Realism II: Modern Approaches. Lecture 3 – Tuesday, 15 February 2011 J A Morrison. Kenneth Waltz. John Mearsheimer. Robert Jervis. Admin. Attendance Sheet IP Wiki http://middinternationalpolitics.wikispaces.com/ Check it out Tonight Remember: Class rescheduling!
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Lecture 3 – Tuesday, 15 February 2011J A Morrison
So, as we work through these “modern” approaches, ask yourselves:Do we ask different questions today? Or do we consider the same issues but merely offer different answers?
Much of the study of IP in the last 30 years has pivoted around Kenneth Waltz.Most studies have either been written in the Waltzian paradigmor self-consciously in response to that paradigm.
Domestic Versus International Politics in Waltz
Hallmarks of the Waltzian Paradigm
“The difference between national and international politics lies not in the use of force but in the different modes of organization for doing something about it…A national system is not one of self-help. The international system is.”
-- Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), pp 103-104.
You should recognize these conclusions from Hobbes & Bull…Politics works very differently in domestic politics (under a sovereign) than in international politics (in anarchy).
Waltz argued that these differences between domestic and international politics require us to think about each realm of politics separately.
The Waltzian paradigm specifies how we should theorize aboutinternational politics.It assumes that theories of DP aren’t useful for understanding IP.Instead, we need to develop entirely new theories of IP appropriate to this distinct realm of politics.
Waltz developed his own specific theory of international politics; and we’ll consider those specifics shortly.But Waltz’s manner of theorizing gave rise to a paradigm in which many other theories were formed.
Domestic Versus International Politics in Waltz
Hallmarks of the Waltzian Paradigm
First, they incorporate anarchy as a key starting point. In these theories, states’ capacities to maximize their interests depends on their ability to help themselves.With no superintending sovereign, states can do what they will.
Second, they focus on systemic-level influences on state-behavior. Here, the characteristics of individual units (regime type, ideological orientation, &c.) matter less than the pressures exerted by the system.
Third, they assume convergent evolution follows. In biology, isomorphism is the tendency of organisms with different ancestries to evolve similar responses to similar environmental pressures.For instance, both bats and insects evolved wings for similar reasons.
“The close juxtaposition of states promotes their sameness through the disadvantages that arise from a failure to conform to successful practices. It is this ‘sameness,’ an effect of the system, that is so often attributed to the acceptance of so-called rules of state behavior. Chiliastic rulers occasionally come to power. In power, most of them quickly change their ways.”
-- Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), pp 128.
We usually consider both military and economic power.Obviously, the two can be related, but they don’t need to be. (Consider Japan today or China in 1990.)
The distribution of power shapes the incentives states face in ordering their foreign policies!Small states don’t resist hegemons. And hegemons have an incentive to preserve stability in the current order.
Going back to Hobbes, this makes sense.After all, hegemonic distributions of power most closely mimic domestic political orders ruled by a sovereign!
The security dilemma follows from the fact that the pursuit of security is largely a zero-sum game.I can increase my security by arming myself, but doing so decreases your security. After all, my arms can be used to harm you.
But this is not the end of the story.For one thing, the different ways in which I can increase my security decrease your security to varying extents.For example, putting on a helmet decreases your security less than does loading a gun.
Robert Jervis suggests that the extent of the security dilemma depends on the offense-defense balance.What is the offense-defense balance?
Battle of Gallipoli (1915)
North Africa Campaign (c. 1941)
Remember that the O-D balance is not about the capabilities states actually develop. It’s about the potential.Also, states’ perceptions of the O-D balance must be considered separately from the underlying O-D balance.
Remember that in the Waltzian Paradigm the idea is that the system in which states are embedded matters far more than any of the characteristics of the states themselves.
Regime type, economic orientation, ideological commitments, psychology of policymakers, &c., doesn’t matter as much as the distribution of power, the relative potency of offensive versus defensive weapons, &c.
For instance…Hitler would be passive where defense has the advantage and the distribution of power is hegemonic.Jimmy Carter would be aggressive where offense has the advantage and there is a multipolar distribution of power.
By pursuing a balance of power!“Balance-of-power politics prevail wherever two, and only two, requirements are met: that the order be anarchic and that it be populated by units wishing to survive.”
-- Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), pp 121.
“Because power is a means and not an end, states prefer to join the weaker of two coalitions. They cannot let power, a possibly useful means, become the end they pursue. The goal the system encourages them to seek is security…If states wished to maximize power, they would join the stronger side, and we would see not balances forming but a world hegemony forged. This does not happen because balancing, not bandwagoning, is the behavior induced by the system. The first concern of states is not to maximize power but to maintain their positions in the system.”
-- Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), pp 126.
Waltz, of course, suggests that the international system has caused states to develop this response.But this ignores several unit-level characteristics that Waltz assumes states have.
States, in Waltz’s account, are risk-aversesecurity-maximizers.But why should we assume that states are so risk averse? Or that they prize security above all else?
“The sad fact is that international politics has always been a ruthless and dangerous business, and it is likely to remain that way. Although the intensity of their competition waxes and wanes, great powers fear each other and always compete with each other for power. The overriding goal of each state is to maximize its share of world power, which means gaining power at the expense of other states. But great powers do not merely strive to be the strongest of all the great powers, although that is a welcome outcome. Their ultimate aim is to be the hegemon—that is, the only great power in the system.”
-- John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001), p 2.
Mearsheimer agrees with Waltz that the international system pressures states to adopt a standard response to their environment. But he thinks that states’ preferences are such that that response is the very opposite of the response Waltz described…
“Offensive realism parts company with defensive realism over the question of how much power states want. For defensive realists, the international structure provides states with little incentive to seek additional increments of power; instead it pushes them to maintain the existing balance of power. Preserving power, rather than increasing it, is the main goal of states. Offensive realists, on the other hand, believe that status quo powers are rarely found in world politics, because the international system creates powerful incentives for states to look for opportunities to gain power at the expense of rivals, and to take advantage of those situations when the benefits outweigh the costs. A state's ultimate goal is to be the hegemon in the system.”
-- John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001), p 21.
Note that this extraordinary theoretical divergence follows from just a few differences in Waltz & Mearsheimer’s assumptions.Next time, we’ll see another incredible theoretical divergence following from an equally small difference in the theorists’ assumptions.
I can’t wait!