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Lecture 3

POLB80 Lecture 3 Notes

Political Science
Course Code
Robin Ramcharan

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Summary Lesson 3
Those who advocated international organizations /collective security approaches were responding to
the origins of WWI. What caused WWI? This is the basic question that gave rise to the academic
study of IR.
What caused WWI? Historians have suggested the following reasons: 1) WWI was Germany’s fault;
2) the international geopolitical structure “caused” the war; 3) technology/military mobilization
generated war; 4) imperialism and competition between capitalist states; 5) nationalism .
Among the consequences of the war, Germany loses territory and population; two great powers
disappear (Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire); two new powers emerge (USA and Japan);
and the Mandate system emerged under which Britain and France administered former German
To help ‘prevent’ another world war, the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, following President Wilson’s
proposals, created the League of Nations as a collective security mechanism.
President Woodrow Wilson proposed 14 points for a post-war order which included the
following suggestions: the internal governance of states matters and affects war and peace; self-
determination should be granted to former colonies; a League of Nations should be created to
guarantee peace and security.
Among the functions of the league were: ensuring the rule of law; promote parliamentary democracy
in inter-state relations; enforce peaceful settlement of disputes.
The Institutional approach to security is rooted in classical liberal notions of the ability of human
beings to cooperate.
Collective Security (CS) has the following basic characteristics: make aggression illegal; “offensive
war”; form a coalition of non-aggressive States; if deterrence failed, all states would punish the
aggressive state. CS tries to break away from balance of power approaches to inter-state relations: in
CS focus is placed on the aggressive state, not on the material “capacity” of state; in CS coalitions are
not formed in advance - the aggressor is unknown until attack happens, whereas in balance of power
approach coalitions are formed in advance. In addition, CS is designed to be global, with no free
riders or neutrals. A big problem with the League of Nations is that each state had to agree to apply
to collective security. It was up to each state to apply sanctions and how to implement – no
The advent of the League signaled a ‘Liberal’ approach to IR: Institutions are players; The inter-
state system is anarchical but cooperation is possible; optimistic world view (ontology): The world is
not necessarily anarchic. International organizations can manage anarchy, and overcome it.
The liberal approach is Rooted in Classical liberalism. J. Locke : tabula rasa, faith in reason and
rationality, self interest and competition exist to a point, but individuals share many interests;
Rousseau had acknowledged this; A belief in progress is a core assumption. E. Kant : propositions for
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