corresponds with classical realists: inherent lust for power Realists-rationalist alliance ‘reifies’ self-help in the sense of treating it as something separate from the practices by which it is produces and sustained Reification implies that man is capable of getting his own authorship of the human worlds and further, that the dialectic between man, the producer, and his products is lost to consciousness UNIPOLARITY – IKENBERRY In this article, Ikenberry considers America’s current role as an unrivaled power and the implications of this status for the future. -“We currently live in a one superpower world, a circumstance unprecedented in the modern era” In modern history, advantages in capabilities - be they military, economic, geographic or technological - have been distributed among two or more states, such as between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. ▯America’s rise since the end of the Cold War has established a new world order, with the United States as a unipolar power, possessing an unrivaled proportion of capabilities. -Example: in 2006 the United States accounted for 25 percent of global productivity and half of the productivity of the recognized great powers, including China, Japan, Germany, Russia, France and Britain. In addition, the United States spends more on national defense than the rest of the world combined. Ikenberry argues that the ways in which unipolarity in general, and American unipolarity in particular, might influence the behavior of states are many and, at times, conflicting. ▯ For example, the superpower might be satisfied with the international status quo and strive to maintain it. On the contrary, however, there might also exist incentives, including the lack of a strong opposing power or a fear of losing preeminence, that drive the unipole to effect change in the international order. Similarly, he presents numerous ways a unipolar world order might guide the actions of secondary states, perhaps by pushing them to ally with the unipole or, alternately, to form alliances with one another in an attempt to balance global power. As to whether a unipolar world will tend toward peace or even persist, Ikenberry and his co-authors find no easy answers. ▯There are no historical precedents to serve as comparison, they note, and the era of unipolarity is ongoing. Their investigation does, however, lead them toward new questions to ponder as the international order evolves, such as whether unipolarity in its current incarnation is contingent upon the characteristics of the American state. Collectively, they find that unipolarity does have a profound impact on international politics. International relations under conditions of unipolarity force a rethinking of conventional and received understandings about the operation of the balance of power, the meaning of alliance partnerships, the logic of international economic cooperation, the relationship between power and legitimacy, and the behavior of satisfied and revisionist states. Anarchy, understood as the absence of hierarchy, is a core assumption of realist, liberal and institutionalist thought, although these schools do differ on its effects and the extent to which they can be mitigated. The basic idea here is that there is no supreme ruler to enforce contracts; a state can declare its intention, and gather the capabilities necessary, to enforce its will but there are limits to its ability to do so. Other states may miscalculate its strength and the global distribution of power makes it impossible for contracts to be universally enforced. Unipolarity changes this assumption in a number of fundamental ways. 1) First, under unipolarity, one state has a monopoly on the global projection of force; no state combination of states can challenge it on this level. For the unipole, the international system is not anarchical. Its relative power advantages mean that it does not have to fear domination or conquest; it can engage in risky behavior with endangering its survival; there is a higher tolerance for foolish behavior. 2) Second, the unipole has the power to behave as a Leviathan of sorts but this does not mean that the international system is hierarchical. The United States has sufficient power to be able to enforce contracts if it so chooses. However, having the capability to be a Leviathan does not mean that the international system has a Leviathan or that it is hierarchical. The international system cannot be said to have a Leviathan or to be hierarchical if contracts are only enforced some of the time and in an arbitrary way. Contracts must be enforced consistently and predictably. What is important is not who commits a crime but that a crime has been committed. In a domestic setting, justice is meant to be blind when it comes to punishing the infraction of a contract. Such consistency is not a dominant characteristic of unipolarity. ▯The United States may choose to intervene to stop regional aggression as in the case of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 or it may choose not to do so as with the initial stages of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. A decision to enforce a norm is often only taken following the taking into account of political and diplomatic considerations, the effect of which is often uncertain. Hierarchy, therefore, means the consistent enforcement of contracts. If a unipole decides to consistently hold other states to a certain type of behavior and is willing to punish violations of this norm in order to enforce adherence to it one can say that we have a hierarchical system and a Leviathan with respect to these carefully specified demands. The promise to enforce these demands must be genuine and credible; that is to say that the unipole must be willing to enforce the norm in all conceivable circumstances and this determination must be perceived as credible by other states in the system. 3) Third, under unipolarity it is helpful to think of the underlying condition of anarchy or hierarchy as a continuum that varies from issue area to issue area. In some contracts will be enforced by the unipole so we can say that the underlying assumption is hierarchy. Other contracts will be enforced on a case-to-case basis depending upon circumstances, what we call contingent hierarchy. Other contracts cannot be enforced because the unipole does not have the capability to do so; anarchy still reigns in these issue areas A REALIST THEORY OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS – MORGENTHAU This chapter sets forth the six fundamental principles of political realism. For a criterion of effectiveness, the article argues that a theory must be evaluated by its purpose, in this case, “[bringing] order and meaning to a mass of phenomena that without it would remain disconnected and unintelligible”. Focusing on the real and observable phenomena of international relations, political realism critiques the utopian thought of its idealist counterparts, who believe in the “essential goodness and infinite malleability of human nature” and who “[blame] the failure of the social order to measure up to the rational standards on lack of knowledge and understanding, obsolescent social institutions, or the depravity of certain isolated individuals or groups”. The six principles of realism are as follows: Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature For realism, theory consists of ascertaining facts and giving them meaning through reason Concept of interest defined in term of power Assume that statesmen think and act in terms of power Knowledge of the statesman’s motives may give us one among many clues as to what the direction of his foreign policy will be Rational foreign policy is a good foreign policy The key concept of interest defined in terms as power is an objective category which is universally valid, but it does not endow that concept with a meaning that is fixed once and for all Politics is unaffected by circumstances of time and place The content and manner of powers’ use are determined by the political and cultural environment To transform the world would require manipulation of perennial forces that shaped the past, and will shape the future Political Realism is aware of the moral significance of political action, and the tension between moral action and successful political action Universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of the states in their abstract universal formulation, but must be filtered through the circumstance of time and place Both individual and state must judge political action by universal moral principles Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe We can judge other nations as we judge our own, and having judged them, we are capable of pursuing policies that respect the interests of both nations The difference between political realism and other schools of though is real and profound Political realist maintains the autonomy of the political sphere, as the economist, the lawyer, etc, maintain theirs Power vs. wealth vs. law Political realists believe in other views and acknowledge that a man who is only a political man would be a beast In order to understand different facets of human nature, one has to deal with it on its own terms WORLD POLITICS – CHAPTER 2 • Interests = fundamental building blocks of politics • Successful cooperation depends on the number and relative sizes of actors involved, the number of interactions among the actors, and the accuracy of the information they possess • Bargaining distributes fixed value. o Actors derive power from their ability to make the consequences of no agreement less attractive for the other side • Institutions: sets of rules. o Facilitate cooperation o Lower the cost of joint decision-making in the pursuit of valued goals • Rules restrain what actors can and cant do o Make some outcomes more or less likely Interests: what actors want to achieve through political action • Determine how actors rank the desirability of different outcomes • Can be many and varied depending on the specific policy/event under examination • Often grouped into
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