Making Sense of International Relations Theory 9781685850586

Illustrates international relations theory in action. With a common point of reference, the authors offer tangible examp

447 68 3MB

English Pages 482 [496] Year 2013

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Recommend Papers

Making Sense of International Relations Theory
 9781685850586

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

Making Sense of International Relations Theory

MAKING SENSE OF

International Relations Theory SECOND EDITION

edited by Jennifer Sterling-Folker

b o u l d e r l o n d o n

Published in the United States of America in 2013 by Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 1800 30th Street, Boulder, Colorado 80301 www.rienner.com and in the United Kingdom by Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 3 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8LU © 2013 by Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Making sense of international relations theory / edited by Jennifer Sterling-Folker. — Second edition. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-58826-822-8 (alk. paper) 1. International relations—Philosophy. 2. International relations—Case studies 3. Iraq War, 2003–2011—Case studies. I. Sterling-Folker, Jennifer Anne, 1960– JZ1305.M32185 2013 327.101—dc23 2013001383 British Cataloguing in Publication Data A Cataloguing in Publication record for this book is available from the British Library.

Printed and bound in the United States of America The paper used in this publication meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials Z39.48-1992. 5

4

3

2

1

To the contributors, for their continued willingness to make sense of international relations theory

Contents

xi

Preface

1

2

Making Sense of International Relations Theory, Jennifer Sterling-Folker Realist Approaches

1 15

2.1 Realism, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 15 2.2 Structural Realism: The Imperialism of Great Power, Karen Ruth Adams 21 2.3 Neoclassical Realism: Domestic Opportunities for Great Power Intervention, Jeffrey W. Taliaferro and Robert W. Wishart 47

3

Liberal Approaches

67

3.1 Liberalism, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 67 3.2 Neoliberalism: Managing Collective Problems, Sean Kay 75 3.3 Public Goods Liberalism: The Perils of Coalition Building, Michael J. Butler and Mark A. Boyer 91

4

Game Theory Approaches

109

4.1 Game Theory, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 109 4.2 Game Theory: Modeling Ethnic Violence, Brian Urlacher 114

vii

viii

5

Contents

Constructivist Approaches

127

5.1 Constructivism, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 127 5.2 Norm Constructivism: Contesting International Legal Norms, Matthew J. Hoffmann 136 5.3 Relational Constructivism: A War of Words, Patrick Thaddeus Jackson 152

6

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

169

6.1 Postmodernism and Critical Theory, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 169 6.2 Postmodernism: Seducing Humanity, Rosemary E. Shinko 181 6.3 Critical Theory: Deliberating the Legitimacy of War, Rodger A. Payne 200

7

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

217

7.1 Historical Materialism and World System Theory, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 217 7.2 Historical Materialism: Imperialist Rivalry, Hegemony, and the Global Capitalist Order, Alan W. Cafruny and Timothy C. Lehmann 227 7.3 World System Theory: Status Decline and Collision Course, Annette Freyberg-Inan 246

8

Feminist Approaches

263

8.1 Feminism, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 263 8.2 Liberal Feminism: Valuing Local Narratives, Julie Mertus 272 8.3 Critical Feminism: Gender at Work in Waging War, Francine D’Amico 283

9

English School Approaches 9.1 The English School, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 9.2 The English School: International Society’s Constraints on Power Politics, Tonny Brems Knudsen 307

299 299

Contents

10

Environmental Approaches

ix

327

10.1 Environmentalism, Jennifer Sterling-Folker 327 10.2 Environmentalism: Cars, Farming, and Resource Insecurity, Simon Nicholson 335

11

Applying International Relations Theory, Jennifer Sterling-Folker

351

Appendix: A Brief Overview of Iraq

357

List of Acronyms References The Contributors Index About the Book

389 391 463 467 482

Preface

A

s with the first edition, this new edition of Making Sense of International Relations Theory has international relations (IR) scholars of different theoretical perspectives analyzing the same event or topic. While the first edition focused on events in Kosovo during 1998 and 1999, this new edition focuses on the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Our goal in the book remains the same, however: to provide tangible examples of what IR theories look like in application and, simultaneously, in comparison with one another. In this way, students and scholars can immediately recognize the relevance of alternative perspectives and more easily identify differences between, say, a realist and a liberal analysis. Not only is such an exercise enlightening in itself, it also serves as an analytical guide to how IR theories might be applied to alternative international and current events. As editor of the volume, I am responsible for the introductory and concluding chapters, the introductory material for each theoretical section, and all the miscellaneous formatting duties that any edited volume requires. I am also responsible for the volume’s focus, structure, and the common vision that was imposed on the contributors. Thus, I take full responsibility for any errors, omissions, or criticisms the book might deserve. At the same time, I cannot alone take credit for any praise or commendation the book might receive. Credit for its best elements must also go to a variety of individuals who contributed in significant ways to the completion of this edition. I would first like to thank Lynne Rienner for her assistance in shaping the topic and the structure of the volume, as well as for her patience as the project underwent a longer than anticipated gestation. Because there are analytical variations within most theoretical perspectives, we have again decided to err on the side of theoretical diversity and include two examples for many of the theoretical perspectives presented. The book covers a great deal of theoretical territory as a result, although there are perspectives and xi

xii

Preface

variants it leaves out that might have analytical bearings on the subject of Iraq. Final decisions regarding which perspectives and variants to include were determined by the need to balance, in a manageable book length, theoretical popularity with intraperspective diversity, and analytical fit with the chosen empirical subject matter. Thus, not all variants within a theoretical perspective are represented. There is, for example, no application of democratic peace theory, no example of offensive or defensive realism, no securitization theory or historical sociology, and only one variant of the English School represented. Many of the authors discuss these and other missing variants in their chapters, as do I in my introductory chapters in each section. I also note representative disciplinary scholars of particular variants in the Further Reading sections, which, while not comprehensive, will point interested students and scholars in the appropriate direction. This edition benefited from the return of many of the original contributors, who were again willing to participate in a project that required them to learn about a topic that, for many of them, was far removed from their particular empirical expertise and background. They have been joined by several new contributors, including Robert Wishart, Brian Urlacher, Rodger Payne, Timothy Lehmann, and Simon Nicholson. An additional change from the first edition is the replacement of the Biopolitical Approaches section with coverage of a new perspective, Environmental Approaches. The introductions to the sections have also been revised and updated, and several of the contributors deserve special thanks for providing me with important feedback and revision suggestions on those introductions, including Karen Ruth Adams, Rose Shinko, Tonny Knudsen, and Brian Urlacher. The success of this project has always depended upon the agreement of contributors to plunge into a project that requested a great deal from them, and I thank them for both their patience and their willingness to proceed. Throughout the process they were subjected to numerous directions, suggestions, and revision comments, and they have remained extremely responsive and accommodating. Because this book would not be possible without the continued commitment of its contributors, I have chosen to dedicate this edition to them. As with the first edition, the contributors also proved willing to collaborate to make the project a success. At a series of panels at the 2010 International Studies Association annual meeting in New Orleans, first drafts were presented by Karen Ruth Adams, Mike Butler, Alan Cafruny, Annette Freyberg-Inan, Matt Hoffmann, Sean Kay, Julie Mertus, Tonny Knudsen, Rose Shinko, and Jeff Taliaferro. The project benefited enormously from the suggestions provided to us by several outstanding discussants on these panels, including Andreas Behnke, Linda Bishai, Felix Berenskoetter, and Peter Howard. We appreciate their feedback, which was insightful and invaluable.

Preface

xiii

A final note of thanks must go to Frank Griggs, whose administrative assistance is really what made this volume possible. Frank has been responsible for implementing some of the most onerous copyediting tasks of the volume, including the compilation, collation, correction, and systematization of the volume’s references, notes, and acronyms list. I thank him profusely for his assistance. He and numerous other individuals have made this volume possible and in the process, I hope, revealed what IR theory is, how it “works” in the discipline, what it can tell us about ourselves and the world around us, and why theorizing IR is a worthy philosophical undertaking in its own right. —Jennifer Sterling-Folker

1 Making Sense of International Relations Theory Jennifer Sterling-Folker

T

his book is about making sense of international relations (IR) theory. It does so by making sense of a particular topic through the lens of IR theory. Rather than describe what IR theory is, then, the book demonstrates IR theory in tangible action and practice by revealing the core assumptions, differences, and similarities of various IR theoretical perspectives. This, in turn, provides an understanding of how IR theory can be applied to other historical and current events. By the time you have finished reading the book, you should be able to deduce what a variety of IR theoretical perspectives would have to say about any international or transnational topic or event. You will also understand why there are multiple and equally legitimate interpretations of and perspectives on the same topic or event. Thus by allowing IR scholars of various theoretical stripes to make sense of one subject, this book is ultimately about making sense of IR theory. The topic addressed by each theorist involves the March 2003 preemptive invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq by the United States, the United Kingdom, and a handful of other allies. There had been ongoing conflict between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, since August 1990, when Iraq launched a surprise invasion of Kuwait, its oil-rich neighbor to the south. Flush with a newfound cooperative spirit as the Cold War came to an end, a multinational military coalition led by the United States and approved by the United Nations launched Operation Desert Storm in February 1991, which successfully liberated Kuwait. In the decade that followed the Gulf War, the United States and United Kingdom sought to contain Iraq’s potential military threat to the region through a variety of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) mechanisms, including the imposition of no-fly zones, economic sanctions, and weapons inspections.1 The United States and United Kingdom also unilaterally launched a number 1

2

Making Sense of IR Theory

Iraq

/ 1, 9

UÊœÃՏ UʈÀŽÕŽ

- 9,

/ˆŽÀˆÌÊU

,

,+ >Õ>…ÊUÊ

>}…`>`

UÊ >>v

", 

>ÃÀ>ÊU

- 1 Ê , 

*

 1 7  /

i

ÀÃ

ˆ>

˜

Ê

Õ

v

Ê

of air strikes throughout the decade at Iraqi military targets and weapons development facilities. After the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 11 September 2001 (hereafter referred to as 9/11), US and UK foreign policy toward Iraq became even more uncompromising. The attacks were traced to al-Qaeda networks operating not in Iraq but in Afghanistan, under the protection of its fundamentalist Islamic Taliban regime. In October 2001, the United States and United Kingdom launched Operation Enduring Freedom, which quickly overthrew the Taliban and established a new Afghan government. But the 9/11 attacks were also used as a pretext by the administrations of US president George W. Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair to insist throughout 2002 that alleged links to al-Qaeda, and purported stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), made Iraq a terrorist threat. Unlike the 1991 Gulf War, however, the idea of preemptively invading Iraq on these grounds was internationally unpopular, and

Making Sense of IR Theory

3

diplomatic efforts through the UN failed to garner significant international support. In March 2003, the United States and United Kingdom invaded Iraq with a comparatively smaller coalition and without UN approval in the Iraq War. The Saddam Hussein regime fell relatively quickly, but the US-UK occupation proved to be difficult and dangerous. Poor postwar planning exacerbated historical animosities between Iraq’s three main ethnicities—Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds—and produced a complex political situation of factional infighting and regional differences.2 Prewar Iraq had been politically and economically dominated by Hussein’s Baath Party, which was ethnically Sunni. Yet the Shiites had the numerical advantage, while the Kurds had long advocated for an independent state of their own in northern Iraq, where many of the largest oil fields lie. These political, economic, and ethnic tensions contributed to deteriorating security conditions in the country. Between 2003 and 2007, the United States increased its military troop levels to deal with a growing guerrilla insurgency. Ongoing kidnappings, car bombings, shootings, and missile attacks took their toll on both military personnel and the civilian population. Despite these security conditions, sovereignty was handed to an Iraqi interim government in 2004, and elections were held for a newly created federal democratic government in 2005 and 2010. While British troop levels had been reducing since 2007 and its combat mission ended in 2009, the Iraqi Parliament approved a security pact with the United States in which all US troops would leave the country by the end of 2011. US troop withdrawals began in 2009, as the administration of US president Barack Obama diverted troops to the ongoing Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, which had proved difficult to subdue. Meanwhile, numerous independent reports published after the 2003 Iraq invasion confirmed that no WMD were ever discovered in Iraq and that no operational links had existed between Hussein’s regime and al-Qaeda. These are the elements that make the 2003 Iraq War an event of interest to scholars of international relations (a more detailed overview of events related to Iraq is provided in the Appendix). It is an event that is ripe for multiple theoretical applications because it involves myriad topics of interest to IR scholars such as war, great power politics and geostrategic calculations, intervention and legitimacy, international institutions, ethnic violence, diplomacy and negotiations, international law, national sovereignty, democratization, and identity politics, to name only a few of the more obvious. As Steve Smith observes, “Iraq is instructive because it takes us back, in many ways, to the founding question of IR; namely, the sources of war and the conditions of peace” (2008: 307). In doing so, it allows for diversity in focus and emphasis. It is for this reason that contributors to the volume were asked simply to write “about the 2003 invasion of Iraq,” with no specific questions

4

Making Sense of IR Theory

or puzzles assigned, so that what they chose to focus on would be a reflection of their theoretical perspectives. And IR theorists, whose analytical perspectives are as divergent as those of game theorists and postmodernists, had something substantive to say about the invasion of Iraq. For most scholars it also appears to be a confinable event, with specific start and end dates as well as documents and memoirs now available for analysis that would not be accessible during the unfolding of a current event. Of course, as you will see, where one draws the boundaries of an event such as the invasion of Iraq, just how “confinable” it is, what aspects of it are puzzling, and what data are necessary to understand it, are all open to a great deal of interpretation and disagreement. However, it is important to underscore that although the invasion of Iraq has some obvious pluses as a subject for comparative IR theoretical application, the subject of this book could just as easily have been another event or topic. Indeed, alternative events were considered as possible subjects for this second edition, including the terrorist attacks of 9/11, US and UK military activity in Afghanistan beginning in 2001, piracy off the Somalian coast, developments in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the 2007 global recession, China’s increased economic and military clout, and genocide in Darfur. More general topics were also considered, such as terrorism, globalization, transnational crime, the UN system, and various aspects of international law. Yet as the empirical focus of this book, the invasion of Iraq is actually secondary to its primary purpose, which is to demonstrate how IR theory makes sense of the world. In this regard, IR theory is not about any one particular event or topic. It is instead about what goes on in international and transnational realms, and involves placing any particular event within these larger contexts. In other words, it is not, as Michael Doyle and G. John Ikenberry observe, “a recipe” or “a replacement for strategy” (1997a: 10). Rather it is about contextualizing specific events or topics, revealing how they are part of larger patterns (with regard to both IR events and how we as IR scholars tend to explain them), and exposing the underlying factors that produce either events such as the invasion of Iraq or our interpretations of them.

■ International Relations Theory: A Brief Overview Before proceeding, it is important to address the question, What is IR theory? Because this book provides introductory material for each theoretical section and examples of most of the major theoretical perspectives in IR at present, an overview of those perspectives will not be provided here. Nor will a history of these perspectives and their disciplinary development in relation to each other be recounted, as excellent sources already exist on this subject (see Further Reading at the end of this chapter). Instead, we will

Making Sense of IR Theory

5

deal here with the more fundamental questions of what is meant by IR theory and why it is useful for understanding what goes on in world politics. Not unexpectedly, different scholars provide different answers to these questions. James Dougherty and Robert Pfaltzgraff define theory as “systematic reflection on phenomena, designed to explain them and to show how they are related to each other in a meaningful, intelligent pattern, instead of being merely random items in an incoherent universe” (1997: 15). Similarly, Paul Viotti and Mark Kauppi define theory “as a way of making the world or some part of it more intelligible or better understood,” by going “beyond mere description of [the] phenomenon observed and engag[ing] in causal explanation or prediction based on certain prior occurrences or conditions” (1999: 3). In both definitions there is a common assumption that there are patterns to international events and that IR theory is about revealing those patterns. This assumption is given expression in James Rosenau’s oft-quoted advice to students of IR: “To think theoretically one must be predisposed to ask about every event, every situation, or every observed phenomenon, ‘Of what is it an instance?’” As Rosenau goes on to observe, we often “have a hard time building up this habit,” due to an inclination “to probe for the special meaning of an event, to explore it for what sets it apart from all other events, rather than to treat it as an instance of a larger pattern” (1999: 33). International relations theorists are scholars who have broken this habit. While it is not the case that all IR theorists speak in terms of causality or prediction, all IR theorists do interpret particular events or subjects as instances of some larger pattern, phenomenon, or theoretical proposition and expression. One way to think of IR theory is as a set of templates or prepackaged analytical structures for the multiple ways in which an event or activity that is international or transnational might be categorized, explained, or understood. These templates may be laid over the details of the event itself, allowing one to organize the details in such a way that the larger pattern is revealed and recognized within and through the event. The 2003 invasion of Iraq is a jumble of collective and individual actions, decisions, and activities. Organizing all of these without the assistance of a template simply produces a timeline, which is useful for basic knowledge but does not provide deeper explanation or understanding of an event as an ongoing pattern in contemporary global affairs. As templates, IR theories direct the researcher’s attention to particular elements or aspects of the 2003 Iraq War, while ignoring or downplaying other elements. Some templates focus the researcher’s attention on the military-strategic calculations of great powers, others on their economic interests, and still others on the diplomatic efforts of leaders to avert the invasion or the lived experiences of Iraqis subjected to the invasion. In doing so, these templates demonstrate that the invasion of Iraq

6

Making Sense of IR Theory

was not an isolated event but actually fits into larger, ongoing patterns discernible in other current events. Another useful analogy is to think of IR theory as a set of perspectives equivalent to the alternative lenses one might use with a high-end camera. The subject may be an elephant in grasslands, but an alternative lens will reveal different aspects and details of the elephant and its surroundings so that, as Barry Buzan says, “looking through it makes some features stand out more strongly while pushing others into the background” (1996: 56).3 The basic lens provides a shot of the elephant and its setting immediately to its front, back, and sides. A panoramic lens suddenly makes the elephant seem smaller in relation to its surroundings, which are now more expansive and more important to the image. A series of close-up lenses draws attention ever nearer to the elephant, enlarging it until its surroundings no longer seem relevant and details that had escaped attention before are noticeable. Tinted lenses of yellow, red, or blue highlight different shadows and features that had not seemed pertinent or particularly noteworthy with other lenses. And so on. In much the same way, it is possible to see an IR topic or event from multiple perspectives and to view it as an instance of more than one pattern in world politics. Just as camera lenses are developed, produced, and prepackaged for use, so too are IR theoretical perspectives, many of which have rich analytical and interdisciplinary lineages. Each IR perspective consists of various assumptive building blocks, some of which are shared across perspectives but which are put together by each in specific ways to identity and highlight particular patterns in IR. Each perspective thereby illuminates slightly different elements of a given topic or event and hence patterns relevant to it, revealing aspects and details that were not obvious or particularly pertinent in other perspectives. The advantage of studying and understanding IR theory as an analytical domain distinct from any particular empirical event or topic is that it acquaints you with the multiple ways of seeing and understanding the various contexts for any particular event or topic, whether it is a historical, current, or future scenario. These contexts are the “bigger pictures” that, in the camera analogy, would involve an understanding of how cameras operate, the principles of photography (including color, lighting, and perspective), and the techniques of image development. While an amateur photographer does not need to know these things in order to take a picture, a professional photographer does. It is important not to push the camera analogy too far, however, since one does not need to subscribe to a particular worldview, ideological perspective, or philosophical position in order to be a photographer or produce a zoom lens or use it in one’s own photography. While the type of camera lens you use might depend on why you are taking the elephant’s photo in the first place, whether you should use a zoom or panoramic lens to photograph

Making Sense of IR Theory

7

it is usually not a matter of heated debate or the source of sharp divisions among your colleagues. IR theory, however, is premised on alternative philosophical, ideological, and normative commitments, many of which are antithetical to one another and hence diverge sharply over how to understand IR. These commitments undergird the assumptive building blocks and analytical frameworks of IR theory. They typically involve disagreements over the nature of being (referred to as ontology), how we know and acquire knowledge about being (referred to as epistemology), and what methods we should adopt to study being (referred to as methodology).

■ Positivism and Postpositivism One of the most common ontological and epistemological divides you will encounter in the pages that follow is whether “a fact is a fact” and whether it can be objectively known and measured. A scholar’s judgment on this question determines how he or she will conceptualize, study, and write about a subject such as Iraq and what types of templates he or she will utilize to categorize it. Those scholars who insist that there is an objective state of being, an objective “reality,” that is relatively obvious and can be accurately known and measured, are commonly referred to as positivists. For most positivists, the primary activity of an IR theorist is to test IR theoretical perspectives against one another. This is done by collecting data and by devising methods that would be the equivalent of an experiment in the hard sciences (no easy feat in a subject area that does not allow for controlled experiments to isolate causal variables). The goal of the IR theorist from a positivist’s perspective is to weed out those theories and hypotheses that consistently fail to account for data, although one of the primary sources for diversity within particular theoretical perspectives is also theoretical revision in response to empirical anomalies. In undertaking such activity, the positivist hopes to produce more explanatory theories, which in an ideal world would make both prediction and better foreign policy making possible. Positivists would tend to define the nature and purpose of IR theory in scientific terms as a result. Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff claim, for example, that theory is “a series of propositions or hypotheses that specify relations among variables in order to present explanations and make predictions about the phenomena,” with its purpose being “the discovery of laws that govern how people and collectivities . . . act under specific circumstances” (1997: 21–22). Similarly, Viotti and Kauppi state that, “‘If A, then B’ as hypothesis may be subject to empirical test—that is tested against real-world or factual data,” so “the stage is set for making modest predictions about the nature and direction of change” (1999: 3). While positivists disagree among themselves over a variety of substantive theoretical issues, there is a

8

Making Sense of IR Theory

shared consensus among them regarding the objective accessibility of reality and our ability to discover universal laws that are amenable to causal explanations and prediction. This consensus also provides the basis for common methodological and analytical tools, with the best known of these being levels of analysis. Levels of analysis refers to identifying potentially causal variables and then categorizing or locating them according to a micro-macro spectrum for the purposes of explanatory organization. Although there is variety in how many categorizing levels may be utilized, IR scholars have typically relied on three primary levels: the individual, the nation-state, and the system.4 The individual level is the most micro, where causality is traced to the individuals who make foreign policy and the psychology of human decisionmaking. The nation-state level is the middle level and involves the examination of government structures, bureaucratic politics, interest groups, media influences, and other internal factors that might influence or account for a nation-state’s foreign policy behavior and international activity. The systemic level is the most macro level, involving not only the examination of state-to-state relations but also shared environmental or structural factors, such as geography, relative power, or capitalist interdependence, that might influence or direct the behavior of all nation-states. Disagreements among positivists often involve which level of analysis, and particular factors therein, are responsible for and hence best explain a given outcome or event. Variants within a particular theoretical perspective often evolve as, in their quest to test and modify their theories against the empirical evidence, IR theorists pit levels of analysis against one another as if they were competing explanations (rather than useful heuristic, organizing tools). Postpositivism, on the other hand, refers to IR scholars who are skeptical that “a fact is a fact” and that it can be objectively known and measured.5 Postpositivists observe that all events are subject to interpretation, with the interpreter’s own situation, context, and language often determining how an event is characterized and explained. Since neither language nor the act of communication is ever unproblematic or value-free, postpositivists challenge the notion that we could objectively know or access reality by relying on methods drawn from the hard sciences. Such methods are based on an erroneous conviction that, as Marysia Zalewski puts it, “what gets included and what gets excluded” in the theory and practice of IR is due to “‘natural’ or ‘obvious’ choices, determined by the ‘real’ world, whereas they are instead judgments” about what should be taken seriously and what can safely be ignored (1996: 34, emphasis in original). Such judgments are never neutral or innocent. They are instead made by those who hold relative power, both among nation-states and within the IR discipline where positivism dominates. This means that certain equally important topics, perspectives, and choices are marginalized by the very

Making Sense of IR Theory

9

theories and methods to which positivist IR scholars subscribe. As S. Smith puts this, “some epistemological positions ‘see’ certain aspects of the political world as being a problem to be researched while others are kept out of view” (2008: 307–308). One result, as Smith goes on to note, is that “IR has consistently treated death by politics as being more visible than death by economics.” Similarly Zalewski observes that war has been a central concern of IR theorists and policymakers, yet it is poverty, which receives very little attention among IR scholars, that remains a leading cause of death in the world (1996: 351). Postpositivists would define the nature and purpose of IR theory very differently in comparison to positivists. Testing competing hypotheses, developing causal explanations, and making predictions are seen as the dominant and relatively destructive ways in which we have come to interpret the world, impose meaning, and continually recreate particular patterns of knowledge and behavior in IR. According to Zalewski, whereas most positivists think of IR theory as merely a tool or critique, a postpositivist would define it as “everyday practice” in which “theorizing is a way of life, a form of life, something we all do, every day, all the time,” which means that “theorists are global actors and global actors are theorists” (1996: 346, 348). Similarly Smith argues about IR that “what we think about these events and possibilities, and what we think we can do about them, depends in a fundamental sense on how we think about them. In short, our thinking about the ‘real’ world, and hence our practices, is directly related to our theories” (1996: 1, emphasis in original). Although postpositivists eschew the notion that there are universal laws that are objectively discoverable with scientific methods, they do see patterns to the way positivists describe and theorize IR. Such patterns could derive from, for example, the values of eighteenth-century European Enlightenment (which promotes a faith in science) or the politics of identity within IR (which is dominated both in practice and in theory by men). For most postpositivists, the primary activity of an IR theorist is to reveal how international events are described, whether by policymakers, positivist IR theorists, or within commonplace texts such as magazines, works of fiction, or military manuals. More specifically, the postpositivist is interested in how those descriptions are acted upon as if they were natural descriptions rather than constructions, and how those descriptions justify actions and arguments in a self-fulfilling cycle of codetermination. Revelation is accomplished by examining texts by, for example, policymakers or fellow IR theorists, with the goal being to reveal not only the philosophical commitments, biases, and commonly subscribed to social realities that ground the activity of IR (in both its policymaking and theoretical forms), but also what has been excluded or marginalized by such activity. Postpositivists do this by providing alternative readings and interpretations of

10

Making Sense of IR Theory

how policymakers and theorists have characterized and justified events and topics. Critics often disparage postpositivist methodology as mere “interpretivism,” which lacks any standard of judgment and could lead to “a form of epistemological anarchy” in the discipline (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff 1997: 36).6 Postpositivists counter that positivism is no more capable of providing a neutral vehicle for assessing theoretical analysis, since it “merely presents what is unavoidably a political choice as if it was a technical application of a system of knowledge” (S. Smith 2008: 307). Counterinterpretations, however, whether they are of a policymaker’s speeches or of a fellow theorist’s articles, play an essential role in revealing the ideas that we take for granted, that shape the way we see the world, that we rely upon to justify the actions we take, and that reproduce the world we take for granted. In addition, the patterns identified and “tested” by positivist IR theories are, postpositivists point out, drawn almost exclusively from the Western imperial experience. Yet many IR theories make sweeping universal claims that do not actually apply beyond the West and, due to the West’s cultural and intellectual hegemony, simultaneously marginalize alternative, nonWestern ways of understanding. Hence many postpositivists eschew the categorization of knowledge into IR theory “isms” as reifying Western ways of seeing. They seek instead to explore alternative voices and non-Western perspectives. As B. Jones argues, What is needed is a broader and deeper form of critique that encompasses the discipline as a whole—its underlying assumptions, modes of thought and analysis, and its consciousness and very attitude—and that, moreover, is committed not only to critique but also to elaboration of more adequate accounts and explanations of international relations. (2006: 6, emphasis in original)

Without such a critique, postpositivists argue, existing IR theories will continue to misread and obscure the dynamics of contemporary global politics in ways that perpetuate existing inequities and subjugations.

■ IR Theory in This Book It might help to return briefly to the camera analogy to summarize the fundamental divide between positivists and postpositivists in the discipline of IR. If both were photographers, then positivists would be those who shared a dominant consensus that tinted lenses captured the reality, being, or essence of the elephant. The quarrel among them would be over which of the colors on the spectrum best revealed the true nature of the elephant. Much of their activity would be devoted to photographing the elephant with various shades of whichever color they preferred. Alternatively, postpositivists would be photographers who asked why positivists were so convinced that

Making Sense of IR Theory

11

tinted lenses best captured the nature of the elephant in the first place. They would be concerned with revealing both this shared preference for tinted lenses and how it ignored and denigrated other types of lenses that would be equally legitimate for capturing an image of the elephant. Both types of photographers would be engaged in revealing larger patterns and in answering Rosenau’s “of what is it an instance?” Yet positivist answers would involve a conviction that they were documenting the patterns of reality, while postpositivist answers would involve revealing, as a pattern in itself, the positivist’s erroneous conviction that reality was being documented. While this book does not disparage positivism, neither does it make an attempt to evaluate alternative theoretical perspectives according to their explanatory abilities. Instead it reflects a belief that all IR theoretical perspectives capture a reality of sorts, that there are multiple realities to and readings of IR, and that all of them are “true” in the sense that they give us some purchase on and understanding of IR events and topics. This does not mean that no standards have been applied and that what is presented here is “epistemological anarchy.” The authors have revised their chapters in response to comments and suggestions from multiple readers of various epistemological persuasions. Empirical mistakes and deductive errors have been fixed, incomplete or unclear readings have been refined, and each author has striven to produce a chapter that is appropriate to the author’s own epistemological preferences, accessible to readers, and convincing as a means of explaining or understanding the 2003 Iraq War. Those revisions were not undertaken in a competitive spirit, and so they do not involve arguing whose theoretical perspective is the “correct” perspective for understanding the events. This may be implicit in some of the positivist selections, but it was not a goal of the book or the individual chapters. Instead, each author attempted to address more fundamental questions, such as why you, the reader, should be acquainted with their particular theoretical perspective and what it will help you see or understand that you had not been aware of before reading it. Of course, as the reader, you are free to make judgments regarding what you find most and least compelling. As you do so, keep in mind that one of the most important intellectual steps you can take as an analyst of IR events and topics is to recognize your own philosophical and ideological commitments, about which you may be entirely unaware. Because the book has been designed to present IR theories impartially, it can assist you in discovering these commitments. As you read, consider which perspectives you find most compelling or convincing, which you find most repellent or least convincing, and why you have these responses. Answering such questions and identifying what it is specifically about an approach that you find convincing or offending should help you to recognize your own normative commitments and ideological biases. Such recognition is the first step in

12

Making Sense of IR Theory

gaining some distance from those commitments, which is necessary for fairly assessing alternatives you might otherwise initially dismiss or ignore. It is also necessary for seeing international events and topics other than Iraq in these larger contexts and theoretical patterns. Of what is the 2003 invasion of Iraq an instance then? In the pages that follow, you will find differing interpretations, explanations, and understandings of the same basic events, as IR scholars attempt to answer this question according to their particular theoretical perspectives.

■ Further Reading While there are a number of good IR theory overview texts to consult, four are particularly useful for providing detailed descriptions and discussions of the most popular IR theories. These include Burchill et al. 2009; Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff 1997; Dunne, Kurki, and Smith 2010; and Viotti and Kauppi 2011. Each of these texts has been revised and reprinted several times, with editions varying slightly depending on the perspectives covered and authors or writing selections included. Burchill et al. and Dunne, Kurki, and Smith are edited volumes with different authors discussing different theoretical perspectives. Two other texts that provide original essays from scholars of different theoretical perspectives are Griffiths 2007 and Doyle and Ikenberry 1997b (with the latter focusing on the nature of change in IR). Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff provide detailed descriptions of each theory and their histories, while Viotti and Kauppi combine description with reprinted seminal texts representing particular theoretical perspectives. Reprints of “Thinking Theory Thoroughly” by Rosenau may be found in Viotti and Kauppi editions, and the piece was also developed into a 1995 book by Rosenau and Durfee. Other texts that reprint seminal pieces for the purpose of juxtaposing alternative theories include Der Derian 1995a; Genest 2003; Mingst and Snyder 2010; and Vasquez 1995. Alternatively, Edkins and VaughanWilliams 2009; Griffiths 2000; and Neumann and Wæver 1997 all summarize and analyze the writings of particularly seminal thinkers in the major theoretical perspectives. Valuable introductory texts on IR theory include Brown and Ainley 2009; Daddow 2009; Griffiths 2007; Jackson and Sørensen 2010; Jørgensen 2010; Steans, Pettiford, Diez, and El-Anis 2010; and C. Weber 2009. Other texts that provide extended overviews of IR theory include Baylis and Smith 2011; Booth and Smith 1995; and Ferguson and Mansbach 2009. For a humorous exercise in applying IR theory to an alternative universe (we hope!) in which the world is populated by zombies, see Drezner 2011. A number of texts concentrate on disciplinary history and the way in which theories developed in relation to one another, particular philosophers,

Making Sense of IR Theory

13

or global events. These include Guilhot 2010; Holden 2002; Jahn 2006; Kahler 1997; Knutsen 1997; Long and Schmidt 2006; Moore and Farrands 2009; Puchala 2003; Rothstein 1991; Schmidt 1998; Sullivan 2002; K. Thompson 1996; and Wæver 1996, 1997, and 2010. The number of texts that examine non-US or non-Western IR theorizing and scholarship has steadily grown. A sampling includes Chan, Mandaville, and Bleiker 2001; Friedrich 2004; Jørgensen and Knudsen 2006; A. Tickner 2003; A. Tickner and Wæver 2009; Wæver 1998; and the International Studies Review Presidential Symposium, “Responsible Scholarship in International Relations,” organized by J. Tickner and Tsygankov 2008. For works that examine how US hegemony has shaped IR theorizing, consult Crawford and Jarvis 2000 and S. Smith 2002. Texts that examine how Western imperialism affects contemporary IR theory include Agathangelou and Ling 2009; Beier 2009; Inayatullah and Blaney 2004; B. Jones 2006; Kayaoglu 2010; and Shilliam 2011. On the subject of positivism and postpositivism in IR theory, as well as on IR epistemological and methodological debates in general, early disciplinary discussions include Alker and Biersteker 1984 (also reprinted in Der Derian 1995a); George 1988, 1994; and a 1989 International Studies Quarterly issue that contains several articles devoted to an “Exchange on the Third Debate” (as it is sometimes called) by T. Biersteker 1989, K. Holsti 1989, and Y. Lapid 1989. Later texts on the subject include Smith, Booth, and Zalewski 1996 (Smith’s chapter provides numerous citations on positivism and postpositivism); Booth and Smith 1995; Chernoff 2007; Elman and Elman 2003; Hollis and Smith 1990; P. Jackson 2010; and Kurki 2008. Other citations are provided in the overview chapter on postmodernism and critical theory.

■ Notes 1. Given the lack of scholarly agreement and consistency for the terms used to indicate contemporary Gulf wars, we have decided to use the following terms throughout this text to indicate particular wars: Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), the Gulf War (1991), and the Iraq War for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. 2. The spelling of Arabic words and names varies according to either standard Arabic or English spellings (with the latter also often varying). This text conforms to the most common English spellings and usages. In so doing, the use of apostrophes in the middle of words (such as Shi’a) and the definite article “al” (such as al‘Iraq) have been dropped except when in direct quotations. 3. The subject of an elephant in this analogy is intentional, as it recalls the story of the blind men who each touch a different part of an elephant and believe they have sufficiently grasped its reality, though none can grasp the whole. The analogy was used earlier by Robert North (1969) in a plea for greater tolerance and research pluralism in the discipline. The lens metaphor has also been utilized elsewhere; in particular see V. Spike Peterson and Anne S. Runyan (1999: 1–3). 4. Extended discussions of the levels-of-analysis issue in IR theorizing can be found in Buzan 1995; Singer 1960, 1969; and Waltz 1959. Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff

14

Making Sense of IR Theory

also provide a description of alternative levels of analysis beyond the standard three (1997: 26–33). 5. Postpositivism is an umbrella term for those theoretical perspectives that are skeptical of the positivist project in general. It should not be conflated with postmodernism, which is but one variant of this skepticism, and other postpositivist approaches represented in this book, such as critical theory and critical feminist theory. Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff use the term postempiricist for postpositivism (1997: 35), and the terms rationalism and reflectivism are sometimes used for positivism and postpositivism, respectively, but the latter are more common in the literature (see S. Smith 1996). 6. Since this book seeks to impartially provide both positivist and postpositivist applications, it may give the misimpression that there is rapprochement between positivists and postpositivists within the discipline. In fact, however, the exchanges between scholars of these two perspectives can be heated and nasty. As Ole Wæver observes, “there is no such repressive tolerance” between them, because “they rather see each other as harmful, at times almost ‘evil,’ definitely not as a legitimate parallel enterprise.” This is because the postpositivists believe that “the mainstream is co-responsible for upholding a repressive order,” while the postpositivists are viewed by the positivist mainstream as “subversive, anti-scientific, and generally a bad influence on students” (1997: 22). For an example illustrating these tensions, see the exchange between Schmidt (2008) and S. Smith (2008).

2 Realist Approaches 2.1 Realism Jennifer Sterling-Folker Realism is typically described as the dominant theoretical perspective in the IR discipline. However, the vast majority of IR theorists are not realists, and realism’s “main presence is in the form of the object of attack, that which most scholars feel a need to deal with and try to rout” (Wæver 1997: 26).1 Why does realism prompt such a reaction? The answer can be found in its pessimistic conviction that there are severe limitations on human reason and its ability to achieve the progressive, liberal goals that most of us take for granted as moral truths. Thus it questions the extent to which we can achieve goals such as human rights, economic parity, and lasting cooperation and security on the basis of reasoned argument, common interests, and shared moral principle. Most people do not find it a particularly endearing theoretical proposition as a result, yet its insistence that relative power is essential to what is achievable in the world has resonated throughout the discipline. In fact, it is difficult to find an alternative theoretical perspective that denies the role of relative power in determining “who gets what” in world politics, and it is realism that has set the parameters of theoretical discourse in the discipline.2 There are myriad ways that power could be defined, with the simplest being the ability of actors to acquire the resources they need and want. But in IR the term power is generally utilized relationally, to indicate the ability of one actor to influence and control either another actor or outcomes and events that pertain to them (Baldwin 1979).3 What distinguishes the realist treatment of relative power from its use in other perspectives is the causal omnipotence it is assigned. According to realists, international outcomes as varied as trade negotiations, human rights violations, and military interventions ultimately depend on the relative power of the actors involved, with those having greater power determining outcomes according to their own interests. Hence what the relatively powerful actors want will set the stage for all other actors, interests, and outcomes. Realist analysis tends to focus 15

16

Realist Approaches

almost exclusively on powerful actors as a result, and some variants of realism concentrate on how polarity, or the number of great powers in a given period of time, produces particular behavioral patterns. The likelihood of warfare between the great powers might vary, for example, depending on whether there is bipolarity (two great powers) or multipolarity (three or more great powers), while a unipolar system (one great power) has its own unique patterns and outcomes. According to realists, what allows “might makes right” to be an unfortunate but enduring feature of global politics is the absence of a higher authority to protect and dispense justice equitably. This absence or condition is called anarchy and, as with relative power, a number of alternative theoretical perspectives also utilize the concept to characterize the contexts or conditions within which global interactions occur, although there are important differences in how it is defined and hence its causal significance. 4 From a realist perspective, the combination of anarchy and relative power leads to a behavioral pattern called balance of power, in which power is sought by the relatively weak to counter the relatively strong. This can occur either by seeking alliances with similarly weak states, which amounts to a pooling of power against a common threat (or source of frustration), or by independently marshaling and developing internal resources to increase relative power. These two forms of balancing (external alliances or internal capabilities) are not mutually exclusive and can occur simultaneously, but neither is guaranteed to provide security or effectively deter an ambitious opponent. Realism retains its skepticism even here, suggesting that while security measures can be taken in an anarchic environment, whether they are successful is another story. Power has dynamic, situational, relational, and perceptional properties that generate uncertainties and make its efficient accumulation and exercise difficult. These uncertainties lead to decisions and outcomes that realists argue are the inevitable consequences of anarchy. One such consequence is the security dilemma, in which nation-states arm themselves for defensive purposes and in so doing induce the same behavior in neighboring states, but then become mutually suspicious of one another’s “real” intentions in arming (Herz 1976, 1950; Jervis 1978). Another consequence is the misperception of power, which can lead to an unwarranted faith in one’s alliances or free-riding on the balancing efforts of others, referred to by Thomas Christensen and Jack Snyder as “chainganging” and “buckpassing” (1990). Because such outcomes were never intended by the participants involved, whose rational behavior in the pursuit of their interests instead combined in unanticipated ways, realists are apt to characterize the condition of IR as “the tragedy of power politics” (Mearsheimer 2001). To support their theoretical propositions, realists often cite Thucydides, who in “The Melian Dialogue” recorded the Athenian’s observation that “the standard of justice depends on the equality of power to compel and

Realism

17

that in the fact the strong do what they have the power to do, and the weak accept what they have to accept” (quoted in Viotti and Kauppi 1999: 101). Realist scholars trace the theory’s lineage back to seminal political thinkers in Western civilization, such as Thucydides, Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. The extent to which any of these writers can be characterized as “realists” is the subject of dispute, but the desire to identify prior realist thinkers derives from the belief that the limitations on human reason and its ability to achieve progressive ends are timeless. As Kenneth Waltz has put this claim, “the enduring anarchic character of international politics accounts for the striking sameness in the quality of international life through the millennia” (1979: 66). According to realists, the relevance and dynamics of relative power are not due to any condition or attribute of the modern world, then, but can be recognized as a central feature of prior epochs as well. Most scholars who describe realism provide a list of assumptions to which all realist scholars supposedly subscribe. Such lists typically include the centrality of the nation-state to global politics; the treatment of the nation-state as a unitary, rational actor; and the dominance of national security over all other IR issue areas. These lists are ultimately misleading, however, since they suggest that there is consensus among realists. Barry Buzan observes that “beneath the apparently smooth surface of realism lies not a single linear theory handed down from ancient times, but an everchanging discourse about the nature, application and effect of power in an ever-changing historical environment” (1996: 51). There are a variety of realisms as a result, including classical realism, neo- or structural realism, offensive realism, defensive realism, and neoclassical realism to name only a few.5 Of these, the two most seminal to disciplinary developments have been classical realism and neorealism. Classical realism tended to assume that a human lust for power was the motivation for conflict, and it combined theoretical determinism with policy prescription. Neorealism, associated with the work of Waltz (1979), rejects human nature as a source of conflict and attempts to create a purely structural version of realism that also conforms to scientific expectations. Other variants of realism tend to build upon and depart from these two overarching realisms. Offensive realism assumes that nation-states want to maximize their aggregate power and will therefore be predisposed to expansionist policies. Defensive realism assumes that states instead want to maximize security, which can lead to security dilemma dynamics that produce a wider range of possible outcomes and policies. Neoclassical realism focuses on internal variables as intervening variables between the pressures of the international system and the nation-state’s policymaking response. One of the fundamental differences between some realist variants is their level of analysis, which is reflected in the two theoretical applications

18

Realist Approaches

provided in this section. In Chapter 2.2, Karen Adams applies a structural realist perspective to the invasion of Iraq. She focuses on systemic-level attributes such as anarchy, polarity, relative power, and the security dilemma to argue that the invasion was an example of great power imperialism. Alternatively, in Chapter 2.3, Jeffrey Taliaferro and Robert Wishart’s application of neoclassical realism combines structural elements of anarchy and relative power with domestic- and individual-level factors. They argue that while structural opportunity played a role, the decision to invade can only be explained through domestic-level processes, such as national security policymaking and public discourse specific to the United States. These applications represent only a small sample of realist variants and the ways each variant might be utilized to interpret an event such as the Iraq War.6 Most realists focus their analytical efforts on the behavior of the nationstate, because they argue it has remained relatively more powerful than other types of transnational actors, such as international organizations (IOs) and multinational corporations (MNCs), or transnational forces, such as capitalist markets, religions, and cultures. Yet realists are clear that a dynamic of competitive, relative power can be found in the behavior of all types of groups throughout time (Gilpin 1981; Sterling-Folker 2002b: chap. 3). Realism also has a relatively ambivalent relationship to rationality and reason, since on the one hand most of its variants are decidedly positivist, yet on the other hand rationality is being employed to uncover the universal truth that reason does not afford us greater control. Thus realism is, as Martin Griffiths and Terry O’Callaghan observe, “a codification of constraints on the use of reason to reform international relations” (2001: 197).7 It is this last element that standard lists of assumptions ascribed to realism most often miss. What unites the analytical variants of realism under a common umbrella is not a list of commonly shared positivist assumptions but the denial of basic, qualitative progress in IR. As Ole Wæver puts it, “this ‘no’ unites realists,” and what distinguishes realists is that “they have found different ways to argue the no (human nature, structure, philosophy of history, pessimism of knowledge)” (1997: 10). Chapters 2.2 and 2.3 reflect both this unity and the different ways progress may be denied.

■ Further Reading Hans Morgenthau is a founding figure in the development of realism as a theoretical perspective in the US international relations discipline. His most famous work is Politics Among Nations (1985, 6th ed.), which is an example of classical realism. A striking example of realism’s deep skepticism toward progress can be found in Morgenthau’s earlier work Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (1946). Other examples of classical realism include Carr 1939; Herz 1950, 1976; Kennedy 1987; Kissinger 1964; Lippman 1948; and Morgenthau 1952.

Realism

19

Kenneth Waltz is another seminal figure in the disciplinary development of realism, and his work Theory of International Politics (1979) spawned neorealism. An earlier work by Waltz, Man, the State, and War (1959), provides an accessible account of the levels-of-analysis issue and justifications for the systemic perspective. Other seminal realist works in the discipline include Buzan, Jones, and Little 1993; Gilpin 1981; Grieco 1990; Krasner 1999; Mearsheimer 2001; Schweller 1998; and Walt 1987. For overviews of realist theorizing in general, consult Adams 2010; Brooks 1997; Frankel 1996; Freyberg-Inan, Harrison, and James 2009; Freyberg-Inan 2003; Glaser 2003; Jervis 1999; Spirtas 1996; Sullivan 2005; and Walt 2002. The literature on balance of power and polarity is vast, but a good sampling of more recent work on the subject includes Brooks and Wohlforth 2008; D. Copeland 1996; Layne 1993; Mastanduno 1997; Mearsheimer 1990; Schweller and Priess 1997; Vasquez and Elman 2003; Wagner 1993; and Wohlforth, Little, and Kaufman 2007. Two edited volumes that include reprinted articles on unipolarity that were first published in IR journals include Brown, Coté, Lynne-Jones, and Miller 2008 (from International Security); and Ikenberry, Mastanduno, and Wohlforth 2011 (from World Politics). Examples of offensive realism include Mearsheimer 2001 and Zakaria 1998. Examples of defensive realism include Posen 1984; Van Evera 1999; J. Snyder 1991; and Taliaferro 2004. Some of these texts might also be cited as examples of neoclassical realism, given their focus on nonsystemic variables. For discussions of the offensive-defensive realist debate, see Adams 2003/04; Glaser and Kaufmann 1998; G. Snyder 2002; and Taliaferro 2000. Overviews of neoclassical realism include Rathbun 2008; Rose 1998; Schweller 2003; Sterling-Folker 2009; and Wivel 2005. Examples of neoclassical realist scholarship include Dueck 2006; Lobell 2003; Ripsman 2002; Schweller 1998; Taliaferro 2004; Wohlforth 1993; and the edited volume by Taliaferro, Lobell, and Ripsman 2009a, which provides both a comprehensive introduction to the variant and applied examples of it.

■ Notes 1. In fact, a study of IR journals conducted by Walker and Morton (2005) discovered that liberalism has now surpassed realism as the principal framework for inquiry in the profession. 2. As Wæver subsequently observes, “realism is much talked about, much attacked, but not represented in the crowd,” yet in the discipline “a position can be upheld even if it is hard to find a live incarnation of it because each position is partly defined by the other” (1997: 27–28). In other words, realism remains dominant not because most IR scholars subscribe to it, but because its stark propositions allow IR scholars to define alternative theoretical perspectives in relationship to it. 3. For an extended discussion of the multiple ways the concept of power is utilized in IR, see Berenskoetter and Williams (2007). 4. Compare Grieco 1990 and Keohane 1984.

20

Realist Approaches

5. This does not exhaust the list of potential realist variants (for discussions, see Sullivan 2005; Sterling-Folker 2009: 205–206), and several other variants should be mentioned. Realist constructivism, for example, attempts to combine constructivism (a theoretical approach discussed in Chapter 5) with classical realism (Barkin 2010; Jackson and Nexon 2004; Sterling-Folker 2002a, 2002b). Reflexive realism examines the political and social power struggle over the construction of knowledge and its ethical implications (Cozette 2008; Lang 2002; Steele 2007; Tjalve 2008; Williams 2005). Security materialism focuses on the impact of geography, science, and technology on the quest for security (see Deudney 1993, 2000). A distinction should also be made between realist IR theory and critical or scientific realism, which is not a realist variant but an epistemological position that challenges positivism (see Patomäki 2002; Joseph and Wight 2010; and a special March 2007 issue [vol. 35, no. 2] of the journal Millennium devoted to the subject). 6. For example, other neoclassical realists might focus on government institutions, interest groups, or economic cycles, with the common thread among them being their nonsystemic focus. Contrast, for example, Adams’s and Taliaferro and Wishart’s chapters with Snyder, Shapiro, and Bloch-Elkon 2009, which mixes realism’s structural and neoclassical domestic aspects but focuses on polarization in US party politics instead. 7. Modern variants of realism, particularly neorealism, are unusual because, as Griffiths and O’Callaghan go on to observe, they are “epistemologically progressivist, even though [realists] are highly skeptical of progress as a political goal” (2001: 195). See also R. Crawford 2000; Kahler 1998; and Williams 2005 for analyses of realism’s ambiguous relationship to rationality.

2.2 Structural Realism: The Imperialism of Great Power Karen Ruth Adams How can we apply structural realist theory to understand the causes of the US invasion of Iraq? There are three steps: theory, application, and testing. First, one must understand the theory. Thus I begin this chapter by providing an overview of structural realist theory and discussing its central concepts and causal claims. Second, I consider whether and how these claims can be applied to the invasion of Iraq. Finally, I test the ability of hypotheses derived from these claims to explain commonly agreed facts about the invasion, as well as other US attacks on Iraq from 1991 to 2003. From the structural realist point of view, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 is just one of many great power attacks on and interventions in weak states made possible by international anarchy. In other words, it is a case of the imperialism of great power.

■ Situating Structural Realist Theory The central claim of structural realist theory is that the anarchic international political system is a permissive environment that enables states to behave as they like (Waltz 1959: 233; 1979: 92). This argument, which has long been implicit in realist writings, was first made explicit by Kenneth Waltz, who developed structural realist theory in Theory of International Politics (1979). Structural realism is positivist, deductive, and systemic. In this section, I explain these categories and demonstrate why I characterize structural realism as I do. As Chapter 1 explained, positivists argue that there is an objective reality that exists and can be known, if only imperfectly, by developing and evaluating theories. Realists are generally positivist; in fact, positivism is one of the main reasons they call themselves “realist.” By developing concepts to describe the kind of events we seek to explain, and by developing, applying, and testing theories about the causes of these outcomes, realists argue that we can understand, at least in general terms, why certain outcomes recur (Waltz 1979: 1–2, 6, 8, 14). What further unites realists is their claim that knowledge of “reality” does not necessarily result in control over it and, therefore, the ability to change it to conform to our preferences. In particular, realists agree, it is unlikely that IR can be transformed from its conflictive past and present, in which war has been a recurring outcome, to a future marked by what Immanuel Kant called “eternal peace” (1914). Instead, international law is the 21

22

Realist Approaches

“law of the jungle” (Kipling 2008: 186–189), and the only way to restrain great powers is to balance their power. Although realists agree that conflict, war, great power interventions in weak states, and balances of power are likely to recur, classical and structural realists disagree about the causes for these outcomes because they have different approaches to theory building. Classical realists take an inductive approach that focuses on cataloging specific acts by specific humans. Thus they attribute the outcomes of conflict, war, intervention, and power balancing to human nature and intelligence (Morgenthau 1978: 3, 6– 7, 42–46). By contrast, Waltz and other structural realists take a deductive approach that abstracts from all of the variety and complexity of the world to develop a mental picture of causes and effects within a conceptual “international political system” that consists of a structure (anarchy and relative capabilities) and interacting units (states). According to structural realists, conflict, war, and intervention occur because there is no international sovereign to prevent them. Moreover, balances of power recurrently form because, in the absence of a world government, states worry about how other states will use their capabilities (Waltz 1979: 8, 68, 102, 126). Because structural realism is a deductive theory, it offers a parsimonious explanation for conflict, war, and other international outcomes. In other words, its explanation is spare and can be applied across a variety of cases. This broad applicability comes at the expense of historical detail in particular times and places. For structural realists, since the policies and motives of states are “endlessly varied,” the challenge is not to enumerate policies and motives in all of their detail but to investigate whether they arise from similar causes and have similar effects (Waltz 1979: 69, 91, 122). The answers to these questions lie in the anarchic structure of the international political system.

■ Structural Realist Theory: Concepts and Claims The central concept in structural realist theory is the international political system. Waltz abstracts from all of the particulars of international politics to arrive at this concept, which he defines sparely in terms of “a structure and interacting units” (1979: 79). According to Waltz, the structure of the international political system has three attributes. First, the system is anarchic. There is no authoritative world government with enforcement power (88). Second, the system is composed of two or more “like units” (independent, sovereign states) that, in general, seek to survive but have different material capabilities to do so (91, 118). The major actors or “great powers” are those with the most capabilities (93–96). Third, particular international systems can be differentiated as multipolar, bipolar, and unipolar based on the number

Structural Realism

23

of major actors or the “distribution of capabilities” across units (2000: 27– 28; 1979: 97–98). From these concepts, Waltz and other structural realists deduce several propositions. First, because there are no restrictions on what states can do deliberately or inadvertently to harm one another, states must help themselves if they are to survive and obtain any other goals they may have (Waltz 1979: 91–92). At a minimum, states must attend to their internal survival (ability to avoid revolution, disintegration, and collapse) and external survival (ability to avoid conquest and union) (Adams 2006: 18–19; 2000: 83). Thus, states must develop a broad range of material capabilities, including “population and territory, resource endowment, economic capabilities, military strength, political stability, and competence” (Waltz 1979: 131). Second, capability development empowers states to take the offensive and deliberately attack other states or otherwise intervene in their affairs. International anarchy makes it possible for any state to initiate such behavior. In the absence of a world government to prevent, stop, or punish such behavior, attacks, conquests, and other interventions “occur because there is nothing to prevent them.” In other words, international anarchy is their permissive or ultimate cause. By contrast, the immediate or proximate cause of a particular attack or intervention involves the particular motives of the states that initiate them. According to Waltz, these motives “are endlessly varied,” and at the extreme, a state’s ambition may be to “conquer the world” (1959: 232; 1979: 91). Wars initiated by states seeking to expand their influence can be characterized as wars of ambition. A third proposition that can be deduced from the combination of international anarchy and differences in relative capability is that great powers are especially tempted to attack and intervene in other states, especially weaker ones. When great powers do so, their actions are best understood not in terms of their particular motives but in terms of what makes the behavior possible: their great power. Differences in capitalist, socialist, authoritarian, and liberal imperialism are interesting and important, but they are all permutations of “the imperialism of great power,” defined as the whole set of efforts on the part of great powers to “manag[e], control . . . , and direct . . . world or regional affairs” (Waltz 1979: 26–27, 62–64, 205). These efforts may include attempts to impose or enforce international law, but because international “authority . . . reduces to . . . capability,” international law is likely only to be enforced on the weak, not on the strong (Waltz 1979: 88). A fourth proposition is that, because the fundamental condition of international politics is “insecurity—[or] at the least, uncertainty of each about the other’s future intentions and actions,” insecurity is likely to manifest in a concern with relative gains. In other words, states do not ask,

24

Realist Approaches

“‘Will both of us gain?’ but ‘Who will gain more?’” (Waltz 1979: 105). This concern has several effects. First, it produces security dilemmas that lead to conflicts and wars “that nobody wants” (Waltz 1979: 107–108). Such dilemmas involve concern over how other states will use their relative capabilities. Even if all states had only the purest of motives, conflict and war would remain constant possibilities because the security dilemma is “produced not by their wills but by their situation” (113, 187). Wars triggered by uncertainty about how states will use their relative capabilities can be characterized as unintended wars or wars for security or defense. Second, relative-gains concerns make cooperation difficult, regardless of the “character or immediate intention of either party,” although not impossible. Instead they influence which states will cooperate on which matters and how long their cooperation will last (Waltz 1979: 105, 126; Grieco 1988). Finally, concern with relative gains leads to recurrent formation of balances of power. As differences in relative capabilities emerge among states, great powers find themselves more able than middle powers and weak states to survive and achieve their goals. This tempts or emboldens them to act in one of two ways. Either they act to “conquer the world” or “extend their control,” or they identify their interests with “the maintenance of a certain order” and act in ways that advance “the common good,” however they define it (Waltz 1979: 91, 132, 200–201, 205). Despite their differences, both are examples of the imperialism of great power. In the absence of a world government, there is nothing to prevent great powers from carrying out such policies—unless they fear reprisals from other strong states. Thus, the structural realist expectation is that when one great power acts aggressively in a multipolar or bipolar system, the other great power(s) will “attempt to counter this move” sooner or later (Waltz 1979: 125). Similarly, the expectation of unipolarity is that at least one middle power will sooner or later develop the capabilities it needs to protect its interests from and thereby balance the power of the unipole (Waltz 2000). “Since detailed inferences cannot be drawn from the theory, we cannot say just when” these outcomes will occur, so the expectation is not that an imbalance will never occur but that “a balance, once disrupted” will sooner or later, and in one way or another, “be restored” (Waltz 1979: 125, 128).

■ Applying Structural Realism: The International Political System in 2003 In order to understand the 2003 Iraq War, structural realism begins by highlighting two aspects of the 2003 international political system as particularly important. First, there was no sovereign world government. The closest thing to a world government was the UN. According to the UN Charter (1945), only UNSC resolutions are binding on states. General Assembly

Structural Realism

25

(GA) resolutions are simply recommendations, and the Secretariat exists only to assist the Security Council and GA with their work. The Charter further stipulates that Security Council resolutions can be vetoed by any one of the permanent five (P5) members of the Council: the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia. Thus binding resolutions are unlikely ever to be passed against one of the P5. How did these states become permanent members of the UNSC? Each was a great power member of the United Nations Alliance against the Axis powers during World War II. When these states won the war, they established a new international organization named after their alliance, with the purpose of maintaining international peace and security, however they defined them (Adams 2011c). Second, in 2003 the United States was clearly the most powerful state in the world. In other words, the international political system was unipolar. Structural realists rank states based on “how they score on all of the following items: size of population and territory, resource endowment, economic capability, military strength, political stability and competence” (Waltz 1979: 131). As shown in Table 2.2.1, before the 2003 invasion, the United States ranked among the top five states in population and territory, natural gas reserves, coal reserves, gross domestic product (GDP), GDP per capita, military spending, and military personnel. Only in terms of oil reserves was the United States not in the top five; even there, however, it was in the top thirteen. As shown in Table 2.2.2, in 2003, the United States was the only state that was at the top of the heap across all of these measures. Of the nine categories listed in Table 2.2.1, the United States was in the top five in eight of them. The states that came closest to the United States in capabilities before the invasion were China and Russia, each of which was in the top five in five of the categories. But neither Russia nor China ranked in the top five in GDP, which is a critical indicator of a state’s ability to maintain its military capabilities, as well as its domestic political legitimacy and international political influence (Kennedy 1984, 1987). The United States had both the largest economy in the world (producing 33 percent of all goods and services worldwide) and the largest military budget (spending 38 cents of every military dollar worldwide). In fact, in 2002, US military spending was larger than that of the next ten highest spenders combined (IISS 2002: 332–337).1 This gulf between the United States, on the one hand, and the next most capable states in the world, on the other, is why structural realists characterize the international political system in 2003 as unipolar. Given that the 2003 international political system can be characterized as anarchic and unipolar, how would structural realism explain the 2003 US attack on Iraq and similar events? How does it test the proposition that anarchy and differences in relative capabilities create a permissive environment for attacks? The first step is to operationalize the causal claims of the

Table 2.2.1 Distribution of Capabilities Among Major States, 2003 (top five states in each category) Populationa 1. China (1.3 billion) 2. India (1.0 billion) 3. United States (278 million; 4.5% of world population) 4. Indonesia (212 million) 5. Brazil (170 million)

Territoryb 1. Russia (17 million square miles, of which 1 million is arable) 2. Canada (10 million, 500,000 arable) 3. United States (9.8 million, 1.8 million arable) 4. China (9.6 million, 1.44 million arable) 5. Brazil (8.5 million, 600,000 arable)

Resource Endowmentc Oil Reserves 1. Saudi Arabia (263 billion barrels) 2. Venezuela (211 billion) 3. Canada (175 billion) 4. Iran (137 billion) 5. Iraq (115 billion) (US ranked 13th with 21 billion)

Coal Reserves 1. United States (237 million tons) 2. Russia (157 million) 3. China (115 million) 4. Australia (76 million) 5. India (61 million)

Natural Gas Reserves 1. Russia (48 trillion m3) 2. Iran (30 trillion) 3. Qatar (25 trillion) 4. Saudi Arabia (7.8 trillion) 5. United States (7.7 trillion)

Economic Capabilitiesd GDP 1. United States ($10,082 billion; 33% of world production) 2. Japan ($4,176 billion) 3. Germany ($1,855 billion) 4. United Kingdom ($1,427 billion) 5. France ($1,312 billion) (China ranked 6th with $1,159 billion)

GDP per capita (world average $5,931) 1. Luxembourg ($43,608) 2. Norway ($37,226) 3. United States ($35,320) 4. Switzerland ($33,881) 5. Japan ($32,854) (China ranked 114th with $908) (continues)

Table 2.2.1 continued Military Strengthe Military Spending 1. United States ($322 billion; 38% of world military spending) 2. Russia ($64 billion) 3. China ($46 billion) 4. Japan ($40 billion) 5. United Kingdom ($35 billion) (France and Germany ranked 6th and 7th, respectively)

Military Personnel 1. China (2.3 million) 2. United States (1.4 million; 6.7% of world total) 3. India (1.3 million) 4. North Korea (1.1 million) 5. Russia (1.0 million)

Notes: a. Population figures are for 2001 and are from the Correlates of War (COW) National Capabilities data, version 3.02 (COW 2001; Singer, Bremer, and Stuckey 1972). b. Data on territorial size, arable land, and proved oil and natural gas reserves are for 2011 and are from the CIA World Factbook (CIA 2011). c. I use current data on proved oil and gas reserves because data on Iraqi reserves before the US invasion were distorted by both Iraq and the United States (Luft 2003). The coal data represent proved reserves at the end of 2010 (British Petroleum 2011). d. The economic data are for 2001 and are from the International Monetary Fund (IMF 2003b). I use 2001 GDP data because that is the most recent year for which there are reliable estimates of Iraqi GDP. e. The military data are for 2002 and are from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS 2002: 332–337). Military personnel include only active regular forces; reserve and paramilitary forces are not included in these figures.

28

Realist Approaches

Table 2.2.2 Overall Ranking of Major States Before the US Invasion of Iraq in March 2003 Number of Times the State is Ranked 1–5 in Table 2.1.1 (of 9 categories)

Pop

Terr

Res

Econ

Mil

Known Nuclear Weapons

United States

8

x

x

xx

xx

xx

x

China Russia

5 5

x

x x

x xx

xx xx

x x

India Japan

3 3

x

x x

x

xx

Brazil Canada Iran Saudi Arabia United Kingdom

2 2 2 2 2

x

x

x

x

Australia France Germany Indonesia Iraq Luxembourg North Korea Norway Qatar Switzerland Venezuela

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Rank State 1

Type of Capability

x x x

x xx xx x x x

x

x x x x x x x x

theory in hypothesis (H) form, that is, as testable statements about causation. When this is done, structural realism’s explanatory power can be tested by considering how well the expectations articulated in the hypotheses match up with commonly agreed facts of the US invasion of Iraq. In the remainder of this chapter, I infer and test four structural realist hypotheses related to the causes of the US invasion. I number these hypotheses H1–H4 to clarify where each is articulated and tested. There are two types of hypothesis. The first type articulates an overarching causal claim that is relevant to a variety of cases. In the first part of this section, I test that kind of hypothesis by examining the history of great power attacks worldwide from 1800 to 1997, as well as US attacks since the end of the Cold War. The second type of hypothesis tests a theory’s expectations with regard to a particular case or set of cases. I test that kind of hypothesis in the second section, where I examine the history of US attacks on Iraq. There are three reasons why it is important to test both kinds of hypothesis. First, individual cases are unique in their particulars so aggregate studies are needed to get a sense of historical trends. Second, correlations found in aggregate data may not reflect causation, while case studies are

Structural Realism

29

needed to confirm causal connections. Third, when testing systemic theories such as structural realism, one must test nested hypotheses about causal frameworks, which is most easily done by examining particular cases (Gerring 2001: 137; Adams 2010). Testing Structural Realism on Aggregate Data: Great Power Attacks from 1800 to 1997 and US Attacks from 1989 to 2011 One of the central claims of structural realist theory is that, unless their power is balanced by other states, great powers are tempted to engage in imperial policies of attacking and otherwise intervening in weak states. One hypothesis we can derive from this claim and test on aggregate data is that (H1) great powers are more likely to attack less powerful states than they are to attack other great powers. This hypothesis is relevant to the US invasion of Iraq because, as shown in Table 2.2.2, when the United States attacked Iraq, the United States was an unrivaled great power, and Iraq was a much less powerful state. Thus if H1 is supported by aggregate data, the structural realist interpretation of the invasion would be strengthened. To test H1, we must operationalize the terms it incorporates so we know what facts to look for in the “real world.” Having already defined and operationalized the structural realist concept of power, or capabilities, here we simply need to define attack. I consider one state to attack another if it conducts offensive military operations against military or nonmilitary sites in the territory of a state that has not previously attacked it (Adams 2003/04: 69). I test H1 in two ways. First, I evaluate the extent to which H1 is supported by historical trends in great power attacks from 1800 to 1997. Second, I consider the US record of attacks since 1989, when the Soviet Union fell from great power status and the United States became a unipole. Great power attacks, 1800–1997. In a recent project, I identified thirteen

states that were great powers or nuclear states for at least one year between 1800 and 1997. I found that, from 1800 to 1997, these thirteen states were responsible for thirty-one attacks on one another. In addition, between 1800 and 1994, they were responsible for 105 attacks on less powerful states.2 From these figures, one gets a sense of strong historical support for H1. To determine whether this impression is statistically significant when other factors, such as prevailing military technologies and state identity, are held constant, I analyzed the data using the statistical technique of multivariate event history analysis. I found that in all technological eras and across all great powers, the probability that a great power will attack a non–great power is higher than the probability that it will attack one of its peers. Moreover, although nuclear weapons have reduced the probability that powerful states will attack one another (due to fear of massive retaliation), they have

30

Realist Approaches

had little effect on the propensity of great powers to attack less powerful states. From 1946 to 1997, the probability that a great power or nuclear state would attack a nonnuclear state was thirty times larger than the probability that it would attack another great power (Adams 2003/04: 69–72, 81). Thus from 1800 to 1997, there is strong support for H1 that great powers are more likely to attack less powerful states than they are to attack other great powers. US attacks on middle powers and weak states, 1989–present. Another test of H1 is to consider which, if any, of the states listed in Table 2.2.2 have been attacked by the United States since it became a unipole in 1989. 3 Here again, we find strong support for the structural realist claim that great powers are tempted by weakness and deterred by strength. Moreover, it is evident that even less powerful states that have nuclear weapons can deter attacks by the most powerful state in the history of the world. In the twenty-two years between 1989 and 2011, the United States initiated offensive military operations in the territory of just one of the states whose capabilities placed it in the top rank in any one of the dimensions of capability considered important by structural realists. That state was Iraq, which in 2003 ranked fifth in oil reserves but was not in the top five in any other dimension of power. The invasion of 2003 was not the first time the United States attacked Iraq. As discussed below, each of the first three post–Cold War US presidents did so. In addition, each of the first four post–Cold War US presidents has attacked at least one other, even less powerful state. George H. W. Bush attacked Panama, Bill Clinton attacked Serbia, George W. Bush attacked Afghanistan, and Barack Obama attacked Libya. This list is not exhaustive. Here again, we have found strong support for H1 that international anarchy and differences in relative power create a permissive environment in which there is nothing to stop great powers from attacking less powerful states.

Testing Structural Realism in a Particular Case or Set of Cases: US Attacks on Iraq, 1991–2003 Now that we have tested hypotheses about overarching trends, we can turn to the second type of hypothesis. When we examine particular cases of conflict and war, do we also see the permissive effects of anarchy and relative capability? In this section, I elaborate and test three hypotheses: (H2) When an attack occurs, it is likely to be initiated by a great power and carried out against a less powerful state. (H3) The great power’s motives for the attack and others like it are likely to be “endlessly varied” and may be difficult to discern, but they can be plausibly summarized in terms of either ambition or security. Great powers are especially likely to be motivated by ambition.

Structural Realism

31

(H4) In planning and carrying out the attack, the great power is likely to meet resistance from other states but is unlikely to be deterred from proceeding with the attack unless the opposing states are also great powers. H2 is an application of H1 to a particular case; it encapsulates the structural realist argument about the role of relative weakness in making a particular state an aggressor and another state a target. H3 articulates structural realism’s expectations about the aggressor’s motives. Given international anarchy, it may seek to reorder the world, or it may simply be responding to a security dilemma. Finally, H4 lays out the theory’s expectation about the effects of international anarchy and unipolarity in creating a permissive environment for particular great power attacks. In this section, I test these hypotheses in five steps. First, I establish that the United States repeatedly attacked Iraq from 1991 to 2003. Second, I establish these were primarily US attacks, not attacks by a new type of international coalition in which great power was less important than it has been in the past. These first two steps demonstrate that H2, H3, and H4 are applicable to US-Iraqi relations from 1991 to 2003 and should therefore be tested. Third, I test H4 by demonstrating that, although all but the first attack violated international law, the United States had no peer competitor to deter it from attacking Iraq. Fourth, I test H2 by comparing US and Iraqi capabilities before the US invasion to determine whether Iraq’s relative weakness tempted the United States to attack and conquer it. Finally, I test H3 by considering US motives for repeatedly attacking Iraq. I conclude that the US attacks on Iraq from 1991 to 2003 are best understood not as unintended results of the security dilemma but as deliberate efforts by the United States to use its unipolar position to impose its will on Iraq and the world. Post–Cold War US attacks on Iraq, 1991–2003. The first step in testing

H2, H3, and H4 is to establish that the United States did in fact attack Iraq. As mentioned, each of the first three post–Cold War US presidents carried out such attacks. First, in 1991, George H. W. Bush attacked more than 535 military, infrastructure, and leadership sites in Iraq during the Gulf War, when the United States led an international coalition of ground forces to expel Iraq from Kuwait (Keaney and Cohen 1995: 55). Although Iraq had attacked Kuwait, a US ally, it had not attacked the United States. Thus the United States initiated the US-Iraq phase of the Gulf War. In 1993, Bush also fired cruise missiles at a military-industrial complex in Baghdad when Saddam Hussein “restrict[ed] the movement” of the UN weapons inspectors authorized by the Security Council after the war and refused to guarantee their safety (Lewis 1993).

