A Short But Serious Introduction To
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS The Structures Of International Societies JACK DONNELLY
A SHORT BUT SERIOUS INTRODUCTION TO
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THE STRUCTURES OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETIES
JACK DONNELLY Josef Korbel School of International Studies University of Denver
Prepared for the students in the Masterâ€™s in Development Practice Program Josef Korbel School of International Studies University of Denver Fall 2010 Version 0.2
ÂŠ Jack Donnelly 2010 firstname.lastname@example.org http://mysite.du.edu/~jdonnell/
Published by the Masterâ€™s in Development Practice Program Josef Korbel School of International Studies University of Denver 2201 South Gaylord Street Denver, Colorado 80208 USA
This copyrighted book is made available at no cost, for personal and educational use, as an Open Educational Resource under a Creative Commons license. You may use and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes, so long as it remains unaltered and is properly attributed.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface 1. Introduction
2. 3. 4. 5.
8 14 19 24
Power Politics and the Hobbesian State of War Classical and Structural Realism Balancing, Relative Gains, and System Polarity Extending and Assessing Structural Realism
A n alytic al App ro ac hes 6. Rationalism, Constructivism, and International Society 7. Anarchy, Prisonerâ€™s Dilemma, and the Security Dilemma 8. Managing and Transforming Anarchy Inst itu tio ns 9. International Institutions: Compliance without Enforcement 10. International Regimes: Regulating and Constituting States 11. Alliances and Balance of Power as Institutions 12. Security Regimes Ide as 13. Ideas and the Structure of International Society 14. Ideas Constituting Interests 15. Identity, Sovereignty, Unit Type, and Structure
30 31 38 43 49 50 56 62 70 77 78 83 89
Conclu sion 16. Theory, Purpose, and Practice 17. Power Politics 18. The Structures of International Societies
96 101 107
PREFACE This little book presents a condensed but fairly comprehensive introduction to the study of international relations. It was prepared for students in the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) degree at the University of Denver, along with students and faculty in DU partner institutions and in the transnational MDP network organized by the MDP Secretariat and sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The collective task of MDP students worldwide is to apply systemic theory in the pragmatics of daily development work. The course was designed both for advanced university students with some background in or exposure to the field and for beginning graduate students with no previous background (or an only-distantly-recollected introduction). I also hope, though, that it will be useful to serious students, in and outside of universities, across the globe, who do not have easy access to such a course delivered in a more traditional format. And it may be of use to advanced graduate students as well. 1 I try not to “simplify” the subject by stripping out the challenge and subtlety of the material. I definitely will not coddle you with repetition and heavy-handed summaries (as if you can’t get the basic points yourself by carefully reading) or amuse you with graphics, web-links, and the like (as if well-crafted words can’t tell a compelling story). Instead, I seek to distill, without in any way “dumbing down,” an International Relations Theory course that I have taught to MA and PhD students for three decades. The organization of the course is somewhat original. Both my approach and the material covered, however, are well within the mainstream of the way International Relations Theory is typically taught in the U.S. and the U.K. This is a pretty conventional course – delivered unconventionally, to perhaps somewhat unconventional students.
I have also designed the presentation with teachers in mind. Each lecture, although not fully modular, is largely self-contained, allowing instructors to mix and match, and cut and paste into their own courses. And by changing or adding readings, or adding your own discussion questions, lectures can be transformed to serve different pedagogical purposes and to develop a variety of more complex stories.
I have tried to write for thoughtful, intelligent, engaged adults (rather than the disinterested, and apparently not too smart, American college students for whom many textbooks seem to be produced). I will not talk down to you or hold your hand. I do, however, take very seriously my professional obligations to provide you clear direction and to help to make it possible for you to engage some truly important ideas. If you apply yourself – especially if you do much of the basic reading – my teaching experience suggests that you will “get it” and that you will finish the course with a greater capacity to understand and act in our increasingly globalized world. The “chapters” seek to approximate the experience of relatively short university lectures, insofar as a written format allows. As in the “live” version, though, the readings are no less essential to the success of the course than the lectures. The “Basic Readings” represent the minimum necessary to comprehend the substance and appreciate the flavor of contemporary international theory. “Additional Readings” are for those who want a richer course or desire to explore particular selected topics in greater depth, now or later. I also encourage you to treat this as a real course, in which you are expected, as the end draws near, to go back over the material. There obviously is no exam. Pretend, though, that there is. What Americans call reviewing and the British call revising is essential. You need to go back and literally view this again. The material covered in this book is not easy. It does, however, reward effort that is concerted and repeated. And I have tried to write lectures that will repay re-reading with a deeper and more subtle comprehension. I hope that you will find this course, and the material it presents, profitable. I also hope that at least some of you will find it pleasurable as well. International Relations can be as engaging and exciting as it is important. Enjoy! Jack Donnelly Denver, Colorado August 2010
1 L ECT UR E 1
INTRODUCTION This lecture introduces the subject matter of the course. It defines “international relations,” introduces a three-dimensional analytical framework, and briefly discusses the nature “theory.” In the following lectures we will focus on explanations of international relations at the level of the international system, with special attention to the ways that material capabilities, institutions, and ideas shape international action.
1. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS “International relations” refers to transactions that cross the borders of polities (political entities with a certain degree of autonomy). International Relations (IR) is the study of this field (the capitalized abbreviation distinguishing the academic discipline from its subject matter). International relations ranges from negotiations between heads of state and proceedings before the International Court of Justice to personal tourism, overseas Facebook friends, and “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” – which, like so much else in the contemporary world, have an increasingly transnational profile. The participants in international relations are not as varied as its topics but are nonetheless quite diverse. States/polities are the principal actors. Throughout history, though, private individuals and groups, especially traders, have been important international actors. Today, “non-state actors” such as multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, international and regional organization, wealthy, powerful, or celebrated individuals, and even ordinary citizens with a cause, are an increasingly important part of international relations. How can we categorize and provide analytical entry points into such a large and diverse body of material? I will use a three-dimensional framework defined in term of sectors and levels of analysis, explanatory variables, and style of analysis.
2. SECTORS AND LEVELS OF ANALYSIS Barry Buzan and Richard Little, in their excellent introductory textbook International Systems in World History, offer a simple framework using two classificatory devices common in IR: sectors and levels of analysis. Buzan and Little identify five substantive SECTORS1: military, political, economic, societal, and environmental. By separating military from political, they draw attention to the special role of organized armed force in international rela1
Terms in small caps are defined or explained in the Glossary
2 tions. Economic relations are a part of almost all international societies and have become increasingly important over the past half century. “Societal” is a broad and vague category that is nonetheless essential, including such important spheres as religion and culture. Some might question including a separate environmental sector. Nonetheless, the idea of political-military, economic, and “other” sectors is a common organizing framework among both analysts and practitioners. LEVELS OF ANALYSIS refers to where we look for explanations. IR typically uses a three level framework: individuals, STATES, and the international system. (Theories at these three levels are sometimes called first image, second image, and third image theories.) Individuals sometimes are the decisive determinant of international behavior. Hitler started World War II. Jimmy Carter introduced human rights into the mainstream of American foreign policy. Deng Xiaoping opened China and its economy to the outside world. Sometimes, though, states have corporate interests that are not reducible to those of their leaders or even the sum of the interests of their people. Thus we regularly talk about “the national interest.” India, throughout its history as an independent state, has seen itself as a leader of the non-aligned movement, the Third World, or the Global South. (The interest is much more constant than the terminology we use to refer to those India aims to lead.) Russia has a “permanent national interest” in securing access to a warm water port. Britain and the United States have a “special relationship” rooted in shared cultural and historical ties. Obama’s Afghanistan policy, for all the talk of change, closely resembles Bush’s; it is an American policy. At still other times, international relations is driven by systemic forces “above” states and individuals. This is most evident in talk of “the balance of power.” The structure of the international system as a whole, rather than any features of its parts, explains behavior. One of the most common patterns in international relations, especially in military and political affairs, is for states to balance against threatening powers, especially rising powers. (See §4.1) In most international events of significance, important causal forces operate at all three levels of analysis. For example, the U.S. went to war against Iraq in 2003 in part because of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney; in part because of American national interests (including Iraq’s oil reserves, its strategic location, and the threat of Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction); and in part because the system was “unipolar” – that is, it had just one great military power – and thus there was no realistic possibility of effective international resistance. It is important to distinguish levels of analysis (where we look for explanations) from UNITS OF ANALYSIS (the actors whose behavior is being explained). For all the talk of globalization, states remain the principal actor in much of international relations, and thus will often be a central unit of analysis. But the behav-
3 ior of states, and other international actors, can be explained by forces at all three levels of analysis. Distinguishing levels of analysis helps us to appreciate the variety of forces at work in international relations â€“ and to be clear and explicit about what is doing the explanatory work in any particular account. It also alerts us to the important fact that different theoretical and analytical approaches may be appropriate at different levels. We can refine this three-level account by adding two intermediate levels. Between individuals and states lie groups of various sorts: bureaucracies within governments, business firms, ethnic groups, and an immense variety of formal and informal interest groups. Between states and the international system there is the level of TRANSNATIONAL RELATIONS (international action across state boundaries by private groups such as business enterprises and nongovernmental organizations). Combining these two dimensions, we get a five-by-five grid (Figure 1) that provides a quick but useful orientation, identifying what we are trying to
explain and where we are looking for our explanation. Figure 1: Sectors and Levels of Analysis Military
Individuals Groups States Transnational International
This course focuses on forces at the level of the international system that influence the behavior of individuals, groups, and states. Although the international level is not â€œmore important,â€? whatever that might mean, it merits special attention for a number of reasons. The international system sets parameters within which individual- and statelevel forces and actors operate. The influence of the system, however, is often less obvious, especially when one focuses on policy decisions. Furthermore, other international studies courses that you take are likely to give principal attention to individuals, groups, and states. Finally, given the restrictions of time and space, some limiting decision has to be made. This one is at least as useful as any other. (To be honest, it also suits my own tastes and theoretical inclinations.)
3. EXPLANATORY VARIABLES AND APPROACHES We will be concerned with three principal variables that explain international behavior: force (or, more broadly, material capabilities and interests), institutions, and ideas. Part One explores “power politics” theories. Part Three considers the character and impact of international institutions. Part Four turns to ideas: norms, rules, values, and identities. The course suggests that material, institutional, and ideational “logics,” which differ significantly, together cover a substantial portion and range of the forces that characteristically shape the actions of states and other international actors. Part Five begins to aggregate these separate variables into broader analytical frameworks. Force, institutions, and ideas provide the substantive axis along which this course is organized. There is also an analytical axis, which is laid out in Part Two. In the current jargon of the field, there are two principal kinds of theories. “RATIONALIST” theories take actors and their interests as given, in order to investigate the influence of the context of interaction on their behavior. “C ONSTRUCTIVIST” theories investigate the social shaping of actors and their interests and its impact on their behavior. Each type, as we will see, has characteristic virtues and limitations. Substantively, this course will focus on the impact of force, institutions, and ideas on international action. Analytically, we will consider both how these actors and their interests are shaped and how their character and interests shape their behavior.
4. THEORY: LOGICS OF INTERACTION A theory is a simplified depiction; a model. The essence of theory is abstraction (in order to focus on a few important features) and generalization (to create knowledge that applies across some range of cases). Armed with a good and relevant theory, we know what to look for, and what to expect, in the world. Theories aim to identify order, it causes, and consequences. Knowing a particular domain’s order, its logic of operation, gives us insight into what is likely to happen – and what we might be able to do to alter or help to assure it comes about. Theory helps us both to understand the world and to engage with it in ways that better suit our purposes. Theories are like spotlights, which illuminate some things (while throwing others into shadow). They are lenses, which bring a particular field of vision into sharp focus (but blur what lies outside this field). They
5 are like good caricatures, which single out a few essential, distinguishing features. Most often, I will speak of theories as “logics of interaction.” They identify how actors of a particular type are likely to interact in circumstances of a particular character. My favorite metaphor depicts theories as analytical tools.Theories, being designed for particular tasks, have characteristic virtues and vices. There is no universal tool for any particular craft – including the craft of IR. Some issues are more amenable to rationalist analysis. Others are best treated with constructivist tools. Material logics sometimes give us the best analytical leverage. Other times, institutional or ideational logics provide greater insight. IR needs an extensive and diverse toolkit. Knowing how and when to use each, can dramatically improve our understanding – and thus our ability to act effectively in the world. Students often ask why they should study theory – especially because their interests usually are practical. The simple answer is that even the most practical people constantly theorize as an essential part of their practice. They abstract, to focus on what is important, and they generalize, to draw on their own experience and the experience of others. We have two choices: theorize explicitly, with critical self-awareness and an effort at rigor, or do it intuitively, navigating by the seats of our pants. Not theorizing simply is not an option. Sometimes, of course, we will want to draw primarily on our intuition; on informal and implicit theories for which we have a “feel.” Often, though, we will want something more rigorous and more open to critical examination, both by us and by others. Furthermore, I suspect that improved skills at explicit theorizing even help our intuitions. In any case, since we can’t avoid theorizing, we ought to try to do it as well as we can. And since intuition can’t be taught, that means studying explicit theory.
5. SUMMARY The discipline of International Relations (IR) studies interactions that cross the boundaries of states or other polities. International relations spans a wide range of substantive sectors and is practiced by a great variety of types of actors in addition to states. Although international relations and its analysis take place at many different levels, ranging from the individual to the international system, this course is primarily concerned with forces operating at the level of the in-
6 ternational system. We will give special attention to the ways in which material capabilities, institutions, and ideas shape international behavior. This course aims to introduce you to the basic analytical tools of IR; to clarify their character, contributions, and limitations; and help you to begin to learn how to use them in your own analytical work, whether as citizens or as (actual or aspiring) professional practitioners.
ADDITIONAL READINGS Kenneth N. Waltz, Man, the State and War (1959), ch. 1. The original presentation of what has become the standard three-levels framework in IR. Barry Buzan, “The Level of Analysis Problem Reconsidered in International Relations Theory,” in Ken Booth and Steve Smith, International Relations Theory Today (1995). A more sophisticated look at levels of analysis within the basic tripartite framework. Peter Gourevitch, “The Second Image Reversed: The International Sources of Domestic Politics,” International Organization 32 (1978): 881-911. A different take on the relationship between levels. Colin Wight, Agents, Structures, and International Relations: Politics as Ontology (2006), ch. 3. Argues that agents and structures are present at all levels of analysis. (Although definitely not for beginning students, this is the most sophisticated discussion of levels of analysis in IR.)
7 P ART O N E
F ORCE We begin the substance of this course with four lectures that examine material power. Force obviously lies at or near the center of international relations, making this a “natural” starting point. I use the language of “force” to emphasize that material capabilities are used in international relations primarily in the form of coercive threats to apply punishing sanctions, with the aim of forcing (compelling) compliance with the wishes of the powerful. The language of force also draws attention to the special role of military force in international relations. But precisely because of that – and so as not to obscure the fact that material compulsion is regularly carried out with economic resources as well – I will also often use the language of material capabilities or material power. Speaking of force and material capabilities also helps to protect against the trap of equating material power with power in general (without an adjective). Power, in the core sense of control over outcomes, is no less a matter of applying institutional and ideational resources, both persuasively and coercively. Nonetheless, we start with force because of its undoubted central role in shaping some important domains of international behavior. These lectures will be primarily concerned with political realism, which is probably the oldest, and certainly the best known and most influential, theory of international relations. There is a tendency, among both theorists and practitioners, to think of oneself and of others as realists, critics of realism, or somewhere in between. Much of the theoretical discussion of international relations, for better or worse, revolves around the question of the explanatory reach of realism. Lecture 2 defines realism and lays out Hobbes’s model of the state of nature. Lecture 3 distinguishes so-called classical realism from the currently dominant approach of structural realism, which is examined in more detail in Lecture 4. Lecture 5 looks at extensions of this structural logic and begins to try to assess the contribution of realism to our understanding of international relations – a project that will be continued throughout the remaining parts of this course.
8 L ECT UR E 2
POWER POLITICS AND THE HOBBESIAN STATE OF WAR This lecture defines political realism and examines Hobbes’s account, which is probably the clearest, most powerful, and most influential sketch of realist logic. It is perhaps not coincidental that Hobbes’s major work, Leviathan, was published just three years after the Peace of Westphalia, which is often considered a marker of the emergence of modern international relations. BASIC READING Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, chapter 13. A classic statement – the classic statement – of a logic of anarchy in which “there is always warre of every one against every one.”
1. DEFINING POLITICAL REALISM Political realists typically claim to be part of a tradition that stretches back to the great historian of fifth-century BCE Greece. Realism is less a particular substantive theory – as we will see, there are a number of important variants – than a general orientation, worldview, or disposition. Definitions of realism vary in their details but tend to converge around four central propositions. • Groupism Politics takes place within and between groups. Human life requires group solidarity. This essential in-group cohesion, however, typically generates conflict between groups. • Egoism Individuals and groups act principally out of narrow selfinterest, especially when acting politically.
ANARCHY1 The absence of government dramatically shapes the nature of international politics. Anarchic political systems both impose distinctive constraints on the ability of international actors to achieve their purposes and exacerbate group egoism. •
• Power Politics The intersection of groupism and egoism in an environment of anarchy makes international relations, regrettably, largely a
Terms in small caps are defined or explained in the Glossary
9 politics of power and security. (An important corollary is that morality and law are of limited and problematic applicability.) Groupism and egoism apply equally at home and abroad. Realism thus can be seen as a general theory of society and politics. For example, Reinhold Niebuhr, the great mid-twentieth century American theologian, saw international power politics as merely an extreme expression of a universal human tendency. Thucydides and Machiavelli likewise saw only differences of degree between national and international politics. Most often, though, political realism is understood as a theory of international relations. This is how we will treat it here. Government, realists argue, has the potential to harness egoism and groupism, creating a context in which societies may devote much of their attention and resources to goals beyond power and security. The absence of international government, however, makes it impossible to control egoism, groupism, and especially group egoism. International politics therefore is, necessarily and at its core, power politics.
2. HOBBES, THE STATE OF NATURE, AND WAR Chapter 13 of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan provides an unusually clear and influential exposition of the realist logic. It also is a model of theory understood as a deductive logic of interaction. Hobbes lays out a few basic propositions about human beings, specifies an environment in which they interact, and concludes that such actors thus situated cannot but be dragged into a permanent state of war. Hobbes employs the analytical device of the STATE OF NATURE, an imagined pre-social condition, in order to strip away the effects of social convention and get at “the natural condition of mankind” – which is the title of the chapter. Although Hobbes does not believe that human beings have often lived without society – man is by nature a social animal – this intellectual exercise (“armchair experiment”), Hobbes suggests, can to illuminate our original human nature. And he argues that real states in international relations in many ways resemble individuals in this imagined condition. Hobbes begins with the natural equality of men, both in body and in mind. Each of us, even the weakest, has the possibility to kill any other, if not by direct assault, then by stealth or in league with others. Our natural mental equality is, Hobbes suggests, even greater. “For such is
10 the nature of men, that … they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves.” And “there is not ordinarily a greater signe of the equall distribution of any thing, than that every man is contented with his share.” (par. 2) “From this equality of ability, ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our Ends.” (par. 3) Each of us, considering ourselves at least as good as everyone else, not only aspires but expects to have at least as much as anyone else. Scarcity, however, makes this impossible – which generates enmity, a desire to “destroy, or subdue one another,” (par. 3) and a constant state of fear and uncertainty. Fear, though, is only part of the natural condition of mankind. Men, Hobbes argues, are no less competitive and vain. “In the nature of man, we find three principall causes of quarrel. First, Competition; Secondly, Diffidence; Thirdly, Glory. The first, maketh men invade for Gain; the second, for Safety; and the third, for Reputation.” (par. 6-7) Hobbes has in effect presented a stripped down, but many would argue realistic, model of the basic nature of men: they are equal, competitive, fearful, and vain. (Some would contend that this indeed is a gendered account of the nature of men! And, as we will see as we move through the next several lectures a heavily “masculinist” perspective lies at the core of the “power politics” perspective on and practice of international relations.) He then adds an assumption about the environment in which they interact: it is ANARCHIC, in the literal sense of lacking a government. (Without “archy,” rule; as in monarchy, the rule of one.) As Hobbes puts it, they “live without a common Power to keep them all in awe.” (par. 8) This conjunction of anarchy and egoism inescapably creates a state of war, “of every man against every man. For WARRE, consisteth not in Battell onely … but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary.” (par. 8) In the absence of government, there is nothing to prevent any conflict from degenerating into violence. And with prosperity, freedom, and even survival on the line, preparing for the worst is the only reasonable course. In the state of nature, therefore, “every man is Enemy to every man” (par. 9) – not because they are particularly evil, but because selfish and fearful men in anarchy cannot reasonably look on one another as anything other than an enemy, if not now, then in the future. Anarchic orders are SELF-HELP systems. As Hobbes puts it, “men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own in-
11 vention shall furnish.” (par. 9) Cooperation is risky, and thus rare, because agreements cannot be enforced. “In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; … no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” (par. 9) This is a truly miserable state. If life is indeed solitary, poor, nasty, and brutish, one might imagine that the one good thing that could be said about it was that it was (mercifully) short. But we are so constituted that the worst thing about this wretched life is that it is short. To paraphrase Woody Allen (in his movie Annie Hall): The food in that restaurant is terrible. And the portions are so small! Hobbes’s account has a powerful, indeed inescapable, logic. Take equal actors driven by competition, diffidence, and glory, place them in an anarchic self-help environment, and they cannot but help but drag one another into a war of all against all. If the world is as this model assumes, and if no other more powerful forces intervene, then the state of war is the natural, inescapable condition of existence. Hobbes, of course, recognizes another side to human nature. There are “passions that encline men to Peace … Feare of Death; Desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a Hope by their Industry to obtain them.” We also have reason, which “suggesteth convenient Articles of Peace, upon which men may be drawn to agreement.” But in the absence of enforcement, such agreements are fragile. As Hobbes puts it in Chapter 17 of Leviathan, “Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words, and of no strength to secure a man at all.” And, at least outside of society, the passions that incline us to peace are less powerful than those that incline us to enmity, and thus in anarchy, war.
3. ESCAPING THE STATE OF WAR? Is this a “good” theory of international relations? Yes, in the sense that its assumptions have a certain plausibility and the theory is logically well formulated. But is it “right”? That is an empirical rather than a theoretical question. Sometimes such a model provides a reasonable first approximation of the way the world actually is. Sometimes it does not. The important question – in many ways the central question of this course – is when and where this logic of interaction in fact operates.
12 Here, though, I want to focus on the fact that a well-formulated explanatory theory has direct policy implications. It tells us where to intervene in order to, depending on our purposes, change the world or try to keep it the same. Escaping the (profoundly unappealing) Hobbesian state of war requires either altering the conditions that produce it or mobilizing other forces to overcome it. Society, with its associated “higher” authority, is the most obvious solution, and one that has been almost universally attempted throughout human history. But even when successful, this still leaves societies – states – in a state of nature. And replacing international anarchy with international government has generally proved beyond the abilities of competitive, fearful, and vain states. Inequality is a partial substitute for government. Even if the strong remain in a state of war with one another, they are likely to impose order on the weak – not out of justice or benevolence but to better enjoy the fruits of their superior power. Because such an imposed order eliminates the war of every one against every one, it generally is preferred even by the weak, who have fewer enemies to worry about and the chance to seek protection from the powerful. An unjust hierarchical order usually is preferable to the violent disorder of the Hobbesian state of war. And imposed order may mellow into legitimate rule. Changing men (rather than the environment within which they interact) is another possible escape from the state of war. Disputes over human nature are notoriously irresolvable. We can identify, though, four basic attitudes towards the Hobbesian account. 1. Hobbes is right. Human beings are naturally constituted in this fashion and there is little we can do about it – other than try to manage and mitigate the unavoidable political fallout. 2. Hobbes is wrong, in the sense that the passions that incline men to peace, and/or reason, are more powerful than he allows. 3. Hobbes is wrong, in the sense that the predominance of competition, diffidence, and glory is socially constructed rather than naturally given. Human nature has no inalterable, egoistic core. It is a set of diverse and malleable potentialities that combine in varied ways in different circumstances. Both anarchy and society “make” human nature – in contrast to Hobbes’s account in which anarchy reveals a human nature that society has repressed or reshaped.
