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International Organizations

PLO 3513 Fall Term 2013 Thursday, 8:30-9:45 am

Week 3: IR theories I: (Neo-)Realism and IOs


Dr. Matthias Hofferberth matthias.hofferberth@utsa.edu

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

Session plan 1. Introducing neorealism as an IR theory 2. Core assumptions of the theory 3. Neorealism & IOs 4. Assessing the theory & conclusion

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

1. Introducing neorealism as an IR theory Realist thinking as a long tradition in IR theory: Ever since the discipline was founded, political realism influenced it Focus on realist theory: order, stability & the dilemma of power Basic explanatory assumption: human nature is evil & humans strive for security, power, dominance Problem of that assumption: to some extent unscientific as one cannot really prove or disprove human nature Neorealism (or Structural Realism) as attempt to give realist tradition a more scientific foundation

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

1. Introducing neorealism as an IR theory Emergence of a new paradigm: From individual explanation to systemic / structural explanation: Kenneth N. Waltz and his Theory of International Politics Arguably the most influential / most often quoted book in recent IR history

Structural account of international politics & its polarity, published at a time when the Cold War dominated world politics Theoretical ideals: parsimony & abstraction in order to generalize
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1. Introducing neorealism as an IR theory The success story of neorealism in IR: Neorealism as of the main contenders in IR theory all other theories refer to or criticize neorealism:
the so-called neo-neo-debate with institutionalism liberalism opening the realist black box constructivism & anarchy is what states make of it

Some of IRs big shots labeled as neorealists:

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

1. Introducing neorealism as an IR theory The success story of neorealism in IR (contd): Dominance of neorealism questioned by the end of the cold war inability to explain change Neorealism challenged by recent wave of academic interest in institutions reading today a response to that false promise Spoiler alert: neorealism still present if not the hegemonic theory in todays IR thinking, at least within the US but also abroad

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

2. Core assumptions Neorealism as an IR theory: painting a grim picture of world politics international system as a brutal self-help arena with states looking for opportunities to take advantage of others state interaction as a constant power struggle possibility of war always looming in background

realist world view derived from five parsimonious assumptions

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

2. Core assumptions Five core assumptions of Neorealism (according to Mearsheimer): the international system is anarchic states inherently possess some offensive military capability states can never be certain about the intentions of other states the most basic motive driving states is survival states think strategically about how to survive in the int. system

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

2. Core assumptions 1. Anarchy of the international system: anarchy not meant in common sense to describe chaos / disorder anarchy as an ordering principle: lack of central (global) authority structure of world politics composed out of independent & sovereign units individual state behavior determined by international structure individual state characteristics (i.e. type of government) irrelevant states imagined as like units whose security is not guaranteed by the system
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2. Core assumptions 2. States and their possession of offensive military capabilities capabilities defined in material terms: population & territory, resources, industrial potential, military and economic power, etc. capabilities determine state position within the international structure ones capabilities always a threat to others

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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2. Core assumptions 3. No certainty about intentions of others state intentions not necessarily malign but no certainty about this intentions subject to change mutual uncertainty international competition & armament as the only way to maintain some sort of security logical consequence: security dilemma & arms race as means of self-defense can be perceived as means to attack

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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2. Core assumptions 4. Primary state preference is survival all state action oriented towards the simple aim of survival welfare, ethical considerations, improvement of society secondary emphasis on relative not absolute gains / fear of defection sovereignty as the expression of state independence which is constantly threatened by other sovereign states ways towards state extinction: war & economic collapse

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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2. Core assumptions 5. States as strategic & rational actors natural selection among states: those who do not act instrumentally rational & maximize their advantage are punished by the system states constantly looking for opportunities to exploit the weaknesses of others & take advantage international cooperation brought down to free-riding, cheating, defection & back-stabbing miscalculations due to bounded rationality & imperfect information

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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2. Core assumptions Summary neorealism in IR: states (and only states!) as like-units maximizing the preferences rationally in a structure characterized by the absence of authority international relations best described as a billiard ball model: states focused on survival bumping into each other mechanistically international system marked by self-help not interdependence fear as a constant factor of consideration for state action international cooperation reduced to power politics: balancing & band-wagoning

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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3. Neorealism & IOs Open question: what does this theory has to say about IOs? defining organizations as a set of rules that stipulate the ways in which states should cooperate and compete with each other (p. 8) organizations understood as rules agreed upon by states Three basic questions that we need to asnwer: When do IOs emerge / come into existence in neorealism? How are IOs understood / conceptualized within neorealism? How much influence do IOs have within neorealism?

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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3. Neorealism & IOs I believe when it's all said and done, free nations will not allow the United Nations to fade into history as an ineffective, irrelevant debating society.

George W. Bush

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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3. Neorealism & IOs To see to it that the concord of the world in the future with regard to objects of justice should not be subject to doubt or uncertainty; that the cooperation of the great body of nations should be assured in the maintenance of peace upon [] international obligations.

Woodrow Wilson

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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3. Neorealism & IOs There's no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and thats the United States, when it suits our interests, and when we can get others to go along. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.

John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN under George W. Bush


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3. Neorealism & IOs International organizations & their minimal influence on states: International cooperation limited by two factors: relative-gain considerations fear of being cheated Organizations always reflect international distribution of power: hegemonic states create & shape IOs to maintain their share International organizations without any influence on state behavior

limited cooperation in a world that is competitive at its core

9/12/2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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3. Neorealism & IOs [I]nstitutions are essentially arenas for acting out power relationships (Mearsheimer 1994: 13)

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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3. Neorealism & IOs Neorealism & IOs in practice: Mearsheimer & his account of NATO NATO basically understood as a security / defensive alliance explanation for NATO: bipolar distribution of power in Cold War: are you with us or against us? Not NATO itself but the balance of power it was part of provided stability in Europe and prevented the Cold War from turning hot NATO essentially an American tool for managing power in the face of Soviet threat NATO as an expression of American hegemony kept alive to serve US foreign policy interests
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4. Conclusion Neorealism as the dominant IR theory with little to say about IOs
International anarchy & struggle for relative power as factors of world politics Because of limited cooperation, international organizations do not exercise any influence & are only maintained as long as they serve state interests

Next session: IR theories II: (Neo-)Institutionalism and IOs Mandatory readings:


Keohane, Robert O. 1989: Neoliberal Institutionalism. A Perspective on World Politics, in: Keohane, Robert O. (Ed.): International Institutions and State Power. Essays in International Relations Theory, 1-20

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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Ticket to class: Use the Blackboard Learn forum to post one sentence on what you consider as the biggest strength / biggest weakness of neorealism

Thanks for class participation & see you next week!

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

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