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Poli Sci 20
World Politics
Political Studies
Undergraduate 1

Additional Political Studies Flashcards





International Relations

  • “strategic interaction,” or how states make choices when the consequences depend on choices by other states
Security Dilemma
  • the consequences for all states of each state’s efforts to assure its own survival 
  • developed to understand states’ choices about peace and war
  • explains why wars are possible, not why they happen
  • States have two choices
    – They can arm
    – They can disarm
    • If they disarm, they have no weapons and war cannot occur
    • A necessary condition for war is that states have previously chosen to arm
    • Why states choose to arm: What if one state disarms when another state
    • States that disarm when others arm become vulnerable to conquest

Levels of Analysis
  • developed To classify the variety of influences on
    states’ choices
  • influences that pertain to phenomena within,
    of, or beyond the state
Hans Morgenthau
  • German Jewish refugee from the Nazis
  • Central figure in creating the subdiscipline of International Relations
  • He posed a positive task, but his goal was normative: to devise ways to secure peace
    – “Positive”: to describe the world
    – “Normative”: to improve the world
    – Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to
    change it.”
Si vis pacem, para bellum.
  • "If you want peace, prepare for war"
Structural Neorealism
  • assumes that only states that arm
    can survive in world politics
    • You will sometimes hear that the security dilemma assumes that states are “unitary rational actors” with a preference for survival
    • Such a statement need not be true
    • States that have not armed may have all disappeared because they were conquered by states that did arm

2 (Broad) Reasons for War
  • Structural imbalance, disequilibrium, or instability: some state that arms may be unable to arm sufficiently to prevent another state from attempting to conquer it 
  • Preferences: facing the choice between armed standoff and war, one or more states may prefer war
Prisoner's Dilemma
  • For states with preferences of either kind, the security dilemma is an instance of what game theorists call “prisoner’s dilemma”
  • story about a district attorney who separately offers a deal to each of two prisoners who have conspired to commit a crime
    – The district attorney’s deal is designed to force each prisoner to testify against the other one
  • World politics features no counterpart to a district attorney who can define the choices for the states
  • a game defined by a particular order of values attached to each outcome by two (or more) agents
  • if both agents try to achieve the outcome
    they prefer, each receives a worse outcome than it could achieve by a different choice
    – Thus in world politics, states trying to achieve peace get the possibility of war
  • derive their name from their concern with the
    res, or “matter,” of world politics, which they see as power
  • view on security dilemma:
    • States face a continuing security dilemma
    • Therefore each state must always choose to arm
    • The theoretical problem is to explain why mutual choices to arm only result in war at certain times and at other times result in armed standoff
    • Peace, as opposed to armed standoff, is unattainable 
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