Realism and idealism
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Realism and Idealism. Lsn 3. Paradigms. Paradigm An intellectual framework that structures one’s thinking about a set of phenomena A “cognitive map” that helps to organize reality and to make sense out of a multitude of events

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  • Paradigm

    • An intellectual framework that structures one’s thinking about a set of phenomena

    • A “cognitive map” that helps to organize reality and to make sense out of a multitude of events

    • Different paradigms offer different models of reality or views of the world

    • Different paradigms have the effect of focusing attention toward some things and away from others

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International Relations Paradigms

  • Idealist

  • Realist

  • Identity

  • Marxist

  • Globalist

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  • As early as the 14th Century the Italian poet Dante wrote of the “universality of man” and envisioned a unified world state

  • Immanuel Kant argued that doing good was an end unto itself rather than a means to some other end

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  • Hope to minimize conflict and maximize cooperation among nations

  • Focus attention on legal-formal aspects of international relations, such as international law and international organizations

  • Also focus on moral concerns such as human rights

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Paris Peace Conference

  • The victorious powers met in Paris in 1919 to determine the postwar settlement after WWI

  • Representatives from the Central Powers were not invited to attend

  • The Russians were not invited to attend

  • The French, British, and Americans dominated the conference

Georges Clemenceau (France), Lloyd George (Britain), and Woodrow Wilson (US) at Versailles

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Woodrow Wilson

  • US President Woodrow Wilson had formative experiences that influenced his idealist world view

    • He was born in Virginia in 1856 and had seen the destruction of the Civil War

    • He was the son of a Presbyterian minister and was devoutly religious

    • He was an intellectual, graduating from Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) and the University of Virginia Law School and then earning a doctorate at Johns Hopkins University

    • He had an academic career as a professor of political science and president of Princeton

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Woodrow Wilson

  • As president, Wilson championed socially conscious legislation that lowered tariffs, graduated the Federal income tax, created a more elastic money supply, prohibited unfair business practices, prohibited child labor, and limited railroad workers to an eight-hour day

  • He won reelection with the slogan “he kept us out of war”

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Fourteen Points

  • Wilson had announced his “Fourteen Points” as a proposed basis for the armistice a year before the Paris Peace Conference opened

  • Represented a school of thought that a new world order had to be constructed based on a respect for law, the acceptance of shared universal values, and the development of international organizations

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Fourteen Points

  • Wilson envisioned:

    • Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at,

    • Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas in peace and in war,

    • The removal of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all nations,

    • Adequate guarantees for a reduction in national armaments,

    • Adjustments of colonial disputes to give equal weight to the interests of the controlling government and the colonial population, and

    • A call for “a general association of nations”

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Fourteen Points

  • Many perceived Wilson’s Fourteen Points as excessively idealistic

  • For the Allies, they conflicted with the secret wartime agreements they had made to distribute among themselves territories and possessions of the defeated nations

  • For the defeated powers, the harsh treaties that would be latter imposed upon them certainly seemed to violate the spirit of the Fourteen Points

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Treaty of Versailles (1919)

  • In contrast to Wilson’s focus on international cooperation and peace, the French especially wanted harsh terms imposed on the Germans

    • Wanted to destroy or permanently weaken Germany as a threat

  • Certainly some of difference between the American and British/French views can be traced to their wartime experiences

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Treaty of Versailles (1919)

  • America had entered the war relatively late and did not suffer nearly the casualties the French and British did

  • The US also had the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans between itself and any potential enemies

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Treaty of Versailles (1919)

  • In the end, the French and British viewpoint prevailed

  • The resulting Treaty of Versailles was very punitive and sought to keep peace not by cooperation but by weakening Germany

    • Denied the Germans a navy and air force and limited the size of their army to 100,000 troops

    • Prevented Germany and Austria from entering any sort of political union

    • Required the payment of war reparations

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League of Nations

  • What did survive from Wilson’s Fourteen Points was his call for “a general association of nations”

  • Resulted in the Covenant of the League of Nations with 42 original members

  • The US never joined the League because the Senate rejected it

  • By 1940 the League had dismantled

1919 British cartoon criticizing the failure of the United States to join the League of Nations

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League of Nations

  • The League of Nations was ineffective because of two flaws:

    • Though designed to solve international disputes through arbitration, it had no power to enforce its decisions

    • Its basic premise of collective security never materialized because at any given time one or more of the great powers did not belong to the League

  • Nonetheless it established the pattern for and served as a model for the United Nations

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Woodrow Wilson

  • An idealist to the end, when Wilson was questioned about the practicality of the League of Nations, he declared, “If it won’t work, it must be made to work.”

