Theories in International Relations Realism Liberalism Constructivism
Realism and Neorealism Factors that gave rise to realism Principles of classical realism Components of realism Limitations of classical realism Neorealism – Waltz Neorealism – unipolarity, bipolarity, multipolarity Implications of realism and neo-realism
1. Factors that gave rise to realism • The collapse of the effectiveness of the League of Nations, in part due to German and Japanese resistance, but also due to the non-involvement of the U.S. • The collapse of democratic processes in Germany, Italy and Japan, replaced by fascist, Nazi or militarist governments • The inability to create a truly just and representative group of nations in Central Europe
1. Factors that gave rise to realism • Crises in the world economic system, culminating in the Great Depression (peaking in 1929-1930) • World War II, with its total war, attacks against civil populations, and use of genocide (and other humanitarian abuses) • The creation of nuclear weapons, then nuclear deterrence
1. Factors that gave rise to realism • The recognition that the European state system had not found any permanent solution to warfare, nor a way to establish a permanent and stable international order. • The emergence of ideologically driven warfare and conflict, i.e. conflict driven by democratic, authoritarian, communist, neo-colonialist and anti-colonial ideas.
2. Principles of classical realism (Morgenthau) (1): Politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws rooted in human nature: these laws are objective and not opinion – can be tested to ascertain – do not challenge these laws! (2): Interests defined in terms of power: how much power you have in comparison to others determines how you will behave. (3) Politics as an autonomous sphere distinguished from economics, ethics, or religion: leaders think and act in terms of power. → economics – interest defined as wealth → politics –interest defined as power, objective category which is universally valid, unaffected by time and place`
2. Principles of classical realism (4): National Interest: states, the main actors of the international system, have interests (interest is what keeps people together). Power is used to obtain that interest. (5): Policies should be judged according to how they affect the power of the state.
3. Key components of the realist position • Must look at actual 'real' situation in the world, including negative aspects • Emphasis on power, and augmentation of power in international relations • Emphasis on the state as the key actor in international relations • Emphasis on national interests (defined as power) as the basis for the motivation of leadership groups
3. Key components of the realist position • Emphasis on behaviour and outcomes, not ideas • Tends to have a negative view of human nature as being essentially self-interested
3. Key components of the realist position – Balance of Power • Order in the international system is based on the distribution of power – balance of power • As a theory, balance of power predicts that rapid changes in international power and status—especially attempts by one state to conquer a region—will provoke counterbalancing actions. • The theory argues that there is a general tendency in all systems for the weaker states to ally together against the greatest emerging threat to the system.
3. Key components of the realist position – Balance of Power Checks and balances. (a): no single nation becomes dominant; (b): that most of its members continue to survive; (c): that large scale war does not occur. States therefore make and break alliances (re-balance) as threats emerge against their security. Therefore you get this system of equilibrium.
4. Limitations of classical realism 1. The 'objective laws of society' (Morgenthau) have been very hard to define or define. 2. Accounts of international relations, economics and politics have failed to reach any consensus that accurately predicts or fully explains complex international behaviour (Morgenthau determinism) 3. Self-interest and power turn out to be insufficient to explain the behaviour of nations and government. Ideas and ideologies also have a crucial role
4. Limitations of classical realism 4. Assessments of power can be inaccurate, and do not always account for the problem of 'political will‘ (ex: search for economic wealth) 5. In spite of the relative dominance of political realism and foreign policy and strategic affairs, a large number of cooperative international groupings have emerged since World War II.
5. Neorealism - Waltz • Neo-realism seeks to explain the importance of structure in the international system. • Structure of the international system will shape international outcomes • Sometimes called Structural Realism • Abandoned reliance on the nature of human beings to account for discord and cooperation in world politics, but focused instead on the competitive, anarchic nature of world politics as a whole. • Anarchy defined as absence of rules in IR
5. Neorealism - Waltz • Emphasis is on the notion of self-help - safer to rely on your own means (weapons, etc…) to defend yourself as opposed to relying on allies of uncertain reliability • Security dilemma – when states take actions to ensure their own security, they decrease the security of other states (action-reaction logic)
5. Neorealism – unipolarity, bipolarity, multipolarity • International System: the international system can be characterized according to: • The system structure: how many poles of power are there? • Unipolar (examples?) • Bipolar • Multipolar
5.1 - Bipolarity • Within a bipolar world or a world dominated by two coalitions, does parity (approximate equality between the two sides), or preponderance (where one side is stronger than the other), create peace? • Some argue that the parity of a balance of power or bipolarity brings war because each state is tempted by the fact that there is an even chance of victory in a war. And that only preponderance brings peace. • Others argue that preponderance encourages war because the larger state is undeterred, and therefore attacks the smaller states. Peace is therefore achieved by having a parity so that no one state can dominate any other.
