Term Paper: Institutions and International Relations Question

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Institutions and International Relations Question Set

How do institutions help states to overcome the barriers to cooperation? You answer should draw most heavily from Sterling-Folker's essay, although Ikenberry provides important insights, too.

In her essay on the barriers to cooperation that limit effective communication between state actors within the international arena, Jennifer Sterling-Folker posits that three primary types of barriers to cooperation exist in the realm of international relations: Domestic, Structural, and Cognitive. According to Sterling-Folker, the domestic political climate within a pair of seemingly willing allies may preclude them from engaging in productive diplomatic negotiations, such as when impending national elections cause national policymaking to refocus on internal affairs. Structural barriers include the lack of common ground between communist and capitalist economies, and the gulf in understanding which separates dictatorships and democracies. Cognitive barriers are those which arise from ideological motivations, such as theocracies refusing to communicate with competing religions, or secular states scoffing at the religious norms of their neighbors. The liberal concept of interdependence, or providing a clear incentive to cooperate through the construction of complex institutions, is also discussed by Sterling-Folker, who observes that barriers to communication within world politics is due to the fact that nations invariably develop as autonomous entities with unique political, social, and economic structures. The role of institutions in overcoming these barriers is central to the theoretical framework set forth by John G. Ikenberry in his international relations text After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars. According to Ikenberry's analysis, collaborative institutions play an essential role in facilitating effective cooperation because "in a self-help system such as anarchy, states face huge obstacles to institutionalized cooperation because the interdependence and differentiation that come with it are manifest within an anarchy as weakness" (75). The balance of power construct of international political order is one based on vertical integration, with a small group of superior states acting in concert to monopolize resources and exploit subordinate states through economic expansion, but this system precludes the use of institutions as a means of overcoming the barriers to communication. When nations are encouraged to compete with one another, as they are under the balance of power, the incentive to cooperate is superseded by each actor's desire to protect its own interests and preserve its own power.

2.) Explain how democracies relate to world peace, especially in conjunction with institutions. Draw on both democratic theory and Ikenberry's discussion of constitutionalism in your answer.

The fifth chapter of Ikenberry's After Victory is entitled "The Settlement of 1919" and is premised on comprehensive study of the Versailles settlement which brought a cessation of hostilities to conclude World War I. In Ikenberry's estimation, the Versailles treaty represents the first exercise in applying democratic ideals and constitutional political order on a global scale, with the postwar restructuring period enabling democratic nations on the victorious side to participate in the process of reallocating power. According to Ikenberry, the role of democracies in providing the framework for world peace was crystallized following the Allied victory in WWI, because "the United States emerged as the leading world power after the war, and it brought an ambitious institutional agenda aimed at binding democratic states together in a universal rules-based association" (117). It is well established within international relations theory that states governed by democratic systems of domestic order are far more likely to proactively pursue a peaceful foreign policy agenda, as world peace provides an array of mutually beneficial advantages in terms of trade agreements, strategic alliances, and other collaborative arrangements.

Ikenberry then shifts the discussion of Chapter Five to President Woodrow Wilson's lofty idealism in the wake of a resounding Allied victory in WWI, as he spearheaded the effort to create an institutional mechanism known as the League of Nations. Ostensibly designed to provide a hierarchal structure for international order based on the constitutional system of governance used domestically by democracies, Wilson's vision for the League of Nations was predicated on "the premise that other countries would manifest American ideals of democracy and popular sovereignty" (Ikenberry 124). Ikenberry is interested in the role of constitutionalism in guiding Wilson's rhetoric as he "presented a case for a new international organization to supervise and guarantee the peaceful settlement of disputes and reinforce democratic government worldwide, most critically in Europe" (127), as it is his view that world peace can only be achieved through the willingness to cooperate rather than the balance of power.

3.) Summarize Ikenberry's critique of Waltz, which is implicit (and sometimes explicit) throughout his analysis. The question of ordering principles (i.e., anarchy, hierarchy, etc.) is central to this critique.

The second chapter of Ikenberry's After Victory is primarily devoted to the discussion of ordering principles which guide the organization of political order among state actors. According to Ikenberry, "the three most important varieties of political order among states are those organized around the balance of power, hegemony, and constitutionalism ... (and) each represents a different way in which power is distributed and exercised among states" (23-24). Each of these three varieties of political order is defined by a distinct organizing principle. The balance of power results from a perpetual state of anarchy in which no political authority exists. Hegemonic order is contingent on the vertical alignment of states within a hierarchal structure, with global power consolidated by a small group of superpowers, and domestic authority derived from a hierarchy of leadership. The constitutional political order is predicated on the rule of law, with societal participation used to legitimize governance.

Following his introduction to the chapter, Ikenberry cites Theory of International Politics, a treatise published by fellow international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz to address the concept of ordering principles. Much of the citations attributed to Waltz focus on the divergence between domestic and international order, with Ikenberry covering the theories of "balancing" and "bandwagoning" as espoused by Waltz (25). Ikenberry likens Waltz' theory of bandwagoning to the primary election process in American politics, wherein candidates bitterly contest their party's nomination during an acrimonious campaign, before rallying around the eventual winner during the presidential election, but he draws a distinction between this relatively contained process of domestic order, and complexities of international order. After citing Waltz, and his contention that the "centralized and hierarchic" nature of domestic political orders is the best representation of the authority principle, Ikenberry offers a rebuttal by stating "but hierarchies can be established and maintained in different ways" (26). His critique of Waltz concerns the latter's emphasis on delineating between domestic and international orders, as Ikenberry explicitly states in the introduction to Chapter Two that "the most useful insight might be that both realms of politics -- domestic and international -- face similar problems in the creation and maintenance of order" (21).

4.) Summarize how constructivism challenges the other theories we have studied in this class. How does it agree/disagree with them?

The traditional model of international relations has always been based on the realist conception of order building, which is dictated by the almost primal pursuit of power, as superior states act to subordinate lesser developed nations for the exploitation of natural resources and human capital. Idealism emerged furtively in the rare times of worldwide peace to assert that the concept of collective security could ensure a stable distribution of power between neighboring nations, but time and again the aggression and hostility that seems to be inherent in individuals has influenced international relations. Whether via invasion or coup d'etat, the unending effort made by state actors to consolidate power and expand borders has consistently undermined the idealist worldview of international order building. With the advantage of historical hindsight, scholars have also postulated adjustments to these classical theories of international relations, with neoliberalism and neorealism addressing the failure of traditional models to account for major events like the rise of fascism in Europe or the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Constructivism emerged as a challenge to these theories, by presenting a uniquely modern approach to examining the ways in which nations interact with one another, as well as the internal politics that dictate international action. According to Ikenberry's analysis in After Victory, "constructivist theory sees institutions as diffuse and socially constructed worldviews that bound and shape the strategic behavior of individuals and states" (15), and his emphasis on social construction is central to the theories wider applications. Rather than view a nation's identity, and the policy agendas this identity informs, as paths predetermined by historical influences and social structures, constructivism allows for the natural evolution of identity which occurs on the societal, cultural, and governmental level. It has been said that, "rich in concepts and evidence, constructivism has included a variety of works that have explored the role of social ideas at both the systemic level (e.g., the influence of international norms) and the national level (e.g., strategic and organizational culture arrangements)" (Legro 20), and this statement presents perhaps the most accurate elucidation of constructivist theory.

5.) According to Legro, how do identities shape… [END OF PREVIEW]

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