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Lecture 4

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Political Science
Political Science 2231E
Erika Simpson

Lecture 4 International Conflict and TerrorismInternational Conflict and Belief SystemsPolitical cultureElites leaders who make decisionsFocus can be upon individuallevel characteristics especially characteristics of leadersperceptions and misperceptions of leaders eg Executive Committee during Cuban missile crisis and problem of groupthinkskewed perceptions of leaders due to physical ailments can fuel conflictpersonal characteristics of leaders eg Bill Clintonpsychological characteristics of leaders eg Hussein alTakritSaddam Hussein personal weaknesses of leaders eg George Bush To what extend do the personal characteristics of leaders affect decision making and their decisions to go to warDo women make decisions differentlyo Or are they portrayed differently by the media Individual beliefs of leaders matter But shared belief systems may matter more Shared belief systems greatly affect International Conflict Belief systems refer to the underlying beliefs and assumptions we hold to be selfevident they are the backdrop of our thinkingFor example during the Cold War most Canadian leaders believed the Soviet Union was opportunistic and aggressive Right now we share the same beliefs aboutTerrorism Beliefs and fears aboutTerrorism have replaced fears about RussiaThey believed the USSR was a threat and they assumed the United States wasA belief is the mental concept at the basis of an argument or actionAn assumption is the taking of anything for granted as the basis of an argument or actionWhat are some other strong beliefs that are shared that can affect International Conflict around the world Example 1 The fact that there was no war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact for over forty years between 19491989 was often used to support a belief in the strategy of nuclear deterrence Underlying this kind of reasoning is the basic assumption that the possession of nuclear weapons deters warExample 2 The fact that there has been no nuclear or conventional war between India and Pakistan since 1998 is used to support the idea that the Indian and Pakistani governments are beginning to understand and believe in the strategy of nuclear deterrence Underlying this kind of reasoning is the assumption that the possession of nuclear weapons deters war Shared belief systems influence affect International Conflict
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