The Globalization of International Relations :
Realist Theories :
Constructivists reject realist assumptions about state interests, tracing those interests in part to social interactions and norms.
Postmodern critics reject the entire framework and language of realism, with its unitary state actors. Postmodernists argue that no simple categories can capture the multiple realities experienced by participants in IR.
Marxists view international relations, including global North-South relations, in terms of a struggle between economic classes (especially workers and owners) that have different roles in society and different access to power.
Peace studies programs are interdisciplinary and seek to broaden the study of international security to include social and economic factors ignored by realism.
For scholars in peace studies, militarism in many cultures contributes to states’ propensity to resort to force in international bargaining.
Peace movements try to influence state foreign policies regarding military force; such movements are of great interest in peace studies.
Feminist scholars of IR agree that gender is important in understanding IR but diverge into several strands regarding their conception of the role of gender.
Difference feminists argue that men are more warlike on average than women. They believe that although individual women participants (such as state leaders) may not reflect this difference, the participation of large numbers of women would make the international system more peaceful.
Liberal feminists disagree that women have substantially different capabilities or tendencies as participants in IR. They argue that women are equivalent to men in virtually all IR roles. As evidence, liberal feminists point to historical and present-day women leaders and women soldiers.
Postmodern feminists seek to uncover gender-related subtexts implicit in realist discourse, including sexual themes connected with the concept of power.
- IR affects daily life profoundly; we all participate in IR.
- IR is a field of political science concerned mainly with explaining political outcomes in international security affairs and international political economy.
- Theories complement descriptive narratives in explaining international events and outcomes, and although scholars do not agree on a single set of theories or methods, three core principles shape various solutions to collective goods problems in IR.
- States are the most important actors in IR; the international system is based on the sovereignty of about 200 independent territorial states of varying size.
- Nonstate actors such as intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and multinational corporations (MNCs) exert a growing influence on international relations.
- Four levels of analysis—individual, domestic, interstate, and global—suggest multiple explanations (operating simultaneously) for outcomes in IR.
- Globalization is conceived differently by various scholars, but generally refers to the growing scope, speed, and intensity of connectedness worldwide. The process may be weakening, strengthening, or transforming the power of states. Antiglobalization activists oppose growing corporate power but disagree on goals and tactics.
- World Wars I and II dominated the 20th century, yet they seem to offer contradictory lessons about the utility of hard-line or conciliatory foreign policies.
- For nearly 50 years after World War II, world politics revolved around the East-West rivalry of the Cold War. This bipolar standoff created stability and avoided great power wars, including nuclear war, but turned states in the global South into proxy battlegrounds.
- The post–Cold War era holds hope of general great power cooperation despite the appearance of new ethnic and regional conflicts.
- A “war on terrorism” of uncertain scope and duration began in 2001 after terrorist attacks on the United States.
- The U.S. military campaign in Iraq overthrew a dictator, but divided the great powers, heightened anti-Americanism worldwide, and led to years of insurgency and sectarian violence.
Realist Theories :
- Realism explains international relations in terms of power.
- Realists and idealists differ in their assumptions about human nature, international order, and the potential for peace.
- Power can be conceptualized as influence or as capabilities that can create influence.
- The most important single indicator of a state’s power is its GDP.
- Short-term power capabilities depend on long-term resources, both tangible and intangible.
- Realists consider military force the most important power capability.
- International anarchy—the absence of world government—means that each state is a sovereign and autonomous actor pursuing its own national interests.
- The international system traditionally places great emphasis on the sovereignty of states, their right to control affairs in their own territory, and their responsibility to respect internationally recognized borders.
- Seven great powers account for half of the world’s GDP as well as the great majority of military forces and other power capabilities.
- Power transition theory says that wars often result from shifts in relative power distribution in the international system.
- Hegemony—the predominance of one state in the international system—can help provide stability and peace in international relations, but with some drawbacks.
- The great power system is made up of about half a dozen states (with membership changing over time as state power rises and falls).
- States form alliances to increase their effective power relative to that of another state or alliance.
- Alliances can shift rapidly, with major effects on power relations.
- The world’s main alliances, including NATO and the U.S.-Japanese alliance, face uncertain roles in a changing world order.
- International affairs can be seen as a series of bargaining interactions in which states use their power capabilities as leverage to influence the outcomes. But bargaining outcomes also depend on strategies and luck.
- Rational-actor approaches treat states as though they were individuals acting to maximize their own interests. These simplifications are debatable but allow realists to develop concise and general models and explanations.
- Game theory draws insights from simplified models of bargaining situations. The Prisoner’s Dilemma game embodies a difficult collective goods problem.
- The central claims of realism—regarding anarchy, state actors, rationality, and the utility of military force—have been challenged on a variety of grounds.
- Liberals dispute the realist notion that narrow self-interest is more rational than mutually beneficial cooperation.
- Reciprocity can be an effective strategy for reaching cooperation in ongoing relationships but carries a danger of turning into runaway hostility or arms races.
- Neoliberalism argues that even in an anarchic system of autonomous rational states, cooperation can emerge through the building of norms, regimes, and institutions.
- Collective goods are benefits received by all members of a group regardless of their individual contribution. Shared norms and rules are important in getting members to pay for collective goods.
- International regimes—convergent expectations of state leaders about the rules for issue areas in IR—help provide stability in the absence of a world government.
- Hegemonic stability theory suggests that the holding of predominant power by one state lends stability to international relations and helps create regimes.
- In a collective security arrangement, a group of states agrees to respond together to aggression by any participating state; the UN and other IGOs perform this function.
