September 10 Intro
The Theory of International Politics -Wagner 2010
• Since world war II debates about relation between war and state have been under three
Realism, liberalism, and constuctivism
• Theories, arguments, and explanations
Reasoning from premises to conclusion is called "deductive reasoning"
Inductive and deductive reasoning
What is commonly called logical validity is necessary if our reasoning is to affect our
• Science, causes, variables, and theories
Case studies = selection on the dependent variable
Science = refers to any enterprise in which scholars compete with each other in
constructing non-obvious explanations of the phenomena they study that can withstand
concerted attempts to discredit them. Has more to do with explaining regularities rather
than identifying with them
Not everything can be explained the same way (different variables)
What conditions were associated with failure of states (Infant mortality, trade openness
• Causality and meaning
Human behaviour is very predictable, and if it were not, social organization would be
Learn to look at regularities; must look at state success, and not just focus on state
• Models: method or madness?
Model is just something that is used to represent something else
• A guide to the reader
A lot of different kinds of realism
World Politics: Levels of Analysis, Choice, and Constraint (Sharon Mizbani &
Three momentous events
1) Dropping the Atomic Bomb
• 200 000 people died from the explosions
• Only alternative would be to invade japan
More casualties, especially American
• Wanted to end war as soon as possible
Pres. Truman new to office and not as grounded as Roosevelt
• Also wanted to send a message to the russians
2) End of the Cold War
• Marked triumph of values of west -free markets and democracy
• Gorbachev made no attempts to stop the breaking down of the soviet union when
• By the end of 1991, Soviet Union had dissolved as a single entity, ultimately leaving the
state of Russia and fourteen other successor states of the former Soviet Union
• End initiated by gorbachev's actions
Swift • Gorbachev's personal characteristic deserve much of the credit
Different from his predecessors, made some reforms, let some things stay the way
• Americans provided assistance to opponents of Soviet-backed regimes
• Soviet Union had always been technologically behind the West and had long borne
• Citizens of communist countries could now know more about the prosperity and political
liberties enjoyed by their counterparts in the west
Communist gov’ts had to tolerate dissident movements
• Factors -soviet leadership, domestic political and economic decay, international political
competition, global information flows
• Following reasons are influences on world politics
Did these influence Gorbachev?
3) The Asian Financial Crisis
Many countries in Asia in 1997 had the value of their currencies tied to the values of the US .
When Asian investors felt that their Currency was overvalued they traded their currency for
American dollars. This lowered their currency and caused the economic crisis that soon spread
Then came trouble with Japan’s economy.
There were differing explanations about what caused the Asian crisis.
- Some, primarily in the West, blamed internal factors of Asian society such as corporate
cronyism, poor regulation, and corruption.
- Asian miracle created a bubble of confidence. When the bubble burst, investors panicked
and the drain of capital sank the economies.
Levels of Analysis
It is very difficult to predict any international event, any of the above three for example.
Political scientists, instead, try to explain why events occurred.
The International System and the Nation-State
David Singer introduced the idea of levels of analysis by discussing two broad levels.
1. Domestic influences which come from inside the nation.
2. External influences, which come from outside a country.
International-system level is the most comprehensive of all. It allows the observer to study
IR as a whole: the global behaviour of states and the level of interdependence among
International system- more comprehensive, Domestic- more depth and detail
Six Levels of Analysis
1. Individual Decision makers
2. The Roles occupied by the decision makers
3. The structure of government within which the decision makers operate
4. The society that the decision makers govern
5. Relations between decision makers nation and other international actors
6. The world system 1. Individual: The most micro level. Personal traits, education, health of decision
makers and how these traits could influence their decisions.
2. Roles: At this level, decision makers are expected to act a certain way because of
their role in the societal or political system (ex. Air Force Commander expected to try
to protect Air Force as an institution.
3. Government Structure: Determined by the structure of government in which the
decision makers operate. (ex. In democracy, leaders must build a wider base of
approval to win the next election. In autocracy, leaders don’t necessarily have to
worry about public opinion until the threat of revolt occurs.
4. Characteristics of society: Non-governmental characteristics of society that affect
choices. (ex. Rich countries have more material resources at their disposal than poor
5. International Relations: The actions of states towards each other are affected by the
relationship between them.
6. The world system: the global system in which a decision maker must operate.
Decision makers will act differently in a bi-polar world than in a multi-polar world.
This level also examines non-state international actors (IMF, Al Qaeda, multinational
Actors in World Politics
There are many more actors in world politics than just nations:
- Private organizations within a nation-state (ex. Banks)
- Parts of national governments (ex. Ministry of Defence)
- Transnational organizations (ex. Red Cross)
We give special attention to the state, however it is important to remember that the state
operates in a system that includes all of these groups and sub-groups.
Opportunity vs. Willingness
Opportunity is the possibility of interaction because of objective conditions. Opportunity
requires three related conditions.
- International environment that permits interaction between states
- States possessing enough resources to be capable of certain actions
- Decision makers who are aware of the actions available to them
Willingness: Focuses on why decision makers choose one course over another
September 17 Realism & Liberalism I (Sharon Mizbani & Antonela Cicko)
Theory of IR Politics & Zombies, CH. 1 (Daniel Drezner, 2012)
Drezner’s reading looks at the recent and now, ever popular fascination with zombies as
portrayed in some media such as television, movies and even popular literature. Zombies could
also just as easily be attributed or featured in sociological literature as well. Drezner focuses on what different theories of International Relations would predict if a zombie attack were actually
In order to take on such a task, we must first of all know what a zombie is:
Defining a Zombie
• Biologically definable, animated being occupying a human corpse, with a desire to eat
• Zombies only desire human flesh; will not eat other zombies
• Cannot be killed unless brain is destroyed
• ***Humans bitten become zombies
What Realism is/What Realists Believe
• All realist start with common assumption –that the world is in a state of anarchy, all
states are sovereign
• Absence of centralized legitimate authority, there isn’t a legitimate actor to rule over all
sovereign states, the highest authority are the states themselves
• Every actor must take their own "self-help" measures to ensure existence. States are
essentially responsible for themselves
• Primary actors are those that can guarantee their own continued existence states
• Only currency that matters is power- power is defined as-material capability to deter
external influences, while being able to influence others
• Actors that count are those with the greatest ability to use force states with sizable
• Anarchic global structure makes it impossible for states to fully trust each other
• All states guided by national and self-interests
• States can only count on their own resources and capabilities
Realists are very skeptical about the ability of international institutions to regulate world politics
States will consider the distribution of gains when thinking about cooperating with another actor.
It isn’t about “will both of us gain” if two states are working together, but “who will gain more?”
It’s a zero-sum game!
Realists are not interested with domestic politics of other countries and believe that regime type
will have minimal effect on that country's foreign policy
• All states have similar policy preferences
-Doesn’t necessarily mean maximizing power
-Dystopic and jaundiced view of the world (low chances for peace because, with
maximizing security, states often find themselves with issues of security-dilemmas, which
could lead to arms-race, war, etc.)
