12. International Politics: Apocalypse Now and Then Realism in International Politics вЂў Realism is both historically and conceptually the predominant perspective on international politics. вЂў In part, this is because war is what we notice about international politics. вЂў Most of international politics is actually about cooperation: trade, travel, communication, environmental regulation, and the like. Causes of War вЂў In fiction, war is presented as so horrible that only an accident or misunderstanding could explain it. вЂў In reality, the choice to go to war is pretty much always consciously and rationally made by at least one of the participants. вЂў The dynamics that cause a war are far more intricate and complex than the event that sparks the conflagration. Back to Anarchy вЂў Globally, there has never been a formal, hierarchical political structure. вЂў Anarchy is the underlying dynamic of international politics. вЂў The theoretical construct of realism provides the best explanation of how international politics operates in an anarchic environment. World War I Was Unpleasant вЂў The horrors of World War I are a big part of the reason the study of international politics is so focused on war. вЂў The war was also socially traumatic. вЂў The study of international politics developed during the interwar period and was focused on the quest to ensure a peaceful world. All Quiet on the Western Front? вЂў The body of academic work developed during this period is referred to as idealism. вЂў It is based on two main assumptions: вЂ“ First, conflict of any sort is bad. вЂ“ Second, no rational leader would choose to endure the massive destruction caused by war. Realism and War вЂў A big problem with idealism and the quest for peace was that it didnвЂ™t work. вЂў The outbreak of World War II compelled scholars to abandon idealism in favor of realism. вЂў Realism is all about rational choices made in the pursuit of power in an anarchic international environment. Realism and War вЂў All realist theories and perspectives are based on three main assumptions: вЂў 1. States are rational unitary actors. вЂ“ Most phenomena can be explained by dynamics external to the state. вЂў 2. These unitary rational states interact in an anarchic environment. вЂ“ States seek security in a world where there is no overarching authority. Realism and War вЂў 3. Power is the fundamental resource to be pursued. вЂ“ This includes the idea of going after gains when the opportunity arises. вЂ“ In 1967, Israel, which was at a power disadvantage, was prompted by fear to preemptively attack Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon, defeating them all. Balancing and Bandwagoning вЂў Balance of power refers to the way the distribution of power internationally influences the pattern of alliances that form. вЂ“ Alliance formation driven by the fear that the more powerful side might be pursuing gains вЂў Bandwagoning refers to allying with a stronger power to gain favor or to share in spoils. Challenging the Realist Paradigm вЂў Realism has a difficult time explaining why cooperative international behavior is more common than war. вЂў Also, it ignores the role of economics. вЂў Liberalism is less of a theory than a political ideal encompassing democracy, capitalism, human rights, and civil liberties. Challenging the Realist Paradigm вЂў Constructivism is a communication theory based on the idea that the construction of the вЂњotherвЂќ is a predominant influence on international decision making and action. вЂў Marxism argues that imperialism and colonialism extend capitalist exploitation into the international context. The Not So Black Box вЂў Foreign Policy Analysis questions the realist presumption of the state unitary rational actor. вЂў Rather, Foreign Policy Analysis is all about the decision making that goes on within states in response to inputs from the anarchic international system. вЂў The problem is that since no two states are alike, the analysis can be a complicated mess. Why Kant Democracies Fight? вЂў Immanuel KantвЂ™s democratic peace theory posits that since leaders of democratic states are held accountable to the people, they are much less likely to be able to justify the costs of going to war. вЂў While democracies do seem to go to war, they do not seem to fight one another. вЂў Unfortunately, there is little scholarly consensus on the cause of this democratic peace. The Shadow of the Hegemon вЂў Is the world really anarchic? вЂў International economic activity is far more important and common than war, which is relatively rare. вЂў Often there is a dominant hegemon that imposes some degree of structure on international trade and other interaction. The Shadow of the Hegemon вЂў The hegemon sets up trade and other rules that benefit the hegemon. вЂў Smaller countries must voluntarily follow along if they want to participate in international trade. вЂў The costs to the hegemon of maintaining the system eventually outweigh the benefits. вЂў A fading hegemonic power is eventually replaced by a challenger. вЂњItвЂ™s the Economy, StupidвЂќ вЂ“Karl Marx вЂў Another alternative to the realist paradigm is world systems theory. вЂў Each country is made up of a small capitalist elite core and a large working-class periphery. вЂў Further, countries can be divided between a small core of wealthy, elite, capitalist countries and a much larger periphery of poor, less developed countries. вЂњItвЂ™s the Economy, StupidвЂќ вЂ“Karl Marx вЂў The result is a world economic system that replicates the capitalist exploitative relationship on a global scale. вЂў Wealth flows from the peripheries to the cores, both within and between countries. вЂњItвЂ™s the Economy, StupidвЂќ вЂ“Karl Marx вЂў The core of the periphery keeps the system going because it receives key resources from the core of the core. вЂў Those in the periphery of the core countries keep the system going because they get the benefit of cheap goods as a result of the exploitation of periphery countries. вЂњItвЂ™s the Economy, StupidвЂќ вЂ“Karl Marx вЂў Loans, grants, aid, and trade agreements all benefit the developed countries. вЂў They build economic infrastructures that facilitate economic exploitation of periphery countries by core countries. вЂў And they tie developing countries to debts that extract capital at alarming rates. вЂњItвЂ™s the Economy, StupidвЂќ вЂ“Karl Marx вЂў Not everything about globalization is bad and evil. вЂў Literacy rates and access to educational opportunities are higher than they have ever been. вЂў As are access to health care and vaccinations. вЂў With some exceptions, ditto for human rights and basic rights for women. вЂњItвЂ™s the Economy, StupidвЂќ вЂ“Karl Marx вЂў Further, it would be impossible to stop globalization. вЂў It is a phenomenon created by advancing technology, increasing worldwide education, and the aggregate economic choices of billions of people. Dude, Think about the Fish вЂў As capitalist pressures become ever more universal, economic pressures drive overexploitation globally. вЂў The global tragedy of the commons is an issue that extends across nations and involves subnational political units, multinational entities, and transnational organizations. Constructivism вЂў Human beings construct the reality around them through language and communication. вЂў The conceptual framework used to describe something enables certain actions and prevents others. вЂў This is a new and interesting theory, the value of which will be determined with more research. Roaring Mice and Vacation Hot Spots вЂў The question is not so much which theoretical approach is correct, but how different ideas can help us understand what is going on. вЂў Why does Barbados exist? вЂў It has little power in an anarchic world. вЂў Is it an economic issue? A moral issue? Something else? вЂў There is no one simple theory that explains global interaction. вЂў International relations are complex and multifaceted.