32

Realist Approaches

Bill Clinton also attacked Iraq. In fact, he did so three times. First, in 1996, Clinton authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to sponsor two coup attempts, one by Iraqi government insiders and another by Kurdish forces. The CIA used the UN weapons inspection teams for cover (Fisk 2006: 720–721, 724–727; Kirk 2001; Ritter and Hersh 2005; Zenko 2010: 38). Second, in December 1998, the Clinton administration used intelligence obtained by weapons inspectors to bomb fifty-one Iraqi military installations and forty-nine leadership sites (Arkin 1999). In explaining this attack, the United States said Hussein had evicted the inspectors and, when they were in the country, severely limited their ability to work, but this was not actually the case.4 Even if it were true, evicting UN weapons inspectors would not constitute an attack on the United States; thus once again it was the United States that attacked. Finally, in 1999, Clinton expanded the attacks in the “no-fly zones” that the United States had established at the end of the Gulf War to protect Iraq’s Shia and Kurdish populations and carried out attacks to kill or weaken Hussein (Mooney 2002; Zenko 2010: ch. 3). Throughout 2002, George W. Bush bombed Iraq to weaken it before the 2003 invasion; in the month before the invasion, the United States bombed 391 targets (Zenko 2010: 47–48). On 20 March 2003, Bush launched a ground invasion. The United States led one phalanx from Kuwait toward Baghdad, and the United Kingdom led another toward Basra (Sanger and Burns 2003; Tyler 2003a). These attacks, too, were clearly initiated by the United States. Iraq had not attacked the United States. In fact, since 1990, Iraq had attacked no other state. The US role in post–Cold War attacks on Iraq. Thus far I have estab-

lished that one state, the United States, repeatedly attacked another state, Iraq. The next step in determining whether H2–H4 apply to and can therefore be tested in the case of Iraq is to consider the role of the United States in the international coalitions that carried out the attacks. In this section, I demonstrate that in each of the coalitions, the United States played the dominant role. As a result, the coalitions should not be taken as indications that the old world of international conflict and concern with relative gains has been replaced by a new world in which perpetual peace and absolute gains are possible. Instead, they should be seen as new chapters in the old book of great power imperialism. In 1990, in Resolution 678, the Security Council authorized UN member states to take “all necessary means” to evict Iraq from Kuwait. The ability of the Council to pass this resolution after decades of inaction on collective security matters reflected two facts. First, after 1989, the Soviet Union was no longer a great power. President Gorbachev needed US trade and aid to prevent economic collapse, so Russia’s vote for the resolution was essentially bought (Fuller 1991: 69; Cooper 1993: 449–450). Second, in 1990, Iraq

Structural Realism

33

had attacked and conquered a neighboring state that had not previously attacked it. Iraq may have done so in part because April Glaspie, the US ambassador to Iraq, showed little interest in Iraq’s dispute with Kuwait before the attack (Kessler 2008). But there was strong sentiment against Iraq’s action worldwide. By contrast, the UNSC did not approve the post-1991 attacks on Iraq. In the aftermath of the Gulf War, there was no longer an international consensus about the situation in Iraq. The US-led coalition had evicted Iraq from Kuwait, so the original casus belli no longer existed. Moreover, during the Gulf War, the United States had alienated other states by exceeding the Security Council’s mandate to evict Iraq from Kuwait (Fuller 1991: 73; Russett and Sutterlin 1991: 76–77). In addition, when Clinton expanded the purpose of US attacks in the no-fly zone to kill or weaken Hussein and when George W. Bush further expanded them to prepare for the 2003 invasion, other states—even US allies such as France, Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia—began to act in just the way structural realists expect: they began to criticize the United States and refused to help the coalition.5 In 2003, the US invasion of Iraq was ostensibly carried out by a “coalition of the willing,” but the United States so dominated the coalition that the attack is best understood as a US effort. US dominance can be seen in many ways, including personnel, spending, and combat participation.6 US dominance can also be seen in Prime Minister Blair’s pledge to George W. Bush that “we are going to be with you” (Burns and Cowell 2010)—in other words, the United Kingdom would not attack Iraq alone but would assist if the United States attacked. The wording of this statement was not simply a diplomatic nicety among friends. It reflected a fundamental fact: given the relative weakness of the United Kingdom, the success of the British attack on Basra depended on the success of the US attack on Baghdad. Thus in explaining the causes of the 2003 invasion, as well as the many other attacks on Iraq from 1991 to 2002, the key is to explain why the United States attacked. Testing H4: The role of unipolarity. Because one state, the United States,

repeatedly attacked another state, Iraq, the three hypotheses about the causes of particular attacks are relevant to and thus worth testing on USIraqi relations from 1991 to 2003. Let us begin by testing H4, that in planning and carrying out an attack, the great power is likely to meet resistance from other states but is unlikely to be deterred from proceeding with the attack unless the opposing states are also great powers. The United States did meet resistance in its efforts to weaken and depose Hussein, but due to its unrivaled power, the United States was not deterred by this resistance. From 1991 to 2003, Russia and China correctly and repeatedly pointed out that US attacks in the no-fly zones had never been authorized by the Security Council and therefore violated the UN

34

Realist Approaches

Charter. But because they were so much weaker than the United States, each of the first three post–Cold War US presidents simply ignored their criticisms (Goshko 1998). In 2003, when Russia, France, and China made it clear that they would veto a resolution authorizing the invasion, the United States and United Kingdom pulled the resolution from Security Council consideration and proceeded to go it alone (Glennon 2003; DePalma 2003). Thus, as expected, unipolarity created a permissive environment for the US attacks.7 Testing H2: The role of relative power. The next step is to test H2, that when an attack occurs, it is likely to be initiated by a great power and carried out against a less powerful state. This hypothesis, too, is clearly confirmed. In 2003, the United States was among the top five states in all but one of the nine types of capability shown in Table 2.2.1. The only category in which it was not among the top five was proved oil reserves, the one category in which Iraq placed in the top five. Even there, the United States was not far behind, ranking thirteenth in oil reserves compared to Iraq’s rank of fifth. Moreover, given the United States’ wealth, the fact that most of its imported oil came from Canada and Mexico, and the United States’ vast and high-ranking endowments of other energy resources such as natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, and solar, the United States had no long-term vulnerability and little short-term sensitivity to Iraqi oil sanctions or other market disruptions (US Energy Information Administration 2011a). By contrast, Iraq was extremely dependent on oil production and sales and, therefore, very vulnerable to sanctions and other changes in world oil markets. Because Iraq was not among the top five states in any other measure listed in Table 2.2.1, it is necessary to compare US and Iraqi capabilities more directly to test H2 about the role of relative power in causing repeated US attacks. As shown in Table 2.2.3, the United States simply dwarfed Iraq in terms of population, territory, economic capabilities, and military strength. Before the invasion, the US population was twelve times greater than Iraq’s, and US territory was twenty-two times larger. Moreover, US GDP was a whopping 388 times greater, and US military spending was 230 times larger. Because the United States attacked Iraq repeatedly over a thirteen-year period, it is also important to consider how their capabilities changed over time. From 1989 to 2001, US GDP rose 40 percent (IMF 2003c). By contrast, between 1989 and 2001, Iraq experienced a 20–30 percent decline in GDP and a 70 percent decline in GDP per capita. 8 Moreover, in 2002, the Iraqi army was estimated to be at just 50 percent combat effectiveness. The combined effects of the US-enforced no-fly zones, international sanctions, and Hussein’s fear of uprisings meant that Iraqi pilots were inexperienced,

35

Table 2.2.3 Comparison of US and Iraqi Capabilities Before the 2003 Invasion United States Populationa Territory (sq km)b Economic capabilitiesc GDP GDP per capita Military Capabilitiesd Military spending Military personnel Active Reserve Paramilitary Conventional weapons Main battle tanks Artillery pieces Armed helicopters Combat aircraft Anti-aircraft missiles Delivery vehicles for unconventional weapons Bombers Surface-to-surface missiles Short and intermediate range ICBMs SLBMs Air-to-surface missiles Unconventional Weaponsf Nuclear gravity bombs Nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles “Active” nuclear warheads for ICBMs “Active” nuclear warheads for SLBMs “Inactive” nuclear weapons

Iraq

278 million 9.8 million

23 million 438,317

$10,082 billion $35,320

$26 billion $1,130

$322 billion

$1.4 billion

1.4 million 1.2 million 0

424,000 650,000 43,000

8,023 6,909 1,987 4,841 7,000

2,600 2,300 164 316 unknowne

115 (long range)

6

unknown 550 432 unknown

56 0 0 unknown

1,300 320 1,700 3,120 2,700

0 0 0 0 0

Notes: a. Population figures are for 2001 and are from the COW National Capabilities data (2001). b. Data on territorial size are for 2011 and are from the CIA World Factbook (CIA 2011). c. Economic data for the United States are for 2001 and are from the International Monetary Fund (IMF 2003b). Because Hussein considered economic data to be state secrets, it is difficult to find reliable economic data for pre-invasion Iraq. I arrived at these figures by averaging estimates from two reputable sources: the Economist magazine’s Economist Intelligence Unit (summarized in CIA 2007) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF 2003a). d. The military data are for 2002 and are from IISS (2002: 17–23, 106, 332–337) and Norris et al. (2002: 71). The primary purpose of Iraq’s paramilitary forces was to protect Hussein and his government from internal opponents (IISS 2002: 6). e. It was, however, known that China had helped Iraq to improve its air defenses. As a result, in mid-2001, “Iraqi air defense operators became more effective and aggressive in targeting US and British pilots, including a near downing of a U-2 spy plane with an unguided SAM” (Zenko 2010: 45–46). f. Gravity bombs and cruise missiles can be delivered by bomber. On the difference between US “active” and “inactive” nuclear stockpiles, see Norris et al. (2002: 71).

36

Realist Approaches

Iraq only had spare parts for just half of its military equipment, and the Iraqi military had constantly been reorganized and had restricted training abilities (IISS 2002: 105–106; MacFarquhar 2006). In comparing US and Iraqi capabilities, it is important to look beyond the numbers to consider other factors, including whether either or both had unconventional weapons, especially WMD. Conventional or “relative” weapons (such as tanks, artillery, aircraft, and anti-aircraft missiles) fight other weapons. By contrast, unconventional weapons (such as biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological weapons) target entire populations or geographic areas. Of these, nuclear weapons are—and biological weapons have the potential to become—“absolute weapons.” What sets WMD apart is that, regardless of how they are targeted, their destructive effects cannot be limited. As a result, innovation and superiority in WMD numbers and quality are meaningless. Once a state has a second-strike capability, others are deterred from attacking its territory and vital interests by the possibility of massive retaliation (Brodie 1946; Waltz 1990a; Adams 2003/04). Unconventional weapons can be delivered in various ways, including by artillery, aircraft, and missiles. As shown in Table 2.2.3, before the 2003 invasion, Iraq had a plentiful supply of each. Although its ability to pilot and repair them was in some doubt, if Iraq was known to possess—or was even suspected of possessing—nuclear or biological weapons to load onto these delivery vehicles or to deliver in other ways, it would have been foolish for any state to attack Iraq or its vital interests. Doing so would have run a risk of massive retaliation (Betts 2003). Whether Iraq had or was trying to develop chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons was a point of contention between Iraq and the United States before the 2003 invasion. In the absence of a world government to make Iraq and the United States reveal the truth about these matters, each was free to say whatever it liked. Both departed quite far from what they and informed observers knew to have been the facts. On the Iraqi side, its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs had been terminated after the 1991 Gulf War, but Hussein wanted to create the impression that the programs remained in force to deter Iran and Israel from attacking Iraq. As a result, he refused to give UN inspectors unrestricted access to Iraqi military sites (Battle 2009a; MacFarquhar 2006). On the US side, the first reason George W. Bush gave for the invasion was to “disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction” (Bush 2003a). According to Bush and other administration officials, there were other reasons, but the administration “settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason” (Wolfowitz 2003).9 This is not to say that administration officials believed Iraq had WMD. They knew their casus belli did not exist (Mazzetti and Shane 2008; Pillar 2011a: 84–85; Ritter and Hersh 2005; US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 2008).

Structural Realism

37

Once the decision to emphasize WMD was made, the Bush administration began what career CIA officer Paul Pillar, who was the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, has since described as a propaganda campaign (Pillar 2011a: 64; 2011b).10 Administration officials were proud of their efforts. According to Karl Rove, a senior adviser to President Bush, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality” (Suskind 2004b; Danner 2007: 23). Part of the administration’s propaganda campaign was characterizing Iraq as part of an “axis of evil” populated also by Iran and North Korea, two states whose nuclear programs were known to be much further along. In his State of the Union address in January 2002, Bush warned that the United States would militarily preempt any effort to obtain nuclear weapons (Bush 2002a). If ridding the world of nuclear weapons was the administration’s goal, the preemption doctrine should have applied first to North Korea, whose nuclear program was most advanced. But administration officials told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh that their goal was simply “to mobilize public opinion for an invasion of Iraq” and that they “knew that the North Koreans had already reinvigorated their programs and were more dangerous than Iraq” (Adams and Hannon 2007; FAS 2009; Hersh 2003a). Before the US invasion, the United States had an extensive nuclear stockpile. The legality of these forces depends on one’s interpretation of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In ratifying the NPT, the United States and the other declared nuclear weapons states at the time (Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China) promised to disarm in exchange for other countries’ forswearing the weapons. In the intervening forty years, the authorized members of the “nuclear club” have made no progress on general and complete nuclear disarmament (Adams 2011b). In 2003, the United States also had an active and illegal biological weapons program, as well as a stockpile of chemical weapons.11 But, unlike Iraq, the United States could use its veto on the Security Council to avoid international inspections. Thus far, we have found strong support for H2. The attacks from 1991 to 2003 were initiated by the United States, a state with great material power, and carried out against Iraq, a much weaker state. According to Waltz, however, we must consider two more dimensions of material capability: political stability and competence. Political stability refers to the prevalence of internal opposition within a state, in other words its vulnerability to death by revolution, disintegration, or collapse. Since the Civil War, the United States has enjoyed considerable stability. The government has functioned under the same constitution over the whole period, and leadership transitions have generally been smooth and uncontested. In 2003, Iraq’s political stability was shorter lived, but Hussein had managed to rule

38

Realist Approaches

the country for thirty years despite considerable internal and external opposition. Yet from post-invasion interviews with Hussein and from the way he deployed Iraqi forces during the invasion, we know he was concerned about coups and other domestic unrest (MacFarquhar 2006). In terms of political stability, Iraq was clearly weaker than the United States. Finally, we must assess the competence of Iraq and the United States. In applying structural realism to understand this aspect of capability, we must consider what it would have been advisable for states in their relative power positions to do. In an anarchic system, states that wish to survive must develop capabilities to protect themselves and use these capabilities in ways that minimize the risk that their actions will precipitate security dilemmas and balancing efforts against them (Waltz 1959: 222). Given the absence of a world government to make states reveal all of their capabilities and to rule out their use in ways that harm others, there is no way to eliminate the security dilemma. But competent or prudent states try to minimize their contribution to it by avoiding too great an accumulation of offensive capabilities and by refusing to use their capabilities to press their will on the world. These structural realist policy prescriptions apply to both weak and strong states, but the weak must take these maxims more seriously than the strong as the latter will not hesitate to punish the former if they act in ways that threaten great power interests. By contrast, great powers have more room for error because they have the capabilities to deter or mitigate retribution (Waltz 1979: 194). Great powers can afford to be less competent, at least in the short term. From this point of view, Hussein, the leader of a weak state, should have understood the dangers of standing up to a unipole and should have minimized as much as possible the extent to which he did so. At the same time, however, as the leader of a state with vast oil wealth, Hussein should have realized the extent to which his country would be an attractive target. Thus Hussein had to walk a fine line between developing capabilities to retain Iraqi sovereignty and looking too threatening to others. From Hussein’s speeches as president and from FBI interviews with him after he was captured by US forces, it is clear that he had a good understanding of international anarchy, unipolarity, and the security dilemma (Battle 2009a; Quandt 1990/1991: 50). In addition, from the questions he asked of Ambassador Glaspie before invading Kuwait, it is clear that he knew the success of his conquest would depend on the US reaction. Where Hussein miscalculated was in taking the ambassador’s answer at face value. Before the invasion, the United States had no interest in disputes between Iraq and Kuwait. But once Iraq had attacked and conquered Kuwait, the situation looked different. The George H. W. Bush administration sought not only to expel Iraq from Kuwait, but also to weaken Hussein so he could be deposed (Bush and Scowcroft 1998: 486–487; Gordon and Trainor 1995: 477). This is the danger

Structural Realism

39

of anarchy for weak states. Great powers get to define what is of interest to them, and their definitions can change dramatically from one moment to the next. In the decade after his expulsion from Kuwait, Hussein’s record was, as realists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt pointed out in an article published several months before the US invasion, “far from reckless” and “hardly demonstrates that he . . . [was] either irrational or prone to serious miscalculation” (2003: 52–53). But Hussein did repeatedly criticize the United States, and he called for Arab, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and other states to unite to balance its power. 12 Moreover, although successive US administrations exaggerated Hussein’s record of noncompliance with UN weapons inspectors, Hussein did refuse to give inspectors unlimited access to political and military sites. From US interviews with Hussein during his incarceration and trial, it is clear that his unwillingness to provide unrestricted access was motivated in part by international anarchy and the security dilemma. On the one hand, if he did not give inspectors full access, the United States might amp up its attacks. On the other hand, if Hussein revealed Iraq to have no WMD, Iran and other states might not be deterred from attacking Iraq. Since the United States had used intelligence from the inspections to develop target lists, and since the United States had made it clear that, even if he did open up, it would still seek regime change and might try him for war crimes (Battle 2009b: 2; Jervis 2003a: 324–325), Hussein chose the option that seemed to have the greatest odds of his and his government’s survival: disarming but creating uncertainty about Iraq’s capabilities. Because this option meant that international inspectors would never find WMD, it reduced the odds of a full-scale invasion. In addition, it meant that Iran and other states would think twice before attacking and, if they did attack, would have incomplete information about Iraq’s military capabilities and Hussein’s hiding places. Given both the situation Iraq was in and the US record of stopping well short of invasion from 1991 to 2002, this was not an irrational calculation. Hussein had managed to rule Iraq for thirty years. For thirteen of those years, the most powerful state in the history of the world had been gunning for him. In addition, a number of middle powers including Russia, China, and France and US allies such as Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia had edged away from the increasingly strident US pronouncements on Iraqi intransigence. In fact, Hussein skillfully encouraged this with oil deals and foreign aid (Sachs 2000; Tripp 2007: 259–269). But Hussein’s rhetoric and actions were beyond Iraq’s capability to defend. This is why, among weak states, the lesson of the US invasion is that weak states should wait to stand up to the United States until they have nuclear weapons (Korean Central News Agency 2003).13 But this level of competence can be achieved only with a great deal of restraint. Just as great powers are tempted to extend

40

Realist Approaches

their control, less powerful states are tempted to pursue their own goals and point out injustices in the system. This brings us to the matter of US competence. Since 1989, the United States has been the most powerful state in the world. As such, it has had sufficient capability both to assure its own domestic survival and to pursue a moderate strategy of protecting its far-flung interests.14 But, like other great powers, the United States has not pursued a moderate or status quo strategy. Instead, it has fallen for the temptation to go further and has used its capabilities to impose its will on the world. In doing so, the United States has incurred great human, economic, military, and political costs and has burdened others with even greater costs in terms of human and national security. As a result, the competence of US leadership has been questioned. Among those who have questioned it most strongly are realists, who argued before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and have continued to argue since then, that the war was unnecessary because Iraq did not have WMD and was not in cahoots with al-Qaeda and, even if it had been, would have been deterred from aggression by the threat of US retaliation.15 Here again, the explanatory power of structural realism is evident. According to liberal scholars, as well as some classical realists, the United States is a status quo power and thus will not engage in imperialism unless individual policymakers are ignorant or irrational (Ikenberry 2001; Morgenthau 1978: 45–51, 169). But according to Waltz and other structural realists, in the absence of a world government, every great power is tempted to engage in imperial policies of attacking, conquering, and otherwise intervening in weak states, and the temptation is especially strong for a unipole. Imperial policies are not in a great power’s long-term interest because they encourage other states to develop the capabilities needed to balance its power. Thus wise or competent great powers would resist the temptation. But imperialism does reflect a clear assessment of a great power’s short-term opportunities. Thus even a well-intentioned great power would find it hard to resist. After all, there is some truth in a great power’s claim that its security and international stability are one (Betts 1999: 169–170; Waltz 1979: 200). From the structural realist perspective, while we might very much wish that great powers would treat weak states with restraint, we should not be too surprised when they do not.16 In addition, we should expect a variety of policymakers within great powers to support imperial policies. As we have seen, this has been the case in US policy toward Iraq. Although their personalities, personal histories, and ideologies were markedly different, each of the first three post–Cold War presidents attacked Iraq. Moreover, each of the four post–Cold War US presidents has attacked at least one other weak state. Given the role of international anarchy in permitting great powers to pursue unwise policies, how can we assess the competence of a great power such as the United States? We can consider the extent to which its leaders

Structural Realism

41

evaluate the unintended consequences of their actions (Waltz 1959: 222). Here again, the record is clear. None of the first four post–Cold War presidents has attacked even one of the world’s middle powers or nuclear states. By that standard, we can judge them all to have been competent. But all four have attacked weak states, despite the entirely predictable short- and long-term costs of doing so. By that standard, none has been as competent as I, for one, would like. Yet, of the four, just one—George W. Bush—carried out an attack on a weak state without any apparent consideration of unintended consequences.17 This lack of concern with consequences can be explained in part by unipolarity. In the absence of a peer competitor, there was no one whose reaction to the invasion made President Bush, his advisers, Congress, the press, or the US public think twice.18 Yet the other three post–Cold War presidents have sought and considered alternative perspectives. President Bush did not, and the Bush administration can therefore be judged less competent than the others. In 2003, Iraq had a bad hand, and Hussein played it too strongly, given international anarchy, unipolarity, and the security dilemma. By contrast, the United States had a great hand, and the Bush administration made sloppy and impulsive decisions that the United States and the rest of the world will have to live with for a very long time. Testing H3: US motivations for attack. The final step in applying and testing structural realism is to consider why the United States repeatedly attacked Iraq. According to H3 the great power’s motives for the attack and others like it are likely to be “endlessly varied” and may be difficult to discern, but they can be plausibly summarized in terms of either ambition or security. Great powers are especially likely to be motivated by ambition. This hypothesis, too, is strongly supported. Each of the first three post– Cold War presidents attacked Iraq, and each couched his rationale in a different political doctrine. For George H. W. Bush, it was to “draw a line in the sand” and mark the beginning of a “new world order.” For Bill Clinton, it was to spread democracy. For George W. Bush, it was to protect the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. It is impossible to know if these were the presidents’ “real” motivations. As Robert Jervis points out, “many of the reasons [people] give are rationalizations, not rationales, and come to their minds only after they have reached their decisions” (2003a: 318). Moreover, we know that each of these presidents lied about some aspect of US-Iraqi relations. George H. W. Bush claimed he wanted international sanctions to remain in place because he was concerned about Iraq’s WMD. But his purpose in imposing the sanctions was actually to weaken Hussein so he could be replaced by a more compliant leader. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also promulgated this lie (Ritter and Hersh 2005). Clinton also lied about Hussein’s lack of

42

Realist Approaches

compliance with weapons inspectors and claimed that his December 1998 attacks on Iraqi military installations had nothing to do with diverting attention from his impeachment trial (Gellman 1998). George W. Bush claimed that Hussein was linked with al-Qaeda and 9/11. In addition, Bush concealed his administration’s decision to “treat a ‘one percent chance’ of a country passing WMDs to a terrorist as a ‘certainty’” (Suskind 2006: 166). Despite these lies, and despite differences in each president’s particular motives, it is clear from Iraq’s capabilities and from the US history of making and breaking international law that repeated US attacks on Iraq from 1991 to 2003 were not sparked by the security dilemma but were instead inspired by US ambition to maintain and expand its unipolar position (see also Jervis 2003a). Given Iraq’s profound and increasing weakness, as well as the fact that US attacks span both the pre- and post-9/11 eras, it is difficult to arrive at the opposite conclusion, that the United States was simply motivated by security. Why, when there were so many weak states in the world, did the United States choose to focus on Iraq? Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and his treatment of Iraq’s Kurdish and Shia populations no doubt played a role. So did Iraq’s oil wealth and strategic location. But Iraq had not attacked another state since 1990, and Hussein was far from the only tyrant in the world. Neither was Iraq the only strategically located, oil-producing state. What made Iraq a target was that, for over a decade, Hussein consistently and dramatically stood up to the United States, and he began to do so just as the United States came into its unipolar status. The situation between the United States and Iraq is, therefore, a bit like the proverbial princess and the pea. When there are big problems to attend to, one does not worry too much about the little ones. But when one sits at the top of the world, the slightest annoyance can become a fixation. Only a unipole can afford to build a strategy on a “one percent doctrine.” Yet the Bush administration was apparently not even motivated by the extreme sensitivity to threat expressed in that doctrine. If it had been, the administration would have made a more serious effort to pursue and disable al-Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attacks. In addition, it would have considered the effects of the US invasion of Iraq in prompting North Korea and Iran to redouble their nuclear efforts, and it would have engaged them in negotiations instead of refusing to talk until they met US demands (Kristof 2006, 2009). Thus it is hard to escape the conclusion that George W. Bush, like the two presidents before him, simply sought to punish Hussein and, thereby, deter anyone else “with the temerity to acquire destructive weapons or, in any way, flout the authority of the United States” (Suskind 2006: 123).19 This is why structural realists look forward to the day when a new balance of power will form. When that occurs, US policymakers will be more likely to focus on US security and to consider the unintended consequences of their actions. In the meantime, like all historical great powers, the United

Structural Realism

43

States will be tempted to impose its will on the world through ambitious wars and interventions.

■ Conclusion According to structural realist theory, the anarchic structure of the international political system is the ultimate cause of war. In the absence of a world government, states can choose to attack others. In doing so, their aims—the immediate causes of war—“may be endlessly varied” (Waltz 1979: 91), but the ultimate cause of war is international anarchy. In evaluating the immediate causes of particular attacks, structural realists distinguish between two broad motives: ambition and security. Like classical realists, they recognize that some leaders seek to conquer the world. Unlike classical realists, however, structural realists also recognize that states that simply seek to survive and prosper may find themselves at war if they stumble into the security dilemma, in which actions taken to enhance security look like threats to others. According to structural realists, the international distribution of power strongly affects these motives. States whose capabilities are unmatched by others may become ambitious and try to fashion the system to their liking. Alternatively, states amassing capabilities simply to shield themselves from others may unintentionally spark war. There is still much we do not know—and will never know—about the particular capabilities and intentions of Iraq and the United States before the 2003 invasion. Yet it was clear in 2003 that US capabilities far outstripped Iraq’s. In fact, the United States was not only a great power. It was far and away the most powerful state in the world. In the absence of a world government, there was nothing to stop successive post–Cold War US administrations from attacking Iraq. Moreover, when Iraq successfully courted allies to block UN authorization of further attacks, there was nothing to stop the United States from going around the UN to engage in an invasion that was illegal under the UN Charter. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, every US president has attacked both Iraq and at least one other weak state. By contrast, none of the four has attacked even one of the world’s middle powers or nuclear states. Thus the pattern seen in the aggregate data on all great powers from 1800 to 1997 also holds for the United States from 1989 to the present. The US invasion of Iraq is one of many instances of a recurring outcome that structural realist theory, with its deductive and systemic logic, explains very well: the imperialism of great power.

■ Notes For comments, I thank Andreas Behnke, Felix Berenskoetter, Nicholas Feeney, Kedra Hildebrand, Susan Martin, Jessica McCutcheon, Christopher Muste, Jennifer Sterling-Folker, Ken Waltz, and the students in my international relations seminar.

44

Realist Approaches

1. In 2002, the other top military spenders in descending order from sixth place were France ($33 billion), Germany ($27), Saudi Arabia ($24), Italy ($21), India ($14), and South Korea ($11) (IISS 2002: 332–337). 2. Given the lack of reliable data for less powerful states, the latter is a conservative estimate of the actual number of such attacks (Adams 2003: 3–4; 2003/04: 69; 2010). 3. I use 1989 as the end of bipolarity and the emergence of unipolarity because, by then, the decline in Soviet economic capabilities was clear. Since 1985, GDP had been stagnant, labor strikes had accelerated, and the government had tapped its gold and hard currency reserves to service its external debt (Cooper 1993: 452–453; Passell 1989). When the Berlin Wall fell in late 1989, it was clear that these economic problems had significantly reduced the Soviet Union’s military and political capabilities. 4. According to Eric Fournier, a French diplomat and political adviser to Richard Butler, the head of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM), “more than three hundred [inspections] had taken place in a few weeks and only a handful had been a problem.” Butler later admitted that the inspectors left because they were warned by the United States of the pending attack (Fournier as quoted by Kremmer 2002: 207–209; Butler 2000: 210). 5. Initially, the no-fly zones were patrolled by US, British, and French pilots. Later, the French dropped out. Only US pilots were authorized to attack Iraqi targets (Mooney 2002; Zenko 2010: 33–34, 37–39). For an example of early criticisms of the attacks, see Lewis (1993). 6. At the start of the war, US troops accounted for 84 percent of the coalition force of approximately 297,000. The United States paid the vast majority of the costs, and troops from countries other than the United States and the United Kingdom played only support roles (Council on Foreign Relations 2003a; Nordland and Williams 2009). 7. In September 2004, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged that the attack “was not in conformity . . . with the U.N. Charter,” in other words, that “It was illegal” (Tyler 2004). After that, the United States embarked on a campaign to replace him with a more compliant Secretary-General (Traub 2006). No attempt has been made to hold the United States accountable in a court of law. 8. See note in Table 2.2.3. Here, too, I averaged the estimates from the Economist (CIA 2007) and IMF (2003a). According to the IMF, Iraq’s economic declines were the result of “pervasive state intervention” in the economy, debt and reparations from the wars against Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990, and refusal to comply with UN weapons inspectors, which meant that the sanctions on oil exports remained in place for over a decade (IMF 2003a; see also Tripp 2007: 251–253). 9. In addition, Bush claimed the United States was invading Iraq to “end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people” (Bush 2003a). According to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, there was also a fourth reason: after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration wanted to close US bases in Saudi Arabia, which Osama bin Laden had repeatedly criticized. But the administration did not go on record about that (Wolfowitz 2003). According to Foreign Policy (2004), at least twenty-one reasons for the attack were articulated by ten administration officials and members of Congress. The top two were “to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction” and “for regime change,” both of which were given by all ten officials. 10. Many other members of the Bush administration corroborate Pillar’s argument about the administrations “propaganda campaign” in support of the invasion, in-

Structural Realism

45

cluding General Hugh Shelton, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001 (2010: 488). See also Prados and Ames (2010). 11. In 2002, two academic researchers revealed that the United States was secretly engaged in research on “biological cluster bombs, anthrax and non-lethal weapons for use against hostile crowds” (Borger 2002; Wheelis and Dando 2003). According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), in 2000, the US chemical stockpile consisted of “various rockets, projectiles, mines, and bulk items containing blister agents (mustard H, HD, HT) and nerve agents (VX, GB)” (FAS 2000). 12. After Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf War, Hussein claimed that “Iraq has punched a hole in the myth of US superiority and rubbed the nose of the United States in the dust” (MacFarquhar 2006). In October 2000, he threatened to cut off the oil exports Iraq was allowed under the sanctions program to purchase food unless the Security Council allowed Iraq to be paid for oil in euros instead of dollars. When the Council agreed, Iraq became the first of several oil-exporting countries, including Iran, Venezuela, and Russia, to demand payment in euros. Iraq did so when the euro was low relative to the dollar, bolstering Hussein’s claim that he was standing up to the United States (Banerjee 2000; Sachs 2000; UN Security Council 2000a). After the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., Hussein “was the sole Arab leader who failed to condemn the attacks . . . , pointing out instead that the United States had brought them on itself through the policies it had pursued over the years in the Middle East” (Tripp 2007: 271). 13. After the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and the 1991 Gulf War, Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi and Indian general Krishnaswami Sundaji made similar remarks (Payne 1996: 27–28). 14. For structural realist writings in this vein, see Art (2009), Layne (1997), Posen (2001), Schwarz and Layne (2002), and Walt (2005). 15. On 26 September 2002, a number of scholars, including Waltz, ran an ad in the New York Times arguing that “War with Iraq Is Not in America’s National Interest.” For articles on this theme before the invasion, see Betts (2003) and Mearsheimer and Walt (2003). Since the invasion, there have been attempts to distinguish between “wars of ambition” and “wars of choice” (Haass 2009), but realists disagree about how to categorize particular wars. For example, Haass claims the Gulf War was necessary, while Waltz (1990b) says it was not. 16. In a recent interview, Waltz said, “One does not like it; I do not like it; and I am sure the countries that experience the bullying do not like it; but it is expected behavior. That is the way countries behave when they have dominant power—globally or within their region” (2011). 17. According to Bush administration insiders, as well as academic researchers and journalists, there is no record of George W. Bush ever holding a meeting or requesting an options paper to consider “whether the war should be launched at all” or discuss the possible downside of an invasion (Pillar 2011a: 13; Prados and Ames 2010). As Dower puts it, there was a troubling “paradox [in] the Bush administration’s rush to war with Iraq—apocalyptic forebodings about the target nation’s arsenals and inclinations, and the menace of terror worldwide, coupled with a nonchalance regarding post-invasion contingency planning that bordered on the criminally negligent. Had the Oval Office planners been Japanese, a legion of white pundits would have materialized to explain that they simply did not think logically, as Westerners do” (2010: 20). Moreover, had the United States been a weak state, its leaders might—like Saddam Hussein—have been tried and executed as war criminals. 18. According to Pillar, “carefully produced intelligence assessments that presciently described how the task in Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s fall would be long

46

Realist Approaches

and difficult rather than quick and easy received no more attention in Congress than they received from the Bush administration policymakers” (2011c). 19. This quote from Ron Suskind summarizes the view of “those attending the NSC briefings on the Gulf” in the year before the US invasion (2006: 123). A recurring theme in the memoirs of officials in the George W. Bush administration is that the 9/11 attacks provided the administration with an excuse to “take out” Hussein, which US officials—including members of the Clinton administration—had wanted to do for a variety of reasons for a very long time (Shelton 2010: 2; see also Suskind 2004a; for academic treatments see Fisher 2003; Tripp 2007: 270–273). In his memoirs, George H. W. Bush repeatedly refers to his desire to humiliate Hussein (Bush and Scowcroft 1998: 486–487). In 1999, Kenneth Pollack, an academic supporter of US attacks on Iraq, argued that Hussein “‘is trying to be annoying. . . . If he sends up planes twice a week, every week for six weeks’ and forces the United States and Britain to increase its air patrols, ‘at some point other nations may start to question what the U.S. is doing’” (quoted in Priest 1999). For decades, the goal of successive US administrations has been to avoid such questions (Schwarz and Layne 2002: 36–37).

2.3 Neoclassical Realism: Domestic Opportunities for Great Power Intervention Jeffrey W. Taliaferro and Robert W. Wishart

It is easy to forget how controversial and unprecedented the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in March 2003 seemed at the time. The United States chose to invade a weak and isolated nation that had not attacked it and, in the process, openly flouted the will of the UN Security Council and risked alienating its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. Already engaged in a war in Afghanistan, the Bush administration embarked upon a course that would tie up additional national resources in a notoriously volatile region of the world. A key question at the time and one that remains is, Why? Why did the United States go to war in Iraq? A glib answer is “because it could.” This fails to provide any real insight, however, when one considers that as the world’s most powerful nation, the United States could have done a number of things. For example, why not focus on North Korea? After all, here was a regime also singled out by President Bush as part of the “axis of evil.” Not only had Pyongyang admitted to a secret nuclear weapons program, it was also suspected of actively engaging in the proliferation of nuclear technology (Niksch 2003). As Jack Snyder, Robert Shapiro, and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon (2009: 155) observe, Disproportionate power allows greater freedom of action, but it is consistent with a broad spectrum of policies, ranging from messianic attempts to impose a new world order to smug attempts to insulate oneself from the world’s quagmires. How this freedom is used depends on how threats and opportunities are interpreted when viewed through the prism of ideology and domestic politics.

It is with this in mind that we attempt to shed light on US foreign policy decisionmaking in the lead-up to the Iraq War. Neoclassical realism offers a powerful explanatory framework, which helps to narrow our focus and points to several principal factors influencing the Bush administration’s thinking throughout 2002 and into 2003. We begin by introducing neoclassical realism as a theory and situating it within the larger realist tradition. We show how this analytical framework retains the rigor and theoretical clarity of structural realism (or neorealism) without sacrificing the practical insights about foreign policy and the complexity of statecraft found in twentieth-century classical realism. We focus attention on the core insights of neoclassical realism and highlight its comparative strengths. Next, we examine how the Bush administration was able 47

48

Realist Approaches

to lead the country into war. We find that the unchallenged primacy of the United States in world affairs contributed to a weakening of international constraints and allowed the world’s only superpower wide freedom of action. In addition, and arguably more importantly, several domestic factors contributed to the Iraq invasion and influenced when and how it occurred. Here we point to the role played by groups of well-placed policy entrepreneurs, most notably the neoconservative movement, both within government and in the wider think-tank community. Finally, we complete our explanation by showing how the administration overcame several hurdles to the mobilization of resources necessary for war. We emphasize that all three of these factors are necessary to fully explain the decision to invade. Concluding remarks summarize the discussion and provide a general guideline to conducting similar analyses on other questions in international relations.

■ Understanding the Theory Building from the solid foundations of structural realism, neoclassical realism provides a more robust tool set to scholars interested in foreign policy decisionmaking.1 Like structural realism, this theory posits that ultimately the international system, specifically its anarchic ordering principle and the relative distribution of material capabilities, sets the parameters for the likely external behavior of all states. However, international systemic pressures filter through unit-level variables, such as elite perceptions of the international environment, state power in the form of mobilization and extraction capabilities, and domestic hurdles to such mobilization, to determine the mix of foreign and security policies a state will actually pursue. Neoclassical realism’s comparative advantage lies in its willingness to integrate ideational and material variables into a coherent explanatory framework. As Nicholas Kitchen (2010: 127) writes, it “places the impact of ideas alongside the imperatives of material power in the making of foreign policy, rejecting the notion that either ideas or material factors are somehow ‘most fundamental’ and therefore deserving of analytic focus to the exclusion of the other.” Neoclassical realism proceeds from a “top-down” conception of the state: systemic forces are mediated through a national security or foreign policy executive comprised of the head of state and/or head of government and the senior civilian and military officials charged with formulating and implementing grand strategy. This executive, sitting at the juncture of the state and the international system, has access to privileged information from the state’s politico-military and intelligence apparatus and perceives systemic constraints and opportunities. Leaders define “national interests” based upon their subjective assessments of the international distribution of power and other states’ intentions. However, neoclassical realism also recognizes that

Neoclassical Realism

49

executives exist within a set of domestic political relationships, which constrain their ability to execute foreign policy (Taliaferro, Lobell, and Ripsman 2009b: 25). A variety of domestic actors, including subordinate bureaucrats and analysts, legislators, lobbyists, and interest groups, and the general public often require the national security executive to bargain or otherwise modify ideal policy proposals (Ripsman 2009). By explicitly looking at both systemic and domestic constraints, neoclassical realism provides richer and more contextualized explanations and, as we shall see below, offers a compelling account of the start of the Iraq War. Let us first consider the fact that threats to a state’s interests can often be amorphous and subject to varying interpretations. The process of threat assessment is inherently difficult. Even in the very rare situations where an international system provides unambiguous information about threats and “optimal” policy responses, the foreign policy executive still faces the daunting task of making subjective probability assessments, prioritizing among various threats and opportunities, and discerning future intentions and shifts in the distribution of power. Members of the national security executive preside over different bureaucratic organizations within the state’s overall politico-military and intelligence apparatus. Those subordinate bureaucracies may rely on different methodologies, measures, and information sources to assess relative power trends, the future intentions of other actors, and even different components of material power. Threat assessments may also follow from particular ideological, historical, or ideational biases within those organizations (Friedberg 1988; Lobell 2009). This has important implications for how systemic constraints translate through domestic filters. The national security executive often faces the dual problems of pervasive uncertainty and information overload. The uncertainty that derives from imperfect intelligence, combined with the sheer volume of incoming information, may create an imbalance between complexity and the analytical capacity of the officials involved in strategic planning (Fitzsimmons 2006). Richard Betts (1982: 104) writes that in “an environment that lacks clarity . . . ambiguity allows intuition or wishfulness to drive interpretation. . . . The greater the ambiguity, the greater the impact of preconceptions.” Although Betts originally made that observation in reference to leaders’ ability to respond to surprise attacks, the same dynamics were observable in debates about post–Cold War US grand strategy and both the emergence of the Bush Doctrine and the start of the Iraq War. Increases in the level of external threat, or more properly shifts in the threat assessment of the national security executive, generally prompt states to undertake major changes to their grand strategies.2 Ultimately, the types of strategies pursued are a function of the ability of the national security executive to mobilize domestic support and to extract human and capital

50

Realist Approaches

resources from civil society. Systemic forces shape domestic processes within states, which in turn constrain states’ ability to respond to systemic imperatives. Put differently, we can think of unit-level variables as the dependent variables of prior structural conditions. Over the longer term, states in more threatening international environments tend (on average) to develop more centralized political institutions and more efficient means to extract and mobilize resources (Taliaferro 2009: 210–214). However, exogenous shocks, sudden increases in the real or perceived vulnerability to the state’s physical security, or other vital interests can be an impetus for both longerterm institutional change and short-term domestic political dynamics. It should be clear thus far that the modern state is a complex entity. How can one make sense of this complexity and identify the relevant domestic influences? Neoclassical realism, writes Kitchen (2010: 141), “understands that the more power is centralized within the international system, the more we should expect the grand strategy of the dominant states to be defined by their strategic ideas, and can account for the fact that those great power strategies may change for internal as well as external reasons” (see also Snyder, Shapiro, and Bloch-Elkon 2009: 158–159). Norrin Ripsman (2009) suggests that the more influential domestic actors will be those with sufficient power to remove national executives from office, those that can act as veto players to obstruct the government’s programmatic goals, or those that can shape the definition of the national interests. These actors are more likely to have a significant influence on foreign and national security policies when the international threat level is low, leaders have a weak hold on power, or the national security executive lacks structural autonomy. In the case of the United States in the 1990s, the more influential domestic actors were often the ones that worked with (and occasionally in opposition to) the national security executive in defining national interests. The absence of a near-term great power adversary or another existential threat to US security created a grand strategic vacuum. Neoclassical realism, therefore, would expect epistemic communities of experts—scholars, current and former government officials, pundits, defense intellectuals—to have a greater influence in shaping grand strategic debates than might otherwise be the case when great powers face more restrictive international environments.3 The Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq resulted from the complex interaction of three sets of variables: the international distribution of power, strategic ideas, and domestic mobilization hurdles in conjunction with state power. Taken individually, none of the three was sufficient to cause the United States to invade Iraq in March 2003. Taken together, however, they tell us a great deal about the causes, timing, and manner in which Iraq, rather than Afghanistan and Pakistan, became the “central front” in the Bush administration’s global war on terrorism. Neoclassical realism thus

Neoclassical Realism

51

provides a more complete picture of US grand strategic decisionmaking. The examination of domestic political constraints helps us to open the “black box” of the state. It also allows for the articulation of a specific set of factors responsible for the 2003 Iraq War. It should come as little surprise that Iraq was of considerable importance to US foreign policy. The country’s strategic location and abundance of oil helped to ensure this. However, it would be an oversimplification to suggest that the invasion of Iraq occurred because of its petroleum resources. In the first place, it is not immediately clear that the United States could succeed in capturing Iraq’s oil for its own consumption even if it wanted to. Additionally, Iraqi production is only now beginning to approach its prewar levels suggesting that the United States has been unable or uninterested in quickly ramping up output.4 Most US oil imports originate in the Western Hemisphere and the development and exploitation of new domestic energy sources is further reducing US concerns over adequate supply (Forero 2012). None of this should be taken as a suggestion that oil is unimportant. Neoclassical realism recognizes that the access to vital resources forms a core component in a nation’s geostrategic calculus. However, given the realities of US energy consumption, the contention that the 2003 Iraq War was solely or even principally about oil fails to offer a convincing explanation.

■ Systemic Constraints (or Lack Thereof) on the Unipole A neoclassical realist theory for the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq has to begin with the international system, which establishes parameters for the types of external strategies any state is likely to pursue. However, an international system cannot dictate exactly how each state will respond within those parameters. Even Kenneth Waltz (1979: 69), the founding father of structural realism, admits, “structures shape and shove. They do not determine behaviors and outcomes, not only because unit-level and structural causes interact, but because the shaping and shoving of structures may be successfully resisted.” Systemic constraints on great powers and other states vary across three ideal types of international systems: multipolar, bipolar, and unipolar. 5 By systemic constraints, we refer mainly to strong conditional constraints, which Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth (2008: 14–15) define as those that “powerfully affect the ability to use [material] resources in pursuit of security goals,” but that “are triggered only if the United States adopts certain politics.” The ability of policymakers to manifest desired foreign policy outcomes is not unlimited, even in the case of the United States and its unquestioned primacy. Relative power distributions, anticipated

52

Realist Approaches

changes in such distributions, and leaders’ subjective time horizons for identifying and redressing threats all influence the strength and conditionality of systemic constraints. In a restrictive international environment, a great power will find the constraints on its freedom of action relatively strong but also conditional on its actions. Under these circumstances, a great power may encounter significant impediments to using its material capabilities in advancing its interests. These impediments may take the form of a heightened likelihood of an arms race, economic warfare, the formation of an opposing alliance, or an inadvertent escalation to war. On the other hand, permissive environments (such as the one the United States faced in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War) impose constraints on great powers that are weak but again also conditional on actions. Such an environment generally exists when a state enjoys a preponderance of military, economic, and other capabilities because of its victory in a major war or an enduring rivalry. Leaders may be aware of possible future threats, but those threats are often ambiguous or latent and there are multiple avenues for dealing with (or not dealing with) them in the present (Taliaferro 2012; see also Brawley 2009; Ripsman, Taliaferro, and Lobell 2009: 282–287). The United States emerged from the Cold War not only as the “lone superpower” but also as the only great power in the history of the modern interstate system to be simultaneously preponderant in all underlying categories of material capabilities: potential, economic, and military.6 The gap between the United States and every other state across all three categories was enormous in the 1990s and 2000s. For example, according to the CIA (2011), in 2000 the United States produced 23 percent of gross world product (GWP), compared to the states with the next two largest economies— China with 12 percent of GWP and Japan with 7 percent. Although economic power and potential power (e.g., population size, demographics, raw materials reserves, technological levels, education levels, and fertile territory) are the basis for military power and hence of any state’s ability to protect itself, we focus largely on the latter since it is the most relevant to our discussion of the 2003 Iraq War. Overwhelming US military and economic power dissuaded any of the second-tier great powers from mounting a serious challenge to the United States. Given this, a purely structural analysis might conclude that the United States had wide operational latitude in security policy. It is true that there were relatively weak international constraints on US behavior. However, as neoclassical realism predicts, there were important domestic constraints on US policymakers. The absence of a rising great power competitor made it more difficult for the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations to mobilize and sustain domestic support for large-scale military interventions overseas. None of the US military operations abroad between April

Neoclassical Realism

53

1991 and September 2001 involved situations where vital, let alone existential, US interests were at stake. Most of the targets of US threats and actual uses of force were either militarily weak and intransigent states (such as Iraq, Serbia, Haiti, and North Korea); warring factions within states torn apart by ethnic, sectarian, or nationalist conflicts (such as the Bosnian Serbs or the militia of Somali warlord Mohammad Farah Aidid); or transnational terrorist groups operating within the borders of failed or failing states (such as al-Qaeda in Sudan and later Afghanistan). The Clinton administration feared the public and Congress would not tolerate large numbers of US military casualties in missions not involving “vital national interests.” Therefore, after the Gulf War cease-fire in 1991, US military intervention took the form of either multilateral peacekeeping or peace enforcement missions (generally under the auspices of NATO) or limited air strikes (Byman and Waxman 2001: 130–151; Jentleson 1992; Jentleson and Britton 1998). While the Clinton administration resorted to military force more often and in more geographic locales than any of its Cold War predecessors, Colin Dueck (2006, 2004) aptly characterizes its overall approach to grand strategy as “hegemony on the cheap.” The unipolar structure of the international system and the permissive international environment set the parameters for US grand strategic adjustment in the 1990s and 2000s. The collapse of the Soviet Union permitted the United States to extend its influence. The absence of any military power or coalition capable of stopping the United States provides one important explanation as to what made the 2003 Iraq War possible. Yet ending the story here as one might expect in a purely structural-level analysis would fail to resolve the question of why the administration chose to attack Iraq when and how it did. The next two sections examine the ways intervening variables at the unit level—the strategic ideas espoused by the neoconservatives, liberal hawks, and conservative nationalists in the 1990s and then the lower domestic mobilization hurdles after 9/11—enabled the George W. Bush administration to take the country to war in March 2003.

■ Grand Strategic Ideas and Policy Entrepreneurs The invasion of Iraq was a direct outgrowth of the Bush Doctrine; but, the Bush Doctrine did not arise ex nihilo. Instead, it was the product of debates about the future of US grand strategy in the 1990s and the subsequent placement of various participants in those debates—namely, neoconservatives and conservative nationalists—in senior policy positions in the George W. Bush administration in January 2001. The conventional wisdom about why the United States invaded Iraq is that “neoconservative ideologues hijacked US foreign policy” and “easily manipulated” an ignorant and inexperienced president into a war to oust the

54

Realist Approaches

Iraqi dictator who tried to assassinate his father, former president Bush, in 1993. According to this view, a small band of neoconservative (and predominantly Jewish) defense intellectuals, most notably Paul Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense; Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy; John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for international security and arms control; I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney; and Elliott Abrams, the senior director for Near East affairs on the National Security Council staff, pushed hard for the Iraq invasion. Supposedly, these officials did not advocate war in Iraq to serve the interests of the United States but rather to advance the interests of Israel’s Likud-led government.7 This simple account of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy provides a convenient narrative. The neoconservatives’ role in shaping the Bush Doctrine and fomenting the 2003 Iraq War is well documented and indisputable. Indeed, so are the close ties of some (although by no means all) prominent neoconservatives to Israel and the Likud Party. However, the claim that neoconservatives bore sole responsibility for the Bush Doctrine and the 2003 Iraq War or that they did so primarily to advance the interests of Israel is simply erroneous (Waxman 2009). To better understand the extent of neoconservative influence and how this influence is consistent with the predictions of neoclassical realism, one must consider the dynamics of the post–Cold War policy space they would come to inherit. Compared to the two previous periods of grand strategic adjustment (1918–1921 and 1945–1947), an enormous number of individuals in the national security executive (and the broader national security bureaucracy), as well as scholars, think tanks, lobbying organizations, and other private groups, participated in the post–Cold war realignment debates. No one equivalent to a George Kennan emerged during this period. There was no single analyst capable of offering a coherent diagnosis of the intentions and capabilities of US rivals, much less sketching the broad outlines of a grand strategy. Arguably, no such analyst could have emerged given the proliferation of “players” in the national security policy process (Drezner 2009). While senior officials in the three post–Cold War administrations ultimately formulated the national interests based on their subjective assessments of the international environment, they had a great deal of input in doing so from the national security and foreign policy bureaucracy (e.g., the National Security Council [NSC] staff, the State, Defense, and Treasury Departments, and the CIA and other intelligence agencies), various think tanks (e.g., the Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, American Enterprise Institute [AEI], and RAND Corporation), and quasi-governmental advisory bodies (e.g., Commission on National Security in the Twenty-First Century, Defense Policy Board, and the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States).8 The multiplication of policy shops

Neoclassical Realism

55

coupled with the systemic environment discussed above provided an opening for a grand rearticulating of the United States’ strategic purpose. Three factions (or epistemic communities) would contribute to the development of the Bush Doctrine and the Iraq War: the neoconservatives and the nationalists (or unilateralists) within the Republican Party, and the neoliberals (or liberal internationalists) generally associated with the Democratic Party and academia. Let us consider the neoliberals and neoconservatives in turn. Liberal internationalist scholars and pundits would provide much of the intellectual underpinnings of eventual US grand strategy. This underpinning included the assumption that other states’ regime type and ideology were the fundamental determinants of its foreign policy behavior, and it elevated the democratic peace thesis to the status of an empirical law.9 It was coupled with a belief in the feasibility and desirability of rapid transitions from authoritarianism and controlled economies to democracy and free markets. Finally, it argued for a responsibility to protect (R2P) and humanitarian intervention. Tony Smith argues that with the apparent triumph of democracy and capitalism in Eastern and Central Europe, South Africa, and elsewhere after the Cold War, self-described liberal scholars and activists began to adopt a more militant posture in world affairs. They increasingly sought the robust promotion of democracy and the protection of human rights. “These neoliberals were the functional equivalent for the Democratic Party of the neoconservatives within the Republican Party, a pro-war faction able to articulate in seemingly persuasive fashion why America’s moment of unrivaled power meant embracing a mission that would echo through the ages for its vision and its courage” (T. Smith 2007: xviii). T. Smith identifies three strands of neoliberal scholarship and ideology in the 1990s that directly influenced the Bush Doctrine: (1) the democratic peace literature and related efforts to elevate liberal theories of international relations to the status of empirical laws; (2) philosophical and international legal scholarship on sovereignty; and (3) comparative political analysis on democratic and economic transitions (2007: chaps. 4–5). Liberal scholars and activists offered philosophical, theoretical, and empirical arguments to support the propositions that the United States was an “indispensable nation,” that liberal democracy and market capitalism had universal appeal, and that liberal democracies had an obligation to intervene in the internal affairs of so-called rogue states and failed states. In the policy arena, the neoliberal arguments advanced in the pages of The New Republic and by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) bore similarities to neoconservative arguments advanced in the pages of The Weekly Standard and by AEI and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Long before the 9/11 attacks or the 2000 presidential campaign, there was a budding consensus among scholars, pundits, and policymakers on the political

56

Realist Approaches

left and the political right for a more militant effort by the United States to spread democracy and free markets as a means to preserve its hegemonic position.10 Thus in Smith’s view, liberal IR and international law scholars like Larry Diamond, Michael Doyle, Bruce Russett, John Oneal, Ann-Marie Slaughter, and Andrew Moravcsik, and pundits like New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and New Republic editor Peter Beinhart, were just as culpable for the Bush Doctrine as the neoconservatives.11 The neoconservatives shared some of the assumptions of the liberals, but had a much greater faith in the efficacy of military force to bring about their desired aims. The neoconservatives’ intellectual contribution to the Bush Doctrine lay primarily in three areas: an unwavering skepticism toward IOs and multilateral agreements of any form (particularly in the area of arms control); an emphasis on the preservation of US preponderance (especially in military capabilities); and an overestimation of the efficacy of military force and ability of less developed states to make quick transitions from authoritarian rule and planned economies to liberal democracy and capitalism. Their views in these areas coalesced into a fixation on reordering the Middle East to suit perceived US interests. They were convinced that US and coalition forces ought to have seized the chance to march on Baghdad and topple Hussein’s regime in the closing stages of the Gulf War. They faulted the elder Bush, along with Secretary of State James A. Baker, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, and especially General Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joints of Chiefs of Staff, for halting the war too soon.12 The need to remedy this perceived failure resonated strongly within neoconservative circles. Ousting Saddam Hussein became an obsession among prominent neoconservatives in the 1990s and they offered an ever shifting set of rationales for that position, including noncompliance with the Gulf War ceasefire terms and inspection regime of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM); the Iraqi dictator’s unusual risk acceptance and imperviousness to deterrent threats; the difficulty of sustaining UNSC sanctions; the foiled 1993 assassination plot against former president Bush; suspected chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons development; and human rights abuses, especially against the Kurds and the Shiite Arabs (Burgos 2008). The neoconservatives agitated for an abandonment of the existing strategy of containing Iraq, in favor of a strategy of effecting regime change by funding and supporting anti-Baathist exile groups like the Iraqi National Congress and, later, by using US military forces to topple Saddam’s regime (Kristol and Kagan 1998a; Perle 2001, 2003; Wolfowitz 1998). The neoconservatives in the administration were aided and abetted by pundits like William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Charles Krauthammer; former defense and intelligence officials such as Richard Perle, Kenneth Adelman, James Woolsey, and Kenneth Pollack; publications such as The Weekly Standard and Commentary; and think tanks like PNAC and AEI (Buchanan

Neoclassical Realism

57

2004, 2003; Lind 2003a, 2003b; Pfaff 2003; Mearsheimer and Walt 2009; 2007: chap. 8). These well-connected individuals and groups poured an enormous amount of time and effort during the 1990s into crafting a new vision for US foreign policy, particularly with respect to the Middle East and Iraq. Two watersheds in this decade-long campaign were the publication of a PNAC “open letter” to President Clinton on 28 January 1998 and the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act (ILA) by the Republican-controlled Congress on 29 September 1998. The open letter, which was drafted by Robert Kagan and William Kristol and whose signatories included many of the future members of the George W. Bush administration’s national security team, asserted that The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. . . . Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons production. . . . The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. (Kristol and Kagan 1998b)

The policy recommendations in the letter are clear. Significantly, in section 3 of the ILA, Congress deemed that “it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power” (US Congress 1998). These two events demonstrate the extent to which the regime change had firmly entered US foreign policy thinking on Iraq. At this point, one might raise an objection. Why hadn’t various neoconservatives, such as Wolfowitz, Perle, Adelman, Zalmay Khalizad, and Abrams, pursued these policies earlier, given that they had occupied important mid-level Defense and State Department posts in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations? The answer is that they were not in a position to effect a fundamental reorientation of grand strategy in the 1980s because of the strength of international systemic pressures and because more senior officials in both Republican administrations were basically “realists.”13 During the George W. Bush administration, the absence of a nearterm great power adversary or another existential threat to US security created a grand strategic vacuum. Even then, however, conservative nationalists like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld did not embrace the neoconservatives’ regional transformation agenda for the Middle East (or the “whack Iraq” fixation) until after the 9/11 attacks (Ricks 2006: 26). The

58

Realist Approaches

role of policy entrepreneurs during the post–Cold War grand strategy debates of the 1990s demonstrates the importance of internal policy discussions in reshaping national priorities. It is a mistake to assume that such priorities merely reflect structural conditions at the international level. By explicitly accounting for both the structural and domestic elements of post– Cold War strategic thinking, neoclassical realism provides a fuller accounting of US foreign policy realignment. The reader should not lose sight of the fact that this is one of the key advantages of a neoclassical realist analysis and a significant feature differentiating this body of thinking from conventional structural realism.

■ Post-9/11 Domestic Mobilization Hurdles and State Power To this point we have seen how international structural variables, particularly the lack of a peer competitor to check US ambitions, influenced the extent to which epistemic communities could effectively engage the foreign policy discussion in Washington. One final piece to the puzzle involves looking at why unipolarity and the prominence of the neoconservative epistemic community could result in the specific policy outcome that was the 2003 Iraq War. Neoclassical realism predicts that domestic political constraints are important when external threats are low or a state possesses a significant relative power advantage vis-à-vis its competitors. Both of these applied to the United States as the Bush administration took office. This raises two key questions addressed in this section. First, how did the administration, whose highest ranks were not populated by neoconservatives, come to nevertheless accept the neoconservative strategic vision? Second, how did the administration succeed in marshaling the necessary resources to launch the Iraq War? To answer these questions, we need to consider hurdles to the mobilization of domestic resources. The foreign policy executive does not necessarily command the assets to carry out its objectives. Upon establishing a set of priorities, the executive must marshal state capacity including materials and personnel in the translation of policy to outcomes. This task is complicated in modern bureaucratic and especially democratic nations where institutional rigidities and internal power struggles can frustrate efforts to divert resources to new endeavors. In the case of the 2003 Iraq War, the Bush administration needed to overcome three principal hurdles before it could proceed: (1) differing strategic viewpoints among key administration officials, (2) institutional resistance on the part of Congress and the military, and (3) reluctance among the general public to engage in a conflict of unknown duration and cost. Though clearly not impossible to overcome, these barriers nevertheless provided a constraint on the range of actionable foreign policy responses open to the administration.

Neoclassical Realism

59

Ordinarily the strength of domestic mobilization hurdles will depend on a state’s particular institutional configuration and specifically on both unity within the executive and executive strength vis-à-vis other institutions. However, neoclassical realism recognizes that exogenous shocks to the policy environment can drastically alter the contingent effects of mobilization hurdles. On 11 September 2001, the United States experienced a profound and dramatic shock. The terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda altered the playing field in much the same way that the Japanese Imperial Navy’s surprise attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, had sixty years earlier. The analogy certainly resonated with the president, who wrote to himself that evening, “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today” (Bush, cited in Woodward 2004: 24). While the catalytic event presaging US entry into World War II provided the most accessible historical reference point, in some ways it failed to capture the true gravity of the situation and its power to reshape US consciousness. Arguably, al-Qaeda’s use of commercial airliners as guided missiles, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 3,000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania, constituted a larger exogenous shock than Pearl Harbor. After all, the 9/11 attacks occurred in two major cities in the continental United States, targeted symbols of US power and influence (the World Trade Center and the Pentagon), and were seen in real time by millions of people thanks to television. Images of lower Manhattan in ruins continually reinforced the idea that the country had come under direct assault. The result was a shift in the strategic calculus of US foreign policy decisionmaking. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, there was still a grand strategic vacuum in US foreign policy thinking. The neoconservatives within the Bush administration, as well as their allies in the think tank community, the media, and among the liberal internationalists in academe, were able to fill that vacuum by offering the president a coherent “theory” for what happened on 9/11. They provided a picture of the nature and the magnitude of the threat the country faced as well as the appropriate means by which the United States could redress that threat. In effect, they had a grand strategy, or at the very least the tentative outlines of one, on the shelf. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush became more receptive to advisers within and outside his administration who appeared to offer an overarching framework for the new threat environment (Bruni 2001; Daalder and Lindsay 2003: 81– 87). Bush noted that the event “changed my thinking” on the relative importance of national security as a policy priority, and, tellingly, altered the president’s view toward Saddam Hussein: “Keeping Saddam in a box looked less and less feasible” (Bush, quoted in Woodward 2004: 27). The attacks also triggered a willingness on the part of Cheney and Rumsfeld, the two most influential figures in Bush’s war cabinet, to sign

60

Realist Approaches

onto the neoconservative/liberal hawk definition of the threat and proposed remedies (Daalder and Lindsay 2003: 132–139). The shift in thinking among key players in the administration significantly lowered internal resistance to the idea of attacking Iraq. Even so, the neoconservatives, now joined by conservative nationalists such as Cheney and Rumsfeld, were unable to move the Iraq issue to the top of the president’s agenda until December 2001 and the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (Frum 2005: 224–245). Led by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, the administration was able to exude a powerful sense of unity as it attempted to convince other players within the nation’s politico-military and intelligence apparatus and the general public of the need to deal with Saddam Hussein. A second mobilization hurdle facing the administration involved overcoming institutional resistance from other areas of government. Following the defection of Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont from the Republican Party in the summer of 2001, control of Congress was split. The bitterness of the 2000 election still resonated among many Democrats, who were consequently unwilling to go along with administration priorities. Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration began seeking broad legal authority to wage the new war on terrorism. Here again the momentousness of 9/11 played a pivotal role in allowing the executive to enhance its ability and clout. In short order, the administration received or declared itself to possess far-reaching operational powers in the now altered international security environment. On 14 September, Congress approved a joint resolution to authorize the president to use military force, which the president signed four days later (US Congress 2001). The document contains no mention of Afghanistan but rather empowers the president, consistent with the War Powers Act, to pursue those who “he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks” (emphasis added). Bush had already stated his intention to not distinguish between terrorist organizations and the states that harbor them. Indeed, the largely nonexistent links between Iraq and al-Qaeda would become a subtly used but nonetheless effective justification for the invasion. With the congressional resolution in hand, the Justice Department went even further, issuing a legal memo prepared by John Yoo on 25 September that asserted the president possessed the sole responsibility in decisions to use force, “especially in response to grave national emergencies created by sudden, unforeseen attacks on the people and territory of the United States” (2001). In laying out blanket prerogatives for the executive, the memo effectively provided the administration with carte blanche in its efforts to conduct military operations abroad against enemies of the United States. Not only had the administration received congressional support, it flatly asserted that such support was at best superfluous to the executive’s ability to take the country into war.

Neoclassical Realism

61

The 14 September joint congressional resolution, authorizing the president to use armed force against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States, had the effect of significantly lowering the institutional hurdles to mobilization. In any event, congressional opposition was muted at best. Bush’s popularity soared in the weeks after 9/11, remaining above 80 percent through February 2002 according to Gallup (2002). Moreover, the campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan achieved remarkable success. Kabul fell to US and coalition forces on 13 November 2001, and by 6 December the Taliban had fled their stronghold in Kandahar (S. Jones 2010: 92–94). The war in Afghanistan, which had broad domestic and international support, appeared headed to swift completion by year’s end. With an apparent victory secured, hawks in the cabinet could now openly push for war in Iraq. Public support for an executive’s foreign policy objectives is not a prerequisite for action. However, foreign affairs do matter to voters, and politicians often attempt to manipulate public opinion to their favor (Aldrich, Sullivan, and Borgida 1989). Increased media coverage raises the salience of foreign policy issues and causes voters to pay more attention to policy alternatives (Powlick and Katz 1998). In conjunction with Congress, the press can provide a check against the unilateral exercise of executive warmaking powers (Lewis and Rose 2002). Public opinion thus constitutes an important hurdle to the mobilization of domestic resources. In the months leading up to the Iraq invasion, the Bush administration focused extensively on public opinion. Douglas Foyle (2004: 275) argues that Americans by and large believed al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11, which forced Bush to concentrate the nation’s military response first on Afghanistan. Before it could seek to oust Saddam Hussein, the administration needed to convince the country of the necessity of doing so. This task was made somewhat easier as opinion noticeably shifted in the wake of 9/11 toward removing the Iraqi dictator before he could conspire to attack US interests (Foyle 2004: 273). Public opinion continued to pose a challenge; however, the attacks lowered the relative strength of this mobilization hurdle in ways conducive to the administration’s goals. Planning for the Iraq invasion accelerated markedly in the early months of 2002. As the Pentagon refined battlefield scenarios, the struggle to shape popular perception of the war began in earnest. The carefully crafted media campaign included repeated references to Saddam Hussein’s history of deception and his past efforts to acquire WMD. The administration effectively exploited a largely nonexistent Iraq/al-Qaeda nexus so as to frame the invasion as a logical extension of the global war on terrorism, which Americans supported in great numbers (Gershkoff and Kushner 2005: 525–526). Armed with a legal rationale for unilateral action against Iraq with or without the support of Congress, the administration’s effort to secure public

62

Realist Approaches

backing for the war had a great deal to do with domestic politics and Bush’s prospects in the 2004 reelection campaign, but he appeared willing to risk this to achieve the objective of finally ousting Hussein (Foyle 2004: 280). As the president made his case to the public, he succeeded in further splintering opposition in Congress by placing Democrats in the difficult position of needing to argue against war in the face of looming midterm elections. Many were locked in tight reelection campaigns and did not want to risk appearing out of step with the new security-oriented focus of US foreign policy. The effective result was that Democrats essentially “clammed up” (Ricks 2006: 89). Little debate between elites within the government meant that media coverage was largely one-sided, which helps to explain the pervasiveness of false beliefs among the public across the broad range of administration talking points including Iraq/al-Qaeda, WMD, and international support for the war (Dorman 2006: 15; Gershkoff and Kushner 2005: 528). The culminating event in the public opinion campaign came in the form of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the UNSC on 5 February 2003. Powell gave perhaps the most detailed presentation of the administration’s case for war to date. While the speech did not drastically alter support for the war, it did markedly increase the sense that there was at least a case for invasion (Foyle 2004: 287–288). In overcoming domestic mobilization hurdles, the Bush administration succeeded in unifying its core membership around a defined goal, overcame institutional opposition from Congress, and convinced a skeptical public of the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Operation Iraqi Freedom would commence shortly thereafter in late March 2003.

■ Conclusion Neoclassical realism posits that ultimately the anarchic nature of the international system and the relative distribution of material capabilities condition the likely external behavior of all states. In contrast to structural realism, however, systemic pressures filter through unit-level variables, such as elite perceptions of the international environment, state power in the form of mobilization and extraction capabilities, and domestic hurdles to such mobilization, to determine the actual foreign and security policies a state will pursue. Neoclassical realism retains the core logic of a long historical tradition of scholarship dating back to Thucydides. It draws upon the rigor and theoretical clarity of the structural realism but without sacrificing practical insights about foreign policy and the complexity of statecraft found in twentiethcentury classical realism, as exemplified by the writings of Hans Morgenthau, George Kennan, Henry Kissinger, and others (Rose 1998; Taliaferro, Lobell, and Ripsman 2009b). By explicitly looking at both systemic and

Neoclassical Realism

63

domestic constraints, neoclassical realism provides richer and more contextualized explanations of international relations. Adoption of a neoclassical realist framework begins with an examination of structural conditions such as balance of power configurations and the relative distribution of material capabilities. At the level of the international system, the United States predominates. Regional analyses may more closely resemble bipolar arrangements such as, for example, East Asia with China and India.14 Capabilities refer to power resources in the form of economic strength (e.g., gross national income), military strength (e.g., size and sophistication of a state’s armed forces), and potential power (e.g., an ability to exploit changes in relative power to one’s advantage). For neoclassical realism, these systemic forces are mediated through a national security or foreign policy executive comprised of the head of state and/or head of government and the senior civilian and military officials charged with formulating and implementing grand strategy. Relevant to any analysis would be the number and types of domestic constraints placed on the foreign policy executive. Regime type, constitutional arrangements, leader personalities, and the bureaucratic environment all exert pressure and constrain the range of implementable policy to a degree not sufficiently accounted for by a purely structural theory of international behavior. The United States emerged from the Cold War as not only the “lone superpower” but also as the only great power in the history of the modern interstate system to be simultaneously preponderant in potential, economic, and military capabilities. Overwhelming US supremacy dissuaded any of the second-tier great powers from mounting a serious challenge. However, neoclassical realism predicts, and history indeed supports the idea, that there were important domestic constraints on US policymakers. The unipolar structure of the international system and the permissive international environment set the parameters for US grand strategic adjustment in the 1990s and 2000s. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a direct outgrowth of debates about the future of US grand strategy in the 1990s and the subsequent placement of various participants in those debates—namely, the neoconservatives and the conservative nationalists—in senior policy positions in the George W. Bush administration in January 2001. These groups presented a coherent worldview amenable to the new international security environment created in the wake of 9/11. Following the attacks, key figures in the administration, notably Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the president himself, signed onto the neoconservative threat definition and proposed remedies. This unity of decisionmaking authority allowed the administration to unilaterally claim for itself, and receive from a Congress loath to challenge a wartime executive, wide operational flexibility in the new global war on terrorism. Finally, the general absence of robust debate in the major domestic media outlets helped

64

Realist Approaches

influence public opinion. Many came to either support the war or tacitly accept that there was reason to believe Saddam Hussein posed a real threat to US security interests both directly at home and in the greater Middle East. With US forces now largely withdrawn from the battlefield, the future of Iraq remains uncertain at best. The war proved far costlier than initial projections and it took far longer for the United States to achieve decidedly modest results. Given that one outcome has been to bring a Shiite-dominated government to power in Baghdad, the war seems likely to strengthen Iranian influence in the region. US interests over the near term will depend in large measure on how effective Iran is at solidifying ties to the new Iraqi regime. From a purely structural analysis, it is unclear how the current situation benefits the United States any more than the period of containment under Saddam Hussein; thus, it is difficult to find convincing explanation for the war at the structural level. However, when foreign policy is viewed through the lens of domestic politics, the motivating factors in the invasion decision become clear. The relative blunder of the Iraq War has proved taxing to US capabilities and has reduced the ability of future administrations to deploy large-scale military power. One consequence is likely to be a reemergence of the type of 1990s-style interventions popular during the Clinton administration. President Obama’s vast expansion of the use of pilotless drone aircraft in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen fits this pattern as does US intervention from afar in Libya. Absent a true peer competitor, US foreign policy will continue to be largely the result of internal struggles among competing domestic lobbies. The continued rise of China may alter the situation over the medium term; however, it is by no means clear that China will be able to translate its substantial economic clout into the type of global power projection capability enjoyed by the United States (see, e.g., Beckley 2011/12). Neoclassical realism provides a robust framework for analyzing the impact of domestic constraints on foreign policy. This line of thinking helps extend the insights of realist IR theory in ways that matter for understanding US foreign policy decisionmaking. Such analysis should continue to provide scholars with valuable information and, for this reason, understanding neoclassical realism will remain important if one seeks to truly make sense of IR theory.

■ Notes 1. We stress at the outset that neoclassical realism is not a single theory. Rather, it is a framework from which several independent (though broadly consistent) positions emerge. This analysis invokes a specific variant of neoclassical realism to demonstrate how the larger body of work contributes to the study of IR. Interested readers can find details on alternative variants of neoclassical realism in Ripsman, Taliaferro, and Lobell (2009). 2. In a broad sense, most neoclassical realist theories expect rational policy responses in the face of a changing external environment. For a neoclassical realist

Neoclassical Realism

65

theory that purports to explain underbalancing and other dysfunctional responses to external threats, see Schweller (2006). 3. For a more detailed discussion of epistemic communities, see the seminal article by P. Haas (1992). 4. Data on international petroleum production are available from the US Energy Information Administration (2011b). 5. The discussion here focuses only on great powers. The reader is encouraged to keep in mind that the strength and conditionality of systemic constraints likely operate differently on non–great powers. For more detail on polarity, see Chapter 2.2 by Karen Ruth Adams on structural realism in this volume. 6. On the distinction between military, economic, and potential power see D. Copeland (2000b: 15–20). 7. This summation draws upon Lieber (2005: 186–189). 8. For an attempt to measure the influence of various groups on foreign policy officials’ stated preferences, see Jacobs and Page (2005). 9. For more information on democratic peace theory, the reader is encouraged to consult the classic articles by Doyle (1983a, 1983b). For an insightful critique, see Gibler (2012). 10. This paragraph draws upon Taliaferro’s contribution in Maddox (2007). 11. For a similar argument, see B. Miller (2010). Miller, however, draws a distinction between what he terms the “defensive liberalism” embodied in the Clinton administration’s grand strategy and the “offensive realism” espoused by the neoconservatives and embodied in the George W. Bush administration’s post-9/11 grand strategy. 12. As defense secretary in 1991, Cheney supported the decision to halt ground operations in the Gulf War and not send US forces to Baghdad. He expressed no reservations about this during his tenure as chief executive of Halliburton (1993– 2000) or as then–Texas governor George W. Bush’s running mate in the 2000 election. See Commission on Presidential Debates (2000). 13. We recognize the inherent difficulties in trying to fit the complex political beliefs of politicians into the neat categories of IR theory. However, many (although certainly not all) of the public statements and foreign policy initiatives of Ronald Reagan, the elder Bush, George P. Schultz, Caspar Weinberger, James A. Baker, and Brent Scowcroft were broadly consistent with realist principles of statecraft. 14. Of course any analysis would need to account for the role of the United States as a possible “offshore balancer.” See, for example, Mearsheimer (2001: 40–42).

