One World, Many Theories - Stephen Walt
- What does theory have to do with actual policy? ➞hard to make good policy if one's basic organizing principles are flawed,
hard to construct good theories without knowing a lot about the real world.
- Disagreements about policy usually due to fundamental disagreements about theory
- Competition between realist, liberal, and radical theories. These are general theories of int’l behaviour :
- Realism believes that states have natural tendencies toward conflict
- Liberalism looks at ways to alleviate these conflictive tendencies
- Radicalism describes ways the entire system of state relations can be changed
- Realism: IR about struggle for power between self-interested states, conflict & war nearly inevitable.
- Classical realists believe humans have an innate desire to dominate others, leading to war.
- Neorealists ignore human nature and focus on the effects of the int’l system’s anarchy ➞anarchy aspect causes
weaker states to balance against, not ally with, more powerful states.
- Offense-defense theory: war is more likely if states can conquer each other easily, and security is more likely if
defense was easier than offense (cost of expansion greater than the benefits).
- Defensive realists: war not profitable, states just seek to survive by forming alliances and adopting defensive military
standpoints. Avoid war by reducing the danger states pose to each other. War results from militarism,
- Offensive realists: war profitable, states like Napoleon’s France or Hitler’s Germany willing to risk annihilation to
achieve their goals. States always try to maximize power due to anarchy.
- Liberalism: see states as main actors, although MNC’s and IO’s Have some power. Looks at what states can use to achieve
their shared interests, looks at domestic forces. Different strands.
- Economic interdependence would discourage war because both side’s economy would suffer. Globalization and it’s
components are taking power away from states, shifting attention from military security towards economic and social
- Institutionalism: international institutions (like the IMF) can overcome selfish state behaviour by encouraging states
to forego immediate gains for long-term cooperation.
- Institutions can only facilitate cooperation when it’s in each state’s interest to do so, cannot overcome
selfish state behaviour
- Democratic peace theory: democracies inherently more peaceful than autocratic states ➞democracies fight wars just
as often, but rarely fight other democracies (b/c the elected leaders are accountable to the people, don’t want to risk
election problems). Democracy = peace.
- Transition to democracy may make states more prone to war, perhaps absence of war because democratic
states relatively scarce before WWII, decision to forego war between democratic states usually had little to
do with their shared democratic character but instead with wanting to contain the Soviet Union’s power.
- Marxism: sees capitalism as cause of international conflict. Battle for profits, resources.
- Deconstructionism: skeptical about making general/universal theories b/c things when broken down contain irreconcilable
contradictions and thus can be interpreted in many ways. Emphasizes importance of language and discourse in shaping
- Constructivist: focus less on material factors like power and trade, more on impact of ideas & change!! A state’s interests,
identity, and behavioral norms are reflected in the state’s dominant ideas & discourse.
- Given a state’s ideas & identity, how does it affect state behaviour and response to situations?
- Is culture related to state behaviour (Japan’s pacifist nature)? Will culture replace nation loyalty?
- New issues: ethnic conflict, environment, future of the state ➞are states shifting from military competition to economic
competition, social welfare, and environmental protection? Is this due to democracy or nuclear stalemate? Is the state still the
most impt int’l actor? Do they provide stability?
- Domestic politics affects state behaviour ➞interest groups, discourse, psychological views, institutions
- Although these are all different theories to explain international affairs and state behavior, most theories recognize that what
other theories consider the main drivers (power for realists, economics/politics for liberals) are important for international
One World, Rival Theories - Jack Snyder
- Post-9/11, we adjusted existing theories about IR to meet the new realities. Has this approach failed?
- I.e. US politicians started talking about combining realism/idealism/liberalism together
- Realism is pragmatic and acknowledge role of power, but warns that states will suffer if they overreach
- Military strength still impt, conflicts continue to occur even in age of economic interdependence
- US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq b/c it’s more powerful, wanted security, expand its domination
- But US declared war against Al Qaeda, a nonstate terrorist organization ➞realists contend that the war on terror has
mainly been against 2 countries, and not led by an int’l group like the UN.
- Also, realism predicts weaker states will ally against stronger state to balance their power ➞no combination of states
in post-9/11 world can challenge the US so there’s no balancing of power. Perhaps this is b/c US is distant & doesn’t
seem imperialistic, and Europe’s conflict w/it’s neighbours takes priority for now. Some say US foes in Middle East, and opposition of France and Germany to recent US policies are beginning of balancing (by military & non-military
- Can policies based on calculation of power be seen as legitimate enough to last?
