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Levels of Analysis. Chapter 3 PS130 World Politics Michael R. Baysdell. Where Do We Focus Our Study of International Politics?. Three levels of analysis: Individual-level: People make policy State-level: States make policy

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levels of analysis

Levels of Analysis

Chapter 3

PS130 World Politics

Michael R. Baysdell

where do we focus our study of international politics
Where Do We Focus Our Study of International Politics?
  • Three levels of analysis:
    • Individual-level: People make policy
    • State-level: States make policy
    • System-level: International Arena encourages/discourages certain types of behavior
man the state and war kenneth waltz 1959
Man, the State, and War—Kenneth Waltz (1959)
  • Classified theories of international relations into three categories, or levels of analysis.
  • The first level explained international politics as being driven primarily by actions of individuals, or outcomes of psychological forces.
  • The second level explained international politics as being driven by the domestic regimes of states.
  • The third level focused on the role of systemic factors, or the effect that international anarchy was exerting on state behavior. "Anarchy" in this context is meant not as a condition of chaos or disorder, but one in which there is no sovereign body that governs nation-states.
waltz s first level man human behavior
Waltz’s First Level: Man (Human Behavior)
  • Wars result from selfishness, from misdirected aggressive impulses, from stupidity.
  • If these are the primary causes, the elimination of war must come through uplifting and enlightening men (p.16).
  • For pessimists, peace is at once a goal and a utopian dream, while optimists take seriously the proposition to reform the individual. Pessimists (Niebuhr, Morgenthau) have countered the theory of politics built on an optimistic definition of man but also expose the important error of exaggerating the causal importance of human nature. Since this nature is very complex, it can justify any hypothesis we may entertain. If men can be made good, then one must discover how to alter human nature. This expectation is often buried under the conviction that individual behavior is determined more by religious and spiritual inspiration rather than material circumstance. If man's evil qualities lead to wars, then one must worry about ways to repress them or compensate for them. Control rather than exhortation is needed, tends to assume a fixed human nature, which shifts the focus away from it, toward social and political institutions that can be changed (p.41).
  • Not every contribution the behavioral scientist can make has been made before and found wanting, but rather, the proffered contributions of many of them have been rendered ineffective by a failure to comprehend the significance of the political framework of international action. Social and psychological realism has produced political utopianism (p.77).
waltz s second level internal structure of states
Waltz’s Second Level: Internal Structure of States
  • The internal organization of states is the key to understanding war and peace. Removing the defects of states would establish the basis for peace. Definition of a ``good'' state: (a) Marx - according to the means of production, (b) Kant - according to abstract principles of right, (c) Wilson - according to national self-determination and democracy. Hobbes, Mill, Adam Smith.
  • The use of internal defects to explain external acts of a state can take many forms: (i) type of government generally bad - deprivations imposed by despots upon their subjects produce tensions that find their expression in foreign adventure; (ii) defects in governments not inherently bad - restrictions placed on the state in order to protect the rights of its citizens interfere with executing foreign policy; and (iii) geographic or economic deprivations - state has not attained its ``natural'' frontiers, or ``deprived'' countries undertake war to urge the satisfied ones to make the necessary compensatory adjustments (p.83).
  • Liberal thought has moved from reliance upon improvement within separate states to acceptance of the need for organization among them. Rigorous application of this logic leads to asking to what extent organized force must be applied in order to secure the desired peaceful world. Arguing for a world government and settling for balance of power as an unhappy alternative reveals the limits of the second image analysis. Even though bad states may lead to war, the obverse that good states mean peace is doubtful. Just like societies they live in make men, the international environment makes states (p.122).
  • War results from states seeking to further their own national interest
waltz s third level international anarchy
Waltz’s Third Level: International Anarchy
  • With many sovereign states, with no system of law enforceable among them, with each state judging its grievances and ambitions according to the dictates of its own reason or desire - conflict, sometimes leading to war, is bound to occur. To achieve a favorable outcome from such a conflict, a state has to rely on its own devices, the relative efficiency of which must be its constant concern (p.159). Machiavelli, Rousseau, Thucydides, Clausewitz.
