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POLS 425 U.S. Foreign Policy Week 2: Major Worldviews January 10, 2007 Week 2: Major Worldviews January 10, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "POLS 425 U.S. Foreign Policy Week 2: Major Worldviews January 10, 2007 Week 2: Major Worldviews January 10, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 POLS 425 U.S. Foreign Policy Week 2: Major Worldviews January 10, 2007 Week 2: Major Worldviews January 10, 2007

2 2 Why We Fight  Why does the United States fight? What the key reasons or motivations for US decisions to engage in violent international conflict?  Are the reasons generally the same, or do they vary from one war to another?  If they vary, why do you think this is the case?  Are most wars necessary? Why We Fight  Why does the United States fight? What the key reasons or motivations for US decisions to engage in violent international conflict?  Are the reasons generally the same, or do they vary from one war to another?  If they vary, why do you think this is the case?  Are most wars necessary?

3 3 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Key Points  Your answers reflect your personal theory of American foreign policy  Personal theories are appropriate and even necessary, but they are often premised on a very shaky foundation  Personal theories tend to be superficial  Personal theories are often governed as much by emotion as they are by evidence and reason Key Points  Your answers reflect your personal theory of American foreign policy  Personal theories are appropriate and even necessary, but they are often premised on a very shaky foundation  Personal theories tend to be superficial  Personal theories are often governed as much by emotion as they are by evidence and reason

4 4 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction The First Basic Lesson for Studying U.S. Foreign Policy  Cultivate and maintain an open mind  Recognize that no on is likely to have a monopoly on the truth The First Basic Lesson for Studying U.S. Foreign Policy  Cultivate and maintain an open mind  Recognize that no on is likely to have a monopoly on the truth

5 5 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction American Exceptionalism  A major obstacle to developing an open-mind about U.S. foreign policy comes from the influence of American exceptionalism  What is American exceptionalism? American Exceptionalism  A major obstacle to developing an open-mind about U.S. foreign policy comes from the influence of American exceptionalism  What is American exceptionalism?

6 6 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction The Grand Narrative of American Exceptionalism  America as the “Chosen Country”  American power is force of good  America is obligated to create a “better world” for all The Grand Narrative of American Exceptionalism  America as the “Chosen Country”  American power is force of good  America is obligated to create a “better world” for all

7 7 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Second Basic Lesson for Studying U.S. Foreign Policy  We cannot allow ourselves to buy into the idea of American exceptionalism wholly and uncritically  We need to create some intellectual and analytical and critical distance between ourselves and the grand narrative Second Basic Lesson for Studying U.S. Foreign Policy  We cannot allow ourselves to buy into the idea of American exceptionalism wholly and uncritically  We need to create some intellectual and analytical and critical distance between ourselves and the grand narrative

8 8 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Levels of Analysis: Points of Entrance  Individual Level  “State” Level  System Level Levels of Analysis: Points of Entrance  Individual Level  “State” Level  System Level

9 9 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance  Individual Level The individual level of analysis begins at the level of a single individual or group of individuals: typically, presidents, prime ministers, and others directly involved in making policy Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance  Individual Level The individual level of analysis begins at the level of a single individual or group of individuals: typically, presidents, prime ministers, and others directly involved in making policy

10 10 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance  “State” Level Focuses more on institutionalized organizations or groups to explain foreign policy; also includes such things as national culture, public opinion, media, bureaucratic politics, and so on Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance  “State” Level Focuses more on institutionalized organizations or groups to explain foreign policy; also includes such things as national culture, public opinion, media, bureaucratic politics, and so on

11 11 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance  “System” Level Assumes that the ideas, opinions, and actions of individuals is not really all that important, instead looks at the broad structures or overarching systems that shape the behavior and interactions of states Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance  “System” Level Assumes that the ideas, opinions, and actions of individuals is not really all that important, instead looks at the broad structures or overarching systems that shape the behavior and interactions of states

12 12 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance  Key Point The levels of analysis are conceptual tools we can use to make our study of foreign policy more manageable and systematic As with real tools, moreover, we need more than one to “build” an explanation Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance  Key Point The levels of analysis are conceptual tools we can use to make our study of foreign policy more manageable and systematic As with real tools, moreover, we need more than one to “build” an explanation

13 13 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory  Another critical set of conceptual tools are worldviews and theories These might be considered the “power tools” of explanations about U.S. foreign policy Worldviews and Theory  Another critical set of conceptual tools are worldviews and theories These might be considered the “power tools” of explanations about U.S. foreign policy

14 14 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory  Major worldviews and theories 1.Realism 2.Liberalism 3.Marxism 4.Constructivism Worldviews and Theory  Major worldviews and theories 1.Realism 2.Liberalism 3.Marxism 4.Constructivism

15 15 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory  General Notes about Theory  The author defines theory in the following manner: An explanation of how something works; theories are also used to help tell the future or to make predictions  Another definition: A theory is a framework of analysis within which facts are not only selected, but also interpreted, organized, and fit together so that they create a coherent whole. A theory helps us explain and/or better understand the world in which we live. Worldviews and Theory  General Notes about Theory  The author defines theory in the following manner: An explanation of how something works; theories are also used to help tell the future or to make predictions  Another definition: A theory is a framework of analysis within which facts are not only selected, but also interpreted, organized, and fit together so that they create a coherent whole. A theory helps us explain and/or better understand the world in which we live.

