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TTU / Political Science / POLS 3361 / What are international relations?

What are international relations?

What are international relations?


International Politics Review for Exam #1

What are international relations?

What are international relations?

The product of the cumulative impact of the foreign policies of the states of  the world.

 Foreign Policy (things you do as a country)

 Key assumption about leaders (influences foreign policy) -make decisions on national interests  

-other say incentives motivate their decisions  

-Some theories say leaders matter and they want to stay in power  which influences what decisions will help them stay in power  Personal Interests

-leaders take their personal interests in consideration and practice  them when taking action of the state

Governing Principles

 Leaders and foreign policy  

-Leaders have most impact in foreign policy

What is the meaning of divergent interests?

 Domestic Policy Matters

-Leaders make decisions in the shadow of domestic Policy

*Strategic interaction: strategy used to get what a country wants while  keeping in consideration other countries reactions and how they will  react to another countries actions. (Ex: North Korea growing their army. How will the U.S. react? Will they take it as a threat? Will the U.S. feel  threatened?)

Linking Domestic Politics (DP) to International Politics (IP)

 International Relations typically viewed separate from DP  Certainly have commonalities

-When leaders make DP they have to worry about people who keep  them in power

-when making IP leaders have to worry about other country’s reactions  Important differences: can’t think about international relations without  also keeping domestic politics in mind.  

Is the state the central action in ir?

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(Ex: Iraq 2003: Affected by domestic politics and international relations -Osama Bin Laden did not want to admit whether he had nuclear  weapons or not. U.S invaded Iraq because they felt threat. Osama did  not expect the U.S to intervene but rather expected people to fear his We also discuss several other topics like What is “international politics”?

weapons and thus would stay in power. He did not keep both DP and IR in mind.)

 Divergent Interests:

-Policy might be popular home or abroad

(Ex: Afghanistan Taliban government 2001: 9/11 attack in U.S and the  U.S. blames Bin Laden. Taliban government rises and gets domestic  support but no international support)

*Politics is about: accusation and allocation of scarce resources. -making decisions

-domestic and international interests  

Is the State the central action in IR?

What is the state? : Metaphor for a collection of individuals living in a certain  territory  

 Some agree that the state is the most important and some argue  there’s more that play a role in international relations Don't forget about the age old question of What is the most objective methods known for acquiring knowledge?

 Importance of other actors such as: Businesses, corporations,  individual billionaires, media, celebrities

Important Puzzles in class

-Why war? Expensive and cost lives

-Why trade? Why can’t we make domestic resources?

-Why give up sovereignty?

-Cooperation vs conflict between countries

Cooperation vs Conflict

Overarching theme discussed in context of four concepts

1.)Coordination: countries/leaders trying to find a way to work with each  other to achieve something in coordination

2.) Distribution: how to allocate and disburse scarce resources 3.) Monitoring: wanting to sign a treaty with another country and making  sure they abide by itDon't forget about the age old question of What is the meaning of sociological imagination?
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4.) Sanctioning: process of punishing country’s engaging in things you  don’t want them to do

Three Pillars of International Relations

1.) Power: economic, military etc

-success in influencing others depends on ability to use of political,  economic, or military power to persuade other countries to do what  you want

-instrument to achieve a goal

-mobilizing resources to alter behavior

  1st Pillar: Power 

-success on influencing others depends on power

-mobilizing resources to alter behavior

-instrument for achieving goals

  2nd pillar: Preferences 

-goals and interactions reflect their preferences  

-constituency preferences

-opponent’s preferences

-How other countries are affected by your preferences  

(Ex: quest for nuclear weapons)

  3rd Pillar: Perceptions 

-how one sees the world

-misperception about actions of other countries, yourself and your  power, your rival and their intentions

Why is this important? Misperceptions can lead to bad decisions  -misperceptions create challenges for leaders  

(Ex: Iran creates a larger military, U.S. has a misconception that they  will attack and get scared. Iran uses this misconception to negotiate  and get something they want)

*Misconceptions can help you negotiate

Three pillars as a tool  

-used by leaders

-tension between leader and constituency preferences (Ex: British PM  Winston Churchill)

Self-Interests and institutions

-IR influenced by self-interested leaders making decisions

-leaders make decisions in different institutional settings

-democracies have to keep preferences of the people that keep him in power  (voters per say)

-autocrats/dictators have to keep elite, military, business to stay in power -affects type of decisions made

Key actors and levels of analysis:

Actors: Basic unit of analysis  



State Actors  

Central authority with the ability to make and enforce laws, rules, and  decisions within a specified territory

-diplomatic recognition

-UN membership

-State vs nation (not interchangeable)

-categorization of states (by power status)


The expectation that states have legal and political supremacy within their  territorial boundaries (not absolute)


Absence of central authority with the ability to make and enforce laws that  bind all actors

Non-state actors

-Sub-state actors: exist within a state but have enough power to influence  outcomes  

-transnational actors: operate across borders  

-non-governmental organizations: non-governmental organizations with  power (Ex: Church, Doctors without borders)

-Intergovernmental organizations (IGO)

Levels of analysis: The level at which a theory focuses

Individual level of analysis: focus on leaders, personality, history of a person  and how it will affect his decisions  

State level: focus on state being the key actor types of government and how  it affects behavior of state, economics systems, national interests,  

International System: governments  

(A)Historical Perspective: The pre-Westphalia world

1.) Greece and the city state (400 BC) made alliances with each other and  fought against each other as well

-similar to modern government system/classic power politics  -antecedent to Westphalia order

-independent city states

2.)Rome: Governing on Empire

-Incorporation of Greek city-states

-larger political units

-centralized government systems  

-Marcus Tillius Ciero (106-43 BC)