During a "Night of the living dead" Realism would be very similar to the situation of having
seven people trapped with zombies outside. If each person is a state:
Barely able to co-operate
Divisions, conflict/every man for himself/survival of the fittest
How would the introduction of zombies affect world politics?
***Realists would be largely unaffected • No radical changes in human behaviour, it happened in black death (14th c) and
influenza pandemic (1919) too
• Those with greater security and communications infrastructures should be able to put
down any internal zombie insurrections and re-establish domestic order
• The Zombie threat is seen as systemic and would affect the relative power of individual
nation states, but the character of world politics generally wouldn’t change
Anti-zombie alliance not likely
• Zombies would be used for own national interests
• War on terror, western countries adding national threats who aren’t even terrorists
States could exploit threat of living dead to acquire new territory, squelch irredentist
movements, settle old scores
• Zombie states would create alliances with human states
Humans want power, zombies want flesh -> both scarce resources
• Regardless of individual traits, domestic institutions, or variations in the desire for living
flesh, humans and zombies both subject to powerful constraint of anarchy
• Engage in strategic opportunism to advance their interests in anarchy
What Neoconservatives believe/Neoconservatism (seen as right-wing Liberals)
• See any existential threat and combat it
• May want to maintain human hegemony in terms of a zombie-attack
• Liberals begin with a common belief: co-operation is still possible in a world of anarchy
• Nonzero sum game
Mutual co-operation on issues like int’l trade and nuclear non-proliferation and disease
prevention can yield global public goods on a massive scale
Not all gains from cooperation are distributed evenly, but make all actors better off,
had they failed to co-ordinate (hence, a non-zero sum game because all who cooperate
• Incentive for mutual co-operation, cost of mutual defection
Incentive does not guarantee collaboration
Anyone will benefit from the broad-based cooperation even if they don’t co-operate
Problem for liberals
• Outcome of mutual co-operation better than one of mutual defection
Everyone is best off in a situation in which they can unilaterally defect
Tragedy of commons -everyone defects
Not hopeless, strategies to combat tragedy of commons
• Conditions that lengthen the shadow of the future increase likelihood of cooperation
• Economic interdependence can reduce the incentive to defect by magnifying the gap in
gains between a world of collective action and mutual distrust
Multilateral institutions to monitor and punish cheating
• Democracies more likely to cooperate with each other
World of economic interdependence, democratic governments, and international
institutions will foster extensive amounts of multilateral co-operation and peace i.e. E.U
In "zombieland", Liberals see humans committing to each other and following rules • Zombies don’t turn on each other
• In the long run the undead will still have to interact with each other -and therefore they
have the strongest of incentives to cooperate
Open borders = more zombies
• With Multilateral co-operation against them, Zombies would fall under systemic threats,
states would engage in cross border co-operation
• Diseases exist today despite liberal cooperation
• Authoritarian countries may wait until telling people and be slow, like china with sars
• Developing countries wouldn’t have proper infrastructure
• NGOs may want to help the zombies
• May not be able to wipe out the zombies but, will reduce them
Core assumptions revolve around two central tenets
1) The social construction of reality
2) Importance of identity in explaining/interpreting interests and actions on the world stage
• Economic wealth and military power important
• Even more important -how social structures filter and interpret the meaning of those
• Zombies not only actors that desire human flesh, but zombies are seen as the greatest
threat because nothing else can turn humans into zombies except zombies
• Threaten norm of not devouring each other
• Zombies Used to be human -recognition
• Governments want to avoid being seen as "rogue" actors
• Identities constituted through mutual recognition
• Identity distinctions between humans and zombies
• Zombies are what we make of them, we have superior technology
• Scarcity of resources when people turn on each other
• In times of difficulty humans are usually altruistic
• 2 steps
Destroy all their movies… remove from popular culture
Socialize remaining zombies back into human culture
• If they increased in numbers, humans would adopt their practices
• Zombies are constructed as much through discourse as through materiality
The second image: are zombie politics local
• Domestic policies -how they can influence
• Different from country to country
• Executive would have more say than legislature
• 'rally around the flag' phenomenon
In response to zombie emergency
Bureaucratic politics and the department of zombies
• Flexibility and adaptation to new things is hard
• i.e. US inability 9/11
September 24: Realism & Liberalism II (Sharon Mizbani) Understanding the Bush Doctrine -Robert Jervis
•Invasion of iraq led to empire like US
•Four elements of Bush doctrine
1) A strong belief in the importance of a state's domestic regime in determining its foreign policy
and the related judgement that this is an opportune time to transform international politics
2) The perception that great threats that can be defeated only by new and vigorous policies,
most notably preventive war
3) A willingness to act unilaterally when necessary
4) An overriding sense that peace and stability require the US to assert its primacy in world
• This doctrine guides the behaviours of Americans
• The US may be only the latest in a long line of countries that is unable to place sensible
limits on its fears and aspirations
Democracy and liberalism
• US wants world to have freedom, democracy, and free enterprise
• Democracy can be anywhere
And by iraw going democratic so will rest of middle east
• A free pluralist system is natural order and will prevail unless something special intervenes
stability, peace, less terrorism
Faith based foreign policy
• Realists in how states influence one another
• Liberals in the high value of domestic features, and how they affect foreign policy
Optimistic in possibility of progress
Mutual security, unity, peaceful world
Threat & Preventive War
• 2 pillar of the Bush Doctrine
We live not only in a time of opportunity but also great threat posed by terrorists and
• If US doesn’t make the world better, it’ll become more dangerous
• Basically says that terrorists and rogue states want nukes to combat the USA
• Must act against emerging threats before they are formed
• Policy faces 3 obstacles
1) relevant information is hard to obtain
don’t know how people will react
but, US says the domestic policies can tell us
2) Even information on capabilities and past history may be hard to come by
3) unless all challengers are deterred by doctrine in Iraq, preventive war will have to be
Public policy, not fond of war unless know for sure it’s bad, but it’s usually too late • Leaders usually wait, and avoid uncertainty
Bush didn’t, which was unusual
• September 11 influenced decisions
need to act fast and make sure Sept 11 isn’t repeated
• Hard to get consensus from other states
Fundamental unilateralism doctrine
• Help came, but US made no compromises
• Multilateralism is only for policies regarding N. Korea
• US didn’t participate in some treaties and carried out plans despite criticism from
• US as the leader
• Multilateralism doesn’t always work, and takes time
• Shows how serious Bush was about his doctrine
• Establishment of American hegemony or empire
• No universal norms/rules governing all states
• American security, world stability, and spread of liberalism requires USA to act in ways
others cannot and must not
the world requires this
• US should be unchallengeable so others demilitarize
• Countries shouldn’t try to balance power
• Cooperation with allies are a matter of choice not necessity
• Bush, unlike his predecessors was willing to make terrorism his focus and work alone
• US acts in a realist way
running on power
unaffected by states surrounding it
no external restraints
• States’ interests expand as power does
always wanted to spread liberalism (democracy), but now it seems more likely
• Increased relative power brings with it new fears
Psychology: still worried
USA w/ more stakes in the world than ever before
US in Iraq & Afghanistan led to more bases in areas, because of interaction and
• US wants to maintain the position of power it’s in for the future