- Liberalism highlights state’s potential to cooperate, especially through use of effective organizations
- Says realism cannot account for progress in relations between nations
- See move away from anarchic world as economic ties form and democratic norms spread. Democratic values and
institutions (like rule of law, transparency) make it easier for states to cooperate with each other ➞holds up in face of
- Liberalism very powerful, i.e. We believe only elected gov’ts are legitimate and politically reliable.
- Millennium Challenge program decides how much US foreign aid countries get based on measures of their
development of democracy and the rule of law
- Tendency to embark on “righteous” crusades against “tyrannic,” warlike autocratic regimes.
- Instability of emerging democracies due to weak political institutions that cannot resolve conflicting ethnic groups’
demands for self-determination.
- Democracy creates idea that all nations should enjoy self-determination ➞those left out may resort to violence
(against democratic states they consider to be depriving them of democracy)
- Also, does economic liberalism/globalization of mature democracies conflict with transitional democracies? Free
trade that replaces patronage and protectionism in transitional democracies may create social chaos between wealthy
urbanites and poor countrymen, but can also encourage transitional democracies to create stronger ties with
- Has liberalism failed? International institutions cannot constrain hegemonies (like the US) from doing what it wants
if it decides to (like the Bush administration). Can only help coordinate outcomes that are in the long-term interest of
both the hegemon and the weaker states.
- Can transitioning democracies fend off powerful (usually ethnic) interests that oppose them?
- Idealism knows that shared values are important for a stable political order, but also knows that reaching this shared consensus
of values causes conflict between ideologies that may escalate.
- Foreign policy is and should be guided by ethical and legal standards
- Ideologies, identities, persuasion, and transnational networks are very impt in understanding IR
- Realists’ “power” and “national interests” dependent on ability to convince others to adopt their ideas.
Constructivism explains the origin of realists’ power and liberals’ democratic ideals.
- By uncovering information about democracies who violate legal/moral standards, they can pressure gov’ts to change
for the better, creating international change
- If shared values = stable politics, then cross-cultural dialogue and agreed-upon international norms is needed, but
many idealists think they already know right and wrong, it’s just a matter of shaming rights abusers and persuading
powerful actors to promote (Western) values.
- What strategic, institutional, or material conditions are necessary to create shared values?
- None of the 3 theories can really explain changes like the end of the cold war & the new hegemony (US), how to transition to
democracy peacefully, or the conditions necessary to create shared values and ideas.
The Clash of Civilizations? - Samuel Huntington
- Most important distinctions between people (and greatest source of conflict) is not ideological, political, or economical, but
cultural. Identities & loyalties shift from state to civilization, eliminating conflicts within civilizations as people identify with
each other, but exacerbate tensions between civilizations.
- After Peace of Westphalia, conflict was between Kings. After French Revolution, conflict was between nation-states. After
1917 Russian Revolution, conflict was between ideologies. Mostly “Western” wars!
- Now focus is on interaction between the West and non-Western civilizations
- Civilization: the broadest level of cultural identity that people intensely identify with (short of that which distinguishes humans
from other animals). Composition and boundaries of civilization change as people redefine their own identities. Western,
Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Latin American, African.
- Conflicts between civilizations will be more frequent than conflicts within civilizations (empirically not so)
Why will they clash?
- Differences among civilizations are basic, long-withstanding, like history, language, culture, tradition, and religion. I.e. How
they view gods, gender roles, innate rights.
- Globalization = increasing contact between civilizations = increased awareness of one’s own civilization and of the
DIFFERENCES between civilizations = different cultures in close proximity will clash
- Industrialization and social change are weakening the nation’s states authority, shifting people’s loyalty from nation-state to
- West at it’s peak of power faces non-Wests that have increasing desire to shape world in non-Western ways (“Asianization” of
Japan, “Hinduization” of India, “re-Islamization” of Middle East)
- Cultural differences & identities change slowly as opposed to political and economic ones, and thus harder to resolve or make
compromises. Rich = poor, democrats = communists, Russians ≠ Americans - Increased trading within regions like Europe, East Asia, and N. America, (economic regionalism) reinforces kin-country,
civilization-consciousness, especially when there’s a common culture & religion.
