Debating IR

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

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Jonathan Berman on Interests

I think from our most recent class there was general agreement that we cannot assume away a state's interests. I think this is an important realization because it throws a wrench in a lot of realist thinking. Realists claim that states are worried primarily about security is much too vague to be of any use.

Realists simply leave the question hanging, secure from what? In the US we are fighting a War on Terror to secure ourselves against terrorism. This requires a massive military buildup and invasions of select Middle Eastern countries according to President Bush.

However, what threatens the Japanese? Some would point to North Korea but it is also important to recognize that they list earthquakes as a major security threat. Thus, Japan needs to secure itself against nature. When the Chinese banned foreign animations that contained cartoons with people they were securing themselves against Western dominance of their entertainment markets. All of this points to the fact that before anyone makes any sort of policy recommendation about what this or that state does they need to take a real account of their interests because not every state's interests are the same.

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