Debating IR

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

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Jonathan B. Pontificates 1/26: Hamas and Realism

As I mentioned in class today, I thought that from a realist perspective the election of Hamas was not a very significant event. That is because from a foreign policy perspective, according to realists, nation's have perennial interests that stay the same no matter who is in power.

I used the similar foreign policies of the Czar, the USSR, and Putin's government in regard to its neighbors as an example. In the case of Russia, it is that Russia wants to exert some form of control. Another example is the Cold War consensus in the United States. Whether a democrat or republican was in office the policy of the United States remained the same. Thus, there is ample evidence that nations have perennial interests that do not diverge.

In the case of Palestine, it is clear that although competing factions, like Hamas and Fatah, might diverge domestically, in the foreign policy front, especially in regard to Israel, they have very similar interests. For example, during the past decade and a half Fatah and Hamas have been able to agree to control the level of violence in Israel. The violence was turned on during the two intifadahs's. Even before the election Hamas and Fatah were able to agree to a ceasefire. Why? Because the two factions' interests coalesced and made them have the same interests when it came to Israel. Am I saying that domestic forces are not a factor in foreign policy? Maybe. Although it is not a position that I am enthused with.

Personally, I think that the constructivists do a better job answering that question than the realists. Domestic forces are important but I believe that all of the Palestinians have very similar interests by nature of being Palestinians. Anyone who has the identity of being a Palestinian share certain traits or ideas with other people who identify themselves as Palestinians. In this way, even people on different sides of the ideological spectrum can agree on certain policies, especially in the relm of foreign policy where issues tend to effect the nation as a whole.

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