I. THE STATE AND THE NATION
• For an entity to be considered a state, four fundamental conditions must be met (although these
legal criteria are not absolute):
o A state must have a territorial base.
o A stable population must reside within its borders,.
o There should be a government to which this population owes allegiance.
o A state has to be recognized diplomatically by other states.
• A nation is a group of people who share a set of characteristics. At the core of the concept of a
nation is the notion that people having commonalities owe their allegiance to the nation and to its
legal representative, the state.
o The recognition of commonalities among people spread with new technologies and
education. With improved methods of transportation and invention of the printing press,
people could travel, witnessing firsthand similarities and differences among peoples.
• Some nations, liked Denmark and Italy, formed their own states.
• This coincidence between state and nation, the nationstate, is the foundation for national self
determination, the idea that peoples sharing nationhood have a right to determine how and under
what conditions they should live.
• Other nations are spread among several states; in these cases, the state and the nation do not
o It may be a state with several nations, like South Africa and India.
o In the case of the United States and Canada, the state and nation do not coincide, yet a
common identity and nationality is forged over time, even in the absence of religious,
ethnic, or cultural similarity.
o In the United States, national values reflecting commonly held ideas are expressed in
• Not all ethnonationalists aspire to the same goals.
o Some want recognition of unique status
o Some seek solutions in federal arrangements
o A few prefer irredentism: joining with fellow ethnonationalists in other states to create a
• Disputes over state territories and the desires of nations to form their own states have been major
sources of instability and even conflict.
o Of these territorial conflicts, none has been more intractable as the conflict between the
Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, who each claim the same territory.
o Five interstate wars have been fought and two uprisings by the Palestinian people within
the territory occupied by Israel have occurred since the formation of the state of Israel in
o Should Israel and Palestinian territories be divided into two separate, independent states? II. CONTENDING CONCEPTUALIZATIONS OF THE STATE
• The Realist View of the State
o Realists hold a statecentric view: the state is an autonomous actor constrained only by
the structural anarchy of the international system.
o As a sovereign entity, the state has a consistent set of goals—that is, a national interest—
defined in terms of power. Once the state acts, it does so as an autonomous, unitary actor.
• The Liberal View of the State
o The state enjoys sovereignty but is not an autonomous actor. The state is a pluralist arena
whose function is to maintain the basic rules of the game.
o There is no explicit or consistent national interest; there are many. These interests often
change and compete against each other within a pluralistic framework.
• The Radical View of the State
o The instrumental Marxist view sees the state as the executing agent of the bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie reacts to direct societal pressures, especially to pressures from the
o The structural Marxist view sees the state as operating within the structure of the
capitalist system. Within that system, the state is driven to expand, because of the
imperatives of the capitalist system.
o In neither view is there a national interest or real sovereignty, as the state is continually
reacting to external capitalist pressures.
• The Constructivist View of the State
o National interests are neither material nor given. They are ideational and continually
changing and evolving, both in response to domestic factors and in response to
international norms and ideas.
o States have multiple identities, including a shared understanding of national identity,
which also changes, altering state preferences and hence state behavior.
• Contrasting the Various Views of the State: The Example of Oil
o A realist interpretation posits a uniform national interest that is articulated by the state.
Oil is vital for national security; thus, the state desires stability in oil’s availability and
o Liberals believe that multiple national interests influence state actions: consumer groups,
manufacturers, and producers. The state itself has no consistent viewpoint about the oil;
its task is to ensure that the playing field is level and the rules are the same for all players.
There is also no single or consistent national interest.
o In the radical perspective, oil policy reflects the interests of the owner capitalist class
aligned with the bourgeoisie and reflects the structure of the international capitalist
system. The negotiating process is exploitative for the advancement of capitalist states.
o Constructivists may try to tease out how the identities of states are constructed around
having a valuable resource.
III. THE NATURE OF STATE POWER
• States are critical actors because they have power, which is the ability not only to influence
others but to control outcomes so as to produce results that would not have occurred naturally.
• Power itself is multidimensional; there are different kinds of power. • Natural Sources of Power
o Whether power is effective at influencing outcomes depends on the power potential of
each party. A state’s power potential depends on its natural sources of power. The three
most important natural sources of power are:
Geographic size and position: a large geographic expanse gives a state automatic
power, although long borders must be defended and may be a weakness.
• Alfred Mahan (18401914) argued that the state that controls the ocean
routes controls the world.
• Sir Halford Mackinder (18611947) argued that the state that had the
most power was the one that controlled the heartland.
Natural resources: Petroleumexporting states like Kuwait and Qatar, which are
geographically small but have greater power than their sizes would suggest.
• Having a soughtafter resource may prove a liability making states
targets for aggressive actions.
• The absence of natural resources does not mean that a state has no power
potential; Japan is not rich in resources but is still an economic
Population: sizable populations give power potential and great power status to a
state. However, states with small, highly educated, skilled populations such as
Switzerland can fill large political and economic niches.
• Tangible Sources of Power
o Industrial development: with advanced industrial capacity (such as air travel), the
advantages and disadvantages of geography diminish.
o With industrialization, the importance of population is modified: large but poorly
equipped armies are no match for small armies with advanced equipment.
o Radicals believe that differences in who has access to the source of tangible power lead
to the creation of different classes, some more powerful than others.
• Intangible Sources of Power
o National image: people within states have images of their state’s power potential—
images that translate into an intangible power ingredient.
o Public support: a state’s power is magnified when there appears to be unprecedented
public support. For example, China’s power was magnified under Mao Zedong because
there was unprecedented public support for the communist leadership.
o Leadership: visionaries and charismatic leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi and Franklin
Roosevelt were able to augment the power potential of their states by taking bold
initiatives. Likewise, poor leaders diminish the state’s power capacity.
o Joseph S. Nye has labeled intangible power soft power: the ability to attract others
because of the legitimacy of the state’s values or policies.
o Liberals would more than likely place greater importance on these intangible ingredients,
since several are characteristics of domestic processes.
o Constructivists argue that power includes not only the tangible and intangible sources but
also the power of ideas and language. It is through the power of ideas and norms that
state identities and nationalism are forged and changed. IV. THE EXERCISE OF STATE POWER
• The Art of Diplomacy
o Traditional diplomacy entails states trying to influence the behavior of other actors by
o Diplomacy usually begins with bargaining through direct and indirect communication in
an attempt to reach agreement on an issue.
o For bargaining to be successful, each party needs to be credible. Wellintentioned parties
have a higher probability of successful negotiations. Although states seldom enter
diplomatic bargaining as equals, each has information and goals of its own. The outcome
is almost always mutually beneficial, but the outcome may not please each of the parties
o Bargaining and negotiations are complicated by at least two factors:
Most states carry out two levels of bargaining simultaneously: bargaining
between and among states and the bargaining that must occur between the state’s
negotiators and its various domestic constituencies, both to negotiate and to ratify
the agreement. Robert Putnam refers to this as a twolevel game. Trade
negotiations with the World Trade Organization are often conducted as two
Bargaining and negotiating are a culturebound activity. Approaches to
bargaining vary across cultures. Two styles o