Last month, Dani Rodrik wrote a piece for Project Syndicate that went all kinds of viral. In it, he explains why he no longer views himself as a political economist. The upshot: because if he believed the stuff he used to believe, he'd have to accept that there's not much room for improving the world through op-eds, and that's not something he's prepared to accept.
This is a guest post by Jarrod Hayes. Jarrod is Assistant Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. He received his PhD in Politics and International Relations from the University of Southern California in 2009. His research broadly focuses on the social construction of foreign and security policy. He is currently trying to determine what should be on the cover of his forthcoming book from Cambridge University Press while trying to reconcile that with the maxim that books should not be judged by their covers.
One of the important areas of debate in securitization theory is the applicability of the approach outside the West. It is pretty clear that Ole Wæver and Barry Buzan wrote from a Western European perspective. Their view of normal or ideal politics is Arentian at its core, and really only fits well with modern Western or Western-style democracies. Lene Hansen and Cai Wilkenson have, among others, written trenchantly on this, but my thinking in this post is more directly driven by Monika Barthwal-Datta’s thought provoking piece in a 2009 issue of Review of International Studies.
In that article, Barthwal-Datta argues that the basic state-centrist nature of securitization theory means that it cannot account for securitizing moves made by non-state actors and—perhaps more problematically—does not provide any basis for understanding the exceptional measures that comprise security when securitizing moves are mounted by non-state actors. This is especially the case in weak or mismanaged states, where the state is either unable or unwilling (because it is the source of threat) to undertake the extraordinary measures that accompany securitization.
There's been significant interest in Steve Saideman's criticisms of Mearsheimer's and Walt's working paper, "Leaving Theory Behind: Why Hypothesis Testing Has Become Bad for IR." Indeed, there are many comments in a discussion that harkens back to older posts at the Duck. Given this, it strikes me as appropriate to add PTJ's and my paper (PDF)--solicited for the same special issue as Mearsheimer's and Walt's--to the Duck of Minerva Working Papers series.
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have written a piece that is critical of the supposed move to hypothesis testing and the failure of IR folks to do grand theory. I have many reactions to this development that I thought I would engage in a bit of listicle:
- My first reaction was: Next title: why too much research is bad for IR....
- As folks pointed out on twitter and on facebook discussions, it seems ironic at the least that someone who made a variety of testable predictions that did not come true (the rise of Germany after the end of the cold war, conventional deterrence, the irrelevance of international institutions, etc) would suggest that testing our hypotheses is over-rated or over-done.
- When I was preparing for my comprehensive exams long ago, I worked with a member of my cohort who was a Political Theorist just trying to get through the process. He would just read everything and ask "what would Ken Waltz think of this?" Well, invoking the WWWD mantra here, I think he might wonder why M&W are writing this stuff when they could be producing yet more Grand Theory or more Grand Theorists. Waltz produced Walt after all ....
- Which leads to the next question: what does this complaint say about their students? Either they failed their students (their students did not learn to do good grand theory) or the students have failed them (their students have focused on stuff other than grand theory). I know a good number of their students, and their work is often quite terrific and influential, so I am confused.
- If M&W have failed to re-generate themselves, it could be because they and their generation of grand theorists have answered all of the big questions, leaving us with the small questions and the dirty work of testing hypotheses. Perhaps they should be happy that their work is done and ride off into the sunset?
- Perhaps the utility M&W really seek to maximize is citations (given what they say at the end of the piece, I guess I am wrong here...). I became convinced in the early 1990s that producing controversial work seemed to be more important than producing convincing work. Mearsheimer's piece blasting the "False Promise of Institutions" seemed to be citation-bait to me. Similarly, Walt's article finding fault with the move towards formal theory seemed aimed not so much at convincing people but at attracting counter-attacks. [It is interesting that their latest piece cites approvingly the Fearon 1995 IO piece on Rationalist Explanations for War that Walt considered old wine in new bottles way back when].
What really frustrates me is that their claims make them bad realists and make me a Marxist. How so?
The seventeenth Duck of Minerva podcast features Iver Neumann of the London School of Economics. Professor Neumann discusses his intellectual and educational background and a small part of his copious academic output. Topics incude post-structuralism, policy engagement, the practice turn, popular culture and politics, and the Mongols.
I should reiterate important change to procedures. From now on, the Minervacast feed will host mp3 versions of the podcasts. The whiteoliphaunt feed will host m4a versions of the podcast. Unless I hear otherwise, we will continue this approach into the foreseeable future. I've heard of output problems on the mp3 versions, but I can't reproduce
"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." So spoke Winston Churchill, after the Allied victory in the Second Battle of El Alamein. We could say much the same of his defeat in the 1945 general election.
