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Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Political Science 121: Mid-Term Questions

Directions: The exam will be held on Thursday, October 17. Fortunately, it turns out that instead of having the room free for 90 minutes (until 7:00 PM), there's no class scheduled afterwards, and we can let the exam run another 15 minutes until 7:15 . . . if that's necessary. It might not be. In the past, for what it's worth, most students taking a mid-term of this sort finished within 90 minutes. Easily.

On the day of the exam, we will choose three of the following eight sets of questions or topics that cover the lectures and the readings in part one of the syllabus. Choose the two you want and write on each. Since the sets of questions or topics are divided into clear sections, you need only number each --- for instance 1.1 and 1.2 --- and then answer them. To help you prepare, we've given you the relevant pages in the reader that pertain to these sections. Our aim here should be patently obvious: it's to ensure that you have mastered the basics of the theoretical materials being set out in the lectures and especially the readings and relate them to one another. We're also interested in seeing if you can apply these materials to concrete cases, especially the recent war with Iraq. The teaching assistants will be particularly alert to see whether you've got on top of the readings and concepts and theories in them and the lectures and can apply them successfully this way. Be sure, too, to explain carefully all the key terms and concepts that a question or topic covers.

!. Stephen Walt, pp. 1-14, summarizes the three major theoretical schools of thought --- or paradigms --- that dominate IR work these days, plus some developments in foreign policy making (domestic politics). This question concentrates on liberalism and realism.

1) Summarize, following Walt and the lectures, the basics of the two major schools, realism and liberalism

2) Analyze the recent developments in each that Walt singles out, plus those pp 90-93 in the reader that deal with collective goods problems and regimes-institutions from a liberal viewpoint.

3) Analyze hegemonic theory, pp.86-88 and 92-93. Is it realist or liberal or both? Why?

4) Indicate which of these developments seem the most promising to you, and why.

Note: A clarification of cooperation problems in IR --- including collective goods problems --- is found in the next buggy article on this site.


II. Theoretical explanations as to why war and power politics exist.

1) On pp. 47-50 in the reader, a typology of the various causal theories of war in general is set out that classifies them on three levels. Summarize each.

2) Set out the causes of war in general that the lectures emphasize, which relate two levels of analysis. One is human nature, understood in an evolutionary manner, and resulting group identity; the other is the ways in which this group identity, even for hundreds of millions of people or more than a billion for the Chinese, fragments the world's population into independent territorial states, all armed to one degree or another. The result is international anarchy and, at bottom, among other things, a self-help system entailing ethnocentrism and security dilemmas among armed territorial states. Be sure to explain all these key terms carefully.

3) To which of the three levels of analysis discussed on pp. 47-50 in the reader does this argument unfolded in the lectures most closely relate? Explain.

4) What light do (conflict) group-theory and social-identity theory, as discussed in class, throw on the problems that stand in the way of the emergence of a huge shift in allegiance and identity from existing nation-states to world-government of an effective, legitimate, institutionalized sort?


III. Rules of the game that underpin international order

1) What are the institutionalized ways through which the rules of the game for cooperation and competition are channeled? lectures, (reader, pp. 96-120)

2) How does international law differ from the laws that help underpin the cohesion and law and order within stable nation-states? Reader: , pp 111-117, 149-152

3) Are international law and morality as closely identified in international relations as they are in stable, long-standing nation-states where the political system has considerable legitimacy? (Define your terms: stable, nation-states, legitimacy etc) (reader: pp. 152-156)

4) What explains --- lectures --- why international order's impact on power politics and war is a variable that differs considerably over history?


IV. Morality and Statecraft

1) What are the four reasons singled out in lectures why morality has a lesser impact on international relations than it does on the behavior of individuals, groups, and political actors in stable nation-states with legitimate political systems. (Either October 9th or 14th)

2) How does the analysis by Spanier-Wendze on morality, pp 152-156?.relate to this lecture's argument?

