Sunday, July 6, 2008

Realism, a conservative approach

I was reading my international relations book (again) when I drew this conclusion:
the more that I learn about international relations, the more I feel as if George W. Bush betrays all the faux pas of the subject. (Note: all direct, quoted material is taken from International Relations, Fifth Edition by Joshua Goldstein. Proper citations are included at the end of this entry).
I read about reciprocity, which is "a response in kind to the other's actions." Basically, it means that if one party does something, the other party will do something in response. A term within reciprocity is deterrence, which is "the threat to punish another actor if it takes a certain negative action." Both of these bargaining strategies are, I admit, sometimes required for necessary ends (such as saving the civil rights of a pseudo-state seeking independence).
When I got to the paragraph about escalation and arms races, however, my mind leaped and stuck to "irrational behaviour," and "George W. Bush." Goldstein defines escalation as "a series of negative sanctions of increasing severity applied in order to induce another actor to take some action." Not thinking of Bush quite yet? Then try this, which is a little more direct: "An arms race is a reciprocal process in which two (or more) states build up military capabilities in response to each other. Since each wants to act prudently against a threat (often a bit overblown in the leaders' perceptions), the attempt to reciprocate leads to a runaway production of weapons by both sides."
Doesn't that bolded text scream "George W. Bush was wrong about Iraq's 'weapons of mass destruction,' and has since pushed the United States into a war nobody really knows anything about/pseudo-one-sided arms race?"

Yeah, I said it.

P.S. Mitch and I went to the Twins game today. I also watched Rashomon, which is a Japanese film from 1950. The whole theme of the movie is "truth is relative and subject to different interpretations." Once I got past the exaggerated acting style, I appreciated the strongly advocated message of interpretive theory.

Works Cited
Goldstein, Joshua S. International Relations. 5th ed. Longman, 2004. 84.

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