In the last two decades, the classical tradition in international relations has come under sustained attack on a number of fronts, and from a diverse range of critics. Most recently, feminist thinkers, following in the footsteps of neo-Marxists and critical theorists, have denounced IR as ‘one of the most gender-blind, indeed crudely patriarchal, of all the institutionalized forms of contemporary social and political analysis’. Feminists have sought to subvert some of the most basic elements of the classical paradigm: the assumption of the state as a given; conceptions of power and ‘international security’; and the model of a rational human individual standing apart from the realm of lived experience, manipulating it to maximize his own self-interest. Denouncing standard epistemological assumptions and theoretical approaches as inherently ‘masculinist’, feminists, particularly those from the radical band of the spectrum, have advanced an alternative vision of international relations: one that redefines power as ‘mutual enablement’ rather than domination, and offers normative values of cooperation, care giving, and compromise in place of patriarchal norms of competition, exploitation, and self-aggrandizement.
Over the years, a number of scholars have noted that ethnic groups in violent conflict act much like states in the international system; James O'Connell describes the dynamics as ‘international relations without safeguards’. Brief observations aside, however, few works actually apply International Relations theory to explain large-scale ethnic violence. While the oversight ought to be surprising, it is easily explained in terms of what International Relations theory calls the ‘level of analysis problem’.
Prompted by the integration of Europe, Derrida recently posed the following questions. ‘Indeed, to what concept, to what real individual, to what singular entity should this name be assigned today? Who will draw up its borders?’ While this question speaks of the political entity called Europe, it has much broader resonance. It echoes concerns about identity, boundaries, and the relationship between the inside and the outside of political entities, concerns that have not escaped the attention of critical International Relations scholars. Nor are these necessarily new concerns. The situation in post–World War II Britain prompted the same questions Derrida raises about Europe in 1992. To what real individuals, to what singular entity the terms ‘British’ and ‘Britain’ should be assigned was a question that prompted debate, political violence, and a series of increasingly restrictive and, some would suggest, racist immigration policies. The transformation of Britain from an empire to a nation–state was accompanied by a crisis of identity whereby early postwar proclamations that Britain ‘imposed no colour bar restrictions making it difficult for them when they come here’ and that ‘there must be freedom of movement within the British Empire and the Commonwealth’ were, rather quickly, to give way to exclusionary practices and a retreat to ‘little England’.
No account of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 and popularly known as the Earth Summit, would be complete without coverage of the activity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They generated debate with the government and in the media in many, perhaps most, countries. They took part in the preparatory work, wrote special reports, joined governmental delegations to Rio and ran a large forum in parallel to the official conference. UN officials have described the role of NGOs as having been ‘unprecedented‘, and that is the general view. It is less widely known that NGOs have been influential at UN conferences for decades and that they were in danger of having less access than normal to the Earth Summit. Far from the situation being ‘unprecedented’, the NGOs made such an impact at Rio because the weight of precedents made it impossible to restrict their numbers and their activities.
The name of Adam Smith is most commonly associated with the notion of a natural ‘harmony of interests’ between individuals in the market, whereby the ‘invisible hand’ of competition turns self-regarding behaviour into aggregate social benefits. Joseph Cropsey echoes this view in suggesting that ‘Smith is of interest for his share i n the deflection of political philosophy toward economics and for his famous elaboration of the principles of free enterprise liberal capitalism’. Smith is often seen as standing in a long line of British political philosophers stretching back to Hobbes and Locke and on to Bentham and ultimately John Stuart Mill, his principal contribution to the liberal tradition being his role as the great spokesman of laissez-faire and the minimalist state.