13 4. Hobbes is right, not in the sense that human nature is inalterably egoistic, but because in anarchy competitive, fearful, and vain actors tend to prevail over and squeeze out those who are not. Substantive theories of human nature seem incapable of empirical resolution and thus are not very popular in contemporary social science. The first two options thus usually are held only as matters of philosophical or religious conviction. The third and fourth options agree that human nature has a certain duality but that the realization of its diverse potentials depends centrally on social and political practice. Debate thus focuses on when, and how, competition, diffidence, and vanity come to prevail in social relations and when and how a more sociable sociability can be constructed. This is another way of saying the central issue is not whether realism “is right” but when and where it provides valuable insight. The third possible escape from the state of war involves mobilizing countervailing forces, both other sides of human nature and nongovernmental rules, institutions, and practices. In such cases, the Hobbesian logic operates, and has an impact, but does not determine outcomes. Other logics may intervene to mitigate the effects of anarchy or overpower them. We consider this possibility explicitly in Lecture 8, and implicitly in many of the lectures that follow it. ADDITIONAL READING Stephen Forde, “Classical Realism,” in Terry Nardin and David Mapel, Traditions of International Ethics (1992). Situates Hobbes in a broader context of realist thinking in the Western tradition of political theory. Martin Wight, “Why is there no International Theory?” in Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, Diplomatic Investigations (1966) (reprinted in James Der Derian, International Theory: Critical Investigations (2001)). A reading of international relations as a domain of force and order, rather than justice, and thus not the kind of political society that generates political theory in the tradition of Plato and Aristotle. Friedrich Meinecke, Machiavellism: The Idea of Reason of State (1967 ), pp. 148. A classic intellectual history of early modern “power politics” theories.
14 L ECT UR E 3
CLASSICAL AND STRUCTURAL REALISM REALISM1 is not a single theory but a general orientation encompassing a range of particular theories. This lecture introduces the leading contemporary variants and lays out the basic character of structural realism, the currently most popular approach. The following lecture looks at the principal substantive arguments of structural realism. B ASIC READING Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, pp. 4-15 of any edition after the first. Six Principles of Political Realism, as formulated by the leading American classical realist. E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis (1946), ch. 1. A penetrating discussion of the insights and limits of realism (and its antithesis, utopianism/idealism), by the leading British realist. John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001), ch. 1 (Introduction). A clear and accessible introduction to contemporary structural realism in its offensive realist variant.
1. VARIETIES OF REALISM Hobbes gives roughly equal weight to human nature and the anarchic conditions in which men interact in the state of nature. Such theories today usually are called CLASSICAL REALISM. They typically are contrasted with STRUCTURAL REALISM (often called NEO-REALISM), which argues that anarchy compels states, whatever their interests, to act principally out of competition and diffidence. Realists also differ in the emphasis they give to competition and diffidence. DEFENSIVE REALISM models states as satisfied or “status quo” powers: their principal aim is to preserve what they have and their place in the existing distribution of capabilities; they are driven mostly by fear, invading primarily for safety, not gain. This is the view of Kenneth Waltz, the most influential realist theorist of the past forty years. OFFENSIVE REALISM models states as dissatisfied or “revisionist” powers; or at least powers “on the make,” out to improve their position. Some see this as a reflection of something like an Augustinian libido dominandi or a Nietzschean will to power. Today, though, offensive real1
Terms in small caps are defined or explained in the Glossary
15 ists usually appeal to anarchy and uncertainty rather than human nature: even if all one desires is safety, both the dangers of anarchy and uncertainty over the intentions of others bring competition (invasion for gain) to the fore. The best defense is a good offense. Or as Hobbes put it, “there is no way for any man to secure himselfe, so reasonable, as Anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can, so long, till he see no other power great enough to endanger him.” (par. 4) This is the view of John Mearsheimer, who has emerged in the past two decades as a major realist voice. Realists also differ in the intensity of their commitment to realism and in their estimate of the range of its applicability. This suggests thinking of realists as aligned along a continuum, from strong to hedged realism. Where the “hedges” become as important as the realist “core,” such views shade off into positions that are fundamentally non-realist. Most contemporary realists are more or less strongly committed to the theory, believing that it captures an essential and largely invariant core of international relations. But they also readily allow, and in some circumstances emphasize, that there is much in international relations that realism cannot comprehend. The real debates, among theorists and practitioners alike, concern how much of international relations is profitably understood in realist terms and the extent to which realism captures its “central” or “most important” features.
2. STRUCTURAL REALISM Most recent realist work is “structural.” Rather than appeal to human nature or investigate state motives, structural realists make a few relatively uncontroversial assumptions about states; in particular, that they seek survival and security above all other concerns. This focuses attention on the ways that the external environment compels states, despite their other interests and internal differences, to behave in certain patterned ways. The “external environment” includes a huge and diverse range of forces and circumstances. Structural realism, as the label suggests, focuses on the structure of the system; that is, the defining features that make international systems wholes with a particular character. The leading structural realist theorist is Kenneth Waltz, whose 1979 book Theory of International Politics dominated the academic study of international relations into the 1990s and remains today the most influential work in IR. Waltz presents a tripartite account of the structure of politi-
16 cal systems, defined by their ORDERING PRINCIPLE, FUNCTIONAL DIFFERENTIATION, and DISTRIBUTION OF CAPABILITIES . Ordering principle determines how the actors, the parts of the system, are organized or related to one another. Functional differentiation determines how activities (functions) are allocated between these actors. Distribution of capabilities is a record of how is power spread among them. Together, Waltz argues, they provide an account of the structure of a social or political system. Waltz argues that, as a rough first approximation, the actors in political systems either do or do not stand in relations of super- and subordination. HIERARCHY and ANARCHY – anarchy here understood as the absence not only of government but all forms of super- and subordination – are the two possible political ordering principles. This exceedingly simple account almost certainly requires refinement. Anarchy and hierarchy are more profitably seen as end points of a continuum than a strict dichotomy. More sophisticated analyses would distinguish different types of hierarchy. (See §18.2) Nonetheless, students and practitioners of international relations generally agree that anarchy, the absence of hierarchy (and of government in particular), is a central, even defining, feature of international systems. Thus it is common in IR to use anarchic and international as roughly equivalent terms. In this representation – which like all theoretical accounts involves artful simplification of a more complex reality – national political systems are hierarchic and international political systems are anarchic. Most importantly, structural realism models international relations as anarchic and focuses its attention on the effects of anarchy. The structure of social and political systems is also determined by how functions are allocated between actors. In hierarchic systems, different functions are assigned to actors on the basis of their place in the hierarchy. (The classic contemporary political example is the allocation of legislative, judicial, and executive functions to different governmental institutions.) In anarchic systems, however, Waltz argues that each actor tends to perform all important functions for itself. Functional differentiation – a division of labor – requires actors to depend on one another to perform their assigned tasks and discharge their designated roles. Anarchy, however, makes such dependence too risky. Functional differentiation thus is rare.
17 Anarchic orders are SELF-HELP systems; there is no one else on whom you can rely. If something is vital, prudence demands that you provide it for yourself. In anarchy, all rational actors try to perform all important tasks for themselves – creating a system with minimal functional differentiation. The third element in Waltz’s account of political structures is the distribution of capabilities among the actors. All international systems are, by definition, anarchic. If anarchic orders have minimal functional differentiation, international systems differ structurally only in how power is distributed among the units. IR typically measures the distribution of capabilities in terms of system POLARITY, the number of great powers. Polarity is discussed further in the next lecture. Here we can simply note that the number of great powers helps to shape the character of an international system. For example, in a “unipolar” system the predominant power has a unique freedom of operation. In “bipolar” systems the rivalry between the superpowers tends to spread through the entire system. In structural realist accounts, however, most of the analytical work is done by anarchy, the feature that all international systems share. Realists – and many non-realists as well – regularly emphasize the pernicious effects of anarchy; its dangers, hazards, perils, and violent consequences. It thus is common to talk of “the logic of anarchy.” The next lecture focuses on the principal elements of that logic. Before moving on, though, I want to pause briefly to comment on the nature of structural realism as a theory.
3. REACTIONS TO STRUCTURAL REALISM A theory that explains international politics through two variables (in this case, anarchy and the distribution of capabilities) operates at an extremely high level of abstraction and generality. The most we can ask of such a theory is that it identify a few important and near-universal features of international relations; some powerful, structurally-induced tendencies that help to give a particular character to international (as opposed to national) politics. If one is satisfied with this then structural realism’s strategy of maximum simplification and maximum generality is likely to be attractive – assuming that it in fact delivers some important near-universal insights. But if one wants more, structural realism will seem, at best, a starting point for
18 analysis. Such dissatisfaction takes three principal forms in contemporary IR (restricting ourselves, as this course does, to theories and approaches that focus on the level of the international system). Among realists, so-called â€œNEO-CLASSICAL REALISMâ€? is becoming increasingly popular. Anarchy and the distribution of capabilities are taken as a starting point for analysis, but individual and national-level variables are given central attention as well. Structure pushes in certain directions and establishes parameters within which states act. Behavior, however, can only be understood by examining how different states respond to those structural forces. Non-realists tend to respond to structural realism in one of two ways. Some, much like neo-classical realists, accept the structuralist logic of anarchy as a starting point. The focus of their work, however, is on the ways in which other forces, such as international institutions and national identities, can mitigate, and perhaps even transform, the effects of anarchy. Others, much more radically, challenge the very idea that anarchy has determinate effects; that there is a logic of anarchy. The next lecture lays out in some detail the structural realist logic of anarchy. Later lectures take up alternative accounts of anarchy. ADDITIONAL READING These readings address only classical realism. See the next lecture for additional readings on structural realism. Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932). A powerful presentation of realism as a general theory of politics. For a flavor of the argument, try reading pp. xi-xxv, 1-31, 48-50, 83-97, 106-112, 137-41, 168-80. Hans Morgenthau, In Defense of the National Interest: A Critical Examination of American Foreign Policy (1951). Realist theory applied to post-World War II American foreign policy. Robert W. Tucker, The Inequality of Nations (1977). A realist critique of demands for a new international economic order, emphasizing the primacy of considerations of order (rather than justice) in international relations.
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BALANCING, RELATIVE GAINS, AND SYSTEM POLARITY This lecture focuses on three central themes in recent structural realist work: the tendency of states in anarchy to balance against competing concentrations of power; the associated tendency to be especially concerned with their relative power position; and the impact of polarity on great power politics. B ASIC READING William Wohlforth, “Realism,” in Christian Reus-Smit and Duncan Snidal, The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (2008). A good brief introduction to contemporary realist IR. Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), pp. 88-92, 102-116 (also available as pp. 81-87, 98-115 in Robert O. Keohane, Neo-Realism and Its Critics (1986)). Classic account of the realist balancing logic. Joseph M. Grieco, “Realist International Theory and the Study of World Politics,” in Michael Doyle and John Ikenberry, New Thinking in International Relations Theory (1997). A good general survey, emphasizing the logic of relative gains.
1. STATES IN ANARCHY BALANCE The central theoretical conclusion of structural realism is that in anarchy states “BALANCE” rather than “BANDWAGON;” that is, they align against (rather than with) rising powers. The bandwagoning metaphor comes from American electoral politics in the days before mass media, when parades, often featuring a wagon with a band on it, were an important campaigning tool (to, literally, “drum up” support). To “jump on the bandwagon” became a metaphor for throwing one’s support behind a candidate whose campaign appeared to be gaining momentum – often producing, to change the metaphor, a domino effect. “Bandwagoners” attempt to increase their gains (or reduce their losses) by siding with the stronger party. This makes sense in stable political systems with a strong rule of law. Losers live to fight again another day. Victors are constrained from arbitrarily punishing or abusing their rivals. Advantage, not survival, is at stake. Therefore, trying to get a small piece of another’s victory seems preferable to fighting to the end for
20 your own – especially as your prospects diminish or if you believe you have identified the likely victor. In anarchy, however, bandwagoning courts disaster by strengthening someone who later may turn on you. The power of others – especially great power – is always a threat when there is no government to turn to for protection. “Balancers” attempt to reduce this risk by opposing the stronger party. States in anarchy thus have a strong tendency to balance. “Internal balancing” (re)allocates resources to build one’s own strength in order to counter the power of others. “External balancing” draws on the resources of others, primarily through alliances and other formal and informal agreements. In anarchy, relying on others is risky, which suggests that rational states will prefer internal balancing. Internal balancing, however, is expensive, as well as slow. It is easier and cheaper to augment one’s power by borrowing rather than building it. When allies share a common enemy, even the risk may be reduced substantially. As the old diplomatic maxim puts it, “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” – and thus an attractive ally (for now). Weak states, however, cannot balance against strong states. Internal balancing is out of the question. A cohesive alliance of many weak states is, as a practical political matter, virtually impossible. And allying with another strong power is bandwagoning with the lesser of two evils rather than balancing. Here we see the importance of Hobbes’s initial assumption of the equality of the actors. Anarchic relations between equals in power may tend to follow a balancing logic. Anarchic relations between unequals in power, however, take other forms. The weak characteristically bandwagon or suffer domination. Canada and Mexico could not balance against the United States even if they wanted to. For all the enmity of Castro’s Cuba or Chavez’s Venezuela towards the U.S., they lack the capabilities to affect the balance and thus do not (cannot) balance. “The strong do what they can while the weak suffer what they must.” Thucydides put these words in the mouths of the Athenian envoys to the Melians in 416 BCE. They are often presented as a distillation of the wisdom of realism. Structural realism, however, tells a rather different story. The strong balance. And although the weak often suffer, structural realism has nothing to tell us about it.
21 Structural realism thus is a theory of great power politics – as suggested by the title of John Mearsheimer’s major work, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. “The logic of anarchy” actually is the logic of great powers in anarchy. Structural realism tells us nothing about the relations between the weak and the strong. This is not meant to denigrate, but rather to properly situate, the realist balancing logic. Relations among the leading powers in a system (or sub-system) certainly are an important part of the story of international relations. Realists would argue that it is the most important part; even the core of the story. But structural realism, even in the most generous interpretation, is not a (general) theory of international relations (in general). Even material power has multiple political logics. The realist balancing logic is of undeniable importance in most international systems. I would not even object to the claim that it is probably IR’s single most important theoretical insight – and I am not a realist. (If I have been doing my job as a teacher well, you should not have known this – or at least you should not have been sure – until now.) No one denies that realism embodies a valuable, even vital, insight. The crucial questions, which later lectures will address, are how much of international relations, when and where, is illuminated by the realist logic of anarchic balancing.
2. ABSOLUTE VERSUS RELATIVE GAINS The realist balancing logic can also be usefully formulated in the language of relative and absolute gains. States in anarchy, especially great powers, are primarily concerned with their relative position in the distribution of capabilities, rather than maximizing their own capabilities. The logic of absolute gains is simple: more is better. More money. More clothes. More toys. Whatever. If you have more of it, you are better off. Period. If I have $1,000 more in my pocket, I am $1,000 better off, whatever anyone else has gained or lost in the interim. Many things are measured in absolute terms. Power is not. Power depends not only on your own holdings but on those of the target. Power is essentially relative. A machine gun is pretty powerful facing an unarmed man – but pitifully weak when facing an armored brigade. To the extent that international relations is power politics, rational states will seek RELATIVE GAINS. Great powers in particular must be concerned not only with their own capabilities but with the capabilities of
22 others. More is not necessarily better. You might actually be “better off” with less – if as a result your adversaries end up with even less. Relative-gains concerns pose a barrier to cooperation unrelated to the problems of enforcement in anarchy. States must consider not only their own gains (and losses) but also those of other states. Dividing the benefits of cooperation thus can easily become not only an insuperable barrier to cooperation but a new source of conflict. Even if you can trust another state to keep its word – for example, because cooperating provides you both with relative gains with respect to other states – you may continue to compete because you can’t work out terms of cooperation that don’t alter your relative positions. And the additional insecurity and uncertainty caused by relative gains concerns makes the world a less pleasant and more dangerous place.
3. POLARITY In the preceding lecture we noted that the number of great powers (system POLARITY) significantly shapes the behavior of states and other international actors. The basic idea is that systems with one, two, three, a few, or many/no great powers operate in systematically different ways. During the era of Cold War bipolarity, the question of the relative stability of bipolar and multipolar systems was often debated. Although these discussion were ultimately inconclusive – polarity shapes rather than determines behavior – some important differences were identified. In bipolar orders, this one defining rivalry tends to spread through the whole system. In addition, conflict tends to be displaced from the core to the periphery of the system, with important implications for the character and frequency of war and violence. Tripolarity has a very distinctive logic: two will tend to gang up on the third. Historical instances of tripolar systems, however, are rare. (This is probably because the situation is inherently unstable. Successful predation will create bipolarity while unsuccessful efforts are likely to be so intense that they open space for the rise of other powers.) “Multipolar” systems, as that term is usually used, refers to states with “a few” great powers; more than three but less nine or ten. Systems with a great many “great powers” are equivalent to those with none. (Great is a relative term in this context. If everyone is “great,” no one is.) A system with no great powers is likely to more closely resemble a Hobbesian war of all against all. Such a system, however, is likely to be unstable.
23 As successes accumulate for some powers, the distribution of capabilities is likely to become uneven; polarized. Recently, unipolarity has received considerable attention. Structural realism suggests that unipolarity is difficult to sustain. The unipolar power is a potential threat to all other states. Therefore, those with any degree of policy autonomy – even allies and states that might share policy interests in a particular case – will be inclined to balance. In addition, as long as a rising power does not appear positioned to make the system bipolar, the dominant power will often underbalance. For example, successive American governments have been more concerned with the absolute gains provided by cheap Chinese goods than with threat posed by China’s rising relative power. Even as American policy increasingly focuses on China’s rise, the U.S. remains torn between an absolute-gains economic logic and a relative-gains security logic. Furthermore, the absence of strong opponents, coupled with the loosening of the constraints of relative gains concerns, can enable “foolish” endeavors that sap the power of a dominant state. Consider the Bush Administration’s war against Iraq. Virtually every realist academic and commentator opposed the war in 2003: because the threat was not sufficiently clear and immediate, the costs were too high, and the likely benefits too meager. Bush, however, pushed on. The critics proved correct. And American power, both absolute and relative, has suffered. The structural realist logic is clear: unipolar systems should tend toward empire, which replaces anarchy with hierarchy, or to multipolarity (in the broad sense of two or more great powers). Thus we are living through a natural experiment. But whatever the outcome, this example illustrates the potential analytical power of polarity and simple structural models. ADDITIONAL READING Kenneth N. Waltz, “The Emerging Structure of International Relations,” International Security 18 (1993): 44-79 and “Structural Realism after the Cold War,” International Security 25 (2000): 5-41. Defensive structural realist accounts of post-Cold War international relations, emphasizing continuities with the past and the continuing centrality of realism to IR. Ethan Kapstein and Michael Mastanduno, Unipolar Politics: Realism and State Strategies after the Cold War (1999). An excellent and varied collection of essays on the sustainability of unipolarity.
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EXTENDING AND ASSESSING STRUCTURAL REALISM This final lecture on realist approaches unfolds in three loosely connected sections. We begin with extensions of structural realism that seek richer and more precise explanations by adding explanatory variables. We then look at an historical example that dramatically illustrates the power of structural explanations. Finally, we consider the human and policy significance of realism, understood as an ethic of statecraft. BASIC READINGS Stephen M. Walt, “Testing Theories of Alliance Formation: The Case of Southwest Asia,” International Organization 42 (1988): 275-316 OR “Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power,” International Security 9 (1985): 3-43. Classic expositions of the balance of threat logic. Jack Donnelly, “The Ethics of Realism,” in Christian Reus-Smit and Duncan Snidal, The Oxford Handbook of International Relations. Considers realism as an ethical orientation to international politics.
1. EXTENDING STRUCTURAL REALISM Anarchy and polarity may explain a few big things about international relations. Balancing and the pursuit of relative gains, however, are only tendencies. Realists thus have been inclined to refine, extend, and go beyond structural analysis. This section looks at three ways in which realists have built out from a structural theoretical core to more complex and sophisticated accounts of international behavior. In a Hobbesian state of nature, everyone is a potential, if not an actual, enemy. In international relations, however, this simplifying assumption is too simple – in a rather “unrealistic” way. States do not (and should not be expected to) react to all external concentrations of power in the same way. As Stephen Walt puts it, states balance against threats, not capabilities. For example, the United States does not consider nuclear weapons in the hands of Britain and France a threat and thus does not even think about balancing against them.
25 Threat is in part a matter of (structural) capabilities. Between bipolar superpowers, threat perception may have a structural basis. Geography is a material feature of some threats. Ultimately, though, most threats are largely a matter of perception, of (non-structural) beliefs about the intentions of others. Structure pushes in certain directions. Structural logics identify tendencies. Determinate predictions or explanations, however, require recourse to non-structural forces as well. Such NEO-CLASSICAL REALIST approaches begin with structure but focus attention on deviations from structuralist expectations or detailed predictions and explanations that escape the reach of structuralist accounts. Consider “underbalancing.” States actually balance less than structural realism suggests they should. Why? Because balancing is expensive, states often try to “pass the buck,” compelling others to, out of selfinterest, provide collective defense. Underbalancing also often arises from domestic political considerations. Electorates or critical constituencies sometimes cannot be convinced to make necessary security expenditures. Leaders, fearing the domestic political consequences, may not even ask for what a rational security analysis indicates is required. The offense-defense balance offer a third example of refinements to the basic structural logic, in this case relating the intensity of relative gains concerns to the nature of military technology. Where defense has an advantage, as with medieval fortresses before cannon, offensive advances by an adversary can be counter-balanced relatively easily and cheaply. It is thus difficult to shift the balance in your favor, making threatening and destabilizing arms buildups less likely. In addition, defensive states may respond more slowly and in less threatening ways. When offense has the advantage, though, balances tend may precarious. If changes in the armaments or military postures of adversaries are not countered rapidly and aggressively, the balance may be altered with surprising speed. Consider the interwar period, when the development of armor and air power were met with a disinclination of Germany’s enemies to increase military spending during the Great Depression.
26 These examples illustrate the narrowness of purely structural explanations, even within the confines of realist approaches. Even if we agree that structural realism is a sound starting point, addressing any substantial segment of international relations with any depth or precision requires adding non-structural variables to our accounts – or, as I will suggest in later lectures, expanding our conception of structure.