  • In anarchy, there is no automatic harmony. Because some countries may be willing to use force to achieve their ends, and because there is no authority to prevent them from doing so, even peacefully inclined states must arms themselves. Goodness and evil, agreement and disagreement, may or may not lead to war.
  • War occurs because there is nothing to prevent it: there is no automatic adjustment of interests among states and there is a constant possibility that conflicts will be settled by force (p.188).
  • A balance of power may exist because some countries consciously make it the end of their policies, or it may exist because of the quasi-autonomous reactions of some states to the drive for ascendancy of others. It is not so much imposed by statesmen on events as it is imposed by events on statesmen (p.209).
system level analysis
  • A top-down approach to studying politics:
    • Structural Characteristics
    • The Actors
    • Scope and Level of Interaction
    • The Role of Power
    • Let’s examine each, one by one
structural characteristics of international system
Structural Characteristics of International System
  • State-centric system with no overarching authority to make rules, settle disputes, and provide protection. Anarchic.
  • Horizontal organization of authority (as opposed to most organizations, which are vertical)
  • Sovereignty on the decline with rise of UN, WTO, EU
  • U.S. steel tariffs provide good example of loss of sovereignty (European case in WTO)
the actors
The Actors
  • National actors:
    • States--dominate the system and are not responsible to any higher authority
  • International government actors
  • Transnational actors:
    • Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
    • Multinational corporations (MNCs)
  • Terrorist groups
  • The SCOPE, LEVEL, and INTENSITY of interactions is increasing between all these actors.
power configurations and relationships
Power Configurations and Relationships
  • System poles=powerful actors
  • Can be single country/empire, an alliance, a global IGO (The UN), or a regional IGO (the EU)
  • Unipolarity, bipolarity, tripolarity, and multipolarity all have models that more or less explain how they function
  • All states are power seeking, seek to dominate
  • Other states will attempt to block hegemony
  • Classic example: The Concert of Europe
  • Debate over whether preponderence of force or force equality causes conflict
economic patterns
Economic Patterns
  • Interdependence: Leading to peace or creating tension?: U.S.-China relations
  • Where natural resources are produced and consumed: Persian Gulf
  • Maldistribution of development: North-South rivalry
norms of behavior
Norms of Behavior
  • Understanding changes
  • Transnational forces: Travel, trade, education, communication, and Internet
  • Greater emphasis on human rights
  • Weakening support for war
  • Recognition of dangers of global climate changes
  • Nuclear war norm
  • Minimizing civilian casualties norm
state level analysis
  • Assumes relative freedom of states in policy making
  • Closer look at the making of national foreign policy
  • Policy type and actor analysis
  • Political culture
making foreign policy types of government situations and how they impact policy
Making Foreign Policy: Types of Government, Situations, and How They Impact Policy
  • Democracy versus Authoritarian Governments:
    • Democracy and foreign policy choices are different
  • Situations:
    • Crisis--decisions taken by high-level, small groups. Must feel surprised, threatened, and believe they only have a short time to react
    • Crisis can spark “rally effect” (9/11, Iraq War)
    • Status quo--incremental policy changes
    • Non–status quo--changes in policy direction
  • Types of policy:
    • Many policies are intermestic and cannot be dealt with only by 1 state
making foreign policy political culture
Making Foreign Policy: Political Culture
  • Political Culture:A patterned set of ways of thinking about how politics and governing ought to be carried out
  • Not the same as political IDEOLOGY—consistent sets of views as to the policies government ought to pursue
    • Allows leaders to take a certain general policy direction
    • Changing nature
    • Not monolithic or all-inclusive
american political culture
American Political Culture
  • We take it for granted—ex. Peaceful transfer of power
  • American culture “Exceptionalism” with missionary impulse
  • Clashes with Chinese sinocentrism (“Middle Kingdom”)
  • 5 important elements: Liberty, Equality, Democracy, Civic Duty, Individual responsibility
  • Americans are more willing to tolerate economic inequality than political inequality
  • Regions can have subcultures—American South differs from NE…south more conservative
  • Political culture can be consensual or conflictual. Consensual cultures come to compromises—conflictual ones come to blows
  • U.S., France are conflictual
  • Consensual: Japan, Sweden
making foreign policy actors
Making Foreign Policy:Actors
  • Understanding the many actors involved in the foreign policy–making process
    • Political executives
    • Bureaucracies
