IR Theory

February 13, 2003


The French -- any more than the Russians -- have never made public what the Iraqi Saddamite police state owes them for their petroleum technologies and investments, their pharmaceutical sales and investments, and their weapons sales, which totaled more than $25 billion before the sanctions began in 1991, and several billion ever since then. The BBC report below uses these figures, without however saying how much is still owed. Nobody knows. And since French TV and radio are state controlled and heavily censured in matters of foreign and security policies --- since, too, the entire French newspaper world from the Communists and Greens on the left to the Gaullist and conservatives on the right is full of jingoist nationalism that reflects the anti-Americanism widespread in public opinion --- nobody seems to know in France or care.

And as we'll see, all this hooks up with obsessive French anti-Americanism --- rife, all-pervasive, as French books recently published on this obsession have noted, something we clarify later here.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 4:59 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 17, 2003


The three others here are a former student who prefers to remain anonymous. Then Jeff Farrah, a senior political science major at UCSB --- and the head of the campus Republican Party organization, and a doughty critic of politically correct orthodoxy and dogma in all its forms on campus --- and then Michael Jabbra, a recent graduate with a quick, responsive mind, wide reading, and a ranging curiosity. The Buggy Prof thanks all three, whose comments --- just in from the first correspondent, a little dated from Jeff and Michael but fully apropos to the topics raised in John's thoughtful comments about the international law, international morality, and the pros and cons of the new International Criminal Court that the Bush administration has refused to sign, with the backing of Congress.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 8:35 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

April 6, 2003


Note that this commentary should be read after you've looked over the previous article or two that were published earlier today and yesterday. Those with decent memories will recall, if they've done so, that the previous article started out stressing a key set of points as a way of making sense of recent US diplomatic and security policies in the war on terrorism. In particular, the challenges that shape the nature of this war and its threats to the US and its allies are three in number, closely related and adding up to one of those defining moments in international relations history. The three interacting threats? [1] Islamo-fascist terrorism; [2] Islamo-fascist fundamentalisms, which support the various terrorist networks like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Isalmic Jihad, and Hamas, and provide both ideological rationales and recruits for the terrrorists; and [3] Islamo-fascist states that actively support terrorism while they energetically strive to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction: in particular, Saddamite Iraq, Baathist blood-soaked Syria, and clerical-fascist Iran. To this trio of Islamo-fascist states add, of course, Stalinist North Korea . . . itself non-Islamic, but only too happily inclined, as all the auguries suggest, to supply any Islamo-fascist terrorist network or state with its own WMD and delivery systems . . . which, as it happens, are their only exports. Period.

As for the "defining moment" in international history, think of similar turning-points over the last century. Specifically:

  • WWI, 1914-1918, and then the Russian Communist revolution followed later by Nazi and fascist revolutions in the interwar period, which created systematic ideological challenges of the extreme left and the extreme right to the democratic countries . . . the threats here all the greater because key great powers, Russia, Japan, Germany, and Italy, developed totalitarian political systems that were inspired by their ideologies, both at home and abroad. The result, of course, was WWII and 50 mi

    Posted by Michael Gordon @ 11:26 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

    October 5, 2003


    If you've read the previous article --- which had a lengthy theoretical analysis of how wars start --- then you don't need to read this article . . . which is the latter half of that earlier article, focused specially on the Iraqi war and what has been unfolding there since its quick end in early April: politically, economically, and security-laden. The reason for this shorter version? Some of the vistors here might prefer to see just that Iraqi half, which was about 15 pages in Word --- a long enough article by any standard, no? First off here, you'll find an email sent to the buggy prof after his lecture in political science 121, international relations theory, that dealt with the ways wars start: it asks essentially, that email, whether our war with Iraq doesn't fit a blunder-model of war-initiation. The buggy reply follows.

    That email's brief. The buggy reply is mostly what this article is about. After you read it, you should have a better working idea of a large number of key topics about the war with Iraq and the developments there over the last six months.

    1) the various rationales for going to war against Saddamite Iraq,

    2) the problems that have arisen since its end there,

    3) the degree to which the Bush administration was over-optimistic about these problems, and how serious they are

    4) the morality of the war and our occupation and goals

    5) the progress or not being made in Iraq on three-tracks of change that we're in charge of in our occupying role: political, economic, and security-laden ones.

