Discussing An Ethnic Conflict Or War

Global Politics



A u s t r a l i a • B r a z i l • J a p a n • K o r e a • M e x i c o • S i n g a p o r e • S p a i n • U n i t e d K i n g d o m • U n i t e d S t a t e s




Global Politics, Tenth Edition Juliet Kaarbo James Lee Ray

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Maps xi

Preface xiii

Theoretical Perspectives and Historical Background 1

1 Theories of Global Politics 2

Realism 4

Criticisms of Realism 7 Liberalism 7 Idealism 13 Neo-Marxism 15 Constructivism 17 Feminist Perspectives 19



2 The Historical Setting 24

Global Politics in Ancient Times 25

The Emergence of the Modern State and the Contemporary International System 27

Eighteenth-Century European Relations 29 The Impact of the French Revolution 30 Nineteenth-Century European Relations 31

The Age of Imperialism 32

The Twentieth-Century World Wars 34 The Breakdown of the Nineteenth-Century Alliance System 34 The First World War 35 Postwar Settlements and the Interwar Years 38




Challenges to the Status Quo 41 The Second World War 43 The Impact of the Second World War 48

Theoretical Perspectives on the History of Global Politics 48



3 The Modern Era 53

The Origins and Early Years of the Cold War 54 Confl ict over Eastern Europe 54 The British Retreat and the U.S. Policy of Containment 57 The Cold War in Asia 58

Decolonization and Regional Confl ict in the Cold War Context 61 Vietnam 63 The Arab-Israeli Confl ict 65 Other Superpower Involvement in the Third World 67

Changes in East-West Competition 68 Two Cuban Crises 68 Détente 69 The Rebirth of the Cold War 70

Changes in the International Economy and the Rise of Interdependence 72

The End of the Cold War 73

The Post–Cold War World: Challenges to Sovereignty 79 Ethno-Religious Confl ict and Failed States 79 Security Threats 82 Globalization 87

Theoretical Perspectives on Global Politics in the Modern Era 90





Actors in Global Politics: Power and Policy 95

4 The Power of States and the Rise of Transnational Actors 96

Nations and States 97

The Power of States 98 The Paradox of Unrealized Power 98




Military Capabilities 99 The Impact of Resolve 103 Economic Capabilities 105 The Power of Agenda, Ideas, and Values 105 Matching Capabilities to the Task 108

Measuring Power 109 Indicators of Military Power 109 Indicators of Economic Power 111 A Simple Index of Power 113

Transnational Actors: A Challenge to States’ Power? 116

Multinational Corporations 119

Nongovernmental Organizations 126

International Terrorism and Terrorist Groups 131 Terrorism’s Challenge to the State System 134



5 Inside States: The Making of Foreign Policy 140

Public Opinion 142 Does the Public Know or Care About Foreign Policy? 143 Is Public Opinion Moody or Wise? 144 Does Public Opinion Infl uence Foreign Policy? 145 Should the Public Infl uence Foreign Policy? 149

Differences in Political Systems 150 Are Democracies More Peaceful? 151 How Do Differences in Political Institutions Affect Foreign Policy? 154

Interest Groups and Domestic Opposition 157 Do Interest Groups Infl uence Foreign Policy in Democracies? 157 Does the Military-Industrial Complex Infl uence Defense Policy? 159 What Is the Role of Military and Political Opposition Groups in

Nondemocracies? 162 What Effects Does Political Opposition Have on Foreign Policy? 163

Foreign Policy Bureaucracies 164 SOPs in Action: The Cuban Missile Crisis and Responses to the September 11

Attacks 167

Characteristics of Leaders and the Psychology of Decision Making 170 Leaders’ Beliefs 170 Information Processing 173 Leadership Styles 175 Group Decision Making 176







Interactions of Actors: Security Relations 181

6 International Confl ict: Explaining Interstate War 182

Explaining Confl ict Between States: Analyzing Wholes and Parts 185

Systemic Explanations of Interstate War 186 Anarchy 187 Distribution of Power 187 Interdependence 193 Systemic Explanations of Three Wars 194

State- and Dyadic-Level Explanations of Wars 195 Type of Economy 196 Types of Governments and Domestic Opposition 197 Democratic Dyads 198 State- and Dyadic-Level Explanations of Three Wars 203

Decision-Making-Level Explanations of Wars 205 Bureaucratic Politics and Standard Procedures 205 Beliefs and Perceptions 206 Decision-Making-Level Explanations of Three Wars 207

Multilevel Explanations of War: Using Caution When Comparing Levels of Analysis 211



7 Ethnic Confl ict and International Terrorism 215

Ethnic Confl ict in Global Politics 216 What Is Ethnicity? 218 The Scope of Ethnic Confl ict in the Contemporary Global System 221 The Role of the International System and Economic Modernization in Ethnic

Confl ict 224 Other Causes of Ethnic Confl ict 226 Resolving Ethnic Confl icts 232

International Terrorism 238 Defi ning Terrorism 238 The History of Terrorism 241 The Origins of Terrorism 247 Dealing with Terrorism 251







8 Efforts to Avoid Confl ict: Alliances, Arms, and Bargaining 259

Alliances 260 Balancing 261 Bandwagoning 263 The Size of Alliances 263 Other Factors in Alliance Formation and Maintenance 265 Alliances and War 266 Alliances After the Cold War 268

Arms and Arms Control 271 Conventional Weapons 273 Arms Races and International Confl ict 274 Conventional Arms Control 275 Nuclear Weapons: Thinking the Unthinkable 277 The Nuclear Arms Race and the Prisoner’s Dilemma 279 The Threat of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction 282 Nuclear Arms Control 286 Beyond Nuclear 290 Efforts to Control Ballistic Missile Technology and Chemical and Biological

Weapons 292

Bargaining and Negotiation 294 Coercive Diplomacy and Bargaining Strategies 294 Diplomats and Their “Games” 296



9 Global Security Efforts: International Organizations, Law, and Ethics 302

International Organizations and Collective Security 303 Early Attempts to Organize for International Security 303 Collective Security: Principles and Prerequisites 303 The League of Nations 305 The United Nations 307 Peacekeeping as an Alternative to Collective Security 312 Peacemaking in Ethnic Confl icts and Failed States 314 Other Ways the United Nations Attempts to Promote Peace 318 The Future of the United Nations 319

International Law 324 Sources and Principles 324 The Impact of International Law 326

Ethics, Morality, and International Politics 328 The Ethics of War and Nuclear Deterrence 331





The Ethics of Intervention: Human Rights Versus States’ Rights 338 Women’s Rights 341 An Emerging Legal Right to Democracy 345

International Cooperation: Norms and Regimes 345 Norms Against War 348 Norms Versus Power 349




Interactions of Actors: Economic Relations 353

10 Interdependence Among Rich States: International Political Economy in the North 354

The Era of U.S. Economic Predominance and the Liberal International Economic Order 357

Economic Liberalism Versus Mercantilism 357 The Bretton Woods System 362 The International Monetary Fund 364 The World Bank 366 The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 367 How the System Worked 369 Nixon’s Surprise 371

The International Political Economy After Bretton Woods 372 The Economic Turmoil of the 1970s 372 The Decline of American Hegemony? And New Players in the Global

Economy 373 Turbulence in World Finance and the Global Economic Crisis 379 International Economic Institutions Today 384



11 The Developing States in the International Political Economy 389

The Economic Gap Between the North and the South 390 The International Debt Problem 396





Explanations of the North-South Gap 398 The Historical Explanation: Imperialism 398 Dependency and Neo-Imperialism Explanations 400 The Role of MNCs in Economic Dependency 403 The Economic Liberal Explanation of Underdevelopment 409 The “Economic Miracle” of East Asia 409

Development Strategies for the South 412 Strategies Associated with neo-Marxism 412 Liberalization Strategies 417 Addressing Gender Inequality and Disease 421

