INR Exam 1
1. What basic assumptions do political scientists make when trying to understand
Political science make basic assumptions when trying to understand international politics
that separate it from all the other realms of science. Generalized explanations and vague
theories with little concrete fact are what take the mainstream in international politics and
political science. Different approaches with different theories and explanations exist, but
very few ways to test them as things can only be observed and conclusions drawn with what
evidence is given to you. There is profound disagreement when it comes to exploring
different theories as well as which methodology to apply. History plays a very important
role, due to the fact that 90% of evidence used in theories is based off of historical
conclusions, as well as the role of culture and context. No two states are the same because
of differences in culture, ethics, ethnicity, religion, and many more factors. Assumptions are
made and debated about the state of nature in which humans reside.
2. How does normative theory differ from explanatory theory?
A normative theory seeks to establish what the purpose or goals of political action should
be, as in what ought to happen, dealing in perspectives and opinions. An explanatory theory
seeks to explain a political phenomena through positive statements and facts.
3. What are the essential characteristics of the “Westphalian system” in international
The Treaty of Westphalia and “Westphalian System” recognized the existence of sovereign
states and defined the rights of said states, especially sovereignty, mainly external.
Recognition is important in this system. Political entities that are recognized as sovereign by
other sovereign entities have greater legitimacy, and hence a greater chance of surviving,
than those that are not recognized. 4. What limits on war existed in the classic balance of power system (prior to 1800)?
Prior to 1800 and Napoleon Bonaparte, small professional armies existed along with a clear
distinction between the military and mass society. All of the states were monarchies, in
which the vast majority of the population had no right to citizenship. There was little reason
for peasants with no rights to fight for rulers of countries of which they were not citizens.
Modern notions of nationalism and patriotism had not yet emerged. The only people who
had a stake were the nobles from whose ranks armed forces were drawn. Mercenaries were
sometimes used but had little effects. Before modern manufacturing techniques were
developed, armaments such as canons and guns were extraordinary expensive. Despite
religious divisions in Europe, there existed a law of war, based on Christian doctrine, which
raised moral objections to unlimited war, and particularly to the targeting of
noncombatants. These limitations did not apply to non-Christians such as Turks.
5. How did the rise of nationalism and democracy shape international politics?
Nationalism helped to establish the principle of national self-determination. It changed how
wars were fought, leading to total and national wars which engaged entire populations. The
“democratization of war,” coupled with industrialization, led to a massive increase in the
size of armies, the scale of combat, and the number of casualties. It also changed how
peace was sought, leading to the first liberal approach to collaboration during the Concert
of Europe. It also signified the end of the first wave of democracy, starting with the
American Revolution, passing through Latin America and reaching the French Republic (Shot
Heard Around The World).
6. What is the significance of anarchy in international politics?
A central issue in international politics is the possibility of establishing order within a system
that is anarchic. (Answer for 7 also applies) 7. Why do scholars use the term “anarchy” instead of “chaos” to characterize the
Anarchy denotes a condition in which there is no central ruler, chaos is a different term,
meaning complete disorder and confusion.
8. What are the major similarities and differences between balance of power theory and
hegemonic stability theory [And which is more valid? Use specific evidence from the
history of international politics.]
Both balance of power theory and hegemonic stability theory are realist theories of
international politics and both assert that the initial state of nature is anarchic and both
offer a solution of stability. Both theories also assert that conflict results when an aggressor
nation tries to establish itself as a new hegemon. Balance of power theory asserts that there
exists a relatively even distribution of power among the most powerful states, and as states
strive for superiority, states counter each other’s attempts to dominate. Hegemonic
stability theory finds that stability results when one dominant state, in a situation of
hegemony, ensures some degree of order in the system, otherwise there will be conflict.
History points toward balance of power theory being the most accurate theory in general.
Most major and minor conflicts rise from a misbalance of power and an attempt to assume
the position of hegemon. The independence movement of Latin America can be classified as
an attempt to balance the power of Spain. Unable to maintain balance as an empire that
was suffering from poverty and a struggling military, the Latin American states rose against
Spain and succeeded in their independence, establishing a balance of power, not only in the
Americas but across the world as well. WWI resulted from a misbalance of power among
the European nations, especially the major colonial power and the falling Russian, Austro-
Hungarian and Ottoman Empire and resulted in the fall of imperialism and the emergence
of new states across the world. 9. What would balance of power theory and economic structuralism predict about the
future of major war? Compare their approaches and predictions.
Both theories would predict the next major war would result from the major states
contending for power as states seek to expand themselves and their livelihood, leading to
conflict Economic structuralist offer two different approached, but both sum themselves in
that it would be a class conflict between the capitalist major powers and the weak
exploitable powers. The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must
10. How do different paradigms define power? [Compare the approaches of three
Realism – “man’s control over the minds and actions of other men” (Hans Morgenthau); as
military power, because “force is the ultima ratio (the last resort) in international politics”;
also stress that economic power is an essential underpinning of military power and can be a
power resource in and of itself.
Liberalism – provides very open definition for power, with cooperation being the central
driving force for power but allowing power to be identified as military power, economic
power, resource power, human and civil rights.
Economic Structuralism – defined wealth and economic power as the driving force behind
every state’s quest for power. Structural power is also available, when the owner or
manager can use the threat of replacing one worker with another to drive wages down.
Constructivism – identifies ideas as the most important power of a state; they seek to
investigate purpose-the goals that actors pursue with the power they have, however power
Feminism – feminist define power through a neoliberal lens, as the ability of two or more
states to achieve together what they could not achieve alone (power politics). Feminist are
more concerned with how power shapes our perceptions of the social constructions of
gender and the world 11. How do liberal institutionalism and complex interdependence theory differ in their
critiques of realism?