• American intervention and domestic policies are needed to save the world
• Dictators need to be kept away from WMD (weapons of mass destruction)
• Alliances between Western major powers allows for USA to focus attention elsewhere
Hegemony, Iraq and Europe
• European nations opposed Iraq but are victims of the same mindset
Attack on Muslims, avoiding regulations
If there was an attack on them, they might have acted the same way
• American hegemony is seen as dangerous by Europe as well
lack of balance of power
• US not going through security council before attacking was looked at negatively
contradictory as countries have veto powers
• Since WWII Britain maintains special relations with USA
separating themselves from Europeans
• Smaller European nations support US despite lack of support from others
More afraid of France and Germany since they are closer Conclusion
• Next steps depend on individual leaders, economy, and the success of terrorist attacks
• Even if Iraq had WMDs, Bush took too big a risk
bigger objective of spreading democracy, liberalism and peace to the Middle-East and
the rest of the world
Robert Jervis “Understanding the Bush Doctrine”
Four elements of the doctrine
1. Strong belief in the importance of a state’s regime in determining its foreign policy
a. THIS is the time to transform international politics
i. By justifying Iraq as establishing a democracy will increase stability in the
whole region, decreasing the amount of terrorism
2. Great threats can be defeated only by vigorous policies, most notably preventative war
a. To tie this in with the essay we wrote on the, Romney mentioned
“The blame for the murder of our people in Libya, and the attacks on our
embassies in so many other countries, lies solely with those who
carried them out—no one else. But it is the responsibility of our
President to use America’s great power to shape history... (Transcript of
the third presidential debate, n.gp., 5 November 2012, The New York
This shows realist elements, his excessive weight on America’s military
power suggests that his views on resolution in Libya are a simplistic approach to
threaten or not to threaten. Similarly with Iraq, bush disregarded whether the
people wanted democracy to be imposed on them, making it a failure. The
approach to threaten with war is
3. a willingness to act unilaterally when necessary
a. It is more efficient to act/react immediately, it will be seen as effective leadership
i. This is realist, it can be tied back into everything Machiavelli ever said, like
when he claims your friends are only necessary until you cannot use them
anymore, and that you should always be the first to strike!
4. Peace and stability require the US to assert its primacy in world politics
a. Dominant power must behave quite differently from others.
i. This has been used previously by America, during the Korean war… it can
be similar to game theory, where the most successful move for America
would be to act differently than the rest of the players
Does Obama Have a Grand Strategy? Why we need Doctrines in uncertain times
Obama has 2 doctrines:
1) Multilateral retrenchment
curtail US overseas commitments
restore US standing in the world
shift burdens onto global partners
Asserting US influences and ideals across the world
• Obama is implicit with his doctrine • A grand strategy consists of a clear articulation or national interests committed to a set of
operational plans for advancing them
• Grand strategy shows people at home and abroad the framework and objectives
• Grand strategy is a constant rather than a variable, would be like making a U-turn to
explicitly communicate a new strategy
• Power matters, states and the rest of the world care about the strategy of states with
• Even extremely wrong grand strategies do not alter the trajectories of great powers
Isolation after WWII
• In uncertain times, grand strategies are sometimes necessary
• Grand strategies signal future intentions to outsiders
• War, revolution, depression, power transition (which we have in the world right now)
necessary to have a grand strategy or a plan
• Obama administration inherited a world of great uncertainty
economy, wars, all time low popularity
• Strategic switch
• First multi-partner world
asking allies to help in world order
Rather than aggressively pushing for democracy, USA was more reserved, would lead
Didn’t go well, world didn’t respond as hoped
• Switched from retrenchment doctrine to counterpunching doctrine
showed that USA can rally allies and counter rising threats
telling allies it won’t be isolating
Obama linked foreign policy to American Exceptionalism ( American Exceptionalism =
proposition that the United States is different from other countries in that it has a specific
world mission to spread liberty and democracy)
• Obama’s ideas hold together around the world
Rivals know that USA can’t be pushed around
• Obama’s leading from behind hasn’t worked too well with the American people
• Obama has to explain strategy or face domestic resistance to proposed policies
• Sent military to attack Pakistan
Does Obama Have a Grand Strategy?
The Obama administration has two strategies for foreign policy.
1) A mutual decision of a serious cutback with regards to overseas commitments
by the United States of America. The Obama administration feels as though
being a sole “global police” is not only bringing down the United States, but
it’s not allowing the US to be itself. To solve this problem, the USA needs to
restore its standing in the world, and it needs to shift and share its burdens
onto global partners. This strategy has been clearly stated by the Obama
administration various times—however there has been some difficulty on the
actual result of the policy.
2) The Obama administration has focused on demonstrating to the world on
declaring its standards powers and influences—especially towards countries
that are challenging the United States. The Obama administration has also
clearly articulated on reassuring to the world on who are allies to the United
States of America, and indicating resolution to its adversaries. Though this strategy has performed better, it is weakly expressed. This strategy has been
criticized not being implicit and that it has not been defined properly.
The Obama administration has been poked for not having a clear, understanding
strategy or doctrine. Though critics may argue this, it is important to remember that
countries are judged by their actions and not their words—which means that it may
not be necessary to have an explicit strategy on what the administration wants to
do. After all—president Bush and his administration had a very clear strategy—but
in reality, it did not work so well. Strategies are useful has they are a signal device
to both allies and adversaries on the strength and power a nation has.
What is a grand strategy?
A grand strategy consists of a clear decision on national interests and how these
interests will be developed through arranged operational plans. Some strategies are
created with a long-term mindset with following actions with how the initial
strategies may take place. Some strategies are created to connect past policies
with future polices and how they relevant. A grand strategy is usually written to
imply that there is a change in policy as it can be a slow, difficult process to change
a country's foreign policy path.
In International Relations, power is the most important currency. Many countries
have difficulties where they don’t have enough power, causing other countries to
not care about their issues/intentions. It is important for a country, especially a
global police like the USA to have definitive grand strategies so that disastrous
strategies aren’t chosen. History tells us however that having grand strategies don’t
mean much, if the nation isn’t willing to put its money where its mouth is. When
WW1 took place, the USA did not really intervene. Bush chose to invade Iraq citing
it needed democracy and all it did was create anti-Americanism across the globe.
These examples show us that grand strategies don’t really affect the path of great
power politics. The USA was never in a position where it felt that its institutions
were crumbling due to such bad decisions, instead new leaders in the White House
and Congress created a new attitude to adopt a new role where the past mistakes
will never be permanent issues.
Grad strategies are overrated but they are considered important because they are
easy to create and are looked forward to. Another more practical reason is because
sometimes-grand strategies really matter especially when there are uncertainties in
IR. Grand strategies work like an instruction manual, guiding the countries in a
proper manner, showcasing past decisions to predict future decisions and to signal
the future goals on the country and its politicians.