The Role of the International Organizations in Economic Development 425

Moral, Economic, and Security Implications of the North-South Gap 426




12 Regional Economic Integration in the Global Political Economy 431

Economic and Political Integration in Western Europe 432 Federalism Versus Functionalism 433 The Institutions of the European Union 436 The Process of Integration 438 The Future of the European Union 441

Economic Integration Among Developing States 446 Obstacles to Integration Among LDCs 447

Economic Integration Across the North-South Divide 451

Regional Integration, Supranationalism, and the International Political Economy 454

Theoretical Perspectives on Regional Institutions 457



Global Challenges 463

13 The Global Environment and Its Inhabitants 464

Environmental Challenges 465 Atmospheric Conditions and Climate Change 465




Shrinking Natural Resources 468 Overpopulation 471

Assessments of the Challenges: Optimists and Pessimists 474 Food Supplies 475 Population Growth 475 Reserves of Natural Resources 477 Pollution and Climate Change 480 Complex Relationships Connecting Environmental Challenges 483

The Politics of Environmental Cooperation 484 The Environment as Collective Goods and Common Pools 486 Political Obstacles to Environmental Cooperation 489

Theoretical Perspectives on Environmental Cooperation 494




14 Globalization: Contemporary Dynamics and the Future of World Politics 501

What Is Globalization? 502 Economic Globalization 503 Political Globalization 507 Cultural Globalization 508 Factors Behind Globalization 511

A Historical Perspective on Globalization: How New Is It? 514 Historical Roots 515 Distinctive Characteristics of Contemporary Globalization 517

Globalization and Its Discontents 518 Unequal Globalization 519 Nationalism as a Countertrend 520 Other Sources of Opposition to Globalization 523

Globalization and the State: The Future of World Politics 525 “The State Is Dead” 527 “Long Live the State” 528 Understanding the Future of Globalization and the State 530



References 537

Index 575





Ancient Greek City-States 26

Choosing Sides in the First World War 36

Squabbling over Eastern Europe After the Second World War 55

Decolonization, 1945–1980 62

Confl ict in the Middle East 66

Europe (1991) After the Disintegration of the Soviet Union 76

Modern Islam, 2005 86

Countries GDP around the World 112

Sunni and Shia Distribution 220

Ethnic Groups of Africa 234

The New NATO, 2004 270

Low-Income Countries 392

The Asian Tigers 410

Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 449

Members of the Asian Pacifi c Economic Cooperation (APEC) Agreement 455



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Global Politics has long been praised for providing students with the historical and theoretical background to understand the complexi- ties of international relations. Indeed, one of the key strengths of the text continues to be its clear, comprehensive coverage of the historical and theoretical bases of world affairs. It introduces the major theories and paradigms important in the study of international relations, integrates theory into the discussion of many topics, and presents a straightforward history of the international system from its inception to the present. But more than a discussion of what has occurred in the past and why, this Tenth Edition is also a thorough study of the contemporary issues and events infl uencing modern international relations. These topics include globalization, one of the most important processes affecting relations be- tween states and nonstate actors today, as well as coverage of the develop- ing world, ethnic confl ict, regional integration, international norms, the politics of environmental problems, and challenges to state power and sovereignty. In short, Global Politics develops three key themes—the his- torical, the contemporary and policy-oriented, and the theoretical—and emphasizes the extent to which they complement one another.

The Framework of the Tenth Edition Global Politics is arranged in fi ve parts: (1) theory and history, (2) states, transnational actors, and foreign policy, (3) security relations, (4) econom- ic relations, and (5) global challenges. This organization highlights the text’s hallmark coverage of history and theory, and also spotlights today’s most urgent issues and the latest developments in the study of interna- tional relations.

Developments in global politics relating to security and economic issues have been incorporated throughout the Tenth Edition. These include the on-going occupation of Iraq, the confl ict between Russia and Georgia, ethnic and religious confl icts (such as in Iraq, Darfur, and Georgia), the state of World Trade Organization negotiations in the Doha Round, the Lisbon Treaty in the European Union, nuclear proliferation (including on-going developments in Iran and North Korea), international terrorism (including the attacks in London and Madrid, and the 2008 bombing in




Mumbai), the global economic crisis that began in 2007 and the reactions to it, and the election of Barak Obama as the 44th President and how this might affect U.S. global relations. Several new Policy Choices boxes have been added to the Tenth edition.

The breakdown of content and revisions, chapter-by-chapter, is as follows:

● Chapter 1, “Theories of Global Politics,” covers six major perspectives on international relations (realism, liberalism, idealism, neo-Marxism, constructivism, and feminist perspectives) and clearly explains the premise and signifi cance of each theory.

● Chapter 2, “The Historical Setting,” covers ancient times to World War II, including the development of nations and states and imperialism, as well as a new Policy Choices, examining whether Britain should have appeased Hitler. A discussion of how the major theoretical perspectives interpret and use history is included in both Chapters 2 and 3.

● Chapter 3, “The Modern Era,” provides a fully updated treatment of global politics since World War II, including updated sections on ethnic confl ict in the post–Cold War era (the Arab-Israeli confl ict, Darfur, tensions in India and Sri Lanka, Sunni-Shia confl ict in Iraq, and the Russia-Georgia confl ict), nuclear proliferation (Iran and North Korea), the Bush Doctrine and the on-going war against terror, an expanded discussion of failed states (Somalia and Haiti), and coverage of the fi nancial crisis of 2008 and its global economic implications.

● Chapter 4, retitled “The Power of States and the Rise of Transnational Actors,” now includes information on both state and nonstate actors, such as the piracy off the coast of Somalia. The chapter features material on state formation and power, plus sections on multinational corporations, nongovernmental organizations, international terrorism, and a new Policy Choices, Should States Support the Activities of NGOs?

● Chapter 5, “Inside States: The Making of Foreign Policy,” explores the foreign policy approach: how what goes on inside states explains why states may not act as expected in response to international conditions. The chapter discusses public opinion, political institutions, interest groups, bureaucratic politics, and the psychology of leadership. Cover- age includes groupthink in the previous Bush administration and early indications of how Barak Obama will lead.

● Chapter 6, renamed “International Confl ict: Explaining Interstate War,” discusses the causes of interstate wars at the system level, state and dyadic level, and decision-making level of analysis, and applies these levels to the World War I, World War II, and Cold War cases.

● Chapter 7, “Ethnic Confl ict and International Terrorism,” focuses fi rst on ethnic confl ict globally, including the recent confl ict in Georgia and UN involvement in Rwanda, with discussions of the meaning of




ethnicity, the prevalence of ethnically based wars, and various causes of and solutions to ethnic confl ict. It then covers the defi nition of ter- rorism, an expanded analysis of its history and origins, and its impact on the world today, noting recent events in Mumbai and around the Middle East. Finally there’s a new Policy Choices box, analyzing the effectiveness of the War on Terror.

● Chapter 8, “Efforts to Avoid Confl ict: Alliances, Arms, and Bargain- ing” focuses on global relations among states, including states’ use of alliances, arms, and bargaining to deter and compel other states, with expanded coverage of newer forms of balancing. It also includes updated material on efforts to control conventional and mass destruction weap- ons, such as the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran.

● Chapter 9, “Global Security Efforts: International Organizations, Law, and Ethics,” continues the discussion with coverage of the internation- al organizations, ethics, norms, and laws that govern state behavior and attempt to avoid, or at least regulate, international confl ict. The chap- ter explores the complex relationship between the United States and the United Nations, as well as the role of international organizations in humanitarian intervention.

● Chapter 10, “Interdependence Among Rich States: International Political Economy in the North,” initiates the discussion of economic relations among states with coverage of the basic concepts of macroeconomics. It discusses economic liberalism, mercantilism, and economic systems throughout the world, focusing on international trade and fi nance, and also examines the impact of multinational corporations on the global economy. New to this edition is coverage of the 2008–2009 fi nancial crisis with its global economic implications, and a new Policy Choices feature, examining whether economic liberalism should be the basis of the world economy.