  • Idealists tend to be more interested in how the world ought to be rather than how it actually is

  • They consider the reality of the moment to not be the only possible reality

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Failure of the Treaty of Versailles

  • German protest against the Treaty of Versailles ultimately led to Hitler’s rise to power and World War II

  • Idealists argued that their ideas had not been fully implemented and therefore not fully tested; still their failure to anticipate and prevent WWII gave rise to a new paradigm after 1945

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  • While realists are just as interested as idealists in conflict management, realists are less optimistic about the effectiveness of international law and organization and about the extent of international cooperation that is possible

  • Realists view international relations almost exclusively as a “struggle for power” among competing nation-states

    • States, like human beings, have an innate desire to dominate others

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  • The ultimate goal of all countries is security in a hostile, anarchic environment

  • Realist policies are determined by power calculations in pursuit of national security

    • Countries satisfied with their situation tend to pursue the status quo

    • Countries that are dissatisfied tend to be expansionist

    • Alliances are made and broken based on the requirements of “realpolitik”

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  • Realists focus on military strategy, the elements of national power, and the nature of national interests more so than international law and organization

  • From WWII they learned that the way to prevent future wars was a “balance of power” capable of deterring would-be aggressors or on a “concert of powers” willing to police the world

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  • In the 16th Century Machiavelli had argued in The Prince that:

    • “it is far better to be feared than loved”

    • “he ought not to quit good courses if he can help it, but should know how to follow evil courses if he must”

    • “he will prosper most whose mode of acting best adapts itself to the character of the times; and conversely that he will be unprosperous, with whose mode of acting the times do not accord”

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  • Hans Morgenthau is considered the father of realism

    • Wrote Politics Among Nations in 1948

    • Stressed the virtues of the classical, multipolar, balance of power system and saw the bipolar rivalry between the US and the USSR as especially dangerous

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Morgenthau’s Six Principles

  • Politics is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature.

    • It is possible to develop a theory that reflects these laws and to differentiate between truth and opinion.

    • Therefore, we can predict what a state should rationally do.

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Morgenthau’s Six Principles

  • Interest is defined in terms of power.

  • Interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid, but whose meaning can change.

  • Universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states in the abstract; the circumstances of time and place must be considered.

    • The state must place its survival above all other moral goods.

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Morgenthau’s Six Principles

  • The moral laws that govern the universe are distinct from the morals of any one nation.

  • Politics is an autonomous sphere that needs to be analyzed as an entity, without being subordinated to outside values.

    • Different facts of human nature exist, but the “political man” – the part of man interested only in power – is the appropriate facet for the study of politics.

    • Other standards are appropriate to other spheres, but not to politics.

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  • The realist paradigm was very popular during the Cold War

    • The US and the USSR competed in everything

      • Military

      • Economics

      • Space race

      • Olympics

      • Alliances

Bob Matthias, US competitor in the 1952 Olympics, said, the Russian athletes “were in a real sense the enemy. You just loved to beat them. You just had to beat them. It wasn’t like competing against some guys from a friendly country like Australia.”

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Persian Wars

  • Colonization brought the Greek city states in conflict with the Persian Empire

  • Result was the Persian Wars (500-479 B.C.)

