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POLS 425 U.S. Foreign Policy. Topic: Nested Games And Alternative Theories February 28, 2007. U.S. Foreign Policy Nested Games and Alternative Theories. Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

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pols 425 u s foreign policy

POLS 425 U.S. Foreign Policy

Topic: Nested Games And Alternative Theories

February 28, 2007

u s foreign policy nested games and alternative theories
U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

  • Over the last several weeks, we have treated the individual, the state, and the system levels as essentially three separate realms
    • As distinct realms, they may overlap or intersect, but there is little sense that they are “mutually constitutive”
    • Moreover, among the three major theories--realism, Marxism, and liberalism/pluralism--there is a stronger sense that states or key (international) actors are responding to an established reality that has its own separate existence

Constitutive: def.Making a thing what it is; essential •Mutual suggests that a two-way or reciprocal process

Mutually Constitutive, therefore, meansthat two or more realms may act together to produce a thing or a largerreality

u s foreign policy nested games and alternative theories3
U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

  • Many scholars have been unhappy with the dominant paradigms of international relations and foreign policy
  • This has led to one alternative perspective, which has been labeled (among a plethora of different names) constructivism
    • A key to understanding constructivismis to understand how constructivists view “reality”
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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

  • Constructivists “see” reality very differently …

They question the belief that reality has a purely ________________ existence

Instead, they believe that reality is socially ________________

They believe, in short, that reality is constructed from people’s _________________ of it; that is, they believe that reality is the product of a fundamentally _______________ process

objective

constructed

perceptions

subjective

These beliefs raise an important question …

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

  • To appreciate the constructivist view of reality, it is critical to contrast it with the realist, Marxist and liberal views of reality …

Realism: The real world is an unavoidably dangerous place governed by the inflexible principles of ________________

Maxism: The real world is an unavoidably unequal and oppressive place governed by the unyielding principles of ______________

Liberalism: The real world is governed by the principles of anarchy, but anarchy can be managed (but not fundamentally changed) through, for example, the construction of international institutions

anarchy

capitalism

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

  • The main target of constructivists is anarchy

Consider this: to a realist, what is the logic of anarchy? What type of international reality does anarchy necessarily create?

Discuss

Basic Answer: Anarchy creates a “dog-eat-dog” world, where every state must regard every other state as a potential threat and enemy; in this reality, there is no room for weakness, no room for ethics or morality. The weak may “survive,” but to be weak is to be dominated

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

  • Constructivists do not say that the realist version of an anarchy-based reality is irrelevant: they agree that it exists
  • But they argue, “Anarchy is what states make of it”: that is, states make the world the dangerous (or safe) though their perceptions, understandings, and actions

* Alexander Wendt

Consider this tongue in cheek, but realistic example …

Iraq was a threat because I said so. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are our friends because I say they are.

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

  • Theoretical Implications

If perceptions--or more accurately, intersubjective understandings--can shape anarchy, then the line between the individual level and system level disappears

If states “make the system” then states can remake the system; if reality is constructed by people, people can emancipate themselves from the dominant reality by reconstituting, rethinking, and reshaping it

Maybe saying Iran was in the Axis of Evil was a mistake. Maybe treating Iran as a threat makes Iranians see the US as a threat. Maybe that’s why the leadership is acting the way it is. Maybe we should treat Iran as partner or potential friend?

Consider an alternative perception

slide10
Isn’t this all just a little far-fetched?

Consider an example used earlier in the text: The demise of the Soviet Empire

According to Neack and others the demise of the Soviet Union can be attributed to Gorbachev’s decision to view the world differently; Gorbachev decided to stop seeing the US as a grave threat …

… he decided to view the tide of anticommunism rising in the Eastern bloc as a welcome and non-threatening phenomenon, and he convinced the rest of Soviet leadership of his interpretation

u s foreign policy nested games and alternative theories11
U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivist Approaches to Foreign Policy

  • Additional Points

Constructivists are not naïve: they understand the the “current reality” has real, often deadly consequences, and that threats and dangers cannot simply be ignored or dealt with through wishful thinking

Socially constructed realities, in short, are powerful “structures”

At the same time, constructivists tell us we already live in an international world of very different realities, including …

      • an international system governed by trust, cooperation, and reciprocity (an “anarchy of friends”)
      • another system governed by distrust, belligerence, threats, and conflict (an “anarchy of enemies”)
      • and others
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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivism: Why Not Invade North Korea?

  • The relevance of constructivism can be best demonstrated through an application to real-world cases, which is what Peter Howard does in his analysis of U.S. foreign policy towards …

North Korea • Iraq • Iran

The Axis of Evil

slide13

BACKGROUND

Our …goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction …. Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror …. Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror….This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world. States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.