The contention that ‘democracies don't fight against each other’ has received considerable attention in recent years from academics, policy analysts and world leaders. While the accuracy, significance and implications of the claim are still debated, supporters and critics alike have, virtually without exception, agreed that they are addressing the significant topic: the absence of war between democracies. Both accept the terms of the debate which is to focus upon the existence of a ‘separate peace’ between democracies or liberal states. Supporters of the contention are engaged in devising an explanation of the relationship between democracies/liberal states and peace which ‘needs to explain, simultaneously, both (a) the fact that democratic states have rarely clashed with one another—the democratic peace phenomenon, and (b) the fact that democracies are about as war prone as non–democracies’ in their relations with non–democracies. Critics (mostly Realists) are engaged in refuting the accuracy and challenging the significance of the claim. It is the argument of this article, however, that the concentration upon this agenda is misguided, and that the absence of war between liberal states is but a sub–category of a broader and potentially more significant relationship: a connection between liberalism and peace that is actually more extensive than that apparent in inter–liberal state relations.
In a period when international relations theory has painfully awakened from its dreams of a decontextualized account of international reality, some theorists of international relations are likely to do what some political scientists already have done: turn to disciplinary history in search of remedies against what they take to be a threatening disciplinary anarchy:
In response to South Africa's increasingly institutionalized racial discrimination during the postwar years, transnational anti-apartheid activists advocated a vast array of global sanctions. With the formal abolition of apartheid in 1991, sanctions advocates celebrated the apparent success of the international community's efforts in promoting a global norm of racial equality in South Africa. Since similar sanctions are an increasingly popular policy in the post-Cold War world, the South African case offers a useful starting-point for re-evaluating the utility of sanctions as a non-military policy. However, despite the prominent role of a norm of racial equality in anti-apartheid sanctions, both advocates and critics of international sanctions still generally ignore norms analytically. Expanding our conceptual framework beyond the realist assumptions implicit in most sanctions analyses enables us o t understand better why international actors adopt sanctions and how these measures affect target states.
In their rejoinder to our recent article, Vivienne Jabri and Stephen Chan argue that we have privileged epistemology at the expense of ontology. We welcome this engagement with our continuing discussion of the relationship between epistemology and ontology in international relations theory, and will confine our response to three main points: their interpretation of our argument, their use of the work of Giddens, and their arguments about the nature of epistemology in International Relations.
One might try to determine just what constitutes a sovereign state empirically, by examining the characteristics of states whose sovereignty is indisputable. All sovereign states, it might be observed, have territory, people, and a government. Curiously, however, cogent standards do not seem to exist either in law or in practice for the dimensions, number of people, or form of government that might be required of a sovereign state. Indeed, a United Nations General Assembly Resolution declared that neither small size, nor remote geographical location, nor limited resources constitutes a valid objection to sovereign statehood.
This essay notes that the relationship of political values to social theory is an important but unresolved question for all social theory, but notes that in the discipline of International Relations the discussion is particularly undeveloped. Contemporary trends in IR theorizing are evaluated in order to contexualize the increasingly assertive forms of historical materialist thinking, derived from Marxian social theory, which are being given serious attention in the discipline. I argue that Marxian theory is at one and the same time empirical, normative and emancipatory, and conclude that while much of the new historical materialist thinking in IR advances our understanding of international relations empirically and theoretically, and offers a significantly ‘better’ explanation of the ‘international’ than Realism or other theories can, it is deficient because of its inattention to the centrality of normative and emancipatory questions at the heart of Marxian historical materialism. I further argue that because historical materialism necessitates, within the logic of its own theoretical construction, specific political values, a revisionist historical materialism that ignores these values, calls into question the theoretical integrity of the latter approach.
The object of this article is to examine the impact of the Marshall Plan (ERP) on the strategy of reparations from Germany that was pursued by the British government in the postwar era. In order to put this into some kind of context it will first be necessary to provide a brief survey of the mechanism of reparations and then of the rationale behind the system of financial assistance afforded by the USA to Western Europe known as Marshall Aid (its title derived from the US Secretary of State, George Marshall, who pioneered the scheme). The idea of extracting some form of compensation from Germany, to be apportioned among the victors, came to be debated in Whitehall during hostilities, but little attempt was made to coordinate plans among the Allies until the conference at Yalta in February 1945. No consensus could be attained there among the participants (the UK, the USA and the USSR). Stalin lodged a claim for $10 billion of reparations in ten years, which entailed that the Soviet Union would be allocated half of all payments from Germany. The lack of assent from the Western powers led to a new body, the Allied Reparations Commission (ARC), being convened in Moscow, which also failed to reach a conclusion. Reparations were then settled at the Potsdam Conference between the same three powers in July–August 1945.
