International Relations Reading Summaries

Robespierre-- Influential figure in the French Revolution
Very liberal-- supported abolition of slavery, universal sufferage, student of the enlightment
"It was Robespierre's belief that the Republic and virtue were of necessity inseparable. He reasoned that the Republic could be saved only by the virtue of its citizens, and that the Terror was virtuous because it attempted to maintain the Revolution and the Republic. For example, in his Report on the Principles of Political Morality, given on 5 February 1794, Robespierre stated: If virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that government during a revolution is virtue combined with terror: virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country ... The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny."

Supported the executions/terror of french dissenters
-integrity of the state

-Counter to Robespierre
-extreme conservatism
-contemptuous of the enlightenment
-against the Jacobans

"identity of interests is the surest of bonds whether between states or individuals"

Represents a basic introduction to realism, though some nations try to take a neoliberal stance 

(or another stance which ignores/reduces the effect of power)
Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations
Six key principles of Morgenthau's Realism
1. Realism believes that politics is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature.
2. Political realism relies on interest defined in terms of power. 
3. Realism assumes that its key concept of interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid, but it does not endow that concept with a meaning that is fixed once and for all.
4. Realism is aware of the morality of political action, but does not gloss over immoral actions.
5. Realism recognizes politics is separate from the moral laws that govern the universe-- that is, international politics is not influenced by moral laws.
6. Realism is differentiaed from other schools of thought because it does not make moral judgements.

Other schools of thought, according to realists, practice willful ignorance.
-Invading forces must destroy all previous free governance/culture, lest it revert to former 

governance/desire freedom
"Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always in every 

sort and kind of circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always find 

them faithful."
John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
Establishes the importance of Anarchy and the Struggle for Power
-establishes offensive realism (the idea that:
1. Great powers are the main actors in world politics and the international system is anarchical
2. States are rational actors, capable of coming up with sound strategies that maximize their 

prospects for survival
3. States have survival as their primary goal
4. All states possess some offensive military capability
5. States can never be certain of the intentions of other states)

His secondary argument is that ground forces are still vitally important, and the the ocean 

still creates important divisions, despite tech advances
John M. Owen, “How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace”
Addresses argument that "democracies don't fight each other"
Says it has two issues: (A) how do we define democracy, and (B) how do we define conflict/fight?
-Also, wars are so rare, it's not improbable that no two democracies fight.

"That no one has directly observed a causal mechanism preventing democracies from going to war against one another has damaged the democratic peace thesis. In this article, I have argued that there is indeed such a mechanism. Fundamentally it is the liberal ideas undergirding liberal democracies. Liberalism says that all persons are best off pursuing self-preservation and 
material well-being, and that freedom and toleration are the best means to these ends. The 

liberal commitment to individual freedom gives rise to foreign policy ideology and governmental institutions that work together to  produce democratic peace."
Robert Keohane, “The Demand for International Regimes”

Answers question: "why self-interested actors in world politics should seek, under certain circumstances, to establish international regimes through mutual agreements and what can account for fluctuations over time in the number, extent, and strength of international regimes, on the basis of rational calculation under varying circumstances." 

Basically, why do actors give up sovereignty? Challenges idea that " concentration of power in one dominant state facilitates the development of strong regimes, and that fragmentation of power is associated with regime collapse. This theory, however, fails to explain lags between changes in power structures and changes in international regimes; does not account well for the differential durability of different institutions within a given issue-area..." 

Concludes that there is not harmony in international relations, but that interests will, at some point or another, converge, and therefore imply an international regime. 
"None of these observations implies an underlying harmony of interests in world politics. Regimes can be used to pursue particularistic and parochial interests, as well as more widely shared objectives. They do not necessarily increase overall levels of welfare. Even when they do, conflicts among units will continue. States will attempt to force the burdens of adapting to change onto one another. Nevertheless, as long as the situations involved are not constant-sum, actors will have incentives to coordinate their behavior, im- plicitly or explicitly, in order to achieve greater collective benefits without reducing the utility of any unit. When such incentives exist, and when sufficient interdependence exists that ad hoc agreements are insufficient, opportunities will arise for the development of international regimes. If in- ternational regimes did not exist, they would surely have to be invented"
Kant -- Perpetual Peace

Basically, bunch of key principles, as follows:
"No secret treaty of peace shall be held valid in which there is tacitly reserved matter for a 

future war"
"No independent states, large or small, shall come under the dominion of another state by 

inheritance, exchange, purchase, or donation"
"Standing armies shall in time be totally abolished"
"National debts shall not be contracted with a view to the external friction of states"
"No state shall by force interfere with the constitution or government of another state"
"No state shall, during war, permit such acts of hostility which would make mutual confidence in 

the subsequent peace impossible: such are the employment of assassins (percussores), poisoners 

(venefici), breach of capitulation, and incitement to treason (perduellio) in the opposing 


Three Definitive Articles would provide not merely a cessation of hostilities, but a foundation 

on which to build a peace.
"The civil constitution of every state should be republican"
"The law of nations shall be founded on a federation of free states"
"The law of world citizenship shall be limited to conditions of universal hospitality"
Wendt, "Anarchy is What States Make of It."
(this is basically a critique of several of the major schools of thought)
Realism falls short because states and their interests are not the same thing-- they can be 

neorealism and neoliberalism cannot account for changes in the system, but norms-based 

constructivisim can (threats are socially constructed).

Mueller, "The Obsolescence of Major War."
War is merely an idea. It is not a trick of fate, a thunderbolt from hell, a natural necessity, or a desperate plot device dreamed up by some sadistic puppeteer on high.Therefore it can be supplanted--rendered obsolete--if people come to embrace another idea: one holding that, as an institution, war is abhorrent and, on balance, methodologically unwise.

Examples of Slavery and duelling-- both popularly seen as abhorrent, but formerly common practice. 

War remains rather common outside the developed world--indeed the book was written while a war between Iran and Iraq was raging there, not to mention some 30 civil wars In the last few hundred years, however, most major ideas have tended to flow from the countries we now call "developed" to the rest. It seems possible--particularly with the Cold War out of the way--that war aversion will follow a similar path. Even if peace--the absence of war--comes to infuse the world, conflict, disharmony, turmoil, trouble, and contentiousness will likely continue in fulsome measure. Unlike war, these qualities do seem truly to be natural and inevitable.

Jervis, "War and Misperception"
States can still go to war even if both have perfect perception-- fundamental interests may conflict. But, many wars are caused by misperception of actor's intentions.