POLI 150

POLI 150 - POLI 150 8/29/2007 Grand Theories of...

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POLI 150 8/29/2007 Grand Theories of International Politics 1. Grand Theory Overview a. Focus on the structural level i. Is the system anarchical or hierarchical? ii. How is power distributed among states? 1. Single dominant state or multiple equal powers iii. What is the goal of states? (assumed to be the same as all) 2. Realism a. Contemporary: neorealism (structural realism) b. Thucydides’ History of The Peloponnesian War c. Human nature is flawed (Hobbes) i. Without a leviathan to dominate, people will resort to anarchy d. States are the key actors in international politics i. Less of a role for international institutions, domestic interest groups, multinational corporations, or other non-state actors. e. Survival is states’ primary goal i. Pursue other goals (including power) only if they don’t conflict with survival ii. States usually seek to maximize (relative) power (Mearshimer) f. Military power is the most important type of power i. While not always necessary, the implicit threat of military power helps to drive diplomatic negotiations g. The way in which power is distributed will determine how stable the international community is i. Hegemony (global or regional, Mearshimer) 1. Single dominant country, preponderance of power ii. Prediction: bipolarity vs. multipolarity 1. bipolar system will be more stable than a multipolar system a. Allows state to focus on opposing great power iii. Prediction: Tendency towards a balance of power (Thucydides) h. Relative gains i. States care about relative, not absolute, power. ii. International politics is a zero-sum game 1. any advantage one country gains is a loss for another country iii. Conflict is more like than cooperation, given concerns about cheating and relative gains 1. Prisoner’s Dilemma i. Foreign Policy: Realpolitik i. Focus on policies that serve the national interest (survival, power) rather than on ethical concerns 1. states shouldn’t sacrifice their interests for humanitarian, etc. causes
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2. Only intervene when national survival is at stake 3. Today’s ally may be tomorrow’s enemy ii. Deal with other powerful countries in a practical manner (calculated aggression), which sometimes means confrontation and other times means diplomacy 3. Liberalism a. Contemporary: neoliberalism (neoliberal institutionalism) b. Human nature is basically good c. Survival is important, but many states move beyond this, focusing on things like economic growth. i. Military force is of limited utility (fungibility-transferability) 1. Useful for military conflict 2. Cannot be useful in international trade, etc. d. Non-state actors play an important role in international politics i. Transnational actors (e.g. NGOs, MNCs) ii. Role of international institutions e. Domestic politics matter to IR f. States can cooperate, even under anarchy i. International politics is primarily concerned about collective action problems 1. Common pool resources (tragedy of the commons) 2. Public goods (non-excludable, jointly consumed), such as
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POLI 150 - POLI 150 8/29/2007 Grand Theories of...

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