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POSC 1000(056)
Introduction to Politics
Politics and Governance the Global
Level/Conclusions and Exam Advice
Russell Alan Williams
Unit 13: Politics and Governance the
Global Level/Conclusions and
Exam Advice
Required Reading:
Mintz, Chapter 20, pp. 474-499.
Realism and Order in the International System
1) Intro – “International Relations”:
Observers of international relations believe “politics” is only
possible when there is government
Suggest two levels of analyses:
Domestic = politics
International = relations amongst states
• “Anarchy”: The absence of central authority
– Makes the enforcement of laws etc. difficult
– Means “government” not possible????
=International politics must be fundamentally different . . . .
“Global Governance”: Process whereby actors (states,
international organizations etc.) compete and cooperate,
providing some order in international politics.
Two main views of sources of governance or order
• “Realism” – focus on competition and power
• “Liberal-Internationalism” – focus on
institutions, laws and values as basis of order
Two camps have irreconcilable view of how the world
=Study of international politics is highly theoretical and contentious
2) Realism & Order in the International
“Realism”: Approach to international politics that
emphasizes the role of anarchy
Anarchy means states mainly concerned about security and
protecting their own sovereignty
E.g. Peace comes from strength to ensure deterrence, not from
international rules
Anarchy makes international affairs violent and dangerous
Key thinkers:
Niccolo Machiavelli:
• Wise princes do what is necessary, not what is moral
Thomas Hobbes:
• Life without government means everyone is at war with everyone else
E.H. Carr:
• International institutions do not overcome the “realities” of anarchy
“Realism”: Key Concepts . . . .
“National Interest”: Goals states pursue in their foreign
Realists believe national interest is normally for a state to pursue
power and wealth necessary for state survival
“Security Dilemma”: International security is “zero sum”
As one state takes steps to make itself more secure, this makes
neighboring states insecure
• Others must respond . . . .
Results in a spiral of increasing insecurity
• E.g. Weapons races.
“Realism”: Sources of order in an archaic world?
“International System”: Concept that describes the
distribution of power amongst states
Distribution of power can create a system of order
• Example: Weak states follow rules set by strong states
– U.S. as World’s “policeman”
“Pole”: A concentration of power in the international system
Either an individually-powerful state or alliance of states that has
potential to play dominant role in the system
Number of poles in system determine basis of order
“Multipolar System”: When there are many powers (or
“poles”) in the international system
Examples: -European “Great Powers” of 19th Century
-Current period . . . . ???????
Key impact:
States focus on the “Balance of Power”:
• States act to prevent their rivals from gaining power
relative to themselves
– E.g. Seek empires, form alliances, fight wars
“Security dilemma” is high
“Bipolar System” or “Bipolarity”: International system in
which there are only two leading powers
Other states tend to fall under the influence of one or the other
The Cold War (1945-1989)
-End of WWII left only two great powers
Key impact:
Two states inevitably come into conflict – rivalry
dominates all other international politics
Can be more stable then multipoloar system
• Cold war never led to open conflict
“Unipolar System” or “Unipolarity”: International system
dominated by a single great power
Examples: The United States (1989-????)
-As survivor of Cold War, US emerged in
dominant position
Key impacts:
System should be more stable – conducive to formation of
international rules (rules supported by the strong)
=“Hegemonic System” or “Hegemony”: Unipolar system in which a
single superpower uses authority and leadership to forge
international consensus supporting some rules
– E.g. United States and free trade
However, all other states have incentives to challenge unipolartiy –
could lead to increased conflict
• Or, unipolarity can only be temporary
3) Liberal-Internationalism:
“Liberal-Internationalism”: An approach to the study of
international politics that assumes that anarchy is mitigated
by “International/Global Society”
Supported by:
• Economic interdependence = economic benefits of cooperation
• Cultural and social connections = shared identity and values
• “Civil society” = shared norms
Promote the “rule of law” and peace
Key thinkers:
Immanuel Kant:
• Human reason means that a liberal pacification of the world is inevitable
Robert Keohane:
• Growing interdependence (globalisation) of states makes conflict less
“Liberal-Internationalism”: Claims . . . .
States are not the only important actors in international
Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO’s): Provide some
rules and order to international system
• E.g. UN and the legitimacy of military interventions
“International Non-Governmental Organizations
(INGOs)”: International organizations whose members
are not states but come from global “civil society”
• E.g. Red Cross, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and many
business groups
• Promote new values or “norms” that guide behavior
“Liberal-Internationalism”: Claims . . . .
States are not “unitary” actors
State “preferences” or behavior in international politics
is driven by domestic politics
• Demands of groups in society – states are not “rational security
– “Publics” are interested in prosperity and peace etc.
• Individuals can learn, so world politics can be improved from
past mistakes = optimism
“Liberal-Internationalism”: Claims . . . .
Modern world is interdependent - Results in:
Higher awareness of shared problems
• E.g. environmental and health problems
Clearer sense of benefits of cooperation
• E.g. economic benefits of trade
“Liberal-Internationalism”: Claims . . . .
Level of cooperation has grown – empirical claim
1) Shared morality – unsanctioned use of force to
gain power is increasingly illegitimate
• War is no longer a tool in foreign policy (???)
2) Shared sense of benefits of cooperation – most
states are small
• Rule of law favors the weak . . .
3) “International Regimes”: Set of principles, norms,
treaties and institutions that regulate international
relations in an issue area
• E.g. Trade regime – The World Trade Organization (WTO)
Regimes create expectations of future cooperation which
encourages states to avoid rule breaking and cheating
4) “Collective Security”: Principle that all members of the
collectivity of states are responsible for the security of
those facing aggression. Each pledges to come to the aid
of those who are attacked
Key principle of UN “sovereignty regime” – makes war riskier for
aggressor states
• Examples: Korea (1950) and Iraq (1991)
5) New forms of political organization E.g. The European
Union =
“Postmodern state”: State in which the meaning and
practice of sovereignty have been redefined and the
tools of governance are shared
• Collective foreign policies
• Security no longer based on control of borders
4) Conclusions:
Different views of how the world works create different
images of world politics
Realists see “international relations”
Liberal-Internationalists see “international politics”
Also, produces very different views of states’ “Foreign
Theories provide different guides to the real world of
global politics . . .
Realists think each state’s foreign policy will reflect
“national interest” given position in international system
E.g. Canada is a “middle power” so Canada has a middle-powertype foreign policy
• Support for rule of law and UN etc.
Liberal-Internationalists think each state’s foreign
policies will reflect more complex political processes
E.g. Canada supports rule of law and UN because these reflect
Canadian values and political demands
• Peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention, human security etc.
Thinking about global events usually requires that
observers adopt one of these views . . . .
For example:
• Why did the U.S. invade Iraq in 2003?
• Why is Canada at war with the Taliban in Afghanistan?
• Why does Canada want free trade with the United States?
Key point: International politics involves “thinking
For next time:
Conclusions –
Exam advice
Essay feedback