-empire spawned ideas of large geographical entities united by central  government

3.) Middle ages (5th to 15th centuries)

-disintegration of Roman Empire  

-3 civilizations emerge (Byzantine Empire, rest of Europe)

Rest of Europe:


-power of Rome

-Charlemagne (742-814)

-secularism and religion a conflict

4.) Late middle Ages (1300-1500)

-post 1000 AD secular trend undermines

-Three changes influencing community

-transnational business community

-writers and philosophers rediscover and write new texts (Ex:  Machiavelli’s “The Prince”)

-European expansion and technology that helps travel and expand -Spread of European civilization

-troubles in old Europe (new monarchs, taxes, and people don’t like it  and rebel

-erosion in feudalism

-tension between secularism and religion

(B)Emergence of the Westphalian System

1.) Thirty years war (1618-1648)

-protestants against Catholics  

-balance of power component

 leaders interests at the end of war

 monarch wanted to end wars that existed over religion and pull  themselves from referring to church as authority


2.) Treaty of Westphalia (1648 signed)

 Key provisions for an IR perspective

-Sovereignty of state  


-legal equality


Modern Periods

-Europe 19th century  

-U.S. and French Revolutions

-Emergence of balance of power systems

-Scramble for colonies

-Breakdown of B and P system (WW1)

-alliances became rigid and some countries switch alliances when  other countries get too powerful so some countries became enemies   Interwar years and WW1

-Russian revolution  

-Collapse of:

Astro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman Empire  

 Consequences:

-German dissatisfaction

-Cold war fought

-after WW2 some countries became rivals  

-origins of cold war:

 -Spread of communism  

-Bipolar system emerges from WW2

-The long peace between U.S. and Soviet Union


-statements about expected relationships between variables -simple illustration of how a system works

Role of theories

 ID important factors  

 Provide answers

 theories can provide:





 Theories simplify the world and so we can understand it better  Things will inevitably be left out

Parts of a theory:

 Relationship between variables

 Variables:

-dependent (DV)

-independent (IV)

 Predictions

(Ex: Theory about arms and races war. Prediction: derive following  hypothesis: arms races cause war. Hypothesis: capitalism leads to increased  economic growth)

How to evaluate theories?

-Keep in mind not all theories are correct

-They must be evaluated based on rules. Should not use normative or  subjective assessments

Normative: statement of opinion


Def: human community that claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of  physical force within a given territory (Max Webber 1918/1958)

Def: organization with a comparative advantage in violence, extending over  a geographical area whose boundaries are determined by its power to tax  constituents (Douglas North 1981)

*Concepts to define a state*

-Given territory: state vs nation. A nation is a group of people who share  some sort of common identity.

-Comparative advantage in using force (violence): State enforces rules  usually backed up by violence. Noncompliance.

-legitimacy: legal authority vs legitimacy. Legal authority is the ability to rule;

- Legitimacy is the justification for ruling: social norms, religion, constitution  (rules)

Why do we need a state?

 Contractarian view (Hobbes)

-focus on the conflict between individuals and the state’s rules in  reducing the conflict

 Predatory View (Tilly):

-Talks about the conflict that can rise between individuals and the state Contractarian View

 The state of nature

-meaning there is no state

-“war of every man against every man”

-“Sovereign (state) entity needed to control the war between  individuals

 Social Contract  

-agreement between individuals in state of nature to create and  empower the state

-under contract: individuals give up civil rights in return for civil rights  that would be protected by the state.

-Individuals give authority to state in exchange of their protection

Without Social Contract?

-Low incentive to produce

-No enforceable contracts  

-a much better equilibrium just off reach



Peloponnesian war, Thomas Hobbes etc.

Key Assumptions:

Anarchy: idea that there’s no overarching government

Self-help: described by Kenneth Waltz. Absence of government makes people rely on themselves due to no government protection

Unitary Actor: domestic politics doesn’t matter because all countries will  behave the same way due to incentives

Survival: All states want to survive and will do whatever it takes

Key Actors: They think only state matters despite the acknowledgment of  other powers

View of Individuals: Selfish and power seeking

Prisoner’s Dilemma  

 Two criminals caught and separated in different rooms with no means  to communicate with each other. Police have enough information to  convict them both of a lower crime but they need one of them to  confess in order to convict them of a higher crime.

-Suspects have the option to confess of bigger crime or keep quiet and  only be convicted of lower crime.

 4 possible outcomes:

-Prisoner A and B both keep quiet

-Both prisoners confess  

-Prisoner A can confess and B keeps quiet (A sells out B)

-Prisoner B confesses and A is quiet (B sells out A)

 4 outcomes= different pay offs

-both quiet: 10 years in jail

-both confess: life in prison

-one confesses while other is quiet: 0 years in prison for one and death penalty for other

Liberalism/ Neoliberalism Institutionalism

Origins: John Locke, Adam Smith (Philosophical thinkers)

Assumptions: Anarchy, but not seen as a bad thing

 State is not a unitary actor

-Think non-state actors are important

-Wealth seeking rather than power seeking

 Key actors

-states matter, international institutions also matter

 View of Individuals: like to compete

 Interests: All want to survive


Origins: Sociology and critical theories

 Key actors:

-Anarchy is what states make of it

 Interests: Everyone has their own interests  

 Highly interactive

 Institutions: Value institutions and play they play an Important role in  influence

Radical Theories:

Family of theories that have a common thread relating with economics  and class warfare

 Origins: K Marx

 Key Actors: Industrialized countries, underdeveloped countries Individuals: actions according to social class

Interests: defined by economic class

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