- Democracies have historically fought as many wars as authoritarian states, but democracies have almost never fought wars against other democracies. This is called the democratic peace.
- Domestic constituencies (interest groups) have distinct interests in foreign policies and often organize politically to promote those interests.
- Prominent among domestic constituencies—especially in the United States and Russia, and especially during the Cold War—have been military-industrial complexes consisting of military industries and others with an interest in high military spending.
- Public opinion influences governments’ foreign policy decisions (more so in democracies than in authoritarian states), but governments also manipulate public opinion.
- Foreign policies are strategies governments use to guide their actions toward other states. The foreign policy process is the set of procedures and structures that states use to arrive at foreign policy decisions and to implement them.
- In the rational model of decision making, officials choose the action whose consequences best help meet the state’s established goals. By contrast, in the organizational process model, decisions result from routine administrative procedures; in the government bargaining (or bureaucratic politics) model, decisions result from negotiations among governmental agencies with different interests in the outcome.
- The actions of individual decision makers are influenced by their personalities, values, and beliefs as well as by common psychological factors that diverge from rationality. These factors include misperception, selective perception, emotional biases, and cognitive biases (including the effort to reduce cognitive dissonance).
- Foreign policy decisions are also influenced by the psychology of groups (including groupthink), the procedures used to reach decisions, and the roles of participants. During crises, the potentials for misperception and error are amplified.
- Struggles over the direction of foreign policy are common between professional bureaucrats and politicians, as well as between different government agencies.
- When violent means are used as leverage in international conflicts, a variety of types of war result. These vary greatly in size and character, from guerrilla wars and raids to hegemonic war for leadership of the international system. Along this spectrum of uses of violence, the exact definition of war is uncertain.
- Many theories have been offered as general explanations about when such forms of leverage come into play—the causes of war. Contradictory theories have been proposed at each level of analysis and, with two exceptions, none has strong empirical support. Thus, political scientists cannot reliably predict the outbreak of war.
- Nationalism strongly influences IR; conflict often results from the perception of nationhood leading to demands for statehood or for the adjustment of state borders.
- Ethnic conflicts, especially when linked with territorial disputes, are very difficult to resolve because of psychological biases. It is hard to explain why people’s loyalties are sometimes to their ethnic group and sometimes to a multiethnic nation.
- Fundamentalist religious movements pose a broad challenge to the rules of the international system in general and state sovereignty in particular.
- Ideologies do not matter very much in international relations, with the possible exception of democracy as an ideology. State leaders can use ideologies to justify whatever actions are in their interests.
- Territorial disputes are among the most serious international conflicts because states place great value on territorial integrity. With a few exceptions, however, almost all the world’s borders are now firmly fixed and internationally recognized.
- Conflicts over the control of entire states (through control of governments) are also serious and are relatively likely to lead to the use of force.
- Economic conflicts lead to violence much less often, because positive gains from economic activities are more important inducements than negative threats of violence.
- Military forces include a wide variety of capabilities suited to different purposes. Conventional warfare requires different kinds of forces than those needed to threaten the use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.
- Control of territory is fundamental to state sovereignty and is accomplished primarily with ground forces.
- Air war, using precision-guided bombs against battlefield targets, proved extremely effective in the U.S. campaigns in Iraq in 1991, Serbia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003.
- Small missiles and electronic warfare are increasingly important, especially for naval and air forces. The role of satellites is expanding in communications, navigation, and reconnaissance.
- Terrorism is effective if it damages morale in a population and gains media exposure for the cause.
- The September 2001 attacks differed from earlier terrorism both in their scale of destruction and in the long reach of the global al Qaeda terrorist network. The attacks forced dramatic changes in U.S. and worldwide security arrangements and sparked U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime and destroy the al Qaeda bases there.
- Weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, chemical, and biological—have rarely been used in war.
- The production of nuclear weapons is technically within the means of many states and some nonstate actors, but the necessary fissionable material (uranium-235 or plutonium) is very difficult to obtain.
- Most industrialized states, and many poor ones, have refrained voluntarily from acquiring nuclear weapons. These states include two great powers, Germany and Japan.
- More states are acquiring ballistic missiles capable of striking other states from hundreds of miles away (or farther, depending on the missile’s range). But no state has ever attacked another with weapons of mass destruction mounted on ballistic missiles.
- Chemical weapons are cheaper to build than nuclear weapons, they have similar threat value, and their production is harder to detect. More middle powers have chemical weapons than nuclear ones. A new treaty bans the possession and use of chemical weapons.
- Several states conduct research into biological warfare, but by treaty the possession of such weapons is banned.
- Slowing the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in the global South is a central concern of the great powers.
- The United States is testing systems to defend against ballistic missile attack, although none has yet proven feasible, and withdrew from the ABM treaty with Russia to pursue this program.
- The United States and Russia have arsenals of thousands of nuclear weapons; China, Britain, and France have hundreds. Israel, India, and Pakistan each have scores. Weapons deployments are guided by nuclear strategy based on the concept of deterrence.
- Arms control agreements formally define the contours of an arms race or mutual disarmament process. Arms control helped build confidence between the superpowers during the Cold War.
- Political leaders face difficult choices in configuring military forces and paying for them. Military spending tends to stimulate economic growth in the short term but reduce growth over the long term.
- In the 1990s, military forces and expenditures of the great powers—especially Russia—were reduced and restructured.
- Except in times of civil war, state leaders—whether civilian or military—control military forces through a single hierarchical chain of command.
- Military forces can threaten the domestic power of state leaders, who are vulnerable to being overthrown by coups d’état.