GOVT 314 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Democratic Peace Theory, Power Transition Theory, Security Dilemma

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28 Mar 2016
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Gov 102 Exam 1 Notes and Study Guide
February 2016
Building Blocks of International Relations Theory
States (countries) as main unit of analysis
Anarchy and the “911 problem
oDecentralized power; no central authority
Security Dilemma (the situation that states face when they arm to defend themselves and
in the process threaten other states.
oZero-sum logic
oDifferent levels of intensity
oArms race spiral; threat potential for countries.
Analytical Toolbox
Competing theories and arguments (case by case basis)
oConsider relevant factors
oTest against evidence
oDecide most important cause
The four major components of IR theory
oFour analytical perspectives
oThree levels of analysis
The Four Major Analytical Perspectives
Realism
oEmphasizes competition for power among self-interested states.
Liberalism
oArgues that power can be tamed through economic interdependence, democratic
political institutions, or international rules and organizations.
Constructivism
oFocuses on the role of nonmaterial factors, such as ideas, belief systems, norms,
and identities, in shaping state interests and behavior.
Domestic Politics
oFocuses on the characteristics of states, government organizations, or individual
leaders that compliment or contradict the mainstream approaches.
oRole of domestic interest groups or cultural variables in foreign policy decision
making process.
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Realism
Dominant paradigm in the study of international relations
States/governments/leaders as key actors
oStates have the legitimate use of force
International politics as power politics
oWar
Balancing as core policy prescription
oSecure survival
oBalance one another and distribution of power
Inevitability of conflict and war
oCurrently involved or preparing for war/conflict
Power is the universal currency of international politics. The focus is on military and
economic dimensions of power.
The primary function/goal of the state is the pursuit of survival and security in a
dangerous international system.
Classical Realism (older generation) individual level
oHuman nature and individual aggression
oHobbes
Structural Realism (cold war and nuclear threats) system level
oAnarchy and absence of a central authority
oFear in a self-help system.
Systemic pressures drive state behavior
Waltz distinguishes between domestic and international political structures
A structural analysis of international politics examines the distribution of capabilities among
“like units” within an anarchic international system.
Types of Structural Analysis
Polarity
oUnipolarity
oBipolarity
oMultipolarity
Offense-Defense Balance
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oOffense has the advantage when it is easier to destroy the others army and
take its territory than it is to defend ones own.
oGreater instability follows under offensive advantages.
Factors the heighten the security dilemma
1. When military technology favors the offense
a. Arms races are more likely since states must respond quickly to opponent’s arms
buildup.
b. Preemptive and preventative wars are more likely
c. Tighter alliances (“chain-ganging”)
2. When offense is indistinguishable from defense
a. Offense-Defense differentiation
b. Weapons are hard to distinguish between defense of offense
Balance of Power
Equilibrium is the key to stability
Modes of balancing
oInternal vs external balancing
Internal- building up arms
External- building allies
Is balanced power always stable?
oBalance of power vs the “abacus of power” (measurement of power)
Wars occur when states disagree on their relative strength
Decisive wars and an uneven distribution of power produce a neat,
mutually, agreed upon ledger of power.
Objective measurement of power is difficult.
oExample: Vendetta of the Black Sea
Russia and Turkey fought 10 times over 200 years
Enduring rivalry persisted due to religious tensions, commercial and
strategic significance of the Black Sea, ethnic Slavs under Ottoman Rules
Both sides believed they could win the next war.
The Dangers of Power Parity
Wars were frequent because both sides couldn’t agree on their relative military strengths
Wars did not end in a decisive victory for one side
Russia achieved crushing victory over Turkey. Both sides accepted the hierarchy power.
Power Transition Theory
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