A yearlong nightmare for the European Monetary System (EMS) began in September 1992. Amid name–calling, finger–pointing, and hand–wringing, the British pound and the Italian lira dropped out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). In succeeding months, virtually every other ERM currency came under attack.1 Three of them—the Spanish peseta, the Portuguese escudo, and the Irish punt—devalued within the system. Three others—the French franc, the Belgian franc, and the Danish krone—avoided devaluation, but only at the price of recurrent and costly rounds of intervention by multiple central banks. Finally, in August 1993, the defenders of the parities surrendered. The twelve EMS countries agreed to expand the fluctuation margins from 2.25 per cent on either side of parity (6 per cent for Spain, Portugal and the UK) to 15 per cent on either side of parity. The wider margins eliminated the potential for speculative attacks, but left the system only the thinnest veneer of exchange rate coordination. This article seeks not to assess the causes of the crisis but rather to explain why the EMS governments did not defuse it with a realignment—the mechanism built into the ERM for precisely such occasions.
There is an emerging consensus among a growing body of scholars that the present era is one in which fundamental change is occurring. Among International Relations theorists, for example, John Ruggie has argued that we are witnessing ‘a shift not in the play of power politics but of the stage on which that play is performed’. Similarly, James Rosenau contends that the present era constitutes a historical break leading to a ‘postinternational politics’, while Mark Zacher has traced the ‘decaying pillars of the Westphalian Temple’. This belief in epochal change is mirrored outside of the mainstream of International Relations theory in, for example, pronouncements of the emergence of ‘the information age’, ‘post-industrialism’, ‘post-Fordism’, or, more generally, ‘postmodernism’. While these analyses differ widely in terms of their foci and theoretical concerns, there is at least one common thread running through each of them: the recognition that current transformations are deeply intertwined with developments in communications technologies, popularly known as the ‘information revolution’.
By all accounts Quincy Wright was a ‘great man’. He has been called the ‘founding father’ of the academic field of International Relations, a ‘teacherpar excellence,’ and a ’painstaking and indefatigable scholar’. Wright's students and colleagues have extolled him as ‘exceptionally learned’, the ‘father of “peace research”’, and the ‘prophet of a new world order’. Such praise is scarcely hyperbolic. Indeed, during his eighty years (1890–1970), Quincy Wright followed a ‘continuous and omnivorous regime … in assimilating vast bodies of human knowledge’. Combining broad theoretical interests with a concern for policy and problem-oriented inquiry, he ‘explored the boundaries, asked the questions, pointed the directions, and set the standards for the [International Relations] profession not only in the United States, but in the world at large’. In his ambitious quest to ascertain the causes of war and peace, Wright drew liberally from the insights of many disciplines, and in so doing produced a formidable corpus of scholarly writing virtually unrivalled in its scope and breadth.
The focus of inquiry for a critical, post-positivist International Relations requires a shift away from concern over universalist epistemological legitimacy and a move towards understanding the ontological underpinnings of international social, political, and economic life. Recent debates over the ‘agency—structure problem’, as represented in the Wendt vs Hollis and Smith debate and more recently in the latter's response to Walter Carlsnaes, have centred around Hollis and Smith's assertion that there are always ‘two stories to tell’, both ontological and epistemological, and that because of an assumed causal relationship between agency and structure, epistemology is as important as ontology, or stands on the same footing. In providing two further stories in our reply to Hollis and Smith, we argue firstly, that an ontological discourse, such as that suggested in Giddens's theory of structuration, must precede substantive epistemological questions, and secondly, that an assumed universalist epistemology negates difference in international social life.