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Domestic and International Politics Differences and Connections Learning Objectives At the end of this series of lectures, you should understand: Basic differences between domestic and international political arenas. The consequences of “anarchy” and “hierarchy.”

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domestic and international politics

Domestic and International Politics

Differences and Connections

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • At the end of this series of lectures, you should understand:
    • Basic differences between domestic and international political arenas.
    • The consequences of “anarchy” and “hierarchy.”
    • How international and domestic politics are connected.
learning objectives cont
Learning Objectives [cont.]
  • You should also be able to define the following terms:
    • Anarchy.
    • Hierarchy.
    • Order.
    • Credibility.
    • Governance.
domestic vs international politics
Domestic vs. International Politics
  • Domestic politics differ from international politics.
    • E.g., international politics is conducted under the shadow of war to a degree not seen in domestic political situations.
two distinct realms
Two Distinct Realms
  • Domestic and international politics work differently because they are governed by distinct rules.
    • Domestic politics is the realm of authority, administration, and law.
    • International politics is the realm of force and accommodation.
organizing principles
Organizing principles
  • Domestic and international politics involve separate systems.
  • A system is a set or arrangement of things that are interconnected such that a change in one of the things produces a change in one or more of the others.
    • E.g., the human body is a system.
systems general
Systems (general)
  • Systems are composed of a structure and of interacting units.
    • The structure is the principle by which the interacting units are arranged.
    • The identity of the interacting units vary depending on the system one examines.
domestic vs international systems
Domestic systems


Govt. monopoly on legitimate use of force inside border.

Parts (units) of the system are functionally distinct.

Distribution of capabilities.

International systems


Govt. lacks monopoly on legitimate use of force outside border.

Parts (units) of the system are functionally similar.

Distribution of capabilities.

Domestic vs. International Systems
consequences of anarchy
Consequences of Anarchy
  • Anarchic systems lack third-party enforcers, i.e., parties that are responsible for making sure that others adhere to rules and agreements.
  • General implication: international action is regulated more by an actor’s sense of what the optimal course of action for it is than by external regulations that restrict certain types of behavior.
    • Specific implication: violence among actors is an omnipresent possibility.
consequences of anarchy cont
Consequences of Anarchy [cont.]
  • General implication: the absence of third-party enforcement undermines the credibility (trustworthiness) of actors.
    • Specific implication: cooperation is difficult to establish because it is hard for actors to convince one another that they will honor their promises.
consequences of anarchy cont11
Consequences of Anarchy [cont.]
  • General implication: the absence of overarching political authority to coordinate and regulate behavior across a range of issues means that international governance (management) is less efficient than its domestic counterpart.
    • Specific implication: issues tend to be governed on an ad hoc basis.
governance without government
Governance without Government
  • Anarchy does not imply disorder.
  • The international arena is organized even though it lacks overarching government.
  • The behavior of actors is regulated, although less effectively than in domestic arenas.
    • Norms (standards of acceptable behavior).
    • Principles (notions of right and wrong).
    • Rules (strictures that regulate behavior).
    • Punishment mechanisms.
behavior in the international arena
Behavior in the International Arena
  • Although international and domestic political arenas differ, they are also inextricably linked.
  • When governments weigh the costs and benefits of various international actions, their choices over the alternatives is inherently influenced by their domestic political situations.
  • German opposition to the U.S.-led War in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom).
    • German choices:
      • support war and incur wrath of German public
      • oppose war and incur wrath of U.S.
      • appease U.S. concerns about Iraqi weapons without going to war.
  • German voters gave Schroeder high marks.
  • The decision strained U.S.-German relations.
two level games
Two-level games
  • International politics is often referred to as a “two-level game.”
  • Decisions at the international level have consequences for domestic politics and decisions at the domestic level have international consequences.
  • Leaders must examine how decisions at one level will impact their position at the other level.
two level games16
Two level games
  • When thinking about international action, it is useful to remember the following:
    • Decisions to take international action require (formal and/or tacit) approval by constituents at the domestic level.
    • Both democratic and nondemocratic leaders require constituents to approve of their behavior!!!
    • Leaders of both democratic and nondemocratic states work for the support of their constituents because leaders value their positions.