    6) and the crucial stakes for our country's security in the war on terrorism that the challenge of rehabilitating Iraq and bringing pressure on the surrounding gangster regimes --- two of them active terrorist supports seeking WMD (Syria and Ira

    Posted by Michael Gordon @ 2:16 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

    October 10, 2003


    Though this buggy article is really for the students in political science 121 this quarter --- international relations theory --- it deals with a major problem in international life that might be of interest to general visitors to this site: why cooperation among states in IR is generally harder to establish than it is inside stable nation-states, and generally harder to sustain in the face of change. We start from a pivotal theoretical premise: from time immemorial, the basic logic of international relations reflects an overriding tension between a system of power politics and war on one side and international order on the other. The latter involves various formal and informal rules of the game for both cooperation and competition in IR --- including even, in formal treaties signed solemnly by states, the laws of war: how it should start, how belligerent states are to treat neutrals, how the war is to be fought and with what weapons and against what legitimate targets, how prisoners are to be treated and the like. International order of this sort creates mutual expectations among the leaders of states as to what they should or shouldn't do; and its impact in mitigating the power struggle among states, including war, and channeling state interests into various forms of diplomatic, economic, and security cooperation, varies considerably from one international era to another.

    Think here of the breakdown of the global economy, extreme nationalism and extremist ideologies, and then the global destruction that followed in the 1930s and into WWII. The war was fought with scant attention to the laws of war on all sides, though the Nazi Holocaust and extensive slave-labor system in occupied Nazi Europe was of a brutal degree not matched elsewhere. Japanese behavior in occupied China and SE Asia was also unusually murderous, though there was nothing comparable to the Nazi Holocaust. Compare international order of that turbulent violent era, 50 million dead in W

    Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:0 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

    January 7, 2004

    Political Science 129: The US, Europe, and Asia, and the War On Terrorism

    Ordinarily, the buggy prof doesn't mix buggy stuff with political science lectures and syllabi, all of them dealing with international relations: theory, security matters, political economy, US foreign policy, and the domestic influences across countries that affect their foreign policies. The main exceptions, fleshed out from the very schematic outlines the buggy prof sketches out and memorizes for classroom pyrotechniques, are those lecture-topics that seem of more general interest . . . at any rate, to the buggy mind. Does this syllabus for a junior-senior class on US-Asian-European Relations in the War on Terrorism fit this category? At first sight, no: far from it. But then, while yanking weeds in his garden with such persistence and force that the blood-flow to the buggy prof's sluggish, slowly deteriorating brain was quickly upped ten-fold, it dawned suddenly on my energized mental powers that all the activated internet links to the readings on the web, in the dozens and possibly over a hundred, might be worth offering to visitors here.

    Over a hundred? Who counts, except lackluster students looking desperately for a course with 99 readings . . . even if the lecturer lacks a bugged-out sense of humor?

    Political Science 129: THE US, EUROPE, AND ASIA

    Course Aims

    This year, our course will focus almost entirely on US foreign policy and the war on terrorism, viewed and studied in a ranging, far-flung manner. In particular, we will grapple with these ambitious and closely related topics:

    What underpins the US sole superpower role? Will Others Rival It Soon, say the EU or China?

    What is the Bush revolution in US foreign policy since 9/11, and what is the nature of criticisms at home a

    Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:51 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

    April 20, 2004


    Don't worry: the article on Iraq and its democratic prospects --- for that matter, those of the other Arab countries --- is still in the works, scheduled to start appearing tomorrow . . . probably in three or four versions. In the meantime, a good article link in the New York Times science section today directly relates to what the lectures in political science 121 --- international relations theory --- have been dealing with the last month or so. What follows is an extended version for buggy visitors that was sent earlier today to the students in that class and other subscribers to gordon-newspost.

    Note: no need now to click on the Times link. First, follow the argument uncoiled here, then --- at the appropriate point toward the end --- you'll find the link again, at which point click away.



    (i.) Our Aim

    The commentary should help you understand the rooted mental causes of power politics and warfare, the outcome of millions of years of evolution by hominoids and modern homo sapiens in small clans of 10-40 or 50 people, the maximum limit imposed by the need to gather food by foraging and hunting on a daily basis. For those 6-7 million years --- until the agricultural revolution and the emergence of city states in Mesopotamia and elsewhere around 6000 years ago --- those pre-humans and then our own species who always lived in clans were all genetically related to the other members. Literally; nothing mythical about it. The outcome, charged with wider political implications?

    It was two-fold:

    • On the one hand, individual self-identity was intimately and inseparably bound up for almost all our evolution with the identity and survival of

      Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:35 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]