POL326Y1 Lecture 1: USFP Intro Lecture

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26 Aug 2019
American Foreign Policy
Kenneth Waltz: what caused war; why was it an important aspect
o 3 images explaining war:
War was the result of individuals held bent on making war; expanding territory; concluded
that this war was desirable
The nature of states determined inevitability of war; boils to democratic peace theory
authoritarian states are more likely to go to war unlike democracies where likelihood of war
is lower/impossible (rejected this thesis)
International system: a system of anarchy (there’s no higher authority to which states could
appeal/protecting their interests; states are responsible for their own security); security
ensured only through amassing military power, not limited to economic resources; it’s
imbalances in the international system that make
o The anarchy in intl. system wasn’t permanent; realists don’t see permanent government
International bipolarity: since WWII
o The international system in a multipolar system, which is more stable than a bipolar one for it
allows shifting alliances to maintain; bipolar systems would tempt one to defeat adversary and take
over them
o Unipolar system: states are rational actors not because they comprise rational people, but rather
they don’t have luxury to engage in irrational acts; a war of choice exhausts all
States are rational for they are disciplined by international system
o In studying US foreign policy, the U.S. hasn’t been rational
o Vietnam War: an act of irrationality, dropped more weapons/bombs than all combatants
o The Vietnamese government US protected collapsed in 95: was interested in going to Vietnam
because of rational domino theory
It was a rational intervention for it did prevent the domino theory
Rumsfeld: there are certain things we know/we don’t know
o Post-Cold War
Faced no existential threat; no need to engage in war of necessity (ex. Iraq war)
Waltz: in absence of threat, policy becomes capricious: it isn’t the nature of states that
makes states rational, its threat of international system; US faced no such threats
Ikenberry: the current environment had to be revised; individuals arent important in states;
nature of state systems can likewise explain war; the US defined the nature of international
system, it’s stability, and likelihood of conflict
Easton: politics is about allocation of desired things who gets benefits and undesired things and they may
do so through custom, market systemwho’s rewarded/not rewarded; market functions, allocation by
commandwho pays taxes, serves in military,
o Political commands have unique feature of being enforceable against will of those being
commanded through coerced violence
Implies that politics occurs within societies; what happens within legislatures through
legislative system to determine policy outcomes
In international relations, politics is understood differently (Schmidt: 1920)
o Politics is not about who gets what, but about basic dichotomy on friend v. foe
o The leadership of states must determine which states to work with/are a threat
o Keep at bay the order imposed by other societies in which they choose to pursue
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