5.2 - Unipolarity • Unipolarity: • Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the U.S. has been the largest economic and military power in the world. • U.S. strategy with regard to the Eurasian continent remains the same as England’s with regard to Europe: to oppose the consolidation of the continent under any single power, whether German, Japanese, Soviet or Chinese.
5.2 - Unipolarity • The main problem with being the most powerful state in the world is that according to the logic of the balance of power, it will provoke a counter-coalition. • Is there a counter-coalition? • The most likely reason is that it is too early in the process to tell, or that the peaceful nature of democratic regimes has overpowered the logic of the balance of power.
6. Implications of realism and neo-realism • (1): Cooperation is very difficult because states are driven by fear of each other (today’s friend can be tomorrow’s enemy). • (2): Since only states matter, international organizations do not. • The strength, size, number and purpose of international organizations is determined by the distribution of power among states. The implication is that international institutions only reflect the state, and have no independent status.
6. Implications of realism and neo-realism • (3): Relative gains matter. Elaboration: because the struggle for survival is a zero-sum game, A’s gain is B’s loss. Therefore you have to ensure your opponent does not get ahead of you.
Liberalism Historical Background Basic Principles Liberal Institutionalism Democratic Peace
1. Background • Liberalism is the oldest framework of analysis • Liberalism was linked in the nineteenth century to a set of notions on the link between trade, domestic freedom, and peace. • Realism began just prior to the Second World War in response to clumsy international attempts to come to grip with the problem of war
1. Background • Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, 1776), Montesquieu (1750), and the Manchester Liberals argued that the effect of states trading between each other tended to lead to peace. (1) trade obtains wealth more easily than war (2) trade converts states from systems run by militarists to systems run by middle classes by making the masses wealthy and diverting attention from activities abroad (Comte, Spencer).
2. Liberalism – Basic principles • Robert Keohane elaborates that there are three types of liberalism: (a). Republican liberalism: argues that republican states (states governed by their citizenry) are more peaceful; (b). Commercial liberalism: states that trade are more peaceful; (c). Regulatory liberalism: republican states have a tendency to introduce domestic forms of legal governance and the rule of law to the international sphere, and this makes for greater international peace.
2. Liberalism – Basic principles (1). The pursuit of territory for the pursuit of wealth: if wealth is based on trade, there is also no point to conquering territory. (2). Market forces are both more efficient, and by replacing governments, de-politicize the pursuit of wealth. (3). Free trade creates interdependence which is a disincentive to use force: wars destroy trade, business, wealth, factories, and the delicate system of commerce; increases debt, taxes and government spending; kills skilled people.
3. Liberal Institutionalism – major assumptions (1): Anarchy can be mitigated by institutions facilitating cooperation. (2): International institutions are independent actors that can compete with states. (3): State are not the most important actors in the international system: international institutions also matter and have a large role.
3. Liberal Institutionalism – major assumptions Institutions help : (1) Reduce the costs and risks associated with carrying out cooperation by providing coordination information. (2) Reduce the risk and damage inflicted by a defection from an agreement. (3): Increase transparency. If each side can see the internal mechanics of the other’s behavior, they will be more reassured that they are not being cheated, and are therefore less likely to leave an agreement through fear of being exploited.
3. Liberal Institutionalism – major assumptions (4) Manage issue linkage. If over a given issue, the distribution of benefits is not apparently fair, then one of the states can make a side payment to the other state in another issue area. (5): Facilitate cooperation by making the threat of retaliation to a defection explicit. This would typically be achieved by describing the norms expected of states involved in an interaction, and the punishment of transgression, such as the loss of the opportunity of interacting through the forum → game theory
3. Liberal Institutionalism – Conclusions • Institutionalism: when will we see international cooperation and international treaties? Treaties/regimes will arise in many different circumstances • Still acting in terms of consequentialist logic - behavior is based on costs vs. Benefits • Are we richer or safer than they were? interests are defined in longer-term and absolute (not relative) terms
3. Liberal Institutionalism – Conclusions c) Will be willing to take calculated risks even in collaboration problems d) Non-state actors likely to play important roles e) States may enforce collectively when they wouldn’t individually. Institutions provide something to enforce. States enforce the rules agreed to. Rules around which expectations converge.