3 Liberal Approaches 3.1 Liberalism Jennifer Sterling-Folker If realism can be characterized as the dominant theory in the discipline, liberalism must certainly be identified as its primary theoretical competitor. To some extent the research programs of realists and liberals have converged over the years, particularly in their shared focus on the nation-state as the central actor in contemporary world politics. This focus was antithetical to earlier liberal IR literature, which was usually called “pluralism” due to its claims that a variety of nonstate, transnational actors and forces were gradually breaking down nation-state boundaries and transforming world politics in the process.1 This claim was moderated over time, so that today many liberal scholars work with a state-centric perspective instead. Yet the beliefs that inform contemporary liberal IR theory still remain exactly opposite those of realism.2 There are many variants of liberal IR theory, but “the first thesis” of all liberal theories is, according to Mark Zacher and Richard Matthew, “that international relations are gradually becoming transformed such that they promote greater human freedom by establishing conditions of peace, prosperity, and justice” (1995: 109). Thus, what all liberal variants share is a faith “in at least the possibility of cumulative progress” in human affairs (Keohane 1990: 174). This faith sharply distinguishes liberal scholars not only from realist scholars but from many other theoretical perspectives in the discipline. It is derived directly from the writings of such European Enlightenment philosophers as John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant, and it reflects “a belief in the human capacity to reason, and with that reason, the possibility of uncovering untainted universal truth” (Enloe 1996: 187). Liberal IR scholars have relatively greater faith in the ability of human beings to obtain progressively better collective outcomes as a result, which are typically “measured by the elimination of global conflict and the adoption of principles of legitimacy that have evolved in domestic political orders” (Burchill 2009: 58). Although prior liberal IR theorizing has often been 67

68

Liberal Approaches

disparagingly characterized as mere “idealism” by its critics, such a label is both unfair and misleading. Liberal IR theorizing consists of a variety of distinct strands, all of which are sophisticated analytical statements about both the possibilities and the difficulties of achieving beneficial collective outcomes. It would be more accurate to describe liberalism as the exploration of what prevents progress from being achieved, with the underlying assumption being that progress could be realized if we could uncover the barriers to collective action and promote their resolutions. There are several strands of contemporary liberal IR theory that focus on different types of collective actions, barriers, and possibilities. One strand has its philosophical precursor in the work of Kant and is sometimes called republican liberalism or democratic peace research. It focuses on how the increasing number of democracies in the world might promote greater international peace and cooperation, because democracies appear to be pacifistic in their foreign relations with one another. Other strands focus on how a condition of interdependence in certain issue areas, such as capitalist markets, military technology, or the natural environment, could generate common interests that are only obtainable with international cooperation. Still other strands focus on the importance of education or knowledge to the shaping of values, interests, and priorities, or on the impact of IOs and transnational interaction as facilitators for international cooperation. Despite these differences in focus, all of these liberal variants are analytically compatible and are often combined in explanation (for example, Oneal and Russett 2001). This is because they share a set of common assumptions about contemporary world politics. The first assumption that liberal scholars share is that the possibilities of cooperation have increased over time due to the processes of industrialization and modernization. Many liberal IR scholars concur that realism is a relatively accurate way to describe world politics prior to the nineteenth century, and it may still be an appropriate way to examine some arenas of world politics (Goldgeier and McFaul 1992). They argue, however, that realism ignores or misunderstands the significant changes that have occurred in the daily conduct of global affairs. At the push of a button, human beings now have the ability to communicate, drop bombs, and move vast sums of money regardless of distance. While other theoretical perspectives interpret such developments as simply new and more efficient ways to compete for power or oppress people, liberal IR scholars argue that these changes can provide greater opportunities for cooperation in world politics. How this is possible is best reflected in the strand of liberalism that highlights interdependence, since this has spawned some of the more influential liberal research programs in the discipline. Liberal interdependence scholars posit that processes of modernization have led to a condition of interdependence in particular issue areas of world

Liberalism

69

politics, where nation-state behavior has reciprocal, unintended, and often negative effects. This condition sets the stage for common interests among nation-states. Capitalist economics and environmental degradation are two exemplary issue areas. The pace and scope of industrialization now threaten to deplete Earth’s ozone layer. This is a problem that all nation-states are responsible for producing and that is creating reciprocal, negative effects on each of them. The problem does not recognize national boundaries or the relative power among nation-states, nor is it amenable to violent resolution or unilateral action. All nation-states have a common interest in finding a solution to the problem as a result, and it can only be resolved through cooperative efforts. Thus there is greater potential for cooperation in this particular issue area. Similarly, those nation-states whose capitalist markets are most advanced are also the most economically entwined. This means they can only maintain their relatively higher levels of national income through free trade and continued economic openness with one another. These nation-states have a common interest in maintaining open markets, eschewing unilateral action, and cooperating with one another to this end. Hence global economics is an issue area in which there is a potential for cooperation and so it is a primary focus of liberal IR scholarship. But any issue area that is characterized by higher levels of interdependence will be of interest to liberal IR scholars, given the relatively greater possibility of cooperation in those issue areas. This does not mean that liberals believe cooperation will automatically occur, however, because the second assumption that all liberal variants share is that significant barriers exist to the realization of cooperation. Robert Keohane notes, for example, that Romeo and Juliet clearly shared common interests, yet their story demonstrates that “actors may fail to cooperate even when their interests are entirely identical” (1984: 65). Even when common interests exist—in cleaning up the environment, preventing nuclear disasters, resolving a global financial crisis, or stopping a civil war—there are still significant barriers to achieving collective action. Actors may lack information about one another’s true preferences, they may fear that others will cheat by taking advantage of their cooperation, they may wish to prevent others from free-riding off their cooperative efforts, or they may wish to avoid the transaction costs that a cooperative deal might entail. All of these factors can prevent cooperation from being achieved, even if all actors involved recognize that they have a common problem and that cooperation would be the best solution. A third assumption that liberal IR variants share is the belief that information and communication can play an essential role in overcoming barriers to collective action. This is because improved knowledge and communications allow nation-state decisionmakers and other actors to realize that

70

Liberal Approaches

they have common interests that might not have existed in prior historical periods. Ongoing interaction and information sharing can also reveal true preferences, build trust in one another’s intentions, and uncover concerns about cheating, free-riding, or transaction costs, which can then be addressed directly by negotiators and decisionmakers (Axelrod 1981; Oye 1986). Anything that promotes the ongoing exchange of information and communication among nation-state decisionmakers is of interest to liberal scholars as a result. Technological advances and relative power (in the form of a hegemonic state willing to facilitate economic interaction) are often cited as key underlying factors for increased interaction among nation-state decisionmakers and hence cooperation.3 Many liberal scholars also argue that international institutions promote the ongoing interaction between nation-states that is necessary for cooperative outcomes to be achieved. These may be formal institutions, such as the UN, the European Union (EU), and NATO, or they may be informal, consisting of “sets of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decisionmaking procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations” (Krasner 1983a: 2). The latter are called “regimes” in the liberal literature, and the term is used to refer to all the cooperative elements in a given issue area. There is, for example, a regime of capitalist free trade that consists not simply of formal IOs, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), but also of myriad international laws, practices, norms, and rules of behavior, all of which are informed by such principles as reciprocity and most-favored-nation clauses. Thus “regimes” is the umbrella term for all of the elements that assist cooperation in an issue area characterized by high levels of interdependence. Although IOs or international regimes are not central to every variant of liberal IR theory, the integral role that institutions play in collective efforts is the fourth assumption shared by liberal IR scholars. As Keohane puts it, liberalism “seeks to understand how aggregations of individuals make collective decisions and how organizations composed of individuals interact” (1990: 174; see also 1989). In exploring this topic, there is a shared assumption among liberal IR scholars that the structure or design of collective institutions and organizations plays a large role in determining the extent to which cooperation can be achieved. The strand of liberal theorizing that focuses on the democratic peace, for example, understands the state “to be, at root, an institution designed to solve the problems of collective action rather than an institution which was central to the constitution of the collectivity itself, and to individual personality” (C. Brown 2001: 209). Democratic states may then be regarded as a particular type of institutional governing arrangement that, when compared to other types of arrangements, can more effectively resolve collective action problems on an international scale. How and why this particular type of institutional arrangement produces such an outcome has been the central focus of the democratic peace literature.

Liberalism

71

One of the best-known variants of liberal IR theory in the discipline is neoliberal institutionalism (NLI), sometimes called rational choice institutionalism, and the first theoretical application in this chapter is an example of it. NLI relies on the concepts of interdependence and regimes to explore how existing international institutions assist nation-states in obtaining collective ends. According to Robert Jervis (1999: 48), because NLI scholars “believe that there are many mutually beneficial arrangements that states forgo because of the fear that others will cheat or take advantage of them, they see important gains to be made through the more artful arrangement of policies.” NLI scholars are interested in exploring how such institutional arrangements assist states in obtaining more efficacious outcomes. Thus in Chapter 3.2, Sean Kay argues that the UN was an effective instrument for containing Iraq in the 1990s. After 9/11, however, US disdain for the UN led to significant legitimacy problems for the US invasion of Iraq and ultimately decreased the United States’ own national security. NLI has led to a variety of related research programs that focus on particular aspects of its general propositions, including the study of the rational design of institutions and principal-agent theory, which examines why nation-states delegate authority to IOs in the first place. The second theoretical application in this chapter works within the general liberal framework, but represents an example of public goods analysis instead. Public goods produce a particular type of collective action problem, because actors who do not contribute to their provision cannot be excluded from enjoying them. The traditional example of a public good is the state’s provision of a public park, which can be enjoyed even by those who do not pay their taxes. While public goods analysis is drawn from the study of economics, in IR it has often been applied to collective national security and alliances such as NATO, in which free-riding is argued to be a central problem of the cooperative effort (Olson 1965; Sandler 1977; Sandler and Forbes 1980). But alliances can also be difficult to develop when the public good being obtained is not obvious to potential members. This is the subject of Chapter 3.3, in which Michael Butler and Mark Boyer examine the difficulties the United States encountered in constructing a coalition for the invasion of Iraq. They argue that, despite the posited public goods associated with Iraqi regime change, many potential alliance members believed the United States was pursuing narrow self-interests, or private goods, instead. Both selections are concerned with exploring impediments to collective action, and yet both are also driven by the underlying rationale that, in revealing such barriers, it might also be possible to overcome them in similar, future situations. As a result, both selections reflect the liberal belief “that mutualities of interests and noncoercive bargaining will become more prominent features of international life” (Zacher and Matthew 1995: 110). That said, few liberal scholars are comfortable with Francis Fukuyama’s bold claim that, with the end of the Cold War, we have reached “the end of

72

Liberal Approaches

history” because liberalism’s triumph reflects “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government” (1989: 4). Zacher and Matthew point out that such teleological thinking may actually violate classical liberal theory, which “does not project the emergence of a particular historical end state in which humankind will realize perfect freedom” but argues instead that progress will be varied and can only be achieved through the antagonism of ideas (1995: 109; see also Richardson 2001a). While a faith that there can be progress in human affairs informs all liberal scholarship, ultimately liberalism in IR is not a philosophical statement about human perfectibility, but an analytical project concerned with exploring the possibilities of international peace and cooperation.

■ Further Reading One of the most influential scholars in early liberal IR theorizing was David Mitrany, who argued for a functional approach to global problems in A Working Peace System (1943). Functionalism asserted that most global problems were largely technical, nonpolitical, and could be dealt with more effectively by functional experts rather than politicians. The approach later evolved into neofunctionalism, which was primarily associated with the study of integration in Europe and best reflected in the work of Ernst Haas (1964, 1958). For a tribute to Haas’s impact on the discipline, see Adler and Crawford 1991. Haas directly influenced the work of Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, two prominent liberal scholars whose seminal texts have served as the basis for NLI and a number of other liberal IR research agendas. These include transnational relations theory (Keohane and Nye 1971), complex interdependence and regimes as articulated in Power and Interdependence (Keohane and Nye 1977) and After Hegemony (Keohane 1984), and the concept of soft power (Nye 2004a). For a tribute to Keohane’s impact on the discipline, see Milner and Moravcsik 2009. Overviews of liberalism and its various strands include Doyle 1986; Fukuyama 1989; Held 1996; Keohane 1990; Moravcsik 2008; and Zacher and Matthew 1995. A seminal work examining the classical origins of liberalism, as well as of realism and socialism, is Doyle 1997. The contemporary literature on the democratic peace is vast, but representative work includes Chan 1997; Lipson 2005; Maoz and Russett 1993; Oneal and Russett 2001; Rummel 1979; and Russett 1993. While the study of interdependence in capitalist free trade has its philosophical precursors in the work of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, it has been a subject of inquiry among liberal scholars since the late nineteenth century (Delaisi 1925; de Wilde 1991). More recent work in this tradition

Liberalism

73

(besides the work of Keohane and Nye) includes Gleditsch 2008; Mansfield and Pollins 2003; Milner and Moravcsik 2009; Rosecrance 1986; and Rosenau 1980, 1976. Recent texts on transnational relations are McKeown 2009; Risse 2002; and Risse-Kappen 1995. General overviews of regime theory are provided in Keohane and Martin 1995; Keohane 1998a; Krasner 1983a; Hasenclever, Mayer, and Rittberger 1997; and Rittberger 1993. A variety of issue areas have been explored from a regime’s perspective, and a sampling includes Young 1989 (environment); Zacher with Sutton 1996 (communications); Donnelly 1986 (human rights); and Haftendorn, Keohane, and Wallander 1999 (security). Rational design theory, which works from an NLI foundation, is explored in the edited volume by Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal 2003 (and first appeared as a 2001 Special Issue of International Organization). Additional examples include Martin and Simmons 1998; Mitchell 2009; Wallander 2000; and Wallander and Keohane 1999. Principal-agent theory builds on an NLI foundation as well, and some representative examples include Hawkins, Lake, Nielson, and Tierney 2006; Nielson and Tierney 2003; and Pollack 1997. Examples of liberal IR works that explore the role of education, knowledge, and ideas in IR cooperation are Adler and Crawford 1991; Goldstein and Keohane 1993; E. Haas 1990; P. Haas 1997; Mueller 1989; and Ray 1989. The best example of liberal work on communication flows and cultural patterns remains Deutsch et al. 1957. For public goods analysis, seminal works in IR include Boyer 1993; Cornes and Sandler 1984; Olson 1965; and Sandler 1997, 1992, 1977.

■ Notes 1. Liberalism and pluralism are not exactly the same thing, although the relationship between them is close. Classical liberalism is a political philosophy, best reflected in the work of Locke and Rousseau, that considers the individual to be the most important unit of analysis and argues that the state should play a minimal role in politics and economics. Pluralism, on the other hand, was a label drawn from the study of political science in general, and Richard Little notes that “it applies to a school of thought that defines politics in terms of the interaction among competing interest groups and largely deprives the state of any independent status” (1996: 68). Most IR authors who were grouped under the pluralist label did not actually use the term to describe themselves, but they did share a number of assumptions, including that nonstate actors were important entities in world politics; that the nation-state was not a unitary, rational actor; and that the agenda of international politics was more extensive than realists allowed (Viotti and Kauppi 1999: 199–200). These assumptions were certainly compatible with the tenets of liberalism, but they were not directly derived from it and developed instead within the confines of the IR discipline as a reaction to realist theorizing. The differences between pluralism and liberalism are relatively minimal, however, and today liberalism is the preferred umbrella term for IR scholars who work within this tradition.

74

Liberal Approaches

2. For the analytical differences between realism and liberalism, see Doyle 1997; Jervis 1999; and Kegley 1995. 3. Hegemonic stability theory posits that the leadership of a very powerful nation-state is necessary for cooperation to be obtained in some issue areas (particularly in the free exchange required of interaction among capitalist economics). By using its power to both coerce and encourage cooperative ventures in the issue area, the hegemon lays the foundation for ongoing interaction, stability, and order. Liberal examples of this theory include Keohane 1984 and Ikenberry 2011, although variants can also be found in realism and world system theory. For the role of technology, see Keohane and Nye 1998.

3.2 Neoliberalism: Managing Collective Problems Sean Kay Neoliberal theory explains the conditions under which anarchy in the international system prompts states to seek multilateral cooperation. The approach posits that formal international institutions, like the UN, can make international cooperation easier to attain than in their absence. International institutions reflect the principles, rules, norms, and decisionmaking procedures around which states seeking to maximize their interests converge (Keohane 1989; Krasner 1983b). Neoliberal theory looks at state behavior in formal international institutions to understand how states manage collective problems presented by international anarchy, uncertainty, and complex interdependence. International institutions help states define acceptable behavior and punish defectors from community standards. Institutions can provide legitimacy for states that enforce norms of behavior in the international system. Furthermore, institutions help to inform cost-benefit decisionmaking among states by facilitating the flow of information. If working well, institutions can help to lower the costs of collective action and thus increase security (Abbott and Snidal 1998). Traditionally, NLI theory focused on issues such as economic and environmental cooperation whereas security studies were dominated by realist and neorealist schools of IR. Security, after all, places high value on the risks of cooperation failure because when the result is threat or outbreak of war, a state’s very survival might be at stake. This view was symbolized in the decisionmaking in Washington, D.C., regarding the invasion of Iraq when Vice President Dick Cheney (2002) said, a person would be right to question any suggestion that we should just get inspectors back into Iraq, and then our worries will be over. Saddam has perfected the game of shoot and retreat, and is very skilled in the art of denial and deception. A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with UN resolutions.

In realist terms, institutions like the UN and weapons inspectors offer a “false promise” of security (Mearsheimer 1995). This outcome is seen as especially true in security matters because, when survival is at stake, one can never be one hundred percent certain of the good intentions of others. Scholars of international security have, nevertheless, shown the value of institutions in gaining good information for effective decisionmaking and for increasing efficiency of outcomes in cooperation. As Robert Keohane, Joseph Nye, and Stanley Hoffmann have shown, security institutions can 75

76

Liberal Approaches

aid the exercise of influence, constrain bargaining strategies, balance or replace other institutions, signal governments’ intentions by providing others with information and making policies more predictable, specify obligations, and impact the interests and preferences of states (Keohane and Nye 1994). Charles Kupchan shows that institutions are relevant to security because they increase the level of information available to all parties by enhancing transparency, raising the costs of defection and defining what constitutes defection, increasing the likelihood of issue linkage, and advancing interstate socialization by promoting the concept of an international community (1994: 50–51). Also, institutions are seen as important mechanisms of lowering the costs for establishing international cooperation and creating more efficient outcomes (Keohane 1984; Wallander 2000: 709). It is important to note what NLI does not posit. Neoliberal scholars do not maintain that institutions matter in all cases. For example, the UN had a strong track record in disarming Iraq during much of the 1990s. However, when the inspectors were pulled out in 1998, Iraq paid little price for deviating from its obligations to the international community. In 2003, UN rules and procedures were insufficient for states that opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq. The theory, therefore, does not suggest that institutions act independently of the distribution of power. Also, neoliberal scholarship does not assume that states pursuing policy guided by liberal assumptions of international politics will necessarily produce peace. As Keohane writes, “neoliberal approaches can backfire as policy prescriptions” (2001: 54). Neoliberal scholars concede that achieving cooperation under international anarchy is difficult (Oye 1986). However, the theory posits that international cooperation will, under some conditions, be easier to accomplish via international institutions. Furthermore, failure to utilize institutions effectively can cause problems of legitimacy of action and raise the costs of attaining, and even reduce, national security.

■ The United Nations and the Gulf War The 1990–1991 period of action within the UN following the Iraq invasion of Kuwait showed the potential for existing cooperative mechanisms of international security to work. Freed from the geostrategic constraints of the Cold War, the UN was the central focus of coalition building. Between 2 August and 29 November 1990, twelve resolutions condemning Iraq were passed by the UNSC, including a strong sanctions regime. The United States saw major benefits in and achieved legitimacy by liberating Kuwait and holding Saddam Hussein accountable for WMD programs via the UN (UN Security Council 1990a). The UN did not play a major part in the 1991 coalition war fighting. However, the UN mandate helped the United States lead a coalition of thirty countries and achieve burden sharing. This was

Neoliberalism

77

especially true for cost sharing as the United States ended the war with a surplus because of international financial contributions. After Iraq retreated from Kuwait, the UN was central to the peace settlement. On 3 March 1992, the UNSC agreed to keep all existing sanctions in place until Iraq verified compliance with resolutions requiring nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons disarmament. This was to be enforced via the UNSCOM, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Activities in Iraq included reporting, on-site inspections, site monitoring, and monitoring of trade that would limit dual-use capacity and weapon destruction (United Nations 1999, 1998). UNSCOM found that Iraq’s nuclear weapons initiatives were successfully hidden, undamaged during the war, and far more extensive than intelligence had ascertained. According to chief UN weapons inspector (1991–1992) David Kay, Iraq spent over $10 billion in the 1980s exploring “practically every known way to enrich uranium, and to craft a nuclear weapon. . . . This was not a small program” (1999). According to the UNSCOM inspectors, had they not exposed the program, Iraq would have been months away from developing a crude nuclear device. By 1997 inspection teams were able to report to the Security Council that there were “no indications that any weapon-useable nuclear material remained in Iraq,” nor was there any “evidence in Iraq of prohibited materials, equipment or activities” (Lopez and Cortright 2004: 90; United Nations 1999, 1998). Reflecting on the impact of UNSCOM, its last director, Richard Butler, stated that the Gulf War had revealed an “awesome array of weapons of mass destruction: almost a nuclear bomb, longrange missiles, chemical, biological, all of the weapons of mass destruction. . . . And we, with Iraq, got hold of most of it, got an account of it or got rid of it” (1999). In addition to weapons inspections, the UN helped to coordinate stringent economic sanctions against Iraq. These sanctions were key for forcing compliance with the 1991 peace settlement. They also became a major tool for some countries, including the United States, to weaken the Iraqi government with the hope of dislodging Saddam Hussein from power. By the mid1990s, the sanctions were mainly hurting Iraqi citizens. The UN estimated that the sanctions contributed to the death of over 576,000 children and that Iraq’s infant mortality rate doubled in the 1990s (Crossette 1995). The UN eventually agreed to allow Iraq to export some oil in exchange for food and humanitarian goods. However, this program fell victim to corruption and helped to sustain the Saddam Hussein regime as the sanctions’ impacts were lessened. Getting all sanctions lifted was a primary motivator for Saddam Hussein to cooperate with the UNSCOM disarmament program. According to Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz (in a comment reported by an UNSCOM adviser), “the only reason Iraq was cooperating with UNSCOM was that it

78

Liberal Approaches

wanted to be reintegrated into the international community. Chief among the benefits was the lifting of economic sanctions” (Lopez and Cortright 2004: 97). The sanctions were also vital to preventing the transfer of technology that could have flowed into any resurgent Iraqi weapons program— especially on nuclear issues. As Abdul Noor, a major developer of Iraq’s initial nuclear program, said, “We would have had to start from less than zero. . . . The country was cornered. We were boycotted. We were embargoed. The truth is, we disintegrated” (Gellman 2004). The presence of the UNSCOM program, combined with sanctions, enforced Iraq’s compliance with its international obligations. The inspectors quickly established their authority in Iraq. When challenged, their teams applied transparency that exposed Iraqi cheating. For example, in September 1991 UNSCOM inspectors gained access to highly sensitive documents detailing the extent of the Iraqi nuclear program. In the parking lot of the building, a team of forty-three inspectors was held effectively hostage. They could leave, but not with the relevant documents. Communications from the UNSCOM team, aired live on global television and radio, were an essential component of sustaining Security Council unity. According to the lead UNSCOM investigator, David Kay, “that’s the power of communication”—engaging live with the world on Cable News Network (CNN), with global live images and interviews of the inspectors in the parking lot as “guests of the state” in Iraq (1999). As another lead UNSCOM investigator put it, “If the Iraqis were obstructing . . . we’d have a backup camera filming that obstruction. . . . When you go into an inspection site, you have to do a fire support plan: Where are your cameras, your primary, who’s backing up the primary, who’s backing up that? . . . It’s a very military type operation, without the guns” (Ritter 1999). The UN activity on weapons was also largely successful because of the leverage of sanctions supported by military power. For the better part of the 1990s, the United States and some key allies applied a “containment” policy to Iraq, manifested via two no-fly zones, which allowed for air dominance over Iraqi airspace, and via the maintenance of additional US military operations and bases in the Gulf and around the region. These bases made the threat of military force against Iraq a credible option. These containment measures were relatively inexpensive programs, costing about $1 billion a year to enforce the no-fly zones and $500 million to sustain regional military operations (Ricks 2006: 15). The utility of military containment and its impact on inspections and sanctions were made clear in 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. This US military campaign was a four-day aerial bombardment in response to an ongoing standoff with Saddam Hussein over weapons inspectors—who were eventually withdrawn to protest noncompliance. This operation was found (after the 2003 invasion) to have been highly successful. However, this intelligence was difficult to know prior to fall 2002 absent weapons inspectors. Nonetheless, as General Anthony Zinni,

Neoliberalism

79

who ran Operation Desert Fox, noted of the combined experiences of the 1990s, “We contained Saddam. . . . We watched his military shrink to less than half its size from the beginning of the Gulf War until the time I left command, not only shrinking in size, but dealing with obsolete equipment, ill-trained troops, dissatisfaction in the ranks, a lot of absenteeism. We didn’t see the Iraqis as a formidable force. We saw them as a decaying force” (Ricks 2006: 13). In the 2002–2003 period culminating in the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, there was considerable reason to see the Iraqi case as already substantiating an NLI emphasis on the role of institutions in IR. More specifically, • The UN had been deeply involved in the Iraq situation since 1990 and was central to defining rules of expected behavior by the government of Iraq both internationally and internally. • Though the United States could have acted outside the UN to liberate Kuwait, it chose the benefits of UN legitimacy. This facilitated broad global political, military, and financial support for war objectives. • The UNSCOM inspection teams provided information flows that exposed hidden Iraqi programs and were able to disarm Iraq while UN sanctions, combined with the threat of military force, substantially weakened Iraqi conventional military capability. • UNSCOM and UN sanctions provided low-cost management of a major international security challenge. These developments illustrate important roles for international institutions in enhancing national security objectives. Yet, when the inspectors were withdrawn in 1998, uncertainty regarding Iraq reentered US decisionmaking.

■ The UN and Iraq After 9/11 After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, there was discussion in the Bush administration of including Iraq in the US-led international response. However, the focus was on Afghanistan and global links to al-Qaeda. There was, nevertheless, renewed concern in Washington about Iraq’s lack of compliance with UN mandates. The 1992 revelation by UN weapons inspectors that Iraq had had a more robust nuclear program than previously thought weighed heavily on senior decisionmakers in the George W. Bush administration. They worried increasingly about what they did not know about Iraqi intentions. Uncertainty became a core security problem—and thus placed a high demand on gaining information to inform decisionmaking. Why, then, did the United States conclude, as President George W. Bush said in April 2002, “I made up my mind that Saddam needs to go. . . . The policy of my government is that he goes.” President Bush added, “this

80

Liberal Approaches

is not an issue of inspectors. . . . This is an issue of Saddam upholding his word that he would not develop weapons of mass destruction” (2002b). The UN and the US Quest for Legitimacy When UNSCOM teams left Iraq before Operation Desert Fox, Saddam Hussein and his regime were in technical noncompliance with existing UNSC resolutions. The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States prompted decisionmakers in Washington to view the uncertainty of Iraqi intentions with growing alarm. This was especially necessary, they asserted, given the danger of cooperation between states with suspected WMD programs and alliances with transnational terrorist movements. Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz asserted that “containment was a very costly strategy. It costs us billions of dollars—estimates are around $30 billion. It costs us American lives.” But, Wolfowitz continued, “in some ways the real price is much higher than that. The real price was giving Osama bin Laden his principal talking point . . . his big complaint is that we have American troops on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia and that we’re bombing Iraq. That was his big recruiting device, his big claim against us” (Ricks 2006: 17–18). In July 2002, a secret memo was sent by a senior British intelligence officer following a visit to Washington, D.C., addressed to senior British officials. The “Downing Street Memo” indicated that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record” (Rycroft 2005). The Downing Street Memo concluded that the Iraqi WMD problem was less of a concern than Libya, North Korea, or Syria and that “we should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force” (Rycroft 2005). The British attorney general noted that, legally, regime change was not justifiable under international law—but a UNSC resolution would provide legitimacy. Politically, Prime Minister Tony Blair believed that a UN resolution and refusal by Iraq to comply with weapons inspections would make British participation in a military intervention an easier case to make (Rycroft 2005). Allied support was important to the Bush administration for burden sharing and cost sharing, but also for gaining domestic support at home. In the United States and across Europe support for a preemptive attack on Iraq was thin—but would grow if the condition of a UN mandate was achieved. In fall 2002, for example, public opinion polling in the United States showed 67 percent support for a war on Iraq—but support fell to 33 percent if the United States were acting alone. Another showed that if the context of war were multilateral and followed efforts to restore UN

Neoliberalism

81

weapons inspectors, then support for a war was as high as 80 percent (Kohut and Kull 2002). These perspectives were essential to Secretary of State Colin Powell’s efforts to persuade President Bush to build an international coalition of support for US policy. Powell also hoped to achieve disarmament without a war. As Secretary Powell told President Bush on 5 August 2002, “If you take it to the UN, you’ve got to recognize that they might be able to solve it. In which case there’s no war. That could mean a solution that is not as clean as just going in and taking the guy out” (Woodward 2004: 151). This scenario was antithetical to those in the Bush administration who felt regime change was the only solution to the uncertainty of Iraqi intentions and capabilities. However, Vice President Cheney argued against putting confidence in the UN. His concern was that by tying up the Iraq problem in UN procedures, the policy would become bogged down, wrapped up in UN legalistics, and overly influenced by the efforts of other states who sought to block US action. Specifically, Cheney argued against a return of UN weapons inspectors. First, he argued inspectors would not be Americans, but lawyers and experts from around the world who did not share US skepticism of Saddam Hussein. Second, inspectors would be inclined to take Iraqi claims as fact and not challenge them or would be easily fooled. This would lead to inconclusive results making a decision to attack Iraq harder to achieve among allies and at home (Woodward 2004: 176). On 12 September 2002, President Bush spoke at the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting and laid out the US case against Saddam Hussein. Bush called for using UN procedures to produce a new resolution regarding Iraq and its compliance with international obligations. Bush was persuaded by key US allies, including Tony Blair, Australian prime minister John Howard, and Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar, to negotiate a new UN resolution on weapons inspections (Woodward 2004: 183). Bush used his address to the General Assembly to turn the question of legitimacy onto the UN. What would the UN do to enforce its own mandates? Bush used the publicly known achievements of the UNSCOM inspections, which had been replaced with the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in 1999, to make a case that Iraq had been exposed trying to hide its weapons program. Bush asserted, We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime’s good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take. (2002c)

82

Liberal Approaches

Bush added, “Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?” And he warned, “We created the United Nations Security Council, so that, unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes” (2002c). In November 2002, the United States gained 15–0 support for UNSC Resolution 1441 requiring weapons inspectors to return to Iraq. Failure to comply with existing UN resolutions would result in “serious consequences” (UN Security Council 2002a). This was an important step toward international legitimacy of efforts to pressure Iraq to disarm. Supporters included Iraq’s neighbor Syria, which was a nonpermanent member of the UNSC. Iraq responded affirmatively and inspectors, led by Hans Blix for the UN and Mohamed ElBaradei for the IAEA, returned to Iraq. In early December 2002, Iraq submitted documentation asserting it had eliminated its WMD. To advocates of war, this was “proof” of material breach as it must be untrue. To those supporting the UN process, it was evidence of success. The dilemma for war advocates was made clear by Vice President Cheney, who said, “wrap the whole thing up in red tape as it’s been done for 12 years previously, pass another resolution, call it good, everybody goes home and nothing happens” (Woodward 2004: 234–235). Information Sharing and National Security Decisionmaking In December 2002, as UN weapons inspectors worked on the ground in Iraq, a different plan was unfolding in Washington, D.C. President Bush told Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar on 18 December that, “if the decision is made to go to war, we’ll go back to the Security Council. We won’t ask for permission, we will ask for support. . . . That was the agreement with Security Council members” (Woodward 2004: 240). The remaining objective was to achieve a coalition to expand the legitimacy of war. Achieving international and domestic support for an invasion of Iraq would require, in particular, a public airing of intelligence to justify the decision. After a 21 December 2002 White House presentation by the CIA on Iraqi WMD programs, President Bush questioned whether the information provided was adequate. CIA director George Tenet replied, “it’s a slam dunk case!” (Woodward 2004: 249). In reality, the CIA had produced a record of information to support existing policy, not to inform it. Crucial information provided to the US national security decisionmaking process was flawed or completely wrong. Yet, this reality was insufficient to give pause to those who argued for war. For example, Vice President Cheney said in his 26 August speech in Nashville that, “simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction . . . there is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us” (2002).

Neoliberalism

83

The UNSC became a public arena for high-stakes information sharing on WMD intelligence. On 5 February 2003, Secretary Powell laid out the US case for Iraqi noncompliance with UN Resolution 1441. The presentation included intercepts, satellite imagery, and information obtained from human resources among other national technical means of intelligence gathering. Secretary Powell concluded, “We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more.” Powell continued to pressure the UN: “This body places itself in danger of irrelevance if it allows Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately” (UN Press Center 2003). Powell’s speech was a success with his US audience, but failed to persuade most of the Security Council. France, in particular, remained adamant in opposition to a second resolution authorizing war. Also frustrated were the weapons inspectors, who knew that much of what Secretary Powell had presented was inaccurate. When Hans Blix addressed the Security Council on 14 February 2003, he reported that UN teams had conducted more than 400 inspections at over 300 sites. These were all no-notice inspections and access was provided quickly. According to Blix, these inspections had “taken place throughout Iraq at industrial sites, ammunition depots, research centers, universities, presidential sites, mobile laboratories, private houses, missile production facilities, military camps and agricultural sites” (2003c). Blix had a staff of 250 from sixty countries. This included about a hundred UNMOVIC inspectors, fifteen IAEA inspectors, fifty aircrew, and sixty-five support staff. Blix and his staff were concerned about accounting discrepancies. Yet, they were able to conclude that they had “not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared and destroyed” (Blix 2003c). Meanwhile, on 7 March 2003, the IAEA reported to the Security Council that, “after three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq” (ElBaradei 2003). The IAEA teams had made 218 inspections since returning to Iraq at 141 sites, including twenty-one to which they had not previously been granted access. Additionally, a vehicle-based radiation detection team visited seventy-five facilities including military garrisons and camps, weapons factories, truck parks, manufacturing facilities, and residential areas. The IAEA director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, indicated that Iraq had become increasingly compliant due to international pressure. The IAEA verified that public assertions by President Bush and Secretary Powell regarding Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium and aluminum tubes in Niger were incorrect. According to the IAEA, Iraq had made “no attempt to import uranium since 1990” and there was “no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in

84

Liberal Approaches

manufacturing centrifuges out of the aluminum tubes in question” (ElBaradei 2003). The CIA had given the UN what Director Tenet described as “detailed information on all of the high value and moderate value sites” suspected of having WMD (Woodward 2004: 355). On visiting them, Hans Blix indicated that his inspection teams found nothing related to WMD. “I thought,” said Blix, “my God, if this is the best intelligence they have and we find nothing, what about the rest?” (2003b). Nonetheless, in March 2003, on the eve of war, Vice President Cheney declared on Meet the Press that Iraq had “in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons” (Cheney 2003). The US conclusions were not based on an effort to gain reliable information to inform policy. Rather, they were selected to support a decision to go to war. In the case of Niger and uranium, the United States relied on what was found to be forged documentation. This false information was included in President Bush’s State of the Union speech in January 2003 where he established the case for war. The decision to include this material in the State of the Union was made despite repeated warnings from the CIA that it could not be verified (Goodman 2008: 260–261). In his February 2003 address to the UNSC, Secretary Powell included the assertion that aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq were evidence that “Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb” (UN Press Center 2003). Vice President Cheney had cited the aluminum tubes as evidence of a reconstituted nuclear program. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice stated categorically in fall 2002 that the tubes were “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs” (CNN 2002a). Carl Ford, a forty-year US intelligence community veteran who ran the State Department’s intelligence branch from 2001 to 2003, said of the Niger uranium case, “the opinion of our Africa and our nuclear analyst was, you’ve got to be kidding me. This is garbage; this doesn’t make sense, and that even if it is true, it can’t be right, all the details. We’ve got to find out more about this, but we don’t think there is anything to it” (Ford 2006). Former senior CIA analyst Melvin Goodman writes, “there was no reason for the CIA to claim ‘high confidence’ regarding its WMD finds, because there were no reliable sources in Iraq vouching for the existence of WMD.” More importantly, the CIA “ignored all Iraqi sources, including high-level ones with access to the leadership, who reported no sign of WMD in Iraq” (Goodman 2008: 270; Ricks 2006: 35).1 According to David Kay, who headed the CIA search for weapons of mass destruction after the invasion, a story like the aluminum tubes was one of “incompetence and, I believe, of intellectual corruption in the U.S. intelligence process.” Kay added, “it goes beyond incompetence. . . . You’ve got to believe that someone was out to prove something and had his conclusion in hand and didn’t want to disprove it” (2005). While officials hedged their language, they emphasized alarming interpretations. Condoleezza Rice said in September 2002, “the

Neoliberalism

85

problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. . . . But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” (CNN 2002a). Guided by this assessment and a belief that diplomacy would not legitimize a war, the United States ended the effort to gain a second Security Council resolution on 17 March 2003. The White House spokesman declared, “The United Nations has failed to enforce its own demands that Iraq immediately disarm. As a result, the diplomatic window has now been closed” (Woodward 2004: 365). Two days later, on 19 March, the US-led coalition invaded Iraq. No WMD were ever found. This was a war based on what Greg Thielmann, formerly of the Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs Office at the US Department of State, described as “faith based intelligence. . . . Instead of our leadership forming conclusions based on a careful reading of the intelligence we provide them, they already had their conclusion to start out with, and they were cherry-picking the information that we provided to use whatever pieces of it that fit their overall interpretation” (2003).

■ The Costs of Institutional Failure By early 2010, the invasion of Iraq had cost the United States the lives of over 4,000 US soldiers, with over 30,000 US soldiers wounded. The price tag for the war was at least $700 billion, and one credible study shows that $3 trillion total costs would represent a “conservative” estimate of eventual war costs (Bilmes and Stiglitz 2008). By 2010, the United States found itself bearing the primary burden of costs and casualties in the ongoing engagement in Iraq. This outcome was both ironic and tragic. On the eve of the invasion, after slighting and dismissing the role of the UN, President Bush told Tony Blair, “we have to build an international consensus for Iraq, a new Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, and we’ll go back to the UN for another resolution after the war. . . . The UN can help with many issues” (Woodward 2004: 359). A Decrease in US National Security The invasion of Iraq decreased US national security and undermined vital US interests. As Graham Allison demonstrates, first, the devotion of US energy and leverage toward Iraq in 2002 and 2003 resulted in neglecting higher-priority national security threats like North Korea and Iran. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda was given a chance to regroup following their routing in Afghanistan because, rather than consolidating gains in Afghanistan, US intelligence and war-fighting capacity was shifted to Iraq in 2002. By 2010, Iraq was still hosting over 150,000 US troops, and the United States was forced to escalate the unfinished war in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, which had

86

Liberal Approaches

been substantially damaged in fall 2001, was also handed a significant recruiting tool. Allison quotes former NSC official Richard Clarke as saying, “Osama bin Laden had been saying for years, ‘America wants to invade an Arab country and occupy it, an oil-rich Arab country.’ So what did we do after 9/11? We invade and occupy an oil-rich Arab country that was doing nothing to threaten us. In other words, we stepped right into bin Laden’s propaganda” (Allison 2004: 133–136). Allison shows, secondly, that the war in Iraq was not seen as legitimate to large sections of the world’s population. The reservoir of goodwill toward US global power that had been built and consolidated since World War II was severely damaged. Allison notes that in a 2003 poll in Europe, when asked which nations pose a “threat to world peace,” citizens in every European country put the United States at the top of the list—next to North Korea and Iran (2004: 135). An additional 2003 survey found that 90 percent of respondents in France and Germany thought that US unilateralism was a significant threat to world peace in the coming decade. This view was shared by two-thirds of the public in Britain and Poland—two of the closest partners of the the United States in the Iraq invasion. In the Muslim world, America’s standing fell even lower. Given that winning hearts and minds was vital to preventing terrorist recruitment, the aftermath of the Iraq invasion did serious damage. When asked whom they trust to “do the right thing in world affairs,” more Pakistanis, Indonesians, and Jordanians chose Osama bin Laden than President Bush (Allison 2004: 136). Uncertainty about Iraq and its intentions was not an unreasonable concern given previous findings in the early 1990s and the lack of inspections between 1998 and 2002 (Hersh 2003b).2 Moreover, as a technical matter, Iraq was in violation of elements of UN Resolution 1441 (for example, missilerange violations). However, by 2003 sufficient information was available for decisionmakers to know there was no imminent threat that justified war at that particular moment (Pillar 2006). The British ambassador to the UN (1998–2003), Sir Jeremy Greenstock, concluded in November 2009 testimony in the United Kingdom that the invasion of Iraq was of “questionable legitimacy” (Pincus 2009). In fact, Greenstock indicated that efforts to achieve an even firmer resolution (than UNSC 1441) failed because the international community believed that the United States was “hell bent on the use of force” (Associated Press 2009). Painting Saddam Hussein as a threat to his neighbors did not withstand scrutiny of even the conventional capabilities that Iraq had prior to the invasion. Iraq had already been seriously damaged by its war with Iran during the 1980s and by the Gulf War in 1991 to liberate Kuwait. According to an authoritative study of Iraqi internal documents, “By 2003, the Iraqi military was reeling from 13 years of almost continuous engagement with US and British air forces, the accumulating effects of sanctions, and the insidious

Neoliberalism

87

impact of the regime’s dysfunctional policies. These pressures had all helped drive the Iraqi military into a state of chronic decline” (Woods, Lacey, and Murray 2006). Yet, while large depots of conventional weapons storage facilities were left unsecured, the United States launched a massive hunt for WMD. As journalist Tom Ricks writes, “thousands of weapons experts, translators, and other specialists, along with all their support personnel, were working to find unconventional weapons that didn’t exist, and soon were being attacked with conventional weapons that did but that had been ignored by U.S. officials” (2006: 146). The next phase of the war in Iraq meant combating a sustained and wellarmed insurgency. Eventually, the distraction with restoring post-invasion legitimacy to the initial rationale for war—WMD—cost lives. Most of the US casualties in Iraq were the result of attacks by revolvers, rifles, pistols, rocket-propelled grenades, and improvised roadside bombs. By one estimate, Iraq had three million tons of bombs and bullets, millions of AK-47s and other rifles, rocket launchers and mortar tubes, and thousands of more sophisticated arms including ground-to-air missiles. As many as eight million small arms might have fallen into citizens’ hands, which were either used by or sold to insurgents (Stohl 2004). Had military planners focused on providing security for these kinds of conventional weaponry, it would have likely helped in blunting the growth and effectiveness of the rising insurgency. In other words, had military planners seriously taken into account UN weapons inspection reports, post-invasion plans might have been more effective. Hans Blix said in June 2003, “what surprises me, what amazes me, is that it seems the military people were expecting to stumble on large quantities of gas, chemical weapons and biological weapons. I don’t see how they could have come to such an attitude if they had, at any time, studied the reports” (quoted in Barringer 2003). Had Defense Department planners been guided by factual information provided by weapons inspectors, they would have been able to conduct more efficient military planning. However, the Defense Department refused to even allow UN weapons inspection teams into Iraq after the invasion to aid in the search for WMD. A Return to Institutions A significant cost resulting from the “questionable legitimacy” of the Iraq invasion was credibility. What would happen if the United States and its close allies again had intelligence, this time accurate, about a state with WMD programs, but were not believed either at home or abroad? This dilemma prompted a return to prominence of international agencies for weapons inspections. For their work over many decades, and especially for being correct about Iraq and its nuclear programs, the IAEA and its director Mohamed ElBaradei won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. As states began to

88

Liberal Approaches

grapple with growing evidence that Iran was defecting from its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it was the IAEA that exposed this to the international community. On 27 November 2009, the IAEA announced a censure of Iran for continued failure to comply with Security Council resolutions regarding its nuclear program. This censure was supported by Russia and China, which were reluctant to criticize Iran. China even helped to draft the IAEA censure (Kessler and Warrick 2009). The UN also saw a gradual return to prominence in US national security policy once the regime of Saddam Hussein was removed from power (Chesterman 2004: 101–116). The United States quickly sought a UN mandate for occupation forces. However, in a devastatingly calculated move, one of the earliest attacks by Iraqi insurgent fighters was on 19 August 2003—against the new UN headquarters building in Baghdad. A truck bomb destroyed much of the UN building, killing twenty-two and wounding seventy. The dead included Sergio Vieira de Mello who had given up a comfortable job in Europe to lead the UN in postwar reconstruction (Power 2008). Soon thereafter, the UN scaled back operations in Iraq substantially, cutting its staff presence from 800 to just 15. Similar pullbacks came from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and NGOs (Ricks 2006: 216). The United States found that efficiencies of a small “coalition of the willing” incurred very high postwar costs during the occupation and subsequent nation-building efforts. The United States was left providing 90 percent of the troops, suffering 90 percent of the casualties, and paying 90 percent of the costs of rebuilding Iraq. An Institutional Alternative to War An important question is whether an alternative approach utilizing international institutions was available to meet the problem of uncertainty created by the Iraq crisis. The clear answer is yes—other options were available, were proven effective, and were more cost-effective. Richard Haass, director of policy planning in the US Department of State (during the 2002–2003 period), indicates that while there was a sense that “as the months and years went by, not only would international attention begin to flag, but that Iraq could use that time potentially, to develop weapons of mass destruction.” However, Haass also notes that there was a contrary point of view, “that there was no rush, there was no imminent threat, that we needed to do more to line up international support—and there was a concern, frankly, one I held—that this would potentially dominate US foreign policy; that to implement an Iraq policy would be an extremely expensive, demanding undertaking” (2003). Before the invasion, the British government privately suggested that force be delayed until October 2003. According to Jeremy Greenstock, this would have allowed for a full run of the weapons inspections given that France was asking for a one-month extension. According to

Neoliberalism

89

Greenstock, a delay of the war could have helped to “establish an unambiguous, an undisputed legal basis for the use of force if everybody agreed that Saddam was not cooperating satisfactorily” (Pincus 2009). Expressing frustration with the outcome in the Security Council, Hans Blix notes that “it was so urgent to take out the weapons of mass destruction, that you couldn’t have one week more.” This lack of time to complete the inspections was Blix’s major lasting criticism: “that there was not a bit more time given, to some months’ more time, see where they would go, because the Iraqis were frantic at the end . . . frantic at the end to find means of demonstrating that they had destroyed bio and chemical weapons in 1991” (2003a). Blix remained convinced that inspections were an alternative to war as inspections “would have achieved a containment. Iraq would not have gone ahead and restarted biological and chemical programs under our noses. If they didn’t do it between 1998 and 2002, when there were no inspectors, they were not likely to do it when the inspectors have come back” (Blix 2003a). Even if there was some degree of uncertainty regarding ongoing inspections, Blix did not think that a war could have been sold on uncertainty alone. Additionally, a slower military build-up would have allowed for a better calibration of military pressure and Iraqi compliance. In the end, however, the United States probably would not “have been ready to believe negative things coming out. They would probably have said that the inspectors are incompetent.” Blix raises an important possibility that the real danger was that the inspections would continue, and thus undermine the case for war being made in Washington. “On the other hand,” concludes Blix, “the more that came out, the more difficult it might have been to go to war” (2003a). Blix provides the actual “smoking gun”: the UN weapons inspection teams in Iraq cost about $80 million a year to successfully disarm, monitor, and contain Saddam Hussein’s ambition to have WMD.

■ Implications for Neoliberal Theory This chapter examined neoliberal assumptions that states will act in formal international institutions to identify defection from established rules of order, gain legitimacy for national security priorities, facilitate good information for cost-benefit decisions, and lower the costs of enhancing national security. As this chapter demonstrates, the UN was vital for providing legitimacy and good information that succeeded in the relatively low-cost disarmament and containment of Iraq during the 1990s. At the same time, the Iraq case also shows that uncertainty in times of crisis can lead states to be skeptical of institutions. Even then, however, the quest for legitimacy in the UN was a high priority for the United States during the 2002–2003 period. Limits of institutional rules and procedures were also exposed when the

90

Liberal Approaches

United States abandoned its quest for a UN mandate and invaded Iraq. Finally, the invasion shows the high costs of not attaining good information to guide decisionmaking. The information used by the United States was applied to support a policy decision already taken, not guide cost-benefit decisionmaking. In fact, the best information on the status of Iraq and its purported WMD programs was available through UN weapons inspectors, yet that information was ignored in favor of faulty national intelligence. In its invasion of Iraq, the United States paid a high cost for failing to listen to or rely on the information gathering of existing international institutions. The result was decreased US national security, which is an outcome that NLI theory could anticipate. The role of the UN and its weapons inspections in Iraq illustrates the benefits of international institutions and the high costs that states incur when they fail to use them effectively.

■ Notes 1. For example, in December 2001, the New York Times reported that “an Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons” and that he had “personally visited at least 20 different sites” (J. Miller 2001). However, by summer 2004, it became clear that, as the Columbia Journalism Review noted, “None of the weapons sites [—which he] claimed were located beneath hospitals and behind palaces—have ever been located” (McCollam 2004). 2. Importantly, US officials pointed to evidence provided by the defection to Jordan in 1995 of General Hussein Kamal, who was in charge of Iraq’s weapons program. They brought with them extensive documentation about Iraqi weapons programs that was given to the UN inspection teams. While the Bush administration seized on this part of the intelligence regarding the defection, they did not report that the defectors also noted that while these programs existed, they had since been destroyed in Iraq. In an interview with UNSCOM head Rolf Ekeus and his senior staff, General Kamal said of UNSCOM, “You have an important role in Iraq. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq” (Kamal 1995). When it was noted that UN teams had not found evidence of destruction, the Iraqis indicated that it had been done before the inspectors came into Iraq. According to General Kamal, “all chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed” (1995).

3.3 Public Goods Liberalism: The Perils of Coalition Building Michael J. Butler and Mark A. Boyer In attempting to understand the dynamics behind the unraveling of the 2003 Iraq War coalition, public goods theory provides an interesting prism through which to view the goals of intervention, the incentives for participation in the initial coalition, and the ultimate decision of various coalition partners to defect as the war in Iraq persisted. Along those lines, this chapter begins with a brief primer on public goods theory, focusing on three sets of forces that promote understanding of the coalitional dynamics and the willingness of states to remain engaged in a costly conflict with ambiguous indicators of success. These are (1) the mix of private and public goods perceived by the actors as products of involvement in Iraq; (2) the mix of costs and benefits that actors bore through their participation; and (3) the evolutionary circumstances that produced changes to actor perceptions of the first two considerations. It is this third factor that we argue is especially crucial if one seeks to understand the full complexity of public goods provision, and the difficulty inherent in building and maintaining coalitions dedicated to that end. In the case study advanced below, we apply public goods theory to explain why and how the United States wound up providing an increasingly large share of the public goods that had been associated with regime change in Iraq. In doing so, we advance the argument that the primary public goods associated with regime change in Iraq that were perceived as collectively desirable by forty-nine coalition members in 2003 (i.e., increased security in the Gulf, the elimination of Iraq as a state sponsor of global terrorism, and the termination of Iraq’s alleged pursuit of WMD) were effectively transformed into private goods by the heavy-handed approach to coalition building and maintenance employed by the United States. While foreign policy officials in the Bush administration continued to define the Iraq conflict as part of the global war on terror, most other actors eventually came to perceive the conflict as a US effort to maintain hegemonic domination in the region and to project US power throughout the world.

■ A Primer in Public Goods Theory Pure public goods, such as the desirable circumstances of global peace and security, are defined as “commodities” that are fully joint and nonexcludable. Pure public bads, such as air pollution, exhibit similar characteristics. But in contrast to public goods where the commodity is desirable, most 91

92

Liberal Approaches

international actors seek to decrease production and subsequent consumption of a public bad. Jointness means that consumption by one party does not reduce the amount available for consumption by another. For example, if a citizen consumes national security, it does not reduce the amount available to consume for others in that country. Nonexcludability refers to the fact that once a good or bad is made available to one party, no other party can be barred from consuming it. Even if an individual does not pay his or her taxes to the government, it is still possible to consume national security, unless that person is placed in jail at some location outside the region defended by the national security apparatus. Purely private goods, such as an apple, and bads, such as cancer, cannot be jointly consumed and are exclusionary in terms of consumption. Most of the goods—public or private—that are provided in international affairs lack “purity”; that is, they exhibit degrees of jointness as well as some excludability of consumption. For example, some “public” goods can be depleted or will deteriorate through overuse, similar to what happens to public parks as more and more people use the common areas. Likewise, some goods may be available only to members of a particular “club,” such as an alliance, and nonmembers can be excluded from consuming the goods.1 The essential problem of providing public goods in whatever sociopolitical setting is that the joint and nonexcludable nature of public goods creates incentives for actors to not contribute or to undercontribute to the provision of the good that is collectively desired by the group (see Olson 1965). Put simply, when looking at the costs and benefits of contributing and the perceived likelihood of others’ contributions, actors will decide not to contribute and thus free ride on the contributions of others in the collective. When everyone makes this choice, we observe the strong free-rider outcome: no one contributes and the desired public good is not provided. Easing these assumptions about actor decisionmaking on public good production yields the weak free-rider outcome: most contribute something, though not to optimal levels, and thus the public good is provided at lower than collectively desired levels. Across diverse policy situations there is unlikely to be one single best strategy for promoting the provision of public goods or the reduction of public bads, just as there is unlikely to be one particular approach to conflict resolution that applies across all conflicts. What does exist, however, is a broad menu of potential strategies for the provision of public goods, where each possible strategy features policy options specific to that approach and generates incentives and disincentives for the actors who might contribute to the provision of the good in question. Recent work sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank has focused attention on three particular strategies aimed at coping with the underprovision of public goods and the oversupply

Public Goods Liberalism

93

of public bads in our changing world community (Gerrard, Ferroni, and Mody 2001; Kaul, Grunberg, and Stern 1999; Kaul et al. 2003). These three approaches are labeled best shot, weakest link, and summation. Each approach to public goods provision poses substantially different collective action problems and different challenges for the policymakers who see an interest in pursuing the production of the public goods in question (Jayaraman and Kanbur 1999). Best shot approaches depend on the willingness and ability of a single actor, or very few actors, to bear the lion’s share of provision costs. Such an approach fits closely with what Olson (1965) called “privileged group” provision, where public goods can be provided by an individual actor or a small group if they so desire, because one or more of the privileged group value the public good highly enough to bear the costs of production themselves and also possess the resources to do so.2 The second approach that is worth considering in the present context is the summation approach. The summation approach to public goods provision occurs when a collective has a high degree of common interest and purpose and actors are almost uniformly willing and able to contribute to public goods provision. As a result, contributions are summed to obtain a desirable level of public goods provision. The third approach, weakest link, also provides some insights within the current context. The weakest link approach can easily be applied as a way of interpreting efforts to contain transnational terrorism by intervening in Iraq and displacing the threat of terrorism at one of its weakest points. Focusing on a weakest link approach also highlights significant challenges to public good provision in terms of financing and the adequate distribution of labor.3 Taking into account the three defining assertions advanced by the Bush administration, namely, (1) Iraq was a destabilizing force in the Gulf region; (2) Saddam Hussein’s regime had forged, or was attempting to forge, links with al-Qaeda; and (3) Iraq was engaged in the pursuit of WMD, then the intervention reflects all three basic strategies for public goods provision. Furthermore, with respect to the provision of public goods through coalition structures, three conditions are especially relevant, if one wishes to understand the coalitional dynamics at play, and in particular the willingness or unwillingness of states to remain engaged in a costly conflict with arguable indicators of success. These conditions are (1) the mix of private and public goods perceived by the actors as necessary to produce their involvement; (2) the mix of costs and benefits that actors bear through their participation; and (3) the evolution of circumstances surrounding that involvement over time, and the effects of these changes on actor perceptions of the first two considerations. This third condition is particularly crucial and underscores the reality that public goods provision is not produced by a static set of international

94

Liberal Approaches

political relationships. Rather it is something that evolves dynamically over time and in lockstep with changing operational and strategic contexts. Indeed, in our view it is this third condition that is the primary cause for the devolution of the US-led coalition from forty-nine members to five over a period of approximately six years.

■ Public Goods and the Case for Regime Change Before moving to a public goods theory analysis of the 2003 Iraq War’s dwindling coalition, it is important to first define and establish the public goods that were associated with regime change via the US-led military intervention in Iraq. What, then, were the main public goods that helped catalyze and knit together what was initially a large coalition favoring regime change in Iraq? Regional Peace and Stability First, and at the broadest level, Mendez (1999) argues that peace should be thought of as a global public good. Put simply, the lack of peace creates a host of negative impacts for members of the international community. One such negative impact is the dampening of economic growth and investment opportunities, uncertainty in markets, and interruptions to the flow of goods and services associated with outbreaks (or threats) of armed violence, particularly in strategically vital areas. Given its extensive oil reserves and status as neighbor to vital shipping lanes, the Gulf region certainly qualifies as a strategically vital area, thereby making stability and peace in the region a collectively desirable good for commercial reasons. The negative consequences for commerce and shipping make the threat to peace in the Gulf a wider concern. This is hardly an unfounded perception. Indeed, as history shows, instability in the Gulf region generally corresponds closely with regional and global economic downturns, including the twin oil crises of the 1970s. At a more fundamental level, the human costs associated with war and conflict, as well as the spillover effects associated with contemporary armed conflict—including, but not limited to, major population displacements, arms transfers, and the proliferation of violence and lawlessness— provide further evidence for considering peace as a public good. In this case, the negative impact associated with disruptions or potential disruptions to peace are most strongly perceived by those actors proximate to a conflict zone or those who have direct stakes in the area of concern. For these reasons alone, the establishment and maintenance of peace would obviously be a desired joint and nonexcludable benefit for states in historically conflict-ridden regions such as the Middle East/Persian Gulf. When one factors in the recent history of Iraq’s relations with its neighboring countries in the volatile region of the Gulf, the case is a strong one

Public Goods Liberalism

95

that the higher-order public good of peace prompted support for regime change in Iraq from proximate actors. While Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait provided the touchstone for efforts to associate regime change with the public goods of regional stability and peace, the repeated regional security crises of the 1990s engendered by Iraq’s provocative violations of the conditions of UNSC Resolution 687 (3 April 1991)—including deployments toward the Saudi and Kuwaiti borders—added further fuel to the building fire. At the same time, the wider implications for international peace and security associated with Saddam Hussein’s provocations, as well as the near continuous involvement of the international community in security matters in the Middle East, made the enhanced stability associated with regime change in Iraq an appealing public good. Indeed, the ability of a broadbased multinational coalition assembled under UN auspices and authorized to act with “all necessary means” by UNSC Resolution 678 (29 November 1990) to forcibly reverse that invasion provided a workable script for collective provision of a collective good. WMD Capabilities and Proliferation At a more specific level, the case for intervention in Iraq in late 2002 and early 2003 was framed around two other related assertions—Iraq’s presumed pursuit of WMD and its alleged links to terrorist organizations, particularly al-Qaeda. The reduction or elimination of these public bads with the removal of Hussein from power was a desirable end for potential coalition actors both in its own right as well as for its contribution to the larger public good of regional stability and peace that regime change was intended to yield. Reducing these public bads, then, became a raison d’être for the intervention, and each proved critically important to the formation of what was initially a large coalition. On the former score, the possibility for disrupting Iraq’s WMD programs and ending Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons lent military intervention and regime change broad appeal. For one, Hussein’s regime had used chemical weapons repeatedly and flagrantly, both in the Iran-Iraq War and against domestic opponents including Kurdish and Shiite opposition groups, and continued to maintain large stockpiles of weapons-grade chemical agents. Further, Iraqi government agents disclosed to UNSCOM investigators after the Gulf War that Iraq had initiated a biological weapons program in the early 1980s, weaponizing a variety of bacterial and viral agents in flagrant violation of the Biological Weapons Convention (Martin, Christopher, and Eitzen 2007; UN Security Council 1991). Iraqi aspirations for nuclear weapons dated back to the 1970s, had prompted the infamous 1981 Israeli assault on the Osirak reactor, and were cited by the George H. W. Bush administration in National Security Directive 54 as a primary justification for removing Hussein from power as early as January 1991 (G. H.

96

Liberal Approaches

W. Bush 1991). In light of Iraq’s recent legacy of behavior, the possibility of Iraqi disarmament and even deproliferation as a function of regime change represented an appealing outcome both for regional actors and for the international community in general. Links to Terrorist Organizations The most contested of the public goods associated with the 2003 Iraq War was the supposed boon to international counterterrorism efforts that would follow from forcible regime change. The removal of Saddam Hussein from power, it was asserted, would represent an all-important victory in the war on terrorism in that it would sever the alleged nexus between Hussein’s regime and al-Qaeda. Assertions to that end intensified in the summer of 2002, as the case for war in Iraq was mounting. Typified by strong assertions from leading Bush administration officials and corroborated by hawkish US defense intellectuals, such allegations drew heavily on historical evidence to make the case that Iraq remained a major state sponsor of terrorism with a decided interest in collaborating with al-Qaeda to launch attacks on the West and its interests. The association of regime change in Iraq with the public good of a victory in the global war on terrorism rested on a logic and body of evidence that has since been exposed as flimsy at best. Like Iraq’s alleged expansion of WMD programs to which it was often linked, Iraq’s status as a willing and eager supporter of al-Qaeda rested on a combination of faulty intelligence, flawed reasoning, and the hubris of an administration seeking to garner support for its desired outcome of regime change in Iraq through any means necessary. Nevertheless, despite a dearth of empirical evidence to sustain the alleged Saddam Hussein/al-Qaeda link, the association of regime change in Iraq with the global war on terrorism (hence rendering it a public good) was a rationale that proved somewhat appealing to coalition partners. This appeal was certainly due in part to the aforementioned historical legacy of instrumental behavior toward confirmed terrorist organizations on Hussein’s part. To a greater degree, however, an unbroken chain of three decades of sustained efforts at global cooperation in the area of counterterrorism since the dawning of the “new terrorism” (Laqueur 1996) in the late 1960s and early 1970s proved an important motive for coalition partners. This was especially true of a subset of coalition partners (most notably the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy) who had long been on the front lines of counterterrorism efforts because of challenges posed by national-separatist groups and/or radical left-wing organizations. Moreover, the passage of thirteen UN conventions against terrorism since the late 1960s provides ample evidence to support the notion that terrorism had long been demarcated as a public bad in both international legal and political circles, one invoking almost universal condemnation.

Public Goods Liberalism

97

■ Evolving Coalition Dynamics Like all coalitions, the 2003 Iraq War coalition is best thought of not as a static set of political-security relationships with a fixed and unchanging set of objectives, but rather a dynamic enterprise marked by relationships and objectives that changed significantly over time. It is this dynamism, specifically the changing perception of coalition members toward the mix of public and private goods that they were likely to receive from participation, that helps explain why the Iraq War coalition devolved from forty-nine members to merely five over the six-plus years of its existence. If one examines the dynamics of the Iraq War coalition in broad relief, it is evident that regime change in Iraq was defined as essential for the provision of the public goods of regional peace and security, WMD deproliferation, and counterterrorism. That characterization proved pivotal not only in assembling the coalition, but also in sowing the seeds of the coalition’s eventual demise. Phase I: Summation Approach (March 2003–April 2004) The summation approach to public goods provision occurs when collective action is defined and prompted by a high degree of common interest and purpose, with coalition actors highly willing and able to contribute to public goods provision. As a result, contributions are summed to obtain a desirable level of public goods provision. From the standpoint of public goods theory, the assembling of a coalition numbering forty-nine contributing member states (contributing close to 15 percent of the coalition forces) within two weeks of the invasion is clearly an arrangement suggestive of a summation approach to public goods provision in the Iraq case. So too is the piecing together of such a significantly large and diverse “coalition of the willing” in the face of the extensive public rancor enveloping the case for regime change advanced by the United States and the United Kingdom in late 2002 and early 2003. Taken together, these essential characteristics of the Iraq War coalition speak to the extent that coalition partners desired the provision of particular and significant public goods and viewed the operation as one that would confer them. WMD counterproliferation. The elimination of Iraq’s WMD program

was seen as crucial to the public goods rationale for Iraqi regime change and goes a long way toward explaining the summation approach that typified the coalition’s formation during its first year. The perpetuation of Iraqi WMD programs under Hussein had long constituted a direct security threat to other actors in the region. At the same time, Iraqi WMD capability both for its own sake and for its troubling place within the broader trajectory of WMD proliferation represented a clear public bad for those actors committed politically and normatively to restraining the spread of WMD. The USled coalition compelled Iraq to agree to a UN-authorized inspection and

98

Liberal Approaches

monitoring regime designed to ensure that Iraq fully complied with its pledge to dismantle all WMD programs as a condition for ending the war. Such sentiments relative to Iraq were also reflected more broadly in concurrent trends within the arms control arena, including the drafting of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, and efforts to strengthen and uphold the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the face of new and emerging nuclear challenges. All of these initiatives speak to the highly public commitment of the United States and many of its Western allies to nonproliferation at the time. In this context, the very formation of the UNSCOM inspection regime and the numerous Security Council resolutions passed in support of it throughout the 1990s underscore the degree to which the international community viewed Iraqi WMD programs and capabilities as a public bad, and containment and eventual disarmament of Iraqi WMD a public good. Iraq’s continual flouting of the UNSCOM regime until December 1998, at which point UN and IAEA inspectors were left with little choice but to withdraw from the country, proved a major embarrassment to the UN. At the same time, it deepened the resolve among an ever wider set of actors to pursue Iraqi disarmament as a by-product of regime change and to highlight the joint and nonexcludable benefits associated with that disarmament. It was in this context that British and US efforts to link regime change in Iraq with WMD counterproliferation intensified, such that these efforts came to resonate with a number of other important coalition partners (including Bulgaria, Colombia, and Spain). Even opponents of the invasion, such as France, Germany, and Russia, had to an extent contributed to this process through earlier support for more intrusive inspections via the IAEA as well as creation of UNMOVIC in 1999. With the unanimous passage of UNSC Resolution 1441 in November 2002 and a “final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations,” the Security Council found Iraq in “material breach” of those obligations and threatened “serious consequences” if Iraq failed to comply fully with all UN directives concerning WMD inspections. While IAEA (led by Mohamed ElBaradei) and UNMOVIC (supervised by Hans Blix) inspections proceeded with requisite Iraqi cooperation, the designation of Iraq as a rogue state was well established, enough so that future coalition partners (including then–Security Council members Bulgaria, Colombia, and Norway, as well as Spain and Portugal) and key actors such as Syria (also then seated on the UNSC) were convinced that Hussein’s regime was not likely to break with its previous pattern of deception. The public good of WMD counterproliferation was rendered as one that could only be obtained in a real sense through removal of Hussein from power rather than through continued containment efforts.4

Public Goods Liberalism

99

Counterterrorism. A shared interest in advancing counterterrorism also

proved an important catalyst for the summation approach that defined the Iraq War coalition through its first year of existence. The earliest stirrings of this shared interest can be discerned in the enhanced cooperation on counterterrorism that followed the dawn of the “new” terrorism of spectacular, high-profile operations perpetrated by increasingly transnational actors beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Such cooperation only intensified in the aftermath of the horrific attacks of 9/11, as a previously unimaginable, broad, and diverse coalition of states began to contribute to the provision of that public good in meaningful ways (including law enforcement collaboration; shared intelligence; the monitoring of financial, communications, and migration flows; and so forth). At the same time, of course, it was 9/11 that inspired the US-defined and -led global war on terrorism and proved the catalyst for its first military installment—a major intervention led by the United States and backed by a broad international coalition force authorized by both the UN and NATO in Afghanistan in October 2001. The mandate for Operation Enduring Freedom as well as for the NATO-helmed International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan was in each case the unseating of al-Qaeda’s leadership and their Taliban hosts. Such a mandate proved compelling enough to attract a broad and diverse multinational coalition force (with forty-three nations contributing troops as of December 2009) dedicated to that very difficult and dangerous task. From the standpoint of public goods theory and the assembling of a coalition to invade Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom and especially the ISAF should be understood as crucial precedents. These operations reflected the collective will of a large number of states—including NATO members and partners ranging from Armenia to Australia, Georgia to Jordan, and Mongolia to Macedonia—to commit military forces to a coalition effort dedicated to the collective good of counterterrorism, and in particular the disruption, if not destruction, of the al-Qaeda network and its leadership. Indeed, the degree to which the ISAF coalition was prompted by a perception of collective gain should not be understated, with one very notable exception: none of the troop-contributing countries had been directly attacked on 9/11, while all of them surely realized that contributing to the coalition would invite reprisals from al-Qaeda and its affiliates. The fact that these considerations had little, if any, bearing on coalition formation underscores the strength and appeal of the “counterterrorism as global public good” approach. So too do the efforts by some states (for example, Germany) to contribute meaningfully to the coalition even in the face of significant domestic obstacles. All told, these factors provide crucial evidence that in advance of the 2003 war in Iraq, counterterrorism in general had

100

Liberal Approaches

arrived as a global public good, and the disruption of al-Qaeda was seen by a range of coalition actors with well-established credentials in counterterrorism (such as the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy) as an important step in the provision of that good. Bandwagoning. Of course, beyond the pursuit of public goods such as counterterrorism and WMD counterproliferation, the summation approach that predominated in the early stages of the Iraq War coalition may also be viewed as “bandwagoning” (Walt 1987). As the coalition developed, it incorporated a number of states offering relatively modest contributions, most notably a number of transitional states in the former Eastern bloc seeking political-security alignment with the West as well as a handful of states with close territorial links with and/or political ties to the United States.5 While the provision of public goods was essential to the participation of these states in the original coalition, their perception of possible side payments associated with membership in the coalition was also a factor in their contribution to the summation approach.

