Posts Tagged ‘Intro to IR’

Final notes for Intro to IR

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

When using dyad interactions for statistics (measuring frequency and number of interaction,m war events) It is not useful to use dyad years. This forces the data to duplicate if an event falls across to years, or if more than one vent falls within the same year. Instead interaction between individuals and states tend to cluster (see book Bursts which is lame but makes this same point) SO instead of a Dyad year, once should use dyad cluster of interaction. (Dyad means that an event is counted twice from perspective of both actors interacting).

Game theory assumes first game to be T0 but this isnt really the case, there are a long list of previous interactions that come previously, and actors change after every round played. Game theory is good as an analytical type, to explain, but not to predict. If history is a single event, point 0 is in three thousand BC.

There is no point in talking about theory without referring to empirical examples. The cases make the theory. If every case is unique then the only way to create theory is from experience. (phenomenology Husserl)

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Intro to IR Classical and neo Liberalism notes

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

When Hobbes in part2 chapter 17 he mentions that the sovereign has a duty or natural benefit of creating internal peace and protection against enemies abroad. The implication is that abroad and enemies are something predefined for some political unit. In his case it is perhaps non-Britain or Muslims, not clear. But assumption that here may be organic communities before there is a leviathan. So in this case this also challenges the all men equal in a state of nature thing.

So in class we counted Smith and Kant and Hobbes in the same tradition. Prof argues that economic and political liberalism have the same roots. They hold in common an understanding of the sovereignty of the individual and an emphasis n the individual as the unit of politics.All idealists and liberals believe that humans are good but flawed so all of them place controls to highlight the inherent good and mitigate the flaws.=

Pre-sovereign state assumed to be natural, but what forges communities in politics. Is it geography? Why does the sovereign have to stop at any borders, if all men were equal there would be one global sovereign.

For Hobbes the equality is that anybody can kill anybody else.

There is tension in Adam Smith’s opinion on institutions. Are they intrinsically bad all the time?  He shows that primogeniture brought forth the wealth of towns and in this sense that institution was good. Some state intervention is good, like building infrastructure.

Wealth of town is a small city, not wealth of the state. For Smith there is no inter-state trade but trade between isolated towns. Small politically delineated classes.

All these accounts have the role of the autonomous individual as ultimately important. They maximize utility to create a good outcome.

Note: Why did the tradition of anthropology drop out in political science? If at least to debate the limits of the possible. Trend in 1500-1800 to focus on human nature. No one seems to focus on it after that period. Nazi influence? Feminist theorists perhaops are the most anthropologically aware in the field..

Note: Hospitality in Kant requires everyone to have their place. Having a place from which to provide hospitality must be crucial for admittance. So in 1882 some zionists argued that jews would always be persecuted until they had a place from which they could provide hospitality. Even for the international jews not living there.


Keohane starts with the assumption that cooperation is a puzzle. If it isn’t puzzling or unnatural it can’t be researched. So already operating within Realist framework. He gives up the individualism of classic liberalim focuses on states within anarchy, and how institutions can help ease information flows and improve outcomes and provide some stability in relations. Also gives up the cosmopolitan ideal of Kant and the possibility of moving beyond the state and bringing out the good in man.

Delinks economic from military power. Regimes influence the context in which states and actors work and therefore influences their behaviour by allowing cooperation.

All scholarship has naturalized claims. In neoliberalism  these claims are anarchy self interest, self regarding. Lack of violence is good, or is equal to peace. Institutions and regimes definitely help promote periods without violence.

The ideal realist position would claim that inst. dont’ matter since it is all about states and their power. (I don’t really agree with that)

but lib inst argue that once an inst is set up it limits the possibility of future action. Even on the powerful actor that instituted it. Inst are bureaucracies so they also grow and develop interests of their own.

Prof gives example of GATT that when US had supremacy it changed the rules to suit it.

