Saunders - Transformative Choices

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Political Science
POLI 244
Jason Scott Ferrell

Saunders “Transformative Choices” One of the biggest issues in world Politics is the constant use of the USA'S military force in order to solve problems and regulate domestic affairs. What the USA is doing is intervening in other states’ domestic institutions. For intervention to be successful you must have a strategy. Different US presidents have approached this very differently. George W. Bush limited the intervention in Somalia to humanitarian aid, Clinton had originally expanded the mission to deal with the underlying problems in Somalia. These type of interventions are called wars of choice because countries like Somalia or Iraq don't pose a direct threat to the USA. In the last few years theorists have began to focus less and less on leader, those who study leaders pay close attention in seeing how they pay attention to and deal with threats. Internally focused leaders see a casual connection between threatening foreign and security policies and the internal organization of states and are more willing to undertake transformation in which the invading states takes it upon itself to rebuild the institutions of that state. Externally focused leaders diagnose threats directly from the foreign and security policies of other states and thus are more likely to pursue non-transformative strategies with minimal intervention in domestic affairs. These two theories relate to the important cost-benefit calculations. Casual beliefs reflect on the value that leaders place on transforming states and secondly how they will allocate resources that will get them prepared for intervention. Examples pertaining to these concepts can be explained in trying to explain the differences between president Kennedy and President Johnson. Leaders confronting the same conflict may arrive at different diagnoses of threat. Kennedy chose a transformative strategy by sending people into Vietnam to help deal with governmental affairs; Johnson took an non-transformative approach sending loads of American troops to battle the communist north. Transformative (changing political institutions) Vs. Non-transformative strategies: Examples of transformative intervention include nation building, post conflict reconstruction, leading revolutions to overthrow the government etc. Examples of non transformative methods is to liberate territory, protect local allies from outside aggression (Kuwait during the Gulf War) and sending humanitarian aid. Sometimes things might change as a bi-product of action such as taking out Sadam Hussein in Iraq and hoping a democratic government will form, non-transformative often involves military intervention. Most realist theorists share the assumptions that states respond to threats in the international system in a structure which rarely changes and only change by means of power regardless of who is in charge. Constructivists often emphasize the social or mutually shared nature of ideas and to focus on long term trends. States chose their method of intervention through a cost-benefit analysis that is independent of the leader. It can also amount from interactions among leaders and international organizations as well as the political struggle of the interventionist. Casual Beliefs (Two paths to threat Perception): You have two important casual beliefs, internally focused leaders think that it is the smaller powers foreign and security policies including all of its alliances, are intimately connected to its internal institutions. So during the cold war if an ally of the USA turned Communist, those leaders would blame the state. Using the Liberal rhetoric, internal leaders in democracy might have a view that non-democracies are the most threatening, Externally focused leaders diagnose threats from other states foreign and security policies and do not see a casual connection between outcomes and the institutions that a country has. Leaders form casual beliefs before they come to office, and sometimes-psychological mechanism play a big role in all of this. There are two mec
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