● Chapter 11, “The Developing States in the International Political Eco- nomy,” describes the problems that developing countries encounter in the international economic system and provides explanations for the gap in wealth between the North and the South. The chapter includes material on the role of multinational corporations in economic dependency and the role of international organizations in economic development, as well as coverage of Latin America’s increasingly leftist orientation and the Doha round of trade negotiations.

● Chapter 12, “Regional Economic Integration in the Global Political Economy”, shifts the focus away from state boundaries in the inter- national system and toward the development of regional economies, and includes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mercosur in South America, and updated and expanded coverage of the European




Union (EU). A new section discussing various theoretical perspectives on regional institutions has also been added.

● Chapter 13, “The Global Environment and Its Inhabitants,” describes contemporary challenges to the global community. This edition provides updated statistics and developments on food and natural resource short- ages, population growth, and global warming, as well as the politics that complicate solutions to global environmental problems.

● Chapter 14, “Globalization: Contemporary Dynamics and the Future of World Politics,” is a discussion of economic, political, and cultural globalization. It describes the role of technology in the development of globalization, explores its historical roots, and, with new expanded coverage of views that oppose globalization, asks students to consider the benefi ts and disadvantages of living in an increasingly interdepen- dent world.

Features of the Tenth Edition The Tenth Edition includes a number of helpful pedagogical features for students. The “POLICY CHOICES” boxes, which were so well received in previous editions, have been retained and expanded. These boxes analyze crucial contemporary issues in a debate format, with arguments for and against each position that bring the issue to life and help students think critically about the presented material. New topics are “Should Britain have Appeased Hitler?” (Chapter 2); “Should States Support the Activi- ties of NGOs?” (Chapter 4); “Is the War on Terror an Effective Policy for Addressing Terrorism?” (Chapter 7); and “Should Economic Liberalism Be Abandoned as the Basis for the Global Economy?” (Chapter 10). The Tenth Edition also includes a marginal glossary that defi nes KEY TERMS on the pages of the text where they are fi rst introduced, as well as a brief outline on the opening page of each chapter that previews key content. Each chapter concludes with a bulleted SUMMARY and a list of KEY TERMS with page references. An extensive list of references by chapter is located at the end of the text, and there are both name and subject indexes at the end of the text for ease of reference.


Instructor’s Resource CD A test bank in Microsoft® Word and ExamView® computerized testing offers a large array of well-crafted multiple-choice and essay questions, along with their answers and page references. An Instructor’s Manual includes learning objectives, chapter outlines, discussion questions, suggestions for stimulating class activities and




projects, tips on integrating media into your class, simulations, and sug- gested readings and Web resources. A variety of blank maps of different areas of the world can be printed out or used online to test students’ knowledge of important geography.

Companion Website Students will fi nd open access to learning objectives, tutorial quizzes, chapter glossaries, fl ashcards, and crossword puzzles, all correlated by chapter. Instructors also have access to the Instructor’s Manual.

Wadsworth News Video for 2010 DVD This collection of three- to six-minute video clips on relevant political issues serves as a great lecture or discussion launcher.

The Rand McNally Atlas of International Politics This atlas offers maps of the world showing political organization, popu- lation statistics, and economic development; maps highlighting energy production and consumption, major world confl icts, migration, and more; and extensive regional coverage. Students will fi nd it useful for un- derstanding world events and to supplement their studies with “Global Politics.”

Acknowledgments For the Tenth Edition, Juliet Kaarbo acknowledges the support of the University of Kansas and, while on a research fellowship at Bilkent Uni- versity in Ankara, support from the Scientifi c and Technical Research Council of Turkey. Ryan Beasley provided extensive and valuable feedback and suggestions on many sections of this edition. Jeffrey Lantis, Mariya Omelicheva, Phil Schrodt, and Brent Steele, lent materials, perspectives, and support. Adam Brown and Will Delehenty served as the research as- sistants for this edition, and their work is very much appreciated.

The following people provided extensive, detailed, and helpful com- ments on this edition:

David V. Edwards, Professor of Government, Univ. of Texas at Austin Daniel Masters, Department of Public and International Affairs,

University of North Carolina Wilmington Christopher M. Sprecher, Texas A&M University John Conybeare, University of Iowa

Juliet Kaarbo Lawrence, Kansas



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Theoretical Perspectives and

Historical Background





C H A P T E R 1

Theories of Global Politics


Criticisms of Realism • Liberalism • Idealism • Neo-Marxism • Constructivism • Feminist Perspectives


Key Terms



Global politics concerns the relations between different actors in the world, the characteristics of those relations, and their consequences. It has to do with the nature of those actors, how they have changed over time, and how their interactions have changed over time. Global poli- tics, also commonly referred to as international politics, world politics, or international relations, includes questions of international confl ict (for example, why do countries and ethnic groups go to war with one another, and what contributes to peaceful relations?), questions of inter- national economics (for example, why and how do states enter into trad- ing agreements with one another, and how is wealth distributed in the world?), and questions that transcend actors but confront them nonethe- less (for example, what contributes to global environmental problems, and how is cultural, political, and economic globalization changing world politics?). The major purpose of this book, Global Politics, is to help students understand world politics in the past, present, and future. The process begins in this fi rst chapter with a discussion of theoretical perspectives on the way international relations operate. Theoretical perspectives of international politics provide answers to these basic questions: Who are the main actors in international politics? Why do actors do what they do in international politics? What are the underlying factors that govern relationships in global politics? How have international relations changed or stayed the same over the centuries? What accounts for confl ict and cooperation in international politics? Each of the theoretical perspectives presented in this chapter provides different answers to these questions. Each perspective is based on differ- ent assumptions about humans, governments, and international politics. Each can provide a different analysis of the same event in international politics, such as the Vietnam War, the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the rise of the World Trade Organization, internal confl ict in Sudan, or the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss and compare these alternative takes on international politics. This chapter presents an overview of these theoretical perspec- tives. Subsequent chapters will illustrate how these perspectives can be used to explain more specifi c topics of international politics. Understanding alternative theoretical perspectives is important for understanding world politics for two main reasons. First, everybody already has some theoretical perspective in mind when they consider international relations. Even students new to the subject bring with them sets of assumptions about the world and its actors. When you read about current events or the history of international relations, you are seeing the “facts” through a particular lens. Knowing what lens you are using and what alternative lens may be available will help you better understand how you are interpreting the facts and how facts may be seen in different ways.

global politics The relations among different actors in the world, the characteristics of those relations, and their consequences.

theoretical perspectives Alternative interpretations of how international relations work, why actors do what they do, and what underlying factors govern relationships in global politics.

Theories of Global Politics 3



4 Chapter 1 Theories of Global Politics

Second, understanding alternative theoretical perspectives allows students of international relations to analyze global politics in the future, long after they fi nish reading this book or taking courses on the subject. When students learn only history and contemporary issues and the par- ticular explanations of historical and contemporary events, their knowl- edge of global politics is limited in time, because new issues and events are always arising. Students who understand more general theoretical perspectives have the capability of analyzing international relations that have yet to take place. Thus, the theoretical perspectives provide more long-lasting analytical tools. The most prominent theoretical perspectives for understanding global politics are realism, liberalism, idealism, neo-Marxism, construc- tivism, and feminist perspectives. Each perspective has a different focus for understanding international relations. It is not the case that one per- spective is clearly “right” and the other is clearly “wrong”; all have something to contribute to our understanding of world politics. One perspective, however, may be more appropriate than others for certain parts of international relations or better at explaining certain events. Indeed, the study of global politics is about discovering what the various theoretical perspectives do best.


