Tag Archives: International Relations Theory

What Happens When the Hegemon Abdicates?

There’s a lot of speculation about what the incoming Trump administration will or won’t do in the realm of international relations and foreign policy. My friend Steve Saideman had an interesting piece on his blog recently suggesting – as most experts in the field are at this point – that if trajectories are left unaltered, things won’t go well.

Part of the discussion of any new Presidency is, of course, an analysis of the broader situation it finds itself in. While the newspapers are focused on the micro, we should remind ourselves as IR scholars that our work ranges from micro to macro levels, and that we should probably step back to look at the bigger picture. Structural realists have argued that individual leaders don’t matter very much; this is a good opportunity to test that hypothesis. So what kind of world is President Trump faced with?
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Crimea and IR Theory

The Russian occupation of Crimea is an interesting Rorschach test for foreign policy analysis, in an impressive number of ways.  I note these to make an analytical point, about the difficulty of applying political science concepts to ongoing events, rather than to make a political one.  In particular, the coverage seems to reinforce cleavages across the rational/emotional divide, the realist/liberal divide, levels of analysis, and, normatively, the national versus human security divide.  Pedagogically useful, but not a great advertisement for conceptual progress in the field.

To whit:

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