16 16 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory  General Notes about Theory  Key Point: Theories are also necessarily simplifications of a more complex whole; theories are not reality, but they designed to tell us something meaningful about the real world Worldviews and Theory  General Notes about Theory  Key Point: Theories are also necessarily simplifications of a more complex whole; theories are not reality, but they designed to tell us something meaningful about the real world

17 17 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory  Additional Points First, the various theories on US foreign policy are not dependent on whether they are accepted or even understood by policy-makers themselves Second, and in a related vein, theories are meant to help us better understand and explain the implications and consequences of different foreign policies Third, the theories we will study are sometimes compatible, but sometimes contradictory Worldviews and Theory  Additional Points First, the various theories on US foreign policy are not dependent on whether they are accepted or even understood by policy-makers themselves Second, and in a related vein, theories are meant to help us better understand and explain the implications and consequences of different foreign policies Third, the theories we will study are sometimes compatible, but sometimes contradictory

18 18 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory: Realism  Core Premises 1.Central questions focus on conditions and causes of war and peace 2.Regard structure of international system as necessary but not always sufficient for explaining international relations 3.Primary unit of analysis is the sovereign state 4.States are first and foremost guided by national interest defined in terms of power 5.States are rational, unitary actors Worldviews and Theory: Realism  Core Premises 1.Central questions focus on conditions and causes of war and peace 2.Regard structure of international system as necessary but not always sufficient for explaining international relations 3.Primary unit of analysis is the sovereign state 4.States are first and foremost guided by national interest defined in terms of power 5.States are rational, unitary actors

19 19 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory: Realism  The key concept in realism is anarchy To understand this condition, consider what would happen if a group of individuals lived on an isolated island in which there was no society, no rules, no law. And say, on this island, resources were limited and power unevenly distributed. What would happen? Worldviews and Theory: Realism  The key concept in realism is anarchy To understand this condition, consider what would happen if a group of individuals lived on an isolated island in which there was no society, no rules, no law. And say, on this island, resources were limited and power unevenly distributed. What would happen?

20 20 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory: Liberalism  Four central premises of liberalism 1.Liberalism tells us that our focus should be on state-level factors 2.Liberalism tells us that values (including ideas) beyond national survival may matter 3.Liberals believe decision making is pluralistic 4.Liberals believe that most foreign policy decisions require “consent” of the governed; policy making is different between democratic and authoritarian regimes Worldviews and Theory: Liberalism  Four central premises of liberalism 1.Liberalism tells us that our focus should be on state-level factors 2.Liberalism tells us that values (including ideas) beyond national survival may matter 3.Liberals believe decision making is pluralistic 4.Liberals believe that most foreign policy decisions require “consent” of the governed; policy making is different between democratic and authoritarian regimes

21 21 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory: Liberalism  Implications of Liberal Theory  Rationality of policy-making process is complicated because of competing interests  War and peace are important, but other issues may be equally important to foreign policy process  Cooperation and “end of war” are possible Worldviews and Theory: Liberalism  Implications of Liberal Theory  Rationality of policy-making process is complicated because of competing interests  War and peace are important, but other issues may be equally important to foreign policy process  Cooperation and “end of war” are possible

22 22 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction On Rationality Realists assume that war is rational for an entire nation Liberals, instead, ask: Who (specifically) benefits from war? Why do those who “lose” from war willingly participate?

23 23 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory: Marxism  What is Marxism? Worldviews and Theory: Marxism  What is Marxism?

24 24 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory: Marxism  Key Concept: Historical Materialism  Historical: based on the idea that the specific forces that shape the world are not always the same—e.g., the forces that governed feudal society are not the same forces that govern capitalist societies  Materialism: based on the idea that economic forces shape the world in fundamental ways, or put another way, economic forces are the motor of history Worldviews and Theory: Marxism  Key Concept: Historical Materialism  Historical: based on the idea that the specific forces that shape the world are not always the same—e.g., the forces that governed feudal society are not the same forces that govern capitalist societies  Materialism: based on the idea that economic forces shape the world in fundamental ways, or put another way, economic forces are the motor of history

25 25 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory: Marxism  Key Concept: Class  Marxists argue that capitalist society is necessarily divided along class lines  Classes exist because all economic systems produces specific social relationships  These social relationships are organized around a system that privileges ownership and subordinates labor; it also privileges capital and subordinates other human values, such as social justice, equality, and freedom Worldviews and Theory: Marxism  Key Concept: Class  Marxists argue that capitalist society is necessarily divided along class lines  Classes exist because all economic systems produces specific social relationships  These social relationships are organized around a system that privileges ownership and subordinates labor; it also privileges capital and subordinates other human values, such as social justice, equality, and freedom

26 26 U.S. Foreign Policy Introduction Worldviews and Theory: Marxism  Key Concept: Implications  Capitalist states exist to protect/promote the capitalist base of society, and not necessarily to protect the interests of all citizens  To understand foreign policy, then, one must understand that it is primarily a reflection of the interests of capitalists Worldviews and Theory: Marxism  Key Concept: Implications  Capitalist states exist to protect/promote the capitalist base of society, and not necessarily to protect the interests of all citizens  To understand foreign policy, then, one must understand that it is primarily a reflection of the interests of capitalists


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