A Realist’s Guide to Grand Strategy

International relations scholar William Ruger has a nice review of Barry Posen's book Restraint in The American Conservative that is well worth checking out. Posen's book is an attempt to sketch out a hard-nosed, moderately noninterventionist grand strategy for the United States. Excerpts: Restraint, Posen’s alternative to liberal hegemony, is developed in the second chapter. … Continue reading A Realist’s Guide to Grand Strategy

What My Students Think on Some International Issues

At the end of the term, I always hold team debates in my introductory international relations course. After each team has presented, I hold a "just-for-fun" vote of the class on each resolution. This term, I had them debate the following resolutions. Some of the results surprised me, particularly since I try to craft reasonably … Continue reading What My Students Think on Some International Issues

The Difference Between Governments and States

"The state," wrote sociologist Max Weber, "is a relation of men dominating men." I agree. Furthermore, no human being should dominate another human being. Therefore, the state should not exist. But I'm not an anarchist. How can that be? We have to distinguish between "governments" and "states." Anarchy is the absence of formal government, and … Continue reading The Difference Between Governments and States

The Right to Self-Determination in International Law and Practice

I delivered this brief talk to a Model UN conference at Dartmouth on March 28. Here is the text of my remarks. ************************************************************************************************************** My topic for tonight is "The Right to Self-Determination in International Law and Practice." The right to self-determination is one of the most controversial concepts in international relations today. The government of … Continue reading The Right to Self-Determination in International Law and Practice

A Pariah State

Today Vladimir Putin signed a treaty with the self-styled independent government of Crimea, annexing Crimea to Russia. I did not see this coming. It is an unprecedented deviation from the post-World War 2 international norm that force and the threat of force shall not be used for conquest. Article 2 of the United Nations Charter … Continue reading A Pariah State

Crimea: Competing Homelands

Russia's annexation of Crimea, de facto or de jure, is likely to spur violence in the peninsula. "Crimean Tatar representative" in Lviv, Ukraine Alim Aliyev is quoted as saying, "Tatars will launch a guerrilla war against the Russian forces if they do not pack up and leave the region." While he could be communicating a … Continue reading Crimea: Competing Homelands

Human Rights Are Not a Global Public Good

Does a civil war in Mozambique significantly affect my interests? I say no. Most of my students seem to think yes. On my intro IR final essay exam, I asked a question about what the theory of hegemonic stability would predict about future environmental and human rights politics. I wanted to see whether students could … Continue reading Human Rights Are Not a Global Public Good