Chapter Summary

I. The State and the Nation

  • For an entity to be considered a state, four fundamental conditions must be met (although these legal criteria are not absolute):
    • A state must have a territorial base.
    • A stable population must reside within its borders,.
    • There should be a government to which this population owes allegiance.
    • A state has to be recognized diplomatically by other states.
  • A nation is a group of people who share a set of characteristics. At the core of the concept of a nation is the notion that people having commonalities owe their allegiance to the nation and to its legal representative, the state.
    • The recognition of commonalities among people spread with new technologies and education. With improved methods of transportation and invention of the printing press, people could travel, witnessing firsthand similarities and differences among peoples.
  • Some nations, liked Denmark and Italy, formed their own states.
  • This coincidence between state and nation, the nation-state, is the foundation for national self-determination, the idea that peoples sharing nationhood have a right to determine how and under what conditions they should live.
  • Other nations are spread among several states; in these cases, the state and the nation do not coincide.
    • It may be a state with several nations, like South Africa and India.
    • In the case of the United States and Canada, the state and nation do not coincide, yet a common identity and nationality is forged over time, even in the absence of religious, ethnic, or cultural similarity.
    • In the United States, national values reflecting commonly held ideas are expressed in public rituals.
  • Not all ethnonationalists aspire to the same goals.
    • Some want recognition of unique status
    • Some seek solutions in federal arrangements
    • A few prefer irredentism: joining with fellow ethnonationalists in other states to create a new state
  • Disputes over state territories and the desires of nations to form their own states have been major sources of instability and even conflict.
    • Of these territorial conflicts, none has been more intractable as the conflict between the Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, who each claim the same territory.
    • Five interstate wars have been fought and two uprisings by the Palestinian people within the territory occupied by Israel have occurred since the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.
    • Should Israel and Palestinian territories be divided into two separate, independent states?

II. Contending Conceptualizations of the State

  • The Realist View of the State
    • Realists hold a state-centric view: the state is an autonomous actor constrained only by the structural anarchy of the international system.
    • As a sovereign entity, the state has a consistent set of goals—that is, a national interest—defined in terms of power. Once the state acts, it does so as an autonomous, unitary actor.
  • The Liberal View of the State
    • The state enjoys sovereignty but is not an autonomous actor. The state is a pluralist arena whose function is to maintain the basic rules of the game.
    • There is no explicit or consistent national interest; there are many. These interests often change and compete against each other within a pluralistic framework.
  • The Radical View of the State
    • The instrumental Marxist view sees the state as the executing agent of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie reacts to direct societal pressures, especially to pressures from the capitalist class.
    • The structural Marxist view sees the state as operating within the structure of the capitalist system. Within that system, the state is driven to expand, because of the imperatives of the capitalist system.
    • In neither view is there a national interest or real sovereignty, as the state is continually reacting to external capitalist pressures.
  • The Constructivist View of the State
    • National interests are neither material nor given. They are ideational and continually changing and evolving, both in response to domestic factors and in response to international norms and ideas.
    • States have multiple identities, including a shared understanding of national identity, which also changes, altering state preferences and hence state behavior.
  • Contrasting the Various Views of the State: The Example of Oil
    • A realist interpretation posits a uniform national interest that is articulated by the state. Oil is vital for national security; thus, the state desires stability in oil’s availability and price.
    • Liberals believe that multiple national interests influence state actions: consumer groups, manufacturers, and producers. The state itself has no consistent viewpoint about the oil; its task is to ensure that the playing field is level and the rules are the same for all players. There is also no single or consistent national interest.
    • In the radical perspective, oil policy reflects the interests of the owner capitalist class aligned with the bourgeoisie and reflects the structure of the international capitalist system. The negotiating process is exploitative for the advancement of capitalist states.
    • Constructivists may try to tease out how the identities of states are constructed around having a valuable resource.

