Grand Theories of International Security The Twentieth Century
The Case for Theories of IR • Every decision maker relies on theoretical notions • Bad theories lead to bad decisions • Modern social science offers tools to help distinguish bad theories from good ones
IR Theory: A Contested Field • Normative vs. positive theory • Role of political science • Positivist vs. interpretivist • Scope of Inquiry • Micro vs. macro • Behavioral assumptions • Rationalist vs. psychological
Micro --- Macro (scope) Rationalism --- Psychological (behavioral assumptions) Positivism --- Interpretivism (epistemology)
Marxism, systems theorists Scientific Rational choice Anthropology of IR Constructivism Micro --- Macro (scope) Historians Psychological approaches Rationalism --- Psychological (behavioral assumptions) Positivism --- Interpretivism (epistemology)
Standards for Scientific Theories • Define the variables y = f (x1, x2, x3) + • State assumptions (may be heuristic) • State the causal argument (mechanism) • Define the conditions (domain) • State the microfoundations • Derive falsifiable hypotheses • Parsimony
Controversial claim • If IR theory must be vague, unscientific It can safely be ignored • If IR theory can be scientific and precise It will have policy implications It will be essential to understanding history I hope to convince you that political science adds value to the study of international relations
Timeline • International Society • Realpolitik (Balance of Power) • Institutionalism • (Classical) Realism • Neo-Liberal Institutionalism • Neorealism • Constructivism
International Society • Norman Angell. The Great Illusion. (1910). : What are the fundamental motives that explain the present rivalry of armaments in Europe, notably the Anglo-German ? Each nation pleads the need for defence; but this implies that someone is likely to attack, and has therefore a presumed interest in so doing. What are the motives which each State thus fears its neighbors may obey? • They are based on the universal assumption that a nation, in order to find outlets for expanding population and increasing industry, or simply to ensure the best conditions possible for its people, is necessarily pushed to territorial expansion and the exercise of political force against others.... It is assumed that a nation's relative prosperity is broadly determined by its political power; that nations being competing units, advantage in the last resort goes to the possessor of preponderant military force, the weaker goes to the wall, as in the other forms of the struggle for life.
Angell challenges this whole doctrine. He attempts to show that it belongs to a stage of development out of which we have passed that the commerce and industry of a people no longer depend upon the expansion of its political frontiers; that a nation's political and economic frontiers do not now necessarily coincide; that military power is socially and economically futile, and can have no relation to the prosperity of the people exercising it; that it is impossible for one nation to seize by force the wealth or trade of another -- to enrich itself by subjugating, or imposing its will by force on another; that in short, war, even when victorious, can no longer achieve those aims for which people strive....
The fight for ideals can no longer take the form of fight between nations, because the lines of division on moral questions are within the nations themselves and intersect the political frontiers. There is no modern State which is completely Catholic or Protestant, or liberal or autocratic, or aristocratic or democratic, or socialist or individualist; the moral and spiritual struggles of the modern world go on between citizens of the same State in unconscious intellectual cooperation with corresponding groups in other states, not between the public powers of rival States. • War has no longer the justification that it makes for the survival of the fittest; it involves the survival of the less fit. The idea that the struggle between nations is a part of the evolutionary law of man's advance involves a profound misreading of the biological analogy.
The warlike nations do not inherit the earth; they represent the decaying human element.... • Are we, in blind obedience to primitive instincts and old prejudices, enslaved by the old catchwords and that curious indolence which makes the revision of old ideas unpleasant, to duplicate indefinitely on the political and economic side a condition from which we have liberated ourselves on the religious side? Are we to continue to struggle, as so many good men struggled in the first dozen centuries of Christendom -- spilling oceans of blood, wasting mountains of treasure -- to achieve what is at bottom a logical absurdity, to accomplish something which, when accomplished, can avail us nothing, and which, if it could avail us anything, would condemn the nations of the world to never-ending bloodshed and the constant defeat of all those aims which men, in their sober hours, know to be alone worthy of sustained endeavor?