Phase II: Weakest Link (April 2004–December 2006) In looking at the Iraq War coalition retrospectively through the lens of public goods theory, it is evident that the spring of 2004 brought about the beginning of a marked shift in coalition dynamics, one that continued for a period of nearly two and a half years. This shift during the Iraq War’s crucial middle phase amounted to a transition from a summation to a weakest link approach to the provision of the three main public goods associated with the coalition operation. In the weakest link approach, the effective provision of a public good or goods is a function of the weakest link in the chain of actors seeking to provide it. The transition to weakest link was clearly spawned by the changing contextual parameters of the operation at that crucial juncture of the operation. By spring 2004, with the insurgency in Iraq mounting and alleged WMD stockpiles nowhere to be found, the troika of public goods (regional security and peace, WMD counterproliferation, and global counterterrorism) that had served as an effective harness for coalition actors was lost. The intensified violence of a deepening insurgency, combined with the failure to uncover any significant WMD capabilities, delivered decisive blows to the prospects for realization of two of the main public goods that had attracted many coalition actors to the operation—regional peace and WMD counterproliferation, respectively. Only the public goods provision of enhanced global counterterrorism was still conceivable, and only because the collapse of political and social order after Hussein’s ouster had created a vacuum that al-Qaeda affiliates had filled, making Iraq itself a haven for terrorist activity. With the lodestars of the coalition operation obscured, the

Public Goods Liberalism

101

cohesion and effectiveness of the coalition during this crucial middle phase of the operation was deeply compromised. The Spanish precedent. The first, and possibly most important, illustration of this changed dynamic was the withdrawal of Spain from the coalition in the immediate aftermath of the Spanish parliamentary election of March 2004. The persistently high levels of popular opposition to the Iraq War had transformed the election into a bitter and divisive campaign stopping just short of a referendum on the war itself. Such was the political milieu when, on the morning of 11 March 2004, a series of coordinated bombings against the Cercanías (commuter train) system in Madrid killed 191 people and wounded 1,800 more—three days before the scheduled election. With the attacks perceived by the Spanish public as retribution for Spain’s contributions to the Iraq War, and assumed to be inspired by or linked to alQaeda, massive protests against the Aznar government ensued, continuing through the traditional “day of reflection” on the day immediately prior to the election. The defeat of the center-right Popular Party by the Socialist Party led by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in the 14 March election represented a popular rebuke of the Aznar government’s decision to commit Spain to the operation in Iraq without parliamentary approval the year before, a decision that up to as many as 85 percent of Spaniards opposed (Chari 2004).6 So it was that Zapatero, citing the “will of the Spanish people,” announced Spain’s withdrawal from Iraq on 18 April 2004, a withdrawal that was completed ten days later. Electoral machinations in Spain aside, the swift and decisive withdrawal of Spain from the coalition set a crucial precedent from the standpoint of public goods provision in Iraq. While a sizable number of minor coalition partners had withdrawn by the end of 2003 (see Table 3.3.1), Spain represented the first defection of a significant military and political contributor to the coalition, with the Aznar government serving a vital role in the coalition. The Spanish precedent—withdrawal in the face of mobilized domestic political opposition—set into motion an onset of major defections from the coalition. In the process, these defections elicited a shift to a weakest link strategy, where the provision of whatever vestiges of public goods might still be associated with the operation was reduced to a lowest-common-denominator approach of scaled-down commitments from a suddenly dwindling number of coalition partners. Who is the weakest link? Following the Zapatero government’s decision to withdraw, a significant number of other actors followed suit, with eight contributing members (Honduras, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Thailand, Hungary, New Zealand, Portugal, and the Netherlands) pulling out of the coalition by the end of 2005 and three other completed withdrawals

102 Table 3.3.1 Iraq War Coalition Members, 27 March 2003–27 January 2009 March 2003

December 2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total coalition countries Afghanistan Albania

49 X X

37 — X

37 — X

32 — X

30 — X

28

5 — —

Angola Armenia

X —

— —

— —

— X

— X

— X

Australia Azerbaijan

X X

X X

X X

X X

X X

X X

26 — X (12/18/08) — X (10/6/08) X X (12/3/08)

Bosnia and Herzegovena







X

X

X



Bulgaria

X

X

X

X

X

X

Colombia Costa Rica Czech Republic

X X X

— — X

— — X

— — X

— — X

— — X

Denmark

X

X

X

X

X

X

Dominican Republic

X

X







El Salvador Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Georgia

X X X X X

X — X — X

X (2004) X — X — X

X (11/29/08) X (12/17/08) — — X (12/4/08) X (2008) —

X — X — X

X — X — X

X — X — X

X — X — —

Honduras

X

X







Hungary

X

X











Iceland Italy

X X

— X

X (2004) X (2004) — X

X — X — X (10/20/08) —

— X

— —

— —

— —

Japan

X

X

X

X

— X (2006) X

X



Kazakhstan



X

X

X

X

X

Kuwait Latvia

X X

— X

— X

— X

— X

— X

Lithuania

X

X

X

X

X

X

X (12/6/08) X (10/20/08) — X (11/8/08) X (12/16/08)

Nation

X

January 2009

— — X —

— — — — — —



— — — —

(continues)

103 Table 3.3.1 continued March 2003

December 2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Macedonia

X

X

X

X

X

X



Marshall Islands Micronesia Moldova

X X —

— — X

— — X

— — X

— — X

— — X

Mongolia

X

X

X

X

X

X

Netherlands

X

X

X

X

X

New Zealand



X









Nicaragua

X

X











Norway



X

X (2004) X (2004) X

X (2007) —

X (11/08) — — X (12/18/08) X (10/4/08) —









Palau Panama Philippines

X X X

— — X

— — —

— — —

— — —

— — —

Poland

X

X

— — X (2004) X

X (2005) — — — X

X

X



Portugal

X

X

X

X



Romania

X

X

X

X

X (2006) X

X (10/4/08) —



Rwanda Singapore

X X

— X

— X

— X

— X

— X

Slovakia

X

X

X

X

X

X

Solomon Islands South Korea

X X

— X

— X

— X

— X

— X

Spain

X

X







Thailand Tonga

— X

X X

X —

— —

— —

— —

— —

Turkey Uganda Ukraine

X X X

— — X

X (4/18/04) X X (2004) — — X

X (1/22/09) — X (2008) X (2008) — X (12/1/08) —

— — X

— — X

— — X

— — —

United Kingdom United States Uzbekistan

X X X

X X —

X X —

X X —

X X —

X X —

— — X (12/9/08) X X —

Nation

X

January 2009

— — — — —



— — — — — —

X X —

Sources: Procon.org (2010); US Government Accountability Office (2007); White House (2003). Notes: X = member; — = nonmember; date of withdrawal in parentheses.

104

Liberal Approaches

(Italy, Norway, and Japan) by the end of 2006.7 The reasons for these defections varied, but all seemed to have at least a tenuous link to the Spanish withdrawal, whether in terms of timing, logic, or both. Some were direct consequences of that decision, as in the cases of Honduras and the Dominican Republic, who had each placed their forces under Spanish command in the Plus Ultra Brigade in Southeast Iraq (each withdrew in May 2004). Others, such as the withdrawal of the Philippines (July 2004), Thailand (September 2004), Hungary (December 2004), and the Netherlands (March 2005), reflected a similar dynamic of continued domestic political opposition compounded by casualties, kidnappings, and ongoing insurgent violence.8 The Italian withdrawal in 2006 stands as perhaps the closest parallel to Spain, with the election of the center-left coalition helmed by Romano Prodi in May 2006 resulting in a drawing down of Italian forces from an original force strength of 3,200 to 1,600 by June 2006, with a timetable for complete withdrawal by the end of 2006. While in some ways Spain might be considered the “low dyke” in this weakest link scenario, the Aznar government was hardly alone in contending with significant popular opposition prior to, and during, the invasion and occupation in Iraq—as the litany of coalition defections between April 2004 and December 2006 bears out. Although domestic political opposition was a necessary condition for coalition devolution, it was hardly a sufficient one; after all, a sizable number of coalition actors joined the coalition in 2003 (including Spain, Italy, and numerous others mentioned here) over the strident objections of opposition parties, the media, and the public. Rather, the catalyst for the series of defections transforming the Iraq War coalition from a summation to a weakest link dynamic was the dissolution of the public goods rationales that explained coalition formation in the first place. With the coalition’s casting about in search of public goods that were increasingly perceived as illusory, and the operation going badly on the ground, the costs of continuing coalition membership were increasing dramatically. Other more or less contemporaneous events, such as the exposé of the Abu Ghraib scandal in April 2004, and the fruitless conclusion of the WMD search by the CIA oversight team in December 2004, only served to heighten those costs. The only seemingly discernible public good associated with the Iraq operation was to provide counterterrorism within Iraq, which had now become a very real terrorist haven. But even that good seemed a long shot, as insurgent violence and terrorist presence mounted daily in Iraq. With the Madrid bombings providing a chilling reminder that the last remaining chances of public goods provision associated with regime change in Iraq were backfiring—not only across Iraq, but in major Western capitals of coalition partners—the dykes continued to be lowered, from Madrid to Rome and beyond. The uncertainty surrounding the prospects for any viable public goods provision in Iraq greatly increased the costs of membership for coalition

Public Goods Liberalism

105

partners, a point that is evident both in the Spanish defection and through application of the two-level games metaphor that in many ways helps explain it (Trumbore and Boyer 2000; Putnam 1988). As the provision of the public goods associated with the operation came to be perceived as longterm and aspirational rather than short-term and attainable—and exceedingly costly, given the level of violence directed at coalition forces in Iraq—the pressure from increasingly restive domestic audiences made continued coalition burden sharing, and even membership itself, risky. Such risks became all the more apparent with the Madrid bombings, making the “win-set” for many coalition members difficult if not impossible to find. Phase III: Best Shot Approach (January 2007–January 2009) To the extent that the provision of public goods by the coalition was happening at all by late 2006, provision was severely constrained by repeated defections from the coalition. With the steady drumbeat of defections in the latter half of 2004 and throughout 2005 and 2006, the remnants of the coalition attempted to grapple with the reality that the cooperation of remaining members was highly contingent on the volatile nexus of domestic public opinion and events on the ground in Iraq. The result was a selfperpetuating cycle, where losses and setbacks in the theater of operations led to increased domestic opposition, which fueled defections that in turn further reduced the size of the coalition—ultimately raising the specter of further losses and setbacks on the ground. It was in this context that the Bush administration launched a “new way forward” in January 2007, committing the United States to a major troop surge in Iraq. Based on the strategic initiatives of Colonel H. R. McMaster, commander of US forces in Tal Afar, the dedication of five army and two marine brigades totaling over 20,000 new troops to a “clear-holdbuild” strategy across major population centers in Iraq represented a major strategic shift in the war, one that almost completely Americanized the war. From the standpoint of public goods provision, the surge, which commenced in January 2007, also marked the dawn of a major shift from weakest link deterioration to a best shot approach. Best shot approaches to public goods provision depend on the willingness and ability of a single actor, or very few actors, to bear the lion’s share of provision costs. Such an approach fits closely with Olson’s (1965) privileged group provision, where individual actors or small groups are able and willing to bear the costs of public goods provision if they value the public good highly enough. Thus, best shot approaches describe a dynamic whereby both the costs and benefits of public goods provision are concentrated and thereby restricted to a few or possibly even one actor who strongly desires to provide them, even if contributions from other actors are limited or absent. With the overthrow of Saddam Hussein creating a regional power vac-

106

Liberal Approaches

uum and ushering in a wave of sectarian violence by late 2003, Iraq could be characterized as anything but peaceful or even stable at the time of the announced surge. This reality was neatly recycled by the Bush administration to provide further evidence as to why an enhanced US-led coalition presence in Iraq was vital to the provision of regional peace and security. At the same time, the objective fact that the political and social environment in Iraq had unraveled in the wake of the invasion, jeopardizing regional security in the process, made that theme highly dubious in the view of remaining coalition partners. Whereas WMD counterproliferation and counterterrorism were public goods that resonated with key coalition partners and the international community as a whole due to their targeted and tangible nature—as well as the legacy of international policy action dedicated to those ends—the notion of peace as a public good was vague and nebulous. Repurposed by the Bush administration in conjunction with the surge—a build-up that topped out with the deployment of 170,000 coalition forces by October 2007—the public goods pitch for peace fell flat. That is, it failed to mobilize or sustain a coalition that had increasingly come to view the public good of peace as an unattainable goal for a seemingly unending operation. From an operational view, the last-ditch effort by the Bush administration to retain a public goods orientation for the Iraq War mattered little. A coalition force that had always been heavily dominated by the United States and the United Kingdom contingent was rendered even more so by the surge, sounding the death knell to any credible claim that the operation in Iraq was the product of a broad, unified coalition. Yet from the perspective of public goods theory, this last-ditch effort by the Bush administration to affix a public goods rationale to the operation, more or less in conjunction with the surge, is quite telling in that it provides ample evidence of the best shot approach to public goods provision. Equally telling is the rejection of this last-ditch effort by other remaining coalition actors who, in the wake of the surge, found new reasons to continue the steady pace of defections initiated by Spain in April 2004. It is also worth noting in this context that beyond the United States there were increasingly few countries that viewed the military effort in public goods terms at all. Thus, the United States was willing to take the lead in this best shot approach at least partly because it couldn’t find many others who saw much more than US private benefit in continued involvement.

■ Coalitions of the Unwilling? The preceding analysis documents the evolution (or, better yet, devolution) of the Iraq War coalition from a broad-based, multinational effort designed to unseat Saddam Hussein’s regime in the pursuit of collective goods to one where the responsibility for the outcome of Iraq’s future resided almost entirely with one state. In light of public goods theory, the 2003 Iraq War coalition can be

Public Goods Liberalism

107

best thought of as moving along a trajectory of public goods provision, from a summation to a weakest link to a best shot approach. This evolution is also evidence of the changing perceptions of countries regarding the degree to which the Iraq effort engendered public goods at all. As we have shown, much of this evolution had to do with the changing dynamics among coalition actors concerning prevailing perceptions of the three public goods associated with regime change in Iraq from the outset of the operation. By mid-2004, with the insurgency well under way, opportunity costs associated with the operation became untenable for a number of coalition partners. The perceived narrowing of both benefits and beneficiaries of an operation that was eventually repurposed to the provision of peace proved crucial in undermining the coalition, paving the way for a best shot approach to public goods provision dominated by the United States and the United Kingdom during and after the 2007 troop surge. Two interrelated factors combined to transform coalition dynamics and alter the prevailing coalition strategy in accordance with that trajectory. The first factor that altered actor perceptions of the operation—and by extension coalition dynamics—was the degree to which the emphasis of the operation was shifted to the broadly defined public good of peace as events unfolded on the ground in Iraq. This turn away from the more tangible and broadly appealing public goods of WMD counterproliferation and counterterrorism was necessitated in large part by a paradox that lay at the heart of the operation’s initial success. As the US-led coalition force readily displaced Saddam Hussein’s regime from power and extended its presence throughout the country, the intelligence deficiencies and gross distortions pertaining to both Iraq’s WMD capabilities and its connection to al-Qaeda that were used as the basis for the invasion by foreign policy principals in the Bush administration came into broad relief. This exposure required the United States to quickly repurpose the operation, falling back on the relatively nebulous good of peace and regional security as the lodestar intended to hold the coalition together. The second factor that changed coalition dynamics and prompted a shift in the strategy of public goods provision employed by the coalition was the extent to which the chief emphasis on the public good of regional security and peace fueled the perception among some coalition partners that such a rationale served as little more than a smokescreen for a more narrowly construed, private goods objective for the United States. This alternate interpretation was possible largely because the public good of peace tends to be vague and imprecise. As such, the public good of enhanced peace and security in the Middle East came to be seen as a cover for US aspirations for continued hegemonic domination over the region, and/or a reflection of a perverse liberal utopianism embedded within the Bush Doctrine (Heinze 2008; Butler 2007). In the end, the steady pattern of defections from April 2004 to December 2006 as well as the cluster of withdrawals in late 2008 might both be

108

Liberal Approaches

interpreted as evidence that the only goods associated with coalition involvement in Iraq were those that would be consumed privately by the United States, and not ones that stood to benefit the international community more generally. In that light, it is important to remember that even an ad hoc “coalition of the willing” retains the essential character and requisites that define more permanent, structured coalitions and alliances. In other words, their cohesion and effectiveness remain a function of the perception of gains and costs by coalition actors. In the case of the 2003 Iraq War, coalition actors eventually became unwilling to continue bearing the political, financial, and human costs of the war when those perceived gains came to be seen as illusory at best or narrowly private at worst.

■ Notes 1. For much greater detail on public goods approaches and their theoretical nuances see Cornes and Sandler (1986), Murdoch and Sandler (1982), and Sandler (1977). 2. Best shot approaches also parallel Keohane’s (1984) argument that international regimes that provide public goods for the international system require the existence of a dominant player at the point of regime formation, even if they do not require that actor to continue its dominant role over the longer term. 3. See Sandler (2006) for further discussion of this in the context of transnational terrorism. 4. US secretary of state Colin Powell’s testimony to the UNSC on 5 February 2003 was instrumental in reaffirming this notion in that it focused almost exclusively on the WMD issue. Further, Powell was strident in his insistence that the pursuit of enhanced WMD capability was an unwavering objective of the Iraqi regime, despite UNMOVIC findings a month earlier that Iraq lacked any “smoking gun”—thereby helping underscore WMD counterproliferation as a rationale for the invasion. 5. Of the former group, some of the more notable coalition members included (but were not limited to) Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Georgia. Examples of the second group include Panama, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Palau, Marshall Islands, and El Salvador. For a full listing of coalition members, see Table 3.3.1. 6. Chari refutes other potential explanations for the Popular Party defeat, pointing out that growth was strong under the Aznar government, with inflation and unemployment low, and the government had received high marks from the press and public for its handling of the Basque separatist movement ETA. Aznar had also presided over the removal of particularly unpopular Popular Party figures (such as former minister of economy Rodrigo Rato) and kept a pledge to resign as party leader. As of February 2004, the Popular Party held a popular majority in most opinion polls (CIS 2004). 7. Citing domestic opposition, Norway withdrew the vast majority of its contingent shortly after the Spanish withdrawal (in June 2004); its ten remaining liaison officers were removed in August 2006. 8. In a strikingly similar scenario to the Spanish election, the commitment of Dominican forces to the coalition proved to be a vital factor in a successful intraparty challenge to Partido Revolucionario Dominicano candidate Hipolito Mejia by center-left candidate Leonel Fernandez in 2004; Fernandez presided over the Dominican withdrawal in May 2004.

4 Game Theory Approaches 4.1 Game Theory Jennifer Sterling-Folker Because game theory is most often seen as a supplementary approach to realist and liberal theorizing, it is appropriate to discuss it immediately following those perspectives. It differs from realism and liberalism in that it is concerned with the processes of nation-state decisionmaking, rather than with the totality of global politics. Some game theorists have hopes of developing the approach into a unified theory of the social sciences, yet most would concede that, at least for now, it is best considered a useful heuristic tool for specific questions in the discipline.1 It has been utilized by both realists and liberals to explore conflict and cooperation, and it has been particularly useful in the study of deterrence and alliance formation. Game theory is used in the study of decisionmaking to simplify and streamline our conceptualization of the decisionmaking process in different situations. It is derived from the larger category of rational choice theory, which has its origins in the study of economics and is interested in the rationality of decisionmaking. In this context, rationality does not refer to the “rationalism” of the Grotian tradition and the English School, which are discussed later; nor does it mean “good” or “correct” or “wise.” As Michael Nicholson notes, “‘rational choice’ is an unfortunate term,” because it “implies approval, at least in some people’s minds,” but “the rationality involved is instrumental rationality which means little more than consistent choice under a coherent set of beliefs,” and “‘goal-directed choice theories’ would be a better term” (1996: 138). In this sense, then, rational choice theory is not about assessing the particular content of an actor’s goals (or whether it is morally correct or smart to pursue them). It is instead interested in tracing how human beings reason to obtain the goals they prefer. Rational choice approaches assume that when human beings make decisions, they have goals that they rank in order of preference. They further assume that human beings consider different methods for attaining these goals and weigh the costs and benefits of these methods. Thus rational 109

110

Game Theory Approaches

choice is the study of how human beings attempt to maximize their preferences or interests, which is referred to by game theorists as a “utility function” and is meant to indicate not only the ordering of preferences but their intensity as well. Game theory, also sometimes referred to as formal modeling, starts with the assumption that actors behave so as to maximize their utility function. It focuses specifically on strategic interactions where choice is interdependent and decisionmakers are interacting and responding to one another’s choices. It is important to underscore these specific attributes, since it is possible to adopt a rational choice assumption and not be a game theorist. Many realists and liberals are rational choicers in this sense, but game theory is a particular type of rational choice theorizing that studies the strategic interaction between two or more actors trying to maximize their utility functions. Game theory is also “an abstract form of reasoning arising from a combination of mathematics and logic,” which utilizes mathematics to specify “what would happen in a situation in which actors—each with strategies, goals, and preferred outcomes—engage in interaction in the form of a game” (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff 1997: 503). The use of the term “game” is deliberate, since the point of game theory is to see how each decisionmaker will attempt to maximize gains and minimize losses in a situation of competition, uncertainty, and incomplete information. Thus it has been likened to studying the moves in a game of chess, in which each player has a rank ordering of preferences and is simultaneously trying to obtain his or her own preferences while attempting to deny the preferences of the opponent. The analogy to chess is useful for highlighting why and how game theorists are interested in examining alternative strategies and logically understanding an opponent’s motivations and calculations, but the analogy should not be stretched too far. Chess is only one type of strategic situation to which game theory can be applied. Many strategic situations in IR involve bargaining over more or less payoff for each competitor rather than complete loss and capitulation.2 Game theorists have developed a range of games for analyzing different strategic situations in IR, and these are traditionally divided into games that are either noncooperative, referred to as zero-sum games, or cooperative, referred to as variable-sum or positive-sum games. Both types involve conflicting goals and competition to some degree, but in zero-sum games the gain by one opponent automatically means the equivalent loss by the other. Examples of zero-sum games include chess, checkers, or blackjack. Alternatively, in variable-sum games both opponents can gain (or lose) from their interaction, but the gains (or losses) will be unequal and the strategic bargaining involves determining how much each player can gain (or lose) while still remaining in favor of the interaction. Variable-sum games are particularly useful for examining coalition formation and bargaining, because they highlight the difficulty of finding a

Game Theory

111

mutually satisfactory solution even when all actors have an interest in finding one. Games such as chicken, stag hunt, harmony, deadlock, and bully are variable-sum, but the most famous is the prisoners’ dilemma, in which two fictitious prisoners are held incommunicado and given the option to remain silent and go to jail, or turn in their accomplice and go free, but only if the other prisoner remains silent. If both players behave rationally, both will refuse to cooperate and both will go to jail, which as Roger Hurwitz notes “was a puzzle and a surprise for game theorists . . . because the prisoner’s rational choices do not produce a reasonable outcome,” at least for the prisoners (1989: 116). Which game a theorist chooses to apply will depend on the parameters of the strategic situation being examined. Beginning in the 1950s there was considerable interest in, and US government support for, the development of game theory research as a possible aid in Cold War strategic planning. This led to an early erroneous belief in the discipline that game theory and rational choice were only appropriate to realist theorizing, which was also interested in strategic military security issues. It became increasingly clear, however, that game theory was “applicable across a broad spectrum encompassing political, military, and economic issues that are often treated as fundamentally different from each other but nevertheless contain actors seeking goals reflected in strategies and anticipated payoffs or benefits” (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff 1997: 504). While zero-sum games have been of most interest to realist scholars, liberal scholars have found variable-sum games to be useful for illuminating how cooperation can occur in a competitive, anarchic environment. Game theory has also been utilized in the study of public goods, collective action, and international political economy.3 Because game theory is relevant wherever strategic interaction takes place, it has been applied to topics as diverse as arms races, trade negotiations, crisis and conflict resolution, and the formation and maintenance of international organizations, security alliances, and international regimes. The topic of international conflict and war has received considerable attention from game theorists, who have employed rationalist explanations and expected utility models to demonstrate that “war may occur when two states each estimate that the expected benefits of using force outweigh the expected costs” (Viotti and Kauppi 1999: 56). Game theorists have also been interested in exploring the domestic incentive structures for civil wars and the creation and maintenance of democratic institutions. This is the subject of Chapter 4.2, by Brian Urlacher, which examines why efforts to create a democratic state in Iraq were met with sectarian violence and resistance. Utilizing game theoretical insights, Urlacher demonstrates that particular factions within Iraq had significant incentives to resist democratic political change, particularly as they were being imposed by a foreign power. Game theory is most appropriate to situations involving two actors or sides, because games involving more than two actors, called n-person

112

Game Theory Approaches

games, can be extremely complex to develop and analyze. This has led some critics to argue that, because it cannot yet capture the multiple actors or interests and interactions that occur simultaneously in the complicated world of IR, game theory does not tell us anything we did not already know. Critics also note that preferences are taken as givens in game theory analysis, so that the social institutions, norms, beliefs, and structures from which actor preferences derive are never examined. To be fair, however, game theory is meant to be an artificial rendering that is kept intentionally simple to analyze the strategic, interactive choice itself. Its adherents do not argue that game theory can tell us how or why decisionmakers form their preferences, nor do they claim that it accounts for how decisionmakers actually make decisions in the real world. Game theory is instead a heuristic device “based on mathematical-logical analysis and which purports to show what kind of strategy a rational player should play (when he or she presumes the opponent to be rational)” (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff 1997: 510). As such, game theory remains useful for the analysis of foreign policy decisionmaking, since strategic interaction remains an important element of international relations.

■ Further Reading Early work that laid the groundwork for the study of rational choice and game theory in the discipline includes Thomas Schelling’s The Strategy of Conflict (1960), Kenneth Boulding’s Conflict and Defense (1962), Steven Brams’s Rational Politics (1965), and William Riker’s The Theory of Political Coalitions (1962). While the literature on game theory in IR is vast, a sampling of seminal pieces includes Allan and Schmidt 1994; Brams and Kilgour 1988; Olson and Zeckhauser 1966; R. Powell 1991; Rapoport and Chammah 1965; and A. Smith 1999. The game theoretical literature on conflict in IR is also extensive, but good examples include Brams 1985; Bueno de Mesquita and Lalman 1992; Fearon 1995; Nicholson 1992; Reiter 2003; A. Smith 1995; and Walter 2009. Examples of game theoretical work on deterrence include Kugler and Zagare 1987 and A. Smith 1998. Game theory that explores the role played by reiterated interaction in cooperation includes Axelrod 1984; Kydd 2000; Oye 1986; Snidal 1991; and Taylor 1987. Examples of game theoretical work on negotiations and bargaining are Downs and Rocke 1990; R. Powell 2002; and Snyder and Diesing 1977. For game theoretic work on democracy and domestic institutions, see Bueno de Mesquita, Smith, Siverson, and Morrow 2003; and Weingast 1997, and for political economy, see Carlson 2000 and Conybeare 1984. Introductory texts and overviews of rational choice and game theory include Dixit and Skeath 2004; Hindmoor 2006; Poundstone 1992; Slantchev and Zagare 2010, and for a review of rational choice approaches in

Game Theory

113

political science, see Lalman, Oppenheimer, and Swistak 1993. One of the most widely read critiques of rational choice and game theory is Green and Shapiro 1994.

■ Notes 1. See Snidal 1986 or Brams and Kilgour 1988 for discussion of a unified theory. J. L. Richardson notes that such a theory would “consist of testable propositions derived from specifying the interests of actors a priori, in accordance with certain simplifying assumptions,” but that the complexities of numerous, heterogeneous, and interrelated actors in various contexts make interest specification impossible (2001b: 280). 2. In addition, game theorists disagree over the analytical appropriateness of moving beyond 2 x 2 games to mapping out the strategic moves of the players, often in the form of complex decision trees (Stone 2001). 3. See, for example, Conybeare 1984 or Stone, Slantchev, and London 2008.

4.2 Game Theory: Modeling Ethnic Violence Brian Urlacher

In the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion, the old structures that held Iraq together were torn asunder. In their place, the United States and coalition forces attempted to rebuild the Iraqi state on a more democratic, less repressive foundation. In spite of many flaws and missteps, this reconstruction effort largely reflects some of the best thinking, scholarship, and practical experience on how to manage transitions in ethnically divided societies (Morrow 2005). The new Iraqi state was built around a democratic model that ensures territorial autonomy, proportional representation, and the rights of individuals as well as the rights of ethnic and religious communities (McGarry and O’Leary 2007). This type of structure is widely thought to be a viable course for managing ethnic tensions (Lijphart 2002, 1977). 1 Various scholars have argued that security guarantees are critically important in preventing ethnic violence during periods of transition.2 The United States and coalition forces, while clearly not present in sufficiently large numbers to provide day-to-day security, remained in Iraq in large enough numbers to have an overwhelming advantage relative to any ethnic militias seeking to challenge the nascent Iraqi state. Yet, in spite of these preventative mechanisms, Iraq was consumed by a series of conflicts culminating in a brutal civil war in 2006 and 2007. Why did the effort to stabilize Iraq fail? Why did several of Iraq’s ethnic communities challenge the nascent Iraqi state, knowing that it was supported by US and coalition forces? Conversely, why did the Iraqi ethnic group most interested in independence, the Kurds, not attempt to break free from Iraq in the wake of the 2003 invasion? Drawing on insights derived from game theory, I seek to provide answers to these questions. My analysis shows that, paradoxically, efforts to stabilize Iraq may have actually increased the incentives of some groups to rebel against the nascent Iraqi state. This chapter proceeds in three parts. First, I review the patterns of violence in Iraq and the various factions that waged war against the nascent Iraqi state. Second, I review past research on transitions, violence, and the mechanisms that are thought to stabilize ethnic politics. Lastly, I make use of game theory to develop an explanation of why violence broke out in Iraq in spite of (and perhaps because of) the preventative mechanisms in place.

■ Ethnic Violence in Iraq In the wake of the 2003 invasion, Iraq became a cauldron of ethnic militias, violent extremist groups, and criminal gangs. Certainly, Iraq was a fractured 114

Game Theory

115

and divided society before coalition forces arrived. The Iraqi state under Saddam Hussein’s rule was only held together by repression and patronage, but it did function and mixed ethnic communities in major population centers like Baghdad were stable. In the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion the stability that had existed within and between Iraq’s ethnic communities evaporated. By mid-2010 the number of civilian deaths in the post-invasion period had reached 100,000.3 Violence forced a massive migration where more than 3 million Iraqis were either internally displaced or living as refugees in other states (Baker and Hamilton 2006: 10). To understand the mix of groups that contributed to this violence, it is useful to organize groups around the three main ethnic-sectarian communities in Iraq: the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds. The Shiite Arab community, which is concentrated in the southern and central parts of Iraq, is the country’s largest ethnic-religious group. In 2004 and 2005, at the urging of the Shia religious leader Grand Ayatollah alSistani, the Shiite community participated actively in the process of developing a new Iraqi constitution. Similarly, the Badr Organization, a Shiitedominated anti–Saddam Hussein militia, largely supported the reconstruction process. In spite of its links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the Badr Organization emerged as a pillar of stability in the south of Iraq, and the organization’s military wing was partially absorbed into Iraq’s security forces (Baker and Hamilton 2006: 10–16).4 Yet during this same period, the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr organized a militia known as the Mahdi Army, which clashed with coalition forces in several waves of violence in 2004. The Mahdi Army suffered a number of military defeats before Sadr brokered a cease-fire with coalition forces. Although Sadr’s political allies became part of the Shia-led government in 2005, the Mahdi Army remained intact and outside of state control. The Mahdi Army launched a renewed campaign of violence in early 2006. This violence was primarily aimed at the Sunni population, particularly in Baghdad where an ethnic cleansing campaign tore apart the city’s mixed ethnic neighborhoods, but the Mahdi Army also targeted the Badr Brigade, a rival Shiite militia (J. Jones 2007). The sectarian violence continued until summer 2007, when Sadr again called a cease-fire. The second major ethnic-religious community in Iraq, the Sunni Arabs, remained politically aloof during the early period of state reconstruction. Sunnis largely boycotted the January 2005 elections for the constitutional assembly. Consequently, Sunnis were greatly underrepresented in the constitutional process, and they were among the fiercest opponents of the constitution in the November 2005 referendum (Morrow 2005). While the initial resistance to coalition forces came from the remnants of Hussein’s regime, by 2004 the Sunni insurgency had morphed into a mix

116

Game Theory Approaches

of Iraqi and foreign fighters seeking nationalist, Islamist, or criminal ends. The Sunni insurgency was largely based in Iraq’s western province, Anbar. The primary confrontation between Sunni insurgent groups and coalition forces in 2004 centered on the city of Fallujah, which was attacked, then sieged, then stormed, and then finally held by coalition forces. While a negotiated solution had been found for the Mahdi Army’s occupation of Najif, the United States resisted calls by Sunni leaders for a similar outcome to the Fallujah siege (Woodward 2006: 298, 359). Throughout 2005 and 2006 Sunni insurgents increased the frequency of attacks against coalition forces as the coalition moved aggressively to reassert control over Anbar province. The height of the Sunni insurgency in 2005 and 2006 coincided with two political developments that laid a foundation for reduced violence in Iraq. First, the Sunni population took a more active role in the political process following the ratification of the new Iraqi constitution in 2005. Second, an internal power struggle developed between Iraqi and foreign insurgents for control of the insurgency (K. Wheeler 2010: 9–10). The victory and subsequent brutality of the foreign insurgents alienated the local population and local tribal leaders. In late 2006 tension that had been growing between foreign jihadists and Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province led to a real break (Kilcullen 2010: 152–153). Coalition forces helped to negotiate a number of deals with local leaders, who turned on foreign insurgents, encouraged participation in the Iraqi security forces, and created local selfdefense militias that worked in conjunction with coalition forces to stabilize Anbar province and break the hold of foreign jihadists over western Iraq (K. Wheeler 2010: 11–16). The third major ethnic/religious community in Iraq, the Kurds, largely avoided a violent confrontation with the nascent Iraqi state, coalition forces, and other ethnic communities in Iraq. Like the Shia Arabs, Iraq’s Kurdish community participated actively in the process of state reconstruction. The two main Kurdish political groups formed a close working relationship for purposes of local governance and national politics (Harff and Gurr 2004: 150). On the national level, Kurdish leaders worked closely with Shiite leaders in drafting the new Iraqi constitution and in forming Iraq’s first government. Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq remained comparably calm throughout the post-invasion period, in spite of potential ArabKurd flash points like the city of Kirkuk, which had not seen the scale of communal violence that was witnessed elsewhere in Iraq. The stability of the Kurdish area of Iraq is both unsurprising and bizarre. The stability is unsurprising in that the Kurds enjoyed a considerable degree of self-rule and near-total autonomy from Baghdad in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. Both before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, security in the Kurdish areas of Iraq was provided by more than 100,000 Kurdish

Game Theory

117

militia known as peshmerga. On the other hand, Kurds in Iraq and regionally have long sought an independent Kurdish state (Harff and Gurr 2004: 40–45), and the Kurds were perhaps better positioned than any other ethnic or religious community in Iraq to challenge the nascent Iraqi state. Thus it is just as strange that the Kurds did not use the fluidity of Iraq’s political and security situation to insist upon an independent state.

■ Political Transitions and the Risk of Ethnic Violence Political transitions are dangerous, particularly in multiethnic societies, and ethnic divisions are particularly volatile in transitions to democracy because ethnic communities create salient cleavages that can be exploited by politicians (Gagnon 1996; Hechter 1995; Snyder 2000). This can occur through a process of ethnic outbidding in which ethnically affiliated parties put forward increasingly extreme platforms to attract voters from their particular group (Rabushka and Shepsle 1972). Similarly, Paul Collier (2009) argues that in weak democracies, elections create strong incentives for elites to mobilize ethnic supporters and to directly or indirectly employ violence against other groups. There are ways to defuse the potentially explosive mix of ethnicity and democracy. Lijphart has argued for a constellation of institutional features that bind ethnic groups into the political system, creating incentives for ethnic cooperation and disincentives for ethnic outbidding. This constellation of institutional features includes broad political alliances and governing coalitions that provide representation for all groups; a degree of autonomy for groups; representation within government service (i.e., political, bureaucratic, and military positions) in a manner that is fair; and the provision of a veto for minority groups on those issues directly affecting a minority community (Lijphart 1996: 258). Additionally, the electoral system and electoral rules can greatly affect the political influence of ethnic communities. There are numerous electoral systems that can be used to manage ethnic tensions (see Reilly 2001). The system selected in Iraq—single-district proportional representation—has been shown empirically to reduce the risk of interethnic violence in other multiethnic states (Saideman, Lanoue, Campenni, and Stanton 2002). While well-designed institutions may make violence less likely, they may not be sufficient. James Fearon (1998) has shown that, in the wake of state collapse, a promise to establish a fair political system that respects the rights of minority communities does not reduce the incentives for ethnic war. In a game theoretic analysis, Fearon argues that state collapse creates a window of opportunity for ethnic groups. Should minority groups wish to make a bid for independence, they would be far more likely to succeed if they rebelled while the state remained weak than if they waited for the state

118

Game Theory Approaches

to be rebuilt. Groups anxious about the future are thus likely to take advantage of these windows of opportunity and launch a secessionist war. Unfortunately, according to the logic of Fearon’s game, the majority group cannot prevent a minority group from rebelling by promising to establish a political system that ensures the rights of the minority community. The reason is that the majority group cannot credibly promise not to oppress the minority group in the future. Once the state is rebuilt, there is nothing to prevent a majority group from running roughshod over the minority. Fearon then speculates that to short-circuit this dynamic, “the commitment problem can be eliminated if there is some powerful third party willing and able to commit to intervene if the majority does not respect political commitments to the minority” (Fearon 1998: 123). The importance of third-party security guarantees has been stressed by a number of other scholars of civil war and political transition.5 What is striking about the violence in Iraq after 2003 is that the mechanisms thought to reduce violence did not seem to have worked. Efforts to build protections for ethnic communities into the new state’s political structure failed to prevent groups from mobilizing for violence. Security guarantees provided by the United States and coalition forces seemed not to have reduced the anxiety of Sunnis about their place in the future of Iraq or deterred the Shia from pressing for greater advantage. And bizarrely, the Kurdish political leadership chose not to strike out against the nascent Iraqi state even though the Kurds both strongly desired independence and possessed a formidable security force. In trying to understand this puzzle, I develop a theoretical refinement of our understanding of ethnic violence and transitions.

■ Rationally Deciding to Rebel To better understand the outbreak of ethnic violence in Iraq, I employ game theory to help identify the logic undergirding a decision by ethnic communities or “factions” to rebel. I use the term faction rather than ethnic group in part because there are divisions within ethnic communities. Thus, it cannot be assumed that ethnic communities will act in a unified way. In thinking through a situation from a game theoretic perspective, a theorist first identifies who the relevant players are and the available range of choices each player may make. Once the players and their potential choices are defined, the theorist then maps out all of the logically possible outcomes and their consequences for the players. Finally, a decision rule is selected. A decision rule details how players will make their choices, selecting from the range of options available. A common decision rule used in game theory is rational choice, which assumes that actors are “utility maximizing.” In other words, individuals choose the course of action that they deem will give them the greatest benefit.

Game Theory

119

As discussed in the previous section, James Fearon (1998) developed a compelling argument that ethnic groups may be tempted to rebel against a nascent state because they fear repression once the state consolidates its power. A proposed antidote to this fear is an external security guarantee. If a third party can promise protection and support for a group should it be oppressed, the need to rebel before the state consolidates dissipates. A security guarantee provided by US and coalition forces was in place in Iraq, and yet two of the three ethnic groups challenged the nascent Iraqi state. To explain why, I will modify James Fearon’s basic model to tell a story that reflects the situation as it developed in Iraq. In this story the old political order is decapitated by a foreign power. The foreign power then attempts to support the reconstruction of the political system in two ways. First, the foreign power provides short- to mediumterm security while the state’s security institutions are being rebuilt. As the nascent state becomes able to take over security, the foreign power withdraws. The result is that there is no window of opportunity in which ethnic groups have a dramatically better chance of challenging the nascent state.6 Second, the foreign power plays an important role in crafting the new state institutions. The new regime must win the support of the various ethnic factions within the state. The occupying force, in consultation with leaders from each faction, begins constructing a political system. Inherent in this political system is a division of all of the benefits of the state, a variable that we will represent with the letter B. The benefits of the state might include natural resource wealth, cultural symbols, government employment, or access to public services or utilities. Each ethnic faction, which we will symbolize as fi, is offered a portion of the benefits of the state. The portion offered to an ethnic faction can range from 0 to 1 and will be defined as αi.7 Having set up the basic story, the next step is to define the choices of the factions. After the nascent state makes a proposal for dividing the benefits of the state, each faction may choose to accept the offer, or a faction may opt to challenge the new political order, seeking to drive out the foreign power and impose a different political system that apportions benefits more to a faction’s liking.8 While the final outcome of the confrontation between a faction choosing to rebel and the nascent state backed by an external power is uncertain, it is still possible for factions to estimate their expected utility of rebellion. This is done by identifying the consequences of victory and defeat and by weighting these consequences against the probabilities that each outcome will come to pass. If an ethnic faction succeeds in its effort to seize control of a state, it will gain all of the benefits that come with control of the state. Should the war go badly and the ethnic faction loses, the external power will impose some alternate distribution of benefits on the defeated faction. In this model the alternative distribution of benefits is represented with the letter b. This

120

Game Theory Approaches

imposed outcome may be equal to 0, or the external power may choose to show mercy and impose an outcome that still gives some benefits to the defeated faction.9 Factions weigh the anticipated value of victory and of defeat in proportion to the anticipated probability that each outcome will come to pass. The probability of victory for an ethnic faction is represented with the letter pi. The probability of defeat then is 1 – pi. The last factor to be considered in a model of an ethnic faction’s expected utility of rebellion is the anticipated costs of fighting, which will be signified with Ci. Taken together, an ethnic faction’s expected utility of rebellion is expressed in Equation 1. E (Urebellion) = piB + (1 – pi)b – Ci

(1)

The above model, as Spartan as it may be, captures much of the essential logic of rebellion. There are costs and potential benefits that must be weighed as one calculates the value of rebellion. But, in making a decision, groups would not simply look at the costs and benefits of rebellion; they would also compare the value of fighting against the value of accepting a government’s offer. If the value to a faction from Equation 1 is greater than the value of the proportion of benefits promised to a faction (αi B), then we should expect a faction to reject the offer to share benefits and opt to fight. If the value to a faction from Equation 1 is less than the value of benefits promised to a faction, then we should expect a faction to accept the government’s offer to share benefits. The equation is not intended to calculate the utility of any actor by substituting actual values in place of the variables. Rather, the equation is a model, a tool that can help draw out implications regarding the likelihood that a group will accept or reject the government’s offer to share benefits. According to the model, rebellion is more likely as the expected utility of rebellion, which is calculated using Equation 1, increases. Thus, the higher a faction’s chance of victory, the more likely that rebellion will be viewed as more profitable than accepting the proposed distribution of benefits. Similarly, the higher the anticipated costs of the conflict, the less likely that a faction will prefer conflict to cooperation with the new state. Lastly, the better the offer made to an ethnic faction by the external power and the nascent state, the greater the likelihood that the offer will be greater than an ethnic faction’s expected utility of rebellion. Considering the balance of the various elements in the expected utility of rebellion can help to make sense of the Kurdish decision not to rebel. The Kurds in Iraq were probably better positioned both politically and militarily than either the Shiite or Sunni Arabs to achieve independence or to challenge the nascent Iraqi state. For this reason the consequences of defeat likely weighed less on the calculations of Kurdish leaders than did the consequences of success. A successful rebellion by the Kurds in Iraq would

Game Theory

121

have triggered economic and potentially military retaliation by states like Turkey, which faces its own Kurdish separatist movement. Given that oil from northern Iraq flows out through pipelines in Turkey, the consequences of successful rebellion could have been economically ruinous for a new Kurdish state. This geopolitical reality tamped down the enthusiasm of Kurdish leaders for rebellion so that cooperation with the nascent Iraqi state was the more desirable course of action (Baker and Hamilton 2006: 18). Modeling the decision to rebel in this way might help to clarify the logic of the situation for the Kurdish leaders who were well positioned to rebel but opted not to do so. Yet, it does not explain why factions from within Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite Arab communities challenged the Iraqi state, which was backed by coalition forces, rather than accept a less than ideal but far from repressive system. I will next show that at least some part of the answer can be found in how factions evaluated the consequences of failure, which is defined as b in Equation 1. In other words, we need to consider how forgiving Iraq’s ethnic factions anticipate the nascent Iraqi state, and by extension the United States, to be. When evaluating the wisdom of rebellion, the consequences of failure may be more important than the prize associated with success. This is particularly true when the probability of victory is slim. Are the consequences of defeat likely to be repression or even genocide? Or, will political reconciliation be possible? How a group answers these questions has an impact on how members of the group assess the utility of rebellion. In the Iraq case, the consequences of defeat were determined in large part by the United States. The United States opted to negotiate an agreement with the Mahdi Army, not to negotiate in the siege of Fallujah, and to support the Sunni Awakening. This means that we need to build into our narrative the strategic interaction between the external power and the different factions. Let us assume that the foreign power can hold one of two preferences. The first possibility is that the external power is genuinely dedicated to the creation of an open, tolerant, multiethnic society in which all individuals are judged equal under the law. The initial offer of αi B thus reflects a genuine commitment to a fair distribution of benefits on the part of the external power. The foreign power’s view of the “appropriate” distribution will be unchanged by an act of rebellion, and the consequences of failure signified in the model are likely to be the same as the original offer. This can be stated mathematically as b = αi B. The second possibility is that the foreign power’s desire to establish a democratic state is flimsy, and the external power will retaliate against a failed rebellion with brutal repression. In this case the consequences of failed rebellion would be harsh and the value of the benefits to a faction after military defeat would be zero.10 Knowing the nature of the external power would then be very important to factions as they try to evaluate the prospective consequences of rebellion. Because the reaction of an external power cannot really be known

122

Game Theory Approaches

prior to a failed rebellion, factions must make educated guesses about the type of external power they face. Figure 4.2.1 lays out a game of incomplete information. This means that one of the players is uncertain of the past behavior or preferences of other players in the game (Gibbons 1992: 143). In this case, the preferences of the foreign power are unknown to factions. This uncertainty is captured in the first branch in the decision tree. This creates two possible scenarios. In one scenario the external power will respond to rebellion with oppression; in the other scenario the external power will be conciliatory. Ethnic factions, however, are not sure which of the two scenarios they are likely to face (signified by the dashed line in Figure 4.2.1).11 Of course, even if factions do not know with certainty how the foreign power will respond to a rebellion, they may develop beliefs about what kind of foreign power they are facing. These beliefs can be described in terms of a probability. A particular faction may believe that there is a high or low probability that nature has dealt them a conciliatory external power. This probability will be represented as qi. The value of qi can be derived from any number of indicators that might help a group develop its expectations about the state of the world. For example, the signals sent by the United States no doubt helped Iraqi leaders evaluate and judge US intentions.12 President Bush argued forcefully and repeatedly that the US presence in Iraq was aimed at the creation of a successful multiethnic democracy in the heart of the Islamic world.13 The United States under the Bush administration framed success in Figure 4.2.1 Decision Tree Type of external power

Conciliatory

Repressive

Move by ethnic faction

Rebel

piB + (1 – pi )αiB – Ci

Accept

αiB

Rebel

piB – Ci

Accept

αiB

Game Theory

123

Iraq as more than stability; it sought to make Iraq a shining example of democracy. Thus the US stance effectively provided to Iraqi ethnic factions a level of assurance that the United States would not waver from its commitment to establishing a democratic system in Iraq, regardless of what a particular ethnic faction chose to do. Given the logic of the model as it has been defined, this assurance meant that rebellion became a more attractive option than it would have been if uncertainty regarding the US response had remained. If ethnic factions were to operate under the assumption that the foreign power would be repressive and assigned qi a probability of 0, then factions would believe that failure may result in being locked completely out of the political system. If this were the case, then rebellion would only be preferable to acceptance of the proposed distribution of benefits when piB – Ci is greater than αiB. Rebellion would be an all or nothing game, and the game would be expensive to play. If, however, an ethnic faction is certain that the foreign power will be conciliatory and assigns to qi a probability of 1, then the calculations change. If an ethnic faction expects to receive the initial offer should it be defeated, then rebellion will be preferred by a faction when piB + (1 – pi)αiB – Ci is greater than αiB. Because defeat by a conciliatory foreign power can still yield value for the defeated faction, the expected utility of rebellion when a foreign power is believed to be conciliatory will always be greater than or equal to the utility of rebellion when an external power is believed to be repressive. Again, this is important because the greater the utility of rebellion from Equation 1, the more likely it is that groups will prefer rebellion to accepting the nascent government’s offer. One implication of this is that the more certain Iraqi factions were that the US and coalition forces wanted Iraq to emerge as a politically open, multiethnic society, the more attractive rebellion became. Of course an ethnic faction would still need to determine that the prospective gains are worthwhile relative to the costs, but a commitment to a democratic Iraqi state effectively eliminates the downside of defeat from the strategic logic. When an external power is repressive, the consequences of failure are high and fully experienced. An ethnic faction with a slim chance of success would have little incentive to challenge a newly consolidating state backed by a repressive external power. That same group would have a much greater incentive were the external power conciliatory. In fact, the difference between rebelling against a repressive external power and a conciliatory external power becomes greater as the probability of successful rebellion decreases. The implications of this model may strike some as strange. Intuitively, external assurances that a new political order would ensure fair representation, minority rights, and equality under the law should reduce the motivation for groups to rebel. This is, after all, the logic of consociational democracy. But, counterintuitive or not, when the decision to rebel is framed in

124

Game Theory Approaches

terms of the gains, risks, and costs, it becomes clear that a strong commitment to the creation of a fair political system removes the risks from the decision calculus associated with a failed rebellion. This helps to illuminate one of the central puzzles of Iraq. Shiite leaders like Muqtada al-Sadr were well positioned to benefit from a democratic political system in Iraq, yet they rebelled against it. The above analysis suggests that there was little contradiction in this since access to the benefits of political participation were essentially decoupled from the decision to challenge or to work with the nascent Iraqi state. The muted consequences of military defeat and the potential rewards of victory likely helped to entice a handful of Sunni and Shiite leaders to resist the new Iraqi state. On the other hand, the Kurdish leaders experienced no such enticement because of the limited consequences of defeat and the potential rewards of success. As discussed earlier, the looming threat of Turkish economic or military pressure seems to have dampened the enthusiasm of Kurdish leaders for independence. Skepticism that successful rebellion would pay likely helped to tip the strategic calculus of Kurdish leaders in the direction of cooperation with the new Iraqi state.

■ Conclusion The above model is a step forward in explaining why Iraq descended into Hobbesian anarchy in the years following the 2003 invasion and why preventative mechanisms failed to stop this slide. There are, however, a number of refinements that could be built into the model. One potential limitation to the model presented here relates to the narrow way in which the consequences of rebellion are defined. George Tsebelis (1990) has developed the concept of “nested games,” recognizing that the decisions of actors have potential consequences in multiple arenas. Taking the model developed in this chapter as an example, leaders that resist the external power may lose militarily, but simply by resisting they may gain greater reputation and even influence within society. It is likely that motivations for rebellion rooted in other situations may have an impact on the calculations of ethnic factions. A second refinement would be to adjust the decision rule used by factions. While it is convenient to assume that individuals think objectively about the risks they face, research on human psychology has shown that the willingness of people to accept risk changes depending upon their situation. In particular, when people are in danger of losing what they have acquired, they become more willing to take risks to preserve the status quo (Levy 1997). This potentially applies to the situation in Iraq. Sunni Arabs, who had been privileged under Saddam Hussein, may have been more willing to take risks in challenging the nascent Iraqi state than Shiite Arabs, who were on the political ascent after 2003.

Game Theory

125

Lastly, the model could be expanded by building in the role of other actors at different points in time. For example, the external power is not the only actor with a say over the nature of the response to rebellion. As the nascent state relies less on the external power for security, the nascent state would be freer to respond to rebellion as it wishes. In this version of the story, it would be important to know if the nascent state is inclined to be more or less forgiving than the external power. If the nascent state is likely to be less forgiving, then factions may prefer to rebel early, when the external power determines the response. If the nascent state is likely to be more forgiving, then factions may wish to wait until the external power has withdrawn completely before attempting rebellion. While the model presented in this chapter could certainly be refined further, it accomplishes its primary task here of illuminating why preventative mechanisms might fail to prevent ethnic violence. It also illustrates one of the strengths of game theory. Game theory offers tools for thinking through complex situations so that it becomes almost second nature to consider the strategic interdependence of the choices that we make (Hardin 1982: 23). At its best, game theory helps researchers accomplish two important goals. First, game theory helps to elegantly capture the essential elements of human behavior in a situation. Second, game theory helps to reveal nontrivial and potentially counterintuitive observations about a situation, identifying what might well have been missed had an analysis of a situation been developed using verbal narratives rather than the tools of game theory.

■ Notes 1. The primary critique against designing institutions to explicitly manage and balance ethnic communities comes from Horowitz (1985), who cautions that this approach entrenches existing identities and obstructs the emergence of larger, more inclusive identities. This critique is worth considering, but addressing ethnic tensions through institutional mechanisms seems a better solution to the immediate threat of ethnic violence that was facing Iraq in the wake of the 2003 invasion. 2. See, for example, Fearon (1998), Posen (1993), and Walter and Snyder (1999). 3. This estimate is based on documented civilian deaths as collected by Iraq Body Count (www.iraqbodycount.org). Other studies (see Roberts, Lafta, Garfield, Khudhairi, and Burnham 2004) using different methodologies have produced far greater civilian casualty estimates. 4. Splinter militias loosely associated with the Badr Organization were implicated in attacks on the Sunni community; however, the Badr Organization actively sought to portray itself as a political rather than military organization in the years immediately following the ouster of Saddam Hussein (Beehner 2006). 5. See Lake and Rothchild (1996), Posen (1993), and Walter and Snyder (1999). Lake and Rothchild (1996) point out that the effectiveness of an external security guarantee is partly related to the confidence that parties have in the guarantee. No doubt Iraqi leaders considered and perhaps even prepared for a US and coalition

126

Game Theory Approaches

withdrawal from Iraq, but I am skeptical that this would have been a source of violence in the short term. After all, preparing to launch a violent bid for control after external forces have withdrawn is a far less dangerous proposition than attempting to challenge those external forces directly. 6. In Fearon’s model the window of opportunity created by state weakness was a crucial part in the decision of groups to rebel early on against a new state rather than waiting to see if the political system would become repressive. In this analysis groups may still decide to rebel against this nascent state, but the motivation will not come from a temporary strategic opportunity. 7. It is also assumed that the sum of all proportions will total no more than 1. In other words, the benefits of the state are zero-sum. 8. For simplicity’s sake it is assumed in this version of the model that the external power advancing the state-building effort will oppose a rebellion. This assumption seems reasonable in that any state that undertakes an invasion and nationbuilding effort would be inclined to defend its own policy at least in the initial stages of a conflict. Certainly, if a conflict continues, the external power may choose to withdraw; however, this possibility is incorporated into the model as part of the probability of success. 9. Allowing the consequences of defeat to vary is a minor alteration to Fearon’s initial model. Fearon assumed that a defeated group would receive nothing, but this assumption needs revisiting given events on the ground in Iraq, where the defeat of Sunni and Shia militias did not prevent the participation of these groups in the political life of Iraq. 10. This assumption of two types of external powers could be relaxed, allowing for an external power to impose a value for b that is greater than 0 and less than or equal to αiB. Altering this assumption complicates the presentation of the model but it does not alter the main substantive implications of the model presented in this chapter. 11. In games of incomplete information the initial fork in the decision tree, which establishes different but unknown scenarios, is often described as a move by “nature.” Attributing the preferences of an actor to a move by “nature” is not meant to remove agency from actors, only to help frame the uncertainty about how an actor is likely to respond to a situation. 12. The United States has not shown the same interest in the promotion of democracy in previous military interventions. Peceny (1995) documents US behavior in fifty-nine military interventions between 1898 and 1992 and speculates on the domestic politics motivations for its post-intervention behavior. The United States attempted to establish democratic systems in 69.5 percent of its military interventions during this period. 13. President Bush articulated this goal for Iraq at many points during his presidency. One of the most forceful presentations of this vision for Iraq was delivered on 24 May 2004 at the Army War College. A transcript of the speech can be found at www.nytimes.com/2004/05/24/politics/25PTEX-FULL.html.

5 Constructivist Approaches 5.1 Constructivism Jennifer Sterling-Folker Although constructivism is a relatively new theoretical approach to the discipline of IR, it has quickly become one of its leading perspectives. While one can see disciplinary antecedents to it in liberal pluralism’s integration literature of the 1950s and 1960s, IR scholars have deliberately borrowed from other disciplines to develop the central tenets of constructivism. The study of literature and linguistics is particularly pertinent to its origins, as is the work of sociologists such as Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Anthony Giddens. However, it was not until the late 1980s that constructivism was introduced into the discipline as a coherent theoretical package, and since then it has rapidly risen to disciplinary prominence. Ole Wæver has observed that from reading IR journals one gets the impression that 80 percent of the discipline is neorealist, but “if, then, one looks around an ISA (International Studies Association) conference at the actual participants, it will take hours to find anyone willing to be identified as a neo-realist, while a very high proportion of the young participants do constructivist or poststructuralist work” (1997: 26). Constructivism now occupies the space once reserved for Marxism in standard schematics of the three dominant theories of the discipline.1 Why constructivism, or social constructivism as it is also called, became so popular so quickly is partly due to current events. The end of the Cold War came as a shock to most IR theorists and posed considerable analytical problems for existing IR theories.2 The failure of established theoretical perspectives to anticipate not simply the event itself, but also the speed with which it occurred, opened the door for new IR theoretical approaches to be considered. And, to constructivism’s advantage, one of its central tenets was the possibility of rapid, radical change that was feasible because, in the words of one influential constructivist, “anarchy is what states make of it” (Wendt 1992: 395). What Alexander Wendt meant by this was, contra realism, a pregiven interest in survival is not induced simply by 127

128

Constructivist Approaches

the condition of anarchy, and so power competition, security dilemmas, and war are not inevitable features of anarchy. Constructivists argued instead that we create our own security dilemmas and competitions by interacting in particular ways with one another so that these outcomes appear to be inevitable. If the quality of interaction were to change, however, that is, if we were to perceive one another as potential friends rather than enemies, international outcomes could be very different. The basis for such claims lies in the study of identity formation and how social interaction produces social identities. Constructivists observe that our identities and interests do not exist separately from the social situations to which they are appropriate, or, as Alice Ba and Matthew Hoffmann have put it, actor “interests and identities depend on the context in which they find themselves” (2003: 20). Identities and interests are socially constructed by the particular way we interact with one another, hence the name of the perspective itself, which was coined by Nicholas Onuf (1989). The collective knowledge and understandings that make these identities possible is what constructivists call “intersubjective meanings.” The process whereby intersubjective meanings and hence identities and interests are created involves a cycle of signaling, interpreting, and responding. We attempt to signal intent and meaning to one another through our words and actions, we interpret and ascribe meaning to those signaled words and actions, and we produce words and actions meant to signal responding intent and meaning. This act of communicating, and the human dependence on both spoken and written language in order to do so, is an essential but not unproblematic feature of the process. It is problematic because, as has long been observed in the study of linguistics, language is subject to a “hermeneutic circle” in which “we cannot know the world independently of the language we use” to describe it (Adler 1997: 326). From the hermeneutic study of how we interpret or ascribe meaning with language, constructivists have derived an interest in how human beings collectively interpret and impose shared meanings on objects and actions, because in so doing human beings collectively produce their own social realities. Money is a social reality, for example, and yet as a physical object it has no value except what we have collectively ascribed to it. According to Emanuel Adler, “social reality emerges from the attachment of meaning and functions to physical objects; collective understandings, such as norms, endow physical objects with purpose and therefore help constitute reality” (1997: 324). Such collective understandings, and their accompanying social identities and interests, can become reified or embedded over time so that alternatives seem unimaginable. “Notions of what is right or wrong, feasible or infeasible, indeed possible or impossible, are all a part of an actor’s social context,” Ba and Hoffmann observe, “and it is these ideas that shape what

Constructivism

129

actors want, who actors are, and how actors behave” (2003: 210). It seems natural to be handed a syllabus at the start of a course, for example, or to receive a grade for your work at the end, and for my efforts as a teacher to be monetarily compensated. These social practices are expected of today’s teacher-student relationship, which produces an interest on your part in receiving a syllabus and a grade, and an interest on my part in being paid for my efforts. The specific interests and the specific relationship cannot be separated, but more to the point, we also share a common understanding of what the relationship entails, and we act in a particular way that reinforces our expectations. In so doing, we are reinforcing an established social institution that exists regardless of our participation in it, and that, as Patrick Thaddeus Jackson and Daniel Nexon have observed, must be “logically prior to the entities which make up the group” known as teachers/students (1999: 303). Hence the social institution of teacher-student would remain even if we end our own participation in it, because the relationship is an embedded structure within our society. Many people participate in it and there are many cognitive and material social practices that support it so that this identity relationship has a structured existence independent of its participating individuals. The relationship also entails specific expectations and behaviors that even individuals who are not themselves teachers or students will understand and support as natural nonetheless.3 Parents pay tuition, stores sell computers and supplies, departments provide copy machines and classrooms, university administrations sign paychecks, and so on. You and I are participating in the social relationship of teacher-student as free and individual agents, and such a relationship is dependent upon individuals such as ourselves, who must all be interacting in a way that is relatively specific to this particular relationship. Yet rather perversely, we are also participating in a larger social structure over which we have little direct control, and by participating in it we are reinforcing it as an embedded social institution. The idea that we are free agents who create our own social institutions, and yet are constrained by the social structures that our very free agency creates, is a basic philosophical conundrum. Constructivists refer to it as the problem of codetermination or the agent-structure debate, but they are certainly not the first to grapple with it. In fact it was Karl Marx who captured the essence of it best in observing that “people make history but not in conditions of their own choosing.” This is an observation that is central to other IR theoretical approaches, including postmodernism, critical theory, and many variants of feminist theory. It was constructivism, however, that was responsible for bringing it into the IR theoretical mainstream and, given its analytical interests and sources, constructivism has frequently been listed alongside other postpositivist approaches in the discipline as an

130

Constructivist Approaches

example of reflectivism or interpretivism.4 These are said to be in opposition to the rationalism or neo-utilitarianism of realism and liberalism, whose dominant variants subscribe to positivism, which in turn sanctions their shared assumption that interests and identities may be treated as pregivens in an analysis (Katzenstein, Keohane, and Krasner 1998; Ruggie 1998). In practice, however, many constructivist IR scholars subscribe to positivism as well, arguing that traditional scientific methodologies can be consistent with the interpretivist foundations of constructivism (Adler 1997; Checkel 1998; Dessler 1999; Hopf 1998). There are some differences between constructivists on this score, and it is possible to categorize constructivist variants according to their epistemological differences.5 But in general, a great deal of constructivist analysis has not been as radical as one might initially think, because many constructivist scholars seek to occupy the middle ground between positivism and postpositivism (Adler 1997). What distinguishes constructivist analyses in the discipline is less the methodology or epistemology and more the topics or subjects that have been explored. In this regard, constructivism has legitimized certain subjects of inquiry that had either lain dormant in the discipline or had simply been ignored, such as collective identity, culture, practice, and norms (hence the title of Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil’s 1996 book, The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory). The aggregate identity that has received the most attention in constructivist scholarship is the nation-state. Constructivists argue that interaction among nation-states can lead to the development of identities such as competitor and rival, or friend and ally, which can become entrenched over time and reinforced by continued interaction that appears to confirm the identity as true. Hence the nature of interaction between the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War seemed to confirm as natural their identities as competing poles. While there is disagreement within the discipline as to whether constructivism can actually explain how this relationship went from hostile to friendly almost overnight, the event does seem to confirm constructivism’s overall point. Many structures we take to be immutable in IR are actually embedded social relationships that are contingent to a large extent on how nationstates think about and interact with one another. If, as Adler puts it, “constructivism shows that even our most enduring institutions are based on collective understandings” (1997: 322), then it is also possible for those understandings to change and for many of the IR structures we take for granted to change as well. This constructivist interest in identity has generated a lively debate over Wendt’s (1999: 215) claim that “states are people too” and so may be treated as purposive actors that shape reality separately from the actions of their individual citizens.6 It has also led to the study of

Constructivism

131

ontological security, which is how states seek not just physical security but a secure and consistent self-identity as well. Some constructivists have concentrated on how the historical development of the nation-state represented a change in the constituent unit of the international system, thereby affecting shared collective understandings and subsequently reconstituting the international system in its own image. If today we take the Westphalian system and the sovereign nation-state as natural, it is only because we share collective understandings that it is so. As John Gerard Ruggie asserts, “constructivists also tend to believe, as a working hypothesis, that insofar as sovereignty is a matter of collective intentionality, in the final analysis, so, too, is its future” (1998: 21). Other topics that constructivists have been interested in exploring involve the role played by ideas, norms, culture, and ongoing international practices in promoting structural change. Constructivists who focus on the contemporary international system tend to study the way norms serve as “collective expectations with ‘regulative’ effects on the proper behavior of actors with a given identity,” or how culture represents “both evaluative standards (such as norms and values) and cognitive standards (such as rules and models) that define the social actors that exist in a system, how they operate, and how they relate to one another” (Katzenstein, Keohane, and Krasner 1998: 679–680). Among some constructivists there is an emphasis on studying “how individual agents socially construct these structures in the first place” (Adler 1997: 330, emphasis in original), because social contexts, and hence identities and interests, may be consciously reshaped by particularly shrewd or conscientious individuals. In addition, there is interest in what constructivists have called “the practice turn” in IR, which focuses on how repetitively performed social interactions might “reify background knowledge and discourse in and on the material world” (Adler and Pouliot 2011: 6). Because constructivism focuses on interaction and the possibility of change, there is an obvious affinity between much of the constructivist norms or identity literature and liberal IR theory.7 This affinity has been reinforced by the tendency among constructivist IR scholars to concentrate on the development of morally desirable norms and to prefer a systemic level of analysis that ignores how domestic actors internally and collectively constitute their nation-states. Yet analytically there is no reason why any of these propensities are inevitable to constructivism, and it is possible to practice a form of realist constructivism that emphasizes the reification of embedded power structures rather than the prospects of their change.8 It is also possible to explore the development of morally repugnant norms and identities, to conduct domestic-level analysis within a constructivist framework, and to focus on how contestation over normative meanings can inhibit desirable outcomes. Chapter 5.2 provides an example of the latter, as

132

Constructivist Approaches

Matthew Hoffmann traces the failure of major allies to cooperate over the 2003 invasion of Iraq to divergent understandings of international law. Hoffmann argues that, despite a shared normative commitment to international legal norms, it was disagreement over the applicability and meaning of these norms that led to divergent preferences and behaviors. Another constructivist topic of inquiry involves the study of narratives, rhetoric, speech acts, and signaling, since these are necessary to the interaction that produces identities and interests. If the social world is linguistically constructed and reproduced through the act of communication, then the words we use and the narratives that we invoke matter a great deal to the social reality that is created. By choosing particular narratives to justify our actions, we do not simply make sense of the world, as an epistemological positivist might assert, but actually make the world according to those narratives. These observations lie closer to the postpositivist end of the constructivist epistemological spectrum, as they are central to postmodernism, critical theory, and the English School as well. But here too, one finds variety in how constructivists have utilized discourse analysis to examine narrative and rhetoric in IR. Some constructivists have focused on how speech acts invoke social rules that convey mutually recognizable validity claims in the international system (Frederking 2003; Onuf 1989). Others have examined and reproduced the narratives that have been invoked to justify and make possible particular foreign policies. Chapter 5.3, by Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, is an example of this type of analysis. Utilizing a relational constructivist perspective, Jackson examines the public arguments and rhetoric invoked to legitimate and make possible the invasion of Iraq. Although the analytical differences between constructivists can appear stark, there remains a shared commitment to a transformational logic involving “the notion that actors’ words, deeds, and interactions shape the kind of world in which they exist, and that the world shapes who actors are and what they want” (Ba and Hoffmann 2003: 15). As a result, constructivism has posed significant epistemological and ontological challenges to the discipline of IR, as established theories have sought to juxtapose, incorporate, or distance themselves from its central propositions. It has managed to galvanize and broaden IR theoretical debates in a relatively short span of time and in a way that other theoretical alternatives to realism and liberalism have not. As Wæver notes of the discipline, “with constructivism as a socially accepted alternative to mainstream rationalism and institutionalism, there is clearly a drift towards more philosophical and meta-theoretical debates” (1997: 25). And while constructivist scholarship has been faulted by its critics for simultaneously being too radical or not radical enough, it has also been able to integrate other IR theories within its ambit and apply its insights and propositions to a diverse range of topics within the discipline.

Constructivism

133

■ Further Reading The antecedents to constructivism can usually be found in disciplines other than IR, although who has been influential often varies according to particular constructivist scholars. Hence a list of antecedents might include such varied work as Berger and Luckmann 1966; Bhaskar 1979; Durkheim 1965; Giddens 1984; Mead 1934; Searl 1995; or Weber 1968. Although the work of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, and Friedrich Nietzsche is also sometimes cited, these are more apropos to dedicated postpositivist approaches such as postmodernism, critical theory, and critical feminism. The IR texts most responsible for promoting constructivism as a new approach in the discipline include Friedrich Kratochwil’s Rules, Norms, and Decisions (1989), Nicholas Onuf’s World of Our Making (1989), John Gerard Ruggie’s Constructing the World Polity (1998), and Alexander Wendt’s Social Theory of International Politics (1999; see also 1992, 1987). General discussions and examples of constructivism can be found in Adler 1997; Checkel 1998; Dessler 1999; Fierke and Jørgensen 2001; Guzzini and Leander 2006; Hopf 1998; Klotz and Lynch 2007; Palan 2000a; and Price and Reus-Smit 1998. For in-depth discussions of the problem of codetermination or the agent-structure debate, see Archer 2003; Carlsnaes 1992; Dessler 1989; Friedman and Starr 1997; Hollis and Smith 1994; “Moving Beyond the Agent-Structure Debate” 2006 (a forum in International Studies Review); and C. Wight 2006. Constructivist analysis that concentrates on historical and/or system transformation includes A. Johnston 1995; Hall 1998; Kratochwil and Ruggie 1986; Reus-Smit 2008, 1999; Spruyt 1994; Wendt 1999; and some of the essays reprinted in Ruggie 1998. Examples of constructivist analysis focusing on culture, practice, identity, and ontological security in the contemporary international system include Adler and Pouliot 2011; Goff and Dunn 2004; Hopf 2002; Huysmans 1998; Katzenstein 1996; Kinnvall 2004; Lapid and Kratochwil 1996; Mattern 2005; Mitzen 2006; Pouliot 2010; Steele 2008; and Zarakol 2010. The constructivist literature on contemporary norms is quite extensive, with semi nal examples including Adler and Barnett 1998; Finnemore 1996; Finnemore and Sikkink 1998; Kacowicz 2005; Klotz 1995; Kratochwil 1989; Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink 1999; and Tannenwald 2007. Discourse analysis in constructivism can be found in two general forms: those texts that focus on speech acts (what Brian Frederking calls “rules-based” constructivism) and those that focus on narrative recovery or recreation. For examples of the former, see Crawford 2002; Duffy and Frederking 2009; Frederking 2003; Onuf 1989; Kubalkova, Onuf, and Kowert 1998; and Risse 2000. For examples that concentrate on recovering alternative narratives and narrative strategies, see Doty 1996; Fierke 2000; Jackson

134

Constructivist Approaches

and Nexon 1999; Milliken 2002; Neumann 1999; “Images and Narratives in World Politics” 2001 (a special issue of Millennium); Weldes 1999a; and Wilmer 2002. Many of the narrative examples (along with some of the identity examples) lie closer to the postpositivist end of constructivism’s epistemological spectrum and, for this reason, might be cited as examples of postmodern or poststructuralist works instead. Discussions of constructivist epistemology can be found in Barder and Levine 2012; Debrix 2003; Pouliot 2004; Wiener 2004; Zehfuss 2002; and “Interrogating the Use of Norms in International Relations” 2012 (a symposium in International Studies Perspective).

■ Notes 1. According to the 2012 TRIP survey results (Maliniak, Peterson, and Tierney 2012: 27), when US international relations scholars were asked to best describe their theoretical approach to IR, the three categories that received the highest ranking were liberalism (20 percent), constructivism (20 percent), and realism (16 percent). Worldwide, constructivist self-identification was 22 percent, thereby outdistancing both liberalism and realism, at 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively. 2. Realist scholars had assumed either that bipolarity would continue indefinitely or that its collapse would involve violent confrontation between the two poles. While liberal scholars had anticipated peaceful change, they had assumed it would occur gradually and had focused their analytical efforts not on East-West relations but on cooperation among the major industrials, who were essentially the alliance partners of one of the poles. Both dominant perspectives tended to treat bipolarity as an embedded structure that would be nearly impossible to change. Yet within the span of months, the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union shifted from outright hostility to cordial and cooperative much to the surprise of IR theorists at the time. 3. Or as Adler puts it, “this knowledge persists beyond the lives of individual social actors, embedded in social routines and practices as they are reproduced by interpreters who participate in their production and workings. Intersubjective meanings have structural attributes that do not merely constrain or empower actors. They also define their social reality” (1997: 327). 4. Robert Keohane suggested the term “reflective” because such approaches “emphasize the importance of human reflection for the nature of institutions and ultimately for the character of world politics” (1988: 384). The term “interpretivism” is sometimes used because such approaches posit that “in the social and interpreted world in which (as they see it) we live, only ideas matter and can be studied” (Adler 1997: 321). 5. For example, John Gerard Ruggie (1998: 35–36) typologizes constructivism into neoclassical, postmodernist, and naturalistic variants based on epistemological differences, while Ted Hopf (1998) describes it as a conventional–critical theory dichotomy. The differences epistemology can make to constructivist analysis can be illustrated by comparing texts such as Finnemore (1996) to Onuf (1989), or Keck and Sikkink (1998) to Weldes (1999a) and Neumann (1999). 6. See, for example, the articles in the forum, “Is the State a Person? Why Should We Care?” (2004), as well as Lomas (2005) and Schiff (2008).