Radical Uncertainty: can be triggered via 1) a massive global disruption like a war,
depression, revolution—something that affects every country in a domino effect. 2)
Power transition, when a hegemonic power is being challenged, countries around
the globe want to know in what role do these two countries place themselves. Are
they going to work together, or is there going to be conflict, etc..
Our current era has seen many uncertainties, ie recession and the global economy,
IR system dealing with natural disasters, Arab Spring revolutions, technological
changes, etc. So many issues that are not certain, that can quickly go from one-way
to another. The developing world still thinks the USA is the top hegemonic nation,
while the developed world assumes that China has taken that position. Issues like
this cause confusion, and this is why grand strategies would be helpful. When
countries deal with unknown nations, they like to deal with evils they know so that grand strategies will create a legitimate opportunity for improvements to take place
properly. Global super powers like to create stable world order via democracy,
counterterrorism, Westphalian sovereignty, etc. This can only be done when there is
a grand strategy that suggests these notions not only in the interest of the global
power, but also for all of the countries in the world equally.
The administration had three strategic opinions that boiled down to ending the war
in Afghanistan and Iraq, to re-establish American standing and leadership in the
world while concentrating on certain urgencies such as Asia, the global economy
and a nuclear prevention regime. Though this was the plan, the results were not
what were expected. China saw the American hand to have provincial aspirations,
Russia continued to be sketchy with dealings in the USA and allies of the USA did
not want to contribute to Afghanistan and Iraq any more. Soft power cannot
accomplish anything so there must be a willingness to use hard power. China and
Russia did not see themselves as partners as the grand strategy was viewed as US
promoting its narrow interests in trade of providing global public goods.
American strength at home was revived with Obama promoting the public
investment of education, science and clean energy. In the strategy of
counterpunching, the US told the world that still has allies to back their strategies
up and to counter rising threats. An example of this would be the US using its
power of leverage with the Egyptian military during the Arab Spring creating an
almost peaceful regime change in Egypt. Or when the US tightened its relationships
both economic and security with most of China’s neighbors forcing Beijing to
reconsider its strategy. Obama also promoted the US foreign policy to American
exceptionalism—a sense that US values and interests should not only be promoted
but also appreciated by the world.
Obama’s grand strategy has held many parts of the world together. American allies
in Europe and in the Pacific Rim seem relieved about everything. But its democratic
ideals have not set well in the Saudi Arabia or Israel. The biggest challenge for
Obama’s strategy is to have a large amount of domestic support at home—but this
seems to be the biggest issue ever. The Obama administration has not clearly
placed its “rivals” in a box to take over—instead it has allowed it to have more
trade and opportunities with them—China would be a huge example of this. The
domestic support at home does not like this idea of dealing with the rivals. Obama
has also had trouble from the domestic front as his administration has argued that
US foreign policy is the domestic economy of the USA. This too does not sit well
Why hasn’t the Obama admin be more upfront about its grand strategy redesign?
1) Changing strategies creates an impression that the original strategy was wrong
and bad. This is something the administration does not want to imply. 2) The
administration loves its foreign policy practicality—causing much difficulty to
promote a new strategic vision. 3) Military actions are the only dimension of foreign
policy that is ever seen in an explicit manner by the world.
The problem behind all of this is if the president is not so sure about his grand
strategy, foreign policy critics and political opponents will gladly define this for him
—placing him in a situation where he may even support decisions he’s not sure
about. The Obama administration needs to explain the grand strategy to the
American people in a clear, explicit manner so that there will be no domestic
resistance to his policies. When it is explained well Obama will have the chance to show the domestic and global world—that he knows where to go and how to get
Biggest problem Obama strategy: Troublesome domestic politics.
Two Strategies: 1) Multilateral retrenchment—created so that US’s oversea
commitments, restore it’s standing in the world, and burden is shifted for global
partners. 2) Emergent grand strategy focusing on foreign policy critics and political
opponents ho will define his strategy in a horrible way if he does not himself.
Does Obama’s Grand Strategy? Why do we need doctrines in uncertain times?
Notes by Misheal Rafique
Daniel Drezner argues that the root of America’s troubles is due to the weak
strategies embraced after the Cold War.
Obama’s grand strategies are unclear and are the consequence of the “U.S setbacks
in the middle east”. (Drezner,2011)
Economic and military prosperity can determine a country’s power, and how
powerful they seem to the other countries. “Countries are judged by their actions”
Although Obama’s strategy isn’t that clear, we know what they are. The first is
multicultural retrenchment and the second is focused on counterpunching
(“reassuring allies and signaling resolve to rivals” (Drezner, 2011).
A grand strategy consists of a summary of interests and how they are to be played
out. But for them to matter, they have to “indicate a change in policy” (Drezner,
Policy change makes grand strategies matter.
Power is the Spare currency in I.R. - this explains the reason why there was also
much take of economy in the last debate when they were supposed to be talking
about grand strategy.
This also Drezner’s claim that “History…suggests that grand strategy do not alter the
trajectory of great power politics all that much” (Drezner, 2011).
Grand strategies gain significance when known internationally and let other
countries know their intentions, their kind of government and its role in the world-
especially when the “hegemonic power is fading (ie. U.S) and is confronted by a
challenger (ie. China)” ” (Drezner, 2011).
According to the IMF, China’s power has been increasing for the past 5 yrs. The same
can’t be said about the U.S though.
“Obama’s 3 strategic conventions-
1. Domestic rejuvenation: for long term strategy
2. U.S in war against terrorism in the Middle East while neglecting problems in
3. That the bush administration pushed the U.S at an all-time low. What we
should now focus on establish American standing and leadership and a
broader set of priorities.
This eventually turned out all wrong and didn’t give the U.S grand strategy any
The grand strategy did not make Russia or china feels as though were partners with
the U.S, but presented as narrow U.S interests instead of global public goods.”
Obama’s grand strategy works better in the U.S than anywhere else- because they
“rest” on domestic support.
The focus again is renewing U.S domestic strength, but its “hard to build support for
the grand strategy because of the liberal internationalist principles” (Drezner, 2011).
Military is playing its own role in this by focusing out “attention to other dimensions
of a foreign policy” (Drezner, 2011).
o “Therefore the biggest problem with Obama’s grand strategy is
troublesome domestic politics” (Drezner, 2011). October 1: Critical Approaches
Should International Relations Consider Rape a Weapon of War? (KimberlyCarter)
•Systematic rape should be conceptualized not only as a war crime, but also as a
destructive and increasingly deployed war weapon.
•Two basic reasons:
• The categorization of rape as a weapon of war fits with core disciplinary
theoretical definitions and assumptions.
It compromises state security, operates in a conception of power defined as
material/"power-over"/zero-sum, and corresponds with a rational actor model.
