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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 341
Imad Mansour

Theoretical Notes I06042009 121200Understanding State BehaviourLate 1940s 50s 60smore advancement in social sciencesesp in North America Attempts to formalize our understandings of the world in terms of theories and paradigms to build upon and differentiate ideasPreoccupation with study of international relations has been to answer one fundamental question what causes waroExplanations as a result why we have war and what policies lead to itso how can we try to alter these conditions and build international peaceVariety of understandings of what foreign policy isD Gerner Analyzing the intentions statements and actions of an actoroften but not always a statedirected toward the external world and the response of other actors to these intentions statements and actionsoTrying to understand the behaviour of states as well as the behaviour of state actorsie the PLOs behaviour and how this affects state relations and IRoFocus how states behave and very importantly see Buzan the behaviour of states is connected among one another What determines the behaviour of statesVarious theories by various thinkersSome its the decisions of the state leaders that will shape the states behaviourOthers the emphasis should be on the kind of regime that a state followsie theory of democratic peaceStill others economic characteristics of states govern their behaviourie capitalist states will be out for selfinterest over anything elseWhat kinds of distributions of power exist among states is what shapes state interactionsForeign policy analysis draws from international and domestic arenas to understand state behavioursLEVELS OF ANALYSIS Help organize our assumptions about actorsLocate sources of explanationslocation where we group our independent variablessee Brawley oMovers of the actionwhat we are trying to studyIn looking at the world we see that any phenomenon is driven by a multiplicity of variables We seek to separate them so we can locate the actorsoShelves to organize independent variablesIn this course focus is on two levels of analysissystem domesticSystem level of analysisIn IR we discuss the world as being a system We seek to define the system as the largest conglomeration of interacting and interdependent unitsInterdependence of units in a system also means that we need to think of how the preferences of one actor will have implications of other actors Example what one state is doing or wants to do will affect what other states can or want to dooThus the units in a system cant be too diverse from one another oThe world is mainly divided into interacting subsystemsthe main focus of the study of IR and foreign policy should be the existence of regional interactions and how they influence the international systemFocus on geographic regionsMiddle East subsystem for this courseoArab subsystem isnt necessarily all of the Middle East and its important to make this distinctionTheoriesRealism and its derivatives as most influential in IR Theories add a layer of complexityassumptions tell us how we expect actors to behave In the case of realism some variants discuss the influence of human naturebut the more important one in the literature for Middle East Foreign Policy is structural realismhow much power a state has will determine the behaviour of the stateoPosition in the distribution of power will influence how a state will actBalance of power theorysimple intuitive concept that states seek a balance in distribution of power As long as there is balance of power there is stabilityand no war However theorists disagree on what kind of balance of power will produce stabilityno agreement on which is most stableoUnipoliarityoBipolarityoMultipolarityRealist theories inspired by systemlevel analysis focus on the distribution of powerthe most significant one being structural realismOther theories look at the state as the most important actor but different than realismie Marxist ideas influencing the state etcthis kind of understanding also reflects upon the understanding of relationships between statesoThe world is divided among rich states middlelevel states less space for maneuver in the world confined by states with more money poorer states ranked at lower part of echelon Marxists argue theyre the most exploited states in the worldEvaluating systemlevel theoriesLevels of analysis are nothing in and of themselveswe must evaluate theories based on levels of analysis How do they compare What qualities do they haveProblem with theories their accuracynot much information about where state preferences come fromWhat kinds of limits do these theories haveSee why two states react differently to the same environmentie Syria and Egypt from 1973 to present Operating under similar constraints ie system is the same for bothbipolarity under Cold War towards unipolarity in US supremacyoIts hard to give convincing answers as to why differences exist in states foreign policies This is because explanations arent much when they dont go further than looking at distribution of power we need different arguments and theories to produce a more accurate argumentThe state as a black boxmisleadingit assumes similar preferences which is inaccurate Therefore realists are seen to be oversimplifying the world because states vary in what they want from the world systemoSo some theorists seek to unpack the black box of the state and understand why states behave the way they dosocial processes within the states that would help them better understand why states react differently to the same stimuli What do we look at then What should we examine when we try to create theories based on domestic level of analysisCultureReactions of different parties within a statevariety of actors and driving forcesie democraciesoSome say the foreign policy of a state is actually an outcome of the consensus among bureaucracy of a stateoOthers individual perception of the world that a leader has will shape the states foreign policyEmphasis of the class how regimes manage their societies and how this management will either enable the regime to pursue the foreign policies it wants or to constrain the foreign policies it wants
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