Constructivism

135

7. As a result, it is common for constructivism to be described as a variant of liberalism. Mark Zacher and Richard Matthew (1995: 135–136) cite the work of Wendt and Ruggie as examples of “institutional liberalism” in their overview of liberal IR theory. Similarly, Paul Viotti and Mark Kauppi (1999: 217) include a discussion of constructivism in their review of the regimes literature. This normative affinity might partially account for “the emergence of a middle ground where neoinstitutionalists from the rationalist side meet constructivists arriving from the reflectivist side” (Wæver 1996: 168). See also Sterling-Folker (2000). 8. For realist constructivism, see Barkin (2010, 2003); D. Copeland (2000a); Sterling-Folker (2002b); and “Realist Constructivism (Forum)” (2004), an International Studies Review symposium on the subject.

5.2 Norm Constructivism: Contesting International Legal Norms Matthew J. Hoffmann Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991). . . . The [Security] Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations. —UN Security Council 2002b

In 2002, the UNSC unanimously agreed to Resolution 1441 warning Iraq of “serious consequences” in the absence of “full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions” (UN Security Council 2002b).1 In the event that the Iraqi government continued to challenge the Security Council, it was the duty of all UN member states to punish the Iraqi government for its “continued violations” (UN Security Council 2002b). The world’s powers were united in the face of an Iraqi threat, working through the international legal structure enshrined in the 1948 founding of the UN to address a perceived affront to international peace and security. Yet consensus in the Security Council and among great powers rapidly disintegrated. Rival interpretations of the threshold for Iraqi compliance surfaced (Puetter and Wiener 2005; Sandholtz 2008; Wiener 2004). Questions surrounding the time frame for compliance emerged. Debates over the extent of consequences applied to the Iraqi government and which actors could legitimately enforce those consequences appeared. In the end, the United States undertook an invasion of Iraq in 2003 to enforce the UNSC resolutions, but did so with much less support than we would expect given US predominance and the consensus evident in the Security Council only months prior. The United States proceeded with its invasion over the objections of China and Russia as well as those of traditional allies France and Germany. Only the United Kingdom, among the great powers, stood with the United States and the invasion went forward without the blessing of the UN. The 2003 invasion appears to be a clear-cut example of the powerful doing what they will and the powerless what they must (Thucydides 1996: 351). Social constructivism would appear to provide little leverage or value in explaining the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Yet further scrutiny reveals that we are not simply dealing with a case of powerful actors ignoring social norms and international law to pursue what they perceive as their own best interests. On the contrary, the normative structure of international law shaped how the United States understood and pursued its interests. Further,

136

Norm Constructivism

137

this is not a case of some actors following norms and others violating them. Both the supporters of US action in Iraq and those that opposed the 2003 invasion belonged to the same normative community (Puetter and Wiener 2005; Wiener 2004)—all considered themselves to be international law– abiding actors and considered international law an appropriate standard of behavior (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998). Constructivism has crucial insights that enhance our understanding of the Iraq conflict and other cases like it precisely because norms do not merely delineate what states agree on—they also structure what states debate. Traditional social constructivist analyses are concerned with convergence—how shared ideas influence what actors believe and do, for example, comply with human rights (Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink 1999), collect international debt (Finnemore 2003), or refrain from using nuclear and chemical weapons (Price 1999; Tannenwald 2007). However, constructivism can also help us understand divergence and the way shared normative commitments can actually structure varied behaviors and spark debates that have significant consequences. In the case of Iraq, the major powers were all constituted by and supportive of international law, but two competing understandings of the meaning and applicability of international law arose in 2002 and 2003. States had different interpretations of their shared commitment to international law, “leading some to justify war and others to oppose it” (Wiener 2004: 193). The contestation among actors who were all in the same community had significant and material consequences (Sandholtz 2008). The US invasion of Iraq took place with little international support, altering both the costs of the invasion and the prospects of postconflict reconstruction and governance. In addition, as the United States was seen by many as flouting international law and suffering serious consequences, the principle that the UNSC is the legitimate body to authorize the international use of force was arguably strengthened as well. In this chapter I elaborate this argument in four stages. First, I briefly discuss constructivism with a specific focus on norm contestation. I then establish the existence of a normative community that shared a commitment to compliance with international law using the Gulf War as an example. In the third section I focus on the challenges of the Iraqi state to international law from the Gulf War to the 2003 invasion, examining how the Iraqi government’s challenges tested the community that shared a commitment to the norm of compliance with international law.2 In the fourth section I focus on the 2002–2003 Iraq disarmament crisis in the UN, tracing the arguments made by state actors and identifying how the United States/United Kingdom and Germany/France diverged in their interpretations of this norm and the consequences of contestation for both the specific invasion of Iraq as well as the norm itself.

138

Constructivist Approaches

■ Social Constructivism and Contestation Social constructivism concerns itself broadly with the dynamic relationship between agents and social structures, investigating how ideas and/or norms tell actors who they are and what they want, as well as how actors produce those same norms through their beliefs, actions, and interactions. These dynamics help constructivists understand outcomes in international relations— how and why actors do what they do. Different waves of constructivist scholarship have addressed different questions using this basic framework (M. Hoffmann 2010). Early constructivist studies focused on demonstrating that ideas and norms matter, as well as on empirically demonstrating how shared ideas about appropriate behavior shaped the actions and interactions of states in world politics.3 Subsequent norms-based constructivist scholarship examined norms themselves, asking how norms emerge and how actors become socialized into communities that accept norms.4 Current research on norms has turned to a focus on contestation within communities of norm acceptors (M. Hoffmann 2010, 2005; Sandholtz 2008; Wiener 2004). These works consider that norms do not provide fully specified rules for every situation, and especially not for novel situations. Instead, norms are general principles that must be translated into specific actions (Gregg 2003). Because of this, actors must interpret social norms to take action—they must have a subjective understanding of what their intersubjective or social context demands. Actors will inevitably have different interpretations of what is appropriate “even when a norm is relatively well established and internalized,” because rather than solely eliciting conformance and convergence, social norms also provide the contours within which actors argue and debate (M. Hoffmann 2007: 6). When general standards of behavior are operationalized, divergent interpretations surface leading to debate and conflict. Significant material consequences, as well as the possibility for norm change, result. As Wayne Sandholtz (2008: 101) puts it, “disputes about acts are at the heart of a process that continually modifies social rules. The inescapable tension between general rules and specific actions ceaselessly casts up disputes which in turn generate arguments, which then reshape both rules and conduct.” Studies of contestation and norm change have begun to examine diverse issues like organizational change in international financial institutions (IFIs), European integration, the environment, election monitoring, and security. 5 Sandholtz (2008), M. Hoffmann (2011, 2005), and Uwe Puetter and Antje Wiener (2005) propose cyclical models to explain the evolution of norms relevant for this study of the 2002–2003 Iraq disarmament crisis. All begin with a relatively stable normative structure and a community of actors that accept and are constructed by it. Sandholtz (2008: 103) describes the cycle from there: Actors argue about which norms apply, and what the norms require or permit. The outcome of such arguments is always to modify the norms under dispute,

Norm Constructivism

139

making them stronger or weaker, more specific (or less), broader or narrower. Through the process of disputing, actors collectively discover the meaning and scope of application of social rules. The crucial point, however, is that the cycle of normative change has completed a turn. The cycle has returned to its starting point, the normative structure, but that starting point is not the same. The altered norms establish the context for subsequent actions, disputes, and discourses.

In the sections that follow I use this cyclical mechanism of contestation to trace how a community of states that shared a commitment to compliance with international law (evidenced by their actions prior to the Gulf War in 1990) came to have different interpretations of this normative context, particularly during the 2002–2003 UN debates over Iraq. Iraqi recalcitrance in the late 1990s and early 2000s required transforming general principles of compliance with international law into specific actions and responses to Iraq. States had to formulate answers to a number of key questions. Did Iraq’s actions constitute a violation of peace and security? What is the appropriate response to this disruption of peace and security? What is the legitimate body/arena for authorizing force? While international law and Security Council resolutions provided general contours for answering these questions, taking action required more detailed answers and not all states devised the same answers. In operationalizing the norm of compliance with international law, the community of norm acceptors separated into distinct camps. The resulting contestation over the meaning of compliance with international law—what was appropriate to do in the specific instance of Iraqi recalcitrance—had enormous material consequences for the conduct of the 2003 Iraq War and for the normative context and community.

■ A Community of Compliance with International Law The idea of norm contestation provides a framework that accounts for the story of the 2002–2003 Iraq disarmament crisis and explains the nature of the US invasion and its aftermath. In applying this framework, we need to explain the emergence of multiple interpretations found in an established normative context. I therefore begin this analysis with a brief examination of the stable normative context and then trace the emergence of diverse contesting interpretations “with an eye toward analyzing how the contest both feeds back to reconstitute the original norm and may lead to change and establishment of new, more specific norms” (M. Hoffmann 2007: 11). Convergence Around Compliance with International Law in 1990–1991 International law is a set of general principles that codifies appropriate standards of behavior and structures international interactions, but it only

140

Constructivist Approaches

exists as a normative context in so much as the principles are embodied and practiced by state actors.6 As Christian Reus-Smit (2005: 353) notes, “International law . . . [is] the product of negotiations between sovereign states . . . and states [are] obliged to observe such law, not because of fealty, but because they had entered into reciprocally binding agreements with other states—because international law represents the ‘mutual will of the nations concerned.’” From universal human rights, nonproliferation, nonintervention, and standards for the treatment of prisoners of war, international law provides a normative structure that establishes general guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate behavior. However, such guidelines only provide general direction, so while the norms are shared by the normative community, “say signatories of conventions, treaties, agreements and the like, the meaning of norms is not standardized and hence open to contestation” (Puetter and Wiener 2005: 8). The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany were and remain clearly members of the same normative community constituted, in part, by a shared commitment to compliance with international law. They have been and remain committed to upholding the notion that states cannot invade other states and that the UNSC has legitimate standing to authorize the international use of force. In the early 1990s when forced to react to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, these four states had similar answers to the three questions posed above. That is, they agreed that Iraqi actions constituted a threat to peace and security, that force was an appropriate response, and that the UNSC was the legitimate body to authorize the use of force. They acted in concert, and the convergence around a set of principles that is a hallmark of traditional constructivist accounts was clearly in evidence. Thus in the 1990s great powers interpreted and understood the relatively general strictures of international law in a similar way and acted cooperatively. When the Iraqi government invaded and successfully annexed Kuwait on 2 August 1990, the UNSC worked to secure Iraq’s withdrawal. Within days of Iraq’s invasion, the UNSC condemned the Iraq government’s actions and called for Iraq’s immediate withdrawal from Kuwait. UNSC Resolution 660 specified that the invasion was a “breach of international peace and security” (UN Security Council 1990h), while Resolution 661 maintained that the invasion needed to end in order to “restore the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Kuwait” (UN Security Council 1990g). In an effort to restore the authority of the legitimate sovereign government of Kuwait, the Security Council further instituted a worldwide trade embargo and naval blockade on Iraq that was respected by most states. A series of additional UNSC resolutions specified that annexation of Kuwait was illegal and that the Iraqi government was continuing to disregard international law. Finally, on 29 November 1990, UNSC Resolution 678 made clear that if the Iraqi government did not comply fully with prior

Norm Constructivism

141

resolutions and withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January, the Council would authorize the removal of the Iraqi government by force (UN Security Council 1990a). This resolution authorized all member states to provide support to use “all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area” (UN Security Council 1990a, emphasis added). But the deadline for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait came and went, prompting an attack on Iraqi forces in Kuwait by a US-led multinational coalition in January 1991. UNSC cooperation during this time period clearly demonstrates that the major players interpreted and operationalized their understanding of international law and its enforcement in the same way. The consensus was unprecedented and at the time was described as evidence of a renewed approach to the UN doctrine of collective security (see Gray 2002 and Morris and Wheeler 2007). Debates did emerge regarding the underlying motivations for the war and the way it was conducted using a US rather than UN military command. Nevertheless, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany were in unanimous agreement that the Iraqi government had infringed on international law and needed to be punished. That is, these states had a common understanding of appropriate behavior in the face of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The UN resolutions also created the legal canopy for combat operations against Iraq, which were a precedent for dealing with future breaches in international law by the Iraqi government. The major state actors including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany were staunch supporters of the Gulf War in large part because they agreed that the Iraqi government had breached international law and it was their legitimate duty to uphold compliance with international law to sustain international peace and security. For example, on 20 August 1990, the US government signed the National Security Directive 45, which identified US objectives as “the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait . . . the restoration of Kuwait’s legitimate government to replace the puppet regime installed by Iraq” (White House 1990: 2). Similarly, the British called for the “collective will” of the UN members to condemn the invasion, and Margaret Thatcher noted that “the Iraqi violation of the territory of a full UN member was totally unacceptable” (Stothard and Bremner 1990). Like Thatcher, “Mitterrand clearly regarded the Iraqi invasion as an unacceptable violation of international norms,” and “French officials indicated that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, France had special responsibilities in upholding those principles” (Bennett, Lepgold, and Unger 1994: 60). While German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher repeatedly called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, nonetheless Germany fully supported the military effort with large financial contributions (Bennett, Lepgold, and Unger 1994: 66–67). The

142

Constructivist Approaches

German chancellor claimed that Saddam Hussein’s actions “threatened the norm against forcible changes in borders” and argued that “once the international community allows the forceful extinction of one of its members as a state, it will have unforeseeable consequences in other parts of the world” (quoted in Bennett, Lepgold, and Unger 1994: 67). This interpretive consensus had material effects in shaping the multilateral nature of the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, as well as in how it strengthened the normative context of compliance with international law. Yet, consensus was not destined to endure. The Ongoing Iraqi Challenge to the Normative Community Even before the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein had engaged in a series of actions challenging international norms. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Hussein used chemical weapons to kill thousands of Iranians, although international law prohibits the use of such weapons, and the 1925 Chemical Weapons Treaty, to which the Iraqi government is party, designated the use of chemical weapons to be a war crime (Price 1997). Saddam Hussein also used chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja during the 1988 Anfal Campaign, which sought the massive displacement of the Iraqi-Kurdish population and was responsible for killing thousands of people (Human Rights Watch 1993). As Security Council Resolution 667 (UN Security Council 1990b) noted, Iraq continued to escalate its violation of international law with regard to diplomatic immunity, the treatment of Kuwaiti nationals and foreign nationals, and its refusal to provide humane treatment to prisoners of war as established in the Geneva Convention. Iraq continued to flout international law in the decade after the Gulf War. In 1993 it violated the terms of the Gulf War’s cease-fire agreement and attempted to enter the demilitarized zone established on the border between Iraq and Kuwait (Prados 2002: 6). Later in the decade it contested the imposed no-fly zone (Gray 2002: 10) and in October 1998 ended its cooperation with UN weapons monitoring and inspections (Katzman 2009: 2). Throughout the 1990s Iraq’s behavior severely tested the “community” of norm acceptors and, by the early 2000s, the United States and the United Kingdom had decided it was time to demand enforcement. In his 12 September 2002 speech to the UN General Assembly, President Bush maintained that the Iraqi government was “a grave and gathering danger” and that “Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance” (Bush 2002c). If the UN refused to enforce its resolutions, he argued, the UN would demonstrate that it was incapable of maintaining international peace and security and would therefore become an irrelevant international institution. Here, however, was a central difference among the states who shared the same normative commitment to international law. The German and

Norm Constructivism

143

French governments agreed that the international community needed to confront the Iraqi government and that it could not ignore Hussein’s blatant disregard for international law. However, for France and Germany the confrontation needed UN authorization. Rather than interpreting Iraqi behavior as evidence of the UN’s potential growing irrelevance, these actors saw the UN as the guardian of international law and the chief endorsing body for enforcing its resolutions. It was noncompliance with the UN that would trigger consequences. Crucially, these different interpretations of the meaning of the Iraqi challenge and the legitimate response to it both emerged as lessons drawn from a common experience—the Gulf War. The United States and the United Kingdom focused on the success brought about by decisive action, while France and Germany concentrated on the legitimacy afforded the multinational coalition by clearly acting within UN auspices.

■ Contestation: Divergent Interpretations in the Operationalization of International Law A key lesson from the constructivist literature on contestation is that even when states “know” what is appropriate and share the general contours of that knowledge, the implementation of what they all know varies. In other words, “every state may ‘know’ that chemical weapons are taboo (Price 1997), but different states have different ideas about how the taboo works. Further it is these differing interpretations that drive change and politics” (M. Hoffmann 2007: 9). Thus myriad divergent reactions contesting the meaning and applicability of international law surfaced during the 2002– 2003 Iraqi disarmament crisis. In particular, the operationalization of UNSC Resolution 1441 ignited the most divergent interpretations. Resolution 1441 maintained that the Iraqi government had been in material breach of its obligations across twelve years of UN Security Council resolutions and so Resolution 1441 was seen by many as the final in a series of resolutions created to deal with the threat Iraq posed to international peace and security. After failing for years to cooperate with authorized inspectors and failing to disarm and destroy all chemical and biological weapons, the Security Council unanimously decided to afford Iraq “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions” (UN Security Council 2002b). In an effort to structure an enhanced inspection regime, Resolution 1441 required the Iraqi government to submit to inspections by UNMOVIC and the IAEA (UN Security Council 2002b). But after a sixty-day inspection period and submission of the arms inspectors’ security report, the Security Council could not “reach a consensus on how to deal with Iraq’s failure to comply with Resolution 1441” (Wiener 2004: 208). Actors that were all members of the same normative community had different understandings of an appropriate next step.

144

Constructivist Approaches

The United States and the United Kingdom maintained that Resolution 1441, along with previous resolutions (such as Resolution 660), legitimized force against Iraq in the case of continuing noncompliance. An alternative interpretation, most clearly articulated by France and Germany, argued that these resolutions neither legitimated force against Iraq nor ceded the responsibility to use force to individual states. Security Council disagreements are not new given a long history of opposing positions, but as Wiener observes, “the fact that it manifested itself as crossing right through the community of (western) liberal states” was novel (2004: 208). Although it was not clear that a failure on the part of the Iraqi government to cooperate with Resolution 1441 would or would not justify unilateral action by individual states, it was clear that the Security Council was to be consulted in the event of a compliance failure and given the opportunity to consider the situation and to act under paragraph 12 of Resolution 1441. Considering that Resolution 1441 was regarded by all member states as the “final opportunity” for the Iraqi government to comply, the benchmarks for compliance/noncompliance and their consequences were vague and left room for considerable divergence in interpretations. The language in the resolution, like all other resolutions, was broad and general in an effort to gain wider acceptance across a large group of actors while at the same time this broad and general language gave rise to a wider range of “permissible interpretations” (Chayes and Chayes 1993: 189, as cited in Wiener 2004: 198; see also Van Kersbergen and Verbeek 2007 on the design of vague norms). As noted above, actors must operationalize their understanding of their normative context and interpret the normative context as the first step in taking action. For Sandholtz (2008: 105), multiple interpretations are possible because of two features of the normative system: incompleteness and internal contradictions. No system of rules can provide guidelines for every possible situation and, because of their incompleteness, norms often prove to be ambiguous thus leaving room for contesting interpretations. The different interpretations themselves emerge through what Margaret Archer calls an actor’s internal conversation: “because they [actors] possess personal identity, as defined by their individual configuration of concerns, they [actors] know what they care about most and what they seek to realize in society” (Archer 2003: 130, as cited in M. Hoffmann 2007: 8). Why, then, did multiple interpretations surface in the 2002–2003 Iraqi disarmament crisis and not in the Gulf War context? There are several reasons. First, during the Gulf War, action was relatively uncontroversial because Iraqi actions were clearly contrary to the normative structure shared by all the major powers. The gap between general rules and specific situations, in the actions leading to the Gulf War, was far narrower and tensions between and within the normative framework created fewer openings for

Norm Constructivism

145

disputes. In the 2002–2003 time period, on the other hand, the normative context was more ambiguous, particularly concerning the operationalization of Resolution 1441 and the gaps between the general rules and specific situations widened. This occurred both because the Iraqi actions were more ambiguous—there was no clear violation engendered by one state invading another—and because the domestic political situations and interests of the observers diverged significantly even while they remained part of the same normative community. This is the second reason why divergent interpretations emerged. The most obvious difference from the 1990–1991 period was the domestic political situation within the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. This altered US perceptions of threat from the region in a fundamental way and consequently influenced the domestic political calculations made in response to continued Iraqi recalcitrance. The 9/11 attacks were seen by the Bush administration to have exposed a threat originating from the Middle East, and “hard-liners . . . saw this as an opportunity to mobilize support” for an invasion to eliminate the threat (Hinnebusch 2007: 11). Formulated in response to the 9/11 attacks, the Bush Doctrine and the 2002 National Security Strategy articulated a move from traditional containment strategy, which required multilateral consultation and consent, to “preventive wars” and a belief that states not with the United States were against it (see Jervis 2003b). Although the Bush administration was ultimately bent on Iraqi regime change, it still went through UN channels in an attempt to gain legitimacy for its preferences. French and German opposition to the 2003 invasion was in part an attempt to deny the United States sought-after legitimacy. This opposing interpretation had domestic political roots as well. Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s opposition was strategically motivated in an effort to put themselves ahead of a vast public opinion majority in Europe that was expressly concerned with the war (Wall 2004: 133). “There were between 5 and 6 million Muslims in France who were bitterly opposed to the war, and Chirac wanted to improve relations with Algeria and avoid incurring the enmity of the Muslim world” (Wall 2004: 133). In the domestic sphere, different interests influence how governments interpret and operationalize their intersubjective context. Force Option: International Law According to the United States and the United Kingdom In the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, both the US and UK governments stated that they did not want to invade Iraq, but stated that if the Iraqi government did not comply with Resolution 1441, conflict would be inevitable. Colin Powell (2003: 1) noted, “We wrote 1441 not in order to go to war, we wrote 1441 to try to preserve the peace. We wrote 1441 to give Iraq one last chance. Iraq is not so far taking that one last chance. We must not shrink

146

Constructivist Approaches

from whatever is ahead of us.” When the sixty-day period came and went and the arms inspectors produced their report, the United States and some European leaders were pessimistic about the chances of Iraq’s compliance with any of the UN resolutions and called upon the UN to “face up to its responsibilities” (The Guardian 2003b, as quoted in Wiener 2004: 208). The US and British governments made continual appeals to the international community of states for an Iraq invasion though they stressed “the role of ‘international law’ and the issue of compliance with resolution 1441” (Wiener 2004: 210; emphasis in the original). For these states, Resolution 678, which authorized member states to take action against Iraq in the Gulf War, provided them with the authority to use “all necessary means to restore international peace and security in the area” (UN Security Council 1990a). The United States in particular was concerned about the precedents of the Iraqi regime’s challenges to international law and worked to persuade the international community that the Iraqi government would not comply with international law willingly. The United States was at least partially successful in these endeavors. A letter from eight countries of “New Europe” supported the United States, referring to a common commitment to “individual freedom, human rights and the rule of law,” repeating the US mantra that the Iraqi government was a “clear threat to world security” and that “we must remain united in insisting his regime is disarmed” (The Guardian 2003b, as quoted in Wiener 2004: 208). In an effort to further legitimize the US interpretation of international law, considerable effort was also made to identify action against the Iraqi government as legally acceptable self-defense. President Bush maintained that the United States possessed the “sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security,” and that the United States and its allies “were authorized to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction” (Bush 2003b). Yet ultimately the US and British arguments justifying the Iraq invasion were unsuccessful in persuading most states. France and Germany, along with the broader international community, were unconvinced that the invasion was legal. Neither the earlier Security Council resolutions (e.g., 678) and Resolution 1441, nor the self-defense justification advanced by the United States, were viewed as applicable (Sandholtz 2008: 109). According to Sandholtz (2008: 108), “when UN Secretary General Kofi Annan labelled the war in Iraq ‘illegal’ (he had previously termed it ‘not in conformity’ with the UN Charter), he was voicing a widely shared assessment.” No Force: International Law According to Germany and France The French and German governments had their own competing interpretation of Iraq’s behavior and a legitimate response to it. Identifying Resolution

Norm Constructivism

147

1441 as “strengthening the role and authority of the Security Council,” the French government made clear that their objective toward the Iraqi government was a “two-stage approach to be established and adopted so as to ensure that the Security Council maintains control of the process of each stage” (Levitte 2002: 1). Although both France and Germany maintained a common objective with the United States and the United Kingdom regarding the effective disarmament of Iraq, it was the means and methods of achieving this objective that caused divergence. On 6 March 2003, the French, German, and Russian governments issued a joint statement: Our common objective remains the full and effective disarmament of Iraq, in compliance with resolution 1441. We consider that this objective can be achieved by the peaceful means of the inspections. . . . Russia, Germany and France resolutely support Messrs Blix and ElBaradei and consider the meeting of the council on March 7 to be an important step in the process put in place. . . . We will not let a proposed resolution pass that would authorise the use of force. Russia and France, as permanent members of the Security Council, will assume all their responsibilities on this point. (The Guardian 2003a, as cited in Wiener 2004: 210)

The different meanings of Resolution 1441, that is, the particular interpretations of the resolution and larger reaction to Iraqi recalcitrance, were revealed in debate. For Germany and France, a war with Iraq, as suggested by the United States and Great Britain, would be a breach of international law. German chancellor Schröder asked, “does the degree of threat stemming from the Iraqi dictator justify a war that will bring certain death to thousands of innocent men, women and children? My answer was and is no” (BBC News 2003, as quoted in Puetter and Wiener 2005: 13). The priority for both the French and German governments was to achieve full disarmament through the inspection regime. These states were not convinced that the conditions for using force against Iraq had been fulfilled; rather, they sought to ensure the continued use of the UN to ensure Iraqi compliance (Puetter and Wiener 2007). Thus despite being part of a community of norm acceptors and sharing a respect for international law and liberal values, France and Germany remained divided from the United States and the United Kingdom. Consequences of Contestation Different interpretations arose, as they often do, as states operationalized a general principle (compliance with international law) for a specific situation (reaction to Resolution 1441). As noted, differing interpretations can arise from multiple sources, but crucially they are conditioned by the existence of a common community and framework. In other words, being in the same normative community (e.g., one that accepts the importance of com-

148

Constructivist Approaches

pliance with international law) actually creates the possibility of contestation. The common foundation provides the fodder for debates over how the shared general ideas apply in particular situations. Obviously states have interests and domestic political considerations (both socially constructed, according to constructivists) that influence how they understand their intersubjective context and this gives rise to different interpretations. Although substantial overlap existed and still exists across the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany regarding international law and in particular the Iraqi disregard for international law, the failure to cooperate on Iraqi disarmament in 2002 and 2003 demonstrates how contestation can come from within a normative community. Such contestation has consequences. This was immediately apparent when the United States decided to forgo UN blessing and led an invasion of Iraq in 2003. The United States and the United Kingdom lacked international consensus (or even substantial support) for the invasion and experienced a number of negative consequences as a result, particularly during the post-invasion period. The US reputation in the Middle East and globally was damaged. Washington’s “coalition of the willing” provided minimal technical, financial, and/or troop support for the war, and many of its allies requested hefty aid packages in return for their participation (Hinnebusch 2007: 25). The Iraqi people did not welcome the invasion as a form of liberation, as the Bush administration had hoped, which led instead to deteriorating security conditions in Iraq. Because it had focused on the immediate invasion and not on any longterm strategy, the United States went into Iraq “undermanned and underresourced, [expecting to] skim off the top layer of leadership, take control of a functioning state, install imported pro-Western exiles, be out by six weeks and get oil funds to pay for it” (Hinnebusch 2007: 17). Instead, an insurgency developed that led to thousands of deaths and a prolonged venture that further absorbed US resources and limited both its capability and will to undertake military inventions elsewhere. “The perception that the US invasion of Iraq contravened international rules [effectively] imposed significant costs on the United States” (Sandholtz 2008: 108). Sandholtz continues: The war in Iraq has so far cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars. The widespread view that the 2003 war in Iraq was illegal also meant that fewer countries (as compared to 1991) contributed military forces to the effort. The United States has borne the burden of troop and hardware commitments that have markedly reduced the capacity of the US military to respond to other threats or undertake other missions. In other words, even the most powerful country in the world pays the costs when its actions are seen as contrary to international rules. (2008: 108)

Norm Constructivism

149

Normative Change Beyond the material consequences, it is crucial to consider what the US invasion meant for the normative community itself—whether and how it changed the community and normative context. Ironically, the divergent interpretations regarding Iraq and its challenge to international law actually reified and strengthened specific norms surrounding the legitimate use of force—particularly the principle that the UNSC is the legitimate body for authorizing the use of force internationally. While one could argue that UN and international law credibility was damaged by the US and UK invasion of Iraq without clear UN authorization (Morris and Wheeler 2007), in fact a majority of state actors considered the crisis a vindication of the UN and international law. What emerged was a clear and collective belief that the use of force must be legally determined by and acted upon by the UNSC. As states argued over the parameters for legitimate use of force and the legitimate actor entrusted to use force, the internationalization of legitimate force deepened. The positive feedback to universal participation (e.g., UNfocused force) was further evident with the growing perception that the US and British preemptive strategy was illegitimate. The preemptive security policy espoused by the United States was an effort to put forward a novel interpretation of general principles that legitimately responded to threats to peace and security, yet ultimately its efforts were unsuccessful. The actions taken by the United States, the United Kingdom, and their supporters came to be viewed as violations of international norms. In addition to outrage and international criticism, there was simply no move by governments around the world to consider “preventive attacks and justify them in terms of a new rule of permissible preventive selfdefence,” a necessary step for “the US conduct [to] be seen as initiating a process of rule change” (Sandholtz 2008: 109). I argued earlier that the international normative structure constrains and constitutes actors. Establishing a set of general rules around which actors can behave, this normative context facilitates principles and standards around which actors can determine appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. On the basis of their liberal democratic identities and their partnership in the UN, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France are members of a community of norm acceptors and are constrained and constituted by international legal norms. As such, these states are likely to maintain greater norm convergence. This was made clear in the Gulf War case, with all state actors interpreting the challenges of the Iraqi government to international law as necessitating immediate consequences in the form of force. However, the normative context only provides general rules that do not provide specificity in all circumstances. The meaning of norms is itself not standardized and when operationalized inevitable tension surfaces that

150

Constructivist Approaches

creates openings for contestation. Contestation is thus triggered by action. This was made clear in the examination of the 2002–2003 Iraqi disarmament crisis. The community of norm acceptors became divided on the question of compliance/noncompliance and its consequences. The United States and the United Kingdom worked to persuade the international community that the invasion of Iraq was justified by precedent norms and rules of selfdefense. Germany and France, on the other hand, worked to reify the norms associated with the legitimate use of force. The outcomes of these arguments modified the normative context. The general rules came to be reified, clearly qualifying the UN as the legitimate institution for establishing subsequent uses of force.

■ Beyond Iraq: Applying Norm Contestation Contestation is a feature of normative systems. Norms are often characterized by a low degree of specificity and a high degree of generality, and thus are open to a high degree of contestation (Wiener 2007). While norms must be shared ideas accepted by a community (otherwise they would not exist or would simply be ideas about appropriate behavior), the meaning of these norms for specific situations can and often will be understood differently by actors in the community. This will lead to debate and conflict even as actors adhere to and comply with norms. Normative interpretations arise and vary on the basis of domestic politics, historical experience, and interactions and conflicts between multiple norms and different identities (states with different identities, e.g., developed and developing, may view norms differently). However, to be clear, prevailing norms structure and contextualize the debate between different interpreters and their interpretations. The normative context not only structures the debate but shapes the parameters of the debate for actors and their actions. Actions taken on the basis of these diverse interpretations have material consequences and they have consequences for the normative structure, because it is through interpretation and action based on interpretation that norms emerge, are altered, or are reified (M. Hoffmann 2007). This idea of norm contestation helped structure an explanation for extensive disagreement between allies in the year leading up to the 2003 Iraq invasion. A community constructed in part by their shared commitment to upholding international law came to see Iraqi behavior and the proper response to it very differently. Different interpretations of and different ways of carrying out the general principles that all the major liberal democratic states adhered to produced the 2003 Iraq invasion. Contestation within the community of norm acceptors had significant consequences for both the conduct and aftermath of the invasion and for how the world continues to understand the legitimate use of force internationally.

Norm Constructivism

151

But the details of this case may obscure the general applicability of the approach. I would like to end by suggesting some areas where the idea of norm contestation may prove fruitful. First, the social constructivist approach is valuable in that it can be used to investigate global change and transformation. The approach can be applied to explore how norms are constantly in motion and how this built-in dynamism intimately shapes political outcomes. Using the mechanisms of contestation and interpretation to trace activity will contribute insight on how norms change and develop over time. Beyond the Iraq case, contestation can be used to explore norms associated with nuclear proliferation and how divergent interpretations of these norms might be changing; discussions on tactical nuclear weapons could alter what has been a taboo on the use of nuclear arms (see Price and Tannenwald 1996; Tannenwald 2007). A contestation framework can be used to explore norms associated with terrorism or torture and how divergent interpretations of these norms might challenge or reify the existing understandings of appropriate state actions toward combatants and criminals. Social constructivism and the mechanisms of contestation and interpretation provide insight into how norms change in their substantive content and specificity in both directions: toward strong, specific norms or weak, vague norms (Sandholtz 2008). Understanding how this process plays out enhances our ability to understand some of the most interesting pressing issues of the day.

■ Notes 1. I would like to thank Jennifer Catallo for research assistance on this chapter. 2. I discuss “compliance with international law” in two ways. First, I examine Iraqi compliance (or not) with Security Council directives and resolutions. Second, I assess great power arguments about what was legally allowed or demanded in the face of Iraqi recalcitrance. 3. See Finnemore (1996); Finnemore and Sikkink (1998); Klotz (1995); Price (1997). 4. See Checkel (2001); Finnemore and Sikkink (1998); Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink (1999). 5. See Bailey (2008); Chwieroth (2008); Dimitrakopoulos (2008); M. Hoffmann (2005); Kelley (2007); Kornprobst (2007); Meyer (2005); Van Kersbergen and Verbeek (2007). 6. See Brunnée and Toope (2010); Finnemore and Toope (2001); Kacowicz (2005).

5.3 Relational Constructivism: A War of Words Patrick Thaddeus Jackson On 19 March 2003, as troops in the US-led coalition first set foot in Iraqi territory, President George W. Bush addressed the nation and the world from the Oval Office, seeking to put the military operation in context (Bush 2003c).1 “American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger,” Bush declared, setting out two main themes—freedom and defense—that would figure prominently in his administration’s official pronouncements on the war. Saddam Hussein’s regime, Bush suggested, was “an enemy that has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality,” and “an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder,” in every way an outlier to the established conventions of decent and respectable international behavior. The United States, acting in defense of those conventions, was therefore “reluctantly” compelled to invade Iraq to remove its ruler and liberate its people. This was not a new formulation of the need for drastic action in Iraq. The previous year during his State of the Union speech, Bush had famously included Iraq among the members of the “axis of evil,” joining Iran and North Korea as a threat to “the peace of the world” (Bush 2002a). On that occasion, Saddam Hussein’s regime had been specially singled out for placing itself outside the bounds of civilized society: “This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.” A year later in his January 2003 State of the Union address, Bush laid out a case for military operations in Iraq that would force Hussein to open the country to UN weapons inspectors and to dispose of a variety of chemical and biological weapons supposedly in his possession. But Bush’s case did not rest solely on the need to enforce a UN mandate; instead, he drew out a hypothetical scenario designed to evoke fear in his US audience: And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own. Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy

152

Relational Constructivism

153

terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes. (Bush 2003d)

These locutions bring into sharp relief a crucial issue often overlooked in realist and liberal analyses of world politics: the issue of legitimation. Social actors do not carry out their actions in a vacuum, and in particular do not carry out their actions in silence; rather, they provide reasons for why they did what they did or why they should do one thing rather than another. Indeed, the invasion itself was in part a product of a successful legitimation strategy, in the sense that without rhetorically compelling grounds on which to render the invasion acceptable, it would likely never have taken place. Social action is intrinsically meaningful, and as such never happens without at least implicit and often quite explicit arguments to warrant it; this is doubly the case with the action of public authorities like sovereign territorial states, which are forced to provide justifications to audiences both foreign and domestic as part of their acting in the first place. It follows that if we want to understand the actions of the United States in invading Iraq, we should look for narratives that justify and shore up the acceptability of the invasion. We must pay close attention to the particular rhetorical commonplaces deployed in debates about possible courses of action, as these commonplaces and their pattern of deployment as public reasons rendered the invasion a socially sanctioned activity. These public reasons are contestable, however, in that one set of legitimating reasons—the invasion of Iraq as simultaneously enhancing global security and providing freedom to the Iraqi people—can be opposed by a very different characterization of the same events, such as the characterization of the invasion as premature or unnecessary (as in Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy 2004). The invasion of Iraq was certainly an exchange of weapons fire and casualties, but—like every war in human history—it was also an exchange of rhetorical efforts to characterize the situation in particular ways and thus render certain courses of action acceptable while ruling others unacceptable. The dominance of Bush’s way of characterizing the situation should not be allowed to obscure the focused effort that went into producing that characterization. Although never a war as a matter of international law, the military campaign in Iraq was most certainly a war of words— words with deadly, and sometimes tragic, consequences.

■ Constructivism: A Relational Perspective The constructivist approach that I will adopt in this chapter is a relational approach, concentrating on an ongoing process of social transaction rather

154

Constructivist Approaches

than on the “norms” (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998) or “rules” (Onuf 1998) preferred as sites of analysis by other constructivists. The key mechanism producing outcomes in my relational constructivist account is legitimation, rather than notions like “internalization” and “social learning” (Adler 1997; Checkel 2001) preferred by other constructivists. While there are ways of accounting for the invasion of Iraq from all of these constructivist perspectives, the relational perspective’s emphasis on ongoing contestation and rhetorical struggle illuminates key features of the events in question in a particularly compelling way. I will briefly expand on the conceptual equipment utilized by a relational constructivist approach before developing my empirical account. The Agent-Structure Problem Although there were constructivists in IR (even if they went by other names) before Alexander Wendt’s seminal 1987 article on the agent-structure problem, it is undeniable that the constructivist perspective received a conceptual shot in the arm from Wendt’s discussion of this “central problem in social and political theory” (Green 2002: 8). Wendt points out that the agent-structure problem derives from two “truisms about social life”: people and their organizations act in purposeful ways, affecting outcomes through their actions; and society is made up of “social relationships, which structure the interactions between these purposeful actors” (Wendt 1987: 337–338). The “problem” here is that it is difficult to do justice to both sides of this relationship at the same time; in practice, analysts tend to privilege either agents or structures in their explanations of events and outcomes. As such, “solving” the agent-structure problem in a relational way is not like, for example, solving a crossword puzzle. Instead, the relational solution begins by challenging the very terms in which the problem was originally posed. Other constructivist approaches begin from the position that social action is rather unproblematically carried out by “agents” (i.e., individuals and organizations that are relatively stable at the moment of action); if the United States is going to make up its collective mind about whether to invade Iraq, it does so before the particular military operation in question. Individual agents, then, are “primitive” units of analysis for such constructivists (and most IR theorists)—they, and their intentional activities, are the basic building blocks of an explanation. But from a relational perspective, it is precisely this emphasis on agent autonomy that leads to problems in the production of compelling explanations. Instead of beginning with essential agents operating in a social context, relational constructivists begin with patterns of social transaction out of which both “agents” and “structures” congeal.2 Instead of starting with an unproblematic entity called “the United States” and trying to explain why it did what it did, relational constructivism starts with the practical

Relational Constructivism

155

activities that continually produce and reproduce the actor called “the United States” and examines how these activities give rise to the observed social actions carried out in its name (Dessler 1989: 462). In particular, activities devoted to legitimation command the attention of relational constructivists, since these activities—including giving public reasons for a course of action, criticizing other options, attributing blame and responsibility, and disputing other efforts to do these things—are among the clearest moments at which actors are produced and reproduced in practice. Consider, for example, a sovereign territorial state, ordinarily considered to be the paradigmatic actor in IR. What does it really mean to say that some state “acts”? There are certain people authorized to speak on behalf of any given state in particular contexts, like ambassadors, government officials, and bureaucrats; when they speak and act in the name of the state, it is clear that they are only conduits for or bearers of the authority of the state itself. The political philosopher Thomas Hobbes figured this out several centuries ago, arguing in his seminal work Leviathan (1651) that the truly distinguishing feature of state action was that it was performed in the name of the commonwealth and not in the name of any individual person; kings and other public officials who could “bear the person” of the commonwealth depended on public acceptance of the claim that their actions were state actions, because without such acceptance “the state” simply could not act. Thus state actors, to use Eric Ringmar’s felicitous phrasing, “exist in stories and nowhere else” (Ringmar 1996: 74–75). Action, from a relational perspective, is a matter of social attribution, as particular activities are rhetorically encoded or characterized as the doings of some social actor. This social attribution simultaneously produces the actor in question as legitimately able to perform the action in question, and legitimates the action inasmuch as the actor performs it. Out of the general flow of events, legitimation processes isolate certain activities (the collection of income taxes, for example, or the requirement to register with the government as a nonresident alien) and render them acceptable by characterizing them as the activities of “the state”; in so doing, they reproduce the state itself. In fact, it is in these boundary demarcations that “the state” has its most tangible existence and its most concrete presence in the daily lives of those under its authority. What is true of the state is true of any social actor: it is less the determinate origin of any given social action and more a product of the processes of legitimation that produce and sustain it in particular concrete settings. This claim is scalable, and is equally applicable to biological individuals (“George W. Bush”), states, multistate groupings both formal (“the United Nations”) and informal (“the axis of evil”), and even global notions like “humanity” and “civilization,” both of which show up in efforts to

156

Constructivist Approaches

legitimate the invasion of Iraq. In no case are these actors simply and unproblematically the doers of the deeds in question; instead, their authority and responsibility have to be continually negotiated and sustained in practice. Thinking of social actors in this way allows us to grasp the stakes of legitimation struggles—in this case, the “war of words” accompanying and surrounding the use of military force in Iraq—waged by politicians and other officials as they struggle to define the identity and interests of the social actor in whose name they speak. Different actors have different rights and responsibilities, and can legitimately perform a different range of actions; “states” can get away with things that “firms” or “ethnic groups” cannot, much as a police officer with a warrant is empowered to enter a home and remove objects from it in a way that a burglar is not. Hence Bush’s aforementioned claim that Iraq posed a threat to world peace—and to the United States in particular—gains a different status. Instead of a statement that should be evaluated empirically in terms of whether or not Iraq actually presented such a threat, it becomes a rhetorical statement that participates in an ongoing process of legitimation directed at the campaign against Iraq in general and eventually at the invasion in particular. In so doing, the statement does not advance completely novel arguments, but draws on various general rhetorical commonplaces already present in the social environment (Kratochwil 1989: 40–42; Shotter 1993: 65–69). These commonplaces—vague but not entirely indeterminate notions like liberty and terrorism—are embedded in the discursive practices through which members of the relevant audience organize and make sense of their everyday lives.3 Specific articulations in the course of a public discussion, such as Bush’s statement, tap these general notions already in circulation and strategically incorporate them into a more particular and directed piece of public rhetoric with policy implications. The discussion surrounding the invasion of Iraq featured, as such discussions invariably do, an impressively tight rhetorical linkage between a characterization of the object of policy (Iraq), a course of action, and the identity of the actor taking that action toward that object. That actor—the United States—is in turn located in a complex relational space where it is nested within, and consequently able to act on behalf of, collectivities even larger than the sovereign state. These include global actors like “the civilized world” and “humanity,” and even transcendental actors like “God,” as in Bush’s claim that “the liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to humanity” (Bush 2003d)—a claim that more or less equates US foreign policy to promote liberty (understood in this context to mean a democratic regime) with divine will. The linkages between actors, courses of action, and objects of policy are in turn supported by strategic deployments of rhetorical commonplaces, and it is these strategic deploy-

Relational Constructivism

157

ments that form the core of a relational constructivist account. Whether or not it is true that the United States was acting out God’s will is quite beside the point; what matters is that these were the commonplaces invoked, and that the combination of these commonplaces affords certain kinds of action (a military invasion) while ruling others (permitting Saddam Hussein to remain in power in Iraq) out of bounds. What makes this rhetoric work is precisely that it deploys extant commonplaces, so the audience toward which the statement is directed will recognize the argument as sensible, and that it handles potential counterarguments in a relatively explicit fashion. Both of these components of a legitimation process are also important aspects of a relational constructivist account. Relational constructivism thus celebrates the creativity of human social action in two ways. First, rhetorical commonplaces stand in need of further specification to exercise their effects, and second, there are multiple commonplaces available in any given situation. Both the combinations of commonplaces deployed, and the specific interpretations of those commonplaces advanced by various speakers, are radically contingent in a way that more traditional notions of social structure are not. This contingency preserves human agency, as there is no way to predict in advance just what a particular speaker will do in a situation, but whatever the speaker does do has consequential effects.4 This is the very definition of agency, and the core of the relational solution to the agent-structure problem.

■ Constructing the Iraq Invasion What a relational constructivist approach has to say about Iraq, and in particular about the 2003 invasion of the country by a “coalition of the willing” led by (and largely composed of the military forces of) the United States, depends on the application of these theoretical considerations to the concrete material generated by a number of organizations and individuals leading up to the invasion. Schematically, a relational constructivist analysis proceeds in three steps: First, identify a course of action to be explained, and the locations at which public debates about this course of action were carried out. Some public debates take place in relatively well-developed forums, such as legislatures and parliaments, but these are not the only sites of interest to this mode of analysis. Most organizations of interest to IR scholars have dedicated individuals or offices that provide reasons to the public via the news media, and the press releases and press conferences in which these individuals and offices engage also constitute good sources of data. Public speeches by authorized officials, websites, and virtually any similar occasion for deploying commonplaces in public can also be tapped. For the Iraq invasion,

158

Constructivist Approaches

important locations include presidential speeches, hearings in the US Congress, and discussions at the UN.5 In what follows, I will rely almost exclusively on material generated at these sites.6 Once sites have been identified, one can map the rhetorical commonplaces deployed in the arguments about courses of action to be pursued. The point here is to develop something of a “rhetorical topography,” a catalog of commonplaces used during the relevant debates by the different parties, and to determine which commonplaces figure into patterns of justification.7 Special attention needs to be paid to social attributions of responsibility, in which action X performed by actor Y is justified by reason Z; these attributions simultaneously legitimate the action and bound the actor, and are particularly noteworthy. Also, commonplaces shared by the parties to a debate but deployed in different ways are also especially important, as are commonplaces unique to one party that figure centrally in efforts to rebut criticisms. Second, explain, historically, how the relevant commonplaces came to be available to interlocutors at a specific point in time. This does not need to be done for every commonplace, but only for those commonplaces revealed to be important—in the sense of being central to the public rhetorical strategy—by the topographical sketch of commonplaces. This historical account both tells us where the relevant commonplaces proximately come from, and helps to clarify their power to legitimate action by fleshing out nuances in their historical meaning that speakers in the present can utilize. Knowing the specific history of a commonplace like “Western civilization” can help clarify why appeals to defend the West from communism had such power after World War II (P. Jackson 2006b); knowing the specific history of the US-British “special relationship” can help clarify why appeals to shore up that relationship made such an impact around the time of the Suez crisis (Bially Mattern 2004); knowing the specific history of a commonplace like “intelligence” can help clarify why a characterization of whales as intelligent creatures was so crucial to the rise of a compelling anti-whaling discourse (Epstein 2008). Third, it is necessary to trace the speakers’ concrete deployment of those commonplaces. This sets the map in motion, illustrating how the use of commonplaces during a specific set of debates is able to produce a concrete outcome, both by rendering a specific course of action acceptable to the relevant audience and by rendering alternative proposals unacceptable. The history of a commonplace only explains how it came to be available for use. Going beyond this to explain how a particular outcome was produced requires careful attention to the ways that specific speakers made use of the potential contained in the relevant commonplaces and their histories. In what follows, I will briefly recount the results of implementing this procedure for the legitimation of the invasion of Iraq. The virtual absence

Relational Constructivism

159

of vigorous public debate is an important part of the story, which in turn relates to the fact that the Bush administration’s legitimation strategy involved the confluence of two streams of discourse—one surrounding terrorism and 9/11, and the other surrounding US exceptionalism in defense of liberty—in ways that removed much of the ground that opponents of the invasion might have used to justify their opposition. “In One Place—In One Regime— We Find All These Dangers” Perhaps the purest example of the full legitimation strategy deployed by the Bush administration is an address given by President Bush to the UN General Assembly on 12 September 2002.8 The choice of venue is significant, almost as significant as the language of the speech itself, and equally a part of the rhetorical strategy. By speaking to the General Assembly, Bush targeted his remarks at a global audience, and not exclusively or primarily at a US one. The speech was also the opening salvo of a campaign to obtain a Security Council resolution calling for immediate Iraqi compliance with UN weapons inspections, a campaign that culminated in the passage of Resolution 1441 in November 2002. Right from the outset, the United States was therefore located as part of a larger global community, claiming to be acting in support of that community’s goals and values. Bush did not hesitate to point this out: The United Nations was born in the hope that survived a world war—the hope of a world moving toward justice, escaping old patterns of conflict and fear. The founding members resolved that the peace of the world must never again be destroyed by the will and wickedness of any man. We created a United Nations Security Council, so that—unlike the League of Nations—our deliberations would be more than talk, and our resolutions would be more than wishes. After generations of deceitful dictators, broken treaties and squandered lives, we dedicate ourselves to standards of human dignity shared by all, and to a system of security defended by all. (Bush 2002c)

These uses of “we” and “all” aim to position the United States as serving a purpose larger than its own narrow self-interest. The litany of universal values invoked in the speech, including “human dignity,” “human rights,” and “tolerance,” is a familiar one, with a long history both in UN declarations and in historical narratives of US identity; they form part of a general tapestry of values from which it would be difficult to dissent and still be taken seriously in a global public forum like the UN General Assembly. Bush proceeded with a catalog of complaints against Iraq, all of which were variations on a single theme—Iraq has placed itself outside of the global community, by refusing to embrace the values of that community. This makes Iraq a threat, both on its own and as a potential supply depot for others:

160

Constructivist Approaches

Above all, our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions. In the attacks on America a year ago, we saw the destructive intentions of our enemies. . . . In cells and camps, terrorists are plotting further destruction and building new bases for their war against civilization. And our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale. (Bush 2002c)

Note that in this characterization, “terrorists” are opposed to “civilization,” and not merely to the United States; hence, action against them and against those who would aid and abet them is a matter not confined to the United States, but a matter of global importance. The Iraqi regime is further criticized for continuing to commit violations of human rights against its own citizens. Saddam Hussein himself is singled out for particular condemnation: “He blames the suffering of Iraq’s people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself, and arms his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.” Indeed, Saddam Hussein is figured as the captor of the Iraqi people: “The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people, who have suffered for too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it and the security of all nations requires it.” Elsewhere in the speech Bush challenges the UN to ensure that its authority is not simply ignored: Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant? . . . The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the U.N. to be effective and respected and successful. We want the resolutions of the world’s most important multilateral body to be enforced. Right now these resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime. (Bush 2002c)

Thus, the claim is, if you support liberty and human rights, you need to condemn Iraq and support a resolution calling on the Iraqi regime to comply with UN directives or face (at this point unspecified) consequences. “If Iraq’s regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately and decisively to hold Iraq to account,” Bush urged, and followed this with a somewhat ominous and not-so-veiled threat: “The purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced— the just demands of peace and security will be met—or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.” In so speaking, Bush claims for the United States the right to act

Relational Constructivism

161

against the Iraqi regime in the name of universal values—and, implicitly, to do so on its own. In Bush’s UN speech we can easily see the twin pillars of the basic legitimation strategy on display: the United States as defender of universal liberty but claiming the right to act autonomously to promote that liberty, and the United States as leading a campaign against uncivilized and perhaps inhuman terrorists and their supporters. Historical analysis is required to show how these pillars (and the commonplaces that they encapsulate) became so firmly established that they sufficed to make public opposition to the invasion virtually nonexistent within policymaking circles. Pillar I: Re-Visioned US Exceptionalism The pairing of universal values with autonomous state action undertaken in support of those values has a name: exceptionalism. Unlike an assertion of independence from existing social norms and institutions on the basis of essential difference, exceptionalism as a commonplace points toward higher values as the justification for not adhering to conventional arrangements. In the US context, this exceptionalism was traditionally articulated as the idea that the United States was a “city on a hill” (Baritz 1964) that had to keep itself pure and distant from the unsavory practices of European balance-ofpower politics. Arguments about foreign affairs advanced on the basis of this commonplace—including George Washington’s famous “Farewell Address” with its admonition against “entangling alliances”—had a “prelapsarian” character, “intent upon preventing the original sin of a balance of power from being committed in North America” (Ninkovich 1994: 46). In this form, exceptionalist arguments—which were dominant in US discussions until the end of the nineteenth century—functioned to support a foreign policy posture that prized a free hand over formal intergovernmental commitments and looked forward to the day when all the world would choose to emulate the US example.9 US exceptionalism was firmly in the center of US foreign policy discourse until the early part of the twentieth century, when it was challenged by a number of alternative renderings of US identity. For all of their other differences, Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson offered strikingly similar criticisms of an exceptionalist-centered US foreign policy, using the notion that the United States was part of a broader community of civilized powers as a way of legitimating involvement in the great political and diplomatic events of the time (P. Roberts 1997: 337–339; Ruggie 1998: 207–208). Although both enjoyed limited success, it was not until World War II that the notion that the United States should take part in sustained multilateral efforts really caught on, initially as part of the alliance of “civilized” powers arrayed against the “barbarism” exemplified by Nazi Germany, and later as part of “Western civilization” engaged in a bipolar

162

Constructivist Approaches

context with “the East” (Gusterson 1999; P. Jackson 2006b; B. Klein 1990; Neumann 1999). The discourse had shifted—exceptionalism was no longer at the center of US identity and foreign policy, and the United States was instead part of a larger community to which it was in some sense beholden. Of course, not everyone in US foreign policy circles agreed with this articulation, but the exigencies of the Cold War and the nuclear balance of terror functioned as an effective underpinning for what came to be called the “Cold War consensus” in US foreign policy: the proper way to deal with the Soviet Union was through containment, and a bipolar balance was better than complete annihilation. Dissenters were pressed to the margins of the debate, among which could be found a small but vocal group of militant anticommunists that critiqued the containment policy for being too soft on communism. They were frustrated with the US government’s reluctance to aggressively pursue a crusade against the Soviet Union, and rejected the notion of coexistence that containment implied. These “neoconservatives,” as they came to be known, performed a good deal of the “cultural/organizational work” (McAdam, Tarrow, and Tilly 2001: 47) required to introduce new commonplaces to a public debate—or to reinvigorate old ones. And “reinvigorating” is precisely what these neoconservative thinkers were doing; they were simply remixing and rearticulating themes and tropes that had been floating around in US political culture for decades. Their chief commonplace, not surprisingly, was exceptionalism—precisely what was marginalized by conceptions of the United States as merely one member of a broader civilizational community. The story of how the neoconservative vision of a militant US exceptionalism became newly prominent in US foreign policy circles is a complex one. Any complete accounting would have to address how these neoconservative thinkers were able to unify the conservative opposition to Cold War– era containment on terms that were broadly acceptable to a diverse group of public intellectuals and practitioners (Williams 2007: 106–107). The legitimation strategies utilized by this group characterized the Reagan administration’s approach to foreign policy, especially Reagan’s embrace of the universalist language of good and evil as a way of describing US foreign policy goals. Space does not permit sketching this entire history (good overviews may be found in Kelly 2002; and Vaîsse 2010). Such an account would also have to take seriously the fact that it was not only conservative Republicans who were inclined to use such universalist language as a way of framing US foreign policy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Indeed, President Bill Clinton and his secretary of state Madeleine Albright embraced such a legitimation strategy at the time of the 1999 NATO bombings of Kosovo, frequently invoking “humanity” and “the international community” as the actors in whose name the United States was acting—in effect, “nesting” the United States within larger and more universal communities in the name of

Relational Constructivism

163

which exceptional actions were justified (Ferguson and Mansbach 1996: 50– 51). The point is that the US exceptionalism on which Bush relied in 2002– 2003 was not simply invented on the spot, but drew on a long-standing tradition of characterizing the role of the United States in the world and drawing implications from that characterization. Pillar II: “Terrorism” as “Uncivilized” Constituting the United States as the exceptional defender of universal values and principles is insufficient to legitimate the invasion of another sovereign state in the absence of some egregious violation of those values and principles. Nothing that Bush said about Iraq in his 2002 address to the UN was new; Iraq had been in violation of UN resolutions for some time, and it was only one of the places where a plausible case could have been made for US intervention. Therefore something else must have intervened to make such dramatic US action possible.10 What intervened, of course, were the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But what is of greatest importance here is not the brute material fact of airplanes crashing into buildings, but instead the meaning that those occurrences came to have in the days and weeks after they took place; that meaning, rather than emerging naturally or inevitably from the situation, had to be “fixed” (Krebs and Lobasz 2007) through a particular confluence of strategic deployments of rhetorical commonplaces. Once that meaning was fixed, references to “September 11” or “9/11” could be utilized as rhetorical shorthand for the specific set of commonplaces implicated in its stabilized meaning. Contesting those commonplaces would mean contesting the meaning of “9/11” itself, a perilous undertaking in the US political context precisely because of the centrality of that event to subsequent accounts of US foreign policy and identity—particularly once it became the lynchpin of the “war on terror” used by the Bush administration as a master frame for most of its subsequent foreign policy initiatives. Although the construction of the “war on terror” framework arguably continued until 2003 (Goodnight 2010; Nabers 2009), to grasp the contours of the strategy it is convenient to focus on an early articulation that sought to stabilize the meaning of 9/11 and to draw conclusions about appropriate US actions in response to that event. On 20 September 2001, Bush addressed a joint session of Congress and set forth a stark characterization of those who had perpetrated the attacks nine days previously: We have seen their kind before. They’re the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies. (Bush 2001a)

164

Constructivist Approaches

The attackers, in other words, had placed themselves outside the bounds of civilized humanity, a point Bush underscored by declaring that “[t]his is not, however, just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight. This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.” Here the United States is located within a wider sphere of the civilized world, and the unspecified but extensive actions that the United States was planning to undertake were, in effect, civilization’s actions; any who opposed them would therefore be placing themselves outside of the sphere of civilization, and thus opening themselves up to the retaliation of civilization’s authorized representative, the United States: “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” An important part of the meaning of the 9/11 attacks was that because the United States had been singled out for attack, it was justified in responding unilaterally on behalf of the broader community of which it was a part. Accordingly, no mention was made of going through international bodies to gain approval for antiterrorist operations, although Bush did make sure to mention that anyone who wanted to join a US-led effort against terrorism was encouraged to do so. And just as the United States represented the paragon of liberty and freedom (“Why do they hate us?” “They hate our freedoms.”), the attackers were portrayed as representing a very different ideology: In Afghanistan we see Al Qaeda’s vision for the world. Afghanistan’s people have been brutalized, many are starving and many have fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough. The United States respects the people of Afghanistan—after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid—but we condemn the Taliban regime. (Bush 2001a)

Thus, domestic brutality and the absence of the kind of freedom and liberty prized by the United States (and its civilized allies, who affirmed their status as civilized by participating in the US-led campaign) were linked to terrorism. The sovereign status of a state like Afghanistan was irrelevant, as its involvement with terrorists made it susceptible to demands backed up by force. Sovereignty, in this formulation, is subject to the more fundamental values and principles of human civilization, and a state standing in violation of these values and principles cannot help but be a legitimate target for the action of the “civilized” world. In this and subsequent public statements by Bush and other members and allies of his administration, a relatively clear strategic intention emerges: to use the capabilities of the United States, especially its military

Relational Constructivism

165

capabilities, to actively enforce compliance with the standards of the broader “civilized” community of which the United States was an exceptional representative.11 By joining the exceptional United States with the notion that terrorists were “uncivilized” opponents presenting a security threat, action—particularly military action—against those terrorists would be warranted. And opponents of such action would have to contest either the overall framing of the issue as involving a clash between the civilized and the uncivilized, or they would have to accept the frame and contest the practical implications of that framing (Krebs and Jackson 2007). Contesting the frame was unlikely for reasons I have previously mentioned: a long tradition of identifying the United States as a paragon of liberty and freedom, and the efforts of both neoconservatives and their domestic political opponents to make sense of the post–Cold War world in terms of the promulgation of putatively universal values. As for contesting the implications of the frame, Bush effectively tackled those in a speech delivered at the West Point military academy in June 2002, a speech that contained pointed formulations of rhetorical gestures that would be repeated over and over again in the months and weeks preceding the invasion of Iraq. In addition to reiterating the frame itself (“Our nation’s cause has always been larger than our nation’s defense. We fight as we always fight, for a just peace. A peace that favors human liberty.”), Bush used the occasion to argue against what he characterized as Cold War–era, nonmilitary strategies for preempting potential terrorist threats: For much of the last century America’s defense relied on the Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. In some cases those strategies still apply. But new threats also require new thinking. Deterrence, the promise of massive retaliation against nations, means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies. We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants who solemnly sign nonproliferation treaties and then systematically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize we will have waited too long. (Bush 2002d)

In case anyone doubted the stakes, Bush went on to praise “moral clarity” as key to US foreign policy, and reminded his listeners that “moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time and in every place” and that this clarity placed the “civilized nations . . . on the same side, united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos.” He then went on to single out for special criticism the notion that differences between cultural and civilizational communities provided a warrant for the preservation of diversity: When it comes to the common rights and needs of men and women, there is no clash of civilizations. The requirements of freedom apply fully to Africa

166

Constructivist Approaches

and Latin America and the entire Islamic world. . . . The peoples of the Islamic nations want and deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as people in every nation. And their governments should listen to their hopes.

Thus, contesting the administration’s strategy would mean contesting the universality of the community in whose name and on whose authority the United States was acting. The only thing remaining to build a case for the invasion of Iraq in particular was a link between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Iraq. The fact that there was no such link, except in the hypothetical scenarios played out by members of the Bush administration on numerous occasions, might have presented an obstacle, except for one critical fact: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was already constructed as deviant and marginal by a series of UN resolutions and debates stretching at least as far back as the late 1980s. Indeed, at the time of the debate about UN Security Council Resolution 678—the resolution placing an ultimatum on Iraq to comply with demands to withdraw its troops from Kuwait by 15 January 1991 or face military consequences— Iraq was specifically characterized by several speakers as lying outside of the “civilized” world, precisely the way Bush characterized Iraq in 2002.12 Here again, the preceding cultural work made commonplaces and arguments available for deployment. But it is important not to succumb to the temptation of historical or structural determinism here. The mere availability of the relevant rhetorical commonplaces did not compel the 2003 invasion of Iraq; it simply made the invasion possible. Rather, it was the strategic use of those commonplaces in arguments advanced at important locations and times that produced that violent consequence. It is difficult to imagine the United States leading a “coalition of the willing” into Iraq and running ahead of formal UN sanction for that action without a firmly established narrative justifying these exceptional actions. Contemplating this counterfactual scenario helps to cement the importance of the legitimation strategy I have outlined here, a strategy underpinned by the contingent rhetorical commonplaces that actualized certain consequences rather than others.

■ Conclusion What light does a relational constructivist perspective shed on the 2003 invasion of Iraq? In this chapter, I have tried to illustrate precisely what such a perspective provides: a more nuanced appreciation of the public rhetoric surrounding military and diplomatic actions, a focus on strategies of public legitimation and their importance to social action, and a more empirical account of precisely who the actors in world politics are at any given point in time. By not foreclosing the question of actorhood in advance, a relational constructivist approach enables analysts to focus on how questions of authority

Relational Constructivism

167

and legitimacy are negotiated in practice. This also provides a way to account for courses of action without having to resort to speculation about individual motives: actions are caused by the specific configuration of rhetorical resources brought to bear at a given point in time. It is the analysis of these configurations, and of the specific histories of the commonplaces constituting each of them, that relational constructivism advocates. In principle, this approach can be applied to any contentious issue of world politics, but it has particular insight to offer when the course of action actually adopted is at variance with well-established international norms like the inviolability of sovereign borders or the unilateral use of military force. In such cases—the pooling of sovereignty among the member states of the EU comes to mind, as do the subsequent military operations in Libya and Afghanistan—the advocates of the policy in question have an uphill battle to wage against established standards and practices. It is only by drawing on existing traditions and commonplaces that they can feasibly convince their audiences to support deviations from the norm; fortunately for analysts, these advocates will probably be called on to make their cases repeatedly, generating the documentary trail of evidence that a relational constructivist account thrives on. And as universal communities like “humanity” and “civilization” become ever more common elements of foreign policy discourse among the great powers, the explanatory power of a relational constructivist approach is likely to be even more obvious.

■ Notes 1. Thanks to Josh Jones for research assistance. 2. It is this focus on networks of transaction, on relations between and among entities rather than on the putatively dispositional qualities of those entities, that gives “relational” approaches their name (Emirbayer 1997; Jackson and Nexon 1999). 3. While space does not permit me to go into the fine-grained distinctions between practice, discourse, and rhetoric, “discourse” names not an object but a particular way of conceptualizing social action as inherently meaning-making, “practice” highlights the active nature of this process, and “rhetoric” discloses that characteristic of public argument that gives it its directed character. For elaborations, see Joas (1997); Neumann (2002); and P. Jackson (2009). 4. Note that what matters here is what is done and said, and not what any given individual thinks that she or he is doing. Motive is irrelevant to a relational constructivist account, and if it figures at all it is a consequence of the individual’s social position rather than the wellspring of their activity. Whether Bush believed his own rhetoric is an intriguing biographical question, but from the point of view of a relational constructivist account of the 2003 Iraq invasion, it is more or less irrelevant. 5. Naturally these locations do not cover every bit of public discussion and debate about the invasion of Iraq, but concentrate on those locations where claims were advanced in the name of some social actor directly implicated in the public debates that led to specific courses of action. Critiques of the 2003 Iraq War that were simply ignored by the officials giving the orders, while useful as normative critiques, play

168

Constructivist Approaches

no causal role in the processes under investigation here, and can be safely left aside for the moment. One of the central operational principles of a relational constructivist account is that not everything that is said matters. In practice this means that critiques that are not acknowledged and responded to by the relevant officials made no difference, whatever their ethical validity. At the end of the day a relational constructivist account is still a species of social-scientific explanation rather than an exercise in political disruption. 6. In so doing, I am quite aware that I am tacitly accepting that the Iraq invasion was a “diplomatic” event, that is, an event that was a conflict among public authorities such as states and interstate alliances and international organizations. This is, of course, not the only narrative of the conflict that could be constructed, and perhaps it should not be the narrative that we unquestioningly prefer, but the fact remains that this is how the conflict was constructed by the people socially responsible for the decision to invade Iraq and the actors on whose behalf they acted. Analyzing how this construction came to pass requires, at the very least, focusing attention on the kinds of social boundaries produced and reproduced in practice, and not simply dismissing those boundaries as normatively illegitimate and therefore unworthy of serious analytical attention. 7. Note that this topography is less representational than ideal-typical. Different analysts will undoubtedly generate different topographies, as texts can be gathered up and organized in many different ways according to the values and interests of the researcher. The procedure involved is closer to participant-observation ethnography than to content analysis; on this distinction of method, see P. Jackson (2006a). 8. Bush speech to the UN, 12 September 2002 (Bush 2002c). 9. Exceptionalism should in no way be equated with “isolationism,” a term that regrettably keeps showing up in scholarly and popular discussions of US foreign policy despite the fact that there has never been a school of thought in US policy discussions that actually argued the country ought to stay out of world politics altogether. Exceptionalist policies traditionally tended toward the “exemplarist” idea that “perfecting American institutions and practices at home is a full-time job” and that the greatest task of US foreign policy was therefore to create space to carry out such an exercise on its own terms (Brands 1998, vii–viii), but this led not to isolation so much as to a focus on continental expansion (Stephanson 1995) and efforts to “civilize” China and Latin America (Schulte Nordholt 1995). 10. Note that from a relational constructivist perspective it is insufficient to say that what intervened was a preexisting desire by Bush’s neoconservative advisers to invade Iraq as part of a broader strategy of remaking the greater Middle East and spreading democracy throughout the Muslim world—an argument that can be found in, among other accounts, Dorrien (2004) and Smith (2007). While this claim is certainly true—the neoconservative PNAC went on record calling for an invasion of Iraq as early as 1998—desire does not translate into outcome. What is needed instead is an account of what made it possible for neoconservatives to act on that desire. 11. Note that this is an intention, and not necessarily a motive. Whether a subjective commitment to the rightness of the United States and its civilized cause was in fact responsible for any particular individual’s words and deeds advancing that cause is, as I said above, largely irrelevant from a relational constructivist point of view. But the presence of a discernible intention—a socially meaningful goal—in the public articulations of Bush and other administration supporters cannot but be causally relevant, as the successful promulgation of that intention affords and facilitates the subsequent military operations. 12. The transcript of this debate may be found in UN Security Council (1990i).

