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Political Science

I. Introduction  What is theory? Theories= lenses; tell us where to look for the most important details & focus our attention in understanding; x descriptions  What do theories do? Explain, predict, and prescribe a. Explain- provide explanations of certain phenomenon; hone in on what causes things & isolate certain causes; gives a sense of process/connection leading from one cause to another; need a notion of causality/ finding correlation. Ex) Smoke and fire: Every time I see smoke and fire together, so I know there is a correlation between the two, but I don’t know why. Something might be happening simultaneously as the fire that causes smoke, but I think it’s the fire. We think there are relations/ causes & effects, but they are not always the cause or the only cause. We need to know why things are happening, not just idiosyncratic situations. Ex) Hitler caused WWII, but we need to know what types of leaders like Hitler cause wars in general so we have more leverage in studying wars. b. Predict – prediction is limited in something as complicated as world politics; need to understand to analyze what will happen in the future c. Prescribe- x what should/shouldn’t be done; reality of political science academics are involved in an abstract science that should somehow be removed from politics false distinction but it is true that political scientists are not setting out to make policy prescriptions but setting out to understand the world BUT prescriptions will flow from that understanding EX) Lots of realists believe that bipolar world is more stable than a multipolar world but this shouldn’t be assumed as advocacy for bipolarity. PUZZLE: End of the cold war, US =very powerful stateone might expect it easier for the US to get what they want but had a lot of trouble, very often did not get it (had incomparable and unparalleled advances in technology and economy, communication and information) Biggest diplomatic defeat: SC rejected confirmation for the Iraq War The explanation: Bush administration failed to realize that relationship between material power and outcome is not always automatic, tenuous; there are non-material sources of power and influences that are important; needed to be deemed legitimate in areas where its material power was not enough Predictions: US would see increased institutional balancingother states are not strong enough but would try to tame the US carve out basis of autonomy and resist US trying to take over all international institutions + on a long term, other power would rise to reach an equilibrium (prescription was implied) Prescribe: understand legitimacy is important and is a social phenomenon, don’t assume US values will fit everywhere *cannot isolate event and understand causation and experiment receptively and so many variables because we’ll never see the same exact situation again) & can never say one theory is more true, can only say one guides us more fruitful direction than another Ex) Cold War was stable for 2 reasons. 1) bipolarity 2) nuclear deterrence but theories are never answers, just lenses; theories = paradigms; big bodies of thought from which more specific theories emerge Ex) Realism balance of power theory, etc. REALISM o Widely recognized as the most influential, even by its critics; very long history o Dominated study of IR during Cold War o Most IR theories developed in dissatisfied reaction to realism: says a lot about power of this theoretical paradigm since others developed in relation to it o School of thought that explains IR in terms of power (exercise of power by states)= power politics o Realism describes as IR is, not as it ought to be II. Thucydides- grandfather of realism; realists focus on his account of the Peloponnesian War (Athens vs. Sparta-2 great powers with alliances and colonies) wants to understand the causes- 1)balance of power 2) morality 3) international agreements A. Balance of Power o War was inevitable (Why? Athenian power was growing, Sparta was getting nervous, tried to build its power, and balance Athenian power, and repeat)  focuses on the chain in the relative power between the two to be the cause of instability B. Morality or lack of in IR (only existent in equal standing) MELIAN DIALOGUE- hypothetical conversation between military leaders of Athens & Melos (Spartan colony) BUT takes under given context of power, in this case military occupation o Melos makes a moral proposal but Athens interprets the situation in terms of power: the strong do what they can and the weak do what they must (power is going to rule over anyway) o Morality only exists under equal standing, x talk about common good just surrender (why? Expedience goes with security, while justice and honor cannot be followed without danger) *Foreign policy based on realistic balance of power rather than morality is less bloody (if Melos bowed to power probably less blood shed morality x play a role in IR, power politics might have been more moral because less bloodshed) C. International Agreements/ treaties- ignoring power= simply unrealistic (trying to see the world differently than it actually is) if treaties are based on something other than power, states may try to force agreements on other states but if they’re based on something other than power, might be unrealistic Ex) Kellogg Briand Act- if you believe power is what determines outcomes, treaty isn’t going to mean anything once removed from power, either 1)become a big power and interests dictate and says I should ignore it, will ignore it 2) believe there won’t be war between of the treaty regardless of power foolish and weakening yourself Ex) International Criminal Court- if US bowed to morals to sign it weakened themselves in the process, and if any other state believes US will always stick to this, they’re foolish *Conflict is inevitable and power is central; states will balance power, only power can stop power & ignoring this fact will lead to more blood shed, treaties/ agreement x intrinsically good, idea, treaties and morals are only enduring in the interests they represent 8x prescribing to gain unlimited amounts of power because