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Political Studies
POLS 261
Wayne S Cox

1 261 Exam Preparation: Textbook Notes WEEK 1: - What is IR? What are paradigms/perspectives? - Textbook: Introduction Realism and World Politics: - Main actors are states, which are legally sovereign actors - Sovereignty: there is no actor above the state that can compel it to act differently - Other actors i.e. TNCs, NGOs, must work within the framework of inter-state relations - Human nature is fixed, and inherently selfish; the world is one of anarchy/conflict - Thus, world politics is characterized by a struggle for power between states, each trying to maximize their national interests - Order exists based on the balance of power mechanism, whereby states act to prevent any one state dominating o Bargaining and alliances, diplomacy a key mechanism for balancing interests - Most important tool available is military force; world politics is a self-help system in which states must rely on their own military resources to achieve their ends - These ends can be achieved through cooperation, but the threat of conflict remains - NEO-REALSIM emphasizes the importance of the structure of the international system i.e. with the end of the Cold War, the world is moving towards multi-polarity - Division between high and low politics Liberalism - Idealism an “extreme” version of Liberalism - Humans are perfectible i.e. their nature is not inherently bad - Democracy is necessary for that perfectibility to develop; the belief in progress - Reject the Realist notion that war is the natural condition of world politics - Question the state as the main actor, although do not deny its importance - TNCs, NGOs, terrorist groups, international organizations are the central actors in some issue-areas of world politics - State seen as not a unitary actor, but a set of bureaucracies within each state, each with its own interests i.e. there is no such thing as united, national interest - Emphasis on the possibilities for cooperation; key issue is devising international settings where cooperation can be achieved i.e. UN - Complex system of bargaining between many different types of actors - See national interests in more than just military terms i.e. the importance of economic, environmental, and technological issues - Order emerges not from the balance of power, but from the interactions between many layers of governing arrangements, comprising laws, agreed norms, international regimes, and institutional rules - Do not think that sovereignty is as important in practice as Realist theory thinks it is - Interdependence between states is critically important Marxist Theories - Also known as structuralism or world-system theory - Most important feature of world politics is that it takes place within a global capitalist economy - The most important actors are not states, but classes; the behaviour of all other actors is ultimately explicable by class forces 2 - Thus, even non-state actors i.e. TNCs, and even international organizations represent the dominant class interest in the world economic system - World-economy constraints the freedom of maneuver of states - Rather than world politics being an arena of conflicting national interests, Marxist theory conceives world politics as the setting in which class conflicts are played out - Order seen in primarily economic, not military terms; key feather of the international economy is the division of the world into core, semi-periphery, and periphery areas - Sovereignty much less important, as all states seen as having to work within the international capitalist system Social Constructivism - Developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, becoming increasingly influential - Arose out of events in world politics, notably the disintegration of the Soviet Union, symbolized by the fall of the Berlin wall o Indication that human agency had a much greater potential role in world politics than implied by each of the previous three theories - Underpinnings of the approach are much older than its emergence, relating to social scientific/philosophical works that dispute the notion that the social world is external to the people that live in it, and is not easily changed - Realism/Liberalism and to some extent Marxism stress the regularities/‟certainties‟ of political life; by contrast, Constructivism argues that we make and re-make the social world, and so there is much more room for human agency - Those who see the world as fixed underestimate possibilities for human progress - Theorist Alexander Wendt: “anarchy is what the state makes of it” o Therefore, the world that Realists portray as natural or given is in fact far more open to change i.e. self-help/pursuit of self interest is only one response to the anarchical structure of world politics - Not only is the structure of world politics amenable to change, but so are the identities and interests that the other theories take as given; fundamental mistake to think of world politics as something we cannot change The Four Theories and Globalization - Each view claims to pick out the most important features of world politics, and that it offers a better account than do the rival theories 1. Realists: Globalization does not alter the most significant feature of world politics, namely the territorial division of the world into nation-states - Increased interconnectedness between economies and societies might make them more dependent on one another, but the same cannot be said about the state system o States retain sovereignty, and globalization does not render obsolete the struggle for political power between states 2. Liberals: Globalization seen as the end product of a long-running transformation of world politics - Globalization fundamentally undermines Realist accounts of world politics, since it does render states as no longer such central actors as they once were - In place of states are numerous actors, of differing importance based on issue-area - Liberals particularly interested in the revolution in technology and communications - A cobweb of relations; states are no longer sealed units 3 3. Marxist theory: Globalization a “sham” in some respects – nothing particularly new, and merely the latest stage