A core assumption underlying most of the work analyzing the impact of domestic politics on international relations is that leaders want to remain in office. Insofar as ensuring national survival, territorial integrity, and policy autonomy might help leaders retain power, focusing on political ambition often does not tell us anything more than we might get from a state-centric approach. But there are some important exceptions. For one, democracies rarely if ever fight wars against one another. The fact that different institutions create different incentives for self-interested leaders may have something to do with that. For another, we often attribute the occurrence (or continuation) of wars to electoral motivations. I myself argued for a long time that Obama was pursuing the same strategy in Afghanistan that Nixon pursued in Vietnam - don't lose the war until you're a lame duck.
Most of these arguments, however, assume that a leader's career ends once he or she leaves office. Yet this is not the case. Many leaders eventually make a comeback, returning to office after some time out of power. The British electorate deemed Churchill less suitable for managing the postwar economic recovery than international crises, and so favored the Labour Party in 1945. Yet they once more turned to the Churchill and the Conservatives in 1951 after the Labour Party had achieved most of what it set out to do. If we were to limit our attention to the 1945 election, we might conclude that Churchill did not benefit electorally from victory in WWII (as I myself once did), even though Churchill's wartime record contributed to his return to power.
A few months ago, I was commissioned by the International Relations and Security Network of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology to provide a brief write-up on how Asia’s rise will impact the formal discipline of international relations (IR) within political science. I didn’t get a chance to put it up earlier, and inevitably, the brief means sweeping judgments in just a few pages, but I think it’s a reasonable effort. Here is the version on their website; below it is reprinted:
“It is widely understood that international relations (IR) relies on modern (post-Columbus) and North Atlantic cases as the research base for its general theory. Our graduate students are well-versed in a heavily researched set of cases such as the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, or the Cuban Missile Crisis. While this is arguably ‘eurocentric’ training – white, western practitioners feigning to build ‘universal’ theory from just the cases and languages they know best from their own civilizational background - it might be also reasonably explained by Western dominance of world politics for so many centuries. So long as the West (including the USSR as a basically Western leftist project) so overawed the planet’s politics, then a modern and Atlantic prejudice was perhaps less narrow than it seems. Whatever the cause, this will likely change in the coming decades.
The first posting of some of the audio from this weekend's ISA-Northeast conference is up over on my syndication site. This one is from a panel called "Whither Constructivism?" featuring Nick Onuf, Mike Barnett, and me, chaired by Sammy Barkin. I'll get the audio from the methodology workshop up in the next couple of days, and Dan has the audio from our "science fiction and IR pedagogy" panel because my recorder crapped out and didn't record it properly.
I'm presenting PTJ's and my "End of IR Theory" paper at Berkeley next week. Here's a sneak peak at some of the lecture slides.Unfortunately, my
SAGE has temporarily un-gated Colin Wight's "Incommensurability and Cross-Paradigm Communication in International Relations Theory: 'What's the Frequency Kenneth?'" Millennium - Journal of International Studies 1996,
The fifth episode of the Duck of Minerva Podcast just went live. I interview Ted Hopf about his move to Singapore, his intellectual evolution, his
The fourth episode of the Duck of Minerva Podcast just went live. This one is about an hour. Patrick Thaddeus Jackson and I talk about
[The following essay, posted here in three parts over several days, was solicited by and is cross-posted at e-ir. Read part one here. Thanks to
[The following essay, to be posted here in three parts over several days, was solicited by and is cross-posted at e-ir. Part one appeared here.
[The following essay, to be posted here in three parts over the next several days, was solicited by and is cross-posted at e-ir. Thanks to
At the BISA/ISA panel on pluralism Jennifer Sterling-Folker stressed that realism is not the "dominant paradigm" of North American international-relations scholarship. Instead, she argued, neoliberal
Ted Hopf has an extremely cool talk on how practice-turn theory is being assimilated by the liberal-constructivist borg. Give it a listen.Background on liberalism and
Just in time for Game of Thrones' Season 2 (which happens inconveniently right in the middle of ISA), Foreign Affairs has posted this constructivist riposte
<img alt="" galleryimg="no" onload="var downlevelDiv = document.getElementById('e6403e01-e0de-49ce-a231-02a0ef2f117a'); downlevelDiv.innerHTML = "";" src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/--9rqXXXWaCY/TxzqyXkDwmI/AAAAAAAAACw/Nly5J93m9N8/videob4f2a8e66e2f%25255B2%25255D.jpg?imgmax=800" />If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s pretty hystericalI’d like to thank Duck contributors/editor,
Of note to those following developments in autonomous lethal robots should be an article published this summer in the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review,