Debating IR

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


Monday, March 13, 2006

Liberalism and Realism on

I was looking at when I found this semi-funny video on international relations. It claims to explain IR in one minute, however, it forgot constructivism.

Although to explain constructivism the video would have to be an hour long in order to explain each actors identity and how it influenced their interests.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Postmodern Discussion

I was disappointed by Thursday's discussion on postmodernism. We didn't get much of a chance to talk about the reading (mostly because people were understandably preoccupied with midterms), which was a shame because I think it was one of the more interesting pieces we have had so far.

Instead we had a discussion along the lines of "why are you getting a degree" which is more of a sociological debate than an IR one. For a few hundred years, education has been valued more as a means of improving economic standing than as a means of self improvement. In fact it is pretty clear that it doesn't really matter what you learn at school, provided you end up with the necessary bit of paper at the end, as a degree is really just an instrument of social stratification. There is a really good article on this by Randall Collins called "Functional and Conflict Theories of Educational Stratification" 1971, American Sociological Review, vol 36 if anyone is interested.

I find this a bit depressing, although accurate. I would take it a bit further (although i guess this would be more critical theory than postmodern) and wonder why people want to climb the social strata in this way. The answer is the violence inherent in the capitalist system. Having a higher socio-economic position allows you to be a dominator instead of one of the dominated. However, nobody is fully a dominator, everyone is to some degree injured by the system. So really, a degree is about getting a bigger slice of the pie, which, after a few drinks, I like to refer to as the "Pie of Domination".


Milosevic "Tried" to Death

Since the class readings focus on what went on in Yugoslavia during the late 90's I thought this might be of interest. Apparently, Slobodan Milosevic died of natural causes earlier in the day. It looks as if Milosevic was "tried" to death.

This is a huge embarassment for the tribunal and NATO which botched the war from the very beginning. How could NATO think that spending $200 million dollars on a drawn out, four year mess, be a good idea? NATO could have made everything a lot easier for itself had it just hung the guy right from the beginning. Was it not obvious that Milosevic was guilty?

Of course, the critics are right that the tribunal could have been a lot more efficient and wiser. Even though this tribunal turned out to be a big waste of time it is an important indicator of how critical certain values are to the the West. NATO could have just eliminated Milosevic and swept him into the dustbin of history. Yet, they spent the money and suffered through the public embarrasment because "the West" stands for the rule of law and "civilized" behavior in international relations. I believe these values are intrinsic to the West's identity and explains why the West had to go through the mess that was the Milosevic trial.

In the end, I think for Western governments, the commitment to these values gives it the legitimacy it needs to garner the support of its own people.

Hopefully, future leaders will learn from the Milosevic trial and be a lot more efficient and use much more common sense.