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POLB80 Nov 4 Notes

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Political Science
Robin Ramcharan

POLB80 November 4, 2010 Review End of cold War New Challenges Post CW - Globalization, universal values, new “global” vulnerabilities, etc. o Critical eye on “Globalization” > States proliferate, resistance to R2P In search of an explanation: - Constructivist analysis New Paradigms/Explanations 1. Identity…constructivism 2. Identiity based analysis 3. Culture (religion) Identity Constructivism Social theory of international relations - Identity o Interpretation of interest  Influences o Representation of interests  policies - Discourse analysis o Discourse as structure o Discourse as power Rational determination of threats (structural realism) - “Interests” dominant factor in analysis of state (Realism) Problem: - Threats are not objective exogenous objects or phenomena - Threats are result of interpretation o Ex: nukes become a threat only when so perceived o Interests are the product of interpretation Critical social [critical] constructivism understands interests as constructed in relation to (internal factors) identity 3 Key elements of critical constructivism:  ‘Reality’ is socially constructed  Constructions entail naturalized power relations  Naturalized power relations need to be un-naturalized The world is constituted through meaningful practices People, like states, act on the basis of meanings that things have for them - There is no universal or objective truth Meaning is a social phenomenon (inter-subjective) - For ex. “terrorist” is not an objective term; a terrorist is “discursively” constructed as such. To British, George Washington was a terrorist so it is subjective - IRA was terrorists to UK, patriotic nationalist to some Irish. (was in control by Britain) Discourses as power: Define and produce or constitute the world; - Ex. “Iraqi insurgents” are Islamic fanatics - V “Arab militants” as rational beings pursuing “tactics” Some discourses are very powerful; - Certain elites, or powerful institutional actors, play privileged roles in the (re) production of discursive constructions. - Ex: State Foreign Policies – Dominant relations remain dominant because of the power structures maintaining them Discourse on “identity” - Analysing identity in foreign policy requires undermining the idea that the nation state is a objective natural phenomenon - There is no “unitary identity” - Open-up the black box—the State - There are many identities within State o Which one comes to dominate? o Why and How? 2. Identity based analysis Example: US foreign policy in 3 periods - Cold War - Post Cold War - Post 9-11 great transparency in U.S. Ex1: US foreign policy & Cold War Identity Narrative 1: Containment discourse (geopolitical struggle) - “Free World”(perceived universal value) vs. Communism (totalitarian; bad value) - The U.S. is in opposition to an “aggressor” vs. bad states; just as in WWII o Called them the ‘evil empire’ - US is never an aggressor itself; - US actions are noble Alternative Narrative 2: US as Empire; - Neo-imperial relations with rest of the world (i.e. no direct control), - Unequal exchange How does Narrative 1 dominate Narrative 2? Key question: Ex2 US Identity Post-Cold War (1991 onward) Narrative 1: Multilaterlism; New World; democracy promotion; International cooperation was necessary - In other words, can be seen for them, for US to pull out from global role and focus more on home issues - New threats emerge from anywhere, failed states, rogue states etc; Milosevic equated with Naziism - US military power necessary in PCW world Narrative 2 - Imperial Narrative o Where superpowers could do whatever it wanted - Unipolarity - US as imperial power in the Gulf Why did the first narrative dominate? How did it come to dominate? Ex3: US Identity and Foreign Policy Post 9/11 - Domin
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