3) Does this mean that, say, Americans shouldn't want our own government's foreign policymaking --- while inevitably self-interested and based on national-interests --- to consider the moral consequences of its choices, especially when the use of force is involved? What considerations, oppositely, need to be weighed by Presidents and their major advisers in foreign policymaking --- and by average American citizens --- if the subsequent moral evaluations of their policies aren't to degenerate into simpleminded moralizing and self-righteousness?

4) See if you can relate this to the morality --- the rights and wrongs --- of the way the Bush administration went to war with Iraq this last spring, and its conduct of post-war developments since then? (The only relevant reading on this are two articles on the buggyprofessor site, but you are free to differ with my analysis as much as you want.)

Was the Iraqi War a Blunder? Morality and the Iraqi War  

V. The Janus-Faces of Foreign Policy: Outside-In and Inside-Out Explanations

1) The lectures stressed that to explain specific foreign policy behavior, say going to war --- e.g., why the US and the UK went to war against Saddamite Iraq in March 2003, after trying to win Security Council approval for it, as opposed to explaining why power politics and war in a general sense are built into international relations --- it's necessary to consider both outside-in and inside-out casual influences.

a. The specific context of the regional and global systems that a state is interacting with in a certain time-frame, say in the case of the war with Iraq events since 1991, the end of the first Gulf War, and the impact of 9/11's terrorism and its perpetrators. These are outside-in influences operating on the state.

b. The ways in which these influences are then perceived and channeled through the domestic foreign policymaking process within specific states like Bush's America, leading to an identification of the nature of the threats, their causes, their gravity, and their perpetrators . . . including, rightly or wrong, states that support the terrorists involved in 9/11 and possibly future terrorist attacks on the US and its citizens and key interests at home and abroad.

c. The impact then, depending on the political system, of how the foreign policymakers gather support for responding to the threats, current and future: for instance, in the US, the need to win Congressional support for going to war for longer than 90 days --- the time permitted for a President in recent Congressional legislation in the Wars Powers act for using force abroad to respond to an emergency security threat. Obviously, Iraq was not an example of this sort of emergency, and hence Congressional approval was needed.

d. In turn, the efforts --- if allies are to be brought along or international support is to be gathered --- to persuade them of the particular government's policies: their rightfulness, the reasons support should be given, and the like.

e. And then, obviously, in the end, the decision to go to war and the interaction in the war and afterwards with the identified enemy state (or states) --- which of course creates new problems that feed back into the US policy process and have to be dealt with . . . all the while the President and his political advisers seek to muster new or ongoing support, both at home and abroad, for these follow-through policies that remain controversial.

2) Using this analytical framework, set out a case for the Bush administration's decision to go to war (the only readings on this are on thebuggyprofessor.org web site; http://thebuggyprofessor.org )

3) What in your view are reasonable criticisms --- intelligent and possibly sound even if, in time, they turn out to be wrong --- that can be made of the Bush administration's decision to go to war, and its handling of the occupation of Iraq since the formal end of the war in April 2003?

4) Briefly state what your own position is, and why. (Naturally, you are free to take positions that do not chime with those of the professor or teaching assistants).


VI. On pp. 123-132 in the reader, the Janus-Faced nature of foreign policy behavior is pursued in more theoretical and conceptual terms.

1) First, set out the recent developments in understanding domestic politics as an influencing shaping foreign policy that are found in the Stephen Walt article

2) Then summarize the state-centric unitary model with its emphasis on rational-choice found pp. 123 ff.

3) Next relate the Walt views of recent developments to the discussion, pp. 125 ff, to these shaping influences:

a. The political system and domestic politics

b. Individual key decision-makings like presidents or dictators and their key advisers

c. Perceptual Influences, especially how key developments abroad --- including the behavior of other states or non-state actors like terrorists (eg, 9/11's terrorism by foreigners on US territory) --- are then interpreted and defined . . . with, of course, the need possibly to reconcile different agency views or those of major policymaking players.

d. Organizational and bureaucratic influences that operate on how outside developments --- including possible threatening behavior by other states or groups like terrorists --- are defined, how in turn the strategies and specific agency missions for dealing with them are decided, and how there's always a possibility of slippage in decision-making at the top by Presidents or their equivalents abroad because of these organizational and bureaucratic influences. (On all this, see the discussion pp. 123-32 on the Janus-faced nature of foreign policy behavior.)