- Efforts of the West to spread democracy, liberal rights, maintain military power, and advance economic interests will cause
other civilizations to rebel.
- As ideology as basis of identity fades, gov’ts will gather support through religion and culture
Clash of civilization at the micro and macro level
- Micro-level: groups along boundaries between civilizations fight for control over territory and each other
- Macro-level: states from different civilizations fight for military and economic power, control over int’l institutions and third
parties, and compete to promote their political and religious values.
- i.e. Boundary between Western Christianity vs Orthodox Christianity & Islam (West vs. Islam vs. Arabs)
- Increasing Arab pop’n = increased immigration to Western Christian Europe, further sharpening hostilities. Modernization of
Africa and spread of Christianity are likely to increase chances of violence amongst Arab-Islamic civilizations and the
increasingly Christian Black people to the South.
- Religion reinforces ethnic identities, which causes state to worry about the security of their borders
- I.e. Slav and Turkish people living on Russia’s borders causes concern for Russia
- Underlying cultural differences can also show up in foreign policy areas ➞like human rights, trade and weapons proliferation,
and economic policy. I.e. USA vs China, and USA vs Japan
The Kin-Country Syndrome
- In a war, states belonging to one civilization will rally support from other members of their civilization to fight against the
enemy civilization. This “kin-country,” civilization commonality is becoming more important when considering what
encourages cooperation and coalition between states (as opposed to only considering political ideology or other balance of
- I.e. In the Gulf war, Arab & Muslim states teamed up against Arab & Western states ➞attempt by Saddam to declare it as a
war between the West and Islam, successfully convinced some Arab states to distance themselves from the West.
- I.e. Muslim Turkey and Iran backed Azerbaijanis against the Christian Armenians.
- I.e. Slovenia and Croatia (Catholic countries) were recognized by and received military arms from Europe and the US (and the
Pope), while Islamic gov’ts criticized the West for not helping Bosnia and Serbia. Therefore Orthodox Serbs and Bosnia came
to be backed by Islamic gov’ts.
The West Versus the Rest
- Western’s military and economic power is unrivaled, dominates international organizations and resolves global
political/security issues, conflict among Western states = unthinkable. Uses institutional, military, and economic power to
maintain Western dominance, interests, political and economic values.
- IO (UN, IMF) are said to reflect the desires of the world but it really reflects the West’s desires, legitimizes their actions and
promote their interests & policies.
- Non-Westerners struggle for power that West holds. Conflict also occurs in culture ➞fundamental Western ideas of
democracy, rights, free markets, & secularism, have little in common to Islamic, Hindu, Orthodox, etc., cultures. Trying to
push these ideas on Non-Western cultures = revival of religious fundamentalism to prevent “human rights imperialism.”
- Non-Western states may: 1) isolate themselves from the West, 2) join the West & accept its values and institutions, or 3)
balance the West by allying w/non-Western groups & modernizing w/o Western values
- Eventually, Western dominance will come to an end, and non-Western states will become more powerful. These non-Western
powers reject Western values in favour of their own cultural norms.
- A multipolar, multi-civilizational world will occur, with core states in each civilization (US in Western, China in Confucian,
Russia in Orthodox, etc) who control the smaller states.
Dangers to the West:
1) Islam — a pop’n explosion (huge % of pop’n is young), cultural resurgence, and absence of a strong core state combine to
create a high possibility of conflict ➞more conflict WITHIN Islam than between Islam?
2) Asia, particularly China — order and discipline that has fueled Asia’s economic growth (collectivism over individualism) =
reinforces Asian countries self-confidence and desire for greater global influence
3) Western technology becoming available to all civilizations, Western morals are declining ➞family decay, divorce, single-
parent families, antisocial behaviour. Weakening of work ethic?
The Torn Countries in the Future
- As countries become divided by civilization, they’re liable to split (dismemberment)
- Some countries have non-Western culture, history, & traditions, but whose leaders want to become West.
- Causes conflict when a country’s society resists redefinition of their identity
- Russia: become closer to East (China) or West? Redevelop military strength?
- To redefine a civilization’s identity, 3 req: 1) state’s political and economic elite must be supportive about re-identification, 2)
public must accept redefinition, 3) converting civilization must be accepted by whatever civilization it’s converting to. - What obstacles do non-Western countries face in trying to join the West?