6 Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches 6.1 Postmodernism and Critical Theory Jennifer Sterling-Folker

Although postmodernism and critical theory will be discussed together, it is important to underscore that they are different theoretical perspectives. Postmodernism is derived from the study of literature, and critical theorists find its abandonment of the Enlightenment project objectionable. Alternatively, critical theory is a form of neo- or Western Marxist analysis, and postmodern scholars criticize it for continuing to participate in that same Enlightenment project. Hence the two schools of thought can be antagonists. Yet as Pauline Rosenau has observed, “the relationship between the two is far from simple” (1990: 104). Each is a dedicated postpositivist approach, and the term “critical theory” is sometimes used to indicate all theoretical perspectives that share this dedication.1 Many scholars who work in either tradition have sought to build analytical bridges between them, because they share a set of philosophical precursors, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Thus there are good reasons for discussing them together, although their particular origins and goals of analysis are different. Postmodernism derives from the French study of literature and language, and some of the more seminal authors to its development include Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Emmanuel Lévinas, Jean-François Lyotard, Roland Barthes, and Jean Baudrillard. Within the IR discipline the term “poststructuralism” is frequently preferred, as it constitutes “a theory of knowledge and language” that is seen as more relevant to IR, rather than providing, as postmodernism does, “a theory of society, culture, and history” (Agger 1991: 112). Yet the two terms are often used interchangeably due to their significant theoretical overlap, their shared analytical heritage, and their mutual “aversion to clean positivist definitions and categories” 169

170

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

(Agger 1991: 112).2 Both developed in the context of French structuralism, which “is a theory of signs, post-structuralism a critique of the sign; structuralism investigates how social phenomena can be explained by stable and pervasive meaning systems, post-structuralism shows how all meaning systems are precarious, self-defeating and only strive for closure without ever succeeding” (Wæver 1996: 171). Given these significant analytical overlaps, and that the term “postmodernism” was utilized to describe this perspective when it was introduced into the discipline, the term is used here to subsume IR work that labels itself poststructuralist instead. As a postpositivist approach, postmodernism is not a theory in the positivist sense of providing causal explanations for social phenomena. Rather it is a critique meant to reveal the disjunctures of Enlightenment modernity, which, postmodern scholars contend, imposes meaning on social activity and, in so doing, establishes hierarchies of power that we then accept as natural. Postmodernism seeks to upset what is taken for granted and reveal how discourse imposes meaning and hence a value structure that is both socially constructed and historically arbitrary. Critical theory is also postpositivist, but its origins are different. It developed out of what is called the Frankfurt School, which was established prior to World War II by a group of German scholars who sought to salvage Marxist thought from its orthodox, political manifestations. Heavily influenced by the work of Nietzsche, the first generation of critical theorists included Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Walter Benjamin. Best known among the second generation of scholars is Jürgen Habermas. From a critical theory perspective, it is Marxism, not liberalism, that is the true heir of Enlightenment thought. Critical theory shares with postmodernism a skepticism of the liberal claim to a universal and morally accurate value structure. It seeks to recover Marxism’s emancipatory elements by focusing on culture, philosophy, and language, rather than on political economy, as the potential sites for overcoming social domination and oppression. Neither theoretical perspective was developed in the US discipline of IR, nor were they particularly pertinent to its early development, and both have been more influential to the European study of IR. 3 When these perspectives were introduced into the US discipline in the 1980s, they generated what is often referred to as the “third debate” (Lapid 1989), thus differentiating it from two prior periods of theoretical disagreement that galvanized the discipline.4 What distinguished the third debate was that it struck at “the very core of what constitutes the international relations field and require[d] its thorough and complete reconstruction” (P. Rosenau 1990: 83). Proponents of these perspectives sought not only a change in the US discipline’s preferred methodology or positivist epistemology, but also a change in the very ontology of the discipline, grounded as it is in a faith in

Postmodernism and Critical Theory

171

our ability to accurately know a true social reality with positivism. As one postmodern IR scholar has put it, “rationalists cling to the faith that there is an objective reality out there that is waiting for the right method to come along and in the name of scientific progress make use of, make sense of, give order to it” (Der Derian 1997: 57). Alternatively, postpositivist approaches such as postmodernism and critical theory challenge this notion of objectivity and hence the premises upon which the US discipline of IR rests. The philosophical antecedents of both perspectives may be traced to the study of language and linguistics, and from these both derive the idea that social reality is created through discourse. That is, how we discursively represent something also determines how we act toward it and hence what it will be. While we first encountered the “hermeneutic circle” when discussing constructivism, it assumes greater significance in postpositivist approaches. Not only can we not know the world absent the words we use to describe it, but we are also confronted with the essential dilemma that “whenever people try to establish a certain reading of a text or expression, they allege other readings as the ground for their reading” (Adler 1997: 321–322). This means that we can never arrive at the one “true” reading of a text, only multiple, layered interpretations of it, so that the text itself (and its particular author) becomes less important than how it has been interpreted and meaning assigned to it. To put this another way, “all meaning systems are open-ended systems of signs referring to signs referring to signs. No concept can therefore have an ultimate, unequivocal meaning” (Wæver 1996: 171). This makes the role or intentions of the author or speaker relatively unimportant, and in literary postmodernism the author is completely effaced from analysis. Yet meaning-making is not an individual or random activity according to postpositivist approaches. It proceeds from society and culture, and it reflects linguistic structures, “meta-narratives,” or systems of discursive practice and knowledge production that individuals are embedded within and that create and reproduce the world through them. Both perspectives see this as an act of subjugation, in that meaning is imposed on the individual by these meta-narratives rather than vice versa, and in fact, meaning-making reflects power at a very fundamental level. Meaning is always assigned through an oppositional arrangement in which some symbols, ideas, and values are elevated and others are subordinated. Truth itself then becomes a function of this discursive oppositional arrangement. We take for granted certain ideas and activities as naturally good or bad, when such judgments are actually products of specific knowledge-producing systems and hence specific historical circumstances. One juxtaposition that has been most relevant in the study of IR is that of “self and other” (Doty 1996; Inayatullah and Blaney 2004; Neumann

172

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

1999), which refers to the idea that we cannot know who we are unless we consider who we are not. This has obvious relevance to a Westphalian world, which is divided into territorial, political units with specific populations distinct from one another. In making such distinctions, say to speak of differences between Americans and Mexicans, we also engage in value judgments about what is or is not proper and in so doing produce and reify a world in which exclusion on the basis of those value judgments seems natural. To refer, for example, to “‘Latin America’ is not just to refer to [or represent] an area on the globe; it is to help reproduce an institutionalized form of dominance, one in which the minority, Hispanic part of populations in the region control the original indigenous groups” (Shapiro 1989: 15). Hence the social reality that is created by the imposition of meaning involves subjugation and social injustices that are uncritically and continually reproduced as if they were inevitable. The examination of these sorts of juxtapositions has been central to postmodernism and critical theory, as well as to another postpositivist perspective—postcolonialism—which focuses on IR’s Eurocentrism and the embedded racism in its juxtaposition of a Western/modern Self to a non-Western/backwards Other (Said 1979).5 What these perspectives share is an interest in “how discourse is related to the construction and subjugation of humankind” (Gregory 1989: xxi). They seek to interrogate representations, asking why it is important to represent things in a certain way, so that embedded knowledge and value structures may be revealed and critiqued. They are interested in what people say, how they describe the world, and how they justify what they do in it, because the verbal and written descriptions and justifications are as important to understanding the world as the deeds that follow. They wish to reveal these embedded value structures in order to oppose them, because revelation exposes the extent to which individual identity has been imposed, the extent to which “others” have been defined and excluded politically and economically by such imposition, and the extent to which violence against these “others” is sanctioned on the basis of identity difference. By pulling apart meaning-making, these perspectives seek to reveal the knowledge-producing power structures underneath. Hence they endeavor “to highlight the existence of counter-hegemonic or countervailing tendencies which are invariably present within all social and political structures” (Linklater 1996: 283). They do so by unpacking or pulling apart the meanings embedded or implicitly assumed in texts, whether these texts are public statements by policymakers or the writings of other IR scholars. While many of the ideas about meaning-making and identity serve as the foundation for IR constructivism as well, ultimately constructivism seeks to close off the hermeneutic circle by arguing that since we do create a social reality, it is logically possible to use scientific methodology to

Postmodernism and Critical Theory

173

understand and explain it. Neither postmodernism nor critical theory views this epistemological middle ground as morally viable, because, they argue, scientific methodology has been harnessed by the liberal Enlightenment project, which is not a value-free discursive structure. An example of how liberal discursive structures can shape understanding and justify action is provided by Rosemary Shinko in Chapter 6.2. Shinko examines George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address, and the issue of Iraqi civilian casualties, to deconstruct the liberal meta-narrative of humanity that underwrote the invasion. Shinko demonstrates the inconsistencies and indeterminacies of this meta-narrative and argues that the question of humanity must be radically rethought. It is on the subject of science that the link between postmodernism, critical theory, and postpositivism becomes clearest. Postpositivists argue that, like all knowledge-producing structures, liberalism excludes, marginalizes, and licenses violence and oppression against particular others. It has assisted a process in which scientific and technological advances have not emancipated human beings from the vicissitudes of nature, but rather controlled them for the sake of capitalism in particular. Hence liberalism has assisted a process of disciplining or repressing the individual, and any epistemology that assists it is morally implicated as well, protestations of objectivity to the contrary. In fact, those very protestations mark positivism as “logocentric,” which means “mistakenly claiming legitimacy by reference to external, universally truthful propositions” (P. Rosenau 1990: 86), which cannot exist if social reality is a social and historical construction. From a postpositivist perspective, positivism involves philosophical ignorance about the construction of social reality, one’s role in that construction, and the extent to which liberalism is a historical meta-narrative that relies on power and domination, even as it is posing as a morally superior universal truth. It reflects a failure “to understand that intellectual projects have important moral implications for the national and international distribution of wealth and power” (Linklater 1996: 281), or as Robert Cox has succinctly put it, “all theory is for someone and for some purpose” (1981: 128, emphasis in original). Rather than discovering social reality, then, positivism merely succeeds in reproducing it, because it “champions a particular value orientation—instrumental rationality” (Leonard 1990: 34)—which serves the meta-narrative of liberalism and reifies its particular forms of subjugation, while providing no means of recognizing or opposing it. It is for this reason that postmodernism and critical theory have a contentious relationship with dominant or mainstream IR theoretical perspectives, all of which implicitly subscribe to positivism as the most appropriate means of understanding IR. One topic that postpositivist scholars have tended to focus on and problematize in particular is the discipline’s treatment of sovereignty as simply “the enunciation of a territorially based conception of community that

174

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

demands the loyalty of its citizens” and having, therefore, “a natural essence to its existence” (Dunne 2001: 86). Tim Dunne notes that from a postpositivist perspective, sovereignty is “the founding moment of politics itself,” because it “represents the fault-line between community and anarchy” (2001: 86–87). It is therefore “what makes Westphalian international politics possible” (see also Wæver 1996: 167–169). According to Andrew Linklater, critical theorists are also interested in unpacking the concept and practice of sovereignty, because sovereignty “restricts the capacity of outsiders to participate in discourse to consider issues which concern them,” while critical theory “envisages the use of unconstrained discourses to determine the moral significance of national boundaries and to examine the possibility of post-sovereign forms of political life” (1996: 294, 280). It is here, however, that obvious differences between postmodernism and critical theory also begin to emerge. While both are interested in discursive practices, postmodernism is skeptical of all meta-narratives, arguing that if truth is embedded in discursive structures then it is not “out there” waiting to be discovered. Postmodernism is concerned with revealing these structures in order to reveal the power and subjugation that support them, but it is largely resigned to the “postmodern condition” in which truth is revealed to be a social construction (P. Rosenau 1990: 104). That is, if we cannot know right or wrong absent our own social creations, or as David Dessler puts it, “causally independent of the mind” (1999: 124), then all truth systems become equal and none can claim to be better. Conversely, critical theorists retain a belief in and commitment to Enlightenment ideals as a “true” discursive structure that liberalism has mischanneled or co-opted. The point of revealing the dominant liberal metanarrative is to replace it with a discursive structure that does finally obtain the Enlightenment ideals of human emancipation. Hence critical theorists are interested in the discursive practices of policymakers not only to reveal discursive structures, but because they also want policymakers to live up to their own liberal rhetoric and actually achieve the Enlightenment’s universal moral code. Because critical theorists believe in a particular meta-narrative in a way that postmodernists do not, the latter are as inclined to critique the former as they are realists, liberals, and constructivists. The goals of postmodern and critical theory analysis are quite different as a result. A postmodern perspective suggests that all meta-narratives require the disciplining of the individual and the subjugation of the other. Hence the desire to replace one meta-narrative with another on the grounds of morality is a sham, since it is essentially the replacement of one system of oppression with another. Because the discursive construction of social reality makes human emancipation impossible, the unpacking of the meta-narrative is the point of analysis for a postmodern scholar. In other words, postmodernism does not seek to replace the meta-narrative it is examining or to construct

Postmodernism and Critical Theory

175

an alternative to it. In fact, given that we can never know reality or describe it accurately, postmodernism assumes that there are an infinite number of ways to interpret the same text or event and that all of them are of equal interest or value. The point of postmodernism is instead to challenge existing meta-narratives by utilizing alternative methodologies, and in so doing, “it accepts inconsistency and contradiction, feeling no need to reconcile oppositions or to choose between them” (P. Rosenau 1990: 86). Given that all universal truth claims are questioned in postmodernism, one of the standard accusations leveled against the approach is that it promotes moral relativism and a form of ethical resignation or despair. Many IR postmodernists counter that the opposite is true, and that it can instead produce greater forms of tolerance for identity difference. Because it is an “attempt to understand—without resort of external authorities or transcendental values—why one moral or political system attains a higher status and exercises more influence than another at a particular historical moment” (Der Derian 1997: 58), it can reveal how other theoretical perspectives in the discipline naturalize rather than oppose violence, poverty, and subjugation in world politics. In this regard, it is important to note that it is postpositivists, rather than positivists, who have been more interested in the explicit exploration of ethics in IR (Campbell 1993; Campbell and Shapiro 1999; Der Derian 1997). Critical theory shares these ethical concerns, but it differs from postmodernism in its desire to substitute or reconstruct what is believed to be the “true” Enlightenment meta-narrative. Critical theory seeks to achieve universal emancipation, which, it argues, could have been realized if not for liberalism’s alliance with capitalism and science, which has effectively squandered and deflected this possibility. The result is that, although critical theory seeks to deconstruct the liberal meta-narrative in order to replace it, its “emphasis on the existence of foundations for making judgments between knowledge claims” demonstrates that theoretically it is “a direct descendant of the Kantian enlightenment project” (S. Smith 1996: 28). It also shares with constructivism a belief in the possibilities of fundamental change in IR, and it takes seriously the notion that IR theorists can play a significant role in promoting such change. As Richard Wyn Jones notes, its “willingness to face up to reality simultaneously includes a commitment to its transformation and a belief that such a transformation is feasible. Following Marx, critical theorists seek to understand the world in order to change it” (1999: 22). This means that unlike postmodernism, critical theory is meant to have practical, political intent. However, as Stephen Leonard has observed, “forging a link between social theory and political practice is . . . no mean task” (1990: 3). How, for example, does one move from the same ontological position as that of postmodernism to one in which the Enlightenment project may be treated as a

176

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

foundational narrative? How can this project and its goal of human emancipation be realized in actual political practice? And how can we, as IR scholars, recognize and promote the actions and policies necessary to achieve this goal? Different answers to these questions have produced different variants of critical theory. One of the better-known variants is based on the work of Habermas, and Chapter 6.3, by Rodger Payne, is an example of what can be called the “linguistic turn” in critical theory. What distinguishes this variant is its focus on communication acts as a possible site for foundational knowledge claims and the practical achievement of emancipation. Habermas has argued that truth and ethics are inherent to language, and that we can, in principle at least, produce situations of “ideal speech acts” that depend on ethical consensus among participants. In such situations it would not be power, social identities, or cultural distortions that determine collective outcomes, but rather the rationally more convincing argument that would prevail. The critical theory variant proposed by Habermas entails what is called universal pragmatics or discourse ethics, in which “participants aim to be guided by nothing other than the force of the better argument and agree that norms cannot be valid unless they command the consent of everyone who stands to be affected by them” (Linklater 1996: 286). Because consensual communication is a crucial element of the Habermasian variant, how nationstates reach collective decisions is just as important as the goals they collectively pursue. As a result, critical theorists tend to be skeptical of goals that are espoused as ethically desirable but have not been consensually and publicly derived. This skepticism is reflected in Payne’s analysis of the ways in which public debate and deliberative democracy were distorted by the Bush administration in its attempt to obtain consent for the invasion. Payne argues that, in the absence of a truly deliberative process that reflected communicative rationality, the legitimacy of the invasion is highly questionable. The need to overcome or dismantle nation-state sovereignty is also crucial to the application of discourse ethics in IR, because as a “bounded moral and political community,” the nation-state excludes others and inhibits the kind of unconstrained communications needed for the achievement of ideal speech acts (Linklater 1996: 287). The result is that the Habermasian variant of critical theory tends to “reflect a general left-liberal sensibility” (Wyn Jones 1999: 64), and it shares with liberal pluralism an explicit desire to move beyond the nation-state. The variant proposed by Habermas also entirely abandons economics as the potential site for change and emancipation. Yet other variants of critical theory have continued to focus on modes of production and class in providing alternative answers for how to link theory and practice within a neo-Marxian framework. One critical theory variant that has retained a focus on economics is historical materialism, which is discussed in Chapter 7.1 along with world

Postmodernism and Critical Theory

177

system theory. The difference this alternative focus can make for critical theory analysis is striking. While the Habermasian variant focuses on communication and discourse, the historical materialist variant focuses on “the effects of the globalization of relations of production and the linkages of elites in core and periphery on the distribution of the world’s wealth” (Linklater 1996: 287). In seeking to identify and promote the potential sites for change, the Habermasian variant focuses on unrestrained communications, while the historical materialism variant encourages counterhegemonic political and social movements. Yet ultimately these different variants may be united under the same critical theory umbrella, because they share the same theoretical and practical goal. That goal, according to Linklater, is “to identify the sources of potentially far-reaching change so that human subjects can grasp the possibility of alternative paths of historical development which can be explored through collective political action” (1996: 283–284). This is also why critical theory and postmodernism must be kept distinct, despite their many attributes in common. Postmodernism eschews critical theory’s goals and is particularly skeptical of Habermas’s notion of unconstrained communications. From a postmodern perspective, all conversation is a power struggle to impose meaning, and it is not possible to move beyond this to a place untainted by power. In order to circumvent the power struggle in their own writings, postmodernists seek alternative methodologies and presentation styles. This can make postmodern IR analysis appear strange to the positivist, who would expect analysis to identify potential causal variables, chart possible causal linkages, present factual evidence, and provide conclusions about which variables proved most explanatory. Instead postmodern IR seeks to shake the reader’s expectations, appear strange in order to expose complacencies, and focus on the discontinuities of discursive structures to reveal forced marginalizations. It may also focus on what the positivist would consider trivial or unrelated to IR, such as spy novels, football, defense manuals, Star Trek, and other elements of popular culture.6 In an approach that views everything as a text and all texts as interconnected,7 such topics allow us to see linkages that are unexamined (metaphors of war used in sports, for example), to turn meaning upside down, and “reread” what we take for granted (why do we equate war with sport?). Although they too seek to unpack meaning, the methodology of critical theorists is not nearly as radical as postmodernism given its different goals. And critical theorists are often critical of postmodernism for its “radical openness that cuts out the ground on which to stand in making a critique or looking for progress” (Rengger and Thirkell-White 2007: 15). Yet despite these criticisms and differences, the practitioners of these approaches in IR have tended to ally themselves in order to highlight their differences with the rest of the discipline. Their introduction into the discipline during the

178

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

1980s was by no means a congenial affair, involving a “post-structuralist guerrilla war against the ‘system’” (Wæver 1996: 169), accompanied by equally vehement positivist reactions, so that “not so long ago mental flak jackets were de rigueur if one so much as uttered the ‘P-word’ among IR scholars” (Der Derian 1997: 57). This overt hostility has declined over time, in part because constructivism’s combination of postpositivist insights with the discipline’s preferred epistemology has made the former a more acceptable alternative to the theoretical mainstream. It is probably the case, then, that postpositivist approaches such as postmodernism and critical theory are already having a significant but implicit impact on IR theorists in the making.

■ Further Reading Richard K. Ashley is one of the best-known postmodern IR scholars (see 1996, 1987, 1984), particularly for his early postmodern critiques of Kenneth Waltz’s theory of neorealism. Two other postmodern scholars whose work has been particularly seminal are R. B. J. Walker (1993, 1987) and James Der Derian (1997, 1989). Der Derian’s edited volume International Theory: Critical Investigations (1995a) juxtaposes well-known articles in IR (by both positivists and postpositivists) that collectively demonstrate the concerns of postmodernism and the English School discussed in Chapter 9.1. Other examples of postmodern IR scholarship include Alker 1996; Campbell 1992; Connolly 2002; Dillon and Reid 2009; Edkins 1999; George 1994; Jabri 2010; B. Klein 1994; Luke 1993; Shapiro 1987; and Shinko 2012, 2008. Some feminist scholars, such as V. Spike Peterson and Christine Sylvester, work with a postmodern or critical perspective, but are discussed in Chapter 8.1 instead. Other IR scholars whose writings might be characterized as postmodern, such as Roxanne Doty, Janice Bially Mattern, Iver Neumann, Jutta Weldes, and Franke Wilmer, are cited in Chapter 5.1. In both cases, their placement in other sections is not definitive and might vary according to the different analytical criteria of other authors. Edited volumes of postmodern IR include Der Derian and Shapiro 1989, Jarvis 2002, and Shapiro and Alker 1996. There are also several notable special journal issues devoted to postmodernism, including a “dissident” issue of International Studies Quarterly (Ashley and Walker 1990a, 1990b), a special issue of Millennium titled “Images and Narratives in World Politics” (2001), and the “Critiquing Liberalism” (2012) issue of Journal of International Relations and Development. The postmodern literature on sovereignty is considerable, but particularly seminal pieces include Ashley 1988; Bartelson 1995; Biersteker and Weber 1996; Campbell 1993; Edkins, Pin-Fat, and Shapiro 2004; Inayatullah and Blaney 2004; Walker 1993; and C. Weber 1995. For background on postmodernism as it relates

Postmodernism and Critical Theory

179

to IR and the social sciences more generally, see P. Rosenau 1990 and 1992, as well as Hollinger 1994. Among IR scholars who subscribe to a Habermasian critical theory, Linklater’s work is among the best known (1998, 1996, 1992, 1990). Other examples of this particular variant of critical theory include Baynes 1994; Hoffman 1987; M. Lynch 2002; Mitzen 2005; Neufeld 1995; R. Payne 2001, 2012; Samhat and Payne 2003; Risse 2000; and Roach 2012. The work of scholars who subscribe to critical theory’s historical materialism variant, such as Robert Cox, Stephen Gill, and Craig Murphy, is discussed in Chapter 7.1. Two edited volumes that bring practitioners of both variants together are Wyn Jones 2001 and Brincat, Lima, and Nunes 2012. A number of texts also evaluate critical theory’s contribution to IR theory, including Edkins and Vaughan-Williams 2009, Hamati-Ataya 2012, and a special issue of Review of International Studies edited by Rengger and Thirkell-White (2007). For background on the Frankfurt School and critical theory in general, see Bronner 1994, Held 1980, and Wiggershaus 1994. On the relationship between postmodernism and critical theory, consult Agger 1991, Duvall and Varadarajan 2012, George and Campbell 1990, and Kellner 1989. Seminal examples of postcolonialism IR include Agathangelou and Ling 2005, Beier 2005, Chowdhry and Nair 2002, Jabri 2012, Ling 2002, Nayak and Selbin 2010, and Salter 2002. Additional postcolonial suggestions may be found in the Further Reading section of Chapter 8.1. The epistemological issues that these postpositivist approaches raise for the discipline have been considered in a number of special IR journal issues, such as Millennium’s “Philosophical Traditions in International Relations” (1988); International Studies Quarterly’s “Exchange on the Third Debate” (1989), which contains Yosef Lapid’s “third debate” article and accompanying articles by Kal Holsti (1989), Thomas Biersteker (1989), and Jim George (1989); and the International Studies Review forum “Are Dialogue and Synthesis Possible in International Relations?” (Hellmann 2003). A variety of other sources explore this topic, such as Alker 1996; Alker and Biersteker 1984; Booth and Smith 1995; Crawford and Jarvis 2000; George 1988; Hollis and Smith 1990; Sjolander and Cox 1994; S. Smith 2002; and Smith, Booth, and Zalewski 1996.

■ Notes 1. This can obviously generate some confusion, and Tim Dunne notes that “many authors in the field draw a distinction between Critical Theory descended from the Frankfurt School, and critical theories referring to a range of anti- or postpositivist theories, such as feminism and postmodernism” (2001: 73). Since I am already using the term “postpositivism” for the latter purpose, critical theory will not be capitalized here, although its usage is meant to indicate the Frankfurt School perspective to which Dunne refers.

180

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

2. In addition to Agger’s (1991) accessible discussion of the similarities and differences between critical theory, poststructuralism, and postmodernism, see Callinicos 1985 and George and Campbell 1990. See also Rosemary Shinko’s discussion of this topic at the start of Chapter 6.2. 3. How the study of IR varies comparatively in different national settings, as well as what difference US hegemony makes to IR theorizing, has been examined by R. Crawford 2000, Crawford and Jarvis 2000, Tickner 2003, Wæver 1998, and S. Smith 2002. 4. In overviews of disciplinary history, the first debate is usually identified as occurring in the 1920s and 1930s between idealism and realism, with the latter emerging as victorious. The second debate occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, involving methodological disagreements over whether to study IR as history or a behavioral science, with the latter emerging as victorious. However, scholars disagree over how to date these debates, what exactly their substance involved, or what their outcomes were; see, for example, Wæver 1997, 1996; Kahler 1997. 5. As with other postpositivist approaches, postcolonialism’s introduction into IR has been relatively recent, and much of the early postcolonial work in the discipline was done by feminist scholars. Examples of postcolonial IR texts are provided in the Further Readings section of this chapter, as well as in Chapter 8.1. 6. See the various contributions in Der Derian and Shapiro 1989, “Images and Narratives in World Politics” 2001, and Weldes 2003. The extent to which modern technology mediates representation is another subject of ongoing inquiry for postmodernists, since the mass media cannot simply “report the news” as if it were out there to be objectively discovered, but rely on discursive practices to convey meaning and create the “news” instead. Similarly the use of modern technology in war has become a substitute rather than facilitator for the activity, so that the blips on a computer screen now determine what victory means for combatants on the battlefield. From a postmodern perspective this has produced a crisis of representation, in which “the realities of world politics increasingly are generated, mediated, even simulated by successive technical means of reproduction, further distancing them from some original and ultimately mythical meaning” (Der Derian 1997: 57; see also Deibert 1997 and Der Derian 2001, 1992). 7. Or as Pauline Rosenau puts it, “post-modernism is text-centered and, in the extreme, all the world is a text: a life experience, a political rally, an election, negotiating a treaty, a personal relationship, a vacation, buying a car, seeking a job—all are texts. Even speech is assigned the status of text” (1990: 88).

6.2 Postmodernism: Seducing Humanity Rosemary E. Shinko

The first issue to consider is why use the term postmodernism instead of poststructuralism to describe this particular approach to international relations theory.1 I deploy the term postmodernism to indicate a blended theoretical approach that encompasses structural critiques of language, concepts, and texts coupled with intellectual efforts to disturb sedimented patterns of thought.2 It is in this process (identified by Foucault) of thinking about things other than as they are at present that the term postmodern takes on its theoretical significance for me. The postmodern indicates those openings where thought momentarily exceeds the grasp of rules to delimit and discipline it. Thus Lyotard’s (1992: 15) description is most apt: the postmodern writer “work[s] without rules and in order to establish the rules for what will have been made.” Most students will rightly wonder how to engage in the type of study and inquiry that contribute to the emergence of such spaces of critical thought and creativity. It is also worth noting that postmodernism is not a theory of IR, but is more appropriately described as a form of critique that resists attempts to identify uniform patterns of regularity and instead draws attention to the uniqueness and singularity of each event. Postmodern approaches rely upon methods of analysis such as deconstruction (Derrida), genealogy (Nietzsche, Foucault), and semiotics (Barthes), all of which operate to destabilize and challenge the concepts, fundamental beliefs, and principles upon which the study and conduct of international relations have been based.3 In part what accounts for the distinctiveness of various postmodern approaches to the study of IR is their reliance on these methodologies. But perhaps even more significant is the application of the conceptual insights of scholars like Foucault, Baudrillard, Butler, Lyotard, Levinas, Kristeva, and Derrida, among others, to pressing international concerns, issues, and/or problems. For example, Mark Salter (2006) uses Foucault’s work on biopower to supplement Agamben’s notion of sovereign decision in order to understand how certain bodies come to think of themselves as “international,” while Michael Shapiro (1999) builds upon the work of Derrida and Levinas to formulate and develop the conceptual parameters for his idea of an “ethics of encounter.” This pattern of textual research is characteristic of postmodern IR scholarship.4 Thus for the sake of this chapter I have chosen to analyze the concept of humanity, its relationship to the conduct of the Iraq War, and how it has been deployed to delineate between moral righteousness and 181

182

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

moral depravity in the evaluation of the war itself. The most logical starting point for this analysis is Foucault’s work on power/knowledge to identify how various discourses struggle over competing truth claims and how power is deployed in an effort to sustain dominant discourses as the truth. But I want to push this line of analysis even further by drawing on Baudrillard’s concept of seduction in order to consider the reversibility of both terms humanity/inhumanity and the seductive challenge that each poses for the other. My theoretical aim is much more complicated than a simplistic dismissal or inversion of the two terms because I want to explore more creative pathways for interrogating humanity’s seductive hold on our political imaginations.5

■ Power/Knowledge: Humanity in the Shadow of the Democratic Peace Foucault’s intent was to “discover how certain concepts functioned in specific historical conjunctures, not from a position outside this history, but rather from within it, in order to allow something new to be thought” (Montag 1995: 57). It is Foucault who is responsible for the postmodern shift in our view of power from one of a force to be exercised or controlled to more of a productive force that enmeshes us in its web-like structure. Knowledge creates an object/subject that can be “described, judged, measured, compared with others” while power effects the transformation in the object/subject in order to train it, correct it, or discipline it (Foucault 1977: 191). As Foucault concludes, “power produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth. The individual and the knowledge that may be gained of him belong to this production” (194). Discourses of humanity read through the simultaneous processes of knowledge and power reflect a domain of knowledge that attempts to devise measurable characteristics and descriptive attributes that allow an “objective” rendering of the humanity or inhumanity of a certain domain of activity. Knowledge as a disciplinary domain strives to make the humane, as well as the inhumane, calculable. But to do this it must simultaneously supplement these descriptive and evaluative systems of knowledge with the creation of subjects who can then be judged and judge themselves according to these very same criteria. Foucault’s insight is that these two processes are intertwined, reinforcing, and complementary. A brief review of how the concept of humanity functions within the democratic peace theory (DPT) will draw attention to the broader structural dynamics of power/ knowledge that sustain liberal democratic efforts to produce the truth of their humanity. Democratic Peace Theory The DPT provides an excellent starting point for a Foucauldian analysis of the concept of humanity because within the terms of the DPT lies a very

Postmodernism

183

clear evaluative conceptualization of the distinctive moral attributes of liberal democratic forms of government.6 Taken together these characteristics offer insight into the ways liberal democracies participate in the construction and reification of a particular framing of humanity, which in turn poses as its own universal signifier. But even more important is how this discourse creates democratic subjectivities that are by definition humane. What accounts for the creation of zones of peace among democracies is that they share certain common traits and attributes that both enable and reinforce their pacific unions. However, these same attributes and characteristics also serve to delineate them from their nondemocratic others and can conversely serve to enable, incite, and legitimate conflict between democracies and nondemocracies (Doyle 1986: 1162). As John Owen (1994: 89) indicates, “liberals believe that individuals everywhere are fundamentally the same” and that “all individuals share an interest in peace and should want war only as an instrument to bring about peace.” According to the theory, liberal states can afford to be accommodating to other democracies because they are like-minded and share similar goals, and since they “seek their citizens’ true interests” they are by definition pacific and trustworthy (Owen 1994: 89). Steve Chan (1997: 77) adds that “democracies externalize their domestic political norms of tolerance and compromise in their foreign relations thus making war with others like them unlikely.” Democracies also share normative commitments to nonviolent means of political contestation and to the moral freedom of the individual. And as Doyle (1983a: 206) remarks, this moral freedom involves “the right to be treated and a duty to treat others as ethical subjects, and not as objects or means only.” However, the built-in caveat is that “according to liberal practice, some nonliberal states, such as the US’s communist rivals, do not acquire the right to be free from foreign interventions, nor are they assumed to respect the political independence and territorial integrity of other states” (Doyle 1983b: 325). Thus the DPT has a dichotomous framing built right into the very fabric of its moral assertions that serves to sustain its own sense of ethical superiority. But even more significantly, this built-in hierarchy of virtues ultimately rests upon a particular iteration of humanity that posits itself as the universal point of reference. If we draw together all of the positive characteristics that democracies attribute to themselves, we will be able to fill in the content of their self-referential concept of humanity. The DPT highlights respect for political and economic freedom, the capacity for selfregulation, and the reliance on exchange and cooperation as opposed to violence and coercion (Rummel 1983: 30, 28). Thus these internal traits make them capable of reciprocal relations with other like-minded states who share the same coordinating sets of value structures and commitments (Doyle 1983b: 326). These self-same states consider themselves to be trustworthy, respectful and correspondingly deserving of respect, pacific, toler-

184

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

ant, enlightened, and cooperative, whereas they “will say of illiberal states that they seek conquest to the detriment of their citizen’s true interests, disdain peace, and are treacherous” (Owen 1994: 103). Consequently these illiberal states are not accorded the same presumption of amity because they are not viewed as reliable, tolerant, or reasonable. The concept of humanity can refer to the entire human race or to a set of qualities or characteristics that define what it means to be human. The democratic peace trades on both of these definitional aspects in that it claims liberal principles represent the universal aspirations of all human beings (humanity at large) and that an individual’s humanity lies in his or her commitment to respect and act in accordance with these political norms and values. What’s troubling about humanity in the shadows of the DPT is how the theory relies upon a formulation of subjectivity that reifies the individual sovereign subject, binds the subject to a highly stylized formulation of liberal democratic citizenship, ascribes an interlocking sequence of moral characteristics and attributes, and then extends this formulation outward as an evaluative technology of differentiation and ethical valuation.

■ Seduction and Reversibility: Baudrillard’s Conceptual Framework For Baudrillard, “seduction is a duel and agonistic relation” (1990: 105, emphasis in original) and when applied to the terms within a discourse it treats them not as fixed opposites, but as mutually seductive terms coexisting on a plane of radical equality. Thus according to the theory of seduction the “terms would play amongst themselves within the framework of an enigmatic duel and an inexorable reversibility” (Baudrillard 1990: 103). In seduction the terms are drawn toward one another, uniting them, but not blurring one into the other. It is seduction that “causes the polar or differential, transhistoricized circuits of meaning to melt” (Baudrillard 1990: 104). Seduction’s appeal lies in its ability to deny truth and turn it into a game based upon the play of appearances because one cannot subvert a system from within the terms of its own infrastructure. It must move the game to the level of appearances to refuse the logic of arguing truth against truth, or being against being. Arguments that merely end up reconfirming the alleged depth of the real fail to notice that all terms are reversible at the level of appearances. Attempting to construct a contrary depth of meaning is a strategy for failure because truth already carries within it the lack of its own foundations and sustains itself at the level of appearances. Arguing over the alleged depth of the real merely draws one into the structure of meaning that demands that one argue on and in its own terms, on and in its own patterns of imposed logics. Signs attempt to reduplicate particular forms of being

Postmodernism

185

and seduction separates signs from the things they attempt to signify. It does so not to merely transpose or invert them but to seduce them, to engage them in transubstantiation. Seduction is aimed at “annulling the power of production” because it is “an ironic, alternative form, one that breaks . . . referentiality . . . and provides a space, not of desire, but of play and defiance” (Baudrillard 1990: 15, 21). Production is driven by a logic of concreteness and strives to make things visible, legible, accountable, measurable so they are recordable and indexable, while seduction “implies a reversible, indeterminate order” (Baudrillard 1990: 22, 34–35). Seduction involves challenge and provocation that unfold within the terms of a dual and agonistic logic. The seduction of such a challenge lies in the movement beyond truth into a reversible configuration that implies a turning into one another and back again. As Baudrillard observes, “what discourse must fight against is not so much the unconscious secret as the superficial abyss of its own appearance” (1990: 54). So in seduction there is no inside or outside, no subject or object, no border line separating them because seduction plays on both sides. “To be seduced is to be turned from one’s truth . . . to lead the other from his/her truth” (Baudrillard 1990: 81). Seduction is a power of defiance, a radical indetermination distinguished by the crucial observation that it is immediately reversible. What if the diacritical opposition of humanity/inhumanity, on the basis of which we have organized and constructed the truth of the war in Iraq, were traversed by seduction?7 Foucault recognized that discursive formulations of liberal democratic subjectivity must be continuously redeployed to reconfirm, reiterate, and reinscribe the universality of its claims to represent the common humanity of man. But Baudrillard’s (1990: 47–49) conceptualization of seduction reverses Foucault’s analysis of power because for Foucault power still strives to produce the real. Instead, seduction refuses power’s productive capabilities because seduction threatens discourse with the reversibility of its terms and in so doing it opens up the void at the center of all discursive productions of truth and meaning. Thus the key for Baudrillard is to ask power the question of seduction. So let’s ask the discourses of humanity—constitutive of the Iraq War as a project on behalf of humanity—and the discourses of inhumanity—reflective of the war’s immoral conduct and questionable rationale—the question of seduction.

■ Discourses of Humanity: “The Dignity of Every Life” Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address draws the broad outlines of the US vision of its own humanity in stark relief against the inhumanity of its enemies. The address also seeks to provide a certain and irrefutable conceptual context for the Iraq invasion that will come to rest on evidence designed to produce the “truth” about Saddam Hussein’s links to terrorism in both its

186

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

international and, later, domestic dimensions (C. Powell 2003). However, discursive productions inevitably struggle against internal ideational disjunctures that continually threaten to subvert its conceptual basis.8 One of the most significant disjunctures in the 2002 address comes in the closing lines of the speech, which frame the inhumanity of the United States’ terrorist enemies in what is supposed to be a clear and obvious expression of and comparison with the United States’ humanity. I will read this disjuncture back through the address drawing attention to the points of irruption the speech attempts to elide with metaphors of certitude, purposive and vigorous action, and references to the call of history in an effort to quell its own doubts and reservations. The speech reads, “Our enemies send other people’s children on missions of suicide and murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a different choice, made long ago, on the day of our founding. We affirm it again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life” (Bush 2002a, emphasis added). The phrase that sits enigmatically placed as the touchstone of US humanity is the declaration that “we choose freedom and the dignity of every life” (emphasis added). But almost as soon as the phrase is uttered, its impossibility, its inability to achieve realization sits uneasily alongside the force with which it must be uttered, repeated, and secured by the cumulative weight of evidence marshaled in its defense. And yet this is what this speech must do, cannot fail to do in the face of a war on terror in which humanity itself is at stake. On what then does this choice of freedom and dignity rest and how does such a choice reconfirm the United States’ humanity? The State of the Union address reveals a thinly disguised attempt to conflate strength in adversity and the ability to meet grave challenges with the verification of US strength of character, which underlies its own sense of its humanity. “Our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger.” This is a humanity that measures itself by the strength of its character in the face of such overwhelming external and internal threats because the immensity of the challenges themselves are only befitting of a power of such great stature. This is a humanity defined by resolve and action with the capacity to comfort victims; rally a great coalition; capture, arrest, and “rid the world of thousands of terrorists”; destroy terrorist training camps; save people from starvation; and free them from brutal oppression. This is a humanity that defines itself by the justness of its cause and whose military delivers the message that the United States’ enemies “will not escape the justice of this nation.” Its enemies laugh at the loss of innocent life and the “depth of their hatred” is matched only by the “madness of the destruction they design.” They number in the tens of thousands, parasites, “spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs set to go off without warning.” With firm

Postmodernism

187

conviction it is declared that “we know [our enemies’] true nature,” we know how “an unelected few repress” their people’s hopes for freedom, how they have murdered thousands of their own citizens, and that they unquestionably “have something to hide from the civilized world.” Such enemies constitute an “axis of evil” who pose grave and possibly catastrophic consequences for the indifferent. That different choice made long ago is fast-forwarded to a present in which the history without a history, a history that has no past, no memory, and no content, calls the United States and its allies to action to “fight freedom’s fight.”9 It is a history that can only be filled with the vigorous action of the present because it can ill afford to acknowledge the exclusions, marginalizations, and exterminations that enabled the United States’ rise to prominence and the consolidation of its power. The United States must seduce itself with the pristine origins of its own foundation to insulate its sense of humanity from the violences it feels compelled to deploy in an effort to secure its continued existence.10 This history to which Americans are inextricably tied entails a “new culture of responsibility” that “serves goals larger than itself,” which will extend compassion and “encourage development and education and opportunity in the Islamic world.” “Let the skeptics look to Islam’s own rich history, with its centuries of learning, and tolerance and progress. America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere.” And at this point this discourse of history collapses in on itself and its content is emptied of meaning because the facile gesture toward the rich history of Islam is immediately supplanted by the United States’ conflation with the true and the unchanging. Additionally, notice how the president’s fleeting gesture of recognition of the humanity of the Islamic other is quickly supplanted by the more expansive and universally encompassing vision of the United States’ own humanity as the more comprehensive iteration, which justifiably trumps Islam’s merely partial one. This is a complex and profoundly problematic discourse of humanity. It struggles to represent an enemy large enough, bad enough, threatening enough to reconfirm the expansiveness of a humanity defined by the historical reach of its justice and liberty into a past without reference to its own violences, into a future without memory of its injustices, in a present where humanity cannot sustain the myth that only our “enemies send other people’s children on missions of suicide and murder” and that “we choose freedom and the dignity of every life.” Vivienne Jabri describes US discourses of humanity as a “full spectrum dominance that acts in the name of humanity and in the minutiae of humanity’s interactions” (2007: 54). Such a discourse frames the world according to a dichotomous hierarchy where the United States’ humanity is unquestioned, timeless, unchanging, and struc-

188

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

tures the world into “those who can judge, those who can’t; those within the law, those beyond; those worthy of protection, others not so worthy; a hierarchy of worthiness, hegemonic domination” (Jabri 2007: 96). But on the other side of this dichotomous framing is a series of oppositional discourses questioning the legitimacy of the Iraq War and its inhumanity.

■ Discourses of Inhumanity: “We Don’t Do Body Counts” Most would agree that it is very difficult to get an accurate assessment of the civilian casualties in either the Afghanistan or Iraqi theaters of war.11 At the outset of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States announced that it would not be tracking civilian casualties. As Anthony Shadid concludes, “a definitive toll of Afghan civilians killed by US bombs will probably prove impossible. But it is becoming clear that US claims that fewer civilians have died in Operation Enduring Freedom than in any previous campaign are likely untrue” (2002: 12). And yet this debate over bodies emerged as a discursive battleground that attempted to draw a distinction between those whose inhumanity was revealed in the refusal to do body counts while reconfirming the humanity of those who were willing to hold the war’s supporters responsible by calculating the war’s human toll. Thus the narrative of ever decreasing civilian casualties due to the increasing technological sophistication of US weapons is one that the military ultimately relies on when civilian casualties make their way into the headlines. Rumsfeld was quoted as saying, “the American bombing campaign in Afghanistan might have been the most accurate ever undertaken, resulting in fewer deaths of innocent civilians than in any air war in history” (Shanker 2002). This discursive certainty was almost immediately challenged the very next day in a New York Times article confirming “on-site reviews of 11 locations in Afghanistan where air strikes killed as many as 400 civilians” (Shanker 2002). On one side of this discursive battle are those who concur with Rumsfeld that the military has an 85–90 percent reliability rate. Thus those prosecuting the war maintain that civilian casualties are a “bare, if inevitable minimum” (Bearak 2002). All of these mathematically calculable refutations, based upon the reliability of US technological advances in fighting wars, create a discursive nonspace where the human cost of war is so negligible as to be not worth counting. Far from being inhumane, these new military advancements are framed as laudable for actually enabling the United States to distinguish between the innocent civilians and the “bad guys.” But the certitude of this technological logic was countered by attempting to shift focus to the narratives of actual losses in Iraq. In an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report issued in December 2007,

Postmodernism

189

Director-General Angelo Gnaedinger wondered “if a single Iraqi family has been spared human and material loss and their accompanying physical and psychological scars” (Gnaedinger 2007). His comments drew attention to internally displaced Iraqis and the cascading sets of insecurities confronting their daily struggles to survive. They suffered from food insecurity; vastly inadequate water, sewage, and electrical power; inability to access public health facilities that are overburdened to begin with; dwindling numbers of health care professionals fearful of their own security; in addition to which “tens of thousands of families remain without news of relatives who went missing during past and recent conflicts.” His comments end on a dire note indeed, predicting that under such circumstances the civilian death toll will continue to rise. In response to the gravity of these struggles within Iraq, “the constant feeling among the Iraqis is that their blood is cheap and no one cares for them” (Ahmed 2007). What troubles Huda Ahmed is the painful realization that “Iraqis never thought they would pay so much for seeking democracy and freedom” (Ahmed 2007). Interviews with Iraqi veterans attest to both the dehumanization of and blatant disregard for the lives and safety of ordinary Iraqi citizens, and raised another line of discursive protest from within the ranks of the military itself. Sergeant Millard relayed the following event that sums up this attitude: At a traffic control point in Tikrit an eighteen-year-old US soldier sprayed 200 rounds of machine gun fire into a speeding car, making a splitsecond decision that it was a suicide bomber. The occupants, a mother, father, son aged four, and daughter aged three were all killed and after the briefing, which included gruesome photographs, a colonel exclaimed, “If these fucking hajis learned to drive, this shit wouldn’t happen” (Hedges and Al-Arian 2008). Andrew Bacevich (2006) pointedly wonders how many Iraqis have lost their lives due to errors and accidents and concludes, “There is no question that the number of Iraqi noncombatants killed by U.S. forces exceeds by an order of magnitude the number of US troops killed in hostile action.” He maintains that unless we acknowledge “the mayhem we are causing as a byproduct of what we call liberation [it] only reinforces the impression that Americans view Iraqis as less than fully human.” Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian (2008) carefully detail instances involving the desecration of Iraqi corpses; increasing casualties from supply convoys that deliberately slam into civilian vehicles to shove them out of their way; the lack of accountability for civilian deaths; the aggressive, humiliating, and destructive raids on civilian homes in the middle of the night; and the physically abusive interrogations of Iraqis held in detention. The most disturbing aspect is the soldiers’ lack of accountability for their actions coupled with the admission that “the vast majority of detainees, veterans said, were innocent, or guilty of minor infractions.” 12 But as Hedges observes, “while we venerate and mourn our own dead we are curiously

190

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

indifferent about those we kill” (2002: 13–14).13 “Some two million have fled the country [Iraq] running for their lives. Try to imagine what it’s like to live like this. Even when we catch a glimpse of their blackened bodies. Even when their stricken eyes stare back. They remain nameless to us— collateral damage—gone in a flash” (Moyers 2007).14 These lines of discourse attempt to reclaim the liberal democratic promises of humanity in the midst of war by demonstrating that they, these authors and reporters, are humane because they are not indifferent to all of this pain and suffering. Inhumanity is revealed in the insistence of those US military commanders who claim that “they take pains to ensure that civilians are spared,” “that they struck valid military targets,” and yet when challenged by dissenting discourses “they denied that civilians were killed” (Filkins 2002).

■ Seducing the Terms of (In)Humanity in the Iraq War These competing discourses over civilian casualties and the human cost of the war in Iraq indicate the confluence of two interrelated myths: the myth of the clean, technologically precise war, which in turn sustains the myth of humanity in the midst of war, and the myth of a calculable war where making pain and loss real, comprehensible, and transparent can somehow redeem humanity. Both Thomas Smith (2002) and Aido Benini and Lawrence H. Moulton (2004) draw attention to civilian casualties and their analyses shed critical light on the unsustainability of both these sets of discursive frames. Thomas Smith (2002: 356) draws attention to the fact that the laws of war are drafted in response to technological advancements in military capabilities and weaponry, and they end up legitimating violence instead of restraining it. But what is “most striking is the use of legal language to justify the erosion of distinctions between soldiers and civilians and to legitimize collateral damage” (T. Smith 2002: 355). Thus two key facets of modern high-tech warfare are not only interrelated, but complicit in all efforts to delineate one’s own humanity from the inhumanity of one’s enemies. “Hightech states [can legitimately] launch wars as long as their conduct is deemed just” and collateral damage is legally defensible if it is unintended (T. Smith 2002: 356, 360). However, the actual conduct of high-tech wars reveals that they don’t primarily rely on smart bombs, but include cluster and asphyxiation bombs in their arsenals, which further expand the range of casualties, injuries, and long-term effects among civilian populations. T. Smith (2002: 365) also documents how the “use of force [during the Gulf War] escalated as the world public opinion grew inured to the violence.” And it is no less startling to consider his conclusion that “most noncombatant suffering is by design” (T. Smith 2002: 369). Efforts to convince the public that high-tech war is clean and humane serve two objectives: one is to create a sense of distance from the physical loss of life on the ground,

Postmodernism

191

while the other “oversimplifies and even actively obscures the moral choices involved in aerial bombing” (T. Smith 2002: 369). Benini and Moulton strenuously doubt that it is even possible to clearly and neatly attribute civilian deaths definitively to one side or the other in a conflict: civilians “are harmed by the undistinguishable cause-and-effect mix from all sides” (2004: 417). They also argue that counting civilian deaths is always already caught up in ideological values and that there are obvious biases that operate in publicized data on civilian casualties. Furthermore, only counting the dead while neglecting the injured “overlooks the loss of life years among the injured who die soon after the compilation period, and the human suffering caused by permanent disabilities” (Benini and Moulton 2004: 417). Seduction offers us a way to engage the war in Iraq at its most vulnerable point, the surface of appearances. There is no truth to be revealed, only the production of truths that attempt to anchor themselves in the structures of legal justifications, technological precision, moral one-upmanship, and testaments to the reality of pain and suffering that war unleashes. At the surface of these discourses is where power is most vulnerable because its lack of depth is exposed. This endless circulation of signs is seduced by its own lack of depth because “seduction still holds, in the face of truth, a most sibylline response, which is that ‘perhaps we wish to uncover the truth because it is so difficult to imagine it naked’” (Baudrillard 1990: 181). So what is the nakedness of the truth posed here that seduction threatens to collapse? It is hard not to notice, especially for those who do work in peace studies and conflict resolution, that all conflicts have been and will continue to be accompanied by these irruptions of competing discourses. On the one hand we always have those discourses extolling the necessity of war to advance the progress of humanity (such as Kant). And on the other we have those discourses that detail war’s inevitable inhumanity to man and that never even come close to diverting or stopping war’s unrelenting movement toward its stated objectives. It is Baudrillard’s concept of reversibility that reveals why this discursive dynamic is played over and over again, in increasingly lethal permutations, with nary a disruption in its unfolding logic. War has been cast in terms of materiality (it presents the starkest expression of the contingency of life and death) while peace has been cast in a semantic role (meaning that peace is only ever an imaginary hypothetical because it has been relegated to a space evacuated of life and death concerns). The separation of these two into these distinct realms makes it possible “for both gratuitous exploitation and a heightened moral instinct to coexist within the same universe” (Galloway 2007: 385). Thus Andrew Galloway observes that we simultaneously inhabit “a world bathed in blood but devoted to peace” (2007: 386). What remains untouched, however, is the system in which these discourses unfold. Seduction

192

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

opens a conceptual strategy to reverse these dynamics but to also remind us that both sides of the fence are artificial. The point of seduction lies along the axis of calculability because the Iraq War planners were seduced by the perfectly executed war, where all uncertainty would be made calculable, while those against the war drew upon the certainty of death and that rendering it calculable would expose war’s ugly secret. War’s ugly secret, though, is hardly a secret after all. War is accompanied by death—deliberate, accidental, collateral, whatever term you use the result is the same. But rendering war calculable is somehow supposed to alter the balance either in favor of war to confirm its purposes on behalf of humanity or to prove once and for all the depraved indifference of its inhumanity. If we move the discussion to the level of appearances where calculability becomes the issue then the two sides are indefinitely reversible because rendering war calculable is a product of the power of production and certitude is what is sought, what seduces. There is a need to see and calculate the dead bodies and to let them accumulate as their increasing weight bears testament to the inhumanity of war, but there is also the seduction of rendering incalculable the loss of life because one’s faith in technological advancement and progress have rendered such calculations so minimal as to be insubstantial. Humanity drops out of these discourses of calculability because the structural formulation of a liberal democratic political form that produces and sustains such calculable and calculating discourses of war and peace goes unquestioned. While liberal democracy does stake its claim to humanity on the basis of its commitment to the dignity of every life, it also ascribes caveats to its reliance on violence to sustain its perception of its own humanity and to cordon it off from the taint of violence’s more noxious effects. One of the most paradoxical aspects of the democratic peace is how liberal democracies affirm their pacific intent while waging war with a zealot’s abandon. There are several sites of paradoxical tension within liberal democracy because “the notion that liberalism provides universally applicable guidelines for conducting all political and social relations, and that these guidelines should be adhered to as the global norm, frequently conflicts with the liberal emphasis on tolerance, particularly when combined with liberalism’s emphasis on autonomy and freedom” (Greener 2007: 299). But nowhere are these tensions more problematic and of greater import than in considerations regarding the use of force by liberal democratic regimes. And here I would like to draw particular attention to B. K. Greener’s analysis of liberal justifications for the use of force based upon “aiding others, civilizing missions, and reinstating, supporting, and creating liberal entities” (2007: 304–310). With reference to justifications based upon the idea of aiding others, Greener highlights the convergence between social liberalism and liberal

Postmodernism

193

cosmopolitanism on this particular aspect of the use of force. This convergence provides the following justifications for the use of force: to aid and promote the development of just societies, to further the cause of peace, and the moral requirement to recognize the humanity of fellow human beings; all of which is sustained by a belief in liberal norms of progress and civility (Greener 2007: 306–307). The liberal project rests upon the ability of liberal states to establish and reconfirm their own civility through the imposition of a liberal democratic order that draws distinctions between its own civilizing imperatives and the uncivilized proclivities and behaviors of its Others. Civilizing missions draw their sustenance from Kant and John Stuart Mill and they justify the use of force in the following cases: “to reinstate fallen democratic governments, [in order to back] . . . democratic forces in their fight against despotic opponents and . . . to create a democratic government within another state” (Greener 2007: 308). Greener’s conclusion that liberal democratic values such as “progress, civility, tolerance, and consent” (2007: 312–313) can be deployed to either critique the use of force or to sustain it, serves to highlight how such justifications for or against intervention are continuously reversible. Ultimately what seduces liberal democracies is the myth of their own humanity in the midst of war, which is strategically required to produce the truth of war’s life force and to disguise the banality of death upon which it proceeds. The modern perpetrators of high-tech sanitized warfare have no faith in humanity—that is why they are able to so strenuously argue to the contrary and yet they find themselves justifying inhuman means to achieve human ends. That is how they are able to marshal the hoped-for effects of peace that would otherwise be rendered useless if the concept of humanity collapsed in on itself. Thus peace and war are mutually seductive concepts that serve to sustain the necessity of war. What seduces us is not only the life-sustaining power of war but the fear that life would be meaningless without it. The liberal seduction is that war fills the otherwise empty space of peace and yet peace is the required cipher that enables us to elide the fundamental contradictions that war poses for the conceptual wholeness of the liberal democratic peace. Even if war renders impossible the dignity of every life, the dignity of every life still must necessarily be called upon to not only underwrite the rationale for war but to also serve as the strategic basis for disparaging war. War can’t take place in the absence of its alter ego, humanity, because it is equally necessary for its perpetrators as for its opponents. Absent the myth, war reveals itself as “industrial slaughter” and that “in war we become as barbaric and savage as those we oppose” (Hedges and Al-Arian 2008). Thus the myth of humanity might even be more necessary for war’s detractors because war’s inhumanity is the presumptive degree zero that necessarily requires expressions of humanity to cast it in such stark relief. Discourses of

194

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

humanity offer a way to reconfirm one’s own existence and permanence against the radical uncertainty of war. Yet this is only one layer of conceptual analysis. If, however, we shift our analysis to interrogate how seduction operates on the various bodies of war, we can deepen our understanding of the seductive power of reversibility.

■ The Seduction of Reversibility R. B. J. Walker argues that “we can only become humans, or anything else after we have given up our humanity,” to which Burke responds, “this, as Walker intriguingly hints, is also to explore the aporetic distance that modernity establishes between our ‘humanity’ and a secure identity defined and limited by the state” (Burke 2007: 31). Jenny Edkins wonders if it is “possible to envisage a humanitarianism that restores the concept of neutrality and re-establishes an ‘autonomous humanitarian space’ distinct from state politics” (2003: 255). Her response entails a refusal to draw lines between the human and the nonhuman because that only draws one back to “the politics that produces the sovereign state” (Edkins 2003: 257). She concludes that the way forward is much more complex and subtle and it involves the necessity of helping one person at a time and trying to change the world, while recognizing the impossibility of doing so. For Edkins “it is not an either/or contradiction but a question of doing both, somehow” (2003: 257). But what is missing in this discussion of aporetic distance and the refusal to draw lines is the seductive play of appearances that would refuse the alleged depth of discourses of humanity/inhumanity, and turn them in on themselves, turn them upside down, and render them reversible. As Baudrillard cautions, it makes little sense to attempt to construct a coordinating discourse of depth, thus in this case arguments over death counts merely serve to sustain the structure of the discourses of war without penetrating the power that operates at the surface of appearances. If we bring humanity/inhumanity into dual and agonistic relations with one another we can play out the challenges that each poses for the other and the reversible configuration that operates between them. This seductive play can be engaged in the intersecting points of lives lived in what Hedges and Al-Arian (2008) refer to as “atrocity producing situations” where the context of war easily turns civilians and combatants into “abstractions of hate.” The intersection lies in the stories and their accompanying visual imagery, which speaks of impenetrable loss; bodies tortured, maimed, and sacrificed; psychological traumas shared by perpetrators and victims alike; desecrations; demonizations; cultural and ethnic slurs unfolding along a continuum of debasements and abuse. These pieces all draw from the same fabric of war and constitute the very terms of death by humanity so what we must think through is the interchangeability of each and every action, body, and discourse.15

Postmodernism

195

Humanity and inhumanity are continuously reversible and it is this reversibility that renders the myth of humanity in the midst of war unsustainable. Myths attempt to cover over the abyss of their own appearances, but death in the service of humanity is continually seduced by the possibility of an engagement with inhumanity to prove its own cause worthy and just, but it is precisely within this struggle that humanity’s inhumanity is laid bare. Examine Baudrillard’s (1990: 34) provocative statements below and then consider the struggle over appearances at Abu Ghraib as another way to unsettle the complacency of our current discourses of humanity: “To produce is to materialize by force what belongs to another order, that of the secret and of seduction. Seduction is, at all times and in all places, opposed to production. Seduction removes something from the order of the visible, while production constructs everything in full view be it an object, a number or concept.” The point here is not to lead us to the truth of the Iraq War, or the falsity of its humanity, but to play with the radical indeterminacy of meaning that surrounds the terms of its discourse. Abu Ghraib is the perfect venue to examine this conceptual transubstantiation because it enables us to trace the ways seduction challenges US efforts to secure the identity of “bodies of terror,” plays with its terms of truth, taunts its orthodoxies with reversal, and threatens expressions of US power with absorption into its own signs thus rendering US discourse meaningless. Seduction is not a productive power but a spontaneous irruption that annuls the power to produce meaning and it forces us to recognize that “what’s truly at stake is mastery of the strategy of appearances” (Baudrillard 1990: 10). Appearances must be secured, must be made to reveal their truth, and must achieve coherence and finality—that is what seduces a state’s exercise of power: the drive to secure that which cannot be secured. Abu Ghraib emerged as the nexus of this struggle over appearances where seduction had its full play, where being was not counterposed to being, nor truth to truth, but what was revealed was nothing more than appearances, gestures, and rituals that constantly turned in on themselves. Baudrillard (1990: 22) characterizes seduction as a “strategy of displacement . . . distortion . . . which implies a reversible, indeterminate order.” And he regards the body as “a symbolic veil: and it is by way of this play of veils, which, literally, abolishes the body ‘as such,’ that seduction occurs” (Baudrillard 1990: 33). The point is not to tear away the veils to reveal some truth or desire but to play with the veils at the level of appearances to subvert the attempt to make bodies yield to the evidence of calculability, transparency, and fact. Recall the visual images of the US soldiers at Abu Ghraib dressed in camouflage while their captives were conspicuous in their bright orange jumpsuits; compare the smiling faces and thumbs-up signals of the soldiers with their prisoners’ faces marked by fear, the one standing solidly in his

196

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

boots while the others are clad in slippers or their feet left bare; and lastly remember the soldiers who stood triumphantly, casually poised next to their shackled, constrained, and prostrate captives.16 It’s the “abjected” pole that seduces and sets the reversibility of signs into play by virtue of its indeterminacy, its refusal to speak the truth of its being. The US soldiers relied upon the dressing up and posing of their captives to write their guilt visually on their bodies for all to “see” and photography became the medium to produce and record this visual truth. But allow seduction to play with these images on both sides of the divide and you can’t fail to notice that the soldiers’ gestures and postures are likewise staged to effect the transparency of their righteousness, the unabashed pride in the security of their image as the “good, the true, the beautiful warriors.” And yet the images reveal nothing, confirm nothing. They merely reveal the play of images between the camouflaged and the transparent where the soldiers can appear as transparent as their prisoners and the captives as sphinx-like bodies revealing nothing substantive about themselves at all. Seduction thus trades on these signs of humanity where both sides share in the abjection and degradation of terror, where bodies on both sides of the divide are covered by a series of veils, and where those US soldiers attempting to make the bodies of terror self-evident are themselves marked as bodies of terror. Thus the elaborate staging, posing, enactments of power, rouses of righteousness, mocking, and gaping serve only to recommit our indebtedness to inhumanity as the only way to “know” our humanity. This in conclusion makes humanity a seductively dangerous concept because it is continuously drawn into a game with its conceptual adversary, inhumanity, to attempt to secure its mastery over appearances. Thus seduction is a much more engaging critical strategy than deconstruction, which too often merely serves to transpose the oppositional terms, exchanging the lesser term for the predominate one. Seduction enables us to grasp a complex and richer dynamic because it reveals that the terms in each oppositional pairing constantly shift back and forth denying any stable or neat dichotomous framing. Seduction enables us to understand how and why we become exactly that which we are supposedly fighting against. Seduction continuously erupts in the interstices of power where, for instance, Bush proclaimed that “I was only following orders” would not suffice to protect captured Iraqi soldiers yet when captured Americans were being held by members of the Iraqi resistance their own oft repeated refrain was “I was only following orders of the US government.”17 Seduction enables us to play with this refrain and to understand how the very act of claiming this justification as valid for only one side, but not the other, is exactly what transposes one into that which one avowedly rejects as noxious or evil.18 Thus seduction gives us purchase on understanding the nexus of complex claims and myths that operate not only to deny the inhumanity of

Postmodernism

197

our humanity but to challenge us with the humanity of the dehumanized other. ■ Notes 1. I would like to thank Andreas Behnke for his feedback on prior drafts of this chapter. 2. There is no broad consensus on the use of either concept. Edkins (1999, 2007) prefers the term poststructuralist while Devetak (2005, 2009), who previously relied on the term postmodernism, has now adopted the term poststructuralism. George (1994) uses the term postmodernism to denote an acutely critical approach to the study of international relations, which draws upon the work of Foucault, Derrida, Barthes, Baudrillard, Lyotard, and Nietzsche. And for George, postmodernism is distinctive because it relies upon the power/knowledge nexus and the understanding that theory is practice. However, Campbell (2010) argues that the two terms have been mistakenly conflated. The term postmodernism refers to the “cultural, economic, social, and political formation within modernity,” while poststructuralism more accurately refers to those interpretative critical analytics used to study international relations in a postmodern era (Campbell 2010: 222). However, in the ISA Compendium, Alex Macleod (2010: xx) highlights Sajed’s (2010) essay, which analyzes “one of the major sociological approaches to IR, postmodernism, and the way it has helped to shape a certain number of the issues now at the heart of IPS” (emphasis added). 3. For a clear and accessible discussion of these methodologies see Donna Gregory (1989). 4. For an excellent illustration of this, see Cindy Weber’s deconstructive work on sovereignty (1995) and fear in the war on terror (2006), paying close attention to how she builds her postmodern critique and applies it to international politics. The key is to read the primary texts, search out contemporary scholars who interpret and apply those texts and arguments in their own work, and then consider how such conceptual frames and critiques can be applied to deepen and enrich your engagement with international issues and problems. 5. For three different discussions of the concept of humanity, see Eisenstein (2004: 6), who argues for a “radically plural standpoint [that] requires that humanity be respected and allowed self-determination, but in cacophonous voices”; Mazlish (2009: 3), who regards the concept of humanity as a newly evolving form of globalizing social integration that offers humanity a new formulation of sovereignty; and Caldwell (2004: 3), who observes “that much as early modern states addressed themselves to an equal, free, rational individual while producing a docile trained body, contemporary claims to enforce human rights grounded in individual dignity instead produce and depend upon a ‘raw spectacle of humanity.’” 6. My intent is not to validate or disprove the DPT but to interrogate how it contributes to the constitution of liberal democratic subjectivities and how this informs discourses of humanity. For critiques of the theory, see Farber and Gowa 1997, Layne 1994, Mearsheimer 1990, Rosato 2003, Spiro 1994, and Waltz 1991. For a set of critiques that draw attention to how DPT services a hegemonic liberal order, see Barkawi and Laffey 1999, Reid 2004, and Richmond 2001. 7. Also see Baudrillard 1995 and 2002. 8. This speech also fits nicely within the terms of Weldes’s (1999b: 53–54) analysis of how the Cuban missile crisis enabled US officials to reenact US identity by “performatively reinscribing the four facets of that identity,” which she identifies

198

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

as “U.S. leadership obligations, to defend freedom, to showcase its strength and resolve, and to demonstrate its credibility.” In defining the Cuban missile crisis as a “crisis” the United States was able to respond to it and in the process performatively reproduce its own identity. 9. See Der Derian (2002: 102) for his comments regarding 9/11 and its “exceptional ahistoricity.” 10. See Connolly (2002, 1985, 1993, and 1994) for an elaboration of these themes of foundational violence and disavowal. In particular Connolly (1994: 22) identifies the means through which a nation-state “becomes endeared to its citizens [which in turn] provides the basis from which violence is done to the internal other (those inhabiting the territory who do not belong), the interior other (the other within the self which resists such strong identification with the collectivity) and the external other (those who are foreign).” 11. However, the group Iraq Body Count argues that “surely now we should all be able to agree that in a world which claims to uphold civilized values no innocent victim of war should ever go unrecorded” (2010). Thus the whole humanitarian rationale is undercut by the very refusal to document and acknowledge civilian deaths. 12. Hersh (2004: 21) corroborates that “most of the prisoners [held at Abu Ghraib], however—by the fall of 2003 there were several thousand, including women and teenagers—were civilians, many of whom had been picked up in random military sweeps and highway checkpoints. They fell into three loosely defined categories: common criminals; security detainees suspected of crimes ‘against the Coalition’; and a small number of suspected ‘high-value’ leaders of the insurgency against the Coalition forces.” 13. For an examination of the complex set of conceptual frames that attend determinations of which lives count as “lives,” which are then entitled to expressions of grief over their loss, see Judith Butler (2004, 2009) for her discussion of vulnerability and violence in the wake of 9/11. 14. See Campbell (2004: 71) for a discussion of pictorial representations of death and atrocity and their role in provoking a sense of ethical responsibility. He concludes that “images do bring a particular kind of power to the portrayal of death and violence. Seeing the body and what has been done to it is important.” 15. Sebastian Junger’s (2010: 153) novel, War, includes several passages that come tangentially close to the seduction of reversibility. One recounts US soldiers watching a Taliban fighter crawling around on the mountainside without a leg and the cheer that went up when the call came in over the radio that the man had died. Junger (2010: 153) found the cheer very troubling because, “stripped of all politics, the fact of the matter was that the man had died alone on a mountainside trying to find his leg.” And in another excerpt Junger (2010: 170) admits, “once in a while you’d forget to think of the enemy as the enemy and would see them for what they were: teenagers up on a hill who got tired and cold just like the Americans and missed their families and slept poorly before the big operations and probably had nightmares about them afterward.” Of course the point in all of this is the fleeting admission of the “humanness” of the other and what seductive possibilities this may pose for our understanding of the necessity for war. 16. Review the photographs from Abu Ghraib at http://www.salon.com/news /feature/2006/02/16/abu_ghraib (Benjamin 2006). 17. This incident is documented in the film Control Room. 18. Currently there is a controversy between Sulzberger (2010) and Suellentrop (2010) over the video game Medal of Honor, because it enables players to not only

Postmodernism

199

play various US military roles but also allows them to play as a Taliban fighter. The US military works very closely with the creators of these games because it has opened possibilities for the military to use video games as recruitment tools. What is interesting is that the military approves of the ways these games help to encourage sympathetic emotional bonds between the game player and US soldiers, but what they fear is that such sympathies might also be forged with our Taliban enemies. The conclusion one is left to draw confirms the seductive power of reversibility and why the military finds this particular game so problematic.

6.3 Critical Theory: Deliberating the Legitimacy of War Rodger A. Payne Like realists, critical IR theorists emphasize the importance of selfish interests and material power in determining global political outcomes.1 However, unlike realists, critical theorists also make overtly normative arguments critiquing both the outcomes of international power struggles and the political processes that make those outcomes possible. Critical theorists are committed to emancipatory ends; thus, they wish to identify pathways by which political communities can consensually develop and abide by legitimate policies and social norms—and reject illegitimate policies and practices built on selfish interests and/or material power. These theorists purport to explain the kinds of remarkable political transformations that other theorists sometimes cannot readily explain—such as the collapse of the Soviet state and empire (Koslowski and Kratochwil 1994). Critical theorists generally view the use of violence and force as illegitimate means by which to influence decisions and settle disputes, though they are also wary of more typical strategic action employed to manipulate others and achieve desired goals. Ideally, a political community would make consensual collective decisions about its interests, principles, and practices. International political structures built on arbitrary and coercive power rather than on a widely shared understanding of “legitimate social purpose” (Ruggie 1983a: 96) and practice are always potentially vulnerable to emancipatory change. Critical theorists seek to identify and explain the fissures and inconsistencies embedded in any given political system and encourage the development of social pressures that could then change public consciousness and make alternative outcomes possible. Put differently, in pursuit of political transformation, critics focus on the cracks in the seams of contemporary normative structures. For example, contradictions between public justification and policy action are logically unsustainable and suggest an opening for emancipatory possibilities. Scholars employing the method of “immanent critique” seek to reveal “how the principles and values of a culture are denied and negated by social structures.” They appeal “to the standards and norms present in traditions and documents, like bills of rights, constitutions and even international treaties, to criticize institutionalized arrangements inconsistent with them” (Browne 2008: 8). The USA Patriot Act, for instance, seemed logically flawed from the beginning as the law imposed some important limits on individual civil liberties in the United States even as the George 200

Critical Theory

201

W. Bush administration framed its “war on terrorism” as a struggle between “freedom and fear” (Bush 2001a). The terrorists were said to “hate our freedoms,” which made the Patriot Act a self-inflicted wound in the wider war. Because immanent critique apparently limits criticism to the analysis of norms already widely accepted (and perhaps originally imposed by illegitimate means), many contemporary critical theorists, including the influential German social theorist Jürgen Habermas, have largely abandoned immanent critique in favor of discourse ethics and deliberative democracy. Deliberation is an open and inclusive “truth-seeking” discussion whereby participants advance their own claims and directly challenge the dubious claims made by others. While the so-called ideal speech situation free of all distortion cannot be expected to exist in the real world, Habermas argues that deliberative ideals are presupposed in various settings, including bourgeois café society. Likewise, contemporary democratic states feature a public sphere that can provide features of the ideal deliberative setting Habermas imagines. Public deliberation has transformative and emancipatory potential, but relies upon participants to provide the arguments necessary both to confront arbitrary power, hypocrisy, and instrumental rationality, and to suggest legitimate alternatives for building consensus. Marginalized dissident social movements, for instance, might advance specific claims—perhaps initially in a remote “counterpublic” sphere—that could eventually be appreciated and embraced in the wider public sphere. Habermas (1981) views the “forceless force of the better argument” as providing the possibility for achieving what he calls “communicative rationality.” Relatively open-minded political discussion is a viable means by which actors can internalize shared normative obligations and thereby legitimate political processes and structures (Mitzen 2005; Payne and Samhat 2004). Along these lines, Jon Elster (1998: 111) emphasizes the “civilizing force of hypocrisy” to explain why public deliberation encourages participants to employ a shared “language of reason” rather than a selfish “language of interest” to justify preferred outcomes. At its best, public deliberation is a means by which to expose hypocrisy, lies, political spin, conflicts of interest, and other potential distortions of political life and debate. Moreover, critical theorists do not overtly separate political actors and observers; thus, scholars can be active participants in public deliberation (R. Payne 2007), evaluating and criticizing the weaknesses of positions promulgated by powerful self-interested actors and their allies and thereby helping to challenge the legitimacy of these claims and the policies they undergird. Additionally, critical theorists can identify arbitrary limits on discussion, which occur when some parties are denied access to a discourse or when discussion is limited by appeals to secrecy. In the case of the Iraq War, critical theorists were skeptical of the entire enterprise, from the 2002 public relations campaign leading up to the war

202

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

against Saddam Hussein’s regime and through the prolonged fighting against a variety of foes that Bush’s Defense Department called “violent extremists.” In this chapter, I highlight why critical theorists viewed the war as both flawed and doomed from the beginning. In the first section I illustrate the method of immanent critique. The Bush administration’s selling of the war was laden with hypocritical and self-serving appeals that were virtually certain to limit the effectiveness of foreign policy choices. In the second section I consider the deliberative context of the public debate about Iraq. Though the Bush administration claimed to embrace discursive ideals, the public debate was actually distorted in a variety of ways that prevented the discussion from serving as a meaningful truth-seeking exercise. In the final section I examine the efforts of the antiwar movement to create a viable counterpublic sphere and to influence the debate in the wider public sphere.

■ Immanent Critique: Revealing Hypocrisy The Bush administration’s selling of the Iraq War was laden with hypocrisy. In this section, I will discuss several of the most important examples and explain how the inconsistencies threatened US foreign policy goals. To begin, the administration claimed quite early in the discussion that the United States would go to war against Iraq to enforce UNSC resolutions and thus to preserve the integrity of the UN system. In his address to the General Assembly, President Bush (2002c) assured the membership that his country would “work with the UN Security Council to meet our common challenges.” However, as French president Jacques Chirac (Reuters 2003) noted some months later, “The war, launched without the authorization of the Security Council, shook the multilateral system. . . . The United Nations has just been through one of the most grave crises in its history.” In March 2003, when the United States publicly justified the war it had launched, State Department lawyers referenced UNSC Resolutions 678 and 687 from 1990 and 1991. Despite these claims, US actions were clearly unsupported by a majority of Council members in 2002 and 2003. The war seemed to violate the plain language of the UN Charter, in which Article 2(4) states, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations” (United Nations 1945). President Bush (2002c) had warned the UN membership about the possibility of going to war without explicit authorization in his fall appearance. In fact, he essentially issued an ultimatum to the organization, telling them that the United States would topple Saddam Hussein with or without UN support: “The purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council

Critical Theory

203

resolutions will be enforced—the just demands of peace and security will be met—or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.” Not long after hearing those words, the Security Council approved Resolution 1441, which compelled new Iraqi weapons disclosures and inspections. Over the following months, UN arms inspectors were able to operate relatively unimpeded throughout Iraq, though they did not find the weapons programs that the Bush administration asserted Iraq was hiding. Weapons inspectors, in fact, frequently and quite publicly reported their failure to find WMD (R. Payne 2006), though these reports were largely dismissed by officials in the Bush administration. By February 2003, Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted a second Security Council resolution authorizing an attack on Iraq for its alleged failings, but the United States withdrew the proposal from consideration when it became clear that a plurality, if not a majority, of the fifteen UNSC member states opposed such an authorization. Eventually, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged publicly what many diplomats thought privately—that the Iraq War had been initiated illegally (BBC News 2004b). The US assertion that its assembled coalition was acting on behalf of the larger organization and its interests did not ring true as no single state or subgroup of states was explicitly authorized to implement UN resolutions. After studying the contentious international debate preceding the Iraq War, Peter Dombrowski and Rodger Payne (2003) likewise found that the discussion reflected widespread support for existing international norms that serve to limit the use of force. Indeed, even the United States sought to constrain the potential for emulation of its action. The National Security Strategy of the United States (White House 2002: 15), which is credited with outlining the so-called Bush Doctrine of preemptive war, bluntly warned other states not to “use preemption as pretext for aggression.” In the document and elsewhere, US officials sought to establish fairly clear standards for justifying preventative attack that intentionally served to narrow the potential applicability of the tactic. In turn, the administration promised to use force only as a last resort, after actively working with US allies to establish the existence of a very grave threat that could not be addressed in any nonmilitary fashion. Because the war lacked the imprimatur of legitimacy that the UN could have granted (Barnett 1997), most other states declined to supply extensive material resources to the military effort. Moreover, the cooperation of many coalition partners seemed to hinge on the material resources they received in appreciation from the United States (Gilfeather 2003). In stark contrast, genuinely strong multilateral cooperation in the Gulf War had been assured by many explicit UN resolutions. That 1991 conflict, in fact, was financed in large part by tens of billions of dollars worth of contributions from Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other states (McAllister 1991).