Liberal institutionalism agrees with realism on various assumptions such as the nature of
anarchy and security dilemma but critiques the portrayal of the security dilemma as offering
no good choice, stating that complete disarmament and cooperation would be better off. It
also uses the prisoner’s dilemma to demonstrate cooperation is the best approach. Belief in
cooperation also leads to an expansion of non-state institutional actors. Complex
interdependence theory believes in an even larger channel of connections between
societies and governments, believes that there is no clear hierarchy of issues (state security
is not the most important issue), and that military force is often not considered a viable
12. Compare and contrast the realist and liberal approaches to the security dilemma.
Realist see there is constant armament as the tendency for one state’s efforts to obtain
security causes insecurity in others. If a state refrains from engaging in the weapons
competition, it leaves itself vulnerable to attack. But if it builds new weapons, it creates
insecurity for others. Liberal theorists offer a partial solution to the security dilemma,
arguing it can be partly overcome through agreements on disarmament. If a state cannot
completely escape the balance of power, perhaps it can, through agreements, help
maintain a stable balance of power.
13. How do realism and liberalism use the prisoner’s dilemma model to advance their claims?
Realist argue that individual rationality leads to collective irrationality (Collective Action
Problem). Even though a state can risk cooperating and getting the best deal, it can still fail
and get the worst deal. However, the state is guaranteed the second best option if it
defects. Realist contend because there is no one to enforce agreements, cheating can leave
a state that cooperates vulnerable, and so the prudent state defects, acquiring more arms.
Liberals demonstrate that it is possible for two states to become better off at the same
time, and have powerful incentives to overcome the prisoner’s dilemma. Shared norms and values can provide extra incentive to cooperate, cooperation becomes an asset for
preserving security, it is more beneficial in the long run to cooperate, and cheating less of a
problem when states can agree on monitoring mechanisms.
14. What are the major differences between complex interdependence theory and liberal
Liberal institutionalism believes in the importance of state security means all other goals are
seen through the lens of state security. It also believes that states can be seen as rational
unitary actors. Complex interdependence theory believes that, beyond states, the list of
actors includes a wide variety of international organizations and transnational organizations
(Pluralism), It also does not assume a hierarchy of goals and that the world is
interconnected by a thick web of many relationships.
15. Compare and contrast economic structuralism with [liberalism or realism].
Economic structuralism is, in many respects, a response to liberalism, just as liberalism was
a response to realism. Like liberalism, it first arose as a theory of domestic politics and was
only later applied to questions of international politics. Focuses above all on economics,
both as a motivation in politics and as a source of power, and sees the distribution of wealth
as the most important question in international politics. It sees the fundamental actors in
politics as classes (group of people at different places in the economic hierarchy), it is based
on the central concept of surplus value and that behind every government is a class of
owners in whose interests the government usually acts. War will only come when either the
main capitalist powers fight each other, or the collaborate and jointly exploit the weak.
Realism sees military force as the central drive in international politics, states as the only
rational unitary actors, acting in the national interest. It is better to arm oneself in the
security dilemma and relative gains through defection is more desirable than cooperation. It
is often considered an amoral theory, stating the most moral thing to do is follow the
national interest. Agrees with economic structuralism on how conflict occurs and “the
strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Exploitation of the weak. Liberalism sees many different goals as the driving force in international politics, military
force being among them but not necessarily the central theme. Liberals believe that
absolute gains through cooperation is possible and economic wealth can be distributed
more widely through a system of international collaboration and free trade. Everyone can
be better off and collaboration should be a priority in the international system. Agree with
economic structuralism in that economic power and wealth can be a central driving force in
international politics and both seek to provide equality and improvement but the most stark
difference is on both paradigms view on collaboration.
16. How do balance of power theory, liberal institutionalism, and economic structuralist
theories differ in their explanation of wars in the international system? Which is the
Balance of power theory explains wars as a result of power struggles between the stronger
states who are seeking to become a global hegemon. When the balance of power is
threatened or tipped, states pull against the aggressor in order to put the balance back.
Liberal institutionalism does not believe in the realist theory that anarchy leads to war,
pointing to the security dilemma and lack of cooperation is what leads to conflict. Liberal
institutionalism contend that if states find it in their interest to collaborate even on issues
that have a direct impact on state survival, it makes sense that collaboration will be more
extensive in other areas. There are two schools of thought in economic structuralism when
it comes to war. One is that capitalism inevitably leads, through imperialism, to war. The
second is that the owners of capital and the governments of powerful states are smart
enough to recognize that, rather than fighting each other, they are better off collaborating
to exploit the weak.
Balance of power theory seems to provide the superior explanation in the realm of wars in
the international system. Power hungry individuals seeking to establish their position as a
global or regional hegemon disturb the balance of power, and states around the world and
around the region must join to prevent a rise in power in order to maintain the balance.
Liberal Institutionalism – Syria and the U.S., Japan and the U.S. WWII 17. Contrast the normative positions of [any two of the five paradigms we have studied].
Realism – realists emphasize the role of a state’s government is to serve the national
interest of that state and government has no moral obligation to other states. Efforts to be
moral can lead to immoral results, while unethical behavior might avoid much larger evils.
Liberalism – If the perils and problems of anarchy can be mitigated through collaboration,
leaders should attempt to achieve these benefits. Collaboration can make all participants
better off and that it should therefore be a priority in international affairs.
Economic Structuralism – finds that economic inequality is a double evil; in addition to
creating poverty, it leads to political inequality, because political power is built largely on
economic power. Advocates seek not only to expose the sources and effects of economic
inequality but also to provide some guidance as to how such inequality might be overcome.
Constructivism – tend to side