4) Where would ideology play a role --- eg., totalitarian ideologies like fascism or communism or, many think, extremist Islam that supports violence against others --- in this internal policymaking process . . . especially, to clarify this, in the states where such ideologies prevail? Pp. 63-64.

5) What particular difficulties and challenges --- threats even --- have democratic countries faced in the past in dealing with extremist ideologies of this sort; and how were the threats resolved finally in WWII and the cold war? What light might these two examples --- WWII, the cold war --- throw on the Bush and Blair decisions in the US and UK to try changing the status quo in the Middle East, beginning with Saddamite Iraq? Finally, why have the lectures stressed that security dilemmas are particularly difficult to deal with if one or both the opposing sides are secretive authoritarian or totalitarian regimes?


VII. Kinds of Conflicts that could cause wars.

1) The lectures stress that most wars erupt because of a four-fold set of calculations that add up to a deliberate, calculated decision by at least one of the states to go to war. Set out these four.

2) How do balancing and deterrence come into play here in statecraft as a way of trying to encouraging caution and restraint on the part of conflicting states with a hostile relationship?

3) On pp. 50-64, a typology of various kinds of conflicts that might erupt into war is set out. Relate it to the four-fold calculi in 1) here, and then set out the typology and its two main divisions (material conflicts, ideational conflicts) and its component parts

4) Why might ideational-symbolic conflicts be the most difficult to prevent causing war --- or, in case war erupts --- from keeping the result war limited in scope and aims? Illustrate with regard to WWII or the recent Gulf war against Saddamite Iraq or both.


VIII. Power, Relative Power Capabilities, and Bargaining Among States

1) Both the lectures and pp. 71-81 discuss power and the various instruments states can use for defending and promoting their interests. First, define power and its constituent elements: pp. 70-74.

2) Then set out the bargaining model --- involving a range of different instruments that start at a pole of soft and non-coercive power and end at the coercive pole, where military force of various lethality is being used.

3) What light on this bargaining model set out in class (especially on Thursday, October 9th) does the discussion on bargaining strategies on pp. 75-82 throw?

4) Illustrate the utility of the bargaining model with the case of the recent war against Iraq. In particular,

a. Starting with the UN Security Council efforts, 12 years running, to get Iraq to disarm, then the escalation of the bargaining strategy by the UK and the US to add more teeth to the pressures with Security Council resolution 1441 last November --- eg, Iraq is in "material breach" of the UN resolutions generally and has one month to catalogues its WMD and then prove it is disarming rapidly and fully with inspections.

b. The bargaining strategy with allies and others in the UN Security Council, while, simultaneously, of course, both Bush and Blair had to deal with domestic critics and win support for war by various kinds of political persuasion.

c. The resulting choice of choosing war with an aim of destroying Saddamite Iraq and its Baathist Party dictatorship and change its domestic system.

d. Why was that the aim of the UK and the US and the states that supported the coalition?

e. Does it seem to you to have been a good idea or not, and why (again, you are free to set out your own views here)

Replies: 2 comments

I've always heard that it was impossible to understand Hiroshima without Okinawa. The Japanese military was resolved to send a message to United States about just how costly a mainland invasion would be. For that reason they defended Okinawa so determinedly for three months even when they know they couldn't hold the island with Japanese military and civilian losses reaching almost a quarter of a million. That, and there were 110,000 Japanese troops on the island, while they had something around 2.3 million to defend the main island (also claiming that they could muster a civilian militia, even if forced to fight with spears, that would reach 30 million). This doesn't mean the U.S. couldn't have accepted a less than unconditional surrender or demonstrated the bomb's destructive force first, but Okinawa I think was instrumental in affecting our calculations.