III. The Nature of State Power

  • States are critical actors because they have power, which is the ability not only to influence others but to control outcomes so as to produce results that would not have occurred naturally.
  • Power itself is multi-dimensional; there are different kinds of power.
  • Natural Sources of Power
    • Whether power is effective at influencing outcomes depends on the power potential of each party. A state’s power potential depends on its natural sources of power. The three most important natural sources of power are:
      1. Geographic size and position: a large geographic expanse gives a state automatic power, although long borders must be defended and may be a weakness.
        • Alfred Mahan (1840-1914) argued that the state that controls the ocean routes controls the world.
        • Sir Halford Mackinder (1861-1947) argued that the state that had the most power was the one that controlled the heartland.
      2. Natural resources: Petroleum-exporting states like Kuwait and Qatar, which are geographically small but have greater power than their sizes would suggest.
        • Having a sought-after resource may prove a liability making states targets for aggressive actions.
        • The absence of natural resources does not mean that a state has no power potential; Japan is not rich in resources but is still an economic powerhouse.
      3. Population: sizable populations give power potential and great power status to a state. However, states with small, highly educated, skilled populations such as Switzerland can fill large political and economic niches.
  • Tangible Sources of Power
    • Industrial development: with advanced industrial capacity (such as air travel), the advantages and disadvantages of geography diminish.
    • With industrialization, the importance of population is modified: large but poorly equipped armies are no match for small armies with advanced equipment.
    • Radicals believe that differences in who has access to the source of tangible power lead to the creation of different classes, some more powerful than others.
  • Intangible Sources of Power
    • National image: people within states have images of their state’s power potential—images that translate into an intangible power ingredient.
    • Public support: a state’s power is magnified when there appears to be unprecedented public support. For example, China’s power was magnified under Mao Zedong because there was unprecedented public support for the communist leadership.
    • Leadership: visionaries and charismatic leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi and Franklin Roosevelt were able to augment the power potential of their states by taking bold initiatives. Likewise, poor leaders diminish the state’s power capacity.
    • Joseph S. Nye has labeled intangible power soft power: the ability to attract others because of the legitimacy of the state’s values or policies.
    • Liberals would more than likely place greater importance on these intangible ingredients, since several are characteristics of domestic processes.
    • Constructivists argue that power includes not only the tangible and intangible sources but also the power of ideas and language. It is through the power of ideas and norms that state identities and nationalism are forged and changed.

IV. The Exercise of State Power

  • The Art of Diplomacy
    • Traditional diplomacy entails states trying to influence the behavior of other actors by negotiating.
    • Diplomacy usually begins with bargaining through direct and indirect communication in an attempt to reach agreement on an issue.
    • For bargaining to be successful, each party needs to be credible. Well-intentioned parties have a higher probability of successful negotiations. Although states seldom enter diplomatic bargaining as equals, each has information and goals of its own. The outcome is almost always mutually beneficial, but the outcome may not please each of the parties equally.
    • Bargaining and negotiations are complicated by at least two factors:
      1. Most states carry out two levels of bargaining simultaneously: bargaining between and among states and the bargaining that must occur between the state’s negotiators and its various domestic constituencies, both to negotiate and to ratify the agreement. Robert Putnam refers to this as a two-level game. Trade negotiations with the World Trade Organization are often conducted as two-level games.
      2. Bargaining and negotiating are a culture-bound activity. Approaches to bargaining vary across cultures. Two styles of negotiations have been identified:
        • Deductive style: from general principles to particular applications. The South argued in this style during the New International Economic Order (NIEO) negotiations,
        • Pragmatic style: addressing concrete problems and resolving specific issues before broader principles. The North argued in this style during NIEO negotiations, leading to a stalemate between North and South.
    • The use of public diplomacy is an increasingly popular technique. It involves targeting both foreign publics and elites, attempting to create an overall image that enhances a country’s ability to achieve its objectives. It was used before and during the 2003 Iraq war.
    • Diplomacy may need to include more than negotiations, making other forms of diplomacy necessary.
    • Some states may choose niche diplomacy, concentrating their efforts on in a few areas.
  • Economic Statecraft
    • States may use both positive and negative economic sanctions to try to influence other states.
    • Positive sanctions involve offering a carrot, enticing the target state to act in the desired way by rewarding moves made in the desired direction.
    • Negative sanctions may be more the norm: threatening to act or actually taking actions that punish the target state for moves made in the direction not desired.
    • A state’s ability to use these instruments of economic statecraft depends on its power potential.
    • While radicals deny it, liberals argue that developing states do have some leverage in economic statecraft if they control a key resource of which there is limited production.
    • In general, economic sanctions have not been very successful. They appear to work in the short term, but in the long term, it is difficult to maintain international cohesion because states imposing the sanctions find it more advantageous to bust the sanctions to gain economically.
    • Since the mid-1990s, states have imposed so-called smart sanctions, including freezing assets of governments and/or individuals and imposing commodities sanctions. The international community has tried to affect specific individuals and avoid the high humanitarian costs of general sanctions.
  • The Use of Force
    • Force may be used either to get a target state to do something or to undo something it has done—called compellence—or to keep an adversary from doing something—called deterrence.
    • Compellence was used in the prelude to the 1991 Gulf War as the international community tried to get Saddam Hussein to change his actions. During each step of the compellent strategy of escalation, one message was communicated to Iraq: withdraw from Kuwait or more coercive actions will follow.
    • Compellence was also used when the Western alliance sought to get Serbia to stop abusing the human rights of Kosovar Albanians, and before the 2003 Iraq war.
    • With deterrence, states commit themselves to punishing a target state if the target state takes an undesired action. Threats of actual war are used to dissuade a state from pursuing certain courses of action.
    • Deterrence has taken on a special meaning since the advent of nuclear weapons in 1945. States that recognize the destructive capability of nuclear weapons and know that others have a second-strike capability—the ability to retaliate even after an attack has been launched by an opponent—will refrain from taking aggressive action, using its first-strike capability. Deterrence is then successful.
    • For either compellence or deterrence to be effective, states must clearly and openly communicate their objectives and capabilities, be willing to make good on the threats, and have the credibility to follow through with their commitments.
    • Compellence and deterrence can fail. Even if states go to war, they have choices. They choose the type of weaponry, the kind of targets, the geographic locus, and to respond in kind, to escalate, or de-escalate.
  • Democracy and Foreign Policy
    • Is the foreign policy behavior of democratic states any different from the behavior of nondemocratic or authoritarian states?
    • In Perpetual Peace (1795), Immanuel Kant argued that the spread of democracy would change international politics by eliminating war. The public would be very cautious in supporting war since they are apt to suffer the most devastating effects.
    • Other explanations have been added to the democratic peace hypothesis. Perhaps some are more satisfied with the status quo or more likely to be allies of each other since they share similar values.
    • Despite a plethora of studies by political scientists, the evidence is not that clear-cut and explanations are partial. Even within a single research program, there may be serious differences in conclusions based on the assumptions made and methods used.
    • Yet the basic finding is that democracies do not engage in militarized disputes against each other. Democracies are not more pacific than nondemocracies; democracies just do not fight each other.