204

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

A second concrete example of US hypocrisy concerned the emphasis on Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program. The United States and its allies attacked Iraq largely because of fears about this program (R. Payne 2006); yet, the United States commonly pursues foreign and security policies almost directly antithetical to nonproliferation goals. For instance, to build a larger coalition in the attack against Afghanistan in fall 2001, the United States ended proliferation-related economic sanctions against India and Pakistan that had been imposed after their series of nuclear tests in 1998. Indeed, despite long-standing fears that Pakistan produced an “Islamic bomb” and helped create the Taliban, the United States has maintained a strong working relationship and alliance with Islamabad throughout the decade. Additionally, even while the United States was emphasizing nuclear threats from Iraq, it pursued research and development of new “bunker-busting” nuclear weapons in order potentially to attack underground research or weapons facilities maintained by proliferant states. Critics (S. Lynch 2003) argue that this US effort to develop usable nuclear weapons simply encourages further proliferation. In addition to suggesting that the weapons have practical utility, the United States seemingly moves away from its commitment under Article VI of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to make a good faith effort to cease and reverse its nuclear arms buildup. Finally, regardless of strong Arab and Muslim concerns, the United States has long ignored nuclear proliferation in the region by Israel (L. Butler 2007). Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (1998) has convincingly argued that “US policy all along has been that of selective and preferential proliferation,” helping the United Kingdom and France, while merely winking at Israeli efforts to acquire the bomb. Brzezinski concludes that such a hypocritical policy is “an exercise in self-deceptive futility.” A “selective and preferential policy,” he argued, will surely be ineffective. It is certainly more difficult to build international consensus about nuclear threats from states like Iran and Iraq when the United States completely overlooks Israel’s nuclear program. Third, the United States also behaved hypocritically and ineffectively when it claimed to be prioritizing the promotion of democracy in the Middle East. The United States condemned Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime prior to the war, but US policies and practices related to the same war have too frequently been at odds with a human rights agenda. President Bush issued perhaps the strongest statement of US ideals in his second inaugural address: “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world” (2005). Yet, US practices in Iraq—as well as at Guantanamo Bay, in its extraordinary extradition practices, and in Afghanistan—fomented widespread criticism of US human rights policies.

Critical Theory

205

For instance, the US-led war created a humanitarian emergency, as millions of innocent people ultimately fled their homes and Iraq. In Baghdad, the war ultimately produced a form of “ethnic cleansing” as integrated neighborhoods were transformed into Sunni and Shiite enclaves. When shocking photographs of US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners emerged from Abu Ghraib, one of Hussein’s notorious prisons, Bush adviser Karl Rove reportedly said that it would take the United States a generation to live down this scandal in the Arab world (Bumiller and Stevenson 2004). Later that same year, soon after the United States reinstated a sovereign government in Baghdad, the new Iraqi prime minister declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law (BBC News 2004b). A war to end one form of tyranny directly created new tyrannical practices. In all, the contradictions between ideology and practice made the United States vulnerable to criticism on both counts. Even in 2010, after US combat troops were withdrawn, ongoing violence made it very difficult to consolidate democratic ideals in Iraq. Few observers lament the end of Saddam Hussein’s brutal rule, but millions of people have suffered since his arrest in 2003. In sum, the method of immanent critique provides important insight as to US difficulties in Iraq. President Bush claimed to support UN goals, even as the United States acted to defy the will of its membership. Consequently, the war meant a substantial drain on the US Treasury as few other states provided material support as they had previously done during the genuinely multilateral operations of 1991. Saddam Hussein’s alleged nuclear program was a primary justification for the war, but the United States proved willing to ignore proliferation by allies like Pakistan, India, and Israel, even as it developed new bunker-busting weapons. These mixed messages undercut the effectiveness of nonproliferation norms. Finally, though the cruelty of Saddam Hussein’s regime was legendary, millions of ordinary Iraqis lost their homes, livelihood, lives, or dignity during a war that featured torture, the imposition of martial law, and other humanitarian emergencies. Even President Bush’s closest political adviser recognized the tremendous loss of US credibility on the question of human rights.

■ Deliberative Ideals Starting in September and throughout the fall of 2002, President Bush and other officials called for public and political debate about US policy toward Iraq. The president, for example, actively sought input from Congress, even as the overwhelming majority of its members were engaged in reelection efforts. In a letter dated 3 September, Bush (CNN 2002b) wrote to members of Congress, “This is an important decision that must be made with great thought and care. Therefore, I welcome and encourage discussion and debate.” That same week, the president (Bush 2002e: 1498) remarked at a political campaign stop

206

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

that he wanted to provoke an even broader “debate . . . to encourage the American people to listen to and have a dialog about Iraq. . . . I want there to be an open discussion about the threats that face America.” Arguably, Congress obliged the president’s request by conducting nearly a week of floor debate during fall 2002. The public deliberation, naturally, featured private citizens talking with each other on coffee breaks and across dinner tables as well as various foreign policy elites attempting to influence the wider public throughout assorted mass media. After former Republican House majority leader Dick Armey openly questioned the need to attack Iraq without provocation, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declared (in Gedda 2002), “I think it’s important for people to say what they think on these things. And that’s the wonderful thing about our country. We have a public debate and dialogue and discussion on important issues.” President Bush also sought participation from the international community, especially the leadership of other prominent states, such as fellow permanent UNSC members China, France, Great Britain, and Russia. “The international community must also be involved,” declared the president (Bush 2002c). “I have asked [British] Prime Minister Blair to visit America this week to discuss Iraq. I will also reach out to President Chirac of France, President Putin of Russia, President Jiang of China, and other world leaders.” The administration’s political machinations vis-à-vis Iraq during 2002 and early 2003 also signal the importance the Bush White House appeared to place on public justification of its case for preemptive war. As the National Security Strategy (White House 2002: 16) asserts with regard to potential applications of the preemptive option, “the reasons for our actions will be clear.” In September and October 2002, the president himself delivered several widely broadcast and discussed speeches to the UN and the US public. Eventually, in early February 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared before the UN to present the United States’ best intelligence evidence about Iraq’s misdeeds, in the obvious hope of winning broad political support both at home and abroad. Seemingly, before launching a war, the administration was attempting to emphasize the forceless force of a better argument. Official participants in public debates about national security policy potentially have substantial advantages over nongovernmental participants. Their job titles grant them authority and credibility, which is further secured by their unique access to classified information. Public debate about national security will be greatly distorted in their favor if authoritative figures exploit their advantages by dubiously overemphasizing evidence that supports their arguments and by ignoring or blocking the release of countervailing evidence and caveats. The Bush administration proved to be a vigorous participant in the public debates about both the preemptive war strategy and its application to

Critical Theory

207

Iraq. However, while the administration claimed to embrace the deliberative process, their communicative strategies did not live up to the standards of open and fair debate. The public discussion of Iraq turned out to be laden with distortions and deceptions. While many officials now retroactively claim that the administration and members of Congress were fooled by weak intelligence, it is clear that the Bush White House worked vigorously to emphasize one-sided and weak information—and thus actively created a false impression of the evidence. First, in the way he framed his presentations, President Bush himself falsely attempted to link the Iraq regime with the al-Qaeda terrorists that attacked the United States on 9/11. Throughout 2002, Bush often connected the alleged threats from Iraq and al-Qaeda, both publicly and privately. In early 2002, for example, Bob Woodward and Dan Balz (2002) of the Washington Post quoted the president as saying on 17 September 2001, “I believe Iraq was involved [in the 9/11 attacks], but I’m not going to strike them now.”2 “The danger,” Bush later declared in a speech, “is that they work in concert. The danger is that al-Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam’s madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world. Both of them need to be dealt with . . . you can’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror” (Bush 2002f: 1619). Despite weak evidence, Bush and his top advisers also very strongly implied that Iraq had a fearsome nuclear weapons program. For example, Vice President Dick Cheney outlined ominous threats from Iraq in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars that kicked off the public relations campaign to sell the war. In that address, Cheney (2002) declared with great certainty that “we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. . . . Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.” This comment preceded by about five weeks the production of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was later carefully scrutinized by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Soon, the image of a potential “mushroom cloud” caused by an Iraqi bomb was invoked prominently by both the president and by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice made worldwide headlines when she said during an interview (CNN 2002c) on 8 September, “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he [Saddam Hussein] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Again, Rice’s comments preceded the production of the NIE by many weeks. In his speech before the UN General Assembly in September, Bush (2002c) specifically called Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s rule a “great and gathering danger” because of his apparent pursuit of “weapons of mass murder.” The president (Bush 2002g) additionally declared in mid-September, “Should his [Saddam Hussein’s] regime acquire fissile material, it would be

208

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

able to build a nuclear weapon within a year.” In his 7 October speech in Cincinnati, Bush explicitly invoked the administration’s logic justifying early attack: “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather” (2002h). Throughout the period leading to the war, the administration strongly implied that the worst fears were related to very real threats. Just days before the war was launched, on the Sunday morning National Broadcast Corporation (NBC) News (2003) television program Meet the Press, Vice President Cheney told journalist Tim Russert that Saddam Hussein “has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”3 Altogether, these various statements surely helped create the very strong and false impression that Iraq had an active and dangerous nuclear weapons program that was precariously close to success. According to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup (2003) national poll conducted 31 January to 2 February 2003, just after the president’s State of the Union address, 28 percent of the respondents were “certain” that “Iraq has nuclear weapons,” while another 49 percent said that it was “likely, but not certain.”4 However, the nuclear threat was not nearly as grave as the administration suggested—and this was fairly well known to foreign policy elites prior to the war. Indeed, before the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and thus before the fall 2002 buildup to war, some prominent Bush administration officials had publicly asserted that Iraq had not developed threatening programs. Secretary of State Powell (2001), for example, noted in early 2001 that “the sanctions exist—not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein’s ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. . . . And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.” Condoleezza Rice (2000: 61), while serving as George Bush’s primary foreign policy adviser during his campaign, wrote in Foreign Affairs that “rogue regimes” like Iraq were “living on borrowed time, so there need be no sense of panic about them. Rather, the first line of defense should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence—if they do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration.” These were bold statements not only about Iraqi incapability, but also about the unimportance of Iraqi threats even if the regime had developed nuclear capabilities. As recently as December 2001, the pertinent NIE (2004: 85) declared that “Iraq did not appear to have reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.” According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, this same finding appeared in various yearly reports from 1997 until drafts of the 2002 NIE were circulated around the intelligence community in late September of that

Critical Theory

209

year. The NIE produced during the fall debate stated simply that “in the view of most agencies, Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program” (National Intelligence Council 2002). In retrospect, perhaps the best-known distortion of intelligence related to the alleged Iraqi nuclear program was tied to its alleged importation of tons of uranium from Niger. Someone, as yet unidentified, forged documents purporting to support this claim. In the January 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush (2003d) uttered these words: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The truth about this dubious assertion became a major political issue in the United States later in the year. On 12 June, the Washington Post (Pincus 2003b) reported that the CIA had dispatched a retired ambassador, who was not named in the article, to Africa in 2002 to investigate the claim that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium. Upon returning, the official had reportedly dismissed the alleged transaction. In July 2003, not long after Ambassador Joseph Wilson went public with his findings, CIA director George Tenet took personal responsibility for the faulty intelligence and acknowledged that the inclusion of this allegation “was a mistake” (Pincus and Milbank 2003). News reports revealed that the CIA previously convinced the White House to remove a similar statement from the president’s October 2002 speech in Cincinnati. As a result of these developments, administration officials publicly acknowledged the mistakes and retracted the president’s claim (in Pincus 2003a): “Knowing all that we know now, the reference to Iraq’s attempt to acquire uranium from Africa should not have been included in the State of the Union speech.” Once again, however, those closely following the public debate before the war already knew the claims were dubious. The IAEA reported in early March 2003—just before the war began—that documents it received from the United States only one month earlier related to this alleged transaction were forgeries. “Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents—which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger—are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded” (ElBaradei 2003). Chaim Kaufmann’s (2004: 7) study of the Bush administration’s selling of the Iraq War found that public debate failed to undermine the “threat inflation” that preceded the attack. The so-called marketplace of ideas did not prevent “elite manipulation of how issues are framed in debate.” Political scientists Ron Krebs and Jennifer Lobasz (2007) link the Iraq debate to the powerful 9/11 security frame. They argue that Democrats and other political opponents could not effectively challenge the proposed Iraq War during 2002 and 2003 because the Bush administration had fixed the meaning of 9/11 in the public debate—and was able to tightly bind the proposed Iraq

210

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

War to that meaning.5 Krebs and Lobasz (2007: 409) argue that political opponents were rhetorically coerced, “unable to advance a politically sustainable set of arguments with which to oppose the war.” Similarly, Jane Kellett Cramer (2007: 491–492) argues that the “marketplace of ideas” failed because of the “strong silencing effect of militarized patriotism,” which effectively served to limit open debate in the leadup to the Iraq War. Cramer argues that a “militarized political culture” took root in the United States during the Cold War era, receded somewhat during the Vietnam period, and largely continued during the post–Cold War 1990s. This resulted in two important “norms of militarized patriotism”—support for “‘strong’ national security policies” and deference “to the executive branch on war powers in times of perceived crisis.” The implications of her argument are truly troubling. Democratic deliberation was stifled. In a more recent study, W. Lance Bennett, Regina Lawrence, and Steven Livingston (2007) identified significant problems with the press coverage of the Bush administration. Using case studies of the reporting on 9/11, the buildup to war with Iraq, and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, these scholars found that the press accepted a “self-imposed dependence on officially sanctioned information,” which resulted in their tendency “to record rather than critically examine the official pronouncements of government” (Bennett, Lawrence, and Livingston 2007: 9). Moreover, “the absence of credible and potentially decisive opposition from inside government itself leaves the mainstream press generally unable to build and sustain counter-stories” (Bennett, Lawrence, and Livingston 2007: 36). This meant that the press essentially ignored sources and “evidence outside official Washington” (Bennett, Lawrence, and Livingston 2007: 16) that might have effectively challenged the administration’s preferred narratives about weapons of mass destruction and an alleged Iraqi link to al-Qaeda in the buildup to the Iraq War. In all, Bush administration claims about the importance of public debate were not matched by genuine commitment to deliberative democracy. Rather, powerful political insiders manipulated privileged information selectively in a communicative context that distorted their influence and effectively silenced most opposing voices without a real hearing. Thus, the collective understandings generated from that context were distorted—and were of dubious legitimacy. Any insufficiently deliberative process produces outcomes that do not reflect communicative rationality.

■ Voices from the Margin: Counterpublic Sphere If the public sphere can be viewed as a site for the defense of dominant political discourses, then it cannot serve as an ideal site for genuine democratic deliberation and legitimization of norms. After all, Habermasian standards for discursive democracy require widely inclusive participation, while dominant

Critical Theory

211

discourses are almost by definition exclusive. The existence of a single public sphere, however, can “seem less like a space for open, democratic interaction and more like an arena where hegemony is enforced, where dominant powers make their own interests appear like common sense, and where the architecture of domination comes to rely less on coercion, and more on public means of consensus production” (J. Johnston 2000: 482). Critical theorists (Warner 2002: 108) often view discussion as a struggle for dominance of the public sphere itself. Many critics of Habermas, in fact, reject elite-dominated bourgeois café society as a deliberative ideal and turn their attention to so-called counterpublic spheres, which exist as potential sites for deliberation alongside, within, and across the dominant public sphere. In other words, these critics argue for a multiplicity of public spheres, some reflecting dominant political discourses and others reflecting active dissent. If deliberation is constrained by structural conditions, the solution is typically to make those structures more democratic—accessible to otherwise excluded participants and wide open to public scrutiny (Payne and Samhat 2004). More specifically, counterpublic sphere theorists seek to elevate the relatively weak “subaltern counterpublics” (Fraser 1992) who invent and circulate discourses in opposition to those featured in the dominant public sphere. Much of the literature on counterpublics spotlights the diversity of oppositional interpretations offered typically in subnational contexts by laborers, women, gays, racial and ethnic minorities, and others who view themselves, and/or who can be viewed, as marginalized by dominant actors and discourses (Warner 2002). In global politics, counterpublics might include peace activists (or antiwar protesters), disarmament groups (or antinuclear activists), human rights advocates, “fair trade” campaigners, indigenous peoples, or ethnic minorities. Obviously, the precise roles of oppositional publics depend to a large extent on the parts played by dominant actors. The positions of slave and master, worker and boss, and victim and abuser are mutually constitutive. Marginalized actors publicly advance positions that are inconsistent with positions reflected in the dominant public sphere. In their work on political rhetoric, in fact, Krebs and Jackson acknowledge that “rhetorical innovations . . . tend to arise at the margins” (2007: 46); however, they also point out that “novel rhetorical resources are likely to be drowned out by existing arguments and frames.” Nonetheless, the positions taken by marginalized actors in a counterpublic sphere sometimes end up being viewed as widely legitimate and socially sustainable. Consider the transformation in the way the wider public viewed claims by civil rights supporters and antiapartheid groups. The challenge, of course, is coming to an understanding of how this particular process works or might work. Counterpublics might develop effective rhetorical strategies (Krebs and Jackson 2007), rely upon

212

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

resonant or persuasive issue framing (Keck and Sikkink 1998), or depend upon audience empathy or emotion (N. Crawford 2000). Alternatively, changes in communications technology might simply allow for the meaningful participation of marginalized counterpublics in dominant discourses (R. Payne 2003). Participants in counterpublic spheres, potentially including scholars, can reveal the hierarchical relations of power embedded in social discourse. Indeed, the existence of counterpublics means that at least some participants in public deliberation engage in emancipatory practices in “the hope that power may be reconfigured. . . . [T]he term foregrounds contest among publics, exclusions in the discursive practices of publics, and attempts by some publics to overcome these exclusions” (Asen 2000: 425). Antiwar movements, such as the one that developed in advance of the Iraq War, can be viewed as counterpublics and their discursive exchanges occur within a counterpublic sphere. For the most part, peace activists network with one another in a relatively open and inclusive manner, but their conversations occur at a distance from the dominant public sphere. This is not to say that the dominant public sphere is pro-war particularly, or that war is the preferred policy option when it is presented as a choice. However, when war erupts or seems imminent, antiwar organizers, protesters, and peace activists often make and present oppositional arguments that are outside the mainstream of public discussion—and dissent. Over time, on the other hand, many of the antiwar positions originally presented at the margins, heard only by like-minded persons, enter the dominant public sphere. Conceivably, these points can become legitimate and socially sustainable. Only a very small portion of the domestic population, about 6 percent, told pollsters in fall 2001 that they opposed US military action in Afghanistan. An even smaller number of people spoke out openly and actively against the use of military force. Contemporary news media reports suggest that a few thousand protesters marched in opposition to war in major US cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC.6 Some war opponents simply wanted to “give peace a chance” or to “make love, not war.” Others were pacifists voicing opposition to all war (“peace not war”), while many feared for the lives of innocent civilians who make up about half of the victims of warfare. Yet, the news media paid very little attention to the antiwar efforts and their contributions to public debate remained on the margins of the dominant public sphere. As in the Iraq case, the public debate was dominated by more hawkish voices, including Bush administration officials, members of Congress, analysts from Washingtonor New York–based think tanks, current and former military officers, and some scholars. Presented as a continuation of the global war on terrorism, Iraq ultimately became, as President Bush (2004a) called it, the “central front in the

Critical Theory

213

war on terror.” From the very beginning, however, the Iraq War was more controversial than the Afghan War. The congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq passed 296–133 in the House of Representatives and 77–23 in the Senate on 10 October 2002. Obviously, political support for this war was not unanimous. In contrast, a few days after the 9/11 attacks, the US House of Representatives voted 420–1 (the lone dissenter represented Berkeley) and the Senate voted 98–0 to authorize President Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons” (Public Law 107-40 2001). As measured by various public opinion polls, Bush’s popularity soared to 90 percent—reflecting a “rally around the flag” effect—and over 90 percent of the US population (see Program on International Policy Attitudes, c. 2001) supported military action against those responsible for the attacks. Prior to the beginning of the Iraq War, millions of protesters around the world took to the streets in January and February 2003 in opposition to the looming confrontation. Polling data reveal that the Iraq War was not as widely supported prior to its beginning as was war on Afghanistan, but President Bush did receive a significant “rally effect” that boosted his personal popularity and large-scale public antiwar events virtually stopped once war began. Indeed, one striking aspect of the relatively large-scale peace movement in the Iraq case was that it was arguably perceived as completely legitimate prior to the war, but dissent was quickly marginalized after hostilities began. As a matter of interpretation, the relatively sizable public challenge to the Iraq War suggests that it was not a marginal counterpublic. Most of the arguments employed by war opponents appeared frequently in the pages of major newspapers and were sometimes debated on television during prime time. Yet, the leadership of this “second superpower” (see Tyler 2003b) was often the very same people and organizations who led the antiwar protests of fall 2001. Lonely opposition voices, who spoke out against war on Afghanistan and organized small demonstrations and marches in fall 2001, helped arrange far larger rallies and events in late 2002 and early 2003. Members of ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), for example, were exceptionally active against both conflicts and had a very high profile in the more recent Iraq case. The same people and groups were using many of the same arguments—but this time they were a small part of the debate in the dominant public sphere instead of completely enclaved in a counterpublic sphere. Polls after 2003 established that opposition to war in Iraq continued to grow over time (see Mueller 2005), which means that the marginalized minority from fall 2001 found its position becoming the near-majority antiwar stance.

214

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

The shifting poll results appear to suggest that more and more people accepted oppositional views because they agreed with at least some of the antiwar rhetoric. The most strident “no blood for oil” view did not become a majority position, but a growing number of Americans seemed to think that the war was doing more harm than good and was not directly serving US interests. The key questions, of course, were these: How did most people learn of the antiwar arguments? Why did they eventually embrace them? The fact that Congress had a divided debate about war in Iraq probably helped establish a more open environment to dissent. Additional study would be needed to explain more fully and clearly how and why the antiwar position gained strength after fall 2001. Nonetheless, the evidence at hand does suggest that members of the counterpublic were able to influence mass opinion about ongoing war once their voices were heard and taken seriously by the dominant public sphere. Indeed, some empirical social science research supports the idea that more inclusive debate helps limit some of the worst distorting effects discussed above. In an impressive body of scholarship, political scientist James Druckman (2004, 2001), working sometimes with various colleagues, has examined the potential limits of framing effects, which are thought to manipulate and determine outcomes because of their decisive influence on public audiences. This research finds that frames can be limited in a number of important ways—but especially by debate and discussion. Most importantly, Druckman (2004: 683) finds that “framing effects depend in critical ways on context” and “appear to be neither robust nor particularly pervasive.”7 One powerful limit is elite competition. When elites debate one another and offer counterframes, then the influence of a singular frame is not pervasive. Moreover, Druckman finds that the influence of frames can be diminished by audience discussion of the issue under consideration. Based on laboratory experiments, Druckman and Nelson (2003: 741) found a “conditional and potentially short-lived impact of elite framing” when study participants engaged in the kinds of “interpersonal conversations [that] permeate the political world.” They find that “cross-cutting interpersonal discussions” limit framing effects. In the case of Iraq, a number of high-profile elites spoke out against the war, including the pope, Nelson Mandela, entertainment celebrities, former US presidential candidate Al Gore, and many others. The war was debated in the US Congress, in the pages of newspapers, and even in televised UNSC meetings. Indeed, documenting the myriad independent sources of global opposition would be impossible. However, it seems quite clear that the traditional news media now faces unprecedented competition from socalled new media that offers many diverse opportunities for counterpublics. Political analysts, private research organizations, independent journalists, and even amateur bloggers can report, study, and evaluate information and make their claims publicly available at very low cost.

Critical Theory

215

Most importantly, the dominant framing did not go completely unchallenged over the long haul. Bennett, Lawrence and Livingston (2007: 195) explain the potential implication of this development: “News meets this important [democratic] responsibility when information obtained from the administration is challenged by information obtained independently from other sources and presented to the public in coherent and culturally resonant ways.” In the Iraq case, a significant transnational public sphere worked fairly effectively to signal very strong dissent with US policy. These developments promoted both participation and transparency in the global public sphere.8 Indeed, the dissent signaled the start of an ongoing legitimacy crisis that very much shaped the worldwide view of the war, eventually influencing US elections in 2006 and 2008 and helping to end US combat operations in 2010.

■ Conclusion To be sure, critical theorists are very skeptical about any imagined use of force in international politics. However, as highlighted by Jürgen Habermas’s (1999) hesitant endorsement of the NATO bombing campaign to support Kosovo, these theorists can at least imagine that the global community could legitimately recommend the use of violence to achieve widely shared ideals. Critical theorists are primarily interested in minimizing the influence of arbitrary and coercive power and promoting the prospects for emancipatory change in world politics. To those ends, they identify and explain the fissures and inconsistencies embedded in established political systems and structures, even while encouraging the development of social pressures that could transform public consciousness and make alternative outcomes viable. The method of imminent critique provides important insight, for example, as to why the United States faced significant difficulties in Iraq. Absent explicit authorization from the UN despite a vigorous debate in that forum, the war ultimately posed a substantial drain on the US Treasury and on the United States’ international image. Few other states were willing to provide material support and most perhaps felt vindicated in this decision once the Abu Ghraib images were disclosed, the tenuous Iraqi government declared martial law, civil war exploded, and other humanitarian emergencies were revealed. Worse, though the war was publicly justified based on Iraq’s alleged nuclear program, no extensive program was ever found and US policymakers virtually ignored other, more clearly advanced, cases of nuclear proliferation involving Israel and Pakistan. US means and motives in Iraq were seriously challenged by its duplicitous actions and arguments. Indeed, it is quite possible that the Iraq War was doomed from the beginning given the highly distorted debate that occurred both domestically and internationally during 2002 and early 2003. Prominent US officials, including the president himself, made dubious claims about Iraq’s nuclear weapons programs that were rebuffed in advance of the war by UN weapons

216

Postmodern and Critical Theory Approaches

inspectors. Likewise, purported links to al-Qaeda were never demonstrated and should have been suspect even at the time given the terrorist organization’s declared interest in toppling secular strongmen like Saddam Hussein. The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) reported unsurprisingly that it “found no ‘collaborative relationship’ between Iraq and al-Qaeda” (Pincus and Milbank 2004). To assure the development of consensual and legitimate norms and practices, critical theorists embrace discursive democracy in a public sphere. As the case at hand reveals, even public deliberation can be polluted by serious distortions; thus, it is important also to consider the role of socalled counterpublic spheres in shaping social understandings. From fall 2001 through the remainder of the decade, antiwar voices challenged established ideas about the role of force in conducting a “war on terrorism.” This antiwar movement had no influence on the original decision to attack Afghanistan, but it was a far more potent force in the buildup to the Iraq War and many of its ideas were eventually reflected in the majority of public opinion polls. Had the Bush administration not acted arbitrarily to attack Iraq, it is possible that the “forceless force of the better argument” could have carried the day. Ideally, in other words, the outcome would have been determined in an inclusive and open discussion of the issues.

■ Notes 1. I would like to thank Christy Rhodes for her research assistance. 2. The president then apparently told Woodward, “I don’t have the evidence at this point.” Writing in a conservative outlet, the pundit Laurie Mylroie (2003) left out this caveat when discussing Bush’s views. 3. In response to the IAEA’s findings of Iraq disarmament, discussed below, Cheney declared, “I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong.” 4. A Fox News Poll (Blanton 2002) conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation on 8–9 September 2002, found that 69 percent of respondents believed “Iraq currently has nuclear weapons.” The only choices were yes, no, or no opinion. 5. Krebs and Lobasz (2007) focus on domestic politics and do not discuss the extensive debate outside the United States. 6. Thousands turned out in major cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Geneva, London, and Sydney. 7. Another limit is the credibility of the frame’s source (Druckman 2001). 8. Indeed, it makes it increasingly difficult for governments to maintain secrecy. A Pentagon study about the alleged prewar links between al-Qaeda and Iraq was not publicly posted to the Internet, but appeared almost immediately on a blog website maintained by the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News.

7 Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches 7.1 Historical Materialism and World System Theory Jennifer Sterling-Folker As with critical theory, historical materialism and world system theory (WST) are neo-Marxian perspectives. “Historical materialism” is a term drawn directly from the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, although some of this approach’s IR adherents refer to it as “transhistorical materialism” instead.1 Within the discipline it is considered a variant of critical theory, and, as discussed in Chapter 6.1, it shares with Habermasian critical theory the same epistemological commitments, as well as the same emancipatory goals. Yet historical materialism differs dramatically from that branch of critical theory because it retains the Marxist emphasis on capitalist economics. Because this is also central to WST, it is common in IR for historical materialism and WST to be discussed together under a generic “Marxist” label.2 Prior to the end of the Cold War, Marxist IR variants were usually characterized as the third major theoretical perspective in the US discipline, along with realism and liberalism. Yet Marxist thought was relatively underdeveloped in the early discipline of IR in the United States, and it was primarily sociologists committed to interdisciplinary work who introduced WST into the discipline in the 1970s. Historical materialism appeared in the following decade and its primary contributors were those not from the United States. Because historical materialism has a slightly shorter comparative history within the discipline, it is sometimes given short shrift in disciplinary discussions of neo-Marxist IR, which tend to assume that WST is its only representative. Certainly it is the case that the two perspectives rely on and utilize a common set of assumptions and concepts so that their 217

218

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

analyses may be complementary, as the two chapters in this section demonstrate. Yet important differences remain, and it is more appropriate to consider historical materialism and world system theory to be broadly similar but ultimately alternative neo-Marxist explanations. What the two perspectives share is a set of assumptions drawn from Marxist thought that emphasizes economic change as the driving force of world politics. One of the most fundamental concepts in this regard is the “mode of production,” that is, how human labor is controlled to produce what is needed for survival (Wallerstein 1979: 155, 136). This “determines the nature of social and political relations within political entities and among them,” so that “when a new mode of production develops, new classes arise, and a new class becomes dominant” (Zacher and Matthew 1995: 108). Alternative modes of production existed throughout history, but a number of factors beginning in the fifteenth century allowed the capitalist mode to gradually displace all others. Both historical materialism and WST utilize the concept of a world capitalist system in referring to the contemporary global dominance of capitalism, and both argue that IR can only be sufficiently understood within the context of this system. Capitalism has produced notable aspects of world politics today, such as ongoing economic disparities among nation-states and the willingness of the economically advantaged to resort to violence, or exploitation by other means, to maintain those advantages. As a mode of production capitalism involves three basic elements: market exchanges, the political and social elevation of those with capital to invest in various market ventures, and the political and social subordination of those who labor to produce the goods in those ventures. The capitalist mode of production concurrently produces an ideology that justifies itself as appropriate and beneficial to all involved, even as it primarily serves the interests of the dominant, capitalist class. This ruling ideology or social consciousness is supported by and replicated in a host of political, legal, religious, moral, philosophical, and cultural institutions and social practices. These institutions and practices constitute what the historical materialist literature refers to as a “historic bloc,” and the goal of revealing this bloc as a historically situated social construct, rather than a universal immutable truth, is one that historical materialism shares with critical theory and postmodernism. In contrast to some other IR theories, then, the sovereign nation-state is not the central unit of analysis in either of these perspectives, and as Paul Viotti and Mark Kauppi note, it becomes significant only “from the role it plays in actively aiding or hindering the capitalist accumulation process” (1999: 344). While historical materialism and WST retain the Marxist assumption that capitalism leads inevitably to exploitation and class struggle, they have also developed modified views of class structure that are more appropriate

Historical Materialism and World System Theory

219

to the study of IR. Although indebted to the writings of Marx and Engels for many of their core concepts, it was later writers in the Marxist tradition, such as John Hobson, Rosa Luxembourg, Rudolf Hilferding, and Vladimir Lenin, who considered how capitalism promoted “imperialism” in IR as a form of transnational exploitation. Imperialism is endemic to the capitalist world system, these authors argued, because capitalist societies regularly face the dilemma of overproduction of capital by the capitalist class and underconsumption of goods by the lower classes (who cannot afford to purchase them). This dilemma induces capitalist societies to seek markets abroad to reinvest surplus capital and promote the buying of surplus goods, yet the terms of interaction are never equitable. While resorting to outright conquest remains an option for capitalist societies, the nature of exploitation has become more subtle, involving transnational alliances among capitalist classes and a reliance on IFIs, such as the IMF and the World Bank, to enforce the interests of wealthy capitalist societies around the globe (Gill 1998, 1995). Imperialism can also lead to international rivalry and conflict among capitalist societies, as they compete with one another for dominance in alternative markets and regions. This ongoing impetus for balance-of-power politics prevents the development of a unified world state or the return to world empires. It is possible, however, for a core state to emerge as a hegemon that, for a certain period of time, can “establish the rules of the game in the interstate system” (Wallerstein 2004: 58). Similar to the liberal variant of hegemonic stability theory referenced in Chapter 3.1, historical materialism and WST argue that a hegemon has the ability to impose its economic, political, and cultural preferences on the world system.3 This ability is continually taxed and relatively short-lived, however, given constant pressure from ongoing imperialist rivalries. These are the themes of Chapter 7.2, in which Alan Cafruny and Timothy Lehmann argue that the US invasion of Iraq should be understood in the context of core state rivalry in the Middle East. Driven by imperialist competition, the United States invaded Iraq as a means to extend its hegemonic reach in the Middle East and deny its rivals greater access to the region. Because the concept of imperialism remains fundamental to both historical materialism and WST, these perspectives are interested in relations between wealthy capitalist societies and the rest of the globe. Within the discipline their analytical predecessor is dependency theory, which originated in the 1960s to explain why Latin America and other regions had not developed as anticipated.4 For all of these theories, the explanation for the continued poverty of so many of the world’s nation-states lies not in processes and choices purely internal to nation-states and their societies, but in the position they occupy within the world capitalist economy. Historical materialism and WST perspectives also concur that world politics is

220

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

driven by capitalist economic forces, and that “economic exploitation is an integral part of the capitalist system and is required to keep it functioning” (Viotti and Kauppi 1999: 349). While alternative terms such as “North” and “South” or “first world” and “third world” have been used in IR to indicate the division between rich and poor societies, WST has developed a set of terms that is frequently used by scholars of both perspectives. The capitalist world system is said to consist of core, peripheral, and semiperipheral areas that differ according to their modes of labor control and what they specialize in producing. The core areas are the most advanced economically, and hence they are the most prosperous and powerful. The peripheral areas provide unskilled labor and raw materials to the core and are the poorest and weakest. The semiperipheral areas occupy a middle ground between the two and have a combination of economic, political, and social attributes from both of the other areas. This international division of labor derives from the ceaseless accumulation of capital and essentially divides and conquers class interests and structures both within and across nation-states. The original Marxist formulation of a common interest within relatively separate classes, as well as the inevitability of conflict between these classes and the potential for revolution among the working class specifically, have been considerably modified by these perspectives as a result.5 Yet both historical materialism and WST retain a belief in the possibility of radical change and the eventual demise of the capitalist world order. Marx and Engels had argued that the mode of production that dominates in each period of history, and that hierarchically arranges its relevant classes, also carries the seeds of its own demise. Classes are always arranged dialectically, so that contradictions and tensions are inherent to their relationship, and from their inevitable clash new economic orders emerge. It is a matter of time, therefore, before the capitalist mode of production and the world economy it has spawned will be replaced. Historical materialists and world system theorists subscribe to this general view of the future, yet each has made considerable analytical modifications to it so that the possibilities of change within and of the world capitalist system are more open-ended, varied in content, and less deterministic. It is also at this juncture that clear differences begin to emerge between these two perspectives, since historical materialists subscribe to critical theory’s goal of emancipatory practice in a way that world system theorists do not. As a variant of critical theory, historical materialism is concerned with uncovering historically situated truth claims to reveal their embedded power and promote emancipation from them. Unlike Habermasian critical theory, however, it is not a direct analytical descendant of the Frankfurt School. In fact, in his overview of these two variants, Richard Wyn Jones observes that Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Marxist, is just as important a

Historical Materialism and World System Theory

221

writer to the development of critical theory as are Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, yet “they do not, on the whole, influence the same scholars” (2001: 5).6 While Gramsci is not a central figure to Habermasian critical theorists, his work is fundamental to historical materialists, who are sometimes referred to as “neo-Gramscian.” It was Gramsci who developed the concept of a historic bloc with a hegemonic grip over social consciousness and identity. Building on his work, historical materialists investigate how global capitalism constitutes a material and ideational hegemony, which is sometimes described as a form of “disciplinary neoliberalism” or “global governance.”7 This hegemony relies on a complex interrelationship between identity, legitimating ideology, society, and the state, and it effectively obscures capitalism’s inherently exploitative character. Because the state and society co-constitute one another within the capitalist world economy, historical materialists never study them separately and consider the separation of levels of analysis subscribed to by other IR theories to be a serious analytical flaw. From Gramsci, historical materialists also take seriously notions of volition, that is, the possibility of removing the “historic bloc” as the primary obstacle to equitable social change. By encouraging competing ideologies and social movements, historical materialists argue it is possible for a new, more equitable historic bloc to coalesce. It is for this reason that many historical materialists are interested in the idea of an emerging global civil society, and their discussions of social practices and intersubjective meanings can sound quite constructivist. As Andrew Linklater notes about historical materialism, it “emphasizes the revolt of the Third World states and political movements against the effects of the globalization of relations of production,” and it focuses on “counter-hegemonic states and social movements and their ability to pool their political resources to transform the world economy” (1996: 287). This emphasis on the active encouragement of contemporary social and political change is one of the ways historical materialism differs from WST, which remains, at heart, a structural theory about the historical development of the contemporary world order.8 The analytical emphasis of WST is not on the praxis of contemporary change, or on the third world specifically, but on the changes to or within the structure of the world capitalist system itself. In other words, world system theorists are interested in studying structural changes such as a nation-state’s movement from the category of semiperipheral to core, or the political and social effects of capitalist cycles of growth and contraction. The result is that while historical materialism sees “greater variation and flexibility within contemporary capitalism,” WST “tends to discount the possibility of genuine liberation from capitalism, except on a world-systemic level” (Crane and Amawi 1997: 143). It is for this reason that historical materialists claim WST has a “system-maintenance bias”

222

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

(Cox with Sinclair 1996: 87) and, despite sharing many analytical premises, are critical of it. Certainly WST has always been committed to understanding world politics as a system, and so it shares with historical materialism the conviction that the standard levels of analysis, and categories such as politics, economics, and culture, are indivisible. 9 Thus the study of political structures and institutions, ethnicity and race, religion and culture, and even the formation and structure of households are examined within the context of the capitalist world economy. But WST does not trace its origins to Gramsci specifically or critical theory in general, and so it does not share historical materialism’s goals of praxis, its analytical focus, or its epistemological preferences. It evolved in the discipline of sociology as a reaction to modernization theory, which claimed that the South’s inability to develop was due to its traditional cultures and that it would need to follow a similar development path as that of the North (see Rostow 1962). WST instead posited that it was the capitalist division of the world that accounted for the South’s economic, political, and social plight. The development of WST is particularly indebted to the work of sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein, and many world system theorists continue to straddle the interdisciplinary line between sociology and IR. The result is that world system theorists are not postpositivists and do not share historical materialism’s epistemology, which Robert Cox describes as “dialectical in its explanation of change, and hermeneutic insofar as it inquires into purposes and meanings” (Cox with Sinclair 1996: 514). world system theorists remain committed to a positivist epistemology and methodologies, and they argue that the social sciences might serve as a vehicle for systemic change if interdisciplinary barriers can be overcome to understand the world system in its historical totality. Their emphasis on deep historical context is yet another way their scholarship is different from historical materialism, which, like other neo-Marxist perspectives, tends to focus on the contemporary world order. world system theorists argue that it is only possible to understand the world system’s current structure by tracing its historical evolution since the transition from feudalism to capitalism in the sixteenth century. Some world system theorists have pushed historical analysis back even further, so that the global economy of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is examined to understand Europe’s subsequent rise to the core (Abu-Lughod 1989; Frank 1998). Even more far-reaching are claims that the world system perspective can be applied to precapitalist worlds (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997, 1991) and to the start of regional trading, over 5,000 years ago (Frank and Gills 1993). Thus a central hallmark of WST is its emphasis on historical analysis to comprehend both the contemporary and the future international system. It is for this reason that it may be characterized as “a global spatiotemporal perspective” (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff 1997: 246). These aspects

Historical Materialism and World System Theory

223

are clearly demonstrated in Chapter 7.3 by Annette Freyberg-Inan’s world system analysis of the US invasion of Iraq. Freyberg-Inan argues that the conflict must be understood within a broader historical and global context. That context involved Iraqi attempts to maintain its semiperipheral status and US attempts to maintain its status as the globe’s core hegemon, thus setting both states on a violent collision course. This emphasis on historical analysis has also produced variants within WST that are not neo-Marxist in origin or focus. One perspective, developed in the US IR discipline by George Modelski and William Thompson, is called evolutionary world politics, and it assumes that world systemic changes are the product of ongoing evolutionary social processes derived from political and economic competition for global leadership. These processes produce long cycles in global politics, which are sometimes referred to as Kondratieff cycles or waves, after Nikolai Kondratieff, the scholar who first identified them. These cycles account for the regular patterns of war-making, trading, institution building, and coalition forming that we see in multiple regions throughout history. Kondratieff cycles are particularly important to the evolutionary world politics variant, which tends to emphasize politics rather than economics as the prime motivating force for the system. Yet its analytical focus and goals are so similar to other world system variants that, as a means of capturing these divergent strands under the same rubric, it may be more appropriate to refer to WST as world system history instead (Denemark 1999; Frank 1991). Because both historical materialism and WST demand that social reality be understood as a totality, the scope and comprehensiveness of their analyses are both impressive and daunting. They are the only IR theoretical perspectives that, given their assumptive frameworks, consistently and simultaneously examine the relationship between all nation-states in the international system. In so doing, they expand the discipline’s vision of its own subject matter and provide a historical, systemic context for understanding global social problems that other perspectives either completely ignore or discuss only as they relate to the powerful core nation-states. In a discipline that tends to derive its theoretical insights from contemporary trends and so encounters serious analytical difficulties when those trends change or disappear, WST underscores the need for a long-term theoretical perspective. Both of these theories also prompt us to consider the extent to which the discipline of IR and its modes of thought are components of the capitalist “historic bloc” and, by refusing to confront this complicity, we participate in the ongoing production of global inequity.

■ Further Reading The central figure in the development of critical theory’s historical materialism variant is Robert Cox, who first described his approach in the widely

224

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

reprinted essay “Social Forces, States, and World Orders” (1981), and subsequently expanded his arguments in the book Production, Power, and World Order (1987). Two other important works by Cox include an edited volume (1997) and a collection of his essays (1996) edited by one of his students, Timothy Sinclair. Other seminal historical materialist texts include Cafruny 1990; Galtung 1971; Gill 1998, 1995, 1990a; Harrod 1987; Murphy 1994, 1990; van der Pijl 1998, 1984; Rupert 2003, 1995; and Sinclair 1994. Edited volumes devoted to historical materialism include Mittleman 1997, Murphy and Tooze 1991, Overbeek 1993, Palan 2000b, Palan and Gills 1994, and Rupert and Smith 2002. In addition, see the 2011 Journal of International Relations and Development forum edited by Bruff and Tepe entitled, “What Is Critical IPE?” For works that explore the influence of Gramsci on IR theorizing and the development of historical materialism, see Ayers 2008, Bieler and Morton 2004, Cox 1983, Germain and Kenny 1998, Gill 1993, Holub 1992, Murphy 1998, W. Robinson 2004, Rupert 1998, and Tooze 1990. The work of scholars who subscribe to the Habermasian variant of critical theory, such as Andrew Linklater and M. Hoffman, are discussed in Chapter 6.1, while an edited volume that brings both variants together is Wyn Jones 2001. The central figure in the development of WST is Immanuel Wallerstein (2004, 1980, 1974). There are several collections that reproduce his most seminal essays, with the most widely read being The Capitalist WorldEconomy (1979; see also 1991). A collection of essays about Wallerstein’s work and influence on the discipline can be found in two special issues of Journal of World Systems Research, both edited by Giovanni Arrighi and Walter Goldfrank (2000a, 2000b). Another influential scholar in WST is Christopher Chase-Dunn (1989, 1982, 1981), who, within Wallerstein’s categories of international division, differentiated state interests and policy strategies depending on variance in production advantages. Other notable works of world system theorists include Abu-Lughod 1989; Arrighi 1994; Arrighi and Silver 1999; Baran 1967; Braudel 1979; Burch and Denemark 1997; Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997, 1991; Chirot and Hall 1982; Denemark 1999; and Frank 1998, 1991. There are numerous collections of WST, including Boswell 1989; Chase-Dunn 1995; Frank and Gills 1993; Hollist and Rosenau 1981; Hopkins and Wallerstein 1996, 1980; Hopkins, Wallerstein, and Associates 1982; and Schaeffer and Wallerstein 1989. Shannon 1989 provides a useful introduction to the perspective, and, for an analysis of the place of household structures in the world capitalist system, see S. Smith and Wallerstein 1992. Evolutionary world theory can be found in the works of George Modelski (1996, 1987a, 1978) and William Thompson (2001, 1988, 1983), and together they have coauthored a number of important pieces in this perspective

Historical Materialism and World System Theory

225

(Modelski and Thompson 1999, 1996, 1988). Modelski also maintains a website (https://faculty.washington.edu/modelski/index.html) on evolutionary world politics that provides essays, bibliographies, and links to other pertinent websites on the subject. An early exchange among William Thompson, Christopher Chase-Dunn, and Joan Sokolovsky (1983) in International Studies Quarterly underscores its differences with other variants of WST. Other work on Kondratieff long cycles in IR includes Freeman 1983; Goldstein 1988; Kleinknecht, Mandel, and Wallerstein 1992; Kondratieff 1984; Rasler and Thompson 1989, 1994; and an edited volume on the subject, Modelski 1987b. Representative works of dependency theory include Amin 1977; Cardoso and Faletto 1979; Frank 1970, 1969; and Prebisch 1963. A special issue of International Organization devoted to dependency theory was edited by James Caporaso (1978). More recent overviews of dependency theory and its legacy include Arrighi 2002; Heller, Rueschemeyer, and Snyder 2009; and Packenham 1992. ■ Notes 1. Robert Cox refers to the approach as “historical dialectic” (Cox with Sinclair 1996: ix), and it is sometimes called “Coxian historicism.” In linking the approach to Marxism and critical theory, Richard Wyn Jones notes that Horkheimer first named critical theory “interdisciplinary materialism” (1999: 14). The practitioners of WST, on the other hand, prefer the terms “world system paradigm,” “analysis,” or “history,” rather than “theory,” since the latter suggests a single, unified explanation. The term “theory” has been used here, however, in keeping with its usage throughout this book as an umbrella term signifying a variety of approaches, arguments, and works within a broad, analytical tradition. 2. See, for example, Doyle 1997, Gilpin 1987, and Richardson 2001b. 3. For an example of how different analytical perspectives subscribe to hegemonic stability theory, see Christopher Chase-Dunn et al. 1994. 4. Dependency theory was developed by Latin American scholars and was originally associated with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and its Economic Commission on Latin America (ECLA). Writers for ECLA and UNCTAD argued that Latin America was unable to develop due to its unfavorable terms of trade with capitalist societies. Dependency theorists also argued, along analytical lines developed by Lenin, that transnational alliances between capitalist and bourgeoisie classes in European and Latin American societies effectively exploited the workers of the latter. 5. Craig Murphy (1990) argues, for example, that there is a class alliance between the “Atlantic” or “trilateral” ruling class in the core, the “organization bourgeoisie” ruling class in the third world, and some of the subordinate classes in the core, which collectively subordinate all the other classes. See also Gill 1990a, W. Robinson 2004, and van der Pijl 1984. 6. There are exceptions, as some security scholars have sought to combine insights from Gramsci and the Frankfurt School into what is known as the Welsh or Aberystwyth School (see Booth 2008 and Wyn Jones 1999).

226

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

7. The first term is drawn from Stephen Gill’s theory of globalization (1998, 1995), which argues that various global market forces and agents discipline states and societies into neoliberal ideology and structures. The second term is used by multiple theoretical perspectives and hence has multiple meanings (see, for example, Hoffmann and Ba 2005), but in historical materialism it is used to indicate the hegemony of capitalist norms and discourse. As Timothy Sinclair notes, it means “to become hegemonic in the Gramscian sense of combining coercive power with a measure of consensus” (1999: 158). It is not a benign concept in the historical materialist context. 8. It is sometimes referred to simply as “structuralism.” Baylis and Smith (2011), for example, claim that Marxist theory is also known as “structuralism” or WST, so that all three are equated with one another. Viotti and Kauppi (1999: 356), on the other hand, refer to WST as “globalism” and historical materialism as “neostructuralism.” 9. These ideas are drawn directly from Marx, who argued that politics and economics were interrelated, not separate domains, and that society had to be studied in its totality. As Viotti and Kauppi put it, “globalists argue that to explain behavior at any and all levels of analysis—the individual, bureaucratic, societal, and between states or between societies—one must first understand the overall structure of the global system within which such behavior takes place. As with realists, globalists believe that the starting point of analysis should be the international system. To a large extent, the behavior of individual actors is explained by a system that provides constraints and opportunities” (1999: 341).

Historical Materialism:

7.2 Imperialist Rivalry, Hegemony, and the Global Capitalist Order Alan W. Cafruny and Timothy C. Lehmann

It is supposed and alleged that the attitude of the British government to the wilaya of Mosul is affected by the question of oil. The question of the oil of the Mosul wilaya has nothing to do with my argument. . . . I have explained to the Conference in order that they may know the exact amount of influence, and that is nil, which has been exercised in respect of oil. —Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon at the Lausanne conference, 1923 It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil. —Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on 60 Minutes, 15 December 2002

In this chapter we argue that the US-led invasion of Iraq was a purposive effort to consolidate its hegemony over the Middle Eastern petrochemical core of the global capitalist order and hence a decisive moment in the broader struggle to shape the post–Cold War and post-9/11 global system and the United States’ position within it. The Bush administration sought to accomplish several interlocking objectives: incorporating a recalcitrant nationalist petrostate into the US-led international division of labor; rebasing and strengthening US economic and military power in the Middle East; and thus more generally extending US influence directly into the fault line of the Middle East, an arena of ceaseless competition among states and multinational corporations for its oil and gas wealth. In the first part of the chapter, we present a brief overview of the most plausible and enduring assumptions of the historical materialist tradition as they have been used in the study of IR. The use of concepts deriving from this tradition involves a timely resurrection and, as we illustrate, allows a fruitful collaboration between devotees of historical materialism and classical realism, respectively. The end of the McCarthy era and the emergence of an antiwar movement reinvigorated academic Marxist analysis in the United States. During the 1960s and 1970s, Marxist and dependency theories became part of the “paradigm debate” in the study of IR and were recognized as equally compelling explanatory frameworks along with classical realism, particularly regarding oil and Middle Eastern affairs (Krasner 1979; Gilpin 1975). However, by the 1990s when the study of “globalization” became popular these theories had once again been cast out of the temple. The result was “the absence, or suppression, within orthodox discussion 227

228

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

of the two analytic terms central to the analysis of this process—capitalism and imperialism” (Halliday 2002: 77). In contrast to these recent decades of balkanized theoretical inquiry and scholarship, our collaboration harkens back to the earlier era and highlights the similarity among historical materialists and classical realists in viewing great power imperial rivalry over material capabilities as the central, tragic dynamic in international politics. Ironically, in recent years liberal and conservative commentators have themselves begun routinely to refer to US imperialism and celebrate its alleged merits (Ferguson 2005; Boot 2003; Ignatieff 2003). As Alex Callinicos has observed, “Empire is back with a vengeance. This is largely because the thing imperialism has increasingly intruded itself on us all over the past few years, till now all the blood and clamor, the colonial expeditions and the grand financial and commercial maneuvers are quite inescapable and undeniable” (2009: 57). In the second part of the chapter, we review the course of great power diplomacy surrounding the Middle East’s oil resources from World War I to the Gulf War (1990–1991) within the context of the more general rivalry among the Western capitalist states, the Soviet Union, and the principal East Asian powers. At stake throughout the period was not simply access to oil, narrowly conceived, but the organization of the global capitalist order and the relative position of the major players within it. In the third part of the chapter we show just how central Iraq has been to US hegemony since 1991, and how the increasing great power rivalry in this era marked by “peak oil” logic precipitated the invasion of Iraq after 9/11. The 2003 Iraq War was fought to reverse the decline of US international oil companies (IOCs) relative to state-owned national oil companies (NOCs) in the Middle East and their less-disciplined clients in Europe and Asia, while improving the position of the US IOCs in the struggle for wealth and power. A “friendly” Iraq could also solve several dilemmas of US power: how to leverage OPEC into greater compliance with US interests; how to manage the threat of rival currencies and the dissipation of the dollar as a vehicle and reserve currency; how to rebase US military power in the Middle East so as to placate Wahhabi radicals in Saudi Arabia while preserving US strategic leverage over the Arab-Persian divide; and how to maintain continual demand for the United States’ most vaunted export—“security services.” In the final section we show that, notwithstanding the massive costs in terms of blood and treasure, Washington has made significant strides toward realizing its central war aims.

■ Imperialism and Middle Eastern Rivalry The historical materialist concept of imperialism derives from the logic of capital accumulation and the functions the capitalist state acquires as capital

Historical Materialism

229

pushes beyond the boundaries of its own nation-state. Mainstream approaches to the study of IR view the capitalist state either as a neutral actor that is connected to society in theoretically unspecified ways (liberalism and constructivism) or as an autonomous entity that acts more or less independently of social forces (structural realism). Despite their differences, these approaches are similar insofar as they adopt a more or less openended view of the possibilities of state action, which is assumed to result variously from public opinion, the preferences of interest groups or factions, shared norms and values, or the imperatives of a given geopolitical configuration. In mainstream analyses “imperialism” sometimes refers to policies of military and political domination that are assumed to be unconnected to capitalism or economic motives. Historical materialism, by contrast, proposes an organic link between the state and the capitalist class that sharply circumscribes the “limits of the possible” in domestic and foreign policy. On the one hand, most top government officials and politicians are drawn from elite social and cultural networks and develop a special sympathy for the problems of “big business” (e.g., Miliband 1969). These networks are especially well defined and exclusive in the area of foreign policy where they are controlled by foundations and think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations (Domhoff 2006). On the other hand, elected officials are also “structurally” linked to capital by virtue of the need to establish economic and political conditions favorable to accumulation as well as their dependence on the approval of an essentially corporate media for electoral success (e.g., O’Connor 1973; Poulantzas 1975). The need to promote stability and acquiescence in domestic politics and (to a much lesser extent) in the international sphere through granting concessions to subordinate classes and countries gives the state an outward appearance of neutrality, but the special bias toward capital and the need to promote capital accumulation are distinctive and permanent features. The capitalist state is inevitably drawn into the international sphere— and consequently imperialist rivalry—as a result of the growing concentration and centralization of capital and the need to promote capital accumulation beyond its own borders. In the domestic arena the state stands apart (to at least some extent) from the struggles among individual capitals. In foreign policy, however, it cannot remain aloof. It is compelled to perform an even more challenging, and potentially far more dangerous, set of tasks. As Hannes Lacher writes, Internationally, individual states can use their political power to structure international competition in ways which benefit “their” capitals to the detriment of the capitals of other states. They can use their borders and currencies to mediate the competition between the multitude of individual capitals. Thus, the world market is not simply a system of individual capitals competing with

230

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

each other economically, but is a system in which states are parties in the competition for world market shares rather than guarantors of the market as such. (2002: 161)

For realists, leading states aspire to hegemonic control over vital resources with all the attending economic advantages that accompany military dominion over their disposition. To historical materialists, the concept of hegemony refers to the systemic supervisory function that leading states have undertaken during certain historical periods when imperialist rivalry, a more or less permanent feature of the world capitalist system since its inception, is attenuated (Wood 2002). The fact of rivalry requires a nonreductionist analysis that incorporates both geopolitical and economic competition (Callinicos 2009: 15). Rivalry can be moderated either through the actions of a hegemonic power willing and able to maintain global order (Block 1977) or, more controversially, as a result of the emergence of a “transnational capitalist class” that could reduce the coercive aspects of intraregional and perhaps even international conflict (e.g., Callinicos 2007; Pozo-Martin 2007; W. Robinson 2004; Hardt and Negri 2000; Gill 1990b). Hegemonic leadership involves political-military supervision and stabilization, but also the establishment of various regulatory programs or “concepts of control” that arise at the national level and are reproduced in general form among subordinate advanced capitalist states (van der Pijl 1984; Magdoff 1969). During the Bretton Woods era the United States pursued a project of embedded liberalism in which financial markets were subordinated to the objective of full employment and a relatively high degree of social stability throughout the core regions of North America, Western Europe, and Japan (Ruggie 1983b). The basis, however, of the major Western economies after World War II was industrial and fueled by petroleum for its manifold uses in manufacturing products and transportation. In the United States, other forms of energy were displaced by corporate alliances among oil, rubber, and automobile companies, in transport for example (88 percent of US electric light-rail transportation was eliminated by 1955 due to this alliance’s National City Lines actions). Internationally, these major business interests worked with allied governments to facilitate oil-based industrial patterns in countries such as West Germany (McCarthy 2007; Stokes 1994) where the transition was underwritten by Marshall Plan funds. Oil’s share of world energy use thus grew from 23 percent in 1945 to 46.3 percent by 1975. These global patterns grew out from the United States’ domestic condition and the entire system was underpinned by US-dominated Middle Eastern oil, which was fully enshrined after the 1953 Iranian coup displaced Britain (Kaufman 1977; US Senate 1975).

Historical Materialism

231

Responding to domestic pressure from independent oil producers to isolate the United States from “cheap Middle Eastern oil,” President Eisenhower established formal quotas on imported oil. Middle East oil would flow predominantly to US allies in Europe and Asia, establishing a core material basis for their integration into the US-dominated order. In support of this hegemonic system, the United States would make concessions to allies particularly in trade policy (Eckes 1999; Cafruny 1990), so that their manufactured products could find willing US purchasers and those dollar earnings could then pay for imported Middle Eastern oil priced in dollars. This virtuous circle of hegemonic order would come unglued in the 1970s due to the US peak in domestic oil production, the rise and success of Middle Eastern economic nationalism, and the end of the Bretton Woods monetary system and growing conflicts over macroeconomic policy. In its place came renewed great power rivalry with bilateral and competitive dealings with newly formed national oil companies in the Middle East, and a new era of financial indeterminacy and inflation as the dollar was devalued and turned into a fiat currency unhinged from US gold reserves. These changes helped impel the United States and Britain to dismantle the framework of embedded liberalism and begin a transition to disciplinary neoliberalism (Gill 1990b), which involved the deregulation of financial, trading, and labor markets, and an effort to counter the rise of the NOCs and OPEC with “the market.” The Iraq War was pursued to reverse these trends’ negative effects on US hegemony by restoring US primacy over the oil core of world power and rendering rival imperial powers subservient to US capital and its attendant US military omnipresence in the Middle East.

■ Oil and Imperialism in the Middle East: From World War I to the Iranian Revolution Britain and the United States “rode a wave of oil” to victory over Germany and Turkey’s Ottoman Empire in World War I (Davenport and Cooke 1924), but it was a competitive collaboration both during the war and increasingly so thereafter. Britain consolidated its gains in the Middle East with France as junior partner in the Sykes-Picot (1916) and the San Remo (1920) agreements, which codified exclusive imperial spheres for each European power and cooperation in the development of Iraqi oil. Incensed by Anglo-French exclusion, the United States used “open door” rhetoric and military coercion to demand “equality of commercial opportunity” for the world’s largest oil producer, creditor nation, and allied victor (Denny 1928; DeNovo 1956; Lehmann 2009). As US capital demanded a share in the world’s producing regions, the core Anglo-American rivalry could only end in cooperative capitalist settlement or more severe conflict. Britain would

232

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

eventually cooperate with US entry into Middle Eastern oil, but only after it had set up its informal and internationally legitimated imperial sphere in Iraq. By the early 1920s, Britain’s formal rule in Iraq for its oil and military basing benefits became an expensive and an uncomfortable public relations burden at home and abroad. Lord Curzon sought at the Lausanne conference of 1923 to include Mosul within the formal boundaries of Iraq and not Turkey. His insistence on Britain’s unenlightened disinterest before the conference delegates in 1923 was as disingenuous as Bush administration claims that the invasion of Iraq was about WMD, terrorism, or democracy, but certainly not about oil. Success at Lausanne assisted Britain’s transition from ruling Iraq directly to ruling instead informally through a League of Nations–legitimated settlement of Mosul, under which the new “sovereign” Iraqi government granted Britain a seventy-five-year monopoly on Iraqi oil in 1925 (Sluglett 2004). For Britain, the goal for Iraqi oil, in contrast to Persian, was some semblance of great power cooperation in its development, and this led to the inclusion of US companies into Iraqi oil in 1928. In the end, the US government settled for a 23.75 percent share, primarily to Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon) and New York (Mobil) and did not seek further “open door” rights for its nationals, and certainly none for German, Japanese, Italian, or any other interested party (Hogan 1977; Stivers 1981). As the fault line between Persia and Arabia and among contesting imperial powers, Iraq provided the cooperative template for emerging global oil cartel arrangements that were enshrined in late 1928 with the Achnacarry “As Is” accords. These deals established the global petrochemical cartel comprising five US oil companies, two predominantly British oil companies, and the German and British chemical concerns that possessed the synthetic oil alternative technology that could upset the oil actors’ global control. In line with the expectations of both historical materialism and realism, great power imperial rivalry continued in the 1930s and ended in Anglo-American war against the excluded great powers, Germany and Japan. During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to improve the growing US position in Middle Eastern oil and Standard Oil of California’s (Chevron) exclusive rights to Saudi Arabian reserves provided an attractive base for US expansion into the Middle East. After World War II, the Allies were unable to agree on a formal division of oil and France was conspicuously excluded from the early post–World War II dealings that consolidated Saudi oil into the existing Western oil cartel that straddled the major reserves states of Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. This deal, consummated in early 1947 with full US government support and waiver of antitrust concerns by the US attorney general, gave Standard Oil of New Jersey and New York an ownership stake in Saudi Arabia, which had previously been the exclusive domain of Standard Oil of California. The British were co-opted in

Historical Materialism

233

this deal, not with any direct stake in Saudi Arabia, but rather through longterm purchase contracts for Iranian and Kuwaiti oil that would be handled by the US IOC majors so as not to unsettle British market outlet positions for their Iranian oil to Europe in particular. Iraq’s output was therefore increasingly eclipsed by its non–fault line neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia, such that in 1948, Iranian output was seven times greater than that of Iraq, and Saudi Arabian output “almost six times the production of Iraq” (US Senate 1975: part 8, 531–532).1 Using violence to establish a favorable political order in Iran was the next necessary step to fully incorporating US-dominated Middle East oil into a stable post–World War II global economic system. The Eisenhower administration ousted the nationalist Mossadeq regime and US capital expanded into Iran (US companies controlled 40 percent of Iranian oil in the 1954 consortium; see Elm 1992; Gasiorowski and Byrne 2004; Heiss 1997). The US response to its position of full Middle Eastern dominance has determined the trajectory of great power imperial rivalry to this day in three interrelated and important ways. First, the United States chose to further ratify the post–World War II economic recovery of Europe and Asia on the basis of petrochemicals, particularly from the input of Middle Eastern oil supplies (in industrial production, transportation, agriculture, etc.). Second, the United States chose to exercise its imperium in a corporatistdelegated fashion to its major IOCs to such significant degree that formal criminal procedures against the US IOCs’ global cartel were delimited to only a civil case on domestic marketing aspects in January 1953. The companies shrewdly bargained for this immunity from US law and principles in 1953–1954, and were rewarded with the presidential determination that “American oil operations are, for all practical purposes, instruments of our foreign policy toward these countries” (US Senate 1975: 65–66). Finally, in response to domestic pressure and major IOC indifference, President Eisenhower chose to shield the US domestic market from imported oil from the Middle East, further reinforcing the provision of Middle East oil to Europe and Asia in service of a narrow domestic calculation. Oil coming out of the Middle East would be priced in dollars and flow to US subordinated allies in Europe and Asia while US oil demand would be met by the inordinate production of domestic US oil reserves in deference to independent oil producers and their allies in Congress and the executive branch (US Senate 1975: part 8, 560). The strategic consequence of these choices was to drain US oil reserves more rapidly than otherwise, hastening the day when the United States would have to import more of its own domestic oil needs from the Middle East and use greater military force there to govern its imperium over oil import–dependent states in Asia and Europe. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Iraq led the challenge to the US system and its IOC representatives in the region, causing great alarm in the United

234

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

States and encouraging Washington to assist the Shah and sometimes internal Iraqi opponents such as the Kurds, as in 1972–1975 (Lando 2007; Pelletiere 2004a). Under General Qasim (1958–1963) Iraq reestablished ties with the Soviet Union, withdrew from the pro-Western Baghdad Pact, and sought to challenge the exclusive rights of the US, British, Dutch, and French companies and countries to develop Iraqi oil as haltingly as they had done since the 1920s. Iraq then became the center of the nationalization dramas of the 1970s. Secure in their production from Iran and Saudi Arabia, the IOCs running the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) had been negotiating for over a decade with Iraq to rescind its creeping nationalization efforts to little avail. In early 1972, the companies dropped Iraqi output from 1.2 million barrels per day (mbd) in February to only 720,000 barrels in April, prompting the final showdown with the Iraqi state. Iraq nationalized the IPC’s assets in June 1972, and they were supported in their effort by a French pledge to purchase Iraqi output and not participate in any blockade on the order of that which Iran had faced in the early 1950s (Styan 2006; US Senate 1975: part 8, 507–508). Weakened by Vietnam, the United States acquiesced to Iraq’s nationalization, helping to convince the Saudi-led Arab members of OPEC to act upon their long dormant “oil weapon” with the October 1973 oil embargo against the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands and their IOCs. During the crisis, France prodded other European countries to join in a European Community–Arab direct dialogue with the express intent of forming a more independent European role in international affairs (Hellema, Wiebes, and Witte 2004). The United States vigorously resisted this effort, and with Dutch support, among others, the effort was squelched and transformed into the more banal establishment of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) in 1974. The United States pursued vigorous bilateral deals with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait to recapture the wealth transferred to these states with the run-up in oil prices, and undermined the multilateral cooperative desires of many Europeans (Bronson 2006; Spiro 1999; Stork 1980). Saudi and Iranian oil was sold predominantly in US dollars to importers other than the United States, and the United States recaptured most of these increased dollar expenditures with the sales of ordinary goods, weapons, and large-scale infrastructure and engineering services. Hence, the United States consolidated its power over Europe and Japan, despite the dollar’s decline in value and the rise in the price of oil resulting from the termination of the dollar-gold monetary system in August 1971. As expected by historical materialism and realism, shifting dimensions of hegemonic power merely gave rise to US innovations in maintaining others’ dependency and enriching US elites connected to the state and its militarized oil complex (Spiro 1999: 31, 109–121). The 1970s burdens of adjustment to the post–Bretton Woods oil, trade, and currency arrangements

Historical Materialism

235

were borne disproportionately by others, as US hegemony shifted more to finance and control of the downstream elements of the oil value chain (e.g., major IOCs’ dominance of transport, refining, and marketing (Fesharaki and Isaak 1983). It is no accident that even today, the Middle East accounts for 31 percent of global oil production, but only 8.6 percent of refining capacity (British Petroleum 2009). Nonetheless, the perception of US military decline, coupled with Soviet ascendancy and the Iranian revolution, caused the United States to make its military capabilities and intentions to control the Middle East more overt (Lesch 2001; Palmer 1992). President Carter formally enunciated US policy amidst these challenges and stated it in its most benign, defensive formulation, which persists to this day. In January 1980 he proclaimed, The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two-thirds of the world’s exportable oil. The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Straits of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world’s oil must flow. The Soviet Union is now attempting to consolidate a strategic position, therefore, that poses a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil. . . . Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force. (Carter 1980)

■ Militarization of the US Oil Imperium: Keeping Arabs and Persians Down and Europeans and Asians Out The Carter Doctrine made public what had been implicit since FDR’s time: the United States was the military guarantor of Middle East oil and the Western capitalist order it underpinned. The increasing use of US military force in the Middle East after the Iranian revolution and the start of the Iran-Iraq War in September 1980 served three objectives most consistent with a historical materialist interpretation. First, US power and resolve would reassure Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that they would not be abandoned as the Shah had been. Therefore, their fleeting efforts in the early and middle 1980s at military diversification away from the United States and for oil autonomy from the rise of New York and London marketbased pricing with the attendant non-OPEC suppliers to them were unnecessary (Parra 2004; Safran 1985). The official designation of the US central command in 1983 formalized President Carter’s creation of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force in 1977. Its primary purpose was to project military power into the Gulf region in service of dissuading challenges to US hegemony (Palmer 1992). Second, a more robust US military presence in

236

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

the Gulf provided an opportunity to further bind European and Japanese allies into supporting roles, defending the United States’ hub position vis-à-vis these dependent allied spokes. This US effort presented a united position against Iran on behalf of the Arab states during the 1980s and terminated the Kuwaiti dalliance with the Soviet Union. Finally, overt use of US force against Iran during the antishipping campaigns of the Iran-Iraq War (also known as the Tanker War) provided the strategic context for the acquiescence of Saudi Arabia and OPEC to market prices for marker crudes based on the price of British Brent crude oil on London’s International Petroleum Exchange and West Texas Intermediate crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In early pursuit of a “dual containment” logic vis-à-vis Iran and Iraq, the United States straddled and assisted both sides during the Iran-Iraq War as they depleted each other (Jentleson 1994; Lando 2007), and waited until Saudi Arabia was squeezed back into supporting the US role over the Middle East strategic environment and world oil market (e.g., bringing OPEC oil exports/world exports down from 80 percent in the 1960s to 30 percent in 1985). By the late 1980s, this effort was successful in managing Saudi Arabia’s arrival as the dominant swing producer albeit as a deferential market supporter in the US-led system. As ever, the artificial distinction between the economics of the oil system and the political-military dominance of the United States in the region leaves an inadequate explanation of the US role that determines both. The incoming George H. W. Bush administration’s efforts to engage Saddam Hussein’s regime with a more cooperative policy could not compensate for the economic pressure the regime faced after the end of the Iran-Iraq War (Bin, Hill, and Jones 1998: 10). When this revenue pressure was coupled with Gulf states’ recalcitrance in renegotiating the massive Iraqi war debts ($40 billion to Gulf neighbors and another $46 billion to other foreign governments), Saddam Hussein exclaimed in the summer of 1990, “war is also conducted by economic means . . . we have reached a point where we can no longer withstand pressure” (quoted in Bin, Hill, and Jones 1998: 11). The US policy of waffling appeasement prior to the Kuwait invasion was shortly followed by the first direct insertion of largescale US military power on Gulf territory (Gordon and Trainor 1995). By accepting large numbers of US soldiers on their soil (Gause 1996; Klare 2004), Saudi Arabia became the de facto staging ground for evicting Iraqi forces from Kuwait and for the policy of dual containment against Iraq and Iran up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Like the Gulf War (1990–1991), this policy served a number of interlocking US objectives. First, it demonstrated US military preeminence to all other nations while binding the Saudis more closely to the US camp as oil producers, suppliers to the US military, and of course, large-scale US weapons purchasers (Gause 1997; Klare 2004). Second, by leaving Iraq intact and utilizing the UN to

Historical Materialism

237

legitimate the war in 1990, the United States retained a set of multilateral sanctions upon both Iran and Iraq that kept the Gulf states satisfied with their increased oil wealth while also assisting in the marginalization of European and Asian suitors to these rogue states’ oil (e.g., Japan’s subordinate role as financier to the US military in the war). Finally, the direct military position facilitated US pursuit of diversification with West African and Caucasus oil producers. Perhaps under an illusion that the Saudis would remain in the US camp forever with Iran and Iraq boxed in, the United States openly sought to moderate current and future power of these Middle Eastern states in the oil world through deals with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, among others. For the first time in its history in the Middle East, the United States was now operating a direct military hegemony over the region while also pursuing the short-term goal of limiting OPEC and Saudi power in the world oil markets. The inherent tensions in such a straddle position would become increasingly manifest in the years leading up to 9/11. Dual Containment and the Unraveling of Saudi-Based US Hegemony in the Gulf The strategy of dual containment, formalized by Martin Indyk in the Clinton administration, served as the basis for reestablishing US primacy in the Gulf and accommodating ever more US and global oil consumption (Pelletiere 2004a: 119–120). Accommodating US demand for moderately priced oil was important because the United States pursued no effective improvements in oil efficiency between 1985 and 2007; instead it openly expanded into the former Soviet sphere for oil and gas deals (Bahgat 2003; Heslin 1997; Kolbert 2003; LeVine 2007). Weakened imperial powers invite expansion into their former spheres of influence, and the United States and Britain certainly fulfilled this expectation. The neoliberal logic that drove this post–Cold War expansion into the Caucasus also conditioned the domestic US environment and helps explain the massive wave of mergers in the US oil industry, which saw the reuniting of many of the major Standard Oil divisions broken up in 1911 (e.g., ExxonMobil merger in 1998). Capital concentration in the US oil industry in the 1990s countered the market power of NOCs as US IOCs needed scale to control the post–Cold War order and the newly privatizing fields in the Caspian basin (Marcel 2006; Victor 2007). The seeds of more intense great power rivalry over the Middle East– Caucasus region were sown with the successful formation of the British Petroleum–led Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) consortium and the overt desire to increase US power over the region (Malone 2006: 158–161; Styan 2006: 185–187). Sheila Heslin, former director of the NSC’s Caucasus region, announced the expansion of the Carter Doctrine to the Caucasus tersely: “The United States simply cannot afford to allow Russia and Iran to dominate the

238

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

energy resources of the Caspian, with the enormous political leverage that would confer in the region and even in Europe.” She concluded that a BTC pipeline under Anglo-American management was the “linchpin in the evolving balance of power in Eurasia, Asia and the Middle East” (Heslin 1997). As the United States exercised its authority over the Caspian, France, Russia, and China began to oppose the UN sanctions regime against Iraq. This increasingly open rivalry with the United States accelerated in the aftermath of the NATO-led war against Serbia in spring 1999. By December 1999, UNSC Resolution 1284 carried only US and British support for the reconstituted UN inspections effort as France, Russia, and China rejected Anglo-American overtures for support (Malone 2006: 119). Great power rivalry over Iraq’s oil intensified throughout the period 1999–2001, and was only eclipsed in importance by the US-Saudi tensions during the last years of the Clinton administration (Alkadiri and Mohamedi 2003; Bronson 2006). These arose from a large number of factors, including terrorist attacks inside Saudi Arabia and disputes over US investigation rights and interrogation of suspects; US support for the record low price of oil in 1998, its maintenance with new Caspian oil to the West, and the subsequent efforts of the Saudis, Venezuelans, and others to build the price back up after the March 1999 OPEC meeting; perceived Saudi slights in the US effort at an Israeli-Palestinian accord in summer 2000 (not unlike Saudi peevishness after the Camp David Accords of 1978); and finally, the then record run-up in the price of oil in the United States from approximately $23/barrel in January to $35/barrel in September 2000. This last item of contention was occasioned by several statements from Energy Secretary Bill Richardson about the “unacceptably high” price of oil and the Saudi responsibility to “bring stability” to the world oil markets (Marquis 2000). By the end of 2000, the Saudis and the other Gulf states were unhappy with the status quo in the Middle East, and the Iraqis had successfully managed a 600-million-euro repricing scheme in one of its UN escrow accounts after suspending oil exports in early December 2000 (see Recknagel 2000; Roston 2004; UN Security Council 2000b). More importantly, Iraq expanded oil rights and trade dealings with France, Russia, and China, all in an effort to defy US influence (Alkadiri 2001; Duffield 2005; Katz 2003; Morgan and Ottaway 2002; Vesely 2002). The April 2001 joint report by the US oil and power cognoscenti collected under the aegis of the Baker Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations put these trends in the more classical language of the United States’ selfless grand bargain with the region: Recently things have changed. These Gulf allies are finding their domestic and foreign policy interests increasingly at odds with U.S. strategic considerations.