n the development of international capitalism - Globalization does not mark a significant, qualitative shift in world politics, now does it render out existing theories and concepts redundant - Above all, it is a Western-led phenomenon, which furthers international capitalism - Deepens the divide between core/peripheries 4. Constructivist theory: Globalization tends to be presented as an external force acting on states, which leaders often argue is a reality that they cannot challenge - This is a very political act/statement, because it undermines/underestimates the ability of leaders to challenge and shape globalization, and instead allows them to duck responsibility by blaming „the way the world is‟ - Constructivists argue that we can mould globalization in a variety of ways, notably because it presents the opportunity of creating cross-national social movements GLOBALIZATION itself has many features in common with modernization theory - Industrialization brings into existence a whole new set of contact between societies, and changes the political, economic, and social processes that characterized the pre-modernized world - Crucially, industrialization modified the nature of the state, both widening its responsibilities and weakening its control over outcomes - The old power-politics model of IR becomes less reliable/outmoded, as force becomes less usable and negotiation is increasingly important - Walt Rostow: argued that economic growth followed a pattern in all economies as they underwent industrialization; economies developed in the shadow of more developed economies until they reached the state where they were capable of self-sustained economic growth o Rostow saw stages of economic growth - Marshall McLuhan: advances in electronic communications resulted in a world where we could see, in real time, events around the world; compression of time and space in which traditional identities are lost. - World Order Models Project (WOMP); for WOMPERs, the unit of analysis is the individual, and the level of analysis global - Francis Fukuyama: end of history argument; the power of the economic market is resulting in liberal democracy replacing all other types of government - Liberal Peace Theory i.e. espoused by Michael Doyle; liberal democracies do not fight one another, the reason being public accountability is so central in democratic systems that the public will not allow leaders to engage other democracies in war Arguments in favour of globalization: - 1. The pace of economic transformation is so great that it has created a new world politics, in which states are no longer closed units – interdependence - 2. Communications have revolutionized the way we deal with the world - 3. There is now, more than ever before, a global culture – influence of the West - 4. The world is homogenizing, as differences between peoples are diminished - 5. There is emerging a global polity, with transnational social and political movements and the beginnings of a transfer of allegiance from the state to transnational and international bodies - 6. Cosmopolitan culture; “think globally, act locally” - 7. A risk culture is emerging, as people realize that the main risks that face them are global, not domestic, and that states are unable to deal with these problems 4 Arguments against globalization: - Merely a „buzzword‟ to denote the latest phase of capitalism - Globalization a „myth‟ – current situation painted as more unique than it really is - No shift of finance from the developed to the underdeveloped world; what is different? Finance concentrated in three blocks: EU, NA, Japan - Globalization uneven in its effects; at times sounds more like a Western theory applicable only to a small part of humankind (the developed world) – we are in danger of overestimating the extent and depth of globalization - Seen as the latest stage of Western imperialism - There are „losers‟ as the world becomes more globalized - Not all globalized forces are necessarily good ones - Issues of good governance; how accountable are increasingly powerful TNCs? - PARADOX of globalization: On one hand it is usually seen as the triumph of Western, market-led values o How then do we explain the success of the so-called Asian „tigers‟? o These nations reject Western values, yet have had some of the highest growth rates in the international economy WEEth2: 20 century history and the evolution of IR Textbook: Chapters 2-3 (3 reviewed here) - WW1 the first modern total war - Woodrow Wilson, Treaty of Versailles, Fourteen Points - League of Nations; US Senate prevented American participation - Self-determination should be the guiding principle in international politics – this marked a transformation of attitudes and values (the end of empire/imperialism) - European decolonization from 1945-80: uneven and contested o While imperialism withered, other forms of hegemony emerged The Cold War - Rise of the USA and USSR as world powers post-1945 - Who was responsible for the collapse of the wartime relationship between Moscow and Washington?/When did the CW really begin? 1945-1953: the onset of the CW - In the West, a growing feeling that Soviet policy towards Eastern Europe was guided not by historic concern with security, but by ideological expansion - Truman Doctrine: policy of containment expressed the self-image of the USA as inherently defensive - Marshall Plan for economy recover 1947 - Split between East/West Berlin - Formation of NATO April 1949 1953-1969: conflict, confrontation, and compromise - Consequence of the Korean War: the build-up of American forces in Western Europe, lest communist aggression in Asia distract from the real intent in Europe - Idea that communism was a monolithic entity controlled from Moscow became an American fixation, not shared with other Western powers - Warsaw Pact 1955, continuing military build-up on both sides - Death of Stalin in 1953; Khrushchev successor, strove to modernize USSR and unintentionally helped to unleash reformist forces in Eastern Europe - Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962 5 o Naval blockade, nuclear forces move to unprecedented state of alert o Partial Test Ban Treaty 1963 1969-79: the rise and fall of détente - America‟s commitment to Vietnam