Thursday September 19 , 2013
POLS 2940- Introduction to International Politics
What is International Politics?
International Relations vs. Comparative Politics
o International relations: studying global politics
o Comparative politics: compares different types of states, institutions
Argument made by global politics – is you cant understand
states without understanding global context.
Example of Russia – if you look at it in a comparative
politic perspective we can say that we cant understand
how Russia acts without understanding first of all going
back to pre soviet or Russian empire . to understand
how that has created a culture.
International politics perspective – it could illuminate
the nature of power politics in a global weather. You the
point out how Russia is attempting to increase its power
in the world stage. It wants to be seen in major player. It
wants to balance its power to what it sees as the
threatening US power. The growing power of China, the
goring power of India. Trying to find its way in the
system of global power.
You can look at how energy power is affecting state
behavior. The European union is reliant on Russian oil
and gas. Its used as a political tool (their energy power)
Go back to comparative politics – point out political
culture the kinds of institution that have develop.
o Both Comparative Politics and International relations are very
valuable but they focus on different things. You can understand
everything that goes on in the world without either or.
History has been used to explain by philosophers what happens around us.
Histories are a lesson to explain things that are happening today.
Example is the Rwandan Genocide – Tutsis killed by the
Eugenics – characteristics were compared to Europeans and
the Tutsis were more similar . Germans turned them into the
administrative class. Class privileges went to the Tutsis and not
the Hutus. This started to create resentment by the Hutus. But
happens after ww1 Germany looses colonial possession then Belgium takes over as a colony and they decide to make them
carry cards as identify themselves as Hutus and Tutsis. They
institutionalized these differences so even if they were mixed
and made a choice. When the forces went in and started
slaughtering people from village to village, they checked cards.
Without understanding history we wouldn’t understand
the struggle. History helps us illuminate that there is
much more then just slaughtering. There is Colonialism
involved, class conflict. All sorts of things involved.
o History can be used to explain causes
o Can be used to justify actions-
for example the Bush regime , historical comparison to peal
harbor. Trying to evoke the kind of emotions and use emotions
as propaganda to outrage the population and justify anything
that they did. It can be misused.
o History can be used for those who are seeking to understand and
those attempting to justify.
o History is highly interpretive.
No one was there at every moment of history seeing things so
we have to rely on the interpretation of people
o Problems of history are that it can be very helpful but it can also be
quite dangerous sometimes.
It shows us how some of the same kinds of questions about politics that we
ask today have been asked for thousands of years.
o Best person to govern in perfect state, someone superior in the ways
of philosophy and war
If you look at American elections, they try to sell a leader. All
we need is the right ruler everything will be fine
Obama – someone with the best intentions had to work
in a political structure that was imperfect. Many more
road blocks then opportunities. Things are impossible.
Almost nothing gets done.
Philosophy involves a question about human nature as well. What is the basic
human condition? How do people interact? We are not solitary in society we
have to communicate with others in order to solve our problems. What is our
o Our human nature is one of greed and self service. We want to
survive and get as much as we can.
o We are greedy people and if you left us all alone we would kill the
human race. We would destroy it o Without authority there would be anarchy,
If you take the idea of anarchy and no order this is how many
people view the international system. International system is
referred to as an Anarchical system, there is no order every
state country is self serving.. Each state is driven by self
o Hobbes saw the answer in a Centralized unitary state- Leviathan:
without this kind of centralized authority we will be screwed
Rousseau: ‘general will’
o Agreed that we as humans are self-interested.
o Dilemma that we have as human beings– short term self interest and
long term common interest. Solution is to stay in smaller communities
were we submit to the general will or common interest.
o He disagrees with Hobbes of the huge centralized state. They had a
common view of human nature but they have a different solution.
Contributions of History and Philosophy
The tradition laid by these philosophers contributed to development of
international relations because it calls attention to fundamental
relationships , asks questions about our relationships such as :
o Individuals & society – relationships between individuals and society.
What is the relationship
o Individuals in society- against other people
o Between societies- country or state vs state
o Nature of humans
o And broad characteristics of the state and international society- is
there order, cooperation?
Methods in Social Sciences: 3 Types of Analysis
Asking questions of how things should be. In a perfect world
What ought to be
o For example Plato said in a perfect world we would have a
What we think is morally right, what we think is the right thing to do. What is
just , ethically right
The way things really are o Not putting a question mark of good or bad. This is just how it is.
Trying to find out the way the world is ACTUALLY working or exist
Its trying to be more factual
What we do is compare the way things should be to the way things are then we
get to the third type which is :
How do we get from positive to normative
o Ways to solving these problems
Applying to specific policy
In international relations, should US go into Syria?
Do we have an obligation for people in poverty?
Behaviorism: moving away from history and philosophy
Behaviorism – born in social science , as a way to make the studies of politic
To make social science more scientific to make it more efficient.
o Describe, explain predict more accurately the world around us.
o Correlates of war project (Mingst)
Understand major causes of war
Group of scholars to find the answers to gather more statistics
to make generalization on why wars exists so they can predict
it so we can some how stop them or intervene.
o Problems about it . sometimes the goal became about being more
scientific , they lost sight of the real goal. The real goal is to
understand it but it got to scientific( do we have the right variables,
o How scientific?
Often results are based on the choices you make when you do
that kind of research.