V. Models of Foreign Policy Decision Making

  • The Rational Model
    • Foreign policy is conceived of as actions chosen by the national government that maximize its strategic goals and objectives.
    • In times of crisis, when decision makers are confronted by a threatening event and have only a short time to make a decision about how to respond, then using the rational model as a way to assess the other side’s behavior is an appropriate choice.
    • Most U.S. assessments of decisions taken by the Soviet Union during the Cold War were based on a rational model.
  • The Bureaucratic/Organizational Model
    • Organizational politics emphasizes the standard operating procedures and processes of an organization. Decisions depend heavily on precedents; major changes in policy are unlikely.
    • Bureaucratic politics occurs among members of the bureaucracy representing different interests. Decisions flow from the tug-of-war among these departments and individuals.
    • Noncrisis situations, such as trade policy, provide a ripe area to see this model of decision making at work. When time is no real constraint, informal groups and departments have time to mobilize.
    • The decisions arrived at are not always the most rational ones; rather they are the decisions that satisfice—satisfy the most different constituents without ostracizing any.
    • Liberals especially turn to this model of decision-making behavior in their analyses. The model is relevant in large, democratic countries, where responsibility it divided among a number of different units.
  • The Pluralist Model
    • The pluralist model attributes decisions to bargaining conducted among domestic sources—the public, interest groups, and multinational corporations (MNCs).
    • In noncrisis situations, especially economic ones, societal groups may play very important roles. Societal groups have a variety of ways of forcing decisions in their favor or constraining decisions. The movement to ban land mines in the 1990s is an example of a pluralist foreign policy decision.

VI. Challenges to the State

  • Globalization
    • Externally, the state is buffeted by globalization, growing integration of the world in terms of politics, economics, communications, and culture. It is a process that undermines traditional state sovereignty.
    • Politically, the state is confronted by globalizing issues—environmental degradation and disease—which governments cannot manage alone and that which requires cooperative action.
    • Economically, states and financial markets are tied inextricably together. The internationalization of production and consumption make it ever more difficult for states to regulate their own economic policies.
    • Culturally, new and intrusive technologies—e-mail, fax machines, worldwide TV networks—increasingly undermine the state’s control over information and hence its control over its citizenry.
  • Transnational Crime
    • Transnational crime has led to the accelerating movement of illegal drugs, counterfeit goods, smuggled weapons, laundered money, and trafficking in poor and exploited people.
    • It has created new businesses while distorting national and regional economies. States and government are incapable of responding because of rigid bureaucracies and corrupt officials undermine the states’ efforts.
  • Transnational Movements
    • Transnational movements, particularly religious and ideological movements, are now political forces that have challenged the state.
    • In Christendom, these movements reject secularism and attempt to turn political, social, and individual loyalties away from the state and toward religious ideas.
    • Believers in Islamic fundamentalism are united by wanting to change states and societies by basing them on the ideas contained in the texts of Islam. They see a long-standing discrepancy between the political and economic aspirations of states and the actual conditions of corrupt rule and economic inequality.
    • Not all transnational movements pose a threat to the state; many develop around progressive goals such as the environment, human rights, and development.
  • Ethnonational Movements
    • Ethnonational movements identify more with a particular culture than with a state. Having experienced discrimination or persecution, many of these groups are now taking collective action in support of national self-determination.
    • Kashmir is one of the more complex ethnonational movement; Kashmiris are overwhelmingly Muslim but have been ruled by Hindus. It is also tied to the larger conflict between India and Pakistan.
    • Some ethnonational challenges lead to civil conflict and war, as the Kashmir case illustrates.
    • Ethnonationalist movements can pose a challenge even to the strongest of states. For example, China has been confronted by Uighur uprisings.