deepening, Soviet-Chinese relations deteriorating - Rapprochement between China and USA - Détente had roots in the mutual recognition of need to avoid nuclear crises, and in the economic and military incentives in avoiding an unconstrained arms race - Détente associated with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger 1974-1980: political upheaval in the Third World - Complex cobweb of diplomatic and strategic relations - Perception that the USSR was using arms control agreements to gain military advantage was linked to Soviet behaviour in the Third World - SALT: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and other events/agreements seen to weaken American influence, precipitating the end of detente 1979-1986: the „second cold war‟ - Critics of arms control in the USA argued that USSR was gaining strength - Election of Reagan in 1980: a watershed - Reagan uninterested in agreements that would freeze the status quo for the sake of negotiating agreements - Resulting period of tension and confrontation deemed „second cold war‟ - However, rhetoric and perception were not consistent with reality, as the Reagan administration‟s use of military power was limited - Throughout the 1980s Soviets handicapped by a series of aging political leaders - Changed dramatically with Gorbachev: perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost WEEK 3: Realism vs. Idealism – A Debate - Realists skeptical of the idea that universal moral principles exist, therefore warn state elders against sacrificing their own interests in order to adhere to some indeterminate notion of „ethical‟ conduct - i.e. Conditions of international politics often make it necessary for state leaders to act in a manner that would be inacceptable for the individual - State itself represents a moral force - Outside the state, there is anarchy i.e. no overarching central authority - Sharp distinction between domestic and international politics - Independent sovereign states consider themselves to be their own highest authority and do not recognize a higher power above them – hierarchical order - Self-help is the principle of action in this anarchical system - Realists do not believe it is prudent for a state to entrust its safety/survival on another actor or international institution such as the UN - Question of whether realism embodies certain “laws” if international politics, that remain true across time/space, history/geopolitics - Thus, while political conditions have changed since the end of the cold war, realists believe that the world continues to operate according to Realism Classical Realism - Hans Morgenthau - From the nature of man, the essential features of international politics (competition, fear, and war…) can be explained - “Politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature (primordial character of power and ethics) - POWER: the ability to make others do what they otherwise would not; power determines outcomes 6 - The drive for more territory in the 1800s-early 1900s seemed to confirm Realist “law” about territory and power - Morgenthau: “the drives to live, to propagate, and to dominate are common to all men” – Realist take on human nature Structural Realism - Concur that international politics ie essentially a struggle for power, but do not share the classical assumption that this is a result of human nature - Instead, attribute security competition and inter-state conflict to the lack of an overarching authority above states, and the relative distribution of power globally - Waltz and the structure of the international system: organizing principle, differentiation of units, and distribution of capabilities o Two different org. principles: anarchy (decentralized realm of international politics) and hierarchy (the basis of domestic order) o Units (states) are similar, not different enough to explain outcomes o Therefore it is the distribution of capabilities across outcomes o The number of great powers i.e. bipolarity/multi-polarity also determines outcomes/the structure of the international system o States must be sensitive to the capabilities of other states - Waltz: instead of being power maximizers, states are security maximizers Contemporary Realist challenges to structural realism - Skeptical that the international distribution of power alone can explain state act‟ns - Inclusion of a number of other factors located at the individual and domestic levels o i.e. the perceptions of state-leaders themselves, state-society relationships - This group of scholars classified as “neo-classical realists” - “Places domestic politics as an intervening variable between the distribution of power and foreign policy behaviour.” - Also, contrary to Waltz, all states cannot be treated as like units; each state possesses different capacities, etc. Statism, Survival, Self-Help Statism: within territorial space, sovereignty means that the state has supreme authority to make and enforce laws; we trade our liberty in return for guarantee of security. - Once security has been established, civil society can begin to develop/flourish - First step, to organize power domestically - Second, to accumulate power internationally - Power is a relational concept; power acquired in relation to another entity - Power is relative; considerations not only about own capabilities, but others‟ Survival: common to all states i.e. according to Waltz, beyond the survival motive, the aims of states may be endlessly varied - Defensive vs. offensive realism - Ethic of responsibility: the careful weighing of consequences Self-help: No other state or institution can be relied upon to guarantee your survival - Critique: self-help is not an inevitable consequence of the absence of a world government; rather, it is a logic that states have selected i.e. they could also choose collective security (as in North American integration) or forms of regional security LIBERALISM - Liberalism is a theory of both government within states and good governance between states and peoples worldwide - Unlike Realists, who regard the international as anarchic, Liberals seek to project order, liberty, justice, and toleration into IR 7 - Interwar period Idealists: believed tha
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