Posted by Joey Tartakovsky @ 10/11/2003 01:50 AM PST

FROM PEDRO CORTEZ, a student in political science 121:


I mentioned to you during the break yesterday in class that the Russians entering the war was a big factor in us using the atomic bomb. I agree that we should have had a demonstration on an uninhabited island, as some scientists at Los Alamos urged at the time. We dropped the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima just before the Russians entered the war against Japan. The reason: we had agreed on this at Yalta, months earlier, and Moscow was eager to get into the war in order to have influence on post-war Japan and in the North Asia area. Soviet thinking here was obvious: whoever had conquered a hostile axis country or had military forces in a region had a dominant say over subsequent developments. The Soviets had already been reneging on their commitments to maintain some open access for western influence in East Europe as the Red Army swept across it toward Nazi Germany.

Add to this something else. The western alliance with the Soviets had never been an easy one: it was formed only because of a common enemy, Nazi Germany, and suspicions and mutual worries haunted the alliance throughout WWII. Even then, the Nazis had reached agreement with Stalinist Russia in August 1939 to invade Poland and divide it up. Once the common enemy --- or enemies --- were defeated, the cold war was inevitable, given the bipolar nature of power in the world that emerged and the ideological rivalries between Soviet Communism and the free world.

Back in the states, did Truman use the nuclear bombs against Japan in August 1945 with an eye to the impact of such awesome power on the Soviets?

Some historians claim this. In truth, the motives may have been complex in the Truman administration, but the radical revisionist view that Japan was already clearly defeated and that the overwhelming motive was anti-Soviet seems very doubtful.


Pedro: Many thanks: a stimulating commentary, just as our exchanges have been in and out of class since its start nearly three weeks ago.

The first revisionist work to ascribe an overwhelming anti-Soviet motive in our dropping the nuclear bomb was Gar Alperovitz's work, Nuclear Diplomacy --- around 1963 or so, with some subsequent editions. One of the best follow-ups, critical of Alperovitz, was Martin Sherwin's A World Destroyed, which came out in the mid-1970s. Probably the best short summary of the decisions to drop the nuclear bomb appeared in Commentary Magazine in September 1995 by Donald Kagan, a historian at Yale: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/commentary/6753915.html?did=6753915&FMT=ABS&FMTS=FT:PAGE&desc=Why+America+dropped+the+bomb It's wide-ranging and notes that the war party in the Japanese cabinet refused even after the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki to opt for peace. The war-hawks claimed that the Emperor's decision after Nagasaki to side with the peace-party was propaganda: he had, they claimed, been made a prisoner by the sell-out doves, and they were determined to stage a military coup, rescue the emperor, arrest and shoot the peace-party, and continue the war to the last Japanese if need be. Ultimately, the war party calculated --- as had the Emperor and the peace-party until Nagasaki was destroyed --- that the Japanese, armed to the last civilian, could inflict enough casualties on an invading US force to force the Americans to sue for peace and not occupy Japan.

Overall, what can we conclude?

Even the Japanese war cabinet's secretary later conceded, as Kagan notes, that without the nuclear bombs, the Japanese --- who were being bombed daily anyway with huge firebombs dropped by new B-29s --- would have continued the struggle for months on end and required a US invasion. As for the invasion and its likely US casualties --- while hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were being firebombed if the war continued --- the estimates range from the high tens of thousands up to hundreds of thousands. A good book that came out not long afterwards, The Invasion of Japan, by John Ray Slates, deals at length with what we have learned from the US and Japanese archives about the planned invasion and the casualty estimates. It's imaginative "what if" history.

There is, by the way, an excellent Canadian-Japanese docu-drama called Hiroshima, which came out in 1999, using an American actor to play Truman (all the other American roles were taken by Canadians). The Japanese did the Japanese side. It seems about as good a dramatic film could be about the complexity of the decisions on both sides, and again makes clear how intransigent the Japanese war-party in the War Cabinet was right up to the very end, failing to carry off the coup against the peace-party only because the head of the army in the end faltered and committed suicide. (We also know that other army elements faithful to the emperor and those who supported him were rushed to the palace to deal with any coup.)

Posted by Pedro Cortez @ 10/10/2003 05:28 AM PST