President George W. BushState of the Union Address, January 29, 2002

slide14

BACKGROUND

Video Removed

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Constructivism: Why Not Invade North Korea?

  • Given the “grave and growing” danger of Iran, Iraq and North Korea in 2002, a number obvious questions arise: Why was Iraq singled out for military attack? Why not invade North Korea? Or Iran?
    • The answers are not obvious, especially from a strictly military-strategic standpoint: that is, from a realist standpoint
    • Indeed, from a realist view, North Korea should have been the first and primary target

Why?

Discuss

u s foreign policy nested games and alternative theories16
U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Reasons to Target North Korea

  • Compared to Iraq (and Iran), North Korea possessed far greater military capacity in 2002:

Standing army of one million soldiers, and much larger reserve force (of approximately 7 million, all with military training)

Larger, better equipped air force and navy

Larger arsenal of short and medium-range missiles

Possession of WMDs: chemical and biological

Actual possession of nuclear weapons-grade material

    • In addition, North Korean forces were placed within range of South Korea’s capital city as well as the HQ of the U.S. combined forces command in Korea
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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Reasons to Target North Korea

The nuclearpotential of North Korea was particularly advanced compared to Iraq and Iran…

Ability to produce fissile material (i.e.,reprocessed plutonium) for up to 55 nuclear bombs per year)

NK not only possessed short- and medium-range missile capability, but also had basic technology for long-range missiles or ICBMs, i.e., missiles that could strike the U.S.west coast (three-stage version can strike the anywherein the United States)

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Reasons to Target North Korea

Objectively, North Korea represented a clearer and greater threat to U.S. national interests than either Iraq or Iran; it should have been the top priority of U.S. foreign policy, but it wasn’t

Even more, the Bush administration (despite its public posturing and bluster), treated North Korea with kid gloves: in particular,the administration pursued a policy of diplomacy and negotiation …

Why?

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Why Didn’t the US Invade North Korea?

  • One (realist) response: Precisely because North Korea was already very strong; its military strength, in other words, deterred American intervention
  • Constructivist retort: At best, North Korea is a weak middle power, no match for the United States or even South Korea, and weak middle powers cannot deter hegemonic powers
    • The basic reason the US did not invade North Korea was because American leaders did not believe that North Korea would use its WMDs
    • That is, American leaders saw the North Korean threat as relatively benign
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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Why Didn’t the US Invade North Korea?

  • Key Point: “Threat perception” may sound like an objective, hard-core realist principle, but it’s really quite fuzzy …
    • Threat perception is necessarily based on ______________ and _____________ issues
    • Perceived intentions (which is what threat perception is based on) are inherently ____________________________

ideational

identity

intersubjective

Example: Today, Russia has 7,200 active nuclear warheads and 16,000 nuclear warheads in total, yet Russia is not consider a serious military threat to the United States

Why not? (Try answering from a constructivist point of view)

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Why Didn’t the US Invade North Korea?

  • Howard’s Basic Argument

U.S-North Korea, U.S.-Iraqi, and U.S.-Iranian relations all take place within a pre-existing framework of understanding or a particular _________________ game

This security game is based on a set of rules that defined the parameters of the game (that is, what is permissible and what is not) and allow actions to assume meaning within that context

Howard tells us that the rules of the security game defining U.S.-Iraqi and U.S.-North Korean relations were significantly different

security

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Why Didn’t the US Invade North Korea?

  • Howard’s Basic Argument

The U.S-North Korea security game was primarily defined in the early 1990s, through negotiations that led to the Agreed Framework (AF)

One fundamental rule: The future of the Korean Peninsula would be non-nuclear and settled through multilateral dialogue involving, at a minimum, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States

More generally, the AF created a rule-based security game based on cooperation and negotiation

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Why Didn’t the US Invade North Korea?

  • The Importance of the Security Game

Once established, the rules of the game give specific meaning to the behavior of all the participants

Thus, in the context of the “game,” when North Korea “acts up,” is understood as a ploy to get a better deal, and not necessarily as a step toward Armageddon

This cartoon provides another way of interpreting North Korea … what is the underlying message?

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U.S. Foreign PolicyNested Games and Alternative Theories

Why Didn’t the US Invade North Korea?

Additional Points

Security games are not fixed: since they are inherently subjective (or intersubjective), they can evolve and change significantly over time

Security games have causal powers: that is, they help explain why certain outcomes occur (and why other outcomes don’t)

Security games transcend levels of analysis: at the system level, they give meaning to anarchy; at the state-level, they affect behavior of key domestic actors and institutions, shape public opinion and media, influence national images, etc.; at the individual level they play a central role in cognitive processes