Realism is the fi rst theoretical perspective for understanding inter-national relations that we consider, because it has historically been the dominant lens through which world leaders and scholars alike have understood global politics. Indeed, realism can be traced back to Thucy- dides’ account of the Peloponnesian Wars between the Greek city-states Athens and Sparta in 431–404 B.C.E.1 Thucydides, a historian, described and explained the relations between these actors with realist proposi- tions. Realism was also the dominant way leaders in Europe in the sev- enteenth through early twentieth centuries understood international relations. It was during this period that the modern international system was created, largely based on realist notions. After World War II, scholars of international relations embraced realism as the dominant perspective for explaining global politics. The chief advocate of the realist theory of international politics was Hans J. Morgenthau, considered the father of modern realist thought. His classic text, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, was fi rst published shortly after World War II and carefully defi ned the realist theoretical perspective that most scholars would then adopt.2 Because of this dominant position, in many ways, all of the other theoretical perspectives for understanding global politics are reactions to and criticisms of realism. The fi rst proposition of realism, also known as Realpolitik, is that states are the most important actors in global politics. States are gov- ernments that exercise supreme, or sovereign, authority over a defi ned

realism A theoretical perspective for under- standing international relations that emphasizes states as the most important actor in global politics, the anarchical nature of the international system, and the pursuit of power to secure states’ interests. Also known as “Realpolitik” or “power politics.”

Thucydides Greek historian who wrote about the Peloponnesian Wars between the Greek city- states Athens and Sparta in 431–404 B.C.E. Thucydides’ accounts described and explained the relations between these actors in a realist approach.

Morgenthau Considered the father of modern realist thought with his work, Politics Among Nations, fi rst published shortly after World War II.



Realism 5

territory. Sovereignty means that states are legally the ultimate authority over their territory and no other actor in the international system has the legal right to interfere in states’ internal affairs. States are the countries such as France, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Senegal, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States, on world maps. For realists, it is these states, and not their leaders, their citizens, business corporations, or international organiza- tions, that are the key actors and determine what happens in the world. States can, if they choose, control all other actors, according to realism. Realism is state-centric because of the central and predominant position that states play in this perspective. The second proposition of realism answers the question, why do states act the way they do in international politics? States, according to realism, pursue their interests, defi ned as power. State interests, rather than their values or ideological preferences, are the reason behind every state act. And it is the maximization of power that is in a state’s interest. Thus, everything a state does can be explained by its desire to maintain, safeguard, or increase its power in relation to other states.3

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, for example, was a power move, according to the realist perspective. It had nothing to do with its leader, Saddam Hussein or his personality. It had nothing to do with the authoritarian nature of the Iraqi political system or any anti-Western beliefs held by some in the Middle East. For realists, it was simply a chance for Iraq to maximize its power against Kuwait and the other key states in the region. For realists, the invasion of Kuwait was in Iraq’s interest, and it would have happened regardless of the leader, political system, or beliefs in Iraq. Similarly, the reaction of the United States and its decision to lead a military effort to oust Iraq from Kuwait was also about interests and the maximization of power. The U.S. interests and power in the region were threatened by the Iraqi invasion, and so the reason behind the U.S.-led Desert Storm operation had nothing to do with the humanitarian interests to save the Kuwaiti people or pure economic interests to safeguard a supply of cheap oil; it had to do with maintaining its power in the region. With this focus on power as the primary goal of states, realist ideas are also known as the power politics perspective. Why is the maximization of power in a state’s interest? The answer to this question is based on the defi nition of the primary actor, the state. Because states exercise sovereign authority over a defi ned territory, and no other actor in the international system has a higher authority over states, there is no world government to look after individual states’ inter- ests. According to realism, the defi ning feature of global politics is that the international system exists as an anarchy.4 Anarchy does not mean chaos or confusion, but simply the lack of an overarching political author- ity or world government. Without a central government, international politics is akin to the philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ “state of nature” or “state of war” in which individuals must fend for themselves and life is “nasty, brutish, and short.”5 For realists, anarchy is what makes inter- national politics so very different from domestic politics, which occurs

states Governments that have legal sovereignty over a defi ned territory.

sovereignty The legal notion that states are the ultimate authority over their territory and no other actor in the international system has the right to interfere in states’ internal affairs.

anarchy According to realism, a defi ning feature of the international system wherein there is no overarching political authority or world government; different from “chaos” or “disorder.”



6 Chapter 1 Theories of Global Politics

inside countries. Within political systems, individuals can live peacefully knowing that there is a government to provide them protection in the form of national defense and internal police and to provide laws that deter or punish those who seek to harm their individual interests. States in the international system enjoy no such luxury. Without an international world authority, they must look out for their own interests. The way they do this, according to realism, is by securing and maintaining their power. Main- taining power is a rational response to the anarchic international system. Because each state must follow a self-help strategy to protect its own interests, states are naturally competitive with each other, eyeing one another with necessary suspicion. Confl ict, then, is an inevitable outcome, and for realists, confl ict and the use of force is the central concern in international politics. War is a means by which states com- pete for power, and, relatedly, the key components of power are military in nature, because ultimately it is the goal of every state to survive and to protect its territorial integrity (if not its citizens as well) in a confl ict-ridden world. Typically such “protection” translates into mili- tary forces. In a dangerous world, states seek greater security by building up their military forces, by making military alliances, and, if necessary, by the prudent use of military force.

After military intervention in Iraq in 2003, U.S. troops often came under attack. The realist perspective sees such confl ict and the use of military force as an inevitable part of global politics. (Scott Nelson/Getty Images)



Criticisms of Realism 7

For realism, the pursuit of power and political interests is separate from economic spheres, moral spheres, and any other sphere of human activity. Moreover, power considerations must come fi rst. Action taken in the name of economic wealth must be evaluated according to how it contributes to or detracts from the national interests. Realists, for exam- ple, sometimes worry that their state’s economic ties with other states, in the form of trade agreements and investment deals, unnecessarily con- strain their state and make them dependent on and at the mercy of others’ interests. Even if an economic agreement will make more money for the state, realists would caution against it if it detracted from the state’s inde- pendence or contributed to the power of a potential enemy. Realists also caution against applying moral principles to state actions. They frown on human rights policies that do not further the power of a state and may even threaten its power. One of the advantages of the realist theory is that it can serve as an explanation for global politics across the many centuries of state interac- tion. Indeed, the focus in realism is on continuity. Because all states, no matter when, no matter where, are all motivated by the same drive to protect their interests by maximizing their power, realism sees great con- tinuity in international relations. Despite all the changes in world poli- tics throughout time, realists say that states are basically doing the same thing as they did all along: seeking power. And realists point out that because of this, confl ict remains a dominant feature of the international landscape today.

Criticisms of Realism

Realism has dominated twentieth-century thinking about global poli-tics so much that most other contemporary theoretical perspectives can be considered reactions to and criticisms of realism. Not all of these alternative theories criticize each proposition of realism. Rather, they focus on particular points of realism and offer divergent ways of thinking about international relations. The most prominent alternatives to real- ism today are liberalism, idealism, neo-Marxism, constructivism, and feminist perspectives. Their reactions to realist propositions are summa- rized in Table 1.1.

Liberalism Next to realism, liberalism is the most accepted alternative theoretical perspective for understanding global politics. In this context, liberalism and liberal are not to be confused with the terms as they are used to mean left-of-center in domestic politics in the United States. Rather, liberalism has a special meaning when applied to an understanding of international politics. Whereas realism stresses great continuity in international rela- tions across the centuries, contemporary liberalism sees great changes.

liberalism A theoretical perspective emphasizing interdependence between states and substate actors as the key characteristic of the international system.



8 Chapter 1 Theories of Global Politics

In particular, states and societies became so interdependent by the sec- ond half of the twentieth century that, according to liberalism, the way they relate to each other changed in fundamental ways. Interdependence means that states and their fortunes are connected to each other. What happens inside one state can have signifi cant effects on what happens inside another state, and the relations between two states can greatly affect the relations between other states. While the fortunes of states may have always been connected, or interdependent, liberalism proposes that a particular kind of interdependence came to characterize the international

interdependence The condition in which states and their fortunes are connected to each other.