  • In 479 the Persians were defeated at Plataea and forced back to Anatolia

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Delian League

  • After the Persian threat subsided, the Greek poleis formed an alliance called the Delian League

    • Athens supplied most of the military force thanks to its superior naval fleet and the other poleis provided financial support

  • Sparta, who was originally offered leadership of the league but declined, became the hegemon of the land-based Peloponnesian League

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Delian League

  • In the absence of the Persian threat, Athens transformed the Delian League into an Athenian Empire

  • Eventually the other poleis came to resent financing Athens’s bureaucracy and construction projects

  • Sparta and many other Greek states came to fear Athens’s growing power

    • When Athens attempted to gain control of supplies of grain, timber, and precious metals at their source, Sparta declared war

  • The result was the Peloponnesian War (431-404) in which the poleis divided up into two sides led by Athens and Sparta

    • Representative of the realist emphasis on the balance of power

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Melian Dialogue

  • Melos

    • Small, relatively sparsely populated island in the Cretan Sea

    • Surrounded by several other smaller islands which were members of the Athenian Empire

    • Officially, Melos was allied with the Spartans (Lacadaemons) in the Peloponnesian War, because Melos was originally a Lacedaemonian colony

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Melian Dialogue

  • The Melians, however, remained neutral and did not send arms, men, or boats to the Lacedaemons

  • The Athenians sent a delegation to Melos to demand that the Melians become a tribute state of the Athenian Empire, but the Melians asked to remain neutral

  • In the ensuing Dialogue, the Athenians present a decidedly realist argument to support their case

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Melian Dialogue

  • 86. The Melian representatives answered: “The quiet interchange of explanations is a reasonable thing, and we do not object to that. But your warlike movements, which are present not only to our fears but to our eyes, seem to belie your words. We see that, although you may reason with us, you mean to be our judges; and that at the end of the discussion, if the Justice of our cause prevail and we therefore refuse to yield, we may expect war; if we are convinced by you, slavery.”

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Melian Dialogue

  • 89. Athenians: Well, then, we Athenians will use no flue words; we will not go out of our way to prove at length that we have a right to rule, because we overthrew the Persians; or that we attack you now because we are suffering any injury at your hands…. the powerful exact what they can, and the weak grant what they must.

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Melian Dialogue

  • 90. Melians: Well, then, since you set aside justice and invite us to speak of expediency…

Thucydides, author of History of the Peloponnesian War

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Melian Dialogue

  • 91. Athenians: … we have come in the interests of our empire, and that in what we are about to say we are only seeking the preservation of your city. For we want to make you ours with the least trouble to ourselves, and it is for the interests of us both that you should not be destroyed.

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Melian Dialogue

  • 93. Athenians: To you the gain will be that by submission you will avert the worst; and we shall be all the richer for your preservation.

  • 95. Athenians: No, your enmity is not half so mischievous to us as your friendship; for the one is in the eyes of our subjects an argument of our power, the other of our weakness.

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Melian Dialogue

  • 97. Athenians: So that your subjection will give us an increase of security, as well as an extension of empire. For we are masters of the sea and you who are islanders, and insignificant islanders too, must not be allowed to escape us.

Athenian military power was built around the navy

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Melian Dialogue

  • 101. Athenians: Not so, if you calmly reflect: for you are not fighting against equals to whom you cannot yield without disgrace, but you are taking counsel whether or no you shall resist an overwhelming force. The question is not one of honor but of prudence.

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Melian Dialogue

  • 105. Athenians: Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a law of their nature wherever they can rule they will, This law was not made by us, and we are not the first who have acted upon it; we did but inherit it, and shall bequeath it to all time, and we know that you and all mankind, if you were as strong as we are, would do as we do.

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Melian Dialogue

  • 109. Athenians: Yes, but what encourages men who are invited to join in a conflict is clearly not the good-will of those who summon them to their side, but a decided superiority in real power.

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Melian Dialogue

  • 111. Athenians: Help may come from Lacedaemon to you….Your strongest grounds are hopes deferred, and what power you have is not to be compared with that which is already arrayed against you.

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Melian Dialogue

  • 113. Such was the answer of the Melians; the Athenians, as they quitted the conference, spoke as follows, “Well, we must say, judging from the decision at which you have arrived, that you are the only men who deem the future to be more certain than the present, and regard things unseen as already realized in your fond anticipation…”

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Melian Dialogue

  • After ending the dialogue the Athenian envoys returned to the army and commenced hostilities

  • In the end, the Melians were compelled to surrender

    • The Athenians then killed all the military-aged men and made slaves of the women and children

    • They colonized the island and sent 500 of their own settlers there

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Next Lesson

  • Alternative Paradigms