then everyone will compete for more power III. Machiavelli 1500s- famous realist in Renaissance Italy Starts from the premise that world is dangerous place in large because human nature is power hungry and self interested believed politics would run better if run as how humans actually are naturally be conflictual but in IR nothing to solve this International system- anarchic (absence of overriding political power)hierarchy Some realists note the world is dangerous because 1) human nature 2)nature of anarchy Machiavelli focused on both: statues must foremost ensure survival, in order to do that, must have power  Machiavelli’s idea of self interest; states look after themselves preemptively, states are absolved of any moral duty internationally, even strong states take over weak ones because another state will do so Ex) Romans conquered Greece so Syrians couldn’t, preempts and prevents future threats (use your power or someone else will use if against you) looks as war as a defensive action Peace- states that pursued moral ends rather than power endsled to worse Leaders shouldn’t flinch to do something to protex the states situations “bad things” could lead to prosperity & security leader should power politics IV. Hobbes Era: challenge to monarch Explain why people, together in communities, join national sovereignty over their security A. State of nature = pregovernmental state; everyone looking out for themselves; people of relatively equal power without overriding govt.) state of nature=anarchy Individual gives up some power/freedom to leader to gain security Primary principle: units need to protect themselves; no other moral obligations, risk to help others between they wouldn’t do the same to you Absence of international government, under anarchy always competition between parties so always universal concern is survival Extend logic to get out of anarchy in IR?  be hard to get there because constantly compete for power V. Morgenthau (&Carr)- father of modern realism, specifically developed in reaction to idealism after WWI Thinking is basically a reaction to the series of evens that led to WWII, reacting the idealist ideology that dominated American thinking in the interwar period (=Wilsonian internationalism) IDEALISM- emphasized international law, morality, international organizations; argue that these play an important role in international politics (not like realists which is power); have positive view of human naturecomes the possibility of human progress to change things: humans are generally good, through things like law and organization move towards peace cooperation, particularly prominent after WWI like Wilson reacting to the devastating effects of WWI Forge peace by developing organizations ex) League of Nations based on the idea that war was fundamentally bad Ex) Kellogg Briand Act-outlaw war Realist-didn’t believe nations would follow through & take advantage of the treaty of the weaker states -failed when Germany and Japan got aggressive treaty and League couldn’t stop them became very skeptical of idealism Realist “idealism looked at world as it out to be; blinded placed their faith on an organization that x have the ability to stop aggression” Wilsonian ideals tried to use organizations for peace”too much faith in League, in promises to not use war as a tool of statecraft dangerous because it led statesmen to lead according to how they think the world should be, not the way the world was: power hungry states when no overarching power to control them” Chamberlain argued that Checksolvakia should appease Hitler, let them have a little bit of what he wanted, Morgenthau argued that Chamberlains good motives led to terrible outcomes, policies that led to WWII, believed Hitler’s power could only be stopped with power, wanted to downplay morals because he felt that they had no place in international politics, believed there could be no morality in IP without an overarching power to enforce any order *what modern realists respond to is this moment of idealism Morgenthau argued it should be possible through careful and systematic observation of world politics to discover laws of international politics, science of politics, help us understand how the world is, not how it ought to be (Kennan- Containment distressed that US refused to confront the world power, underestimate violence of the world/ Kissenger0 argued diplomacy should be used to stabilize the balance the power in the world in America’s interest, not to promote democracy or other principles) VI. Waltz (Neorealism) Waltzfounder of realism, wanted to convert this loose body of realist thinking into a coherent theory -wanted to do away with individual & state/domestic level, international/ systemic to understand the big questions in IR look through a systemic level -stopped talking about human nature (which was individual ) to understand IP, what we do need to know is the dictates of anarchy & power (quest for power is not an end in itself; power is a means to goal of survival under anarchy), no longer power hungry in sense implied earlier by classical realists Parsimonious theory (need little to explain a lot) A. Theory of International Politics wants to create a system of international politics only at systemic level B. All systems are characterized by 3 Dimensions 1. Ordering principle (of the system): anarchy or hierarchy Do the units all operate without overriding power? OR Is there an overriding power analogous to a government in a state? 2. Level of differentiation among units5 If all units perform the same basic functionundifferentiated If units specialize to perform separate functions and operate to together differentiated united are interdependent Argued that all states perform the same basic function: Security & survival states are undifferentiated not interdependent  states do not have to work together very much *Anarchy & undifferentiated 3. Distribution of capabilities between units Waltz- explain lot about the stability of international system by looking at the distribution of power across great powers a) bipolar : two great powers: should be more stable (x major systems of power
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