2. THE POWER OF STRUCTURAL EXPLANATIONS Structural analysis, however, although limited, is not without value. Some genuinely profound and important insights emerge from the conjunction of anarchy and the distribution of capabilities alone. The history of U.S.-Soviet relations provides perhaps the clearest illustration. For the first twenty years after the Russian Revolution, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were the most implacable of ideological and geopolitical rivals. The United States even invaded Russia, landing forces in both Archangel and Vladivostok in 1918 (in part in connection with the concluding stages of World War I, but also to intervene in the Russian civil war against the communists). With the coming of World War II, though, the evil Russian communists became our heroic Soviet allies – who actually did the hard work of taking on the heart of the German army, while the United States was preoccupied with peripheral campaigns in North Africa and the Pacific. Why this about face? My enemy’s enemy is my friend. But as the war began to wind down, the Soviets quickly became our adversary. By 1948 the Cold War was on. The explanation again lies in polarity. In a bipolar world, the two superpowers are “natural” rivals. The decisions of individuals certainly made a difference. The communist leadership in Moscow and the anti-communist leadership in the Washington both contributed to the intensity of the rivalry. Ideology gave it a particular character. But only by considering polarity can we explain the flow of U.S.-Soviet relations. The Cold War was not “caused” by anyone but was the “natural” result of bipolarity. Soviet expansion into Central and Eastern Europe arose from neither vicious rulers in the Kremlin nor in response to rabid anti-communists in Washington. It was the normal behavior of a country that had been invaded from the west, with devastating con-
27 sequences, twice in barely twenty-five years (1914 and 1941), and once more a century earlier. It would have been not merely imprudent but irresponsible for the Soviets to fail to take advantage of their power position at the end of the war to construct a protective system of dependent buffer states. (Compare the Monroe Doctrine, by which the U.S. sought to deny European powers access to the entire Western hemisphere, down to the tip of Patagonia more than 5,000 miles away.) Cold War conflicts in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Southern Africa likewise were rather ordinary efforts by a great power to increase its international reach, influence, and prestige – not part of a global communist conspiracy. The Soviets may also have been evil communists bent on world domination. But much of their behavior was simply that of a bipolar state out to protect its interests and to solidify, extend, and enjoy its predominant position in the world.
3. THE ETHICS OF REALISM Such analytical differences – how we interpret the world – can have profound human and ethical implications. In the case of realism, many students are initially surprised by these implications. If during the Cold War the United States had sought to counter not a communist push for world domination but the competition of a bipolar rival, hundreds of thousands of lives might have been saved in places like Vietnam, Angola, and Guatemala. The realist notion of the national interest defined in terms of power often constrains international violence and leads to outcomes that are ethically preferable to morally-motivated policies. Realism addresses how the world operates. It can be used as easily for peaceful purposes – there are a number of Quaker realists – as it can be used for war. And realists in fact have regularly been at the forefront of opposing particular wars – especially American wars, which, going back to the Spanish American War, have often had a central ideological or moral motivation. Reinhold Niebuhr and Hans Morgenthau were strong and early critics of the war in Vietnam. As we noted above, no prominent realist supported the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
28 Most realists are thoughtful human beings appalled by the destructiveness of war. They regularly use the language of tragedy in describing the realities of international relations. But they insist that the key to minimizing the tragedy of war is to understand its true causes and the limited (but real) possibilities of containing (but never eliminating) some of its worst consequences through self-help policies. Although contemporary structural realists tend to shy away from explicitly addressing such normative concerns, realism has a central ethical dimension that classical realists brought to the fore. In fact, many drew special attention to realism as an ethic of statecraft. Joel Rosenthal’s social history of postwar American realism is aptly titled Righteous Realists. National leaders, realists argue, have a responsibility to deal with the world as it is and to make the best they can out of often-difficult circumstances. This reality demands, as a matter of ethical obligation, the use of practices that a purely personal ethic would find reprehensible. Realists appreciate the call of peace, justice, prosperity, and the public good. They criticize not morality but moralism, the belief that (international) politics can be practiced and judged according to the standards of private morality. This, they argue, confuses possibility with desire – with often disastrous moral as well as practical consequences. Machiavelli – a realist who no less a moralist than Rousseau (Social Contract, Bk. 3, ch. 6) described as “a profound thinker [who] has so far been studied only by superficial or corrupt readers” – nicely captures the essence of this orientation. Statesmen, Machiavelli argues, must “learn to be able not to be good, and to use this and not use it according to necessity.” They should “not depart from the good, when possible, but know how to enter into evil, when forced by necessity.” The principal political virtue thus is “prudence,” which “consists in knowing how to recognize the qualities of inconveniences, and in picking the less bad as good.” (The Prince, ch. 15, 18, 21) Hans Morgenthau talks of the autonomy of politics: international relations has not only its own logic and but its own standards of evaluation. Although not the standards that apply to individuals in their private relations, they are ethical standards, rooted in the public purposes that statesmen are bound to serve. Machiavelli again puts it well.
29 When the safety of one’s country wholly depends on the decision to be taken, no attention should be paid either to justice or injustice, to kindness or cruelty, or to its being praiseworthy or ignominious. On the contrary, every other consideration being set aside, that alternative should be wholeheartedly adopted which will save the life and preserve the freedom of one’s country. (Discourses, Bk. 3, ch. 41) Only to protect the safety and freedom of the polity should justice and kindness be set aside – both because these are values of high importance and because they are the values that statesmen are by their office committed to protect and pursue. And always the deviations from justice, fairness, and kindness must be kept to what is minimally necessary to realize the public good. Realism, to whatever extent one accepts, rejects, or is ambivalent about it, undoubtedly is a powerful analytical and normative approach. To put it crudely, you’re crazy if you sometimes don’t think like a realist. Most of the rest of this course, however, explores the complementary proposition that you’re also crazy if you always – that is, can only – think like a realist. A DDITIONAL READING Randall L. Schweller, “Unanswered Threats: A Neo-Classical Realist Theory of Underbalancing,” International Security 29 (2004): 159-201. Thomas J. Christensen and Jack Snyder, “Chain Gangs and Passed Bucks: Predicting Alliance Patterns in Multipolarity,” International Organization 44 (1990): 137-168. A classic presentation of the problems of realist balancing and its multiple logics. George F. Kennan, “Morality and Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs (Winter 1985/86):. 205-218. Classic realist argument against moralism in foreign policy. Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations (1977), ch. 1. A critical reading of the hyper-realist claim that “war is hell,” in the context of a powerful alternative account of the moral reality of war. John A. Vasquez, “The Realist Paradigm and Degenerative versus Progressive Research Programs: An Appraisal of Neotraditional Research on Waltz's Balancing Proposition,” American Political Science Review 91 (1997): 899-912. Argues that balance of threat and similar extensions represent ad hoc, analytically degenerative efforts to save a fundamentally erroneous idea.
PART TWO APPROACHES This course is organized around a substantive axis of force, institutions, and ideas and a methodological axis of rationalism and constructivism, which are the two dominant analytical approaches in contemporary IR. Although substantively we are ready to move on to institutions and ideas, I need to first lay out the methodological axis of the course – not just for completeness, but because different methods often are needed to appreciate fully the effects of institutions and ideas. In the simplest terms, rationalism takes actors as they are – or assumes that they have a certain character for the purposes of analysis – in order to focus on how the circumstances in which they interact influence their behavior. Constructivism looks at how actors and their interests, as well as the contexts of their interaction, have been made. Whether addressing substance or method, the basic theme of the course is the same. Force, institutions, and ideas all tell us some things – but only some things – about international relations. So do rationalist and constructivist approaches. The student of international relations needs multiple and diverse tools in her toolkit. The first of the three lectures in this part introduces the two approaches and uses realism and the English School conception of international society as examples. The following two lectures apply these perspectives to understanding anarchy, which is arguably the single most important concept in the theoretical arsenal of IR – and certainly the one that does the bulk of the work in realism. These lectures thus begin to integrate substance and method and commence the comparative evaluation of force, institutions, and ideas as determinants of the behavior of states and other international actors.
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RATIONALISM, CONSTRUCTIVISM, AND INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY This lecture outlines the two dominant approaches in contemporary IR, usually called rationalism and constructivism; situates structural realism as a classic example of rationalist theories; and presents the “English School” of international studies as an example of constructivism. BASIC READINGS Christian Reus-Smit, “Constructivism,” in Stephen Burchill and Andrew Linklater, Theories of International Relations (3rd edition or later). Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (1977), ch. 1. A classic statement of the English School international society perspective.
1. RATIONALISM AND CONSTRUCTIVISM Theories are models that sketch a logic of interaction. By definition, models make simplifying assumptions. Different assumptions yield different “APPROACHES,” understood as general orientations that shape the development of particular substantive theories. Assumptions about the actors have been especially important in contemporary IR, resulting in two dominant approaches, rationalism and constructivism. RATIONALISM is defined by two methodological assumptions. 1. Actors are INSTRUMENTALLY RATIONAL; that is, they choose how to act on the basis of calculations of the expected payoffs of different courses of action. 2. The interests of the actors are treated as given; exogenous to the theory; assumed (or taken to be known) rather than investigated. Rationalist actors know what they value and behave on the basis of instrumental calculations of the “prices” of different courses of action, as measured by their preferences for the likely outcomes of those actions. By taking the actors and their interests as given, rationalism focuses analytical attention on the environment within which they interact. Rationalists explore how actors of a given type behave in different circumstances. Particular interests in a particular context generate a particular rationalist theory or model. “Game theory” models, which will be introduced in the next lecture, are especially popular rationalist tools.
32 CONSTRUCTIVISM makes two parallel assumptions. 1. The actors are deeply social. 2. Their interests are theoretically endogenous; investigated rather than assumed. The emphasis of constructivist analyses is on the shaping of actors (rather than their selection of behaviors). Each approach is associated with a particular vision of theory and of international relations. Rationalists see explanation largely as prediction. They deduce behavior from an account of the actors and their environment. Constructivism is less concerned with predicting behavior than understanding its terms of reference and conditions of possibility – although such understanding certainly has explanatory and even predictive power. Rather than seek law-like regularities that are largely independent of time and space, constructivism seeks to understand situated social logics that apply across more limited (but still often large) expanses of space or time. Rationalists see international relations as a largely mechanical system of action and reaction, inputs and outputs. They tend to draw disciplinary analogies with Physics in the natural sciences and, in the social sciences, Economics (especially neo-classical microeconomics). Constructivists see the international systems as a social system; a society in a strong sense of that term (discussed in §3 of this lecture). They see disciplinary analogies with Sociology, History, Biology, and Natural History. Rationalism and constructivism, however, are not competitors in the gladiatorial sense that one can be expected to emerge as decisively victorious over the other. Each (sometimes) captures (some) “essential” parts of international relations. Each also, though, often “misses the point” or fails to address adequately “the problem at hand.” Sometimes we want to know how international actors came to be what they are, or how they might change into something else. Sometimes we are interested in how states and other international actors, as they now are, respond to particular types of situations. Waltz talks about structures “shaping and shoving” actors. Constructivism is, in the first instance, more concerned with the shaping, rationalism with the shoving.
33 The important question then is not whether rationalism or constructivism tells us something important about international relations, but what each can tell us, in which circumstances. As with realism, we need to understand both the nature of the theoretical logic and when and where it is likely to be illuminating. Before moving on, though, we should note that the distinction between rationalism and constructivism has no logical or theoretical relationship to the distinction between material explanations and institutional or ideational explanations. For example, Marxism, the most thoroughgoing materialist theory in the social sciences, is a constructivist theory: it explores how the means and mode of production, through class, shape society and social action. Conversely, the interests of rationalist actors may come from moral or religious beliefs or cultural traditions. Although most rationalists today do tend to assume that the interests of actors are relatively egoistic and materialistic, that is an accident of how rationalism happens to be deployed, not an intrinsic feature of the style of analysis. Rationalism and constructivism cut across the divisions between force, institutions, and ideas. The substantive and analytical axes of the organizing framework for this course are independent of one another.
2. REALISM AS AN EXAMPLE OF RATIONALISM It should be clear that realism, especially in its Hobbesian and structuralist variants, is rationalist in orientation. The interests of the actors are treated a given; fixed by human nature, by theoretical assumption, or by the consequences of anarchy. Realist theories specify a context of interaction: equal and autonomous, functionally similar actors in anarchy. Law-like regularities (e.g., states in anarchy balance) are logically deduced from this conjunction of interests and contexts. Different realist theories are distinguished by their assumptions about the actors (e.g., emphasizing competition or diffidence) or the contextual variables they add beyond anarchy and polarity. They share, however, not only a substantive focus on anarchy and egoism but a methodological orientation towards rationalism. They see states and other international actors as rational calculators responding to the changing prices of behaviors, as those prices are set by the interests and preferences of the actors (which are modeled as fixed). As the environment changes, actors change their behavior. What they want, though, remains the same.
3. INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY We can illustrate the character of constructivism with the example of the ENGLISH SCHOOL of international studies. Rooted in the work of Martin Wight and Hedley Bull in the 1960s and 1970s, the English School popularized the idea that international systems are international societies. Bull, in The Anarchical Society, argues that every society includes practices concerning three fundamental values: “life,” or regulation of the use of force; “truth,” the guarantee of social obligations; and “property,” possession of things, and thus a system of jurisdiction. These values are elementary, in the sense of being essential to the existence of society; primary, in the sense of being necessary to realizing all other values; and universal, in the sense that all actual societies in fact practice them. Societies establish and maintain social order through a sense of common interests, rules that prescribe behavior that sustains those interests, and institutions that give effect to those rules. Two primary complexes of rules operate within any society: rules of coexistence, which deal with the primary values of life, truth, and property, and rules of cooperation, which constitute and regulate practices associated with other values. Bull distinguishes three types of societies: national or domestic societies; international societies (whose members are states, in the sense of polities); and cosmopolitan world society. Both international society and world society are “above” the level of the state. States, though, are the primary members of international societies. World society directly includes individuals and groups, without the intermediation of states (which may also be members of world society). International society is a true society; a social (not a mechanical) system. And many international systems, including modern Western international society, have been robust societies of states, with extensive and important common interests and common practices to realize those interests. World society, however, has usually been more of a theoretical idea, if that (even making allowance for a “world” that in technologically simpler times could not be imagined to be truly global, as we understand that term today). The relative intensity of the attachments of individuals to these three types of societies, though, is an empirical, not a theoretical, question. For example, in twelfth century Europe, many people probably had a more intense attachment to the “world” society of Christendom than to France or England – although probably almost everyone had their most
35 intense attachments to small local communities. The modern focus on the states and international society is historically contingent. An international society approach focuses on common interests, in a strong sense of common: they are not merely accidentally shared, as a result of separate rational calculations of individual interests, but held in common and supported by common rules and institutions. Members of an international society are part of a community. Substantively, that community may not extend much beyond a set of practices that create a context in which each is recognized by the others and allowed an opportunity to pursue its own interests. International societies, however, may also have robust rules and institutions of cooperation. Much of the remainder of this course is devoted to laying out the analytical resources necessary to comprehend the common values, rules, and institutions of international societies and understand the ways in which they influence international action.
4. RULES OF COEXISTENCE IN CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY How does contemporary international society regulate the primary values of life, truth, and property? International societies usually regulate violence through the institution of war, which typically specifies who can use international violence, in what circumstances, and in what ways (both in terms of targets and tactics). Contemporary international society restricts legitimate international violence to states. (Terrorism is such a fundamental threat to international order not because of the material damage it causes â€“ the same number of people die in an average month from auto accidents in the U.S. as died from the September 11 attacks â€“ but because it challenges this fundamental rule of international society.) Force can only be used in self-defense (or when authorized by the United Nations Security Council; or in response to genocide). It can only be used legitimately against the armed forces of another state (and not against civilians and other noncombatants). It must be proportionate. And it must not employ certain means (e.g. poison gas). Other forms of international violence either are not war or involve war crimes. Some may balk at the idea of war as a limitation of violence. But it excludes the legitimate use of violence by most international actors. (Ap-
36 ple Stores need not worry about attack from a Microsoft army.) And it restricts how states may use their armed forces. “Truth” – the creation of obligations – is handled in contemporary international society primarily through the mechanism of contractual international law. Rather than appeal to customary or natural law rules, states contractually bind themselves to one another through treaties. Although international rules are not imposed from above by a central government, contractual rules do regulate the relations of states. In some issue areas, such as international trade, systems of rules are extensive, strong, and generally effective. One of the worst features of Hobbes’s state of nature is that “the notions of Right and Wrong, Justice and Injustice, have no place there. … Force, and Fraud, are in warre the two Cardinall vertues.” There is too much freedom for even rudimentary social life. Natural liberty needs to be replaced, in part, by social obligation. Treaties are the principal way this is done in contemporary international society. “Property” is established and protected in contemporary international society by the institution of sovereignty. All of the globe – except the high seas, the deep seabed, and Antarctica – has been allocated to territorial states, who have been given exclusive territorial jurisdiction. Defining territorial spheres of jurisdiction dramatically reduces the likelihood of conflict. In Hobbes’s state of nature there is “no Propriety, no Dominion, no Mine and Thine distinct; but onely that to be every mans that he can get; and for so long, as he can keep it.” In international society, by contrast, each sovereign state, within its own territory, establishes systems of legal and property rights and obligations that are essential to social life. And the mutual recognition of sovereign jurisdictions lies at the heart of the social order of contemporary international society.
5. COMPARING RATIONALISM AND CONSTRUCTIVISM In a rationalist world, order, when it is not simply assumed as part of the background within which rational actors operate, emerges out of selfinterested action. Society enters into the picture, if at all, indirectly, as one of many sources of the prices of behaviors. Rationalist theories abstract from – analytically set aside or take for granted – society. The realist reliance on anarchy (understood as the government and hierarchy, and thus implicitly the absence of society) and on the (non-social) distribution of capabilities illustrate this well.
37 The social dimensions that rationalism abstracts from are the central focus of constructivist accounts. States and other international actors are seen as both constructed and regulated by social values, rules, and institutions. To capture these dimensions, we need to go beyond material power to institutions and ideas, the other two substantive dimensions of this course. We also need to pay attention to the ways in which anarchy and capabilities do not merely change the prices of behaviors but shape the character and interests of actors. Rationalist models are simple, usually more rigorous, and often of wider scope (because they do not include social rules and values). Constructivism accounts for the influence of social values, rules, and institutions on international relations – an influence that, pace realism, can be great (although in many historical international societies has been relatively modest). Those rules, however, have a certain temporal and spatial contingency. Which is better? That question is incoherent. Each gets at some important part of reality, some of the time. What and when that is, however, is partly an empirical question and partly a matter of the interests and purposes of the analyst. Whether we can adequately understand a particular part of international relations through rationalist or constructivist methods depends on what we want to know and how the world actually is (which cannot be known before the fact on theoretical grounds alone). Both rationalist and constructivist tools thus need to be part of the analytical toolkit of any serious student of international relations.
ADDITIONAL READINGS James D. Fearon and Alexander Wendt, “Rationalism and Constructivism in International Relations Theory,” in Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse, and Beth A. Simmons, Handbook of International Relations (2002). Leading contemporary practitioners of the two approaches examine their character and differences. John Gerard Ruggie, “What Makes the World Hang Together? Neo-Utilitarianism and the Social Constructivist Challenge,” International Organization 52 (1998): 855-885. An account of the differences between rationalism and constructivism from a leading constructivist theorist. Richard Little, “The English School's Contribution to the Study of International Relations,” European Journal of International Relations 6 (2000): 395-422. Dale C. Copeland, “A Realist Critique of the English School,” Review of International Studies 29 (2003): 427-441. Andrew Hurrell, On Global Order: Power, Values, and the Constitution of International Society (2007), ch. 2-4. A very readable English School overview of contemporary, globalizing international society.
38 L ECT UR E 7
ANARCHY, PRISONER’S DILEMMA, AND THE SECURITY DILEMMA The next two lectures examine anarchy from three different perspectives. We begin here with rationalist realist approaches, illustrated by the game theoretic model of Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) and the materialist logic of the security dilemma. The following lecture challenges the underlying idea that anarchy per se has determinate effects. B ASIC READING Ken Booth and Nicholas J. Wheeler, The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics, pp. 21-50. An excellent introduction to the security dilemma and some of its principal applications in IR.
1. TWO-BY-TWO GAME THEORY MODELS Game theory is a powerful rationalist analytical technique. Actors with given interests are imagined in a situation of strategic interaction, in which their behavior depends in part on the anticipated behavior of others. A particular structure of interaction is specified, which generates a number of possible outcomes. The actors’ preferences for the various possible outcomes set the prices (for that actor) of those behaviors. The basic question then is asked: Given these preferences, the assumption of instrumental rationality, and knowledge of the context of interaction, can certain outcomes be predicted? Sometimes they can, and some of those predictions are of considerable substantive interest. The simplest models involve two actors, with two possible strategies, one strategy being fundamentally cooperative (conventionally labeled “cooperate”), the other fundamentally competitive (“defect”). With two actors and two strategies, there are four possible outcomes. (Figure 2) Each cell represents one of the four possible conjunctions of the two strategies available to the players. Within a cell we record the “payoffs” to each player, in terms of their (ordinal) ranking of this result relative to the other possibilities. The first entry is the payoff to the player on the left (A), the second, the payoff to the player at the top (B).
39 Figure 2: The Generic 2x2 Game
A particular game is defined by the intersection of the relative preferences of the players for the possible outcomes. Mathematically, there are 78 possible 2x2 games. Each cell is labeled as the paired choices of strategies it represents: starting at the top left and moving clockwise, marking the result from the perspective of player A, CC (both cooperate), CD (A cooperates, B defects), DD (both defect), DC (A defects, B cooperates). One common way to label the payoffs is: R, for reward (mutual cooperation); T, for temptation (defection in the presence of cooperation); S, for sucker (losing as a result of cooperating when the other defects); and P, for penalty (from mutual defection). These labels come from PRISONERâ€™S DILEMMA (PD), one of the most famous 2x2 games, and the game generally thought to have some of the most powerful applications in IR.
2. PRISONERâ€™S DILEMMA (PD) The following story illustrates the PD logic. Two criminals are caught by the police and taken in, separately, for questioning. Each is offered a favorable plea bargain in return for a confession and testimony against the other. Without a confession, though, the authorities can obtain a conviction only on an unrelated minor charge. The preference ordering of both players in a PD game is T>R>P>S: temptation (confessing) is preferred to reward (mutual silence), which is preferred to penalty (mutual confessing), which is preferred to the
40 sucker's payoff. Giving in to temptation – defecting while one’s partner cooperates; that is, accepting the plea bargain – provides the greatest gain. But above all else, PD players want to avoid getting suckered, sitting in prison, for a long time, due to the treachery of one’s “partner.” Plugging these (ordinal) preferences – temptation is most highly valued (1) and sucker least valued (4) – into the general game yields Figure 3.
Figure 3: Prisoner’s Dilemma
The dilemma appears when we ask whether the rational strategy is to defect (confess) or to cooperate (remain silent). If they cooperate (CC), each gets her second best outcome (the top left cell, with the “reward” payoffs of 2,2). But cooperating risks getting suckered. Therefore, assuming substantial (but not wild) aversion to risk – more precisely, that each chooses the strategy that minimizes her maximum possible loss – each will choose to defect even though both know that they both could be better off by cooperating. More precisely, if they play the game once, each implementing her strategy simultaneously, without knowledge of the choice of the other, and in the absence of a reliable agreement to cooperate, “the only reasonable choice” is to defect. This strategically unavoidable (“rational”) choice, however, leaves both players in a sub-optimal position. Instrumental and substantive “rationality” thus conflict. The instrumentally rational strategy of defection is substantively perverse: it leaves both players worse off than they could be if they cooperated. Yet the preferences of these actors in this structure of interaction preclude any other outcome.
3. PD IN IR Arms control is the standard IR illustration of a PD logic of interaction. Great powers would be better off with arms control, if only because
41 balancing and relative gains logics suggest that neither side can allow the other to sustain any substantial advantage. Arms control both saves money and avoids the potentially destabilizing political costs and risks of arms races. But fear of defection can compel the parties to mutually damaging arms races – especially if offense has an advantage (§5.1) and if reliable means of verification do not exist to detect cheating early. Note the parallels between PD and realism. The preference ordering T>R>P>S is an example of egoism and amoralism. Anarchy, it is often argued, precludes enforceable agreements to cooperate. Therefore, international relations is often marked by insecurity, competition, and conflict even where there are strong incentives to cooperate. This is one type of the tragic necessity that is a central realist theme. PD identifies a type of conflict that is structurally induced, even seemingly inescapable, given actors as they are and the environment within which they interact. These conflicts, it should be emphasized, have nothing to do with either evil or ignorant leaders. The actors are selfinterested, but they have no desire to harm one another (at least in this interaction). And both actors know that both of them could be better off if they cooperate. Given the context of cooperation, though, they simply cannot take the risk. Prisoner’s Dilemma also usefully emphasizes the political distance between desire and achievement. Mutually destructive competition may not be avoidable even when all parties prefer cooperation. Without insurance schemes or other mechanisms that allow actors to risk cooperating (the problem of compliance in anarchy), and without a procedure to achieve agreement on how to divide the benefits of cooperation (the RELATIVE GAINS impediments to cooperation [§4.2]), we may remain locked in a cycle of competition, even a descending spiral, despite both of us knowing that there is a mutually beneficial alternative.