• Although wartime rape has often been marginalized as a "women's issue,"
empirical evidence persuasively demonstrates how this categorization is incomplete;
women, girls, men, and boys all suffer direct/indirect consequences from the
increasing prevalence and brutality of this weapon's deployment.
•Excluding rape from security studies prevents accurate analysis within areas of
theoretical and practical concern to IR.
•Suggested avenues of research come from diverse theoretical perspectives that may
persuade IR scholars to view rape as a relevant and analytically rich topic of study.
•July 17, 1998: The Rome of the ICC established jurisdiction to try crimes of sexual
violence as official war crimes when committed as part of a widespread or systematic
attack directed in any civilian population.
•Though rape had been acknowledged as a crime for a long time, the recognition of it as
a war crime presented a shift in int'l law.
• It was defined for the first time under int'l law in 1996.
•The ICC defines the war crime of rape as containing four elements:
• The perpetrator invaded the body of a person by conduct resulting in penetration,
however slight, of any part of the body of the victim or of the perpetrator with a sexual
organ, or of the anal or genital opening of the victim with any object or any other part
of the body.
• The invasion was committed by force, or by threat of force or coercion, such as
that caused by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or abuse
of power, against such person or another person, or by taking advantage of a
coercive environment, or the invasion was committed against a person incapable of
giving genuine consent.
• The conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an international
• The perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence
of an armed conflict.
•The use of the term "invasion" is sex/gender-neutral.
•Over the past decade, attention has been put on the official documentation of rape as a
violation of int'l law.
• ex. June 08: UN Security Council unanimously passes Resolution which declares
rape a "war tactic" and stresses that despite condemnation such acts continue to
occur and have in some cases become systematic and widespread.
•Still, it remains almost invisible in IR scholarship.
•Analysis of systematic rape as a weapon is best situated within security studies: "the
study of the threat, use, and control of military force… It explores the conditions that make
the use of force more likely, the ways that use of force affects individuals, states, and
societies, and the specific policies that states adopt in order to prepare for, prevent, or
engage in war."
•When rape is considered not only a war crime but also a weapon of war, it becomes a
subject of arms control and statecraft.
The Study of IR and Wartime Uses of Rape •There are a set of core assumptions fundamental to IR scholarship.
•The discipline's heart is comprised of neorealist and neoliberal approaches.
•Mainstream scholarship is that which uses a positivist (or rationalist) approach to develop
explanatory theory; meanwhile, those approaches deemed peripheral (critical theory,
postmodernism, feminist theory, etc.) are grouped together as reflectivist in their practice
of "constitutive theory."
•Wartime rape fits into this "neo-neo positivist" worldview (until now it has been looked at
by scholars in IR's nondominant approaches).
•The characteristics of rape as a weapon are consistent with much of IR's theoretical
•First, IR places a primacy on the security of state.
• Rape as a weapon deteriorates state security in two ways:
It detracts from a state's monopoly over the legitimate use of force (rape is
available to everyone, costs nothing, and is not nonrenewable).
• Its practice and effect are not contained within state borders.
Positivism dominates IR scholarship, and rape first the definition of
• It is a visible reality occurring as part of both the national and social
• It is measurable both as a biological weapon itself and in reductionist
terms as a social process with determinable causes and effects.
• A positivist separation between facts and values is possible.
• Rape as a weapon of war is consistent with the conception of power as one actor
exercising "power over" another actor.
Though access to the weapon is technically sex neutral (Ghraib situations)
statistics reveals that systematic rape is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men.
• The gendered division results in "double powerlessness" - the rape not only
asserts power over the woman but also men that failed to protect her.
ex. Congo: point was to show husband, family, village, their powerlessness
resulting in obedience
other examples: Rwanda, Darfur
Rape is seen as an assault on the community.
•The other assumption embedded in IR analysis is the foundational "rational actor."
• Both realism and liberalism build models around this actor who carefully
calculates costs and benefits to rank-order its preferences.
• In R & L, the actor is the state.
• In context of this model, any weapon that is free and easy to procure and carries
highly destructive capacities will be exploited by rational actors.
• Furthermore, a narrow definition of the state as the only significant actor prevents
meaningful analysis of the current play of war, weapons, and security (individuals
employ rape systematically).
• Rape is useful for individuals and for states.
• It is much more prevalent in terms of the kinds of injuries women come into
hospitals in war zones for.
• Layer of complexity: Elisabeth Wood's research points out that the systematic use
of rape in war varies over time and place (contradicts rational actor model).
• For the most part, it is so low-cost that it is a likely weapon of rational actors.
Prevalence of Wartime Rape
•Rape as a weapon of war is so prevalent in current war practice that to exclude it from
war and weapons analysis precludes a complete and meaningful study of global security.
•First, geographical prevalence of rape as a weapon points to its extensive range and lack
• ex. similar cases in Yugoslavia and Rwanda (rape as int'l security threat)
•Rape may be dismissed from IR analysis due to its marginalization as a "women's issue."
• If it were a women's issue, it'd still be affecting 50% of the population.
• It also victimizes men and children.
• Large-scale wartime rape presents serious long-term, often generational, effects. Rape as a Weapon Against Women
•Women and girls are particularly targeted.
• ex. Bosnia: 20000 - 50000 females raped during '92-'95 war
• 250000 - 500000 women raped during Rwandan genocide
• 40000 women raped in the Congo between '98 and '04
•There isn't discrimination based on age.
•Two present-day cases are Darfur and Guinea.
•It is universally under-reported.
•Justice systems screw up (four witnesses, immunity for military, etc.).
Rape as a Weapon Against Men
•Males are progressively turning this power against other men.
•Shame and humiliation can be literally fatal in that men don't want to seek medical help
after being subjugated.
•Rape's destructive capacity can destroy gendered identities.
•"Feminization of the other" links multiple oppressions.
• physical as well as psychological destruction
Rape as a Weapon of War Against Children
•"Rape camps" commit the int'l war crime of forced impregnation (used in Bosnia, for ex.)
•Women were held in camps and raped until pregnant, then held captive until abortion
• Carrying a child that is a product of rape is a cruel form of torture and an integral
part of strategic ethnic cleansing.
•Rwanda: lots of rape babies found abandoned near orphanages
•Forced impregnation is an ongoing war practice
• ex. Darfur (make women give birth to Arab children); ethnic cleansing
•Enforced pregnancy creates a new group of children whose purpose is to carry the
expression of the perpetrator's dominance into future generations.
•Public rape leads to the disintegration of the family/village/community unit.
Rape as a Weapon of War in IR
•2008: the UN Security Council reiterated the political gravity of rape as a war crime,
attaching real consequences for individuals using rape as a weapon.
•Critics may wonder why rape as a weapon is worth of security studies analysis when
some weapons, like tanks or lightweight arms, get little disciplinary attention.
• It is more of a large-scale int'l security threat like nuclear weapons. Or at least if it
is, it deserves the attention.
Initial ideas for future research on rape as a weapon of war from within IR:
• Realism could provide a useful lens in exploring power-over dynamics, and how
power-seeking states making security decisions are likely to use this weapon
• Liberalist theories of cooperation could include rape as a weapon of war in their
analyses of deterrence and arms control.