4. Democratic Peace • In the early 1990s, Bush and later, Clinton, repeatedly mentioned that the U.S. wants democracy to spread around the world because democracies do not go to war against each other. • (1) Liberal institutions and (2) ideology cause peace • Challenges realism: power does not matter. • Inside out model for peace and stability
4. Democratic Peace (1): Structural: institutional constraints; • The same domestic institutions that encourage peaceful negotiations and compromise, cause democratic states to interact with each other on that same basis. • The more mature the democracy, the greater is the above tendency. • Democratic interactions with non-democratic states does not lead to the same output
4. Democratic Peace (2): Normative or idealogical basis • Liberal Ideas: Cosmopolitan; liberty and toleration for life and property. Tyranny over individuals is not democracy. • Liberal democracies are therefore seen as reasonable, predictable, and trustworthy. • Citizens can identify other liberal states and therefore treat them preferentially (Legal zones of law). • Citizens only support war if it brings peace, and are therefore more likely to support war against illiberal states. Illiberal leaders are therefore selected-out.
Constructivism Challenges to Realism and Liberalism Basic Assumptions Constructivist Analysis Implications for International Politics
1. Challenges to realism and liberalism • The constructist framework challenges realism on the grounds that it cannot explain how (1) change occurs, and how (2) identities are formed. • It asks of neo-realism the question of how much do structures constrain and determine the actions of actors • It challenges liberalism on the grounds that material interests, even economic ones, cannot be taken as given. They are constructed through shared norms, ideas, beliefs and identities.
2. Basic assumptions (1). Ideas matter and have an independent effect upon human behavior and organization. • Waltz: If “anarchy is what states make of it”, there is nothing that is inevitable or unchangeable in the international system. • Katzenstein, “The culture of national security: norms and identity in world politics”. A typical realist issue (security) seen as culturally determined (2). Ideas affect what people want and how they want to go about getting it (preferences/ strategies).
2. Basic assumptions • Non-material (ideational) structures are just as important as material structures • One cannot understand behavior without understanding its context • Non-universality of laws • Politics is determined by perceptions
2. Basic assumptions • Reality of IR • It is constructed from the collected sets of beliefs of those within that field (academic, not only policy) • Actor preferences are shaped both internally & externally • Actor behavior is shaped by elite beliefs, identities and social norms • Impossibility of isolation of an event/behavior from its context • What is considered cognitively possible?
2. Basic assumptions • Discourse matters - how things are talked about determines their meaning - "genocide", "war," "pollution" are all social terms and what behaviors constitute such behavior reflect intersubjective agreement
3. Constructivist Analysis • The point of departure for a constructivist theory of foreign policy is its critique of the concept of utility-maximizing homo politicus (at the core of neorealist approach)and homo oeconomicus (at the core of liberal analysis) • According to this concept, ideas, values or norms play a role as instruments for asserting and justifying given interests • Introducing the concept of interests as ideas/values/norms • vs interests as power (realism), vs interesrt as wealth (liberalism)
3. Constructivist Analysis • Constructivist theory, by contrast, emphasizes the independent influence of these variables. • According to the constructivist view, actors’ actions are guided by norms, i.e. by intersubjectively shared, value-based, specifically located expectations of appropriate behavior • The assumption of the independent influence of norms works well with the concept of the self-regarding, rational homo sociologicus
3. Constructivist Analysis • The logic of appropriateness is based on the inter-subjectively shared, value-based expectations of appropriate behavior • States act according to this logic rather than logic of consequences • Logic of appropriateness (what is right or wrong) vs. logic of consequences (what is good or bad for me). • In the constructivist view, a norm’s impact will be greater the more actors within a social system share it and the more precisely it distinguishes appropriate from inappropriate behavior.
4. Constructivist Analysis and Realism • In neorealist explanations, norms only develop an impact on actors’ behavior to the extent that compliance with them can be enforced by powerful actors, or that they are complied with by weaker actors in anticipatory fear of sanctions. • From this viewpoint, it is not the norms themselves but the power behind them that causes the norm-compliant behavior that can be observed.
5. Constructivist Analysis and Liberalism • From this utilitarian-liberal perspective, the independent variables are interests, not norms. • According to constructivists, norms work by matching actors’ interests and therefore by serving actors as a "resource" with which to assert their interests.
5. Constructivist Analysis and Liberalism • According to constructivists, norms do not follow logically from actors’ interests, as is the case in rationalist models, but precede them. • In the constructivist view, norms also have a constitutive effect, i.e. "norms legitimize goals and thus define actors' interests“.
4. Implications of constructivism for International Politics • 1. Institutions reflect an intersubjective understanding among states that is far less under the control of states and has far more normative than material content. • 2. Major conclusion is institutions are not creating rules so much as defining NORMS and IDENTITIES and over long periods of time these alter what states see as appropriate • 3. Types of problems: Problems vary but what constitutes a problem depends not only on material factors (who is the polluter and who is the pollutee) but also on norms about what behaviors are appropriate and what are inappropriate
4. Implications of constructivism for International Politics • 4. Types of effects of regimes and other forms of international organization: • They have effects that depend on the social processes they generate. Not so much about compliance but about socialization and internalization of norms of behavior, which make the need for monitoring and enforcement lessen, if not vanish