4. THE SECURITY DILEMMA A similar logic in IR goes by the name of the SECURITY DILEMMA. This arises from a spiraling fear generated by the combination of risk and uncertainty in anarchic environments. Imagine that A undertakes military preparations, entirely out of fear of B, for entirely defensive reasons. Actions, however, do not speak clearly for themselves. Anarchy-induced enmity causes B to be suspicious of A’s actions – especially because most weapons have both offensive and
42 defensive uses. Furthermore, even defensive improvements often alter the balance in ways that can be used offensively. B therefore “quite reasonably,” from his point of view, sees A’s actions as offensive and threatening and responds “defensively, for entirely defensive purposes.” A, though, is likely to see these moves as hostile, confirming and intensifying his initial fear B. He thus undertakes further “defensive” preparations … In anarchy, many “entirely reasonable” security practices that are “completely defensive” do – unintentionally but inescapably – reduce the security of others. Because power is relative. Because intentions are unclear. Because anarchy-bred enmity encourages worst case thinking. Herbert Butterfield calls this “Hobbesian fear.” If you imagine yourself locked in a room with another person with whom you have often been on the most bitterly hostile terms in the past, and suppose that each of you has a pistol, you may find yourself in a predicament in which both of you would like to throw the pistols out of the window, yet it defeats the intelligence to find a way of doing it. (Christianity and History, pp. 89-90) Anarchy can defeat even our best intentions -– which realists tend to see as rare enough to begin with. Realists argue that anarchy makes the security dilemma an inescapable part of international relations and that Prisoner’s Dilemmas are also recurrently present. Realists also argue that the only reliable way to mitigate such effects of anarchy is by self-help. The next lecture considers arguments that challenge these claims, from both rationalist and constructivist perspectives. ADDITIONAL READINGS Robert Jervis, “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,” World Politics 30 (1978): 167-214. A classic presentation of the security dilemma and related logics. Charles L. Glaser, “The Security Dilemma Revisited,” World Politics 50 (1997): 171-201. An unusually subtle and thorough discussion. Glenn H. Snyder and Paul Diesing, Conflict Among Nations (1977), pp. 37-49. An accessible presentation of several 2x2 games applicable to international relations.
43 L ECT UR E 8
MANAGING AND TRANSFORMING ANARCHY Realism suggests that the SECURITY DILEMMA and other pernicious effects of ANARCHY never can be completely evaded and only can be significantly mitigated by SELF-HELP measures. This lecture considers arguments that challenge these claims. We begin with a rationalist institutionalist account that shows that the PRISONER’S DILEMMA (PD) emerges not from anarchy alone but from anarchy in conjunction with a variety of contingent non-structural factors. We then turn to a constructivist argument that anarchy has no determinate effects at all. A realist world, in this reading, is but one of many possible social constructions of anarchy. BASIC READING Robert Axelrod and Robert O. Keohane, “Achieving Cooperation Under Anarchy: Strategies and Institutions,” World Politics 38 (1985): 226-254. Rationalist institutionalist strategies for mitigating or overcoming the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Alexander E. Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics (1999), ch. 6. A classic account of three very different “cultures of anarchy,” arguing that anarchy is what states make it.
1. MITIGATING THE PRISONER’S DILEMMA PD is driven by preferences of rational actors to defect, for even the slightest advantage. Such “perfect” (or hyper-) rationality, however, is rather unrealistic, in the ordinary sense of that term. PD thus is more profitably seen as implying a tendency to defect that will be stronger the greater the perceived risk of the other player defecting; the greater the gain from defecting; or the smaller the gap between mutual defection and mutual cooperation. Conversely, cooperation is more likely the greater the gains from cooperation, the smaller the gains from defection, or the less likely the other player will defect. We can illustrate this by attaching certain cardinal values to two PD games as in Figure 4.
44 Figure 4: Dilemmas of Different Intensities C
In the first case, mutual defection is not much worse than mutual cooperation and the gains from successful defection, although substantial, are not huge. The sucker’s payoff, however, is severely punishing. Defection thus is likely to be seen as an obviously prudent insurance policy. In the second case, the gap between mutual cooperation and mutual defection is great while the advantage of successful defection is small. The rational thing still is to defect. (P is still less than one-sixth the cost of S, and T is slightly greater than R.) But with the gains of successful defection small and the costs of mutual defection great, actors not dominated by fear are likely to reconsider cooperation. With a bit of trust or optimism, they might chance cooperating – even if playing the game once, simultaneously, with no knowledge of the other’s choice, and no reliable agreement to cooperate. Now let’s begin to relax some of those assumptions. Suppose we know that we will play the game again. Technically, if we know how many times we are going to play, this should make no difference. If round 100 is the last round, the rational thing to do is to defect preemptively on round 99. But knowing that the other player will do that, you defect on round 98, which he anticipates by defecting on round 97 … Soon we are back to the single-play logic. But facing an indeterminate number of plays, or with other than “perfectly rational” actors, cooperation may look appealing. Defection becomes less attractive as the penalty payoffs accumulate. The cumulative potential gains from cooperation may become tempting, even compelling. Pure egoistic self-interest may counsel cooperation.
45 Risk remains; temptation still is each player’s first choice. But as the foregone benefits of cooperation accumulate, temptation declines, and with it the fear of defection that drives the dilemma. Linking issues can similarly increase the gains of cooperation and reduce the risks of defection. Suppose A really wants cooperation on x and B really wants cooperation on y. Linking two PD games into a single metagame may make mutual cooperation the first choice of both parties, completely eliminating the dilemma. Concern over reputation can create a different kind of issue linkage. A reputation for cooperating and keeping one’s word can be a valuable resource. To protect such a reputation, one may forgo the temptation to defect on a particular issue. Reliable information is another possible way to mitigate or manage the dilemma. For example, once the Americans and the Soviets developed “national technical means of verification” – spy satellites combined with human intelligence that could reliably uncover cheating – strategic nuclear arms control fairly quickly became a reality. Still another strategy to reduce fear and uncertainty and increase the likelihood of cooperation is to divide the cooperation into smaller pieces that are implemented across time. The parties then can monitor compliance with an implicit or explicit agreement and have, in effect, reserved for themselves the right to withdraw. Sentiments of trust, norms of cooperation and compliance, and even unenforceable agreements may sufficiently reduce the pull of temptation to transform the game, or at least allow it to be cooperatively managed. And there are mechanisms of enforcement that do not rely on government – although states usually are reluctant to use them. None of these mechanisms in any way replaces anarchy with hierarchy. The preferences of the actors remain unchanged as well. A variety of non-structural changes in the conditions of interaction, however, can produce very different outcomes. Whether states in anarchy face prisoner’s or security dilemmas, and the intensity of their dilemmas, is an empirical not a theoretical question. There are very many rationalist logics of anarchy. Realism captures but one class of them.
2. THREE CULTURES OF ANARCHY The rationalist arguments considered above largely accept the realist account of structure and the realist logic of anarchy. They differ only in their estimate of the extent to which that logic can be mitigated or overcome. Alex Wendt (see Basic Reading) has made the much more radical argument that neither self-help nor power politics follows, logically or causally, from anarchy. Wendt identifies very different Hobbesian, Lockean, and Kantian logics or cultures of anarchy, which differ in the images of the other held by the actors. In Hobbesian anarchies, the actors see one another as enemies. In Lockean anarchies, they see each other as rivals. In Kantian anarchies, as friends. These shared understandings of the intentions of others generate very different logics of anarchy. Enemies recognize neither the right of the other to exist nor limits on the use of violence (other than countervailing force). This, Wendt argues, generates characteristic micro- and macro- patterns in the relations of enemies in anarchy. • •
• • • • • •
States respond to each other as enemies out to harm or even kill them. States strong tend to worst-case thinking and a heavy discounting of the future. They expect and prepare for the worst and do not rely much on promised cooperation. Relative capabilities become the central focus of states – because the threatening intentions of others are (taken as) known. Survival is often at stake in violent conflicts. War is endemic and unlimited. “Unfit” actors are regularly eliminated. Balancing prevails among the survivors. Hiding (neutrality) is difficult.
This Hobbesian state of war, however, is not the natural, general, or core form of anarchic orders. It is a special case, arising from the conjunction of enmity and anarchy. Mix anarchy with rivalry or friendship and the order, while remaining anarchic, changes dramatically.
47 Rivals recognize one another’s life and property (sovereignty) and that recognition limits (but does not eliminate) war. This produces very different micro- and macro-patterns. • • • • • • •
Rivals compete with but do not seek to eliminate one another. They fight limited wars and follow just war rules. They often pursue absolute, not only relative, gains. They regularly engage in external balancing (alliances). The death rate of states is low. Balancing is driven not just by self-help but by mutual recognition of sovereignty. Nonalignment becomes a more viable option for at least some states.
Friends do not use violence in their relations and practice mutual aid. This obviously produces very different characteristic political patterns, which for reasons of space I will not review here. Wendt’s account of cultures of anarchy has a second principal dimension, namely, the form in which these identities are internalized. Why do actors see each other as enemies, rivals, or friends? Force, price, or legitimacy; coercion, calculations of self-interest, or a belief that it is right or appropriate. Each has a distinctive logic. For example, in Hobbes’s account, people and states are pretty much forced into a state of war – and thus are always looking for ways to escape it. Contrast this with warrior societies in which battle is the highest calling. Both what we believe about others and how or why we believe it are essential to politics – in anarchy as elsewhere. And when those beliefs are system-wide, they are of structural significance.
3. THE SO-CALLED EFFECTS OF ANARCHY Wendt uses simple rationalist models for a deeply constructivist purpose. We can make the same point through empirical examples. My current favorite is a particular type of simple hunter-gatherer band societies, called by anthropologists “foragers” or “immediate return societies.” The !Kung of Botswana, the Hadza of Tanzania, the Mbuti of the Congo, and the Penan of Indonesia are standard examples.
48 These societies are completely anarchic, both internally and externally. They lack not only government but any form of social or political hierarchy; there are not even established offices. Everyone is equal, both politically and economically (these societies lack property as we understand it). Everyone also is fully autonomous: collective decisions are not coercively enforced and everyone is free to change bands at will. Nonetheless, internally there is only sporadic violence. There is nothing even vaguely like war; not even violent feuding. Quite the opposite, sharing is the basic principle of social interaction. Between bands there is no hierarchy of any sort. Nonetheless, war, raiding, feuds, and other types of organized inter-band violence are entirely unknown. Sharing is not as intense between as within bands. Benign indifference, though, is about as bad as inter-band relations get. Anarchy – absence of government and hierarchy – by itself has no effects. What realists present as the effects of anarchy are in fact features of particular types of orders that happen to be anarchic. This does not in any way invalidate realist accounts. It does, however, limit their range of application. It also requires us to provide a more accurate account of what causes “anarchy’s” pernicious effects. This requires us to turn to our other principal explanatory variables, institutions and ideas. ADDITIONAL READING Helen Milner, “The Assumption of Anarchy in International Relations Theory: A Critique,” Review of International Studies 17 (1991): 67-85. A classic critique of mainstream IR conceptions of the nature and consequences of anarchy. Johnathan Mercer, “Anarchy and Identity,” International Organization 49 (1995): 229-252. Challenges the idea that anarchy has determinate effects by looking at identity as a cognitive (rather than a social) variable. Cameron G. Thies, “Explaining Zones of Negative Peace in Interstate Relations: The Construction of a West African Lockean Culture of Anarchy,” European Journal of International Relations (forthcoming 2010). James Woodburn, “Egalitarian Societies,” Man 17 (1982): 431-451. A classic anthropological account of a particular type of peaceful anarchical society.
49 P ART T H RE E
INSTITUTIONS We now turn to the second of our three principal explanatory variables, institutions, persistent sets of rules. We will ask the same questions we asked of material capabilities. How do they shape and shove states and other international actors? Where do institutionalist logics provide explanatory leverage to the analyst of international relations? Lecture 9 looks at the distinctive nature of rule-governed social order, giving special attention to the functions of institutions that facilitate cooperation, and compliance with rules and agreements, in the absence of enforcement. Lecture 10 considers international regimes: norms and procedures that govern an issue area. Regimes are a striking illustration of the phenomenon of governance without government. Particular domains or sub-sectors of international relations can be, and in fact often are, substantially or even primarily rule-government despite the absence of central hierarchical authority. This lecture considers both the regulative effects of regimes and other international institutions and their constitutive effects. The final two lectures explore various institutional dimensions of the security sector. Realism is a theory particularly attuned to security politics. Security institutions and regimes thus are the hard case for institutional logics. If institutions are important here â€“ as they indeed are â€“ they almost certainly will be at least as important in other sectors.
50 L ECT UR E 9
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: COMPLIANCE WITHOUT ENFORCEMENT This lecture defines institutions in terms of rules and examines the functions that they play. Focusing on compliance with rules and agreements, rather than the inability to enforce them, we find that anarchic orders come in many more forms than realism recognizes. The account here thus extends and deepens that of the preceding lecture. B ASIC READING Robert O. Keohane, “Governance in a Partly Globalized World,” American Political Science Review 95 (2001): 1-15.
1. RULES AND INSTITUTIONS INSTITUTIONS are, in the words of Robert Keohane, the leading institutionalist theorists in contemporary IR, “persistent and connected sets of formal and informal rules.” (Basic Reading, p. 2) Institutions are matters of rules; that is, principles, regulations, or maxims that govern conduct. By regulating how we act, institutions create a particular kind of order: rule-governed order. Realist order (in the sense of patterned, predictable practices) arises spontaneously from self-interested responses to external material forces. Realist states in anarchy balance out of calculation and material compulsion. They do not follow rules (except, perhaps, instrumental “rules of thumb”). States are not obligated to balance; they merely have “compelling” self-interested reasons to do so. Institutions compel in different ways. Rules have a distinctive kind of force: normative force. They require action as a matter of right rather than might. Institutions involve persistent rules, not ad hoc or one off agreements. (Institutionalization, in the ordinary sense of that term, socially embeds rule-governed practices so that they persist over time.) The rules of institutions also are connected sets that cohere to govern some activity. Institutions may be either formal or informal. They may or may not be embodied in bureaucratic organizations. What is important, for our purposes, is not the particular form they take but their functions, how they influence international action.
51 Self-interest often motivates the creation of institutions. Rules operate in addition to, rather than in place of, self-interest. Nonetheless – and this is our focus – following a rule differs radically from acting out of self-interest. Our principal concern in this course is with the nature and reach of particular explanatory variables; with understanding the ways in which force, institutions, and ideas shape the behavior of international actors. We address the consequences of material power and institutions (and ideas), not their causes. We treat them as independent variables, things that do the explaining, rather than dependent variables, things that are explained.
2. GOVERNANCE WITHOUT GOVERNMENT We will be primarily concerned with institutions as mechanisms to facilitate cooperation in anarchy. SELF-HELP is one solution to the problems posed by anarchy. Institutions are another. In particular, they offer the possibility of GOVERNANCE in the absence of government. Anarchy, the absence of government, means that there is no higher authority to legislate or otherwise impose rules. Actors, however, can impose rules on themselves. (Consider a legal analogy: international law is contract law without criminal or civil law.) Actors in anarchy also can develop practices that facilitate, and in some cases guarantee, compliance in the absence of government. Order can exist without an orderer. The absence of government need not entail chaos, the absence of order. Horizontally-generated order may be established in the absence of hierarchically-imposed vertical order. This much realists acknowledge, and even emphasize. But they slight the possibility that horizontal order may be rule-based rather than interest-based. And realists largely ignore the fact that rules can (and regularly are) complied with in the absence of government. An institutional perspective thus suggests that the realist account of anarchy puts far too much emphasis on enforcement. Fear and uncertainty are the heart of the problems on which realism focuses. They may be generated by anarchy. But fear and uncertainty can be mitigated – in some instances eliminated or precluded – without coercive enforcement.
3. THE FUNCTIONS OF INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS Let us begin with a RATIONALIST approach. What can institutions do for self-interested actors in anarchy? International institutions have at least nine important functions other than coercive enforcement. By providing some degree of stable expectations about the behavior of others, institutions reduce uncertainty. The mere existence of a norm, rule, or agreement can facilitate cooperation by removing disputes over its terms. And the mere expectation of cooperation can, as it were, attract behavior toward it. Institutions establish working relations. Knowledge of the other increases predictability and thus reduces cooperation-inhibiting uncertainty. When one’s partner is known to be someone who regularly complies, this may be enough to tip the balance in favor of cooperating. Working relations may even generate trust, which can reduce fear. Institutions reduce transaction costs. Ad hoc agreements are expensive. If every time you wanted to cooperate you had to hire a lawyer to draw up a contract, the transaction costs of arranging the cooperation would often outweigh, and usually cut seriously into, the benefits. With rules you agree once. Thereafter, all relevantly similar instances are treated according to (governed by) that rule. Especially where streams of cooperation are involved, this can be crucial in making cooperation a reality, even in PRISONER’S DILEMMA (PD) games. Rational actors, without changing their propensity for risk, may switch from competing to cooperating if the transaction costs of achieving mutual cooperation can be decreased significantly, thereby increasing the net benefits. Institutions can facilitate issue-linkage. As we saw in the preceding lecture, this may make cooperation possible by creating a package that includes something of great importance to each cooperator. Institutions similarly facilitate side-payments to induce compliance from those who are not primary beneficiaries of particular terms of cooperation. Institutions often provide information, which can be a potent antidote to fear and uncertainty. Even just regularized information exchange may make a difference – especially if trust has been built. Formal institutions that monitor compliance can be even more powerful. Access to early and reliable information about noncompliance may decisively reduce the risks of cooperation. Knowledge that one is likely to be found out can reduce defection, especially if early detection prevents obtaining a significant advantage or if reputation is involved. (This is the logic behind the nuclear safeguards and inspection regime of the International
53 Atomic Energy Agency, which has contributed greatly to nuclear nonproliferation.) Merely demonstrating empirically that one actor has cheated (or intends to cheat) can transform the nature of the interaction. Known defectors are appropriately treated differently from suspected cheaters. Institutions often pool risks. By spreading the costs of defection across a group of cooperators, the costs to each participant may be reduced to where the risk is worth taking even if the likelihood of defection is not reduced. And regular compliance by most participants may even reduce the incidence of noncompliance. Institutions encourage compliance. The very fact that something is a rule increases the likelihood of action in accordance with it. This is especially true in international relations, where almost all the rules are more or less voluntarily agreed to. Rules by their nature oblige; have an inherent compliance pull. Horizontally-generated rules have the additional pull provided by the fact that those who are bound by them have agreed that they ought to act as specified. Some institutions establish legal liability. That a rule is legally binding often makes a difference. Mechanisms for legally authoritative determinations of violations may make enforcement unnecessary. (For example, when the International Court of Justice found in 1986 that the United States had illegally mined harbors in Nicaragua, the practice quickly stopped, because of domestic political pressures that were mobilized in part by the authoritative finding of illegality.) Furthermore, in a world of self-help enforcement, an authoritative finding of legal liability may decisively transform reactions of both participants and observers. This was a decisive difference between the two U.S.-led wars against Iraq. Forcing Iraq from Kuwait was significantly facilitated by Iraq’s clear violation of the foundational international norm of territorial integrity and by the explicit authorization of the United Nations Security Council. The ongoing “war in Iraq” has been hampered by the fact that many in Iraq and elsewhere consider the American presence an illegal occupation. Legality, independent of enforcement, can make a substantial difference in the costs and benefits, and even the success or failure, of international action. Finally, the preceding points suggest that punishing sanctions often can be applied in the absence of “full coercive enforcement” capabilities. The strongest form of enforcement may involve authority and capability to compel violators to give back what they have taken and pay a formal
54 penalty. But simply publicizing violations can impose reputational costs that can cause material and other harm to violators. Some institutions may include mechanisms to deny violators access to the benefits of future cooperation. And self-help enforcement is no less enforcement for being decentralized and informal (rather than centralized and formal). Sanctions come in many forms and in practice non-governmental institutions often have substantial sanctioning authority and capability.
4. ENFORCEMENT AND COMPLIANCE Compliance with rules and agreements is not merely possible in anarchy but may be surprisingly easy – surprising, at least, from a Hobbesian perspective. And such institutionalist logics are in many ways more “realistic,” in the ordinary language sense of that term, than realism. Realism is blind to the pervasive cooperation present in every dimension of contemporary international relations. Institutionalism focuses on it. An anarchic international system need not be, and in fact rarely is, an empty, rule-less void. Effective international rules are everywhere. Consider state borders. Passports allow us to cross them. Goods enter under agreed upon rules. Money moves through banks and other national and international financial institutions. Ideas cross borders with people, encoded in physical goods such as books, and through rulegoverned electronic channels. The very integrity and security of state borders are protected not only – in many countries not even primarily – by national armed forces but by institutionalized rules and practices of mutual sovereign recognition. The importance of authoritative coercive enforcement should not be underestimated. Neither, though, should it be overestimated. Return to “the war in Iraq.” Having decided to apply its overwhelming military might, the U.S. could not be stopped. And it will not be punished, in any formal way. That certainly is an important fact. But it is by no means the whole story. The United States has paid, and continues to pay, for the illegality of its action. If weapons of mass destruction had been found, preemptive selfdefense might have justified the invasion. But there were no such weapons. And the Bush administration refused to wait for Security Council authorization. Therefore, the American presence in Iraq, whatever its true motives, (not unreasonably) appeared to many as an exercise in might not right – or at best purported moral right without legal right.
55 By clearly contravening basic rules of international law, the United States has found it difficult to rebut charges that it has acted in pursuit of a narrow, national self-interest. Therefore, even many who were happy to see Saddam Hussein removed from power have viewed the invasion, and especially the continued American presence, as, at best, deeply problematic. And the United States has been forced to confront – at great cost to itself, and much greater cost to the Iraqis – the wellestablished historical lesson that illegal occupations are very costly to sustain. Everyone loses, victors no less than vanquished. Even unenforceable rules usually impose costs on those who violate them. Those costs may not be sufficient to ensure compliance. But the same is true of the costs of coercive enforcement. In even the best domestic legal systems, criminals often go unpunished – often even unprosecuted. Coercive enforcement, where it exists, can be of immense importance. But enforcement and compliance should not be confused. Furthermore, it is an empirical, not a theoretical, question whether violations undermine institutions in ways that erode, impair, or eliminate their efficacy. In practice, institutions often are more than adequate to ensure compliance with rules and obligations in anarchic international orders. As with force, the question is not whether they are important in international relations. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they aren’t. The central issues are when, where, and to what extent institutions in fact explain the actions of states and other international actors. A DDITIONAL READING Ken Booth and Nicholas J. Wheeler, The Security Dilemma (2008), ch. 4-6. Explores the roles of institutions in mitigating security dilemmas. Arthur A. Stein, “Neoliberal Institutionalism” and Andrew Moravcsik, “The New Liberalism,” in Christian Reus-Smit and Duncan Snidal, The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (2008). Good introductions to liberal institutionalist IR, the most prominent body of recent rationalist work on institutions. John J. Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of International Institutions,” International Security 19 (1994/95): 5-49. A classic, but crude and ultimately unpersuasive, realist dismissal of international institutions as epiphenomenal reflections of the power of those who create and support them. Abram Chayes and Antonia Handler Chayes, “On Compliance,” International Organization 47 (1993): 175-205. Classic account of compliance with international agreements, de-emphasizing issues of coercive enforcement.