Point: So are institutions just an inertia of the power balance in which they emerged and were founded? If so how can the US change institutions gradually to benefit its own interest? Then any radical change of institutional direction requires a disruption of balance of power. But US doesnt want disruption it wants change within the existing institutions so it takes its shots whenever it can and pushes constantly in the direction of its interests. Gradual change can be seen in change of bretton woods system (see authoritarianism reading)

(international institutions existed before european hegemony but Europeans destroyed them. They were transferred from chinese to arabs to persian relatively stable in terms of economic trade i guess or strait of malaca, so it’s not really new but a return to normalcy)

Cooperation and mutual adjustment comes to benefit the powerful party constantly. cooperation here means unfair compromise, where the weaker party gives up more. (if for you it is an inconvenience but for me it is death it is not cooperation or bargaining)

Not that all cooperation is reflection of power, but yes most of it.

Often the weaker party cannot maintain the status quo even. Either you join WTO or you don’t get loans, and are closed of the economy. So impossible to stay in prior state, that is cooperation here, it sucks.

Institutions can work well in favour of the weak however, and they can not just reflect power dynamics. EU standards first put up to be impossible for countries to join in from communist economies. But with time they saw the rules and worked towards them and now many of them are accepted and even Turkey wants to get in. So standards also create defined goals and opportunity.

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EH Carr Morality and Realism

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Carr’s 20 years crisis is a book worth revisiting from time to time. I recently gave it another read and I was surprised as to how relevant it still is. Whether this is because there is some timelessness to Carr whose book is a classic right up there with Hobbes, or perhaps because I am just imposing the present backwards doesn’t seem to make much difference at this point.

The twenty years crisis is the transition period in world politics in which the mantle of power is given from the UK to the United States. In this time a wave of utopianism (according to Carr) Swept the sphere of international politics and within the league of nations and other international realms came to undermine the foundations on which true or “real” order had been maintained.

Carr lets loose a directed criticism of this “utopianism” he is a dualist in that he believes that facts do exist external to man and they do frustrate his actions. Carr is a brilliant writer and his narration of events, perhaps anb influence of his training in history, perhaps because he is just English is a delight to read.

He divides power into three main domains, Economic, Military, and Propaganda. For Carr Utopian ideals should meet realism which looks at the world as it is not as it should be. In this the main point I want to focus on is where at several places in the book he uncovers morally disguised action as simple power politics.

So when the British wanted to stop the germans and French from building submarines they argued it was against international law of war, but they maintained a vast naval power which they argued was for defense. The realist would see that utopian lecturing is simply a cover for pure power based behaviour. It is generally the dominant owers in the world which establish the norms and rules under which they maintain their rule. Another example is the attitude of the US to free trade. Up until 1840 the US was against free trade, but it shifted its position when it became the dominant economic power.

This does not mean that Carr believes there can be no action towards a better international sphere. He argues for a balance of utopian ideals based in a realist outlook of what is possible. So perhaps propaganda can be separated from true moral intentions. He mentions that there are lost opportunities at the end of the first world war, in which Wilson blinded by Idealism set up an ineffective league, where instead he could have set up an effective organization to lead international politics.

Carr’s Realism is actually closer to cynicism in that it not only deals with the base causes of the distribution of power, but it also uncovers the propaganda used to justify it.

The point I wish to hold Carr up to is that in his model utopianism becomes impossible. If one were to place the cynicists gaze on every enterprise no normative enterprises would remain. He would require a brief lull in the realist cynciism for the institutionalization of new normative orders before they are torn down again.

Ultimately Carr is a good realist but he fails to provide an exit for normative behaviour. Most importantly it becomes impossible to judge between different actors. Taking a current example,  the Nato led war, or rebel uprising in Libya can be seen in cynical terms as the expansion of Western order into Libya. But it surely does have some moral or normative ideals  which move it. Maybe it doesn’t after all there are many more injustices and brutalities in the world which NATO doesn’t seek to interfere in, this looks like a case of reasserting stability in the international realm by pouncing on an opportunity. “events my dear boy, events”

So the thing is that Carr’s position is untenable, there can be no utopianism. Perhaps his measure is “less deaths are better than more deaths” but then that would just bring up millions of ways in which this could be thwarted. In fact this motto is the farthest possible position one can take from normative reform. Economic sanctions may be worse than war, repressive regimes may cause less death than an uprising. In general Carr fails to provide a model in which normative and real action can be taken, but the impression is that, by far the largest  chunk goes to realist action 90/10.

The truth is that within Carr’s model there can be no reform (at least in this book elsewhere he expands his vision in a different way).

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