SIS201Syllabus-2 - SIS 201: The Making of the 21st Century...

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SIS 201: The Making of the 21 st Century Spring 2008 Professor Scott Radnitz Lectures MWF 12:30-1:20, Smith 120 225A Thomson Hall Sections T/Th, various srad@u.washington.edu Final: June 12, 2008, 830-1020 206-543-2467 Office hours: Wednesdays, 3-5 Course website: http://faculty.washington.edu/srad/sis201/ This is an historic moment. We have in this past year made great progress in ending the long era of conflict and cold war. We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order -- a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations. When we are successful -- and we will be -- we have a real chance at this new world order, an order in which a credible United Nations can use its peacekeeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of the U.N.'s founders. --George Bush Sr., 1991 At the end of the Cold War, many people had high hopes that the world could overcome the divisions of the past and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. The so-called New World Order would be led by the U.S. and facilitated by a relatively new phenomenon that captured people’s imaginations in the 1990s—globalization. This world would be defined by the unrivalled dominance of capitalism and liberal democracy. It seemed possible to many at the time. Yet this vision did not work out as planned, and today we are trying to make sense of the international system after 9/11/2001. The 1990s was not the only period in the 20 th century in which world leaders had hoped to transcend the strife, tension, and suffering of a previous era; it also happened in the aftermath of World Wars I and II. And both times, as in the past decade, the situation turned out differently from the optimistic designs of the era’s visionaries. This is not necessarily because history is destined to repeat itself. In fact, the reason for the failure of that vision was in each case unique and unexpected. What happened was that reality intruded; the world is complicated and defies the application of simplistic universal models. This was a lesson we should have learned from the failure of utopian ideologies in the 20 th century. This course is about the evolution of the international system in the 20 th century, with the purpose of providing some tools to help students make sense of the world and its complications. In particular, we will focus on two phenomena that have shaped the character of the international system: power and ideas. How power is distributed in the international system—who has it and who lacks it—is the single most important variable in shaping outcomes of war/peace and poverty/prosperity in the world. But ideas also matter, and throughout the 20 th century, various “isms” have been proposed and put into
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practice. Many of these failed, but even misguided ideas, when combined with power, can have major consequences. As we observe the world in 2008, we can see that history did not begin anew in 1990 or
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SIS201Syllabus-2 - SIS 201: The Making of the 21st Century...

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