Realism and Its Critics

Main Criticisms*

Main Realist Propositions Liberalism Idealism Neo-Marxism Constructivism

Feminist Perspectives

Sovereign states are most important actors

Transnational and substate actors are increasingly important

Economic divisions are more important than political/ state divisions

Women are important actors left out by a focus on male-led states

States pursue their interests defi ned as power

Power is no longer primarily military in nature; economics is important

States are motivated by morality and values

Power, like all other concepts, is subjectively constructed

Military power and individual state interests are masculine ways of thinking

States maximize power to protect themselves in an anarchic world; confl ict is inevitable

Interdependence means states’ interests are intertwined and cooperation is likely

States cooperate to further values, such as peace

Economic confl ict between social classes and between the core and periphery is inevitable

Cooperation and confl ict depend on states’ social understandings

Security is multidimensional and achieved through cooperation

There is great continuity in global politics across time

The post–World War II world is very different

Historical processes such as the development of capitalism and imperialism continue to affect global politics

* As noted in the text, not all of the alternative theories criticize each proposition of realism. Rather, they focus on particular points of realism, offering divergent ways of thinking about international relations.



Criticisms of Realism 9

system, beginning after World War II and in place by the 1970s. According to liberalism, complex interdependence became the dominant feature of global politics.6 Complex interdependence has three specifi c components: multiple channels, multiple issues, and the decline in the use of and effec- tiveness of military force. First, complex interdependence means that there are multiple chan- nels among a variety of actors in international politics. Because realism sees states as the only signifi cant actors, international politics is really confi ned to state-to-state relations. Although liberalism does not deny that these interstate connections remain important, it proposes that states are not the only important actors in global politics. There are a variety of nonstate actors that liberalism sees as sharing the world stage with states. Transnational actors operate across state borders and include mul- tinational corporations (MNCs), which are large companies doing busi- ness globally. These organizations may have plants or factories in more than one state, pay taxes in more than one state, or have investments in more than one state. McDonald’s, Colgate-Palmolive, General Foods, and General Motors are MNCs. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are another type of transnational actor. NGOs are private, international orga- nizations that act across borders and have members in different states, such as the Catholic Church, Greenpeace, the Red Cross, and Amnesty International. In addition, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are actors whose members are states—for example, the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—and can become fairly independent from the states that govern them. Liberalism views IGOs, NGOs, and MNCs as important international connections across state boundaries. In addition, relations between substate actors also make up the multiple channels in a complex interdependent world. Substate actors may be businesses that are not multinational, because they essentially operate within a single border but may buy imported goods from abroad to make their products. Substate actors also include provincial govern- ments that establish trade missions in other countries. California, Texas, and New York are “provinces” in the United States that have extensive relations and diplomatic representation with other parts of the world. Substate actors may also include individuals who travel abroad or have friendships with individuals in other countries. With the growing activ- ity of substate and transnational actors, liberalism sees a complex web of connections across the globe. Focusing only on state-to-state relations, as realism does, misses an important part of world politics, according to liberalism. Furthermore, states are not the only actors to have interests that drive their actions. Nonstate actors have their own goals and inter- ests that sometimes diverge from those of the state. The second component of complex interdependence is that there are multiple issues, not just military security, that are of interest to the vari- ety of global actors. Economic, ideological, religious, and cultural issues are part of the global agenda. Furthermore, security issues do not dominate

complex interde- pendence The dominant feature of global politics according to liberalism. Complex interdependence has three specifi c components: multiple channels, multiple issues, and the decline in use of and effectiveness of military force.

transnational actors Global actors, such as nongovernmental organizations, multi- national corporations, intergovernmental organizations, and private organizations, that operate across borders and share the world stage with states.

multinational corporations Large companies doing business globally, which may have plants and factories in more than one state, pay taxes in more than one state, or have investments in more than one state.

nongovernmental organizations Transnational, private organizations that have members and activities across state borders.

intergovernmental organizations Actors whose members are states, such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

substate actors Actors within a state that interact with others outside the state, such as local businesses that import goods from abroad and provincial governments that establish trade missions in other countries.



10 Chapter 1 Theories of Global Politics

the agenda, as realism assumes. Even issues that realism sees as purely domestic, or internal to the state, can become tangled up in international politics. Environmental regulations, for example, may be adopted by a government to safeguard the health of its citizens, but they can also have an effect on the state’s trading partners, if imports to the country must meet the regulations as well. In this way, domestic policy can automati- cally become foreign policy because of the connections between issues, the multiple channels operating in the world, and the interdependence among actors. Realism’s division of issues as either foreign or domestic, argues liberalism, is out-of-date and artifi cial. Finally, complex interdependence means that military force is not as effective or frequently used as it was in the past. Many of the issues that are of concern to states and nonstate actors do not lend themselves to military solutions. It is diffi cult to solve global environmental problems, for example, through military interventions or the detonation of a nucle- ar bomb. These actions simply make the problem worse. It also does not make sense for a state to conquer a trading partner through military force to address a trade imbalance, because this would destroy the very eco- nomic market to which the state and its businesses want to export goods. Complex interdependence means that states are constrained in their use of military power, because the use of this power only harms the multiple interests of states and other actors. These three components of complex interdependence—multiple channels, multiple issues, and the ineffectiveness of military force for some issues—lead liberalism to expect much more cooperation in global politics than does realism. This is the key point of disagreement between the two perspectives. While liberals do not deny that confl ict occurs, they argue that cooperation is the norm and realism exaggerates the impor- tance of and frequency of confl ict. Liberals point out that states trade peacefully; they sign nonaggression pacts; they share military responsi- bilities; some have very small militaries or even no military at all (such as Costa Rica); and some military rivalries that have endured for centuries (such as France and Germany) have now transformed into military and economic partnerships. At best, realism does not account for the consid- erable cooperation that occurs in international relations; at worst, this cooperation violates realist expectations. Why do states cooperate if the world is so dangerous and anarchic? According to liberalism, states cooperate, because it is in their interests to do so. Because the world is so interdependent, states realize that hos- tile actions are likely to harm their interests as much as those of any potential rival. Also, liberalism points out that the multiple channels that connect nonstate actors constrain states. Even if leaders of states recognize security threats and want to employ confl ictual means, they often face resistance from the public or powerful interest groups, such as MNCs, that benefi t more from cooperation. Of course, it is easier for the public and interest groups to constrain leaders in political systems



Criticisms of Realism 11

that are democratic and provide avenues of infl uence. In democracies, where opposition is legal and allowed, and citizens can hold their leaders accountable for their actions through competitive elections, the multiple channels across societies are more likely to constrain leaders from con- fl ict. Thus, liberalism expects the effects of complex interdependence to be more signifi cant in a more democratic world. The spread of democracy is just one factor that liberalism cites to account for the rise of complex interdependence in the twentieth century. With the end of World War II, the fascist regimes of Italy, Germany, and Japan were transformed into democracies. The end of World War II also brought on the beginnings of decolonization when the European empires gave up their territorial possessions around the globe. In some cases, such as India, these newly independent countries became democratic for the fi rst time. Other factors are also important in the rise of interdependence. The invention of nuclear weapons meant that force, or at least all-out war, was less of an option for the major powers. For the fi rst time in his- tory, using the ultimate weapon in one’s military arsenal meant risking signifi cant damage to all humanity. Also after World War II, wealth began to be distributed around the world to more economies as well, instead of being concentrated in Europe. The United States became the largest economy in the world and spread its wealth through aid packages (such as the Marshall Plan to war- torn Western Europe after World War II) and through a military presence around the globe during the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union. Multinational corporations also spread out across the globe. In the 1970s, oil-producing states begin cooperating with each other to make money off the oil-needy economies of Japan, Western Europe, and the United States. And by the 1980s, newly rich economies sprang up in Asia: in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Indonesia. This new distribution of wealth meant that more countries and their economies were tied together more than ever before. Finally, liberalism points to the technological developments that allowed for increased global communication and transportation. With phones, television, jet planes, faxes, the Internet, and satellites, the world community has become increasingly capable of being in touch and informed on a global scale. The “shrinking” of the world has meant that there are more signifi cant connections, which are encouraging cooperation between states. While these factors—such as democratization, the global- ization of the world economy, and technological innovation—occurred over the course of the second half of the twentieth century, there has been noticeable development in these areas in the past twenty years. With the end of the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union (and the collapse of the Soviet Union), democratization, economic globalization, and global communications have reached an unprecedented stage. Liberals say that this makes complex interdependence even more critical for understanding current and future world politics.