- Countries who cannot or wish not to join the West compete with the West by developing their own military,
economic, and political power & allying with non-Western countries.
- Non-Western countries want nuclear weapons in order to rival West’s superior power
- Arms control: West prevents non-Western states from developing arms by using int’l agreements, economic
pressures, and controlling the dispersal of arms technology, while at the same time trying to reduce its own military.
Implications for the West
- Short term: in the interest of the West to promote unity within its European & N. American civilizations, incorporating
societies similar to it, limiting the economic, military, and institutional power of non-Western civilizations, and maintain its
- Long term: non-Western societies will become increasingly stronger, but resistant to becoming Western. Therefore, the West
needs to maintain the economic and military power necessary to protect it interests, while developing a better understanding of
non-Western culture, religion, and interests. Need to identify commonality between civilizations, and learn to coexist with the
- Don’t piss off or destabilize Russia or China
- America needs to recover their own Western identity to avoid fragmentation into hostile states
- Rejection of American Christianity means the end of the USA & Western civilization
- Believes that multiculturalism in a state (like Canada or the US) threatens Western civilization by creating tension, grievances,
social conflict, and reducing total prosperity and well being.
- Cleft country: large amounts of ppl in a pop’n belong to different civilizations
Thoughts? The non-western countries obviously don’t trust the western countries to keep their promises, to not become
aggressive when it suits them, etc. West needs to take more measures to show their earnestness and win their trust (that’s
assuming this is what the West wants)
Problems with Clash of Civilization Theory
- Is the COC an unreliable guide to the emerging world order and a dangerous blueprint for US policy?
- What if tangible conflicts over economic or political issues are interpreted as collisions between civilizations? Will these issues
that were negotiable turn into unsolvable conflicts?
- Religion doesn’t necessarily define a civilization. Even definition of civilization is difficult to determine.
- Cultural differences do not cause war by themselves, like how cultural similarities don’t ensure harmony
- Never explains why conflict is more likely to arise between civilizations than within them.
- In the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Iraq attacked a fellow Islamic state, only to be repulsed by a coalition of Western and
Islamic states, with tacit support from Israel. Intra-civilization conflict.
- Doesn’t explain why loyalties are suddenly shifting from nation-states to civilizations, and why this shift will lead to this
greater inter-civilizational conflict (remember differences don’t cause war by themselves)
- States can mobilize citizens, collect taxes, threaten and reward people, wage war, and build nationalism, which is powerful in
unifying individuals (even if they have different cultures)
- Historical rivalries between civilizations exist, but maybe it’s better for the int’l community to handle these rivalries, not
- Dislikes multiculturalism, says it will tear western civilization apart, but doesn’t account for the fact that not even Confucius
civilizations are not as homogenous as they seem.
- Evidence for civilization clash not convincing especially when looking at relationship between US and Saudi Arabia. There
has been a long history of trade and tolerance between Islamic & non-Islamic states.
- Is there even an ‘Islamic’ civilization? Looking at history, not really.
- What if cause of conflict is not differences in civilization, but poverty, history, colonialism, imperialism?
What Clash of Civilizations? - Amartya Sen
- Religious identity isn’t everything, it competes with the other identities that one holds. To use only a religious identity in
understanding one’s role in society promotes misunderstanding and is an ILLUSION.
- Classification into rigid, defined boxes causes divisiveness. If 2 people with shared identities (i.e., Christian) have different
views (on say homosexuality), who’s to say one is Christian but the other’s not?
- CoC assumes that humanity can be classified into distinct civilizations, and that somehow relationships between different
human beings = relationships between different civilizations ➞overly simplistic
- CoC selective about history, overlooks the extent of intra-civilizational conflicts
- Focus on religion causes ppl to think that respecting another civilization means to praise their religion, instead of
acknowledging their nonreligious accomplishments as well. Also gives religious authorities more power in those cultures, even
if their views don’t represent the majority of that culture.
- Religious/civilizational classification can cause harmful dialogue between two religions ➞“Christian God is a real God,
Muslim’s God is only an idol.” Or trying to convince Islamic terrorists that Muslims should be peaceful and tolerant ➞is it
useful or even possible to define what a “true Muslim” must be like? - Not all Muslims think that being Islamic = most impt identity, or that spreading Islam = most impt goal
- Strong belief in religion ≠ political intolerance (i.e. Akbar, a Muslim who advocated religious freedom)
- Recognizing plural identities = more realistic characterization of the world we live in. Works against divisiveness caused by
singularly classifying us into religions.