To summarize: The thesis of this work is commonly (and incorrectly) described as saying that the integration of the economies of European countries had grown to such a degree that war between them was unimaginable, making militarism obsolete. However this is not what Angell actually argued. His central argument was that war between modern powers was futile in the sense that no matter what the outcome, he thought both the losing and the victorious nations would be economically worse off than they would have been had they avoided war. Some have contested that the two World Wars that took place after The Great Illusion was published were in fact a tragic confirmation of his thesis. Other historians have argued that Angell disregarded the reality of the complex situation in Europe with its alliances, hatreds and rivalries between nations and therefore he was being utopian.
Realisms • Realpolitik • Classic Realism • Neorealism
Fundamental principles common to realist theories: • The international system is anarchical. • Sovereign states are the principal actors in the international system. • Dismissal of the independent influence of international organizations, sub-state, or trans-state actors. • Focus on the primary importance of nationalism, as opposed to sub-national groupings, or transnational ideological of cultural groupings. • States are rational actors, acting in their national interest. • Distrust of long-term cooperation or alliance. • The overriding goal of each state is its own security and survival. • Fundamental nature of the security dilemma. • State survival is guaranteed best by power, principally military in character. • Focus on relative power (i.e. "zero sum") versus absolute power.
Realpolitik • The term realism comes from the German compound word "Realpolitik", from the words "real" (meaning "realistic", "practical", or "actual") and "Politik" (meaning "politics"). It focuses on the balance of power among nation-states. Realpolitik is foreign policy based on practical concerns (political expediency) rather than ideals or ethics. • Bismarck coined the term after following Metternich's lead in finding ways to balance the power of European empires. Balancing power was the means for keeping the peace, and careful realpolitik practioners tried to avoid arms races. However, during the early-20th Century, arms races and alliances occurred anyway, culminating in World War I.
Origins of Realism • Thucydides (460-400 B.C.) • The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) • Leads to the destruction of Athens and the decline of Greek civilization • “The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon [Sparta], made war inevitable”
Thrace Macedonia Asia Minor Aegean Sea Epidamnus Thessaly Thebes Athens Corinth Corcyra Sparta Ionian Sea Crete
Balance of Power Sparta Athens Epidamnus Corinth Corcyra
Scene One: Corinth vs. Corcyra • Epidamnus rebels, expels nobles, seeks aid from Corcyra, Corinth • Corinth intervenes • Corcyra intervenes on behalf of the nobles
Scene Two: Athens vs. Corinth • Corcyraean arguments: • We have the second strongest navy • Corinth will punish us if we defect • War is inevitable • Corinthian arguments: • Justice • We have precedents for good relations • War is not inevitable—yet The Athenians believed war with Sparta was inevitable
Scene Three: Athens vs. Sparta • Corinthian arguments: • Athens broke the treaty • Your credibility is in question • Do we need to seek other allies? • Athenian arguments: • Remember our role in defeating Persia • Naval superiority • Our empire does not prove threatening intentions • Obtained by accident; we refused to give it up because we are insecure Sparta feared the growth of Athenian power. Ultimatum
Scene Four: Pericles in Athens • Submission to Sparta’s demands is slavery • Athens has the military advantage • We should have limited goals • The Peloponnesian League has a collective action problem • War is inevitable because we cannot commit to refrain from increasing our power in the future
Features of Thucydides’ Realism • Low estimate of human nature • “The strong do as they may, the weak suffer what they must”—Melian dialogue • Prominence of reputation and prestige • Richness of unit-level analysis • Epidamnus civil unrest • Athens and Sparta impose their forms of government on their allies • National power is a function of form of government
Features of Thucydides’ Realism • Consequences of anarchy • Commitments are not enforceable • Self-defense is the primary motivation • Security dilemma-no one can lose Corcyra • Pivotal role of small allies • Power transition hypothesis • Defensive balancing • Interests are defined in terms of power