12 Chapter 1 Theories of Global Politics

The last major difference between realism and liberalism concerns the role of international organizations. Not only are international organi- zations increasingly present in global politics, serving as a potential chal- lenge to states as the dominant actor, but liberalism sees states as actively promoting the rise of international organizations, particularly intergov- ernmental organizations in which states are members. International insti- tutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization facilitate cooperation, which liberals see as in the interests of states. Inter- national institutions provide an arena for communication and diplomatic bargaining and an alternative to confl ictual means. International institu- tions also help states establish agreements and international law that can provide incentives for cooperation and organized collective responses for punishing states that do not cooperate. Furthermore, international insti- tutions can actually change a state’s interests by developing new norms of international behavior, such as the respect for human rights, and by developing mechanisms for areas of cooperation, such as in economic integration.7 Realism, however, sees these institutions as a threat to state sovereignty and state interests that have little impact on state behavior.8

Contemporary liberalism, as a theoretical perspective for understand- ing global politics, has its roots in many strands of liberal philosophies. Writers of eighteenth-century enlightenment and rationalism, such as the French philosopher Montesquieu and the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, argued that individuals, and states as well, are not inherently evil and can learn to live peacefully if good social institutions are created around them.9 Contemporary liberalism incorporates these ideas in its focus on international institutions and law as positive and desired ways to foster cooperation. Nineteenth-century liberalism, also known as clas- sical liberalism, stressed the importance of the individual and democratic political systems. Philosophers such as John Stuart Mill argued that indi- viduals were capable of satisfying their own interests, and the role of the state should merely be to help provide stability and peace for the realiza- tion of individual interests.10 Contemporary liberalism incorporates these ideas in its focus on how individuals in a democracy can articulate alterna- tive interests to those of the state and on how democratic constraints can produce cooperation. Finally, contemporary liberalism is consistent with early-twentieth-century liberal writings, such as those by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who argued that war was partly a product of nondemo- cratic countries and that war could be prevented through international organizations. Wilson argued that U.S. participation in World War I was about “making the world safe for democracy” by destroying authoritarian governments and empires in Europe. He designed the League of Nations, an international organization whose goal was to make war extremely unlikely. Wilson’s ideas are even more closely associated with idealism and will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. With these philosophical roots, contemporary liberalism offers a fairly comprehensive alternative perspective on the fundamental features of

classical liberalism The nineteenth-century philosophy that stressed the importance of the individual and democratic political systems.



Criticisms of Realism 13

global politics. Liberalism’s chief disagreements with realism concern the predominance of states, the expectation for cooperation versus confl ict, the role of international institutions, and the focus on change versus con- tinuity in international politics.

Idealism Idealism is not as comprehensive as liberalism in its criticism of realism. Rather, idealism focuses on one key point: the absence of morality in realism. Morals and values, not state interests, should and do shape indi- vidual and state behavior, according to idealism. Idealism’s focus on what states “should” do makes it different from other theoretical perspectives. By prescribing how states should behave, idealism is a more normative, or prescriptive, theory. Idealism sees realism’s emphasis on power politics as blind to the underlying values that states try to promote and worries that the realist perspective makes the use of military force an acceptable means without consideration of the ends for which it is used. For most idealists, war must be a last resort, because it takes away human life, a value idealism sees as universally held by all. Idealism shares many features with liberalism and grows out of some of the same philosophical foundations, including the writings of Immanuel Kant. According to idealism, humans are basically good, and it is social institutions that drive them to immoral acts. Perfecting social institutions is not only possible but is the key to promoting coopera- tion and peace in the global society. Thus, like liberalism, idealism sees a role for international organizations in world politics. For liberals, states participate in intergovernmental organizations and desire cooperation, because it serves their interests or the interests of nonstate actors that constrain states. For idealists, cooperation is desirable, because it pro- motes a value—peace—and avoids something morally questionable— war. These were the values that motivated idealists such as Woodrow Wilson to design the League of Nations during the time period between World War I and World War II. The League was meant to promote the values of peace and democracy, but it failed to prevent the Second World War. After World War II, idealist values surfaced in a new international security organization, the United Nations. The charter signed by mem- bers of the United Nations obliges states to pursue peaceful means for resolving confl icts. Efforts by the United States, under President George W. Bush, to democratize the Middle East were consistent with idealism in that democracy was a political ideology and value to be promoted.11

Applying values to international politics is not easy, and idealism does not offer specifi c guidelines for how to do so. Although most ideal- ists agree that human rights, for example, is an especially important value to uphold, there is considerable disagreement over which human rights are the most important and whether they should be considered universal.

idealism A theoretical perspective, in contrast to realism, that focuses on the importance of morality and values in international relations.



P O L I C Y C H O I C E S Trading with China

ISSUE: The advanced industrialized economic states are challenged when they try to balance the economic advantages of trade with China against security and human rights concerns. Realism, idealism, and liberalism offer alternative policy prescriptions on this question.

Option #1: The advanced economic states should limit their economic ties with China.

Arguments: (a) Realists are concerned that trade with China strengthens a potential threat to other states’ security. Economic exchanges on technology can be used for military purposes, and China can use its economic gain to fund its growing military. Furthermore, Chinese threats to Taiwan and its transfer of nuclear technology to Iran and Pakistan should not be rewarded with economic ties. (b) Idealists argue that China should be punished with economic isolation because of its violation of individual political and religious rights, its use of child labor, and its suppression of self-rule in Tibet. The advanced economic states should hold economic exchanges as a reward to China if it conforms to these values.

Counterarguments: (a) China is not a great threat. Although it has a large military, it is not sophisticated technologically and does not come close to matching the capabilities of the United States, the main power with a signifi cant presence in Asia. Furthermore, internal divisions will keep China more focused at home and away from hostile adventures. (b) The application of Western values to China is cultural imperialism and is an intrusion of sovereignty. The advanced economic states would themselves see such intrusions into their own internal politics as unacceptable.

Option #2: The advanced economic states should pursue more economic ties with China.

Arguments: (a) Liberals argue that economic cooperation and interdependence will restrain China from threatening behavior since it is in China’s interest to pros- per economically, and military threats would harm those interests. (b) Liberals also argue that political liberalization will follow economic liberalization and that more contact with other democracies will eventually undermine the authoritarian government in China, thus addressing human rights concerns. (c) Liberals argue that given the importance of economics today and the profi ts that can be made from the Chinese market, it is not in the interests of the advanced economic states to sacrifi ce wealth for security or moral values.

Counterarguments: (a) Increased economic cooperation with China in the past has not diminished its threatening behavior, and democratic structures are not in place to allow those who oppose confl ictual policy to infl uence Chinese decision makers. (b) Human rights violations have continued despite increased economic cooperation with China in the past. (c) Economic trade with China is not that profi table (the United States, for example, has a trade defi cit with China), and there are other sources of economic wealth that do not compromise security and values.




Criticisms of Realism 15

These issues lead to a number of questions: Should one society impose its morals on another, or are values culturally relative? Should societies that value women’s rights, equal rights between ethnic groups, economic equality, freedom from torture, freedom from the death penalty, or demo- cratic political rights apply those values to others who do not? Disagree- ment also occurs over when to use military force in the name of other values. Idealism does not mean pacifi sm, and many idealists would argue that full force should be used in situations that have moral imperatives, such as the prevention of genocide. Yet because idealists also believe that one should weigh the moral end with the immoral consequences of killing, the actual balance of values in a particular situation can spark considerable debate. Idealists, however, would say that debating which values are important and how to apply values to international politics is far better than ignoring values by stressing interests, as realism and liberalism do. The Policy Choices box demonstrates some of the key dif- ferences among realism, liberalism, and idealism on the question of trade with China.

