World Politics textbook notes
1.Given the human and material costs of military conflict why do countries sometimes wage war rather than
resolving their disputes through negotiations? (Chapter 3)
2. What if there are actors within a country who see war as beneficial ana who expect to pay few or none of its
costs? Do countries fight wars to satisfy influential domestic interests? (Chapter 4)
3. Why is it so hard for the international community to prevent and punish acts of aggression among and within
states? (Chapter 5)
4. Why are trade barriers so common despite the universal advice of economists? Why do trade policies vary so
widely? (Chapter 6)
5. Why is international finance so controversial? Why are international financial institutions like the
International Monetary Fund so strong? (Chapter 6)
6. Why do countries pursue different currency policies, from dollarizing or joining the euro, to letting their
currency’s value float freely? (Chapter 8)
7. Why are some countries rich and some countries poor? (Chapter 9)
8. How could relatively small transnational groups, from advocacy groups like Amnesty International to
terrorist networks like Al Qaeda, bring about policy change within and among countries? (Chapter 10)
9. Given that nearly everyone wants a cleaner and healthier environment, why is it so hard to cooperate
internationally to protect the environment? (Chapter 11)
10. Why do countries sometimes try to protect the human rights of people outside their borders? In light of
widespread support for the principle of human rights, why has the movement to protect those rights not been
more successful? (Chapter 12)
11. Why are some periods marked by extensive global conflict while others experience robust efforts at
cooperation? Which of these patterns will hold in the future? (Chapter 13)
Theory: a logically consistent set of statements that explain a phenomenon of interest.
Institutions: a set of rules, known and shared by the community, that structure political interactions in
Interactions: the ways in which the choices of two or more actors combine to produce political outcomes.
War is the product of an interaction because it requires at least two sides: one side must attack, and
the other must decide to resist.
Bargaining: an interaction in which actors must choose outcomes that make one better off at the expense of
another. Bargaining is redistributive; it involves allocating a fixed sum of value between different actors.
Cooperation: An interactions in which two or more actors adopt policies that make at least one actor better off
relative to the status quo without making the others worse off.
**SEE FERRELL’S LEVEL OF ANALYSIS NOTES*** Realism____________________________________________
Writings that have realist ideas are in the writings of Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Jean-
Introduced to Americans by Hans Morgenthau—a German expatriate whose 1948 book Politics
among Nations remains a classic statement of the realist approach.
Two key assumptions:
o States are dominant actors—the only relevant actors on the international stage.
o Institutional setting of world politics is characterized by anarchy.
Anarchy: The absence of a central authority with the ability to make and enforce laws that bind all actors.
Realists assume that anarchy shapes the interests and interactions that matter in world politics.
o Because there is no central government and no international political force, states must live
in constant fear of one another.
o With no external restraint on the use of military force, every state must firstly look out for its
own survival and security.
o No other goal can be realized unless the state is secure.
o The quest for power, brings states’ interests into conflict with one another: when one state
improves its military capabilities to enhance its own security.
Hobbes described the “state of nature,” a war of “every man, against every man” in which life is
“nasty, brutish, and short.”
Because states are so concerned with security and power, nearly all interactions involve bargaining
o Each state tries to get a bigger share for itself; one state’s gain is another state’s loss; and the
threat of war looms over everything.
o Even when the potential gains from cooperation are large, realists argue that the states worry
more about the division of the benefits than about the overall gain.
Each must fear that the state gaining the most will be able to exploit its gains for
some future advantage.
As a result, states forgo mutually beneficial exchanges if they expect to be left
at a disadvantage.
Cooperation is difficult and rare.
Realists also asset that because of the anarchic nature of the international system, international
institutions are weak and exert little independent effect on world politics.
o Institutions like the UN & WTO merely reflect the interests and power of the dominant
countries—which had the most say in their creation and design.
Realists conclude that rules are unlikely to be followed and that the states will always bow to
interests and power in the end.
Rooted in the writings of philosophers John Locke and Immanuel Kant, and economists Adam
Smith and David Ricardo.
Liberal theorists accept many different types of actors as important in world politics:
o nongovernmental organizations
Unlike realism, liberalism does not require that any one interest dominate all others. Liberals are generally optimistic about the possibilities for cooperation in world politics.
o Although they acknowledge that WP is often wracked by conflict, they do not believe that
conflict is inevitable; rather, conflict arises when actors fail to recognize or act on common
o Whether or not actors can cooperate to further their common interests depends on a great
deal on institutions, both domestic and international.
At the domestic level, liberals believe that democracy is the best way to ensure that
governments’ foreign policies reflect the underlying harmony of interests among
Conflict and war are the fault of selfish politicians, voracious militaries, and
greedy interest groups—whose influence can be tamed only by empowering
the people through democratic institutions.
At the international level, the scope for cooperation gives rise to a de