Steve Avary Liberal v Realist Essay

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Transcript of Steve Avary Liberal v Realist Essay

  • Central Limit Theorem

    A Treatise on International Relations Reconcilement

    New York University

    International Relations

    Professor Richard Levitt

    By Steven L. Avary


  • 1


    The purpose of this paper is to gain insight into the theoretical framework tenets of the

    two main schools of thought in international relations, Liberals and Realists, and apply

    it to the Arab Spring. As such, the writings of Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye in

    Power and Interdependence, represent the Liberal Schools Complex Interdependence

    model, and John Mearsheimers in The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, represent

    Offensive Realists model.

    A vital objective for deriving a theoretical model is the ability to assess certain historical

    events and prospective predictive power of future events, with the adoption of the

    model by various players in their respective game theoretic maneuvers to achieve the

    desired outcome as the situation warrants.

    What is important to note is the time around the books edition publishing and events

    that may have shaped the authors psychological profiles. For Mearsheimer, memories

    of the 9/11 attacks on Americas homeland were fresh, as well as the incursions of

    Afghan and Iraq in response to the broader War on Terror. As such, it is

    understandable why he takes a rather aggressive stance; whereas, Keohane and Nye

    take a more collaborative approach, replicating the necessity for all actors to work

    together to stem such situations as the repercussions from the Eurozone Crisis.

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    I would like to preface my remarks by offering some general critiques before going into

    specific tenets. From my perspective, at times Keohane and Nyes comments were

    nebulous, giving too great an allowance for significant fluidity, which made it difficult

    to determine the strength of their convictions, contrasted with Mearsheimers, which

    provide clear demarcations. Yet, Keohane and Nye suggest that a superior framework

    might link the two along the continuum as prescribed per the situation, as some

    situations are not analogous, nor transferable. Mearsheimers discussions are

    excessively nationalistic as he discounts the potential capabilities of other countries too

    much that may eventually position them to challenge to be regional hegemons. His

    model appears to have more empirical support, based on historical data points, and he

    describes it like a multivariate regression, with factor models based on back tested data,

    and goodness of fit. Such an approach arouses concerns about data mining and the

    integrity of the model inputs. These concerns are valid as he discards variables that do

    not fit a tight correlation, describing them as anomalies or exogenous to the model.

    QUIXOTIC QUEST The Tenets of Complex Interdependence

    The main theme proposed by Complex Interdependence suggests a soft power

    approach that interconnectedness between various actors is critical and a requisite for a

    prosperous state. Actors goals vary, depending on the issue. Defining these goals are

    difficult for transgovernmental entities, while transnationals are self-interested.

    Relationships between and among actors, such as transnational and transgovernmental

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    entities and political elites, are utilized as conduits for action. A nonexistent subject

    hierarchy leads to a dynamic agenda environment with various actors setting priorities.

    It has the intent to diminish coercion and militarism in the international relations arena.

    The basis of instrument resource allocation is on the most pertinent to an issue, and the

    ability to handle various actors. The agenda is shaped by specific issue allocation of

    resources, the status of actors, and other connections as a consequence of

    interdependences increasing responsiveness. It is suggested that it is futile for strong

    states to link subject matters, and that the hierarchy is eroded via weak state

    relationships. International organization roles include agenda setting, alliance

    encouragement, and forum provision for weak states with the intent of political


    My biggest critique about Complex Interdependence is the belief in the better angels

    of others by the authors that when actors have asymmetries, whether it be in such areas

    as information, negotiating leverage or capability, it will not utilize it to dramatically

    improve the actors position relative to anothers. That is not the real world. Various

    policies, such as trade barriers, and protecting infant industry, are common. Some may

    also review the U.N.s vote allocation relative to funding. The U.S. provides the largest

    share of funding, but not allocated a pro rata vote share based on its capital


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    The authors military focus is on naval power, with the goal of utilizing it at times to

    show the flag in certain hot spots or to provide safe shipping lanes in order for

    unrestricted trade flows. Playing such a role though leads to free riding by others that

    receive the benefit of the safety, but do not bear the cost.

    The increasing linkages have led to a dramatic growth in globalization. While certain

    aspects have been positive, like the opening up of China, and helping to lift hundreds of

    millions out of abject poverty, it has its detriments as well. One of the issues with the

    Eurozone Crisis is the common currency, which prevents Greece from having the ability

    to devalue its currency and increase exports. Bretton Woodss policies restrained U.S.

    monetary power, pressured its balance of payments, which led to the end of the gold


    Rights for weaker states are pursued in forums like the International Criminal Court,

    where cases against perpetrators of crimes of aggression and against humanity are


    Complex Interdependence Theory provides four models as the reason for regime

    change: Economic Process, Eroding Hegemony, Issue Structure and International


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    Economic Process via economic and technological changes render regimes antiquated,

    leading to a metamorphosis. In so doing, efficiency may be forgone by governments in

    order to promote other values.

    Eroding Hegemony states that international regimes change when the power hierarchy

    changes, and this phenomena is largely a result of military power dynamics.

    Drawbacks in this model are due to uncertainties in domestic politics role, incapacity to

    discern the subject matter, and to disregard contacts in the multi-channel system.

    Issue Structure provides rules for a particular area generally made by the strongest

    country in that issue. Typically, trying to connect different issues to the focal issue will

    not work.

    The International Organization Model states that governments and international

    organizations have multi-level linkages as behavior advocates, which may become

    entrenched. Power is distributed to them, but given process constraints, limits the

    ability to utilize it to full capacity. Procedural constraints determine the power to

    derive preferred outcomes, not a states brute power in a specific subject area.

    China may be a good example of the Economic Process Model. While feeling residual

    effects of Communism, it has made great strides by opening up its markets to trade and

    technology adoption. However, in the building of a canal in China, Milton Friedman

    noticed that although modern equipment like tractors were available, the workers used

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    shovels to dig. Asking why the heavy machinery was not used, he was told it is a jobs

    program. Friedman replied, well, then you should take away their shovels and give

    them all spoons.1

    The Eroding Hegemony Model speaks to the deterioration of Russia. With the breakup

    of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, a significant amount of territory and

    population needed to support a large military evaporated. Instead of engaging many

    actors in the multi-channel system with favorable economic alliances, it has routinely

    thwarted existing agreements such as the takings of Royal Dutch/Shells assets in the

    Sakhalin Islands, further eroding any goodwill with existing or potential partners.

    Addressing the AIDS epidemic in Africa reflects the Issue Structure model. As America

    is on the forefront of battling this disease, various global institutions look to American

    know how and resources to lead this battle. However, sometimes the most important

    actor may not participate, as it may perceive itself vulnerable. Such is the case of the

    Kyoto Protocol. The headline issue was emissions reduction; although, ancillary goals

    involved wealth redistribution with inequitable country mandates. Thus, the U.S.

    abstained from becoming a si