Neo-Marxism Neo-Marxism disagrees most fundamentally with the realist state-centric assumption. Whereas realism focuses on the international system of anarchy and state competition for power, the neo-Marxist perspective focuses on the international system of capitalism, the competition among economic classes, and the relationship of politics and society to capitalist production.12

For this perspective, economics is the primary explanation for world politics. In this way, it is Marxist in its orientation. But whereas Marx concentrated on class confl ict within countries, neo-Marxists concen- trate on global class confl ict. Many neo-Marxists take a historical view of global politics, tracing the development of the world economic system. According to this per- spective, the world economy has always been divided into a core (the “haves”), in which the most advanced economic activities take place and wealth is concentrated, and a periphery (the “have nots”), in which the less advanced economic activities occur and wealth is scarce. Over time, particular country economies may move from core to periphery or vice versa, but what is constant across history is that the globe is split into this core-periphery international division of labor and the economic con- fl ict that is inherent in this divide. “As a consequence, the core receives the most favorable proportion of the system’s economic surplus through its exploitation of the periphery, which, in turn, is compelled to special- ize in the supply of less well rewarded raw materials and labor.”13 Since the development of capitalism (a “mode of production . . . dominated by those who operate on the primacy of endless accumulation”),14 a sig- nifi cant change in the world system, the core has primarily consisted of

Neo-Marxism A theoretical perspective that focuses on the international system of capitalism, exploitation, and the global competition among economic classes.

core Countries where the most advanced economic activities take place and wealth is concentrated.

periphery Countries where the less advanced economic activities occur and wealth is scarce.

capitalism The dominant mode of economic production today, in which the means of production are privately owned and goods and services are distributed in a free market for profi t.



16 Chapter 1 Theories of Global Politics

the industrialized economies of Europe and eventually North America and parts of East Asia, and the periphery has consisted of the economies based on the extraction of raw materials in Africa, Latin America, parts of Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. This particular division of labor did not develop arbitrarily, but instead was a product of the historical expansion of the European pow- ers that in the sixteenth century began colonizing the rest of the world. Colonization involved changing the conquered territories’ economies to suit the needs of the European powers. In most parts of Latin America and Africa, for example, agricultural economies designed to feed the popula- tion for centuries were destroyed and replaced by luxury crops (largely goods exported for Europeans) such as bananas and sugar cane or raw materials such as gold. This imperialism changed the nature of the world economic system to the advantage of the European powers, and the con- fl ict between the core and the periphery involved economic and political domination to ensure continued economic gain on the part of the core.15 Dependency theory, one variation of neo-Marxism, argues that even after the colonized areas became independent, the core continued to exploit the periphery through neo-imperialism—not outright occupation of the areas but indirect domination through military interventions, control of international organizations, biased trading practices, and collusion with corrupted elites who governed the periphery.16 Some neo-Marxists focus on the hegeomony of social and economic classes and the states and inter- national organizations they control to maintin their positions of power. Neo-Marxists are highly critical of multinational corporations who they accuse of using the powers and policies of states to support conditions that are profi table for them—conditions such as wage controls and little fi nancial or environmental regulation. The implications of and debates surrounding neo-Marxism will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 11. At this point, however, it is important to recognize the alternative vision of global politics that it presents compared to other theoretical perspectives. Its focus on econom- ics contrasts greatly with the realist focus on military power. Compared to liberalism, which also recognizes the importance of economic rela- tions, neo-Marxism stresses the historical circumstances that created the capitalist division of labor. Moreover, whereas liberalism sees interdepen- dence as fostering cooperation among states and other nonstate actors, the neo-Marxist perspective sees a particular kind of interdependence— dependence of the periphery on the core—as fostering confl ict among global economic classes. Modern neo-Marxists also focus on forms of exploitation, not just on the basis of class, but also on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other social/economic/cultural constructs. Although neo-Marxism can be used as an explanatory frame- work—to explain international politics—it also (like idealism) has a nor- mative side in that it seeks economic equality, justice, legitimacy, and the emancipation of the global working class.

imperialism The domination of a population and territory by another state. The European imperial powers established colonies throughout the world from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century.

dependency theory A theoretical perspective arguing that after the colonized areas became independent, the core continued to exploit the periphery through neo-imperialism—not outright occupation of areas but through indirect domination.



Criticisms of Realism 17

Constructivism Constructivism represents yet another challenge to realism. To better understand constructivism, we need to look at its basic roots, which (as the name implies) involve “construction.” Although we typically think of construction as involving physical things, like buildings or cars, constructivists consider how the social world is built. There are many different kinds of constructivists, but they all tend to support the idea that the physical world is much less important than the social world and that important parts of the physical world are actually built of, or “con- structed” by, the social world.17

Consider a thief. What exactly is a “thief”? You might readily answer that a thief is a person who steals things. But then you are left with the question of what it means to “steal” things. Again, you might answer that it means taking things that do not belong to you. But, then, what does “belong to” mean? Surely, a constructivist might argue, we know that different societies around the world defi ne things like stealing and possessions differently. Some societies do not even operate on the basis of private property, and thus, the notion of stealing is largely absent. This same sort of thinking applies to actions as well. Murder, for example, is understood very differently depending on how each society defi nes it. The physical acts may be remarkably similar, but killing a prisoner, a politi- cal dissident, an unplanned baby, or a trespasser can all be constructed as very different. We can see, then, that a “thief” or a “murder” are best thought of not as real things, but rather as ideas that are constructed from the rules of a society or a particular social context. Two people might witness a person take something away from another person or end the life of another person, but the physical act could have entirely different meanings to each of the observers. We might even say that thieves and murders do not exist, except insofar as a particular society defi nes them (constructs them) into existence. The physical world, it would seem, is far less important than how the social world constructs that physical world. But how does this apply to international relations, and how does con- structivism represent a challenge to realism? If realism is purportedly based on what is “real,” then constructivism confronts realism by ques- tioning “reality.” Realists (and Liberals) tend to objectify the world by asserting that there is a single, knowable, true world that is separate from one’s social context. Constructivists counter that there is no certain, per- manent, factual reality, and even if there were, physical truths matter less than social constructions. Thus, constructivism questions some of the basic claims of realism. Take the concept of a “state.” Recall that states are the central actors according to a realist perspective, and it is the pursuit of state power that drives international relations. Indeed, realists contend that all states are the same in that they are actors pursuing their objective self-interests. But what is a “state”? A realist would answer that it is a government that

constructivism Theoretical perspective that proposes that the physical world is much less important than the social world and that important aspects of global politics are socially “constructed” through systems of norms, beliefs, and discourse.