56 L ECT UR E 10
INTERNATIONAL REGIMES: REGULATING AND CONSTITUTING STATES International regimes, an especially important type of international institution, are coherent sets of formal and informal rules and procedures that govern an issue area. This lecture introduces the concept, considers rationalist accounts of regimes as intervening variables, and begins to discuss some of the ways in which international institutions not only regulate behavior but constitute actors and their interests. BASIC READING Stephen D. Krasner, “Structural Causes and Regime Consequences: Regimes as Intervening Variables,” International Organization 36 (1982): 185206. The classic rationalist account of international regimes.
1. INTERNATIONAL REGIMES International regimes are conventionally understood, following Stephen Krasner’s classic definition, as “principles, norms, rules and decisionmaking procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue area.” (See Basic Reading, p. 185) Regimes have a normative dimension, with “norms” in the broadest sense of that term ranging from very general principles to rather specific rules. Regimes also involve procedures for establishing norms and facilitating their implementation. And in IR we employ the concept for norms and procedures that govern a particular issue area. But it is not simply that actor expectations converge around regime norms and procedures. Expectations converge because the regime has a certain authority that attracts, and in some sense compels, convergent behavior. International regimes govern an issue area through their principles, norms, rules, and procedures. In a realist world, expectations converge around balancing simply as a matter of instrumental calculation and empirical observation. In regimes, expectations converge both around and because of regime norms and procedures. International regimes thus provide a particular type of international order. They represent an analytically striking and substantively important field of governance without government. And once we start looking for
57 them, they prove to be pervasive in contemporary international relations. There is a global trade regime, centered on the World Trade Organization (WTO); a global financial regime of informally integrated international and national organizations (including the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Settlements, the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision, agreements between central banks, the Group of Thirty, and global currency markets); an organizationally diffuse global human rights regime; a whaling regime, centered on the International Whaling Commission; an international telecommunications regime, centered on the International Telecommunications Union; a global regime for the protection of cultural artifacts, embedded in a number of international UNESCO treaties; etc. Regimes may also be regional in scope. Regional economic regimes, such as the European Union and Mercosur, have become of considerable significance in recent decades. The Mediterranean Action Plan addresses environmental issues among states of the Mediterranean littoral. Since the end of the Cold War, a rather robust Inter-American democracy regime has emerged. Regimes may even be bilateral. Bilateral regimes on air and water pollution have become increasingly common. The nuclear arms control regime between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R./Russia, which began in 1963 with the Hot Line Agreement and the Limited Test Ban Treaty, centers on a series of strategic arms treaties, beginning in 1972 and continuing through the agreement signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in Prague in 2010.
2. REGIMES AS INTERVENING VARIABLES Krasner outlines the classic rationalist account of regimes as “intervening variables.” The dependent variable – what is to be explained – is international behavior. Dependent variables are modeled as explained by (dependent on) “independent variables,” causes; in this case, state interests and international structure. “Intervening variables” are independent variables that are modeled as less important than “deep” or fundamental causal variables. Regimes modeled as intervening variables in effect deflect behavior from what would otherwise be expected. Krasner nicely describes this as a modified structural approach, illustrated in Figure 5.
58 Figure 5: Structural and Modified Structural Models Behavior
Structure Interests Modified Structural Model
Interests In a simple structural model, actors have interests that (in rationalist fashion) are taken as given. Structure influences the prices of different behaviors intended to realize those interests. Rational actors select the behavior that, given that structure, has the greatest prospect of realizing their interests at the lowest possible cost. In modified structural models, international regimes further alter the prices of behavior, leading to different behaviors (of the same actors in the same structure). Regimes thus have an independent causal effect. In this representation, though, interests drive behavior and structure is the primary external determinant of the expression of interest. Regimes secondarily intervene between deeper causes and behavior. Most of the regimes mentioned above probably can be fruitfully modeled as intervening variables. But there are two potentially serious problems with thinking of (all) regimes in these terms. First, the language of â€œinterveningâ€? may inappropriately minimize a regimeâ€™s causal impact or its substantive significance. Intervening variables are independent variables. They differ only in the place the causes they represent have been given in the model. It is an empirical, not a theoretical, question which causal variables are in any particular case of primary or secondary explanatory significance. We might thus encounter the situation in Figure 6.
59 Figure 6: Regimes as Independent Variables Regime Structure Interests Behavior Structure here selects among interests without fundamentally altering the direction of behavior. The regime, however, decisively redirects behavior. Action is qualitatively different from what it otherwise would have been. The term intervening variable thus is misleading. Of the explanatory variables in this model, the regime is a more significant cause of state behavior than structure. And whether this model or one of those in Figure 5 applies is an empirical question. Intervening variable models also may be problematic because they stop telling the story before recording the full effects of the regime. Regimes, and the behaviors they generate, may feed back on and reshape interests. This suggests the need for constructivist accounts â€“ not instead of rationalist models, but as an additional logic of interaction that may have important applications.
3. REGULATIVE AND CONSTITUTIVE RULES Institutions (and other causal variables) can change not just the behavior of actors but their interests. Such processes involve CONSTITUTIVE, not merely REGULATIVE, rules. This distinction is often illustrated by the game of chess. A bishop is â€“ is constituted as â€“ a piece that moves along a diagonal of the same color. Having constituted the game and its pieces through a series of such rules, the movement of bishops is regulated by the rule of chess that a bishop moves along a diagonal of the same color. How might regimes and other international institutions constitute international actors and their interests? One simple representation is to add feedback loops from behavior and institutions to interests. Figure 7 represents the shaping of interests by regimes over time. The institutions change the actors, and what they want, not simply their behaviors. This occurs not only through the direct and cumulative shaping impact of particular behaviors (for example, through habits, expecta-
60 tions, and precedents) but also through more diffuse impacts (as represented at Time n by the feedback from the regime itself to the actors). In the end, interests, structure, regime, and behavior all mutually shape each other, producing a coherence represented at Time n by aligning them along on a single plane. Figure 7: Constitutive Effects of Regimes Time 1 Regime Structure
Time 2 Interests 2
Time n Interests
Consider the ongoing process of European regional integration, beginning with the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, moving through the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in 1960, to the European Union in 1993, and the continuing broadening and deepening projects involving issues such as currency, movement, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. These institutions have reshaped the interests of member states, not merely their behavior. In fact, even their identities have been changed. Who Europeans are today, and what they and their states value, simply cannot be understood independent of the pervasive influence of the EU â€“ along with the often mutually reinforcing regional regimes of the Council of Europe, which has been especially important
61 for human rights, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. When, where and how extensive are the regulative and constitutive effects of international institutions? And how do they interact with material force and other factors that shape international action? These will be the underlying concerns of much of the rest of the course. I want to conclude this lecture, though, by noting an often unacknowledged constitutive dimension in realism. Waltz, as we noted above, speaks of structure shaping and shoving actors. Although realism emphasizes the shoving, we should not lose sight of the shaping. Waltz presents states as shaped by selection and socialization. Structure “selects for” – rewards – behavior that “fits” its logic. And states learn by watching what succeeds. Over time, selection and emulation lead states to change their interests, perhaps even their character. For example, repeatedly acting nasty because of the external compulsion of tragic circumstances is likely to make even nice actors nastier and nastier. This suggests an intriguing reading of the fit between realism and the practice of international relations that realists often claim. Anarchy does not naturally have pernicious effects. The competitive egoism of realist actors is the result of long historical processes of social construction. The world may be the way that realists say it is because it has been socially constructed in that, instead of some other possible, way. Just because something has been made does not mean that we have the capacity to remake it – let alone remake it in a particular way. It does mean, though, that it is not “natural” or “inevitable” that it remain like that. ADDITIONAL READINGS Andreas Hasenclever, Peter Mayer, and Volker Rittberger, “Integrating Theories of International Regimes,” Review of International Studies 26 (2000): 3-33 and Theories of International Regimes (1997). Article and book-length assessments of the state of theories of international regimes. Jack Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice, 2nd edition (2003), ch. 8. An application of the regime concept to human rights, looking at both global and regional norms and practices. Susan Strange, “Cave! Hic Dragones: A Critique of Regime Analysis,” International Organization 36 (1982): 479-496. Classic (more or less “realist”) dismissal of international regimes as of minor importance or largely an expression of the interests of the powerful.
62 L ECT UR E 11
ALLIANCES AND BALANCE OF POWER AS INSTITUTIONS We are now ready to begin comparing materialist and institutionalist accounts. Realist logics apply most forcefully where security, especially survival, is at stake. Security thus is the hard case for institutionalist accounts. If institutions are important here, they almost certainly are of broad general importance in international relations. This lecture focuses on Glenn Snyder’s rationalist, realist account of alliances. Snyder, a major realist theorist, shows that material and institutional logics are not incompatible. I further illustrate this important theortial point through an historical institutionalist account of the balance of power. The result is the longest lecture in this course. That, however, seems to me appropriate given the ways we are able here to compare the logics of force and institutions. BASIC READING Glenn H. Snyder, “Process Variables in Neorealist Theory,” Security Studies 5 (1996): 167-192 (reprinted in Benjamin Frankel, Realism: Restatements and Renewals (1996)).
1. INSTITUTIONS ARE STRUCTURAL Many realists dismiss institutions as reflections of the power of those who create or support them. Some, however, agree that institutions have independent effects and that therefore certain institutionalist tools need to be in their toolbox. Glenn Snyder offers an account that bridges the apparent gulf between materialist and institutionalist logics. We begin here with his account of institutions as “structural modifiers.” Snyder defines structural modifiers as “system-wide influences that are structural in their inherent nature but not potent enough internationally to merit that designation.” (p. 169) His principal examples are military technology and norms and institutions. Institutions establish structural positions with particular expectations, roles, functions, rights, and obligations. Alliances, for example, create allies, adversaries, and (sometimes) neutrals. Institutions are inherently structural to the extent that they create differentiated actors occupying
63 particular positions in a social system, rather than undifferentiated units interacting in a mechanical system. Snyder argues that â€œit would be unwise to give structural status to international institutions because of their weakness compared to more basic structural components.â€? (p. 169) But we cannot know, theoretically, before the fact, whether institutions will be weak or strong. Therefore, in thinking about the general character of international relations, we need to give at least as much attention to the inherent structural nature of institutions as to their (contingent, variable) causal efficacy. Most international institutions probably are less numerous and usually significantly weaker than many national institutions. Realists also have a theoretical explanation for this fact. But this tells us nothing about the effects of particular international institutions in particular international societies. That a has less impact than b does not mean that a has little or no impact. Comparing national and international institutions may be interesting for certain purposes. Not, though, for determining whether institutions are structural or whether we can fruitfully ignore them in analyzing any particular international system. If institutions prove less important than polarity, that is an empirical fact about a particular system, not a general feature of international institutions. Theorists are of course free to model institutions as always being weaker than polarity. There is no compelling theoretical reason, though, for IR to privilege such models. And there is a real danger that such models will overlook important features of some international societies or misrepresent as anomalous features that are both common and structurally central. Before moving on to Snyderâ€™s account of alliances, though, I want to go back to the discussion of regimes as independent variables, and its implications for how we think about the structures of international societies. In addition to the material structure of international systems, to which realism draws our attention, there is an institutional structure. Figure 8 thus reformulates the figures from the preceding lecture. It is an empirical question which of these two causal pathways has greater impact. For example, in thinking about relations between members of the EU, institutional structure will usually provide more insight. Relations between India and China probably are better understood through material structure.
Figure 8: Material and Institutional Structure Material Structure Interests
Behavior Institutional Structure
2. ALLIANCES: THE INSTITUTIONS OF BALANCING Structural realism (in its narrow Waltzian form) tells us that balances generally develop. It can tell us nothing about which balances will form; who will ally with whom (against whom). Neither can it tell us anything about the consequences of alignment. Alliances, the principal mechanism by which the central realist logic of balancing is enacted, thus lie completely outside the analytical reach of structural realism as ordinarily formulated. This is, at best, sadly ironic – especially because alliances have clearly structural effects. They “re-polarize” the system by aggregating capabilities. In addition, as we already noted, they create differentiated actors, occupying different social positions. Alliances also focus enmity in particular directions, govern relations between allies, and thus partially direct relations with adversaries. Whether we consider those effects structural or not, they too often are important to the character and operation of international systems. A theory that cannot capture such basic features of international relations is neither analytically adequate nor very realistic in the ordinary sense of that term. Snyder suggests remedying these deficiencies by examining what he calls relationships and interactions. Relationships lie between structure and interaction. They are “situational elements of alignment, interests, capabilities, and interdependence that exist prior to behavioral interaction, and as the background condition of continuing interaction. … Through such situational factors, structural effects and unit attributes make themselves felt on behavior.” (p. 172)
65 The modified structural account that results from these additions is summarized in Snyder’s Figure 1, reproduced in a slightly modified form here as Figure 9. Figure 9: System Structure and Process Unit Attributes
Snyder’s account of relationships implicitly has security relations in mind. For other sectors and subject matters, different relationships and patterns of interaction may need to be identified. For our purposes here, though, this is more than adequate. Snyder applies this framework to alliances. He identifies two forms of alignment, ally and adversary, and two forms “conflict” relationships, which he labels cooperation and conflict. Combining these with the three interaction variables produces Figure 10. Figure 10: Interaction Arenas Preparedness
Conflict Cooperation Conflict
threats of force
terminate or limit war
burden-sharing, joint planning
promises of support
threats of defection
The details of this framework merit attention in another context. For us here, though, the key point is that allies and adversaries have different characteristic forms of interaction. In addition, patterns of interaction
66 between adversaries and between allies differ depending on whether their relationship in the particular instance is conflictual or cooperative. And as Snyder goes on to show in his book Alliance Politics, these differences can be studied through rigorous formal models. All of these differences are in large measure institutional; that is, they arise from persistent sets of formal and informal rules. This is obvious in the case of allies, to whom one owes certain obligations, against whom one holds certain rights, and about whom one has certain rulebased expectations of how they will behave. But it is equally true of adversaries, which in this understanding are not just undifferentiated states in anarchy. They are states against which you (and your allies) are aligned. Adversaries have been institutionally singled out for enmity, expressed and enacted collectively through the alliance. A logic of egoistic self-interest usually operates alongside this institutionalist logic. But we must investigate, rather than assume, which prevails in any particular case (or generally predominates). More precisely, assuming that one logic prevails is only a theoretical assumption. If the world appears as modeled, this is a contingent empirical fact, not an expression of the essential character of international relations. Standard structural realism takes as a theoretical truth what is at best an empirical law-like regularity. One may have good analytical reasons to model international relations as insignificantly shaped by international institutions. That, however, is a feature of the model, not of the world – or, rather, it may be contingent empirical feature of the world (or may not). Structural realism offers an interesting and often powerful account of why we should expect relatively few international institutions to have a large impact on how states interact, especially when survival and security are at stake. Even if this is true in general, it need not be true in every instance. “True most of the time” also means false some of the time – perhaps nearly half the time. Strong institutions can exist in anarchy. Government is not the sole source of institutions. Institutions can arise from horizontal interaction, not just from vertical imposition. The student of international relations thus would be well advised to have institutionalist tools readily available at hand. Material logics simply are not enough, even if all we want is a reasonably rich and accurate realist account of basic security relations.
3. BALANCE OF POWER AS AN INSTITUTION Structural realism presents balancing as an unintended consequence or emergent system effect of anarchic orders. In modern international relations, however, the balance of power can also be seen as a foundational international institution. This is the interpretation provided in Edward Vose Gulick’s widely admired book Europe’s Classical Balance of Power. The principal objective of the nineteenth century European balance of power, Gulick argues, was to preserve the sovereignty, independence, and existence of its member states, especially its major powers. This was seen to imply two corollary aims: to prevent any one state from gaining preponderance and to preserve the states system itself. This system was based on several assumptions. (I have slightly modified Gulick’s presentation here.) •
There is a society of states, rather than a mechanical system of autarkic states.
That society is a society of states, rather than (and opposed to) an imperial system.
The principal members of the society of states are relatively equal great powers.
The system is bounded territorially.
It is also culturally bounded. Its members are relatively homogenous and interact within a shared cultural framework.
Power can be reasonably estimated (and thus potentially balanced).
Gulick identifies eight principal means by which European international society managed its relations through social practices of balancing. 1. Vigilance. Diplomacy, spying, and other information gathering to assess, in order to balance, power. 2. Alliances – the main method of balancing. 3. Intervention in the internal affairs of weaker states in order to assert direct control over their policies. 4. Reciprocal compensations. Gains by one power, usually by war, regularly were compensated by awards to other powers, reflecting the fact that relative gains concerns often can be addressed more easily with side payments than by forcing victors to give back what they have gained.
68 5. Grand coalitions. When one power threatened to become preponderant, all would ally against it, to preserve the system as a whole, as a context for the practice of more ordinary forms of balancing. 6. War â€“ by which power and balances were put to the test. 7. Mobility of action. In order to assure efficient balancing, each power must be seen as both a potential ally and a potential adversary. 8. Preservation of the component parts. All great powers, so long as they remain great powers, have a right to a secure position in the system. (Thus after the Napoleonic Wars, a defeated France was restored to great power status, with essentially its pre-revolutionary borders.) Lesser powers, however, regularly were casualties of war. These rules were not formally codified. They were, however, well understood and regularly practiced. Gulick, however, also argues that World War I was in part the result of failure to comply with the rule of mobility of action. After 1890, Europe increasingly came to be divided into two hostile alliance blocks. And as the German-Austrian alliance declined in relative power, due to both Austrian decline and the expected rise of Russia, Germany found itself chain-ganged into war. 1 Balancing proved impossible because the powers were not free to be rearranged in a balanced way. But even this malfunction had an institutional, rather than a material, basis; namely, the system of increasingly rigid alliances. It is likely that most of these fundamental rules and practices emerged out of instrumental calculation. But before the Congress of Vienna, when Gulick begins his story, they had become expected practices that states relied on in formulating their policies. Although not formally binding, they had become institutionalized; embedded in the actions, expectations, and practices of European states. And non-European polities were dealt with according to a rather different set of rules. The particularities of balancing in European international society made it more than just a generic instance of the tendency of balances to form. Balancing was actively embraced as the preferred strategy of action. And the commitment to preserving European international society as an international political system gave it a distinct character. 1 This metaphor comes from American prison labor groups in which the inmates are chained together to prevent them from escaping. Allies are dragged into war by those to whom they are â€œchained.â€?
4. BALANCING AND STRUCTURE I have not yet addressed the empirical accuracy of the structural realist balancing logic. The emerging evidence seems to suggest, though, that it applies primarily to modern states systems. For example, William Wohlforth and his colleagues (Additional Reading) find that balancing clearly was not the norm in pre-modern systems. This strongly suggests that there is a vital but unacknowledged institutional dimension to standard realist structural models. Institutional structure is an essential part of the structure of international societies. In those international societies where states do balance as realists predict, we can only actually account for this by taking into account institutional as well as material structural forces. A DDITIONAL READING Lisa L. Martin and Beth A. Simmons, “Theories and Empirical Studies of International Institutions,” International Organization 52 (1998): 729-757. A state-ofthe-art study of international institutions and their effects. Randall L. Schweller and David Priess, “A Tale of Two Realisms: Expanding the Institutions Debate,” Mershon International Studies Review 41 (1997): 1-32. An effort to begin to develop a realist theory of institutions. Edward Vose Gulick, Europe's Classical Balance of Power: A Case History of the Theory and Practice of One of the Great Concepts of European Statecraft (1967). William C. Wohlforth et al., “Testing Balance-of-Power Theory in World History,” European Journal of International Relations 13 (2007): 155-185. Uses historical cases to argue for a general lack of fit between realist balancing theory and pre-modern international systems. Jack S. Levy and William R. Thompson, "Balancing on Land and at Sea: Do States Ally against the Leading Global Power?" International Security 35 (2010): 7-43. Argues that anti-hegemonic balancing does not occur at sea; that the standard realist logic is at best a logic of continental land powers.
70 L ECT UR E 12
SECURITY REGIMES Security regimes come in many forms. Self-help balancing is only one strategy for coping with the problems of anarchy. And it is an institutional strategy, involving actors of a certain type, occupying particular positions within international society, following particular rules, enacting particular practices. Furthermore, as we will see at the end of this lecture, even the idea of security is an institutionalized social construct. BASIC READING Ole Waever, “Insecurity, Security, and Asecurity in the Western European Non-War Community,” in Michael Barnett and Emanuel Adler, Security Communities (1998). Explores the constructed nature of security through the example of pluralistic security communities.
1. A TYPOLOGY OF SECURITY REGIMES Figure 11 provides a typology of security regimes; a series of models that cover many of the principal ways in which states and other international actors have institutionalized their security practices. Each regime is characterized by four elements: constitutive rules, primary institutions, a dominant identity (about which we will say much more in Lecture 15), and a characteristic behavioral pattern. I divide these eleven security regimes into four groups: the state of nature, which is a limiting case; regimes based on multiple independencies; regimes of hierarchical domination; and transnational security communities. The following sections move through these groups. As we will see, the Hobbesian state of nature and realist great power systems are special cases; particular types of security regimes. They should not be mistaken for or misrepresented as models of international relations (in general).
2. THE STATE OF NATURE The STATE OF NATURE is an asocial void. There are no rules, no institutions, no dominant identities – and thus a war of every one against every one. It is hard to imagine either individuals or states living for long in such conditions. At the very least, inequalities of power will emerge and some degree of hierarchical order will be imposed – thus
72 establishing certain privileged actors (dominant identities) that would begin to act with at least some limited form of sociability. The state of nature thus provides limited analytical leverage. It may usefully model “first contact” situations or relations on the fringes of systems. But as interaction becomes more than sporadic, social systems develop, with at least informal rules and practices, leaving the state of nature behind. It may be metaphorically or rhetorically appropriate to say that a particular international system resembles a state of nature. The principal use of the model, however, is as a point of ideal-type comparison that helps to clarify the (perhaps limit but nonetheless very significant) social elements in fact present in any actual international system. The “wild West,” for example, was not a state of nature. There were property rights and systems of civil and criminal law; families, churches, and other social groups; towns and their accoutrements; horses, plows, railroads, markets – and the sheriff, as well as various mechanisms of individual and collective self-help enforcement of rules. There were, of course, also outlaws and bandits. But almost every society has those (although in different numbers and forms). Except in atypical “lawless” areas, where people interacted only infrequently and irregularly, it was nothing like a state of nature. It was differently civilized, not completely without civilization; a particular kind of social system, not an asocial state of nature.