Huntington’s Clash Revisited - David Brooks
- Huntington assumed that Muslim beliefs were incompatible with Western liberal ideas like pluralism and democracy, and
valued religion over nationalism. But perhaps it was the situation and not certain innate traits that caused them to be like this
- In one situation, one set of identities manifests itself, and when circumstances change, those identities can also change ➞like
now with the Middle East revolts.
- I.e. Before they were living in a regime of fear, but when the fear lessened, they began to revolt for pluralism, human
rights, openness, and democracy.
- Underneath cultural differences are universal goals of human respect and dignity
Slick ‘ems, Glick ‘ems… Nuclear Language and How We Learned to Pat the Bomb - Carol Cohn
Does Cohn overestimate the influence exerted by defense intellectuals when she assumes their "professional language sets the
terms for public debate"?
- How does language use by nuclear strategists shape America’s nuclear weapon policy?
- Abstract speaking and euphemisms ➞allows ppl to avoid emotional images when talking about nuclear bombs, avoid the grisly
reality behind events like Hiroshima, avoid feeling responsible for their contributions and their decisions. I.e. Nuclear bombs =
“clean bombs,” deaths = “collateral damage”
- Make nuclear bombs seem like surgically-precise tools, when in reality they create a mess
- Defense specialists constantly using sexual (phallic) imagery to envision dominance
- Did this language make defense specialists feel like they had to protect themselves from attack? Was nuclear arms
race driven by desire to prove ‘manliness’ and domination over other side?
- Using sexual imagery allows one to live vicariously through it, claim it as one’s own success/experience
- Does using terms that remind one of home to describe inanimate objects that reminds one of home, i.e. “cookie cutter” =
describe particular model of nuclear attack, allow people to ignore real human beings? ➞with inanimate objects being made
‘domestic,’ you don’t have to include humans in that picture
- Descriptions of the bomb like being “the Birth of the world” or “the start of the universe” suggests men’s desire to have the
power of giving or taking away life.
- Repeated religious imagery = assertion that they are God, or hold God-like power
- Wide range of function of acronyms: dis-attachment from topic, to allow only those “in” the group to follow the conversation,
speak/write faster, but they make talking about nuclear weapons “fun and sexy,” and make one less frightened of nuclear
war/working with nuclear weapons
- Speaks from perspectives of a nuclear weapons humans, not that of a human or a victim of nuclear weapons. Offers distance,
feeling of control, and distracts one from the human suffering attached to it.
- To talk of things like “peace,” to use non-technical jargon, men thought of her as “soft-headed”
- Even changing the language, i.e. “collateral damage” to “mass murder,” will not solve the problem b/c the abstract language
was created to hold itself together abstractly, to “think about the unthinkable”
- Even if you change the reference point from weapons to human concerns, defense specialists will dismiss them as “inexpert,
unprofessional, irrelevant to the business at hand.”
- Those for nuclear weapons may claim to be rational, but the homoerotic, sexual dominance, and religious undercurrents
running in the technostrategic language reveals them to be quite emotional
- If you oppose nuclear weapons, you must learn the language before you can debate about it, but learning the language designed
to allow usage of nuclear weapons transforms you instead.
- But is technostrategic language what really guides the development and usage of nuclear weapons? Or does it just legitimize
the political decisions responsible for the usage of nuclear weapons?
Jihad vs McWorld - Benjamin Barber
- World is becoming more homogenous and diverse at the same time
- Believes an ‘American’ form of capitalism that is supranational in scope & organization will emerge
- World is being shaped in the image of American capitalism
- 2 possible political futures, both bleak, neither democratic
1) Jihad: endless warring and bloodshed in the name of narrow interests (of culture, religion, ethnicity)
2) McWorld: globalization causes integration and uniformity into one homogenous world
McWorld - Commercialization, homogenization, depoliticization
- By shrinking the world and diminishing the importance of national borders, globalism overcomes divisive forces like
nationalism. Must conquer markets, resources, information-technology, and ecology. - All about never-ending consumption (capitalism creates wants to fuel co