18 Chapter 1 Theories of Global Politics

exercises sovereign authority over a defi ned territory. But, then, what is a “government,” and what is “sovereign authority”? Certainly the notion of government varies from society to society, as do conceptions of both sovereignty and authority. Moreover, a constructivist might ask what these “objective interests” are that realists espouse; these things are not “facts” in the sense that they truly exist somewhere. Rather, they are constructed from various understandings associated with different societies and cultures. Thus, it becomes important to understand how a state or a society conceives of itself and its interests, rather than simply asserting that all states are the same. Furthermore, constructivists want to know what the shared understanding of state and sovereignty is in the international society as this is what provides meaning for state actions. Constructivists are more interested in understanding shared subjective meanings than the objective. Constructivists apply the same logic to the concept of anarchy, which is central to realism. Realists look at anarchy as the most important char- acteristic of the international system, because each state must then fend for itself rather than appeal to some higher authority. But can we really say that anarchy is a universal truth, viewed and responded to in the same fashion by all the world across all time? Alexander Wendt, one of the best-known constructivists, tackles this very issue in an article titled “Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics.”18 In this article, he suggests that identities and interests of states are not independent of, and are constructed by, their interactions— much as thieves and murders are not independent of, and are constructed by, the social context. Thus, when realists take as a starting point the self-interested nature of states, and only then consider how they will interact with one another, they are presupposing something. They are, in effect, treating interests as given, and then trying to determine how states will interact. They might say that because states are self-interested, they will use force to maximize power when they interact in an anarchical system. But a constructivist would say that interests are not given and that a state will have different interests depending on its interactions. Indeed, the notion of anarchy itself is not a universal but rather is con- structed based on the social context. The social context in this instance is the actual interactions of states (an international society). Thus, anarchy (like thieves and murders) will be defi ned differently depending on how states interact. Anarchy is just what states make of it. Constructivists argue that states’ constructions of the international systems infl uence global politics more than do any objective conditions. One important type of social construction, international norms, can have powerful effects on how states act and understand international rela- tions.19 Constructivists point out that what is right, wrong, or appropri- ate, and even what is in a state’s interest is the product of the collective social context of global politics. Norms against the slave trade, norms against the use of war for offensive purposes, and norms condoning the

international norms Socially agreed-upon standards and expectations about appropriate behaviors of states and other international actors.



Criticisms of Realism 19

interference in internal affairs for human rights have, according to con- structivists, been socially constructed and reinforced by states’ behavior and now act as serious constraints on what states perceive as acceptable behavior.

Feminist Perspectives Much of the feminist perspective in international politics is consistent with the constructivist perspective. Feminist constructivism examines the hidden assumptions about gender in the understanding and practice of global politics. Indeed, feminist constructivism rejects the idea that there is a universal truth, instead arguing that gender and the way gen- der is defi ned colors different understandings of world politics. Feminists argue, for example, that international relations theorizing is largely based on masculine assumptions and reasoning.20

Specifi cally, the principles of realism and its vocabulary are rather masculine in perspective. Realism’s preoccupation with confl ict, domi- nation, and war, for example, refl ects a more masculine way of thinking about human and state relations. Thus, far from accepting a dog-eat-dog conception of autonomous states vying for supremacy as if it were a “real” property of the international system, feminists argue that this is merely a masculine construction of global politics. Furthermore, realism’s defi nition of power as control contrasts with feminine defi nitions of power as the ability to act in concert or action taken in connection with others. Feminists argue that this conception of power is practiced by weaker states but that realism, with its focus on major powers, largely ignores these aspects of international relations. Feminists also defi ne security, a central concept in realism, differently: “Many IR [international relations] feminists defi ne security broadly in multidimensional and multilevel terms—as the diminution of all forms of violence, including physical, structural, and ecological. . . . Most of these defi nitions start with the individual or community rather than the state or the international system.”21 Like idealism, feminism also criticizes realism for its amoral stance. Moral issues, particularly human rights issues, are an important part of a broad defi nition of security but are marginalized in the realist perspective. Feminism might appear to be more comfortable with liberalism and its focus on cooperation and idealism with its attention to morality, but many feminists reject the liberal philosophy of individual interests, as opposed to community interests, that underlie both of these alternative perspectives. In sum, many feminists argue that a deconstruction of the dominant perspectives of international relations will reveal that women have been “systematically omitted in the quest to represent elite male experience and images of reality, as reality per se. . . . The result is a Tra- dition and a discipline, and indeed a whole International Relations com- munity, that has rendered women invisible.”22 Consequently, feminists

feminist constructivism Perspective that rejects the idea of a universal truth, instead arguing that gender and the way gender is defi ned colors different understandings in world politics.



20 Chapter 1 Theories of Global Politics

argue, the study of international relations, especially the dominant real- ist perspective, is masculine in its perspective and thus is only a partial description of international politics. Another part of the feminist perspective concerns the impact that men and women have on international politics and the impact that inter- national politics has on men and women. It may not be surprising that our perspectives on international relations are masculine biased, because males hold most of the important leadership positions. Politics in gen- eral, and perhaps especially international politics, has always been male dominated. According to the World Bank, only about 18 percent of the world’s parliamentarians are female.23 A perusal of the names of the for- eign ministers and defense ministers in all the states of the world shows that only a few are female; also, only a very small minority of ambassa- dors to the United Nations are female. What effect does this underrepresentation of women in leadership positions have on global politics? The answer to this question depends on how differences between men and women are explained. Essential feminism argues that women are inherently different from men in ways that make their contributions to politics differ greatly. According to this argument, men and women have essential biological differences that lead them to think and behave differently in ways that might affect interna- tional relations. In most countries, for example, a gender gap exists in public opinion: men tend to be more supportive of war and confl ictual means for addressing their countries’ problems than are women. If more women were leaders, the argument continues, “a truly matriarchal world, then, would be less prone to confl ict and more conciliatory and coopera- tive than the one we inhabit now.”24

Most feminist scholars in international relations do not subscribe to the view that gender differences are biologically determined.25 Rather, they see gender roles as socially constructed or created and reinforced by the social environment. This view recognizes the differences between men and women and the alternative ways of thinking and behaving that arise from the feminine standpoint but rejects any biological determin- ism and inherent superiority of women. Liberal feminism also rejects biological determinism, but rather than focusing on the unique contribu- tions that women can make, it stresses the similarities between men and women and the entitlement for women to the same rights and responsi- bilities that men enjoy. From this point of view, women can contribute in the same ways as do men with equal capability (e.g., as women leaders, soldiers, and suicide bombers) although political, economic, and social structures, in addition to gender stereotypes, often block their entry into such positions. Liberal feminists point to the women who have held lead- ership positions, such as India’s Indira Gandhi, Israel’s Golda Meir, and Great Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, who were as confl ictual as men in their foreign policies. More generally, a comparison of female and male leaders reveals that “both female and male leaders rely on . . . the use

essential feminism The idea that women are inherently different from men in ways that make their contributions to politics differ greatly.

liberal feminism Perspective that stresses the similarities between men and women and the entitlement for women to the same rights and responsibilities that men have.



Criticisms of Realism 21

of force. . . . Furthermore, both female and male leaders’ average use of violence is equal. According to this evidence, female leaders are not more peaceful than their male counterparts.”26 Other feminists would counter that women leaders must conform to socially constructed male roles in order to get into the positions usually reserved for men. While women are not well represented in the public sphere of global politics, feminists point out that their contribution in the private sphere is no less important, even though it has often been ignored by both politicians and scholars. Women in their public and private work contribute greatly to the international economy. Diplomatic wives support their ambassador husbands through rearing their children and hosting parties. Women make

up a good percentage of regular armed forces, even though they are often restrict- ed to noncombat roles. In many revolu- tionary movements, women participate in the full range of armed confl ict.27

Women, however, tend not to benefi t as greatly from their roles in global poli- tics, and a signifi cant part of the feminist perspective is demonstrating the impact that global politics has on women. For example, “feminists tend to focus on the consequences of what happens dur- ing wars rather than on their causes. . . . They draw on evidence to emphasize the negative impact of contemporary military confl icts on civilian populations. . . . As mothers, family providers, and care-givers, women are particularly penalized by eco- nomic sanctions associated with military confl ict.”28 Discrimination against wom- en, in part because they make up half the human race, is arguably the single most profound human rights issue in the world today. Worldwide, women typically earn less than men either because they are in lower-paying jobs or earn less for the same job. Most of the work women do is unpaid, particularly in developing coun- tries.29 “The differences in the work pat- terns of men and women, and the ‘invis- ibility’ of unpaid work not included in national accounts, lead to lower entitle- ments to women than to men. This ineq- uity in turn perpetuates gender gaps in capabilities.”30

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s fi rst elected woman leader, is a rare exception to the male-dominated world of international diplomacy. (Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images)

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