3. MULTIPLE INDEPENDENCY SYSTEMS Balance of power systems are those modeled by realism. States are the dominant actors, constituted by the principle of sovereign independence. Alliances are the principal mechanism by which balancing takes place. In balance of power systems, the strong BALANCE and the weak BANDWAGON. We have seen all of this before. The one new thing that this formulation draws our attention to is the privileging of states over other actors. States balance and bandwagon, not all international actors. We will return to this point in Lecture 15. Protectorates, and similar practices such as servitudes and treaties of guarantee, involve a very different kind of security system, usually in relations between the strong and the weak (and occasionally imposed on defeated great powers). The protecting power – which often coercively imposes its “protection” – exercises special rights that limit but do not
73 eliminate the sovereignty of the protected power. Such practices were common throughout modern Western international relations up to World War I, both in Europe and in relations with non-European powers. They have been revived in recent years, often under the label of neo-trusteeship, most notably in Bosnia. Although systems of protection are bilateral, protector and protected are social positions in international society. Interventions that would be rejected in a balance of power system are accepted as legitimate in protectorates. (This example also illustrates the general point that different types of security regimes can, and often do, coexist within a single international system.) A concert system is defined by institutionalized great-power multilateral management. The classic example was the Concert of Europe, formed after the Congress of Vienna. Great powers have, in addition to their great material capabilities, special rights and obligations of collective management. Congresses and summits are the principal mechanism by which the practices of consultation and joint action are carried out. The Group of 8 is a contemporary economic analogue. Collective security is an idea that has never been fully implemented but has received considerable theoretical attention over the past century. Its foundational rule is the indivisibility of peace: an attack on anyone is an attack on all. The system would work through a collective security organization, able to mobilize sufficient power to repulse any attack on any country anywhere. (It thus resembles a permanent, multilateral institutionalization of the classical idea of a grand coalition, extended to all aggressors, not just those that threaten to take over the entire system.) Although states retain their sovereign independence in other areas, they relinquish authority over the legitimate use of international violence to the collective security organization. In this limited domain, a cosmopolitan identity takes predominance over state identities. The United Nations Security Council is a hybrid of collective security and concert systems. The power of the Council to take binding enforcement action against any threat to or breach of international peace and security is rooted in the idea of collective security. The veto power of the five permanent members of the Council, however, is pure concert; a special legal status, with special rights and obligations. Although all these systems share a primary commitment to the idea of a society of states, they involve different rules and practices to organize individual and collective self-help. Self-help comes in a variety of insti-
74 tutional forms, with different consequences for the character and functioning of the system. It is true, as realists certainly will note, that balance of power systems are historically much more common than other types of multiple independency systems. This makes the balance of power model a tool that one wants to have ready at hand, near the top of the toolbox. But this form of international society is only most frequently encountered. It has no special logical or theoretical status. It is not the â€œnatural,â€? essential, or core type of international society. And it has no claim to privilege when we move beyond multiple independency systems.
4. SYSTEMS OF HIERARCHICAL DOMINATION In systems of hierarchical domination, one state directs and controls all of most of the system, a particular subsystem, or some substantial number of states in the system. I use hegemony here in the sense developed by Adam Watson (The Evolution of International Society, p. 15): states exercising foreign policy control over other states that are left substantially autonomous in their domestic policies. Athens and Sparta during the Peloponnesian War are the classic Western examples. In China, the period of nominal Eastern Zhou rule prior to the Warring States period was one of shifting hegemonies. Dominion involves substantial control over domestic as well as foreign policy â€“ but control short of full imperial central rule. The Soviet Union during the Cold War exercised dominion over its satellites in Central and Eastern Europe. The United States in its relations with Latin America during this period variously exercised both hegemony and dominion. Empire involves centralized hierarchical rule over formerly independent polities that still retain something of a separate identity (but no real political independence). Although the dividing line between empires as international security regimes and empires that have become domestic political systems is empirically murky, the conceptual distinction is clear. Three points about these systems of hierarchical domination are of broad significance. First, they are historically quite common: in the pre-modern world, they were possibly more common than multiple independency systems. For example, in the space occupied by modern China empires recurrently rose and fell. And empire, not systems of autonomous states, was the prescriptive and statistical norm for three thousand years.
75 Second, these systems show that extensive hierarchy is possible in anarchy. International or anarchic need not mean non-hierarchical. In fact, of the eleven systems in Figure 11, only states of nature involve no hierarchy. Even in balance of power systems, non-state actors are formally subordinated to states and lesser powers often are informally subordinated to greater powers. (We may today take such forms of subordination for granted, but that makes them no less real or significant.) Hierarchy is another case not of whether but how much, of what type, and where. Third, I believe that it is impossible to explain the differences between multiple independency systems and systems of hierarchical domination without reference to different attitudes towards hierarchy and autonomy. Gulick drew attention to the shared cultural framework in Europe’s classical balance of power, especially its prioritization of state autonomy. One cannot understand Chinese international history, or international relations in medieval Europe, without central attention to the predominance of deeply hierarchical worldviews. This points to broader notions of normative and ideational structures, which we will consider in the following lectures.
5. TRANSNATIONAL SECURITY COMMUNITIES Security regimes may also take the form of transnational communities. A common security system rests on ideological solidarity. Consider Christendom, the Holy Alliance, and the free world. Historically, such communities usually have been “thin,” compared to the preceding types of security regimes. But at times they have been significant. For example, Christendom was a powerful force in certain domains of international relations in medieval Europe, especially during the twelfth century. Amalgamated security communities are based on pan-national solidarity. Pan-Arabism is an example of a failed amalgamated security community. The early United States, both before the Republic and in its early decades can be understood as a more successful instance. (See the article by Daniel Deudney in the Additional Readings.) Pluralistic security communities are demilitarized “security” systems. The Nordic states, the United States and Canada, and contemporary Western Europe are examples. The external borders of the community are still militarized. Internal borders, however, are unguarded against other community states (although they may be militarized to stop the flow of drugs, migrants, or terrorists) and no thought is given to the possibility
76 of fighting with other community members. These are, in Wendt’s terms, Kantian cultures of anarchy.
6. CONSTRUCTING SECURITY Ole Waever and the “Copenhagen School” of security studies have spoken of processes of “desecuritization.” Insecurity, as conventionally understood in IR, involves an existential threat. Security arises from implementing sufficient counter-measures to neutralize the threat. Pluralistic security communities, however, have eliminated or transcended internal military threats. Waever thus calls them “asecurity” systems. The military forces of other community members have not been counter-balanced or neutralized. Any threat has been transcended – and thus as a matter of policy ignored (like any other nonexistent thing). The armed forces of your neighbors need not be even a potential a threat. There are good reasons why they have been in many historicallyfamiliar circumstances. But there is nothing natural or inevitable about it. The very meaning of security is socially constructed, not just the practices by which it is pursued. Consider, for example, the particular construction of “the war on terror” by the Bush administration. A DDITIONAL READINGS Bruce Cronin, Community Under Anarchy: Transnational Identity and the Evolution of Cooperation (1999), ch. 1-2. Theoretical examination of transnational security communities, followed by nineteenth century case studies. (Figure 11 is an extension of Cronin’s typology.) David A. Lake, “Beyond Anarchy: The Importance of Security Institutions,” International Security 26 (2001): 129-160. A rationalist account. Robert Jervis, “From Balance to Concert: A Study of International Security Cooperation,” World Politics 38 (1985): 58-79. A classic IR security dilemma comparison of balance and concert logics. Inis Claude, Power and International Relations (1962). Includes a classic discussion of collective security, in the context of a general consideration of power in IR. John M. Hobson and J. C. Sharman, “The Enduring Place of Hierarchy in World Politics: Tracing the Social Logics of Hierarchy and Political Change,” European Journal of International Relations 11 (2005): 63-98. Emanuel Adler, “The Spread of Security Communities: Communities of Practice, Self-Restraint, and NATO’s Post-Cold War Transformation,” European Journal of International Relations 14 (2008): 195-230. Daniel Deudney, “The Philadelphian System: Sovereignty, Arms Control, and Balance of Power in the American States-Union, circa 1787-1861. International Organization 49 (1995): 191-228. A reading of the early United States as a transnational security community.
77 P ART F O UR
IDEAS We now turn to our third and final causal variable, ideas. “Idea,” in the sense that I will use it here, is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a mental image, conception, or notion; “an item of knowledge or belief.” We will be concerned with two types of beliefs, “norms” or “values” (ideas of right and wrong) and “identities” (ideas of who one is). Both significantly shape the interests of states and other international actors. Although logically a subclass of institutions, norms and identities have distinctive characteristics and consequences that merit separate consideration. In my experience, the most effective way to come to understand and appreciate the importance of ideas in international relations is to look at a diverse array of illustrations. Lecture 13 explores the transformation of post-World War II international society under the influence of norms of territorial integrity and self-determination. Lecture 14 examines three diverse cases of ideas transforming interests: U.S. policy towards South Africa during apartheid; global prohibition regimes; and the impact of causal ideas within epistemic communities. Lecture 15 then turns briefly to identity, which is a central topic because who one is shapes what one values – and thus one’s interests. This lecture also argues that the type of identity that prevails with an international system is an important part of its structure.
78 L ECT UR E 13
IDEAS AND THE STRUCTURE OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY As with force and institutions, we are interested here in the character and consequences of ideas, not their causes. We will focus on the ways in which knowledge and belief, no less than force and institutions, shape and shove international actors. This lecture briefly examines the reconstitution of international society following World War II under the influence of norms of territorial integrity and self-determination. BASIC READING Mark W. Zacher, “The Territorial Integrity Norm: International Boundaries and the Use of Force,” International Organization 55 (2001): 215-250.
1. TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY In the decades following World War II, new rules on the use of force and on membership in international society made international relations a qualitatively different realm than it was just a century earlier. In “classical” international law – as expressed in state practice from at least the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century, and in the treatises of jurists from Christian Wolff and Emerich de Vattel to Lassa Oppenheim – sovereigns had an unquestioned “right of war.” Each sovereign had an absolute right to decide when its vital national interests were threatened and what measures to take to protect them. Furthermore, coerced territorial adjustments, including the destruction of states, usually followed war, both in Europe – the number of independent polities in Europe dropped from about five hundred in 1500 to barely two dozen in 1900 – and in Africa, Asia, and the Americas (as reflected in the growth and consolidation of overseas empires). Territorial integrity and self-determination changed all this, with remarkable speed. Although both norms had roots in the interwar period, they flowered in the decades following World War II. Article 2, Section 4 of the United Nations Charter replaced the classical right of war with a principle of territorial integrity. “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”
79 Article 2(7) denied the UN itself any authority “to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.” These idealistic words, penned in a moment of postwar optimism, in fact rapidly became firmly-established practice. As Marc Zacher (Basic Reading) notes, before 1945 about eighty percent of wars led to territorial changes. In the half century after 1945, the percentage dropped to thirty percent – and to zero after 1976. Territorial wars, one of the most characteristic features of modern international relations (and of most other historical international systems) have been largely eliminated – with profound human and political consequences.
2. SELF-DETERMINATION These changes were facilitated and amplified by the norm-based decolonization of Western colonial empires. Although the UN Charter scrupulously avoided reference to self-determination, it became a central norm of postwar international society, codified in the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (General Assembly Resolution 1514). And the practice of decolonization was a central, almost defining, feature of international relations for three decades, beginning with Indian independence in 1947 and accelerating after Ghanaian independence in 1957. The United Nations grew from 51 members in 1945 to 76 in 1955, 117 in 1965, and 144 in 1975. This process was greatly facilitated by the legal principle of uti possidetis. (Uti possidetis juris: the law of prior possession; from the Roman law maxim uti possidetis, ita possideatis, as you possessed, thus shall you possess.) The territory of a new sovereign state should correspond to the administrative boundaries of the preceding political entity. (The same principle was applied to the post-Cold War breakup of federal republics in the U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia.) Small, weak, and poor states that previously would have been targets of aggression now do not fear attack, partition, or death – not because they have powerful protectors but because their territorial integrity and political independence are guaranteed by effective international legal norms. Sovereign recognition, rather than material might, is the principal “power” resource of most states today. Most of the world today has moved from a Hobbesian to a Lockean anarchy, with pretty much the systemic consequences specified in Wendt’s model (§7.2).
80 Hobbes’s “fear of violent death” – uncertainty over survival – has largely been eliminated for states in contemporary international society. Much of the force of the realist logic has thus been dissipated. Israel may live in something resembling a Hobbesian world. The borders of the former Soviet Union do often have the character of a Hobbesian anarchy. (Consider the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.) The death rate of states from international violence, however, has been zero for sixty years – and a few more years than that if one accepts China’s version of the political history of Tibet. In most of the world, military force has been removed from the equations of international relations. As Zacher (p. 246) puts it, we have created “a global political order in which people have excised a major source of international violence.”
3. INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY TRANSFORMED These ideas, of course, did not come out of nowhere. Zacher emphasizes instrumental calculations in their formulation, spread, and implementation. But there was a substantial and central value component as well, including moral revulsion against war and empire, changing ideas about “civilization” and race, and developing notions of toleration of cultural, ethnic, and political differences. And the normative force of self-determination and territorial integrity has been central to making these practices a material reality. Cold War superpower rivalry also was important during these decades. But material force captures only the polarity dimension of the Cold War. The deadly ideological dimension reflects an ideational logic. And practices of territorial integrity and self-determination shaped the character and consequences of even polarity-based conflict. These normative transformations are not without darker unintended consequences. Consider “failed states.” In the past, state failure meant, if not dismemberment or death, then at best semi-sovereign protection. Thus there was no “problem” of failed states. Today, however, territorial integrity preserves even the most incompetent and ineffective states – if only to avoid creating “dangerous precedents.” Consider Somalia. The entire international community, ignoring both the chaos in Mogadishu and its environs and the considerable degree of autonomous order that has been established in Puntland in the northeast and Somaliland in the northwest, remains committed to the idea of
81 an integral Somali state within its 1960 borders – even Ethiopia, which has repeatedly tried to establish a protectorate over its weaker neighbor. “Failed” Somalia has not been permitted to die but rather persists in a kind of Night of the Living Dead state of political horror. Self-determination and territorial integrity, whatever their moral basis and consequences, are, for the society of states, primarily norms of order. Although morally preferable to the rights of war and imperial conquest, they are only partly justified by their contribution to justice. Little serious attention is given to their unintended negative effects, especially the protections they provide for repressive misrule. And when they conflict with considerations of justice, the value of order (and the material and institutional interests associated with it) almost always prevails. Norms, of course, are only part of the picture. States and other international actors rarely act on ideas alone. But they rarely act on material interests alone either. There is an ideational structure to international relations no less than a material and an institutional structure. Fundamental international norms do not provide a context within which states pursue their material (and other) interests. They shove states into different behaviors. And they shape (that is, alter) state interests – a theme to which we now turn in three rather different contexts. ADDITIONAL READING Ronald L. Jepperson, Alexander Wendt, and Peter J. Katzenstein, “Norms, Identity, and Culture in National Security;” in Katzenstein, The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in International Politics (1996). A model of the role of norms and identity and their interaction with each other and material forces. Stacie E. Goddard, “When Right Makes Might: How Prussia Overturned the European Balance of Power,” International Security 33 (2008/2009): 110-142. Explains underbalancing against the rise of Prussia in the 1860s by Prussia’s effective use of legitimating norms and effective diplomacy. Three recent examples focusing on legal norms and institutions concerning force. Shirley V. Scott and Olivia Ambler, “Does Legality Really Matter? Accounting for the Decline in US Foreign Policy Legitimacy Following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq,” European Journal of International Relations 13 (2007): 67-87. Sarah V. Percy, “Mercenaries: Strong Norm, Weak Law,” International Organization 61 (2007): 367-397. (This can be usefully paired with Janice E. Thomson, “State Practices, International Norms, and the Decline of Mercenarism,” International Studies Quarterly 34 (1990): 23-48.)
82 Judith Kelley, â€œWho Keeps International Commitments and Why? The International Criminal Court and Bilateral Nonsurrender Agreements,â€? American Political Science Review 101 (2007): 573-589.
83 L ECT UR E 14
IDEAS CONSTITUTING INTERESTS This lecture looks at three examples of ideas constituting state interests: U.S. policy towards South Africa; global prohibition regimes; and the intersection of causal and principled beliefs in epistemic communities. B ASIC READING Audie Klotz, “Norms Reconstituting Interests: Global Racial Equality and U.S. Sanctions against South Africa,” International Organization 49 (1995): 451-478. Ethan A. Nadelman, “Global Prohibition Regimes: The Evolution of Norms in International Society,” International Organization 44 (1990): 479526. Peter M. Haas, “Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination,” International Organization 46 (1991): 1-36.
1. THE U.S. AND APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA The reversal of American foreign policy towards apartheid South Africa in the 1980s offers a striking example of norms reconstituting interests. Systematic official racial discrimination in South Africa had been a target of muted American criticism going back at least to the 1940s. After the international outcry following the 1961 massacre of unarmed protestors at Sharpeville, the U.S. became more vocal in its protests and instituted modest military sanctions. Nonetheless, it continued to prioritize Cold War rivalry and American strategic and economic interests over restoring the franchise and full citizenship to non-white South Africans and dismantling the system of legal discrimination against them. The U.S., though, was increasingly pressured by the global anti-apartheid movement, centered on the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. A sporting boycott of great symbolic significance developed momentum following the suspension of South Africa from the 1964 Olympics. In the mid-1970s, a sophisticated and wide-ranging TRANSNATIONAL movement developed advocating economic sanctions. Initial calls for voluntary codes of conduct for foreign firms (most prominently the 1977 Sullivan Principles) soon gave way to encouraging individuals, pension funds, and governments to divest their financial holdings in firms doing business in South Africa.
84 In addition, campaigners mobilized increasingly sophisticated and powerful pressures on individual Western governments to impose trade and investment sanctions. There were also well-organized campaigns for academic, arts, entertainment, and tourism boycotts, as well as successful efforts to suspend or expel South Africa from membership in several international organizations. Nonetheless, successive American governments continued to insist that, much as they abhorred apartheid, vital national interests required official American opposition to remain almost entirely verbal. Four countervailing interests were usually identified. •
South Africa controls shipping lanes around Africa (which were especially important should the Suez Canal be closed, as it was from 1967 to 1975). As the Soviet navy expanded its presence in the Indian Ocean, these strategic concerns became more intense. South Africa produced vital supplies of strategic minerals such as vanadium, antimony, manganese, and platinum. And Russia and China were sometimes the only other possible suppliers. South Africa was actively involved in Cold War conflicts in Angola, Namibia, and Mozambique, usually supporting American interests or policy. U.S. businesses had significant interests in South Africa, including major investments with generally very favorable rates of return and substantial private loans.
During the mid-1980s, however, U.S. policy switched, rapidly, and rather dramatically, to support modest sanctions, as embodied in the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. Yet nothing had changed in American strategic and material interests. The Soviet naval threat actually increased. New sources of strategic minerals were not found. Regional conflicts continued. And although business in South Africa was becoming less attractive, U.S. economic interests retained their value. Norms alone explain the change in American policy. Part of the story involved anti-apartheid moving “up” the U.S. foreign policy agenda. This probably explains the subordination of American economic interests. But great powers rarely subordinate security interests to moral concerns. And that did not happen in this case. Rather, American security interests were reconstructed through a fundamentally norm-driven process. Security concerns were revised – looked at again; re-thought; re-imagined – in light of a growing public desire to stand opposed to, instead of alongside, apartheid in South Africa.
85 Consider strategic metals. American policy had previously focused on a possible supply disruption, either from civil war or a policy decision of a radical black regime. Through Cold War lenses, such scenarios seemed (not im)plausible. But was civil war in South Africa a realistic worry? If so, wouldn’t supporting the white government increase its likelihood? And what would a new black government do with South African minerals? Almost certainly sell as much as they could. To cut off Western buyers in order to serve some difficult to specify Soviet objectives would make no sense. And in any case, the United States had strategic stockpiles, which could be augmented if necessary at relatively modest cost. Looked at in the light of the growing force of anti-apartheid norms, strategic metals no longer seemed to necessitate opposing economic sanctions. As for regional stability, South Africa increasingly came to be seen not as an ally but as a problem. Both the provocations posed by apartheid and South Africa’s meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbors came to be seen as sources of regional instability. The Soviet naval threat did remain a significant American concern, especially as the Reagan administration ramped up a new Cold War against “the evil empire.” The South African base at Simon’s Town certainly was a strategic asset to which the United States desired access. The threat of a Soviet naval embargo of the shipping lanes around South Africa, however, was, if not ludicrous, then largely irrelevant. (If things got that bad, the U.S. would not be giving central attention to oil supplies to Europe.) Although the Pentagon continued to press its strategic arguments, they had less and less appeal to rest of the government and the American public. The national interest is what the nation is interested in. The national interest of all states certainly include is a central material dimension. International anarchy may push strongly in this direction. But “the national interest defined in terms of power,” the central concept in Hans Morgenthau’s vision of realism and an important notion in many other realist theories, is a prescriptive account of how states ought to think and act. There is no logical, conceptual, or empirical need for such a narrow conception. Furthermore, even material interests are not objective facts that impose themselves on policy makers. They are socially constructed. What changed in the 1980s was not the material state of the world but the frames within which American policy makers viewed it.
86 I have presented a story of norms reconstituting interests. In fact, though, we picked up the story in the middle. Norms and values are always part of the constitution of interests – even material interests. (At minimum we must always ask whose material interests, and which of the many material interests at stake, are given policy priority.) Norms constituting interests – along with, not instead of, material and institutional forces – is a near-universal phenomenon in international relations. As with the other analytical tools we have introduced, we need to understand when and how ideas shape and shove international action.
2. GLOBAL PROHIBITION REGIMES The idea of global prohibition regimes was introduced to IR by Ethan Nadelman (see Basic Reading), who provided the classic account of their character and development. Looking at piracy and privateering, the slave trade and slavery, extradition, drug trafficking, prostitution, and whales and elephants, Nadelman found the same processes of delegitimation of a practice previously considered perfectly acceptable, followed by its criminalization, and ultimately effective formal prohibition (which pushes the behavior underground). Prohibition often does not conflict with the material interests of leading states. For example, sovereign kings supported suppressing piracy and privateering – that is, both private and state-sponsored marauding on the high seas – as part of their broader efforts to establish a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Suppressing the slave trade, although largely driven by moral and religious concerns, coincided with a rising Britain’s interests in asserting naval supremacy. Nonetheless, in global prohibition regimes much of the motivation, and a large part of the practical success, arises from norms and values. Global prohibition regimes, once we begin looking for them, are surprisingly frequent and significant. For example, the territorial integrity and self-determination norms discussed in the preceding lecture can be seen as global prohibition regimes against aggressive war and colonialism. Previously accepted practices were morally delegitmated, then prohibited, and finally suppressed. In the 1990s, genocide was transformed in the 1990s from a moral tragedy to an international crime subject to armed humanitarian intervention and individual international criminal liability. Landmines were prohibited by treaty (although the U.S., Russia, China, and India are not parties,
87 indicating that the process still lies somewhere between delegitimation and criminalization). International norms against weapons of mass destruction today show signs of moving from voluntary treaty commitments to a mandatory prohibition regime. Human trafficking seems to be moving from a moral disgrace and a (not very well policed) national crime towards a global prohibition – a change in status that has significantly increased the national and international resources devoted to combating trafficking. Global prohibition regimes show not only the power of principled ideas but the reality of international society as a rule-governed and (in part) norm-driven social system. They also show, as does the South African example, that interests are centrally a matter of meanings. The responses of international actors depend not on the “inherent nature” of behaviors (whatever that might mean) but on the way a practice has been socially constructed – in part through ideas, in part through its articulation with other institutions and material interests.
