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Wise International Decisions: the Bigger, the Wiser? Ariel Colonomos (CNRS-CERI )

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Presentation on theme: "Wise International Decisions: the Bigger, the Wiser? Ariel Colonomos (CNRS-CERI )"— Presentation transcript:

1 Wise International Decisions: the Bigger, the Wiser? Ariel Colonomos (CNRS-CERI )

2 Wise international decisions The specificity of IR: a system of interactions, of relationships. Correctness of the decision Making judgments Sending signals, images, indexes (beyond mere intelligence) Wise international traditions Collective wisdom as a process

3 The rightness of decisions The efficiency and normative value of: Practical decisions Practical decisions grounded on theory, wise or unwise

4 The bigger, the wiser? What can we learn from theory and case studies? Are there international actors that, depending on their size, are wiser than others? Are there entities whose interaction with other units would create a wiser international system? Are there levels of practice in IR (and interaction) that are better than others?

5 International models: theories and policy making frameworks Realism Liberalism (liberal internationalism) Their vision of wisdom Two options: unilateralism and multilateralism

6 Moving from ideas and models to systemic analysis 1/ The wisdom of traditions and their definitions of collective wisdom 2/ Case studies where ideas meet practice: economic sanctions, the preventive use of force 3/ A wise international structure?

7 Part I: Traditions and their practical implications

8 Wise realism? “We love wisdom without becoming soft”. Pericles Thucydides and prudence Passions and temperance What is the wisest collective entity? Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Avoiding softness and hatred, the wisdom of the fabric of images Predicting the future: wisdom as the ‘art of politics’.

9 Wise liberalism and the politics of cooperation Liberal wisdom differs from realist wisdom. Positive ontology, optimism, cosmopolitanism and advancement of humanity as goals Wisdom rooted in morality, making appropriate judgments on the modalities of cooperation The importance of the law and norms, procedures slow down hasty and dangerous decisions. The softness of morality should temper the harshness of the law.

10 Part II: The use of coercion

11 Economic sanctions

12 Unilateral sanctions The US embargo vs. Cuba (1960-) The embargo is strengthened in 1992 and A dysfunctional decision: inefficient on the target, economically costly for the sender, creates legal and diplomatic tensions between the US and Europe, might cause humanitarian problems. The US is “sanctions crazy” (Clinton, 1996).

13 The limits of democracy in its elaboration of decisions and norms The local imposes its will on the national. Small is not wise but stronger than big. The decision reflects the passions of small groups. They express past-oriented resentment. They are an obstacle to political, legal, moral progress.

14 The wisest decision? Multilateral cooperation would have been wiser: more efficient, would have sent a better image to the world, multilateralism as a combination of optimism and reason. Liberal internationalism and multilateral cooperation

15 Multilateral sanctions Liberal internationalism and multilateral sanctions, wilsonism The UN embargo vs. Irak ( ) Assessing the humanitarian disaster caused by the embargo (1992) The inertia of bureaucracy (a realist critique of liberal frameworks) The inability to negotiate with S. Hussein: the art of politics and diplomacy at its worst.

16 Wisdom as a learning process Knowledge and doctrines as signals Epistemic communities and bureaucrats: the reform of the sanctions regime, “smart sanctions”.

17 Multilateralism and liberal internationalism The law is not that wise. Big might be unwise. There is a lack of efficient coordination between subunits of a single big entity. Liberal internationalism is more the problem than the solution to the sanctions issue. Realism is absent from the debate.

18 The use use of force

19 Preventive war Unilateralism vs. multilateralism as a major divide in the US Europe confrontation A political, legal, moral confrontation Realism and prevention: too uncertain to be wise (a hasty decision), either unilaterally or multilaterally. Liberalism and prevention: unilateral intervention is unwise (illegal, sends a negative signal), multilateral preventive intervention and the need for institutional design and UN reform.

20 Realism and liberalism provide with some tools for elaborating and judging wise or unwise decisions and face the unilateral multilateral dilemma, however there are no solutions a priori. A need for a more global framework, that would go beyond those divides.

21 Part III: Bridging together multiple scales

22 Social and normative forecasting An ideal global framework, a possible scenario An ideal structure, multi-centric world Ideal forms of interaction in an heterogeneous setting A bottom up path

23 Norms entrepreneurs and moral entrepreneurs and the fabric of norms: anticipating what would be in the future considered as a “good” norm. The cascading effect of norms: the landmines campaign. The reinvention of traditions and doctrines: just war theory and international humanitarian law, banning cluster bombs? State society relations and the development of ideas: corporate social responsibility and its transnationalization.

24 Interlocking members between the state and the non state world (multi-centric world), ‘moral epistemic networks’ (lawyers in NGOs as technicians and moral entrepreneurs), experts and governments. Defining the ripe moment, seizing windows of opportunities, the end of the Cold War and the struggle for norms building Two complementary paths for ideas: the transnational realm and the transgovernmental space The creation of a new space of deliberation beyond state borders

25 The bigger, the wiser as a goal? Eventually, the bigger can be the wiser, more probably the smaller is not the wiser (case studies). Could the international system as a whole be wiser than the sum of its parts? The “international community” as the interaction between its parts and as an instrument for the elaboration of collective wisdom: a wise moment in the elaboration of a wise “international community”.


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