Institutionalism • Developed as a reaction to the catastrophe of WWI • Agnostic (generally) as to the nature of humankind but optimistic that learning and incentive structure can ameliorate behavior • Domestic solutions can be applied to the trans-national environment and the lack of such state-like structures allowed the War to come • The Peace can best be preserved with the construction of institutions – long-lasting organizations with specified functions – whose job it is to mediate the peace • To some degree building upon the Palmerston-Metternich-Bismarck management of the Concert but diminishing the roles of “national” individuals • Many advocates were idealistic about the replacement of state-identity with that of a global humankind
Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points • 1. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view • 2. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants. • 3. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance. • 4. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
5. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined. • 6. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy. • 7-13 deal with territorial adjustments especially owing to the collapse of the Austrian, German, Russian and Ottoman empires in eastern Europe • 14. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
League of Nations • The League of Nations was an international organization founded after the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The League's goals included disarmament; preventing war through collective security; settling disputes between countries through negotiation and diplomacy; and improving global welfare. Under institutionalism, the League was a government of governments, with the role of settling disputes between individual nations in an open and legalist forum. • The League lacked an armed force of its own and so depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, which they were often very reluctant to do. After a number of notable successes and some early failures, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis Powers in the 1930s. The onset of the Second World War made it clear that the League had failed in its primary purpose—to avoid any future world war. The United Nations effectively replaced it after World War II and inherited a number of agencies and organizations founded by the League.
Absent from the League By the beginning of WWII (1940), the following states were noticeably missing: • Germany (1933) • Italy (1937) • Japan (1934) • Soviet Union (1939) • Spain (1939) • United States (never joined)
Classical Realism • States seek to maximize interests (defined as national power) • Zero-sum game • States expand when they can • Conquest pays • Interdependence leads to conflicts as states seek autonomy
Principles of realism Hans Morgenthau formulated six principles of political realism in his book Politics Among Nations.  These principles form the base of realism: • Politics, like society in general, are governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature which is unchanging: therefore it is possible to develop a rational theory that reflects these objective laws. • The main signpost of political realism is the concept of interest defined in terms of power which infuses rational order into the subject matter of politics, and thus makes the theoretical understanding of politics possible. Political realism stresses the rational, objective and unemotional. • Realism assumes that interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid but not with a meaning that is fixed once and for all. Power is the control of man over man.
Principles of realism • Political realism is aware of the moral significance of political action. It is also aware of the tension between moral command and the requirements of successful political action. • Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. It is the concept of interest defined in terms of power that saves us from the moral excess and political folly. • The political realist maintains the autonomy of the political sphere. He asks "How will this policy affect the power of the nation?" Political realism is based on a pluralistic conception of human nature. A man who was nothing but "political man" would be a beast, for he would be completely lacking in moral restraints. But, in order to develop an autonomous theory of political behavior, "political man" must be abstracted from other aspects of human nature.