3. EPISTEMIC COMMUNITIES Epistemic communities are conventionally defined as groups that share sets of normative and principled beliefs, causal beliefs, and notions of scientific validity and professional expertise, along with a common policy project. Ordinary interest groups, disciplines or professions, and policy-motivated groups of legislators and bureaucrats all lack at least one of these defining features. Epistemic communities have all four. The best-known example is probably the ozone depletion community. Scientists who discovered and then studied the effects of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the stratosphere, joined with like-minded advocacy groups, national and international bureaucrats, and ultimately even corporate scientists and managers. The result was the adoption (and fairly effective implementation) of the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer. Other prominent examples include the current global warming epistemic community and the arms control epistemic community of the 1960s and 1970s, which had a major impact on U.S. nuclear strategy and policy. Expert scientific knowledge, in certain policy contexts, is an important source of power. Control over causal knowledge about how the world works can be no less significant than control over the moral high ground of principled beliefs – or control over material resources. For example, the spread of global economic liberalism in the 1980s and
88 1990s was greatly facilitated by the ascendancy of a certain type of neoclassical economic orthodoxy. Today, debate in the United States over global warming continues to be shaped by professed disputes about the scientific evidence. Knowing how the world works – or having what is considered the best available knowledge of how it works – is essential to effective policy. Scientific knowledge, though, is often contentious, especially in the early stages of dealing with a new problem. And the facts never speak for themselves. To be politically efficacious, causal beliefs need to be mobilized and applied much like other power resources. The lesson here is familiar. States and other international actors are shaped and shoved by a variety of forces in addition to, and often operating in complex conjunctions with, force and material interests. All three examples, however, point to a dimension of international relations not central in earlier lectures, namely, the role of transnational, non-state actors. Although the topic of non-state actors does not fit into the framework of this course, it does perhaps provide a transition to the next lecture, which considers identity in international societies. A DDITIONAL READING Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, “International Norm Dynamics and Political Change,” International Organization 52 (1998): 887-917. A leading theoretical account of the dynamics of norm diffusion and change. Jennifer L. Bailey, “Arrested Development: The Fight to End Commercial Whaling as a Case of Failed Norm Change,” European Journal of International Relations 14 (2008): 289-318. Judith Kelley, “Assessing the Complex Evolution of Norms: The Rise of International Election Monitoring,” International Organization 62 (2008): 221-255. Emanuel Adler, “The Emergence of Cooperation: National Epistemic Communities and the International Evolution of the Idea of Nuclear Arms Control,” International Organization 46 (1992): 101-146. Craig Parsons, “Showing Ideas as Causes: The Origins of the European Union,” International Organization 56 (2002): 47-84. Radoslav S. Dimitrov, “Knowledge, Power, and Interests in Environmental Regime Formation,” International Studies Quarterly 47 (2003): 123-150. Michael Barnett and Kathryn Sikkink, “From International Relations to Global Society,” in Christian Reus-Smit and Duncan Snidal, The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (2008). Examines the transformative effects of the rise of non-state actors on contemporary international relations.
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IDENTITY, SOVEREIGNTY, UNIT TYPE, AND STRUCTURE Waltz models the actors in international relations as characterless “units,” in order to draw attention to the impact of anarchy and polarity on “units” of almost any type. In fact, though, realists models do not abstract from all attributes of states except their material capabilities. They instead assume that states have a particular, more or less Hobbesian, character. And they must make some such assumptions, because purposeless action is neither political nor comprehensible (unless we are dealing with instinct or mechanical physiological processes, which certainly are not included in structural models). This points to the fact that certain elements of the character of the actors – who they are and what they value; their identity – are defining features of the structures of international societies. Students of international relations, rather than hide the role of identity behind the pretense of unproblematic assumptions with ostensibly near-universal applicability, need to appreciate its importance and develop the analytical tools to understand its impact. BASIC R EADING Carol Cohn, “Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 12 (1987): 687-718. A classic account of the impact of gendered identities and values in the highest of high politics arenas, Cold War strategic nuclear strategy.
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF IDENTITY Identity matters centrally to IR because who we are shapes what we value. Interest is inescapably intertwined with identity. Not surprisingly, then, identity is often an important subject of international relations. Consider ethnic conflict in the 1990s. “The free world” during the Cold War. “Civilized states” during the nineteenth century. Christendom during the medieval period. Greeks versus barbarians at Thermopylae and Salamis. “China” as a civilizational identity rather than a geographical place. Or “they hate us because we’re free.” Most internationally mobilized identities are national or sub-national, and thus are outside the scope of this course. Most international societies, however, have important system-wide identities: for example, sovereign states and non-state actors. In addition, various structural positions have identities, and often roles, associated with them.
90 Even realists typically recognize “great power” as an identity and role. For example, Waltz devotes the last chapter of Theory of International Politics to “The Management of International Affairs,” an important systemic function that he argues only great powers can perform. Likewise, “small states” and “middle powers” identify states not only by their material capabilities but also by their associated identities and roles.
2. SOVEREIGN STATEHOOD Sovereign statehood has been the most important system-wide identity in modern international relations. The conventional realist story, however, treats the practices of sovereignty as purely regulative rules by which (previously and internally constituted) states interact. Sovereignty is presented as a shell that states build around themselves for protection. This ignores the fact that sovereignty also, and in some ways more fundamentally, constitutes states as members of international society. Although international law speaks of recognition, sovereign states are more made than recognized. Political entities of some sort may exist independent of and prior to sovereignty. But sovereign states are not waiting out there for others to properly identify them and acknowledge their sovereignty. In much the way that bishops in chess are not just lying around in a drawer waiting for someone to recognize their “bishopness,” but are made by the rules of chess, sovereign states are constituted as polities of a particular type in and through practices of mutual recognition and rule-governed interaction. Sovereigns are those recognized as sovereign by other sovereigns. This circularity is an essential feature of, and evidence that we are dealing with, constitutive social practices. There are no objective criteria of sovereignty. Or, rather, lists of criteria identify statistical regularities rather than necessary and sufficient conditions. Taiwan meets any plausible objective criteria of sovereignty, but is unquestionably not a sovereign state – which has important consequences for what it can and cannot do, how it sees itself and acts in international relations, and how others see and interact with it. Somalia fails to meet the objective criteria of any plausible list, but unquestionably is a sovereign state – with important domestic and international consequences. There are many paths to sovereign “recognition.” A state’s own power, or the power of its allies, has been a route of great historical importance.
91 But as the discussion of self-determination and territorial integrity above indicated, many contemporary states have followed another path. For most African states, the shell was created first, by international action. The international community in effect said, here’s a sovereign state – see the lines drawn on the map – now fill it up with a people, a national society, and an effective governmental apparatus. Some more or less succeed at nation-building and state-building. Others failed, with humanly horrible but not politically fatal consequences. And the principal international power source of most African states has been their international sovereignty. Or consider the nineteenth century “standard of civilization,” and its unequal treaties with China, Japan, the Ottoman Empire, and Siam. These regional powers were not colonized. Their sovereignty was restricted but not extinguished. And if they implemented certain internal political practices and were willing to participate in international society according to the established rules of (Western) international law, they could be (and beginning with Japan in the 1890s were) accepted as full members of international society – with different, rights, powers, obligations, and interests; the rights of full (rather than semi-) sovereigns.
3. SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORY, AND THE STATE Sovereignty is a status in international society. It singles out some entities for special treatment; grants them special rights and powers and imposes on them particular obligations. This shapes both those entities and the international society they are members of. Consider the relationship between sovereign and territory. In early modern Europe, what Hobbes called “Kings and persons of Soveraigne authority” were members of dynastic families, which provided the structure for international relations. The sovereign’s realm was the result of dynastic rules of succession and transmission. For example, James VI of Scotland became James I of England on the death of his cousin, Queen Elizabth, laying the foundation for the eventual union of the two realms a century later (much to the chagrin of many Scots). Marriage alliances were the highest of high politics. For example, Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine and former queen consort of France, married Henry II, Duke of the Normans – after escaping a kidnap attempt by Henry’s brother, who wanted to force a marriage on her to acquire her lands. Two years later, Henry succeeded to the English throne, combining Anglo-Norman-French holdings in a way that laid much of the dy-
92 nastic basis for what became the Hundred Years’ War – which decisively shaped the emergence of modern England and modern France. To take a somewhat simpler example, the two principal wars of the first half of the eighteenth century were the War of the Spanish Succession and the War of the Austrian Succession. What dynastic sovereigns valued, and what they fought over, was decisively shaped by their identity. Republicanism and then nationalism challenged and ultimately replaced dynasticism as the basis of sovereignty. Sovereignty was seen to reside in the citizenry, the people, or the nation. Citizens of the state replaced subjects of the sovereign. And especially in the nationalist vision, territory acquired a new meaning, as the homeland of the nation – leading to very different kinds of states and conflicts. Late twentieth century states, by contrast, were fundamentally territorial. Although still called nation-states, their citizens usually were defined by residence rather than blood or culture. And these states, which were much more powerful, centralized, and intrusive than their predecessors, typically claimed multiple monopolies, not just over the legitimate use of force and jurisdiction, but also over taxation, political loyalty, legal and political identity, and international representation – which strongly shaped their national interests and international interactions. One way to think about many scenarios of globalization is as a challenge to this particular vision of the sovereign territorial state and its predominant role in international society. Although this is often presented as restricting, challenging, or undermining state sovereignty, such a reading mistakes the sovereignty characteristic of mid-twentieth century states for a universal form. Consider control over borders, which “the war on terror” and concern over “illegal immigration” have made a political hot button issue in the United States. (Note the particular constructions of identity and interest encoded in these formulations – in contrast to, for example, “undocumented workers” or “migrants.”) Passports, however, although they have a long history, only became standard and required in the twentieth century. (The United States did not require its citizens to have a passport to leave the country until 1941.) National borders were largely porous to the movement of people. The United States, however, was not somehow “more sovereign” in 1950 than in 1850 because it much more effectively controlled the flow of people across its borders. It is not somehow “less sovereign” today
93 because many Americans consider their borders “insecure” from the “threat” of migration. Daniel Philpott (see Additional Reading) usefully distinguishes “three faces” of sovereignty: who (which kinds of polities) can be sovereign; how potential sovereigns become actual members of international society; and what international status (rights, powers, and obligations) attaches to the sovereign. All of these “faces” change. And these changes constitute different kinds of “states,” with particular interests that arise from these systemically-constituted identities and from their structural positions in a particular society of states.
4. STRUCTURE AND UNIT TYPE The implication of this line of argument is that dominant unit type is a feature of the structure of an international society. The character of an international society differs depending on the type of its dominant units – or if, as in medieval Europe, there is no dominant unit type. Consider the following three quotes, from leading realist, Marxist (historical materialist), and constructivist IR scholars. “The character of the international system is largely determined by the type of state-actor.” “The nature and dynamics of international systems are governed by the character of their constitutive units.” “The type of polity that makes up an international society is indeed one way in which societies vary.” 1 Even Waltz writes that “International political structures are defined in terms of the primary political units of an era, be they city states, empires, or nations.” (Theory of International Politics, p. 91 [emphasis added]) Why, then, do Waltz and most mainstream IR scholars deny that unit type is structural? There seems to be a widespread belief that the structures of international systems include only features “at the international level.” In fact, though, there is no sound theoretical or conceptual basis for this view (which at best confuses LEVELS OF ANALYSIS and UNITS OF ANALYSIS). Quite the contrary, if, as Waltz (Theory of International Politics, p. 79) rightly puts it, “a system is composed of a structure and of interacting units,” then the often used notions of “the system level” and “the structural level” are incoherent.
Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (1981), p. 26; Benno Teschke,The Myth of 1648 (2003), p. 46; Daniel Philpott, Revolutions in Sovereignty (2001), p. 14.
94 Structure is not outside of or above the arranged elements – which as units of a system do not exist independently of that system. If we must use a local metaphor, structure is woven into or entwined with the units. It would be better, though, to say that structure weaves a system’s units into a whole – and better still to avoid any possible suggestion that structure is a thing (or that “it” “does” anything); for example, by talking about a system being structured rather than having a structure. Systems result from integrating in a particular way parts of a particular character. Entities without properties are not – cannot be – elements of a system. “Units,” to be parts of a system, must have particular attributes that enable them to fill structural positions. Replace the brain with a billiard ball and there is no system. Features of units that constitute them as parts of a system are essential to any depiction of the structure – organization, arrangement, ordering – of that system. It simply is not true that “a systems theory of international politics deals with forces that are in play at the international, and not the national, level.” (Waltz, Theory of International Politics, p. 71) Sound systemic/structural analysis is impossible without attending to the ways in which structure not only reaches into but is in part constituted by (certain features of) the units. Who and what “states” are – identity – is a central element of the structure of an international society. ADDITIONAL READING Jeffrey W. Legro, “The Plasticity of Identity under Anarchy,” European Journal of International Relations 15 (2009): 37-65. Theorizes the interplay of ideas and power in constructing national identities, illustrated by nineteenth-century Japan and the Soviet Union. Daniel Philpott, Revolutions in Sovereignty: How Ideas Shaped Modern International Relations (2001), ch. 1-4. A theoretical account of how changing ideas of sovereignty have shaped modern international relations (followed by case studies of early modern Europe and decolonization). Christine Sylvester, Feminist International Relations: An Unfinished Journey (2002), ch. 2, “Introducing Elshtain, Enloe, and Tickner.” An overview of the contribution of three pioneers of feminist IR, which draws attention to the impact of gendered identities in international relations. Christopher J. Hemmer and Peter Katzenstein, “Why is There no NATO in Asia: Collective Identity, Regionalism and the Origins of Multilaterialism,” International Organization 56 (2002): 575-607.
95 P ART F I VE
CONCLUSION All the pieces of this course have now been introduced. The final three lectures try to pull them together and draw out some of their broader implications. In line with the general structure of the course, we will look both at method and at substance. Lecture 16 briefly examines the enterprise of thinking and theorizing about international relations. In some ways it is an extension of the preceding lectures, looking at the important role of the ideas of analysts. Robert Cox’s distinction between problem-solving theory and critical theory is introduced and the relationship between theory and action is briefly addressed. Lecture 17 more systematically explores the multidimensional character of power, a theme that has arisen recurrently in the preceding lectures. In Lecture 3 I suggested that much of the debate in international studies could be seen as over the scope of realist analysis; how much of international relations realist logics illuminate. The answer that I finally come to is some, but nowhere near enough. The problem with realism, from this perspective is its narrow materialist conception of power and structure – or, more precisely, that realists have an unfortunate tendency to confuse material power with power in general and material structure with structure per se. Multiple perspectives are necessary to even begin to grasp even just the essentials of international relations. Lecture 18 continues this argument by outlining an expanded and reconceptualized understanding of the elements of social and political structures. I illustrate the “value added” of this expanded conception with the notion of stratification, a central structural feature that I introduce into the account drawing on literatures in Sociology and Anthropology. Together these lectures suggest that IR will only begin to realize its analytical and practical potentials if it adopts a methodologically and theoretically pluralistic approach to the complex phenomena it studies. An important step in this direction, I argue, is an overarching framework that sees power and structure as having material, institutional, and ideational dimensions that not only separately but in their interaction shape and shove states and other international actors.
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THEORY, PURPOSE, AND PRACTICE This lecture steps back from the substance of international relations to reflect on the process of thinking about it; turns from ideas in international relations to about it. We focus on Robert Cox’s (now standard in IR) distinction between problem-solving and critical theory. BASIC R EADING Robert W. Cox, “Social Forces, States and World Orders,” in Robert O. Keohane, Neo-Realism and Its Critics (1986) (reprinted in Cox, Approaches to World Order (1996)).
1. PROBLEM-SOLVING AND CRITICAL THEORY Most students of IR follow Robert Cox in identifying two basic orientations towards theory. PROBLEM-SOLVING THEORY takes the world as it is and tries to make existing relationships and institutions better serve the purposes of the analyst or practitioner. CRITICAL THEORY stands apart from the existing order and asks how that order came about. In line with the general thrust of this course, we will ask not which is better – an arrogant, ignorant, or incoherent question – but rather what each orientation brings to the study of international relations. The great strength of problem-solving theory is that it allows us to focus narrowly and in some detail on particular issues and problems. Problem-solving theorists, by taking the existing world as given and liberally employing ceteris paribus assumptions, often are able to discern regularities in behavior that otherwise could not be noted. By working back from those regularities to their causes, problem-solvers aim to identity where and how we need to intervene to change the world. Critical theory seeks a perspective from which to appraise the frameworks that problem-solving theories take for granted. It tries to uncover the power relations and unstated assumptions of privilege and subordination that lie behind existing structures. And it does so with an eye to discerning possibilities for changes that contribute to human emancipation. Critical theorists in no way disparage problem-solving theory. There is much suffering and disappointment in the world that can be addressed, ameliorated, or even eliminated by problem-solvers. And some of the problems they address are of the greatest significance.
97 Consider nuclear weapons. Given states that are unwilling to give up their nuclear weapons, what can be done to assure that they never use them? This is a problem that if not solved could easily lead to the death of tens of millions, perhaps even billions, of people. But this leaves many important questions unasked. For example, problem-solving strategic planning does not ask whether nuclear disarmament is a reasonable possibility to work for in our children’s lifetime. Consumed with “more pressing problems,” problem-solving planners are unlikely even to consider whether current minimum acceptable levels of nuclear arms might be lowered, perhaps significantly. A critical perspective in effect identifies, and tries to remedy, problems that ordinarily are not treated as problematic; that is, issues that have not been socially constructed as policy problems.
2. CRITICAL THEORY Critical theory is not idealism or utopianism. It does not imagine a world that might exist in some unspecified or far off time or place. Critical theory explores the possibilities for imminent transformations of existing structures. Critical theorists ask whether fundamental change really could, as a practical matter, be brought about though plausible causal pathways, here and now – that is, within decades (not centuries), the “now” of the large structures that are their analytical focus. The Marxian language of contradictions – potentially transformative conflicts or inconsistencies in existing structures – is often used. Critical theory, though, is not concerned with just any fundamental change. It prioritizes change that contributes to human emancipation. Although the details of this idea are immensely contentious, the basic idea is more than sufficiently clear for our purposes here. Combining the commitments to imminent critique and human emancipation, Cox (p. 217/97) identifies five premises of a critical approach. 1. Action is never free but takes place within a framework that constitutes its problematic. 2. Theory too is shaped by that problematic. 3. Constitutive frameworks change over time and those changes are the principal focus of critical theory. 4. These constitutive frameworks are made up of thought patterns, material conditions, and institutions.
98 5. They are to be viewed not from the top down or with the aim of ensuring system equilibrium or reproduction but from the bottom up, with the aim of identifying potentially transforming conflicts. The central focus of critical theory is understanding the genesis, reproduction, and contradictions in frameworks of interaction (or what I have called “structures”) understood as historical products.
3. THEORY IS ALWAYS FOR SOME PURPOSE “Theory is always for someone and for some purpose. All theories have a perspective. Perspectives derive from a position in time and space, specifically social time and space.” (Cox, p. 207/87) There is no “view from nowhere.” How we cut into the world always reflects some purpose, even if only an analytical purpose. And those purposes have different consequences for different people ad groups. The answers we find depend no less on the questions we ask than on what is “out there.” Recall the spotlight and lens metaphors from the first lecture. We cannot clarify something without obscuring something else; cannot see something without overlooking sometimes else. And there is no neutral standard of what “needs to be known.” I imagine that many realists found my discussion of territorial integrity and self-determination largely off target. They would tell a very different story of decolonization. Rather than emphasize the general respect for territorial integrity they would point to the pervasive superpower disregard for political independence, a norm that receives equal emphasis in Article 2(4) of the Charter. And they would suggest that my whole discussion was largely beside the point – “the point,” in their telling, being bipolar rivalry. Likewise, rather than examine the changing “faces” of sovereignty, realists would suggest that our analytic attention could be better focused on the facts of anarchy-induced conflicts between sovereigns (“units”) of any type. “Who’s right?” By now you should have anticipated my answer. “Both. Neither. And what a silly question.” Consider another, rather more provocative, example. One of the great achievements of international legal advocacy in the 1990s was the recognition and prosecution of rape as a war crime – another example of global prohibition logic. This work was driven principally by feminist scholars and activists. Their particular critical perspective on gender gave them insight into and leverage on a particularly vicious form of
99 human suffering that previously had been treated as just one of those unfortunate things that happens in war. But the fact that this analysis and advocacy was feminist – that is, undertaken from the perspective of the gendered suffering of women – has left largely obscured a no less striking gendered dimension of genocide. The first targets and the largest number of victims are men, especially “battle age” men (from roughly fifteen to fifty). As one scholar of the phenomenon has put it, “Across very different local scenarios, two common patterns emerge – increased genderization and targeting of boys/men.” 1 Some might respond that killing men has long been a crime. But not killing them (in part) because they are men. And why isn’t targeting men as men – because they are men – as serious an offense as targeting them because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or political opinion? Or targeting women as women? Conventional approaches come dangerously close to participating in a mystifying “naturalization” of the suffering of men as men; taking their suffering as just the way the world is, rather than the result of particular constructions of masculinity that have literally deadly consequences. This is not meant to criticize feminist scholars and activists or disparage their intellectual and practical accomplishments. It is, however, a salutary reminder that even with the best intentions and efforts we can never see all of the world. In fact, rarely are we able, at any given time and place, to see more than a small part. As critical theorists emphasize, we need to be especially wary of unthinking background assumptions that are deeply embedded in our ordinary ways of thinking and acting. Such embedded features certainly are real and important. But their reality and importance have been socially constructed, with particular social, political, and moral consequences. If we lose sight of the contingent historical nature of these realities, we will misapprehend the nature of the world, how we live in it, and the consequences for our lives and the lives of others.
Øystein Gullvåg Holter, “A Theory of Gendercide,” Journal of Genocide Research 4 (2002), p.11. The entire issue of the journal is devoted to the gendering of genocide, viewed from both masculinist and feminist perspectives.
4. SELF-AWARENESS IN THOUGHT AND ACTION What you look for shapes what you find. Unless we are not merely cognizant of but sensitive to the consequences of having chosen to try to know x rather than y or z, we risk dangerous self-delusions about the nature of our knowledge – and what it actually tells us about “the world.” Thinking is a way of interacting with the world. We can struggle, often with considerable success, to make sure that we do not “find” things in the world that are not really “out there.” Rigorous methods, whether scientific, social scientific, or humanistic, can help to prevent this particular kind of bias and distortion. But the resulting knowledge still will be from a particular place for a particular purpose. For better or worse, that’s just the way the world is. (Yes, I recognize the irony of such a categorical claim.) We can, however, try to be as self-aware as possible and subject our thought and action to regular critical examination. Reflexivity, to use the currently popular jargon, is a great virtue. A complex and multifaceted world, as I have said repeatedly, needs multiple analytical tools if we are to adequately comprehend and act in it. And the more critically selfaware we are in using those tools – and understanding the consequences of the choice of particular tools – the “better” our theory and practice are likely to be. ADDITIONAL READING Richard Devetak, “Critical Theory,” in Scott Burchill and Andrew Linklater, Theories of International Relations (2nd edition or later). An excellent introduction to the variety of “critical theory perspectives” in IR. V. Spike Peterson, “Transgressing Boundaries: Theories of Knowledge, Gender and International Relations,” Millennium 21 (1992): 183-206. A classic article on gender in IR and its intersection with “postmodern” perspectives. Pauline Rosenau, “Once Again into the Fray: International Relations Confronts the Humanities,” Millennium 19 (1990): 83-110. One of the first, and still one of the best, accounts of the implications of post-modern philosophies for IR.
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POWER POLITICS Realism presents international relations as “power politics.” The thrust of this course has been that this is fundamentally true – but that realism has an inappropriately narrow materialist conception of power. This lecture explores this suggestion in more detail, emphasizing the multiple dimensions of power that operate in international relations. BASIC R EADING Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall, “Power in Global Governance,” ch. 1 in Barnett and Duvall, Power in Global Governance (2005).
1. POWER AND POLITICS Although politics is easier to identify than to define, a useful and tolerably precise understanding associates politics with allocating valued resources and opportunities. This make politics distinctively a domain of power. But, as we have seen above, we must be careful not to confuse force and power. David Easton's classic book The Political System defines politics as the authoritative allocation of values. “Values” are (tangible or intangible) “things” that are positively or negatively “valued;” that is, they are perceived by those who experience or reflect upon them as providing a benefit or imposing a cost. Politics allocates values. As the title of another classic work (by Harold Lasswell) puts it, Politics: Who Gets What, When, How. Politics involves authoritative allocations. Authority, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “power or right to enforce obedience; moral or legal supremacy; the right to command, or give an ultimate decision.” “Power” and right, however, are complexly related. Power sometimes involves capabilities unrelated to right: “ability to do or effect something … or to act upon a person or thing;” “capacity of producing some effect.” Force often provides power in this sense. Many coerced allocations thus are with good reason called political. Power, however, may also be a matter of right or authority: “authority given or committed;” “legal authority vested in a person or persons in a particular capacity.” Other definitions combine authoritative and nonauthoritative capabilities: “possession of control or command over oth-
102 ers; dominion, rule; government, domination, sway, command; control, influence, authority;” “personal or social ascendancy, influence;” “political ascendancy or influence.” Both force/capability and right/authority are central to politics in the broad sense of the processes that determine who gets what, when, and how. Politics is the application of power – both material capabilities and authority – to allocate valued “things.” Politics in this sense is not restricted to “the political sector” nor necessarily focused on differentiated political institutions (such as the state). Politics is about authoritative allocations, wherever and however they occur. This makes not just international relations but all politics in some fundamental sense power politics – but neither necessarily nor essentially the politics of force.