    • Legislatures
    • Political opposition
    • Interest groups
    • Allied nations
    • And, of course, the people
heads of government political executives
Heads of Government/Political Executives
  • Generally strongest subnational actors
  • Capabilities include administrative, legislative skills, public persuasion ability
  • Real power of U.S. President is not in the Constitution, but rather politics and public opinion
  • May often use two-level game strategy--
  • 1) negotiating at the international level with representatives of other countries;
  • 2) negotiating at the domestic level with legislators, bureaucrats, interest groups, and the public for political support.
  • Bureaucratic perspective: Organizations favor a certain policy based on their mission
  • Department of Defense more likely to accept conflict than Department of State
  • Tools: Collecting, filtering, and evaluating information, making recommendations, implementing policies--e.g., multi-layered roles of CIA and U.S. Department of Defense in the run-up and execution of the Iraq war
  • Less powerful than executive
  • Support executive during crisis
  • More active role in high-profile issues--e.g., Iraq war and human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib.
  • Constraints: belief in a unified national voice, most legislation is domestic
  • Exception: Boland Amendment, 1982(led to Iran-Contra Affair)
political opposition
Political Opposition
  • May be less overt and/or less peaceful in nondemocratic systems
  • Influential actors in democratic systems
    • WTO protests in Seattle
    • Democrats' use of Congressional spending and oversight powers to frame Iraq war debate and push for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq
interest groups
Interest Groups
  • Cultural, economic, issue-oriented, and transnational interest groups
  • Different goals from political parties
  • Political parties—goal is electing members
  • Interest groups—goal is getting one specific policy enacted
the people
The People
  • More involved in domestic issues than in foreign issues
  • Most Americans can’t locate Darfur on a map
  • Leader-citizen opinion gap (similar to interest group leader v. rank and file)
  • Direct democracy is growing
  • Indirect influence
individual level analysis
  • Cognitive factors: try to choose rationally, try to make good tactical and strategic choices
    • Limited by internal/external boundaries (Iraq WMD)
    • Limited by wishful thinking/heuristic devices like stereotypes and analogies (Munich Analogy)
    • Limited by cognitive capabilities (Wilson after stroke re: Treaty of Versailles)
    • Individuals seek cognitive consistency
  • Emotional factors: leaders subject to emotions
    • Truman letter, Jimmy Carter protest, Bush 43 examples
  • Psychological factors:
    • Frustration-aggression theory: frustration aggression
  • Biological factors:
    • Ethology (animal behavior—LBJ example); gender
    • Perceptions: We attribute worst possible motives to adversary and the best to ourselves (Fundamental Attribution Theory from Sociology)
organizational behavior
Organizational Behavior
  • Appropriate role behavior influences leaders
  • Complex relationship between role and issue position
  • Group decision-making behavior: causes and effects of groupthink
idiosyncratic behavior personality factors in making decisions
Idiosyncratic Behavior: Personality Factors in Making Decisions
  • Barber's active-passive, positive-negative typology
  • Physical and mental health of leader (Kennedy during CMC, Yeltsin, Hitler)
  • Ego and ambition (Persian Gulf War II?)
  • Political history and personal experiences:
    • Munich and Vietnam analogies
  • Perceptions:
    • Operational reality--the link between perception and policy
    • Operational code--how an individual acts when faced with a situation
the future system three directions
The Future System:Three Directions
  • Traditional, state-centered
  • Alternative non–state centered: McWorld tendency
  • Alternative non–state centered: Jihad tendency
    • A scenario of the future world system: politics of identity

©2007 McGraw-Hill Higher Education

chapter objectives checklist
  • After reading this chapter, students should be able to:
  • 1. Define individual-level analysis in world politics.
  • 2. Examine how fundamental human characteristics influence policy.
  • 3. Show how organizational behavior, including role-playing and group decision making, can influence policy decisions.
  • 4. Analyze the idiosyncratic or personal characteristics of leaders that influence their decision-making and policy outcomes.
  • 5. Discuss the major emphases of state-level analysis.
  • 6. Analyze the foreign policy process, based on the type of government, situation, and policy.
  • 7. Discuss the importance of political culture on foreign policy.
  • 8. List the foreign-policy making actors and evaluate the role and influence of subnational actors.
  • 9. Describe the structural characteristics of the international system and discuss the actors.
  • 10. Analyze the power relationships in the international system.
  • 11. Discuss economic realities in the political system.
  • 12. Outline the norms of behavior in the international system.