Presentation on theme: "INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY IN POLICY DEBATE Houston Urban Debate League."— Presentation transcript:
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY IN POLICY DEBATE Houston Urban Debate League
Discussion Overview Why discuss IR? Depth and sophistication of debate Creative argumentation Goal: Better understand leading schools of thought and areas of contention in international relations theory Three Theories: Realism (Neo-Realism); Liberalism (Neo-Liberal Institutionalism); Constructivism
Realism (Neo-Realism) Nature of the International System: Anarchy For the realist, anarchy signifies that there is no supranational authority that is able to provide security Disclaimer: International anarchy in this sense does not necessarily imply disorder or conflict. Rather, it is a framework for interpreting other “players” actions. Differs from anarchy advocated in counterplans and kritiks. Anarchist philosophy seeks to end state coercion while realists are distinctly statist.
Realism (Neo-Realism) Primary Actors: States (“unit-level” politics) Because of anarchy at the international level, states revert to “state of nature” and act in their own self- interest (think Machiavelli, Hobbes). Neo-realists (also called Structural Realists) examine how non-state structures influence decisions, but still place states at the center.
Realism (Neo-Realism) Key Interest: Survival (Classical Realism) Security (Neo-Realism) Because there is no guarantor of security at the international level, states pursue survival. Classical Realists viewed states as inherently aggressive, checked only by other powers Neo-realists argue that states are merely interested in existence (post-WWII security dilemma furthers this). Relative gains problems create zero-sum international order where states might forego perceived gains if other states make greater gains. This discourages cooperation.
Realism (Neo-Realism) Debate Applications Hegemony What international system is most stable: hegemonic, unipolar, bipolar, multipolar? Can troop reduction lead to relative gains for the United States by balancing against more meaningful threats? Does this make the topic bi-directional? Balance of Power, Balance of Threat, Securitization Does deterrence apply to counter-insurgency strategy (Afghanistan, Iraq) and asymmetric warfare (counter- terrorism)?
Liberalism (Neo-Liberal Institutionalism) Nature of the International System: Anarchy For the liberalist, anarchy signifies that there is no supranational authority that is able to enforce agreements. While liberalism and realism share the assumption of international anarchy, neoliberals criticize realists for underestimating opportunities for cooperation within that system. Question becomes how to create an international system that encourages cooperation.
Liberalism (Neo-Liberal Institutionalism) Primary Actors: Pluralist System (states at the center, but also corporations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), law and protocol) States cooperate with non-state entities when in their personal interest. Because there is no international enforcement mechanism to ensure states follow through on agreements, cheating becomes the central concern. Leads to desire to create “sticky” institutions that hold states to cooperative agreements.
Liberalism (Neo-Liberal Institutionalism) Key Interest: Preferences (Utility determined by the state) Unlike realism, where states worry about relative gains and would forego cooperation under certain situations, institutionalists seek absolute gains. Argue that even in situations where partners make relatively greater gains, cooperation on common interests creates “sticky” alliances. Game Theory describes methods states use to determine when cooperation is in their best interests (prisoner’s dilemma is most common).
Liberalism (Neo-Liberal Institutionalism) Debate Applications Cases/Counterplans: Alliances/Coalition Building United Nations International Law Economic Interests/International Corporations Problem of changing preferences and shifting alliances (especially true with democratic systems in wartime)
Constructivism Nature of the International System: Socially Constructed/Contingent Unlike realism and liberalism, whose causal epistemology draws from positivist (scientific) and structuralist (empirical) traditions, constructivism is post- positivist, deconstructing the ontological assumptions of other IR theories. “Anarchy is what states make of it…” –Alexander Wendt
Constructivism Key Actors: Shared Ideas (technically, states are still the key actors, but ideas underlie state paradigms about the international system) Theory developed as a possible explanation for the failure of dominant theories to predict major international events (e.g. fall of the Soviet Union) Identities and Interests are constructed by cultural norms and shared philosophies. While the primary function of constructivism is as a critique of leading IR theories, does it advocate anything (for the purposes of policy debate)?
Constructivism Key Interests: Define/Determine Core Ideas; Cooperate to redefine International System This element of constructivism has been criticized for 1. Being no more than a post-positivist variant of neo- liberalism due to its agreement that social agency shapes state preferences. 2. Not being truly post-modern due to its rational discourse about how ideas can address and solve “external” problems.
Constructivism Debate Applications: Security Kritik Link: Power/Threats are socially constructed Impacts: Pre-Fiat: Ontology: threat discourse causes violence Epistemology: the human element (can’t know if threats are real or percieved. Post-Fiat: Violence, Military Escalation, Environmental Degradation, Economic Collapse Alternatives: Typically, rejection (voting aff precludes end of threat construct) CP Alt: Use Neo-Liberal Institutionalist construct to redefine values
NEO-REALISMNEO-LIBERAL INSTITUTIONALISM CONSTRUCTIVISM NATURE OF THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM Anarchy (No international security mechanism) Anarchy (No international mechanism to enforce agreements) Socially Contingent/Socially Constructed KEY ACTOR(S) StatesPlural (States, Corporations, International Organizations, NGOs) Shared Ideas KEY INTEREST(S) Security/SurvivalPreferences (individual utility to the state) Define Core Ideas Cooperate on Shared Interests DEBATE APPLICATIONS Hegemony, Balance of Power, Balance of Threat, Security Construction Alliances, Non- State/Supranational Organizations, Preference Problem Security Kritik/Threat Construction