Also, scholarship critiquing limits of a legal approach as capable of
restricting systematic wartime rape
It could shed light on an incomplete just war theory raising new debates
within normative IR scholarship (approaching questions of justice, shame,
• Constructivism could provide interesting analysis in terms of the socially
constructed, and then reconstructed, identities (gender, race, ethnic) occurring due to
the generational effects of rape as a war weapon, & explore new manifestations of
"security communities" that might form in response to this threat.
Also, how IR is becoming institutionalized as an int'l practice, with the
potential to become reified as a new rule
• New security threats introduced at certain moments in time can act as a catalyst
for changes in foreign policy of powerful states. • There is much to be learned about the psychological aspects of systematic rape.
• Rape as a weapon of war may increasingly figure into postmodern warfare, as it
neither employs the clear frontlines or the clear combatant/civilian lines of traditional
• Critical security theorists could bring various conceptions of power into a more
comprehensive analysis of the people and states using rape as a weapon.
• Those interested in human security could explore the public health aspects
• Scholars interested in the demobilization, disarmament, and rehabilitation aspects
of peacekeeping may include the termination of systematic rape as a necessary
condition for stable peace.
• Both Hobbes & Aristotle saw rape as eventually being able to destroy societies.
• Systematic rape is not only a war crime but also a war weapon.
• Conceptualizing this places a demand on the academic discipline charged with int'l
Making & Remaking the World for IR 101: A Resource for Teaching
• The article was designed to help instructors introduce social constructivism as a rival
approach to realism and liberalism.
• All international relations theories contain ideas about the nature of actors in world
politics, the nature of the context that surrounds those actors and the nature of the
interactions between actors. These are necessary assumptions used for explaining why
events occur and why actors choose to behave the way they do.
• Constructivists argue that it is better to consider that actors in world politics are dynamic,
that the identity and interests of states and other actors change across contexts and over
• Who actors are and what actors want is determined by their interactions with other actors
and by the larger social context in which they exists. Social constructivists argue that
states can learn to want things other than power and economic efficiency, state interests
and identity and behavior can change.
• According to constructivists, these changes are at least partly shaped by the social
context in which actors exist and the interactions they have with other actors.
• Social Constructivists argue that the context of world politics is in constant change.
• Ideas and meanings change over time as actors change over time, because it is the very
behavior and interactions of actors that creates the ideational context of world politics.
For example, the European Union is not just a forum to help states cooperate; instead
the EU is a fundamental part of European states social context. It is a forum that
contains ideas, meanings and rules that come to shape how these states view the world,
how they view themselves, how they decided what they want and how they decide to
The Apartheid example showed that we have to pay attention to how norms define
states interests. It illustrated that norms matter because they help define and limit a
range of acceptable policy choices and reformulate understandings of state interests.
The chemical weapon ban helped explain the social and cultural meanings and
significance that society attaches to certain things and practices. It shed light on how
certain ideas and practices build upon and reinforces one another to produce and
legitimize certain behaviors and conditions of life as considered to be “normal”.
POL208: SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVISM MAKING AND THE
REMAKING THE WORLD FOR IR: - realism, idealism, constructivism: theoretical approaches to world politics
- theories that hope to explain the nature of the world itself and the actors within it
- world politics has seen a great shift from European politics to world politics
- world politics is being transformed by the forces of globalization
- all theories contain ideas about the nature of actors in world politics, the nature of the
context that surrounds them, nature of interactions between actors
REALISM IN A NUTSHELL:
- zero sum, relative gains
- power is central
- state is the main level of analysis
- security is main concern
- actors behave competitively
- concerned with maximizing power
NEO-LIBERALISM IN A NUTSHELL:
- Importance to actors rather than states
- Less pessimistic about the effects of anarchy
- The system is regulated by non- state actors such as intergovernmental organizations
- Interdependence among states lessens the likelihood for conflict
- Mutual interests exist- it is not a zero sum game
- Concerned with maximizing economic gains
- In liberal’s eyes, the EU would be seen as a tool to facilitate cooperation between states,
mitigate the collective action problem, enforce rules, fight against free riding etc
PARALLELS BETWEEN REALISTS AND NEO-LIBERALS:
- State of the system is anarchic
- Interests and identities of actors are not malleable- they are generally fixed in nature,
their interests remain the same- it does not rely on context
- A great problem in these theories arise in the fact that they believe state behavior is
static and unchanging--- the nature of anarchy is also static Social Constructivism:
• The main theoretical challenger to leading theories in international relations
• Alternative to dominant paradigms that challenges their perspectives on the nature of the
• Ideas, identities, norms
• There are weaknesses in realist and liberal mainstream approaches to IR
• Liberal and mainstream approaches cannot explain significant changes that have
unraveled on the world stage in the past century
• 3 events to keep in mind: The formation of the EU, the end of the apartheid system and
the ban on chemical weapons
• objective: just to create an outline for social constructivism
• cycle: actors create their own contexts and the contexts shape agents
• material powers are not irrelevant
• all ideas are not equally as significant
• it is the interplay between ideas and material power
• ex) the outlawing of the use of chemical weapons- it was an idea that was created by the
world’s Great Powers- they had, and continue to have the power to ensure that no other
country uses them pg 29
• however, the power of states like the US does not determines how they will act- even the
most powerful of states are shaped by their contexts
• interaction of material power and the power of ideas that explains phenomena in
world politics pg 29
Key tenants of Social Constructivism:
• the power of ideas
• the interplay between actors and their social context
• social norms
• how the world shapes actors, their desires, goals and actions
• the interdependent relationship between actors and their social context
• 4 crucial aspects of social constructivism: the permissiveness of anarchy, the role
of norms, the role of identity, the role of power
• social context = norms • actors are influenced by their environments
THE EUROPEAN UNION:
• a great shift from the 20 century that was defined by European rivalries and wars on
unspeakable levels to 21 century European politics of peace and cooperation
• rivalry & war peace and cooperation
• the EU now demonstrates supranational characteristics—it is not just about individuals
states and players
• they operate as a unit—one standard currency, a European parliament etc.