Liberalism (in modern forms) • States seek to maximize wealth • Positive-sum game • Focused on absolute gains • Multi-centric: state, IGO, NGO, TNC • The “I” terms matter: ideas, institutions, individuals, interdependence, interactions, ideologies, idealism, integration, issue areas • Conquest doesn’t pay • Interdependence leads to peace • Learning is possible (proactive adaptation)
Neoliberal institutionalism and relative gains
Summary of Repeated Games • Repeated Games are used to model ongoing interaction • 3 Types of Repeated Games • Finitely repeated with known end • Finitely repeated with unknown end • Infinitely repeated • Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma • In finite game with known end, the only Nash Equilibrium [NEQ] (the optimal collective strategy) is for both players to always defect • In infinite games and finite games with unknown end, there may be an infinite number of NEQ • When future payoffs are valued sufficiently in infinite games, cooperation is possible in NEQ — but not guaranteed
Neoliberal institutionalism Claims • RPD demonstrates the feasibility of cooperation under anarchy • Variation in cooperation can be explained by: • Issue areas (Stage game payoffs and iteration—e.g., Lipson) • Institutions (Iteration and transaction costs—e.g., Keohane & Axelrod) • Norms (equilibrium expectations)
Neoliberal hypotheses Stage game payoffs • Taxonomy of games: PD, Harmony, Zero-sum, Coordination • Magnitude of the temptation to cheat (DC-CC) • Magnitude of the punishment (DD-CC) • Variation in cooperation by issue area • Economics vs. security • Cooperation in security? Arms races & crisis management
Neoliberal hypotheses Iteration • Frequency of interaction • Expectation of future interaction • Potential for surprise attack renders security affairs more conflictual • Linkages across issues • Institutions • Monitoring • Break up large transactions into small ones
Neoliberal hypotheses Norms • What is an equilibrium? A set of expectations • Enforced by social pressure (punishment strategies) • Newcomers to a social system become socialized into cooperation (evolutionary game theory) • Norms of the international system vary over time
Relative vs Absolute Gains • (Neo)Realists argued that cooperation is unlikely under anarchy, because there is no one to enforce commitments. • Neoliberals showed that cooperation is possible in repeated PD situations. • (Neo)Realists then respond that states are worried not just about absolute gains, but relative gains. • Even if I am gaining through our cooperation, if you are gaining more, you will have advantage over me in the future.
Grieco (Realism) • Neoliberals emphasize absolute gains (long-term, allow for cooperation) Neoliberal utility function: U1 = V1 state 1’s payoff • Realism emphasizes relative gains (prevent other states from advancing in relative capabilities; can mitigate cooperation – states unlikely to cooperate if other state gains more) Realist utility function: U1 = V1 – k(V2 – V1) coefficient of sensitivity to gap state 1’s payoff k > 0 k small in pluralistic security community; long-term ally k large in state of war; long-term adversary state 2’s payoff
Snidal (Neoliberalism) Relative gains argument not sufficient • Only in special case of high concern for relative gains and low regard for absolute gains does it dominate • Otherwise, neoliberal case for cooperation still strong • Relative gains can be expressed as absolute gains
Absolute vs Relative Gains relative gains argument not sufficient • absolute gains game: • pure relative gains: zero-sum: D dominant strategy no cooperation is possible U = unilateral cooperation F = free ride payoff, F > M > U M = mutual cooperation, M > 0
Implications of relative gains • As long as there is some potential for mutual gain, cooperative equilibria exist for discount factors high enough (Folk Theorem) • If there is no room for mutual gain (the game is constant-sum), non-cooperation is efficient • In cases like this, “cooperation” is undefined • Whenever cooperation is a meaningful concept, it is possible when discount factors are sufficiently high
Neorealist hypotheses • Less durable arrangements lead to more cooperation • Cooperation is greater with large numbers because relative gains concerns are reduced • Linkage reduces cooperation because it raises the stakes • More cooperation between allies under bipolarity
Relative gains as absolute gains • Anything we say about relative gains can be rewritten in terms of absolute gains • The realist argument is that I’m afraid to cooperate because I think I may be attacked in the future
Powell’s conclusions • Cooperation is possible if the cost of war is high enough that surprise attacks are not tempting • Security concerns can prevent cooperation if • The cost of war is low enough, AND • Economic cooperation gives one side a significant military advantage
Summary • Neoliberals emphasize absolute gains • Realists and Neorealists emphasize relative gains • Relative gains arguments do not rule out cooperation • Only in special case of high concern for relative gains • and low regard for absolute gains does it dominate • Otherwise, neoliberal case for cooperation still strong • Relative gains can be expressed as absolute gains • Relative gains logic depends on utility of force • Relative gains turn all games considered eventually into PD and make original PD more serious • More difficult to sustain cooperation with relative gains concerns