Debating IR

Probing the philosophical underpinnings of the international system and anything else of interest.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I have a number of issues with the Moravcsik reading. First, I would like to point out a conflict between Moracvsik's claim that
"The fundamental actors in international politics are individuals and private groups.."(pg 516)
and the claim in MSIRT of
"[liberalism's] focus on the nation state as the central actor in contemporary world politics." (pg 55)
I am personally sympathetic to the view, described in MSRIT as "pluralism" that the state is the fundamental actor, but it is under threat from different groups, as this allows both state and non-state actors to have a role in international politics.

Second, I think that Moravcsik's second claim about liberalism (that states represent a domestic subset) is essentially meaningless, as Moravcsik allows the subset to be as small as an individual dictator or as large as the entire population of the country. If we were to imagine a small country run by a monarch who is completely dependent on the support of a foreign oil company, it is misleading to say that the state's actions reflect the interest of the domestic subgroup that consists of the monarch, and not to say that the state's actions reflect the interest of the foreigners.

I have a similar problem with Moravcsik's third claim, because again it sees conflict between states as essentially a conflict between dominant domestic groups in the two countries. Its not clear to me what makes a domestic group a dominant one, or where transnational organizations fit into the picture.It seems to me that, especially in a democracy, even a marginal group could have an impact on a states behavior. What if a green party comes to power in a coalition government and alters the international position of a country to favor environmental regulations? Are they now considered a dominant group because they have this influence, perhaps beyond what they reasonably should have? It's not clear to me.

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