2. POWER AND FORCE Force/capability and right/authority are ideal types that mark the end points of a continuum of types of power, and thus politics. Most power is more or less a matter of force (and other material coercive resources), more or less a matter of authority (and other persuasive resources), and usually a complex mixture of the two. Knowing the mix in a particular society or political system offers a useful first-approximation characterization of that system. For example, where a realist politics of force does prevail, that is indeed an essential fact about such systems. The power that flows from the barrel of the gun is clumsy and extraordinarily expensive to exercise. Those who rule primarily by force are not unusually strong but weak and vulnerable. Although force often emerges victorious in a contest with authority, the days of a conqueror, usurper, or tyrant usually are numbered unless she can acquire a considerable degree of legitimate authority. Conversely, those with authority usually have little (immediate) need for force. Nobody who can appeal effectively to right relies on might – or, if they do, they usually are seen as irrational, perverse, or both. Force and authority typically are partially substitutable. In addition, one often is used to acquire the other. In most reasonably stable polities, force attracts authority and authority attracts force in a circular, mutually reinforcing, process. Might and right converge, producing authority backed by capabilities.
103 People often do act out of compulsion; because they have been forced to act that way. Control over the means of coercion certainly is an important aspect of politics. But control over the means of persuasion is at least as important. People also regularly act of respect for authority, a sense of right, legality, fairness, duty, or propriety. In fact, if power is the capability to control outcomes, authority is often a much more “powerful” kind of power than force. The persuaded need not be coerced. And it usually is a lot easier to keep people persuaded than to continue to coerce them. Power also can be categorized by its sources and characteristic domains of exercise. W. G. Runciman, drawing on the great sociological traditions of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, identifies economic, symbolic, and military power. Michael Mann identifies networks of ideological, military, economic, and political power. 1 Whatever the details, though, politics centrally involves authority, and thus ideational and institutional power, joined with material capabilities that are readily turned to coercive uses. The recently popular language of “soft power” points in a similar direction. But not only is “soft power” vague – notice how institutional and ideational power point precisely and the sources and kinds of power involved – it gives too much to the hard science of realism and the hard power that it studies. It also has unfortunate connotations. In the world of power politics – especially in the world of powerful men running powerful states – who wants soft power? Real men – and realist states – want their power hard. Perhaps, though, I am being too hard on soft power – which, if we look for it, may have a subversive dimension to it. For example, hard power is hard to use; it is inflexible, clumsy, brutal – often in needless and counter-productive ways. Conversely, soft power is flexible. And it can insinuate itself into a situation, rather than be forced to (crudely and expensively) smash its way in. Soft power might even be seen to challenge the line between coercion and cooperation that is at the heart of hard power accounts of international relations, thus suggesting new frames of reference for IR. In any case, this is one more illustration of the fact that how we think about the world – in this case power – may have important consequences. 1
W. G. Runciman, “Origins of States: The Case of Archaic Greece,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 24 (1982), pp. 362-363; Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power, Volume I: A History of Power from the Beginning to A.D. 1760 (1986).
3. POWER AND GOVERNANCE Virtually every aspect of social life has some impact on something that someone values. Politics is thus everywhere: in the family; in the office; in bowling leagues, rock bands, chambers of commerce, scientific societies, charities, and churches. A few social institutions, however, are defined primarily by their allocative role. These ordinarily are the focus of political analysis. But we should be careful not to focus on form to the exclusion of function. To exercise power by authoritatively allocating values is to govern. This suggests a special focus on institutions and processes of governance. (Compare §9.2) We should not, however, narrow our attention to “the government.” In addition to formal governmental institutions, governance centrally involves informal and non-governmental institutions and practices. Governance also occurs in societies that do not place their allocative/governing functions primarily in separate institutions that only (or primarily) govern. International societies usually feature governance without (a) government. Now, let’s make one final distinction, between internal and external politics. Politics may take place within a polity, in which case it is studied by the field of Comparative Politics. Politics also takes place between polities, where it is studied by the field of International Relations. Our subject matter then is how polities – states and other political communities – interact with each other. Slightly more broadly, to include TRANSNATIONAL as well as international relations, IR considers politics that occurs across state boundaries. What drives international relations, thus understood? This course has suggested “power,” broadly understood to include equally force, institutions, and ideas. If international politics is fundamentally power politics, it is much more than the politics of force. Where international relations is indeed primarily a domain of force, that is not an unusually clear expression of the essential nature of politics in anarchy. Rather, it is a particular, contingent, historical construct; just one of the many forms that international relations often takes.
4. POWER IN GLOBAL GOVERNANCE Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall have developed a four-fold conceptualization of power that is gaining considerable popularity in the discipline. It tells a similar story, with slightly different emphases.
105 Barnett and Duvall (Basic Reading, p. 8) define power as â€œthe production, in and through social relations, of effects that shape the capacities of actors to determine their own circumstances and fate.â€? They advance a model in which power is differentiated by the kinds of social relations through which it works and its relational specificity. Power, in this account, can be either direct or diffuse and it can be expressed or enacted either in the interactions of specific actors or in social relations of constitution. Combining these two dimensions yields Figure 12. Figure 12: Four Forms of Power Relational Specificity
Power works though
Interactions of specific actors
Social relations of constitution
Compulsory or coercive power involves the direct application of resources by one actor to another: pointing a gun, offering money, issuing moral denunciations. This is indeed a familiar kind of power â€“ but only one kind, and not a paradigm for power in general. Institutional power also works through specific interactions, but indirectly. This distinction is not a matter of whether the power holder is an individual or a collective, corporate entity. (Institutions like the state regularly exercise compulsory power.) Institutional power is exercised indirectly through institutions, one or more steps removed from the sort of direct, face to face, interaction that is the model of compulsory power. These two forms of power might be called (direct and indirect) regulative power. Power, however, also is constitutive. Barnett and Duval again distinguish between direct and indirect forms. Structural power is direct in the sense that the actors are constituted in power relations (e.g., master-slave, the liberal capitalist global economy). Productive power is indirect in the sense that it is rooted in discourse and control over meanings and identities (e.g. civilized, rogue, democratic states; civilian versus soldier; state vs. terrorist). The details, and the choice of labels, are not particularly important. The distinction between regulative and constitutive power, however, is cru-
106 cial. So is the broad conceptualization that understands power as running from face to face compulsion of individuals to extremely diffuse power in which there is no person, group, or institution that can said to be exercising it. And because constitutive structural and productive power typically is hidden from view (especially in comparison with compulsory power), it deserves special attention and emphasis. Because it is so completely a part of the fabric of lived social reality, constitutive power’s effects – its ability to, in the terms of Barnett and Duval’s definition, “shape the capacities of actors to determine their own circumstances and fate” – often are evident only when subjected to critical inquiry (in the critical theory sense of that term). IR needs the analytical resources to address power in its many forms. In addition to a multidimensional conception of power, this requires an expanded conception of the structures of social and political systems – the subject of the next and final lecture. ADDITIONAL READING Andrew Hurrell, “Power, Institutions, and the Production of Inequality,” in Barnett and Duvall, Power in Global Governance (2005). Michel Foucault, “Truth and Power,” in Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings (1980) (reprinted in Paul Rabinow, The Foucault Reader). A classic statement, by the twentieth-century’s most original theorist of power, of its fundamentally nonmaterial nature. Robert W. Cox, “Gramsci, Hegemony, and International Relations: An Essay in Method,” in Cox, Approaches to World Order. A classic application of the Gramscian notion of hegemony – a mix of normative and material power, with ideas and institution in the foreground and force in the background. Jeremy Pressman, “Power without Influence: The Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy Failure in the Middle East,” International Security 33 (2009): 149-179 Georg Sørensen, “The Case for Combining Material Forces and Ideas in the Study of International Relations,” European Journal of International Relations 14 (2008): 5-32.
107 L ECT UR E 18
THE STRUCTURES OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETIES The preceding lectures, although they include some original formulations of well-known material, have been, by design, relatively uncontroversial presentations of standard subjects. This final lecture is largely original – some might say idiosyncratic. Building on several arguments from above, it advances a new framework for structural analysis. Even by the standards of this course, what follows is pretty abstract and theoretical. In fact, to be entirely honest, it really is for advanced students. Nonetheless, if you have gotten this far, I encourage you to at least give it a look. In synthesizing a wide range of material, it provides something of a review of the course – although undertaken with much broader and rather different theoretical objectives.
1. RETHINKING THE ELEMENTS OF STRUCTURE Mainstream IR still operates within Waltz’s tripartite conception of structure: ordering principle, functional differentiation, and distribution of capabilities. In the lectures above I have (explicitly or implicitly) advanced the following critiques of this conception. •
The “ordering principles” of anarchy and hierarchy are not a dichotomy, do not exhaust the range of ordering principles, and should not even be understood as ordering principles, in the ordinary sense of that term.
Anarchy has no determinate effects. And it is a profound analytical blunder to try to conceptualize the structure of international relations within the confines of anarchy and polarity alone.
There is functional differentiation in international relations. Institutions, norms, and identities create differentiated actors occupying particular positions with specific roles.
Institutions and ideas are part of the structure of international societies – because they, no less than force, systematically shape and shove international actors. The same analytical criteria that make the distribution of capabilities structural also make institutions and ideas structural. It is logically inconsistent and substantively selfdefeating to restrict structure to material capabilities.
Dominant unit type(s) is also structural.
Material, institutional, and ideational elements of structure mutually shape one another. Causation does not run only from force to institutions and ideas but also from institutions and ideas to force and material interests.
Polarity provides an inadequate account of the material structure of international societies.
After some behind the scenes shaking and baking, these points suggest the following list of elements of social and political structures: •
stratification, or relations of super- and sub-ordination, based both on authority and on material capabilities;
functional differentiation, and other systematic differences between actors and social positions that are not stratified;
unit type, particularly the type(s) of dominant units;
geography and (military and non-military) technology;
institutional or “constitutional” structure.
I will briefly lay out a conception of stratification that illustrates the benefits this expanded framework. For the other elements, space permits only the most superficial overview.
2. STRATIFICATION Anarchy is not an ordering principle, in the ordinary language sense of a characteristic feature or practice that differentiates a system and gives it a particular quality. As we have seen, anarchic systems come in a variety of qualitatively different forms. Anarchy and hierarchy, however, do point to a central element of social and political systems, namely, stratification. And stratification has both normative and material dimensions (which are captured awkwardly in Waltz’s categories of ordering principles and distribution of capabilities). Knowing who stands above, below, or equal to whom – and the extent to which equality and inequality are based on authority or material capabilities – is central to understanding the structure of social and political systems. There are at least three important forms of stratification: actors may be unranked (equal); they may be ranked according to a single hierarchy; or they may be ranked in multiple hierarchies.
109 Unranked orders come in at least two forms of interest to IR. Actors may be “equal” because no one has any authority, as in Hobbesian states of nature (which are also materially unranked). Actors, however, may be “equal” because they have the same authority. Consider sovereign states in contemporary international society – although great and small powers are not materially equal, a point to which we will return below. Single-ranked orders have one hierarchy that runs through the whole system. The Roman Empire at its peak and the classical Indian caste system are international and national examples. Social and political systems may also have multiple hierarchies. Medieval Europe is a striking, relatively complex example. And when we look for it, multiple ranking is quite common in international relations. It is central to protectorates, concerts, systems with competing hegemonic leagues, transnational security communities, and, as we will see in a moment, even great power systems. Heterarchy, a neologism coined in neuroscience and now used regularly in branches of computer science, anthropology, and business studies, describes such hierarchies.
3. GREAT POWERS AND UNIPOLARITY Two examples illustrate the flexibility and utility of stratification – and the obfuscations of IR’s standard anarchy-hierarchy account. Structural realism sees a great power system as a multipolar orderstructured by the rough equality among a few great powers. The material subordination of small powers is simply ignored (in favor of their formal equality). And great power systems are (bizarrely) seen as structurally identical to states of nature and systems of sovereign states with no great powers. Great power systems, however, are in fact heterarchic. They are differentiated into great powers and lesser powers which stand in multiple relations of super- and subordination. There is formal equality among all states; material inequality between great and lesser powers; material equality among great powers; and rough material equality among lesser powers (or within subsets of materially unequal lesser powers). As we noted above, structural realism only applies to the relations among great powers (or among relatively equal lesser powers). It cannot comprehend relations between great and lesser powers – because, we now see, anarchy and distribution of capabilities inadequately account for stratification. And misdescribing the pattern of stratification in the
110 type of system that structural realism treats as its central empirical referent is, to say the least, deeply disappointing and problematic. Consider now systems (or subsystems) with one great power. The standard structural account sees no difference between a balance of power system with one great power and what in Figure 11 (§.12.1) I called hegemony, dominion, and empire. Such differences are of great substantive importance: rule, legitimated domination, leadership, and raw material power involve very different kinds of relationships with lesser powers. Such central political differences are neither uncommon nor particularly difficult to conceptualize. Structural realism, however, fails to capture them – because of its profoundly inadequate conception of stratification. A structural theory must at minimum be able to give a clear and reasonably accurate account of the basic lines of stratification within a system. Anarchy and polarity simply do not do that. A simple framework of unranked, singly-ranked, and multiply-ranked systems is at least a significant a step in the right direction.
4. OTHER ELEMENTS OF STRUCTURE Stratification is sometimes referred to as vertical differentiation. Differentiation is the process by which social actors and positions are distinguished from one another. No less important than vertical differentiation is horizontal differentiation, which creates differentiated but unstratified actors, positions, and roles. Old-young, married-unmarried, citizen-alien, male-female are, in the first instance, matters of horizontal differentiation – although they often also are stratified in particular systems. Functional differentiation – the assignment of functions to social positions and institutions – is a particularly important type of horizontal differentiation. All but the simplest societies have significant functional differentiation. In international relations, this often involves assigning management functions to the strong. In rich and robust international regimes, though, functional differentiation may be extensive. An international society with a large number of significant international regimes will have considerable functional differentiation. These forms of differentiation need to be understood if we are to understand the basic structural forces that operate in a system. In §15.4 we already saw that the dominant type of unit in a system was an important part of a system’s structure. We might consider this a par-
111 ticular conjunction of functional and vertical differentiation. Anthropologists and sociologists talk of segmentation, the ways in which social groups are defined and people assigned to them. However we conceptualize it, though, it deserves special note and attention. More than that I have no space to say here. Polarity provides almost as inadequate an account of the material structure of international societies as anarchy does of their institutional and ideational structure. This is suggested by Snyder’s categorization of technology as a “structural modifier.” It also is suggested by the obviously important role of geography that has sadly been removed from most structural accounts by Waltz’s truncated conception of structure. These elements, at minimum, belong in our account. Again, though, space permits no elaboration. Finally, there is the broad – probably too broad – category that I have called institutional or constitutional structure. I am almost embarrassed to say anything, because I can say so little. I suspect, though, that among the important elements that we should consider here are principles and practices of international legitimacy (analogous, perhaps, to Philpott’s three faces of sovereignty); principles and practices of internal legitimacy (which are linked with unit type); hegemonic cultural values (the importance of which we saw in the European balance of power and which is especially clear in imperial systems); and what we might call foundational regulative practices, which we might think of in functional terms (such as, but going beyond, Bull’s three primary values of coexistence).
5. STRUCTURAL INTERNATIONAL THEORY Recall that in discussing structural realism I noted that to say much about all but a tiny slice of international relations one needs to supplement its standard account of structure. One route involves adding additional “non-structural” variables: for example, perception or domestic politics in neo-classical realism or institution in neo-liberal institutionalism. But this effectively gives up on structural theory. My expanded conception attempts to rescue and revive structural theory. Determinate behavioral predictions will still be hard to make from structure alone. The amount of real shaping and shoving done by this set of forces, however, is substantial. This conception of structure at least offers the potential for structural international theories that tell us a wide range of very important things about international systems.
112 This account, of course, is nowhere near as simple and elegant as Waltz’s. But parsimony is a much overrated virtue. And in the case of IR’s standard tripartite conception, simple has become simple-minded and elegance has been purchased at the price of irrelevance. Our theories cannot be simpler than the world allows. Something like the conception of the elements of structure outlined above is, I would argue, about as simple as we can get when it comes to things as large and diverse as international societies. In any case, a multidimensional conception of power and an expanded account of structure will allow you to go back out into the world – as an analyst, a practitioner, or a concerned citizen – armed with powerful analytical tools for understanding some of the central forces in the international system that recurrently shape and shove states and other international actors.
GLOSSARY ANARCHY Absence of government or rule (or, more broadly, absence of hierarchy of any type). Usually taken as a defining feature of international relations, making determining what effects (if any) anarchy has a central theoretical concern of IR. APPROACH A general theoretical orientation – used in this sense in contrast to a “theory” understood as a particular substantive account of how the world operates. BALANCING Aligning against other powers, especially rising powers. (Opposite of BANDWAGONING.) BANDWANGONING BALANCING.)
Aligning with rising powers.
CLASSICAL REALISM A style of REALISM that gives roughly equal weight to human nature and anarchy. Leading exponents include Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, Reinhold Niebuhr, E. H. Carr, and Hans Morgenthau. CONSTITUTIVE RULES Rules that make something what it is; constitute it as an entity or practice of a particular sort. (E.g., a rook in chess is a piece that moves along an open rank or file.) (Compare REGULATIVE RULES.) CONSTRUCTIVISM An APPROACH to IR that focuses on the social construction of actors, their interests, and the structures within which they interact. (Compare RATIONALISM.) DEFENSIVE REALISM A style of STRUCTURAL REALISM that treats states as driven by fear more than acquisitiveness, tending to produce “status quo” great powers concerned principally with preserving (not improving) their relative power position. Kenneth Waltz is the leading defensive realist theorist. DISTRIBUTION OF CAPABILITIES How power is divided among the actors in a system. (One of three defining elements of structure in IR’s standard WALTZIAN conception of structure.) ENGLISH SCHOOL An APPROACH to international studies emphasizing the idea of international societies, especially the social values and institutions by which order is produced and maintained.
114 FORCE Used in a broad sense in this course to refer to material capabilities as a cause of international behavior, in contrast to INSTITUTIONS and IDEAS. FUNCTIONAL DIFFERENTIATION Differentiation of social positions, institutions, actors, or roles by function. (Contrasted with the horizontal differentiation created by stratification.) Although an essential element of the structure of national political systems, many students of IR deny that it is of much significance in anarchic international orders. (One of three defining elements of structure in IR’s standard Waltzian conception of structure.) GOVERNANCE Ruling or regulating (governing) a domain of activity. Government is (only) one institutional mechanism by which governance takes place. GREAT POWER A state with roughly as much power as any other state in the system. POLARITY is measured in terms of the number of great powers. HIERARCHY Ranking in grades or classes, one above another. Usually presented in IR as the opposite of anarchy – although in fact anarchic orders may also be hierarchic (as in hegemonies, empires, and concert systems). IDEAS Items of knowledge or belief. Used in this course narrowly to refer to norms or values (ideas about right and wrong) and identities (ideas about who one is) as a cause of international behavior, in contrast to FORCE and INSTITUTIONS. INSTITUTIONS Persistent and connected sets of formal and informal rules. Also used narrowly in this course to refer to rules and practices that are not primarily rules of right and wrong or matters of identity (which are considered here under the rubric of IDEAS). INSTRUMENTAL RATIONALITY Instrumentally rational actors chose behavior to realize ends (whatever they might be). It is irrational for me to flap my arms in order to propel myself to the moon because there is no plausible connection between the behavior and the end. (Often contrasted to “substantive rationality” which seeks to evaluate the “rationality,” in a very different sense of that term, of ends.) RATIONALISM assumes that actors are instrumentally rational. LEVEL OF ANALYSIS The source or location of an explanation. IR typically recognizes three levels of analysis: individuals, states, and the international system. (Compare UNIT OF ANALYSIS.)
115 NEO-CLASSICAL REALISM A style of realism that begins with STRUCTURAL analysis but then adds individual and state-level variables to produce richer and more determinate explanations of state behavior. NEO-REALISM Another term for STRUCTURAL REALISM. OFFENSIVE REALISM A style of STRUCTURAL REALISM that sees fear and uncertainty leading great powers to seek to increase their absolute power and to improve, not merely maintain, their relative power position. John Mearsheimer is the best-known contemporary offensive realist theorist. ORDERING PRINCIPLE Establishes fundamental relations of stratification between actors in a political system. ANARCHY and HIERARCHY are usually seen in IR as the two basic political ordering principles. (One of three defining elements of structure in IR’s standard Waltzian conception of structure.) POLARITY The number of GREAT POWERS – poles of power – in a system. A conventional measure of the DISTRIBUTION OF CAPABILITIES. PRISONER’S DILEMMA (PD) A situation in which self-interested actors of a certain type, in an anarchic environment in which cooperation is at best uncertain, are rationally led to conflict despite the fact that both know that both could be better off by cooperating. R ATIONALISM An APPROACH to IR that, for the purposes of theory, treats the interests of actors as given and their behaviors as the result of INSTRUMENTALLY RATIONAL calculations. (Compare CONSTRUCTIVISM.) REALISM An APPROACH to IR that sees anarchy and egoism necessarily producing a politics of power and security. Also often referred to as political realism, power politics, or Realpolitik. REGIME International regimes are coherent sets of norms and procedures that govern an issue area (e.g., the global human rights regime, the international trading regime). Regimes are a striking example of governance in the absence of government and a principal source of rulegoverned social order in contemporary international society. REGULATIVE RULES Rules that govern or otherwise regulate action. (Compare CONSTITUTIVE RULES.) RELATIVE GAINS Actors who pursue relative gains are concerned not with the absolute amount of their gains or losses but with their holdings
116 relative to others. Power and prestige are inherently relative; how much you have depends both on your own holdings and those of others. Important in IR because cooperation often is more difficult when actors pursue relative gains. SECTOR A substantive domain of international action. SECURITY DILEMMA An anarchy-induced situation in which even defensive actions by adversaries are (not un)reasonably taken as threatening, leading to responses that in the extreme case produce a degenerating spiral of fear and conflict. SELF-HELP In anarchic environments there is no government to protect states’ interests. Therefore, they must rely on measure under their own control, producing a distinctive logic of interaction. STATE 1) A generic term for polity; an autonomous political unit. 2) A particular type of polity, characteristic of modern politics, with a monopoly on jurisdiction and the use of force with a given territory. Unless otherwise noted, in this course “state” without an adjective should be taken in the broad sense of polity. STATE OF NATURE An imagined pre-social condition (or a model of international relations in such a condition). STRUCTURAL REALISM A style of REALISM that emphasizes anarchy and the distribution of capabilities, replacing theories of human nature with the minimal assumption that states in anarchy pursue survival and self-interest. TRANSNATIONAL RELATIONS Relations between private actors (e.g., multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations) across international boundaries. (In contrast to inter-state relations.) UNIT OF ANALYSIS The thing being explained. Dependent variable. (Compare LEVEL OF ANALYSIS.) WALTZ, KENNETH Leading structural realist theorist of international relations, whose conception of system structure (composed of ORDERING PRINCIPLE, FUNCTIONAL DIFFERENTIATION, and DISTRIBUTION OF CAPABILITIES) has become standard in the discipline.
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A Short But Serious Introduction To International Relations: The Structures Of International Societies, by Jack Donnelly