• Liberalism: would argue that the EU is here to stay—there are great economic benefits
• Realism: it is inevitable that the EU will crumble, at the core of this union is states, self-
interested states who are competitive by nature who make the existence of a union of
• Neither liberalism nor realism can explain the denunciation of this racist policy
• There were economic benefits to supporting apartheid
• Also, there were benefits of supporting apartheid during the era of the cold war
• Racial segregation present in US till 1960’s
• US supported white populations in SA until 1980s
• The international community took a stand in 1994 and delegitimized this practice
• WWI- chemical weapons deployed- mustard bombs and chlorine gas
• WWII- nuclear bomb
• Now the production, use, proliferation of chemical and nuclear weapons is fronwed upon
and virtually unthinkable pg 19
• Chemical weapons have great utility in war
• They are now viewed as inhumane
• Commonality between realism and liberalism- they both agree that the state is anarchic
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVISM: • They agree with liberals in the sense that they believe that there exist a wide range of
actors in world politics
• Interests and identities of actors are malleable- they are shaped by context, environment
and times and are subject to change
• Main concern is not the maximization of power or economic gains
• At times states will have a tendency to be security crazed and power hungry but that is
only because their environment, history, surroundings have socialized them to act that
• States interests can change
• History matters
• It is impossible to describe the nature of actors independently from a particular historical
• There is no inherent logic of suspicion/ competition
• It’s not about the material characteristics, it is about the social character of international
• Not about the distribution of power, guns, money
• What makes a social context: notions of right and wrong, feasible infeasible, possible in
possible pg 21
• Ideas and meanings that shape the social environment can change over time
• It’s a cyclical idea- actors shape their own social context and the social context in turn
shapes the actors ( interests, identities, behaviours)
• it is a generally understood rule that state sovereignty is inviolate
• the only reason this rule stands is because so many countries respect it
• sovereignty and the concept of sovereignty shape what states want ( protection of
• they shape how states behave: immigration policies, diplomatic protocol all in the name
• the power and existence of rules depends on actors acting and interacting in
accordance with them pg. 21
• actors createtheir own common understandings- their social context- through
their actions and interactions
• what actors do and how they interact determines the nature of the social context
• Actors: Behaviour • Context: ideas, meanings, rules
CONSTRUCTIVISM AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
• the European union changed the structure of anarchy
• realist IR theory – if countries don’t protect themselves, they face elimination from the
• Western European nations have historically been at odds with eachother
• Anarchy and the nature of anarchy in Europe depends on the interactions that European
countries have with each other
• Anarchy can go both ways – it can encourage competition, or cooperation
• States can act as if other actors are friends, not threats
• Following the conclusion of WWII the two threats that lay on the continent was 1. A
resurgence of Germany 2. Threat of communist USSR
• “European union, an organization that has altered the map and destiny of Europe
as well as our understanding of international relations pg 23.”
• Following 2 destabilizing wars that brought bloodshed and the game of warfare to new
extremes, it was clear that all major European powers were feeling vulnerable- they
needed to drastically change their ways and their manners of dealing with their
neighbours if they were to survive
• No power could afford to be hostile anymore
• Potential costs for all powers were too high
• States in western European began to treat each other as friends and altered the
nature of anarchy
• Integration of states into the euro system has deepened
• Europe has become a security community 24
• They have abandoned war as a means of social intercourse
• A common security policy and security community are possible
• The European union is a significant part of the social context of European states
• The EU brings with it a sense of identities for the states that are involved
• -not in material or strategic interests to end apartheid yet it happened anyways
• ideas of sovereignty deemed interference in internal affairs of a country off limits • sanctions overrides the idea of sovereignty
• why did the US decide to do so?
Norm: norms are ideas that express shared social understandings of standards of
behavior Klotz” pg 26
-norms matter, they cannot determine outcomes but they can help define and limit a range of
acceptable policy choices and reformulate understandings of interest
• UN resolutions supported notions of racial equality, however, it was not enough to sway
the US into placing sanctions on the apartheid state
• The existence of sub-state, transnational actors and grassroots organizations to push
these norms that would eventually push US- arguably the strongest power in the int’l
system to follow suit and place sanction
• Sub-state actors raised public awareness, supported protestors worldwide to bring
attention to and condemn these actions
• US policymakers and corporations saw their operations limited so long as they supported
apartheid- they could not do business with south Africa without opening themselves up to
criticisms of racism back home pg. 26
• US sanctions south African government between 85-86
• Global norm of racial equality puts support for apartheid outside of the question---
US, even as the global hegemon, could not act contrary to this policy
• This shows that states are not the only actors that matter--- sub-state and transnational
actors have a significant amount of clout in matters like these
• Out of all the chemical weapons employed in war, why are chemical weapons
stigmatized and see as morally illegitimate
• How actors think of themselves as members of particular world communities
• These weapons have great military utility
• Even after WWI the discussion of chemical weapons tried to be curtailed simply because
many countries understood their utility in war and did not want to have to give them up
• The taboo associated with the use of chemical weapons illustrates how certain ideas
about ourselves and our identities guide our actions and behavior
• Chemical weapons are seen as war tools of the uncivilized man and country
• “ the taboo against chemical weapons stems from our ideas about what constitutes a
civilized society” pg 27
• Hague Declaration 1907 makes the connection between the non- use of chemical
weapons and a civilized society • Those who think of employing them are seen as barbaric- outcast from world society- bin
laden, saddam, ahmadenijad
• the rules and norms of warfare change when the war is against civilized people or
• US didn’t have that much a problem using napalm in Vietnam war
• Abiding by or violating social norms is an important way by which we gauge who we are
• To be a certain kind of people means to not do certain kinds of things pg 28
• Their use in WWI provoked a serious debate
• Ban on chemical weapons require the participation and cooperation of all actors- this
reinforces the bans as it creates expectations about what is an appropriate behavior—
rules are legitimate so long as they are followed
• In the context of war there are some practice and weapons that are considered “ not fair”
and thus prohibited by international society
• Some norms, seas and practices have become so followed, practiced, engrained in our
psyche’s that they have practically become facts of life, laws of nature
• If you consider yourself civilized, or want to be considered civilize- abstain from
using chemical weapons
CONSTRUCTING THE WORLD FOR GOOD OR ILL:
• The EU has fundamentally shaped what actors want and how they perceive
• The cycle of actors behaviours and interactions creates a new social context
• This new context shaped the actors and gave rise to new ways of conceiving the
world and relations between actors
• Ideas are powerful and must be taken into account when attempting to explain world
• Objectionable, ill meaning phenomena can also be constructed as well
• Just as ideas about democracy, universal human rights and peace can be
constructed, so can ideas about oppression and conflict
SAMUEL HUNTINGTON AND THE CLASH OF CIVLIZATIONS- Social constructions
that are conducive to conflict:
• Social context, like the notion of an overarching civilization- requires that actors
act in a way the produces context • There is no inevitability in conflict unless actor’s actions and interactions create a
conflicting social context
• Idea of west vs. Islam reinforces the social construction of civilization conflict
• The clash of civilizations offers a dangerous, self-fulfilling prophecy pg 31
CONSTRUCTIVISM IN A NUTSHELL PG. 31:
• Facilitates explaining change in a dynamic, not static, international system
• The power of ideas in defining ranges of action in world politics
• The importance of identity in defining what actors want
• The importance of the cyclical relationship between actors’ interests, identities,
behavior and the social context in which they exist
October 15: Rational Choice
The Menu For Choice: The Security Dilemma: Armament and Disarmament
The Security Dilemma: Groups or individuals living among one another are
concerned about being attacked, dominated or annihilated by others, and thus are
concerned for their security. In order to alleviate this concern, they must acquire
more power to escape the power of others. When one group acquires power,
alleviating some of their concern, this means another group is insecure, and thus
they will attempt to attain more power and so on and so forth. Noone can ever feel
completely secure in such a state, a power competition ensues and the vicious
This means that one state’s security could be another state’s insecurity. One state
preparing to defend their state could be interpreted as a threat (offensive) to other
states, while it was intended as defensive. It is difficult to know when a state has
enough security, as it is viewed in relation to that of others, which is ultimately
always increasing depending on others.