Correlates of war – which did you include , which didn’t
you include, what aspects of war? This could change
your findings and have a significant effect of the
conclusions you make
Shifting away Dominate part of analysis is still behaviorism. Still has a strong
emphasis in America.
o Neglects foundational questions (big questions)
Human nature, how the state works, how the system works .it
never asks those questions.
Public policy approach
o Asks questions about how specific policies are determined.
o Involves combination of normative and positive analysis whether
explicitly or implicitly stated or not.
Eg.) Canadian government troops to Afghanistan. Some of the
reasons they gave. Stated reason. Positive: part of NATA
obligation as member of NATO, Looking for Osama, maintain
relationship with the US, promoting democracy. There was a
normative idea that we had a moral obligation.
There was positive one – government provided
evidence on how the Taliban abused power, repressing
women , undemocratic. It used positive elements to
enforce these normative ideas.
o Idea is that our ideas about global politics are ideas about history,
philosophy. Analytical modes of inquiry : positive , normative ,
strategic these are the basis of studying global politics today .
What is Theory?
Theory is a belief, policy, procedure proposed or followed as the basis of
Theories are based on ideas; these ideas are connected to action. Theory is
not disconnected to reality
Theory is always for someone and for some purpose
o It’s written to influence someone in the actions that are taken by
Theory always has a historical context
o Real people at real particular points in history
Eg. The theory of: Nuclear deterrence
Part of the cold war struggle between the soviet union
and the United states. 1950s &1980s. these theories
where trying to explain particular policies in these
periods. If you don’t understand the period you wont
understande the idea of nuclear deterrence of what its
Theories are trying to make reality clearer and easier to
comprehend Theory tries to make reality clearer
o Why policy-makers act the way they do
What does theory tries to do?
Theories try to :
It tries to explain for example the US motivation for trying to
go into Syria.
o Why issues came about (causal factors)
Causal factors of Syria – Syria has a long line of repressive
o Variables, comparisons, possible outcomes
Variables – different factors.
Type of government , the level of economic
Outcome of Syria- civil war for yrs. like Iraq, positive
o Normative questions: what should be done?
What kinds of theories are there?
Grand (macro level) theories
Big picture questions, provide over arching explanation based
on the goals,
o Global norms and values
o State system
o Global phenomena- like war epic conflict.
Middle Level Theories
Role of institutions. Eg.) UN
o Regional associations
Micro Level Theories
o Non-state actors
Social movements for example.
These levels are not disconnected, there is a lot of interplay within all of
them . Interacted or interconnected .
What are the key debates and issues?
Conflict vs. cooperation
Levels of analysis
System, state, bureaucracy, individual
Structure vs. Agency
Freedom to act
o Powerful interests , institutions, norms
Agencys – freedom of actor to make dissions
(left of at 30mins) Thursday September 26 , 2013
POLS 2940- Introduction to International Politics
The Historical Context of International Politics
We cant understand what happens today without looking at the past
Any kind of history isn’t one of fact but of interpretation. A story or a
Political history – Mingst
International society- Baylis ; diplomatic history
Political , diplomatic , social history
o Greek city states
o 500BC , intercity relation that suggests forms of cooperation
o councils among various city states
sense of rules
o shared moral understandings about right wrong way to conduct int
affairs. Religious morals
o philosophical traditions in Athens 500bc – ingrained in political
o conceptions of democracy , justice and ethics. Helped shape context of
o conceptions of the just war- certain wars just and fair
o rules of war
o scared natures of treaties
o 50bc – 400ad
o incorporated many Greek city state. Larger political state
o Systero – common law among nation ideas
o Expansion of power and centralization of power
o Ruling , allowing autonomy
Early Middle Ages
Fall of roman empire 400 AD. Ending renaissance
o decentragation of roman empire
o political system descentigrated
o based around feudalism
feudalism o land granted by local rulers to nobility classes. They would grant
small bits of land to lesser landlords in return they were expected to
provide solider some form of tribute. In return a grant of the land and
a number of workers – serves or peasants (economic structure of
catholic church, Orthodox/ Byzantine
o accepted Christian faith, bishops given tracks of land. They could
collect tides – 10% of what peasants made had to give to the church.
o It was in the interest of the church to keep the political and social
structure intact. Political authority and economic authority.
o Church legitimized the social order of things . it preached don’t worry
about the life accept what you’ve been given , if you accept it you will
o They discouraged wealth as a pursuit – ungodly to make a lot of
money. Held powerful socialization over the masses
o Rival church- Orthodox church
‘Holy Roman Empire’
o Tried to revive Roman Empire.
o Charlemagne –
Based on Hierarchy , Tradition , Role of the church
- for many people in the middle ages life was very bleak , only lived to 30’s.
Later Middle Ages
o started to see people travel old roman roads – merchants would travel
around , surrounded by guards. Would go to communities , started to
bring things from all parts of Europe , India . China.
o Brought communication and ideas
o Beginnings of awakening of Europe
o Would start making towns
o Trade system
o Larger and larger towns
o 11 century – catholic church afraid of Islamic empire.
o Encouraged knights (with crosses) go on crusades. Free the holy land
o As they travelled they brought back new ideas Protestant reformation
o John Calvin, Martin Luther
o Challenged the ideas of catholic church. dominant ideas ; If you want
to know Gods will you need to go to the pope
o Challenge how you can have a relationship- you can have personal