The formal anarchic system of sovereign states promotes a realist vision of struggle
in world politics through the security dilemma. The constant need for military
accumulation and to keep tabs on the accumulation of other states, stems from the
structure of sovereign states and power seeking dimensions of human nature. It is
how states cope with these conditions that create a degree of order out of anarchy.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma
This game illustrates how people (including state leaders) can become trapped by
self-defeating acts. Two people are arrested and detained in separate rooms after an armed
robbery. Each are told the same thing; they are fairly sure they committed the
crime, however there is not enough evidence to convict them. They are then given
two options; to confess (defect) partner serves 10 years & they go free, or to
keep quiet (cooperate). If both partners keep quiet, they both serve one year in jail
for concealed weapon charges. There are thus four outcomes (illustrated on page
1. Both cooperate and keep quiet and both serve only one year. This is the
socially optimal result. (A3,B3)
2. A keeps quiet and B confesses, (best situation for B, he goes free, while worst
outcome for A, 10 years) (A1,B4)
3. B keeps quiet and A confesses, (best situation for A, he goes free, while worst
outcome for B, 10 years) (A4, B1)
4. Both confess and serve 7 years. (not the best or worst situation for either)
The rational actor would take a dominant strategy, confessing either way, first
assuming if the other keeps quiet, it is still beneficial to confess, as going free is the
best individual outcome. Next considering if the other confesses, it is still best to
confess, as 7 years in prison is better than 10. This actor thus takes the dominant
strategy, confessing (defecting) regardless of what the other does.
If the other actor also uses a dominant strategy, both end up with a non-optimal
outcome, 7 years in jail for both. This defect-defect outcome is called an
equilibrium. Neither player has an incentive to choose differently if acting alone.
Neither has an incentive to switch unilaterally to cooperate, as this results in 10
years instead of 7. This equilibrium outcome often represents situations in
EG: Cold War. In the case between the US and Soviet Union, the outcomes
illustrate those in the prisoner’s dilemma. Unilateral armament preferred to mutual
restraint, mutual restraint preferred to mutual armament, and mutual armament
preferred to unilateral disarmament.
Essence of security dilemma: “One may lose greatly by failing to trust the other, but
one risks losing even more if the trust proves misplaced.”
Arms race ended, contrary to belief of the prisoner’s dilemma. However it doesn’t
mean game theory isn’t helpful to understand these cases, it just means that the
prisoner’s dilemma no longer demonstrated US and Soviet preferences in the end.
Game theory could account for this transition from the “one-sided prisoner’s
dilemma”. The US came to prefer mutual restraint or even mutual disarmament.
One-Sided Prisoner’s Dilemma / “Perceptual Dilemma”
Now the best choice for the US depends on what the Soviets do. If they think the
Soviets will cooperate, they should cooperate and achieve most preferred option. If
they think the Soviets will defect, the US should as well.
Problems that arise include the act that it is difficult to judge intentions. Prior
impressions or thoughts lead one to attribute hostile intentions to enemies, and
justify good intentions of allies. For example, with the US and Soviet Union, some believe that both preferred mutual restraint, however they perceived the other to
To resolve this situation, one side had to take a risk. Although by choosing to move
from mutual armament to unilateral armament one side would be disadvantaged,
the hope was that in being disadvantaged for a short time, the other side would see
its intentions and cooperate as well, achieving the most socially-optimal outcome of
restraint. This is referred to as the assurance game. (View diagram on pg 232)
In international relations it is a fundamental mistake to consider most conflicts as
zero-sum games, where the win of one side equals a loss for the other. If the result
is something neither party wants, conflicts can be resolved by appealing to the
notion of mutual benefit or the fear of mutual demise.
Confrontations, often between the same parties are a repeat occurrence in
international politics. Significant that their actions impact both the particular
interaction as well as future ones. Considering players actions in anticipated
repeating series is called “iterated games”.
1. Cooperative play
2. One is tempted to defect, and does so
3. Victim retaliates (punishment outcome for both)
4. May try to reestablish cooperation
Reestablishing cooperation could be difficult, and the victim interprets this as
betrayal thus resulting back to defecting.
Cooperation breeds expectations of cooperation and defection breeds expectations
of defection. No means of communication usually means more competitive
strategies. Honest communication is essential for if one party is deceived it often
results in a longer run of mutual defection and double-crossing than if there were
no communication at all.
Players are more likely to cooperate if they expect to play more often. They develop
reputations; those with a reputation to defect are often punished with defection.
Those who have a reputation for cooperation often have an easier time getting
others to cooperate again when they meet.
Robert Axelrod’s research:
Found defecting brought short-term gains but reciprocal defections and bad
outcomes for both players. He also found that tit for tat (cooperating after
opponent did, defecting after defection) was most successful. However, it never
wins an individual match.
Preconceptions are important, how the game is described to those involved as it
can lead people to interpreting a non-zero-sum game as a zero-sum game, thus
resulting in a mutually unattractive outcome.
Moral Prisoner’s Dilemma
Imagine prisoners were both innocent. In this scenario, their conscience would
make it difficult to squeal on the other, thus usually both cooperate and actually get
the best outcome for both. Even in international politics effects of one’s conscience
should not be ignored.
How did the cold war end without escalating into nuclear war? Crisis stability was dependent on the fact that neither side has first-strike capability.
If striking first had been advantageous to either, this would be different. That kind
of vulnerability is key in a crisis situation.
First strike capability: one can attack and destroy the other’s retaliatory
capability while suffering “acceptable” damage.
Second strike capability: capacity to absorb a first strike and still retaliate
causing unacceptable damage.
When both sides have the ability to cause significant damage to the other, neither
is tempted to actually do so.
Strategies used to protect second strike capacities: (pg 238)
1. Producing large numbers of delivery vehicles
2. Dispersing delivery vehicles widely
3. Hardening launching sites of delivery vehicles
4. Mobile delivery vehicles
5. Concealing missile launching sites
6. Active defense of retaliatory forces
7. Policy of launch under attack
Neither side relied on only one weapons system, rather multiple ones. A nuclear
triad consisting of aircraft, land-based missiles and submarine-based missiles
formed core of strategic planning for both. This allowed for stable deterrence.
Normal non-crisis mode of nuclear deterrence is called “balance of terror” similar
to assurance game; restraint is best for both, and a decision to attack would prompt
the opponent to as well, resulting into the defect-defect outcome of nuclear
It is also important that a line of retreat is available to the other party, such as
when in 1962 Kennedy allowed for Khrushchev the opportunity to withdraw Soviet
missiles with some