Historical Materialism

239

. . . They have become less inclined to lower prices in exchange for security of markets, and evidence suggests that investment is not being made in a timely enough manner to increase production capacity in line with growing global needs. (Baker Report 2001: 13, emphasis added)

The compelling structural logic of “peak oil” was well recognized by future Bush administration officials, including Dick Cheney, who covered all of these topics in a November 1999 address to the Institute of Petroleum in London, noting, Producing oil is obviously a self-depleting activity. Every year you’ve got to find and develop reserves equal to your output just to stand still, just to stay even. This is true for companies as well in the broader economic sense as it is for the world . . . while many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies. . . . A fundamental challenge for companies is to do more than replace reserves and production. The trick obviously is also to replace earnings. For most companies the majority of their profits come from core areas, that is areas where they have significant investments, economies of scale and large license areas locked up, but many of these core areas are now mature and it can be difficult to replace the earnings from the high margin barrels there. Some of the oil being developed in new areas is obviously very high cost and low margin. (Cheney 1999)

Where might an entrepreneurial-minded public official with “executive ability” help these struggling oil companies find low-cost, high-margin oil that has been underproduced for a generation? The Bush administration saw the Iraqi situation as a perilous one and focused on it intently from the first cabinet meeting forward (Suskind 2004a). In his first press conference President Bush noted, “one of the areas we’ve been spending a lot of time on is the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.” In response to questions about the mid-February series of air strikes against Iraqi targets near Baghdad and outside of the no-fly zones, President Bush said his “decision” to take “action” had a “twofold mission” of sending a “clear message that this administration will remain engaged in that part of the world” and “degrade his [Hussein’s] capacity to harm our pilots” (Bush 2001b). The president also mentioned the “troubling” Chinese presence in Iraq, and this was followed by several news articles on Chinese assistance to Iraq’s air defense network in violation of UN sanctions (Gershman 2001; Motz and Richie 2001; Prados and Katzman 2002). Because of the alleged military assistance to Iraq coupled with the slipping sanctions regime, the Bush team sought to transform Iraq into an oasis of US values and influence in the region, and more importantly, to reverse Iraq’s increasingly successful efforts at moving away from the US orbit via dealings with France, Russia, and China. From these first uses of force against Iraq through Vice President Cheney’s National Energy Policy Development Group report in

240

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

May 2001, the US focus on Iraq as an obstacle to expanding US power over the Middle East and checking rival great power suitors appears obvious, and confirms historical materialism and realism’s causal emphasis on great power imperial rivalry (Judicial Watch 2003; Suskind 2004a: 96). The attacks of 9/11 were the catalyst for the Bush administration’s more grandiose vision of US imperial power projection. Immediately after these traumatic and devastating attacks, President Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz pushed for a link to Iraq, and raised the question of attacking Iraq in the “first phase” of the “war on terror” (Clarke 2004; Gordon and Trainor 2006; Woodward 2004). President Bush ruled out Iraq in Phase I, noting instead “we will get this guy [Hussein] but at a time and place of our choosing” (Gordon and Trainor 2006: 17). By late November 2001, Rumsfeld had ordered central command’s General Tommy Franks to draft a war plan for Iraq—Phase II in the “long war.” Over the next few months the Pentagon was busy assembling the “evidence” to justify the invasion of Iraq (Goodman 2006; Risen 2006) and commissioning reports that spoke to the great power rivalries that were playing in the region to US detriment (e.g., Gracia Group 2002). For the “product rollout” public relations campaign, Vice President Cheney gave his notorious speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars on 26 August 2002. He sold the war to the American people by making the specious conjunctive link among WMD, terrorism, and Iraq, despite the deep oil-based material incentive for the war. Nonetheless, he did also offer the classic defensive oil motivation in this speech: “armed with an arsenal of these weapons and a seat atop 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world’s energy supplies” (Cheney 2002). The United States would defend the Gulf’s free flow of oil as an altruistic international public goods provider, but as with the Iranian coup fifty years prior, the violent overthrow of Iraq was required to maintain the United States’ oil-based hegemonic system. The Political Economy of War and Occupation The attempt to restore US hegemony in the Middle East thus implied three interrelated immediate war aims. First, on an instrumental level, the Iraq War might help international oil companies regain lost position vis-à-vis national oil companies by gaining control of Iraqi oil reserves that they could develop and book as “proved reserves,” thereby improving their earnings and stock values. This would help several companies in the near term (e.g., Royal Dutch Shell with its massive restatement of oil reserves in early 2004) and also provide leverage against OPEC with Iraqi output ungoverned by quotas and under a US-friendly regime. The January 2003 Baker Report,

Historical Materialism

241

for example, advised an “international consortium” to expand Iraq’s oil sector (reprising the 1954 Iranian consortium), but held that all oil-related endeavors by the occupying forces “must be clearly and credibly presented as actions taken to protect the country’s wealth on behalf of all segments of the Iraqi population . . . in conjunction with Iraqi nationals and with international cover, and designed only to protect the resources of the Iraqi nation” (Djerejian et al. 2003: 18). The subtlety of managing this message seems to have been lost on US occupation officials. Indeed, contrary to the contention that no US oil companies wanted the war or coveted Iraq’s oil reserves, Chevron’s chief executive officer (CEO) Kenneth Derr did make such a statement in 1998, while in February 2003 the CEO of Conoco-Phillips, Archie Dunham, said, “we know where the best reserves are (and) we covet the opportunity to get those some day” (Hoyos 2003; Renner 2003; Muttitt 2011). Even France was willing to join the US-led invasion of Iraq, offering in mid-December 2002 to contribute 15,000 troops and the service of the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle if its preferences for UN authority and honoring its prior Iraqi dealings were granted (Malone 2006; Styan 2006). The second aim was to sever all prior oil contracts between the Iraqi regime and rival great powers. By forcing France, Russia, and China to rely on US goodwill for the reaffirmation of their oil dealings with Iraq, the United States might gain significant leverage and thereby elicit reluctant acquiescence to the war and the subsequent UN return to postwar Iraq. The aggressive unilateralism of the United States in this regard was starkly revealed on 21 November 2003, when David Nash, director of the program management office for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), declared in London that “non-coalition countries will not be eligible for the prime contracts” (MEED 2003; Newnham 2008). The fact that these tactics, both before the war and in the early aftermath, led to dissension among Western Europeans and with the United States’ “new Europe” coalition allies, only satisfied Cheney and Rumsfeld and their selected Iraqi occupation administrators all the more (Chandrasekaran 2007; C. Smith 2003). The final and most important objective was to rebase the US military in the Middle East, as extensive use of Saudi Arabia was no longer sustainable after 9/11 (Gause 2003; Posch 2006). Secretary Rumsfeld declared in late April 2003 that because US action against Iraq had made the region safer, US air forces and combat personnel could leave Saudi Arabia, which they did fully by the end of September 2003, allowing Iraq and the lesser Gulf states (e.g., Qatar) to bear this increased and now “enduring” US military presence. Finally, it has become commonplace to argue that the Iraq War represented a failure on the part of the United States. Such an assessment is, to be sure, understandable in view of the great harm done to the Iraqi people (and US and coalition soldiers), the subsequent violence and economic dislocation

242

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

in Iraq, the absence of stable democracy, and the massive costs to the US Treasury. However, US and coalition forces attacked Iraq not to promote humanitarian goals but rather to extend US control over Iraqi and Middle Eastern resources. Indeed, a truly democratic and autonomous Iraqi government would be antithetical to US war aims because such a government would seek to use Iraq’s resources for the benefit of its people. Judged by these criteria, the US war aims have been largely fulfilled. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, French, Russian, and Chinese oil companies were challenging an increasingly shaky sanctions regime in Iraq while US military forces were being pushed out of Saudi Arabia. As a result of the war, the United States was on its way to establishing effective political and military control over Iraq, and Anglo-American IOCs regained controlling positions in the Iraqi oil and gas fields (Gilpin 2005). De-Baathification, involving the wholesale dismissal of state employees and complete demobilization of the Iraqi army, served economic as well as political purposes. The purge of the Baath administrative cadre shattered the Iraqi state, thereby paving the way for shock therapeutic privatization and structural adjustment. As subsequent events showed, these were necessary but ultimately not sufficient conditions for the transfer of control from the Iraqi government to the IOCs of the United States and its privileged allies and subordinated adversaries. The transition plan was itself contracted out by the CPA to a private consultancy, Bearing Point, and described by James McPherson, the US director of economic development for the CPA, in the following terms: A foundation for a revolutionized economy is being put in place in Iraq. This new economy will challenge the economic policies and politics of the whole region. . . . A new law allows for foreign investment up to 100% of foreign ownership, full repatriation of investment and profits, national treatment, and no screening committee. (McPherson 2003)

In December 2003, Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz sought to complete the exclusionary hegemonic project—and reached the high point of the Bush administration’s hubris—by formally announcing that all contracts would be granted only to coalition partners. But the neoliberal project proved devastating to the Iraqi economy and society. As Iraq imploded, Iraqis fell back on sectarian ties. By 2005, Iraqi agriculture was in disarray, the majority of factories were shuttered, the unemployment rate soared beyond 50 percent, and the Sunni insurgency was fully mobilized (N. Klein 2008; Schwartz 2008: esp. chap. 2). Amid the ensuing carnage, plans for an orderly transfer of power to a projected compliant state were abandoned as a fragmented Shiite movement, one part of which was supported by Iran, rejected client status and oil workers conducted strikes and carried out systematic sabotage of oil pipelines. By 2006,

Historical Materialism

243

US authorities began to retreat from neoliberal shock therapy, and plans for the overt privatization of oil were formally abandoned. In 2008, an ascendant Nouri al-Maliki, emboldened by a “surge” that saw large-scale ethnic cleansing, consolidated what Transparency International has called the fifth most corrupt government in the world and compelled the United States to agree to a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) stipulating a complete withdrawal by 31 December 2011. Yet, while the United States was unable to establish an entirely peaceful or stable regime, nevertheless by crushing the Baathist movement and manipulating sectarian loyalties it prevented the emergence of a national resistance and thereby established itself as the principal external power in Iraq. Whereas the Saddam Hussein–era Iraqi air force was made up of French Mirages and Russian Migs, most of which were destroyed in the Gulf War, Iraq has reconstituted its naval and air forces primarily in conjunction with Britain and the United States, starting with the purchase of ninety-six F-16 fighters and including joint Anglo-Iraqi maritime patrols (Defense Industry Daily 2011; Lando 2009). While the United States completed its troop withdrawals in 2011, large numbers of security contractors remain and the relationship between US military power and oil is especially striking in the Basra area, where there is close coordination between US military forces and IOCs. As Ben Lando has noted, “The American mission in Basra, Iraq’s oil capital, is perhaps unlike that of any US outpost in the world: to ensure the world’s largest oil companies have as few problems as possible as they start work on Iraqi oil contracts that could see the country become the largest producer ever” (Lando 2010: 1). In addition to Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan host US and NATO forces on their territory. All of the Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain) have concluded military partnership agreements with the United States. Prior to the invasion, the rapid postwar expansion of Iraqi oil output was deemed crucial for a variety of commercial, political, and budgetary reasons. But as the insurgency gained steam and the original plans to privatize oil were abandoned, it became clear that prewar projections concerning oil output were wildly optimistic. In 2008 and 2009, attention turned to long-term oil “service” contracts. As a result of the auctions during 2009, and ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, and Royal Dutch Shell’s gains since then, it is possible to make a preliminary assessment of the future of Iraqi oil and therefore to gauge the extent to which the United States has been able to consolidate its power in Iraq. Notwithstanding numerous problems, including limited direct US influence over al-Maliki and potential successors and a continuing political stalemate, the US, British, and Dutch companies gained the lion’s share of Iraq’s oil and natural gas in the initial auctions and subsequent deals. In November 2009, ExxonMobil won the contract for the second-largest and highly lucrative West Qurna I producing

244

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

field, with an 80 percent stake in the project (20 percent to Shell). In October 2011, ExxonMobil became the first major IOC to sign oil deals with the Kurdish Regional Government, which ensure Exxon’s pivotal role in Iraq’s energy future. Shell (along with Petronas) won the bid for the large Majnoon oil field, and in late 2011 Shell won control of Iraq’s entire natural gas output covering the major fields of southern Iraq (Lando and Van Huevelen 2011; Smith and Lando 2011). In June 2009, the largest oil and gas field, Rumaila, was awarded to a joint venture between British Petroleum (BP) and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). BP received the majority (50.66 percent) stake in this field and it remains to be seen if China’s minority status will translate into greater influence in Iraq (MEES 2009). Russia’s Lukoil and Norway’s Statoil won the bid for the West Qurna II greenfield, but the future of this entirely undeveloped field will be determined predominantly by ExxonMobil’s lead role over the whole West Qurna site. At the same time, gas from Iraqi Kurdistan will likely play a key role in the development of the US-supported Nabucco pipeline that is being constructed to reduce European dependence on Russian natural gas supplies (Cutler 2010). While US primacy has thus to some extent established an “open door” regime with respect to Iraqi oil, Anglo-American-Dutch IOCs are playing the lead role within this regime, and the most important former Anglo-American state officials work for these major IOCs (Cafruny and Lehmann 2012; Van Heuvelen 2013). In this, US policy toward Iraq is remarkably similar to that of Britain between the world wars.

■ Conclusion Both historical materialism and realism throw a spotlight on imperial rivalry as the central cause of war. They do not, however, assert that the 2003 Iraq War—or indeed the phenomenon of war in general—can be explained reductively in terms of economic interests, narrowly conceived. Some realists have alternatively highlighted Saddam Hussein’s reputed arsenal of WMD or the supposed threat to regional stability that his regime represented.2 Liberal institutionalists and constructivists have asserted that the war was fought to restore UN authority and human rights to ordinary Iraqi citizens, especially the aggrieved Kurds and Shiites (Bourgos 2008; Flibbert 2006; Hitchens 2005; Monten 2005). One thing proponents of these different theories agree on is the relatively unimportant role played by US material interests in oil as opposed to the putative disinterested provision of public goods in the form of “open door” access to the region’s resources (Ignatieff 2004, 2003; Layne 2006; Mearsheimer and Walt 2007). For example, these scholars contend that if it had been about oil the United States should have merely “cozied” back up to Hussein’s regime, as the oil companies

Historical Materialism

245

allegedly requested or, odder still, invaded Saudi Arabia (Mearsheimer and Walt 2007: 254; Ignatieff 2004: 14). Having dismissed the causal significance of systemic and material factors, Mearsheimer and Walt have themselves abandoned structural realism, instead concluding that the Israeli lobby propelled the United States to war (Mearsheimer and Walt 2009: 71– 72; 2007: 230). Worse still, too many scholars portray US strategic interest in Middle Eastern oil in terms of concern for stability of oil markets and domestic US consumption (Duffield 2011; Gholz and Press 2010). In contrast, we have shown in this chapter that “pure military,” oil market, and ideological factors cannot, in themselves, provide a comprehensive and satisfactory explanation for the 2003 Iraq War. These precipitating factors operate within the context of a broader imperialist rivalry that has been a permanent feature of US and British policy toward the energy-rich Middle East and that has always transcended the politics of personality, party, or domestic faction. If the Iraq War has served to buttress the US position with respect to subordinate European powers, the US-China rivalry is deepening. As the United States’ relative economic power wanes, the militarization of foreign policy toward Central Asia, the Gulf, and Africa—the key areas of Sino-US competition for oil and other natural resources—will increase. The United States will not retrench from this overly militarized and oily US imperium, and objective materialist analysis reveals far more about it than does any other theoretical alternative.

■ Notes 1. Richard Funkhouser, petroleum adviser to Assistant Secretary of State George McGhee, US Department of State, captured the basic calculation of US power in the region: “Use of Middle East oil conserves Western Hemisphere resources which are vital to the Allied Nations in an emergency. The military draws heavily on Middle East oil for its world-wide requirements. Middle East oil provides commercial American firms and American investors with profitable enterprise, U.S. companies owning approximately 45 percent of Middle East production. Control of this source of energy, important in peace and war, is a desirable goal in itself” (US Senate 1974: part 7, 125). 2. See Baker Report 2001, Haass 2009, Kissinger 2002, and K. Pollack 2002. Although many academic realists opposed the Iraq invasion, “realist” policymakers (such as Haass, Scowcroft, Baker, and Powell) merely debated the optimal diplomatic cover for the invasion. Secretary of State Powell told the president “you own it” and presented the UNSC with a detailed inventory of Iraqi WMD. See, inter alia, the ad run by international security scholars in the New York Times in 2002. On Powell, see Woodward (2004: 150–151).

7.3 World System Theory: Status Decline and Collision Course Annette Freyberg-Inan My core claim in this chapter is that by the time the United States and Iraq finally met head-on in the 1991 Gulf War and then the 2003 Iraq War, they had actually been on a collision course for decades. It takes the extended time horizon of WST to be able to plot this collision course. WST looks at the longue durée—an expression used by the French Annales School of historiography to describe an approach to the study of history that gives priority to long-term historical structures over a narrow focus on singular events. That is why in this chapter I go rather far back in history to understand the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and its results. World system theorists would not try to explain the Iraq War by looking only at the foreign policy decisions that immediately preceded it. They would also not try to explain any war by focusing only on one side in the confrontation. WST brings into focus the intrinsic interconnectedness of the decisions made on both sides in their historical contexts. Inspired by Marxism, it takes into account the asymmetric interdependencies in which both sides of the conflict and relevant third parties are embedded and, in capturing such interdependencies, a focus on economic power, relations, and development is essential. The collision course that led to the wars in the Gulf is difficult to plot not only because it extends over a long period of time, but also because US and Iraqi behaviors in different parts of the globe are relevant to these wars. A truly globally minded approach to international politics, like world system theory, is able to capture how the ambitions of a middling power in the Middle East came to provoke a drastic response by a faraway superpower. The systemic focus of WST draws attention to the connections between seemingly separate events and processes, such as—in this case—the US struggle to maintain global hegemony and Iraq’s struggle for semiperipheral consolidation and regional status. The following analysis describes the political-economic historical dynamics of the regional subsystem of the Middle East and of the world system in which it is embedded. Only when these are viewed together, and in their interconnectedness, is the full story revealed. This story can be summarized as follows: In the Gulf War (1991), Iraq became an aggressor in Kuwait because Iraq’s regime was aiming to prevent further decline of its status in the world economy and in the regional subsystem of the Middle East. The US response to the Kuwait invasion was an attempt to preserve its systemic political-economic position. That is, the United States aimed to prevent a further loss of global hegemonic status as 246

World System Theory

247

well as a loss of control over the oil-rich Middle East subsystem. Such loss of control would have damaged not only its own economy but also the hegemon’s basis of consent among core powers. The story ends badly because both sides’ efforts were bound to fail. Iraq’s economy was a shambles before the invasion of Kuwait, and while recovery was still imaginable after the Gulf War, the Iraq War (2003) and its aftermath put to rest any remaining hopes that within the foreseeable future Iraq might return to pre-1980s levels of relative development and welfare. The United States was similarly unable to prevent further relative decline, as it could not fully claim success in Iraq and moreover has faced increased challenges and overstretch as a result of its 2003 invasion of Iraq. Tragically, prolonged military conflict resulted in this case not from differences of foreign policy orientation or strategy between the two parties but from their very similarity. Both countries essentially made the same move for the same reason. They invaded another country to slow their own loss of relative political-economic power. As Cynthia Siemsen (1995: 39) puts it succinctly, “The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent American-led attack on Iraq” were “like sets of power plays initiated by two declining powers—one regional, the other the global hegemon.” Both miscalculated and eventually failed. In this chapter I describe their status decline and collision course. I start by taking a look at how Iraq has evolved politically and economically, especially since its independence from British colonial rule. I then discuss how Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was motivated by its elites’ desire to avoid further erosion of previous gains toward semiperipheral status. In the third part of this chapter I turn to the United States. I explain the behavior of the United States as a global hegemon by looking at three different levels of analysis: the world system, the regional subsystem of the Middle East, and the domestic level of foreign policy decisionmaking inside the United States. By taking the last level on board I move outside the realm of WST proper, which does not usually focus on the domestic politics behind international events. However, to understand the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, a look at US domestic politics is needed to complete the picture. To understand why the hegemon acted in a way that might be seen as irrational and that further hastened its decline, world system theorists such as Immanuel Wallerstein have considered domestic-level factors as well. In the last part of the chapter, I compare the lessons learned from applying WST with those of historical materialism and structural realism, the two theories whose views of the case will seem most similar to the reader. Before starting, I should make an epistemological observation. Unlike some of the other approaches in this book, what makes the Iraq War interesting from a WST perspective is not what it is a case of but what it reveals about the underlying structures and processes that shape the contemporary

248

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

history of international politics. WST is less a theory in the positivist sense of the term than it is an analytical approach. That is why Wallerstein (2002a) himself calls it instead world system “analysis.” What he means by this is that WST is not a parsimonious account designed to develop propositions that can be tested on concrete cases. Instead, it is a Marxist-inspired approach to comprehending individual political decisions and events as embedded in historical contexts and relationships spanning the globe. Decisions are impossible to extricate or fully understand outside these historical contexts and relationships.

■ Iraq’s Path to the Invasion of Kuwait In an analysis published in 1995, sociologist Cynthia Siemsen laid out how Iraq had developed into and begun to move out of semiperipheral status in the span of just twenty-five years. Iraq had arguably attained semiperipheral status by the late 1970s, but that position was progressively lost in a process that also supported the consolidation of authoritarianism in the country. The growing threat of economic and political decline faced by the regime motivated an aggressive foreign policy. The economic costs of the war with Iran served to further weaken the regime’s domestic legitimacy. The invasion of Kuwait then brought the ultimate punishment of imposed regime change. I lay out this argument in more detail in the following pages. Iraq on the Way Toward Semiperipheral Status Iraq has been part of the world economy since the last phase of Ottoman rule in the second half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century. Its peripheral character, marked by a weak state and strong bourgeoisie, was consolidated under British colonization, which emphasized grain exports (Siemsen 1995). After World War II, Iraq took on a new role in the world economy as an important supplier of oil. Industrialization remained very limited, as it was not in the interest of either the dominant rural elite or the British (in particular the British-chartered Iraq Petroleum Company, IPC), which feared that industrialization might stimulate the nationalization of oil production. However, the shift from grain to oil progressively weakened the hold of the rural elite, and the military regimes of the period 1958–1968 made use of rents from oil to push for more independence from British interference and to strengthen the state apparatus. In 1959 Iraq withdrew from the Baghdad Pact, which had united Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Britain, and the United States since 1955–1958. This agreement had been forged by US pressure—and promises of military and economic aid—and was meant to help contain Soviet expansion. After withdrawing from the pact, Baghdad

World System Theory

249

opened diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and adopted a nonaligned stance. Between 1968 and 1980 Iraq then made a dash for semiperipheral status, initially through the nationalization of the IPC (in 1972) and by taking advantage of the extreme OPEC price increases after the October War of 1973. The influx of oil money drove government expansion; the period simultaneously saw the rise to power of Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party, which began operating as a state bourgeoisie. According to Wallerstein (1979: 71), two elements characterize semiperipheral countries: (1) a relatively balanced mix between core-type and periphery-type commodity exchanges involving “trade in both directions,” and (2) strong state involvement in the economy. As Siemsen (1995) points out, before its war with Iran, Iraq clearly met the second criterion, but presented a special case in regard to the first.1 In Iraq, as in other predominantly oil-exporting countries, “basically a no-wage commodity, oil, is exchanged for high-wage commodities from the core and low-wage commodities from the periphery” (Siemsen 1995: 25). This situation also shaped the strong state involvement in the economy exhibited in Iraq, making it an “allocation rentier state” (Luciani 1987) whose economic and political power are tightly interconnected. According to Steven Hurst, “the wealth produced by oil ‘rents’ results in the development of an atypical state which needs no tax base and thus no legitimation in the form of democracy. Instead, the rentier state supports society with its oil wealth and in doing so buys the acquiescence of society whilst maintaining its autonomy from it” (2009: 4). And, as he further observes, “violence and oil revenue thus became the twin pillars upon which Baathist rule rested” (2009: 13). As oil revenue would decline, violence—both inward- and outward-oriented—would increase in proportion. Attempting Semiperipheral Consolidation: Iraq Overreaching The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran led Western core powers to willingly prop up Iraq as a regional power to hold back Iran. This signaled to the Baathist power configuration, consisting of a strong state and closely affiliated elite, that the necessary permissive conditions were in place to attempt the war as a means to consolidate the country’s semiperipheral status. The leaders of the Baath Party had long resented the Iranian hegemony in the Gulf region and Iran’s perceived interference in Iraq’s internal affairs. They aimed to prevent Iranian assistance to the Shiite and Kurdish opponents of the Baathist regime and to install Iraq as the preeminent regional power. In September 1980 Iraq invaded Iran in an attempt to take advantage of revolutionary chaos. As the Baathists had expected, the attack on Iran was supported by both the Soviet Union, which feared the incursion of Islamic fundamentalism as

250

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

well as possible assistance from Iran to Afghanistan, and by the United States. The latter, as a hegemonic power dependent on core acquiescence, was concerned about the potential of an unfriendly Iran rising to regional dominance and threatening core power oil supplies. Moreover, other regimes in the Muslim world (notably Egypt) also supported Iraq, as they felt implicitly threatened by the Iranian revolution. However, while Iraq could count on a lack of international opposition to its bid for regional hegemony, the war was no success and ended up weakening the Iraqi state both economically and politically. Iraq had overreached. Oil revenues declined from 55 percent of GDP in 1979 to only 30 percent during the war (Siemsen 1995). Industrial as well as agricultural output declined due to labor shortages as a result of the massive increase in military personnel. Financial pressures also led to reductions in social expenditures, with negative effects for the regime’s popularity. The regime reacted by securing foreign loans, which weakened its international credit rating and thus its world-economic (as well as regional) position. Its military emerged strengthened, but while the “unity of political and military leaders served to bolster state strength . . . the rentier state dependent upon imported goods had been weakened by its inability to purchase” (Siemsen 1995: 36). Iraq had begun to turn to privatizations as a new source of income in 1983, a process that accelerated after the end of the war with Iran. Privatizations remained mostly limited to the agricultural sector and light manufacturing, however, and the economic crisis deepened after an OPEC quota on oil exports was raised in 1989. Foreign debt increased to $90 billion (Siemsen 1995). In the fall of 1989, the United States granted Iraq the socalled Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds, which were meant to guarantee that US firms would be paid if they sold wheat or other commodities to Iraq. While the money never left the United States, it enabled Iraq to obtain better terms from US suppliers than it would otherwise have received based on its poor credit rating. In spring 1990, however, after information had come to light about mismanagement of the funds and after Saddam Hussein had disappointed US hopes that he would soften his stance on Israel or put remilitarization on hold, the US government backed away from its earlier policy of “constructive engagement” with Iraq and cut off the CCC funds (Karabell and Zelikow 2007). Iraq responded to its declining position and the withdrawal of US support by making another even more ill-fated attempt at consolidating (or, by this time, rescuing) its semiperipheral status. It invaded Kuwait in August 1990. As a result of this war, oil rents and the state strength derived from them declined further, which led the regime to rely ever more strongly on repression at home. The trade sanctions imposed on Iraq after its attack on Kuwait led to skyrocketing inflation, which wiped out the Iraqi middle class. As early as 1992 Douglas Lummis wrote that Iraq “was bombed, and

World System Theory

251

is being embargoed, back into the Third World . . . into a position of economic and technological dependency” (1992: 41). Siemsen (1995) similarly observed that Iraq’s position in the world economy was slipping and semiperipheral status moving out of reach, not merely due to the decline in wealth, welfare, and independence, but due to a return to the prerevolutionary (i.e., colonial) state-class configuration that emerged even when Saddam Hussein still appeared firmly entrenched in power. Early indicators for such a reversal included the reemergence of a part of the pre-1958 elite in positions of power, attempts by the state to buy loyalty from tribal chiefs, and the invitation of foreign oil companies to develop Iraq’s oil fields (Siemsen 1995). Since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Baathist regime, the renewed salience of tribal power structures before the backdrop of extreme social tension has become obvious. But earlier, by the late 1990s, it was not yet clear whether Iraq was truly condemned to peripheral status, or whether those core powers that had found it useful in the past (Britain and the United States) would continue to keep it afloat. Iraq had taken step one: it had overreached. But it would take step two—US overkill—to settle the ruinous fate of Iraq and clearly expose the decline of US hegemony.

■ The US Path to Invading Iraq Bruce Cumings (1990) has proposed a version of WST that locates the driving forces of US foreign policy on three distinct levels: the world capitalist system (WCS), the specific regional subsystem, and the US domestic socioeconomic system. Factors operating on all three levels may combine to provide an explanation for any specific foreign policy decision taken. In his encompassing analysis of the relationship between the United States and Iraq since 1979, Steven Hurst (2009) employs Cumings’s framework to provide a complex account of the collision path followed by both sides. The following discussion draws on the research of Hurst (2009) and the framework proposed by Cumings (1990) in first focusing on the global imperatives of US hegemony, then zooming in on the dynamics of the regional subsystem of the Middle East (and the role of oil within it), and lastly taking a brief look at the relevant shifts in US domestic power structures. True to the WST perspective, the level of analysis of the world system is the most fundamental, and historical analysis over the longue durée is employed to comprehend singular events as resulting from much larger and more long-term trends. Regional-level dynamics are viewed as embedded in global structures and processes. The last level of analysis, the domestic one, is not usually understood as forming part of the WST analytical framework, but to understand the specific, single event of the US decision to invade Iraq in 2003, it has been added to the picture.

252

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

The World Capitalist System Level: The Trajectory of US Global Hegemonic Decline As Wallerstein (2007, 2003c, 2002b) argues, the United States has been a hegemon in decline since around 1970. Its 2003 invasion of Iraq merely “transformed the situation from one of slow decline into one of precipitous collapse” (Wallerstein 2007: 54). Indeed, while few shared Wallerstein’s views on US hegemonic decline before the Iraq War, his thesis has become more widely accepted since the war has quite clearly revealed the limits to US power projection. In other words, the failure to clearly win the Iraq War is just one more piece of evidence that the United States is losing, or has by now perhaps already lost, its hegemonic position in the world system.2 US hegemony in the post–World War II era had relied on an arrangement with the Soviet Union according to which the world was divided into two blocs whose boundaries would not be questioned, which would be “largely self-contained economically” (Wallerstein 2007: 55), and each would establish its own stable military alliance system. On both sides powerful ideologies supported the cohesion of and juxtaposition of the blocs (Wallerstein 2002b, 2003b, 2003c). Once both sides had acquired nuclear weapons, a “balance of terror” resulted that lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union.3 During the period from 1945 to around 1970, US hegemony in this bipolar system was basically complete, as the United States “was able to get 95 percent of what it wanted 95 percent of the time on all important questions” (Wallerstein 2007: 55). The US nation-state was so much the strongest, it had an economic capability so far ahead of anybody else in the world as of 1945, that it could undersell anyone in their own home markets. The United States had a military strength that was unparalleled. As a consequence, it had an ability to create formidable alliances. . . . At the same time the United States . . . became culturally the center of the world. (Wallerstein 2003a)

However, two simultaneous developments were already laying the foundations for hegemonic decline by the late 1960s. First, in Europe and Japan serious economic competition to the United States was emerging, supported by the United States’ own postwar development efforts and sped up by US losses in the Vietnam War. Second, drives for national liberation in the developing world were challenging the North-South relations that characterized the postwar era and its supporting ideology of developmentalism (Wallerstein 2003b, 2003c). These and other factors challenging US hegemony did not go unnoticed by US leadership, and “the key objective of all presidential regimes” from Nixon to Clinton, if they did not ignore it, “was to slow down the structural decline of US power and authority in the world system” (Wallerstein 2007: 56; 2002b, 2003c). This objective was pursued primarily through three strategies, which added up to an approach Wallerstein (2003a) likens to “the velvet glove

World System Theory

253

hiding the mailed fist.” First, the United States institutionalized partnerships with Western Europe and Japan (e.g., Group of 7, Trilateral Commission) that recognized their increasing economic strength while discouraging them from opposing US leadership and policy. This strategy can be judged largely successful, as “the Europeans and . . . Japanese strayed, but did not stray far” (Wallerstein 2007: 56). Second, the United States worked to contain nuclear proliferation, with partial success. The third strategy involved a multifront effort to consolidate US economic hegemony by employing the new ideology of neoliberalism and the so-called Washington Consensus, which has gained the United States and its allies significant relative economic advantages to this day (Bacevich 2002; Harvey 2003; N. Smith 2005).4 However, economic stagnation in the late 1960s and early 1970s had set in motion world-systemic processes that no amount of strategizing could overcome. “The world economy entered a long phase during which the rate of profit from productive activities declined, unemployment increased, and global polarization accelerated” (Wallerstein 2007: 57). Among the triad of the United States, Western Europe, and Japan competition sharpened, as they began “a process of exporting unemployment to one another” and a “shift from seeking profits from production to seeking them through financial speculation” (Wallerstein 2007: 57). Moreover, by making it ostensibly unaffordable, stagnation tolled the death knell for developmentalism as the ideology and set of policies that had supported the largely orderly decolonization processes of the 1960s. In its place came neoliberalism, an ideology that helped ensure “a greater flow of capital from the Third World to the North” (Wallerstein 2007: 57; Harvey 2003) but ultimately also greater resistance. This ideology was institutionally supported primarily by the IMF, which incorporated it in its responses to balance of payment difficulties in the South resulting from the economic decline, and by the WTO, which consolidated any steps toward neoliberalization by making them essentially irreversible. However, in the face of global economic decline, the challenges to the status quo and to US hegemony mounted. While US interventions could restore “order” in defenseless Grenada and Panama, attempts to control Leb anon and Somalia failed (Wallerstein 2002b, 2003c). Resistance increased in the developing world as well as in the global North to the ideologies (first developmentalism, later neoliberalism) that supported US hegemony, as it became obvious that their promises were largely false and they served imperialist purposes (Harvey 2003). The collapse of the Soviet Union and resulting loss of a strategic enemy made it more difficult to rally both the domestic population and allied states in support of US policy (Wallerstein 2007).5 Since then, in “the Balkans and in the Middle East alike, the United States has failed to exert its hegemonic clout effectively, not for want of will or effort but for want of real power” (Wallerstein 2002b: 65; 2003c).

254

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

The end of bipolarity and the enforcement of its status quo by both superpowers also helped create the permissive context for Saddam Hussein’s regime to invade Kuwait (e.g., Wallerstein 2003b). This invasion dramatically challenged the United States, especially as it implicitly threatened key US ally Saudi Arabia and through it the core’s affordable access to oil (Wallerstein 2007). I explore these dynamics further in the next section. The Regional Subsystem Level: The Relevance of the Middle East and Iraq for US Hegemony To explain the evolution of relations between the United States and Iraq, it is necessary not only to consider dynamics at the world-systemic level but also to focus in on the relevant subsystem. This requires us to turn back to history again, this time to the relevant regional dynamics since at least the 1970s. As Hurst points out, the role of the Middle East “as the world’s principal source of oil has produced a unique combination of dependency and impenetrability in its relations with the core states and the American hegemon” (2009: 3). While most Middle East oil states like Iraq are rentier states that depend on the income from oil exports for sustaining state power, their precious commodity has simultaneously allowed them to remain outside the purview of the hegemon’s drive for closer economic and cultural integration. As Hurst (2009: 4) points out, the failure to “move its hegemony in the region beyond the provision of security guarantees onto a more stable and consensual footing through deeper economic integration and the spread of hegemonic values . . . has had significant ramifications for the United States’ policies, not least in the frequent need to resort to coercion to maintain its dominant position.” In September 1978 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff laid out three priorities in the Middle East: protect Israel, safeguard access to oil, and prevent the establishment of regional hegemony by a hostile power or a hostile alliance (Palmer 1992). In the late 1990s the Strategic Plan of the US Central Command (cited in Hurst 2009: 8) would identify as primary interests in the region assuring the free flow of oil as well as of navigation and commercial access. As Hurst summarizes, “if the basic factor driving American foreign policy since 1945 has been the maintenance of the WSC [world capitalist system] and its own global hegemony, then the role of the Persian Gulf subsystem in that policy has been the provision of a reliable flow of oil” (2009: 8). The strategic importance of oil for the world economy rules out that its provision will be left up to market forces. Instead, governments actively strive to influence both access and prices. The hegemonic power, which relies on consent from other core powers and elites, is engaged in these efforts to secure access to affordable oil on behalf of them all. As Hurst (2009: 9) points out, it has by and large “succeeded in this objective

World System Theory

255

through a combination of deepened ties to the most important oil-producing state of Saudi Arabia, the control of production and marketing of Gulf oil by the major US oil companies, and US military predominance in the Middle East (albeit largely exercised through proxies)” (see also Bromley 1991; Randall 2005; Shaffer 1983; Yergin 1993).6 In the 1970s, after the nationalization of oil production in all major oilexporting states demanded an adaptation of US strategy, a “twin pillar” policy (Hurst 2009) emerged. Saudi Arabia became a vital ally; it operated as swing producer in OPEC to moderate the oil price in exchange for security guarantees and access to US markets. Iran, on the other hand, was propped up as a guarantor of regional security against Soviet influence as well as Arab radicalism. The twin pillar policy was rendered obsolete by the Iranian revolution in 1979, which turned Iran from a key regional US ally into a key threat. While Iraq bit off more than it could chew by going to war against Iran, the United States had come to depend upon the Iraqi regime to balance the Iranian threat. A US desire to cultivate an alliance with Iraq became fully obvious under the first Bush administration and its policy of “constructive engagement” with Iraq. Once again, however, Saddam Hussein’s regime overreached when deciding to invade Kuwait. “By thus making Iraq an imminent threat to America’s Gulf allies and regional hegemony . . . , Saddam ensured American military intervention and his decisive defeat” (Hurst 2009: 18). In the years that followed, US policy in the region was one of “dual containment” of both Iran and Iraq (Hurst 2009), while US regional hegemony continued to wane. Wallerstein (2007: 58) terms the initial US reaction to the invasion of Kuwait prudent, as it assembled a large coalition, in which, moreover, other states footed most of the bill. Still, while prudent, the effort was also at best partially successful: the United States was held “to a truce at the line of departure,” much as it had been in Korea (Wallerstein 2003b). Saddam Hussein’s regime remained defiant as a provocative symbol of the limits to US power.7 The punitive regime of sanctions, weapons controls, and “surgical strikes” that had been erected against Iraq progressively lost support and credibility. The suffering of the Iraqi population also increased anti-US sentiment, especially in the Arab world. Important here once again is that “the consensual dimension of American hegemony which had resulted from economic integration and the development of political pluralism in other parts of the globe did not apply in the Gulf, which remained relatively autonomous from the WCS and resistant to the spread of American culture and values” (Hurst 2009: 18–19). Iraq’s decision in 2000 to invoice its oil exports in euros rather than dollars was a further affront, especially as it risked imitation by Venezuela and Iran (Ali 2003). In this context, and likely not coincidentally, a fundamental shift

256

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

occurred in the power constellation of US domestic politics, a shift that would provide another vital push toward the collision of the United States and Iraq. The Domestic Level: Overkillers Coming to Power The third level at which, following Cumings (1990) and Hurst (2009), we might locate parts of the explanations for specific US foreign policy decisions in the case of Iraq, as in others, is the domestic level. In a recent article Wallerstein (2009) has also ventured beyond the focus on structural determinants that typify WST in an effort to explain the apparent puzzle that the United States would, since the end of World War II, repeatedly engage in military interventions it never wins. Imperialism is by itself not enough, he argues, to explain such apparently irrational behavior. To complete the explanation we must enter the realm of domestic politics and even culture. Wallerstein (2009) observes that the percentage of US citizens who are “principled anti-imperialists” is “insignificant.” The population is instead divided between the strongly interventionist and the isolationist, who are by no means antimilitary but are wary of getting involved in faraway locations. Public opinion thus leaves political leaders extremely unlikely to call for a reduction of military might on the whole. Instead, they engage in distinctions between “bad wars” and “good wars” to justify moving resources away from some and toward other military operations (Wallerstein 2009). This tactic could also be observed in the Obama administration’s shift of focus from 2008 onward from Iraq to Afghanistan and from there on to Pakistan. Republican administrations, although less encumbered by fears of being deemed too soft by the public, have of course been no less inclined to keep the military occupied (see also N. Smith 2005). While there is continuity observable in US foreign policy and its frequent resort to often self-defeating military action since World War II, we can also observe relevant change in the foreign policy outlook of US government. The “[neo]conservative ascendancy” that brought George W. Bush to the presidency is another important ingredient for explaining the invasion of Iraq (Hurst 2009).8 It represented the first time in postwar US history that the right wing of the Republican Party gained an advantage over the coalition between Democrats and liberal Republicans that had supported internationalism and containment policy against aggressive nationalism and “rollback” ambitions for so many decades (Cumings 1990). The resulting shift in US foreign policy orientation toward greater militarism and unilateralism contributed significantly to the invasion.9 Wallerstein as well has repeatedly (e.g., 2007, 2002b) pointed out how the coming to power of the George W. Bush administration and the 9/11 attacks simultaneously marked the end of prudence, the dramatic rise of the hawks, and the beginnings of (particularly) disastrous miscalculations in

World System Theory

257

US foreign policy. In setting out to realize their Project for the New American Century (or PNAC), Bush’s neoconservative advisers recognized US decline but, importantly, attributed it not to the structural forces driving the evolution of the world system, but rather to mismanagement of US hegemony under previous administrations (Arrighi 2007).10 They hoped that an invasion of Iraq would essentially kill four birds with one stone by demonstrating “[1] the military power of the United States, [2] the futility of political independence for Western Europe and Japan, [3] the danger for any rogue state to think of acquiring nuclear weapons, and [4] the urgency for moderate Arab regimes to accept Israeli terms for a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestine dispute” (Wallerstein 2007: 59).11 They succeeded on none of the four counts, while the state of Iraq ceased to exist, the country descended into sectarian warfare and armed resistance, and Iraqi citizens suffered for the follies of leaders both close by and far away.

■ A Futile War So what has this WST case study revealed? Analyzing the trajectories of Iraq and the United States in the decades leading up to the Iraq War using the tools of WST reveals a collision course. The trajectory of the state of Iraq is illustrative of the “perennial change” (Arrighi 1990) that characterizes the capitalist world order and especially its semiperipheral regions. Iraq’s engagement in the wars on Iran and later Kuwait is best explained, according to Siemsen (1995: 35), “as an attempt at semiperipheral consolidation in a permissive world context.” However, the world context turned out to be insufficiently permissive for the invasion of Kuwait, because that invasion coincided with an increased level of US anxiety regarding its hegemonic status and control of the strategic region of the Middle East, as well as a subsequent and fateful power shift in US domestic politics. The trajectory of the United States since the early 1970s is one of hegemonic decline. US policy toward Iraq has, since the Iranian revolution, been largely shaped by the importance of Gulf oil to the world economy and the resulting need to maintain its position as a regional hegemon and guarantor of the global oil supply (Hurst 2009). That position was challenged by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait (which can in turn be seen to have resulted from Iraq’s failed attempt to subjugate Iran). After Iraq had been put in its place by the Gulf War, Wallerstein (2002b: 65) asked, “US efforts . . . accomplished a truce at basically the same line of departure. But can a hegemonic power be satisfied with a tie in a war with a middling regional power?” The answer was no. As Hurst (2009: 19) argues, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 should be viewed as “an ambitious effort to reconstruct American hegemony.” In the fondest dreams of US policymakers, perhaps, “the successful creation of a market-democracy in Iraq was to serve as a

258

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

catalyst for the spread of democracy and free markets in the wider region. That, in turn, would lay the basis for the deeper integration of the Middle East into the WCS and the creation of conditions in which American regional hegemony could be rooted in consensus rather than coercion” (Hurst 2009: 19). Instead, the most important outcome of the war on Iraq at the level of the world system is that it exposed for all to see the limitations of US military power, which “turned out to be essentially unusable” (Wallerstein 2007: 59; 2002b). Attempting to rely on its technical military superiority, the US leadership failed to take into account that the war could only ever be won by employing a massive land army—a policy that is domestically unpalatable—and that military power is a useful tool for intimidation only if it is used with clear success. The lack of such success has more than embarrassed US leadership. It has gone a long way to complete the reduction of the United States to “the position of being one strong power in a multipower world” (Wallerstein 2007: 59), with a tendency toward yet further decline. It “confirmed the lessons of Vietnam, stripped away the veil of hegemony, generated animosity as the US tried to strong-arm others into providing support, increased US debt (raising the status of US creditors— Japan, China, and Taiwan), caused rifts with Europe, and stole US attention from other possible challenges” (Denemark 2009: 234; see also Arrighi 2007; Boswell 2004; N. Smith 2005).

■ What World System Theory Teaches Us Could Iraq or the United States have swerved off their collision course and avoided war? Surely. WST does not deny the role of agency or decisionmakers’ ability to make decisions contrary to expectations. It is not fully deterministic. But its expectations are clear. The Baathist regime and the United States were on a collision course. Why? Because of the structure of the world capitalist system and their respective positions in it. The capitalist nature and evolving structure of the system clearly favor some possible courses of action over others for each actor in it—in this sense the theory is structuralist. How possible courses of action by different actors connect is revealed by the systemic nature of the theory. There is one world capitalist system, in which, most importantly for this case, the United States plays the role of a declining hegemon and dominance over Iraq has been important for it to maintain that role. There are regional subsystems, like the Middle East, in which the ambitions of middling powers like Iraq create repercussions that threaten the interests of core powers that the hegemon must protect. Access to oil is key to those interests, but the story is not about oil. It could be about water, military bases, or any other resource that is crucial to maintaining the

World System Theory

259

status of core powers and their ability to continue to profit from their position in the WCS. In Chapter 7.2 in this volume, written from a historical materialist standpoint, Alan W. Cafruny and Timothy Lehmann emphasize the role of oil in motivating the US intervention and in shaping the nature of the occupation. They emphasize intra-core competition over oil and rivalry between great powers (imperialist rivalry). In contrast, in this chapter I have emphasized shared core interests in securing access to oil in the Middle East, which are tied up with the role of the United States as global hegemon. Appearing unable to secure such access on behalf of the core would seriously undermine US hegemony. The focus on imperialist rivalry also helps explain why Cafruny and Lehmann interpret the results of the war differently. They emphasize that even though the occupation of Iraq has not accomplished all of its goals, the United States has at least partially succeeded in reincorporating Iraq into a US-led petro-imperium. While that may be the case, WST would point out that that is not all that is required for maintaining hegemony. When we consider the requirements of US hegemony beyond intra-core competition over oil, we see that the war has overall hurt more than it has helped: by exposing the limits to US military power projection, by increasing global resistance to US hegemony and its supporting ideologies, and by antagonizing key allies. There are also many points at which the WST account I present in this chapter has resonated with neorealist arguments about the competitive quest for relative power that characterizes relations between states in an anarchic international structure. World system theorists have no problem acknowledging that states often vie for power, or that wars often emerge over hegemonic succession, be it at the systemic or subsystemic level. For WST, as for neorealism, the Iraq War narrowly framed is a case of a militarized struggle for dominance. But the two approaches differ quite dramatically when it comes to understanding what drives this struggle and what its stakes are. Structural realism has a short time-horizon and employs a narrow definition of power focused on military might. That leads it to perceive the war between the United States and Iraq essentially as a showdown between those two powers, which the United States must inevitably win (being the militarily much more powerful country).12 WST takes a world-systemic and long-term perspective, which allows it to see that this war is by no means the result of a direct conflict between the United States and Iraq. Instead the direct confrontations between the two states are the result of patterns of competition at the global and regional levels in which both states are engaged with other, third actors. The United States is, of course, not competing with Iraq over global hegemony; neither is Iraq competing with the United States over regional dominance or even semiperipheral consolidation. And yet the systemic dynamics in which they

260

Historical Materialism and World System Theory Approaches

are embedded bring them into conflict. Their respective competitions at the global and the regional levels, respectively, were what drove the struggle. Its stakes were, on the one side, the prevention of further hegemonic decline (perhaps even its reversal), and, on the other, the prevention of decline into peripheral status. In this WST analysis I conclude that neither party has succeeded. What will the future bring? The (temporary) penalization of the neoconservative foreign policy hawks in the United States is extremely unlikely to trigger any significant change in US foreign policy at either the subsystemic level in the Middle East or at the world-systemic level in its efforts to slow down hegemonic decline. However, within the foreseeable future it will become obvious that the hegemon’s business must innovate or file for bankruptcy. Wallerstein (1998) holds that the world economic system is no longer able to ensure the long-term prospects of capital accumulation, and that we have entered a period of chaos that heralds the end of capitalism. Since the global financial crisis broke in 2008, his predictions certainly seem less preposterous, although they remain particularly gloomy. Wallerstein (1998) warns that the capitalist world system might be replaced by an even less democratic and less egalitarian system and suggests that for blueprints of such a system we might turn to the hawks in the US foreign policy establishment. A potentially more optimistic note is struck by Christopher ChaseDunn. In a review essay on Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing (2007), Chase-Dunn (2010) points to Arrighi’s finding that, as it has moved from Dutch to British to US hegemony since the seventeenth century, the world system has exhibited an “evolutionary process in which each successive hegemon internalized ever more aspects of the whole process of global-socio-cultural reproduction and expands the size of the population that is incorporated into its development project.” According to ChaseDunn, “this analysis implies that a future increase in political globalization based on hegemony would require a hegemonic national state that is significantly larger than the US” (2010). While China might yet lay claim to such status, the United States may also well have been the last hegemonic nationstate. Future efforts to increase global integration and develop global governance would then have to rest on a stronger institutionalization of interstate relations in the form of a “condominium” of states or a “multilateral global state” (Chase-Dunn 2010; see also Gulick 2004). In the meantime, however, while the system is poised between all-out international competition and the consolidation of transnational governance, the war between the United States and Iraq that began in 2003 remains a war nobody won and an event that was unable to alter either state’s trajectory of decline. The foreign policy choice of open conflict was for both sides, in this as in so many cases, tragically futile.

World System Theory

261

■ Notes 1. For this reason, it is also possible to argue that Iraq remained peripheral throughout its entire short history. From such a position as well, however, it remains sensible to maintain that Iraq’s regime was seeking to sustain a temporary advance in political-economic position by attacking Iran and later Kuwait. 2. On the rise and fall of US hegemony, compare also the comprehensive world system histories of Arrighi (2007) and Frank (1998). Note that the process of hegemonic decline is a slow one. There is no contradiction between claiming that US hegemonic decline began in the 1970s and treating the United States as a (declining) hegemon in the 2000s. 3. This status quo was seriously challenged (and then restored) only three times: in 1948–1949 during the Berlin blockade, in 1950–1953 in the Korean War, and in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis (Wallerstein 2002b). 4. The term “allies” should be understood not only to mean other nation-states but more broadly to include ruling classes and corporate actors within or connected to the core. 5. Wallerstein (2002b) names four events symbolic for US hegemonic decline since World War II: the Vietnam War, the 1968 revolutions, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. All four events in different ways resulted from concerted rejections of the Yalta (i.e., Cold War) status quo. In other publications, Wallerstein (2003a, 2003b) singles out the rise of economic rivals Western Europe and Japan, the revolutions of 1968, and the Vietnam War. 6. The increasing involvement of non-US oil companies in the Gulf may reflect a greater extent of international integration in the world economy but also a loss of US preponderance. 7. While leaving Saddam Hussein in power may have been a deliberate decision by the US government, his failure to become more compliant after the Gulf War was surely unintended. 8. The policy coalition behind the Bush Doctrine is also discussed by Jeffrey W. Taliaferro and Robert W. Wishart in Chapter 2.3 on neoclassical realism in this volume. 9. A comprehensive account of that invasion therefore should include an analysis of the conservative ascendancy in US domestic politics. Such an analysis is, however, beyond the confines of this chapter. See, for example, Hurst 2009. 10. The PNAC was the name of a programmatic document drafted by key neoconservatives in 1997 and signed by, among others, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Francis Fukuyama, and whose spirit was taken over in the US National Security Strategy of 2002. 11. In an earlier article (2003a), Wallerstein suggested that the US invasion was motivated by a need to “show that the United States could do it” and to “intimidate two groups: (1) anybody in the third world who thinks they should engage in nuclear proliferation; and (2) Europe.” 12. Of course that does not mean going to war was a wise move for the United States—it has been criticized by almost every realist out there, but while the intervention in Iraq may have been a mistake, for realists it neither signals nor contributes to a structural shift in the global balance of power, as it does for WST.

8 Feminist Approaches 8.1 Feminism Jennifer Sterling-Folker

Feminist IR theory draws upon a variety of literatures and perspectives from multiple fields of study so that it has always been an interdisciplinary undertaking. Yet as with other approaches that have postpositivist leanings, IR feminism was met with skepticism and resistance in the US IR discipline when its scholarship began to flourish in the early 1980s. The first IR journal issue devoted to the topic of women and IR was Millennium’s 1988 special issue, and in 1990 a section on feminist theory and gender studies was launched in the ISA. The burgeoning interest in and literature on feminist IR theory can be attributed to a community of feminist IR scholars—such as Cynthia Enloe, V. Spike Peterson, Christine Sylvester, and J. Ann Tickner—who read and commented on one another’s work, and who collectively considered the parameters and substance of feminist IR theorizing. As Birgit Locher and Elisabeth Prügl observe, these scholars developed “a set of programmatic writings” that influenced the development of feminist IR theory and “still provide an important point of reference” for feminist IR scholars today (2001: 115). Not all feminist IR theory is postpositivist, but there is, as J. Tickner argues, “a strong resonance for a variety of reasons including a commitment to epistemological pluralism as well as to certain ontological sensitivities” (1997: 619). The introduction of feminist and postmodernist theoretical perspectives occurred at roughly the same time in the US discipline, and together they laid the groundwork for the more epistemologically moderate constructivism. Yet Locher and Prügl point out that for feminists the question of “who knows” is central, and that “whereas epistemology is thus a secondary matter for most IR constructivists, it continues to be a central topic of feminist debates” (2001: 120). There is confusion on this score, however, since some of the early feminist IR literature was positivist and involved the empirical study of women in global political leadership positions, 263

264

Feminist Approaches

or lack thereof. This work was labeled “liberal feminism,” because it was driven by the central question, “Where are the women?” and it tended to assume that the political and economic marginalization of women could be overcome by increasing their involvement in existing political processes. The early liberal emphasis on “add women and stir” (Kinsella 2003; Zalewski 2003) has contributed to a number of misconceptions in the discipline about feminist IR scholarship. There is, for example, a misperception that feminist theorizing is simply data collection about the status of women in world politics and that all feminist theories subscribe to the goal of increasing representation to end discrimination. It is also frequently assumed that all feminist IR theorists believe a world ruled by women would be a more peaceful place given that caregiving comes “naturally” to women (see Fukuyama 1998). Building on these first two fallacies is a third, which assumes that feminist IR theory elevates “women’s issues” at the expense of more important IR subject matter, such as wars, trade negotiations, international organizations, and terrorism. Studying IR from a feminist perspective is believed to be a trivializing activity in this regard, because it supposedly does not address more important IR topics and diverts our attention from them instead. Feminist work that relies on the narratives of average women who are not directly involved in political and economic decisionmaking is particularly subject to this criticism. Most fallacies are born out of ignorance and these are no exception. IR feminism is a multifaceted theoretical enterprise involving numerous variants that grapple with ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues as they relate not just to women but to the concept of gender. While some feminist scholars believe that women are innately more peaceful than their male counterparts, a vast majority of feminist IR theorists do not. There has been substantial debate within feminist IR theorizing over this very issue, yet as Helen Kinsella notes, “the impulse to categorize this range of feminist theorizing to a simple substantive claim that there is an essential subject (woman) and a primary goal (ending oppression) reduces a productive cacophonous counterpoint to a single note” (2003: 294). In fact, a great deal of feminist scholarship documents the greater extent to which women have participated in or supported and sustained, rather than opposed, war-making. Most IR feminists would concur with Jean Bethke Elshtain that while, “historically and currently, feminism has driven towards utopianism in many of its most widely known incarnations . . . this, as ‘peace politics,’ winds up empty as explanatory theory and naïve as politics” (1995a: 358). Hence IR feminist theorizing cannot be characterized as the simple and speculative equation between women’s participation in IR and the end of warfare. It has also been feminist IR scholars themselves who have been at the forefront of problematizing the assumption that biology determines gender

Feminism

265

differences. To address this issue, feminist scholarship posits a distinction between sex and gender: “Whereas biological sex identity is determined by reference to genetic and anatomical characteristics, socially learned gender is an acquired identity gained through performing prescribed gender roles” (Peterson and Runyan 1999: 5). While there might be universal biological sex identities, the same cannot be said for gender roles. Even a cursory glance at historical and contemporary global cultures reveals stark comparative differences in expectations of appropriate gender behavior and underscores the fact that notions of femininity and masculinity are culturally constructed and variable, not timeless and immutable. The causal dividing line between sex and gender has been the source of considerable discussion, debate, and exploration in the feminist IR literature, and there is increasing evidence that many of the biological sex differences we take for granted are actually up for cultural grabs.1 Yet most IR feminists do not deny that biology makes a difference; instead they concur with V. Spike Peterson and Anne Runyan that, “although biology is ostensibly the basis for establishing gender models, it plays an ambiguous and often purely symbolic role in our actual use of gendered concepts” (1999: 30). Gendered concepts are instead created and sustained as collective projects. As Peterson and Runyan note, “we learn, through culturally specific socialization, what characteristics are associated with masculinity and femininity and how to assume the identities of men and women” (1999: 7, emphasis in original). Hence gender imparts different social meanings to men and women and proscribes different parameters for what it means to be male/masculine or female/feminine in a given culture. It is gender identity, not sex identity, that is the primary focus of IR feminist literature. As with postmodernism and critical theory, many IR feminists are interested in exploring the extent to which our identities are shaped and informed by social truths that are historically constructed. They share the postpositivist commitment to questioning what we take for granted and to problematizing what is given as truth or knowledge. Given that gender roles are socially constructed, feminist IR scholars have been among the first to question whether it is appropriate to assume we know what women are (referred to as “essentializing women”) and can posit that there are universal feminine characteristics such as caregiver or nurturer (Elam and Wiegman 1995). This has also led feminist scholars to question whether men aren’t also essentialized. After all, if “there is nothing natural, inherent or biologically inevitable about the attributes, activities and behaviors that come to be defined as either masculine or feminine” (Zalewski 1995: 341), then to what extent are both women and men socially constructed by the cultures to which they are born? The feminist literature argues that the concept of gender indicates an interdependent relationship between male/masculine and female/feminine, in which attributes

266

Feminist Approaches

of each are always oppositionally defined in relation to the other. Hence feminist IR scholarship is not simply about women, it is about the interdependence of masculine and feminine as socially constructed categories that shape how we know and experience the world. In this context it is more appropriate to characterize IR feminism as the study of gender (rather than women) and the differences that gender makes to world politics. The differences it makes are enormous, according to feminist scholars, because gender is a powerful meta-narrative that establishes oppositional hierarchies in which some ideas are privileged, others marginalized, and social inequalities are produced on that basis. Many IR feminists concur with postmodernists, then, that there is a tendency in scientific Western thought to create hierarchical either-or oppositions that are treated as natural or given (Peterson and Runyan 1999: 39–40). Despite dramatic cultural differences in gender roles, the relational characteristics of masculine and feminine are always hierarchical, with the masculine characteristics more highly prized, valued, and privileged. J. Tickner notes that “in the West, certain characteristics, such as power, autonomy, rationality, and public are generally perceived as masculine, while their opposites, weakness, dependence, emotion, and private are stereotypically associated with femininity” (1996: 455). Similarly, Peterson and Runyan observe that “constructions of masculinity (agency, control, aggression) are not independent of, but rely upon, contrasting constructions of femininity (dependence, vulnerability, passivity)” (1999: 9). These oppositional characteristics are not simply abstract talking points; they are the foundation for justifying who gets what and why in world politics. The elevation of what is masculine and the denigration of what is feminine translate into political, economic, and social structures and processes that produce and reify severe gender inequalities on a global scale. It is no accident, then, that two out of three women on the planet live in poverty or that there is a thriving global sex industry involving the forced prostitution of girls and women from almost every region (Zalewski 1995). Nor is it accidental that in developing countries women do more of the work and family care, and yet they receive less adequate health care, education, nutrition, and compensation than do men (J. Tickner 1996). Nor is it accidental that in core societies, and in comparison to men, women still receive a third less pay for equal work and effort (J. Tickner 1997). The construction of gender differences is the construction of a normative, material hierarchy that is the very essence of global politics and power. By deconstructing gender as the socially constructed meaning of masculinity and femininity, feminist IR scholars argue that they are revealing the power undergirding unequal political, economic, and social global arrangements. The notion that feminist IR theory is not addressing the “real” subject matter of IR is greeted with understandable consternation by IR feminists

Feminism

267

as a result. Feminist scholars have countered the disciplinary charge of trivialization with two arguments. First, any list of subjects deemed most relevant to the study of IR must take categories as given and therefore “completely misses the politics and power of conceptual definition and the relationship of concepts to understanding. Categories and concepts are not neutral” (Kinsella 2003: 296). Categories are instead value judgments that reflect specific interests and hierarchies of power, and to insist upon consensus regarding them is “a coercive strategy to relegate the interests of the less powerful to the margins” (Zalewski 1996: 350). Hence the very claim that the subject matter of IR involves studying things like interstate relations, national security, economic power, and IOs is itself problematic from a feminist perspective. The second point feminist IR scholars have made about the standard subject matter of IR is that it tends to ignore the essential role that women play in all of its activities. Neither war nor trade would be possible without the participation of women, but because the discipline insists that women are “the ‘background’ that is never important enough to warrant being spotlighted—we in fact are unaware of what the background actually is and what relationships it actually has to the main story” (Peterson and Runyan 1999: 41). Women, both as physical presences and as categories of femininity, have been essential to IR undertakings such as waging war and the globalization of capitalism. The work of Sylvester (2012, 1994) and Enloe (2004, 1993, 1990) demonstrates, for example, that women are always inside international relations through their work in the practice of its politics—as diplomats’ wives and secretaries, as assemblers of commodities for export, as tourists bringing foreign exchange to the nearly empty tills of third world countries and dirty laundry for poor handmaids to wash, as consolers of soldiers based far from home, and wearers of khaki—if we choose to see them there. (Sylvester 1991/92: 33, emphasis in original)

Similarly, Elshtain’s work (1995b, 1992) on the politics of identity and war documents the extent to which war-making relies on civic identities for and sacrifices of both men and women. By failing to examine the everyday politics of IR, feminist scholars charge that the discipline has failed to appreciate how much IR relies on the subjugated role of women to operate. Alternatively, feminist IR scholars argue that we should examine world politics through gender-sensitive lenses, because while other socially constructed categories, such as race, ethnicity, class, and nation, are also important, ultimately “gender structurally organizes not just sexual practices but virtually all aspects of social life in all cultures” (Peterson and Runyan 1999: 31). Given what they describe as the discipline’s gender bias, however, feminist scholars are not particularly optimistic that the discipline can or will change. Jan Jindy Pettman argues that IR is “a male-dominated and

268

Feminist Approaches

masculinist discipline,” because “particular understandings of masculinity infuse the discipline” that are “constructed out of the experiences and fears of (elite) men in or near the centers of global power” (2001: 255; see also Hooper 2001). Hence the title of J. Tickner’s 1997 International Studies Quarterly article, “You Just Don’t Understand: Troubled Engagements Between Feminists and IR Theorists,” captures what feminists believe is the relationship between IR feminism and the rest of the discipline.2 The difficulties that feminist IR scholars have encountered may also be attributed to the epistemological and ontological skepticism that all postpositivist perspectives have encountered in the discipline. Feminist scholarship may be at a dual disadvantage, however, if feminist scholars are correct that positivism is itself a gendered concept that relies on notions of rationality, objectivity, and truth that are masculine. 3 Hence the discipline may discount gender analysis because it would “contaminate the fundamental and ostensibly neutral binaries of fact-value, problem solving–critical theory, and brute-social so beloved by international relations scholars and upon which claims are staked and careers are made” (Kinsella 2003: 297). Such assertions have not gone unchallenged within the feminist literature itself, however, and it is important to underscore that not all feminist IR scholars are postpositivists.4 There are a number of feminist theoretical variants that draw upon and reshape familiar analytical perspectives in IR, such as liberalism, constructivism, postmodernism, critical theory, and neoMarxist perspectives in general. Yet it can also be difficult to categorize IR feminist scholars because, despite important analytical disagreements, their practitioners have frequently experimented with the alternative ideas, methodologies, and epistemologies proposed by other variants. The result is that while some variants might be distinguished according to their substantive focus, they cannot easily be categorized according to epistemological commitments. Postcolonial feminism, for example, focuses on the extent to which women of color are oppressed by the ideologies and practices of racism, colonialism, and capitalist imperialism. It draws upon Marxist feminism, which focuses on class inequalities, and socialist feminism, which focuses on the interaction of patriarchy and capitalism, and it has subscribed to both positivist and postpositivist epistemologies.5 Even the development of what is considered an epistemology exclusive to feminism—standpoint feminism—cannot be assigned to any particular feminist IR variant. This epistemology seeks to illuminate the everyday experiences of the marginalized, on the assumption that “the perspective or standpoint of the outsider or the excluded, is likely to produce more objective knowledge than that of dominant groups whose ways of thinking fit all too closely with dominant institutions and conceptual schemes” (J. Tickner 1996: 456). By relying on narrative

Feminism

269

techniques and genealogies, standpointers situate knowledge, reveal its gendered construction, and link everyday gendering to global politics. Standpoint narratives have been relied upon by postmodern feminism, which is “critical not just of gender dichotomies and categories but also of the concept of gender itself” because it “still contains within it traces of biological determinism and ‘essentialism’” (Peterson and Runyan 1999: 175).6 Standpoint narratives have also been utilized by liberal feminism, which is most often associated with positivism and has been criticized for taking gendered categories as givens and for emphasizing the goal of equal access to male-dominated spheres of influence. Yet most feminists also credit liberal feminism with having opened the door to radical feminist approaches because, as Peterson notes, “in many unanticipated ways, ‘adding women’ exposes the constructed nature of ‘to what?’ and disrupts many of the previously unquestioned foundations of Western discourse and its knowledge claims” (1992a: 10). Liberal feminist IR scholars have also been willing to consider alternative analytical positions, and they “engage post-positivist insights when they link women’s exclusion from political power to the undervaluing of women’s responsibilities in the home and recognize that simply ‘adding women’ to formal power structures is insufficient for transforming maledefined structures” (Peterson and Runyan 1999: 28). This is precisely the point of Chapter 8.2, in which Julie Mertus continues to ask, “Where are the women?” but complements this question with standpoint narratives to ask how gender affects personal and community security. Alternatively, in Chapter 8.3, Francine D’Amico draws upon postpositivist approaches to deconstruct a variety of Iraq War narratives and events. In doing so, she reveals the gendered assumptions and hierarchies upon which these narratives depend and demonstrates how war is fundamentally a gendered activity. While diversity is one of the hallmarks of feminist scholarship, common threads do run through the feminist IR literature. What unites all these feminisms into a common IR perspective is that they all investigate the extent to which the roles of women and gender in political, economic, and social processes have been ignored within the discipline of IR. All of them question the extent to which the disregard for women and gender is licensed by claims to neutrality, objectivity, and value-free assessments of the world and how it functions. And all of them are committed to uncovering two myths about gender: “one is that divisions and differences assigned by gender are either ‘god-given’ or ‘natural’ and therefore out of the realm of political analysis; the other is that gender has nothing to do with international processes and events” (Zalewski 1995: 341). In revealing these assumptions as myths, the shared goal of feminist IR is to transform our ways of knowing and understanding the very subject to which we are committed as a discipline.

270

Feminist Approaches

■ Further Reading Unlike many other IR theoretical perspectives, there is no single, dominant scholar to whom the development of feminist IR theory can be credited. Instead a variety of scholars have been equally important in advancing the arguments of feminist scholarship in IR. Enloe is best known for her feminist standpoint argument in Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (1990; see also 2004, 1993). Other influential IR feminist scholarship includes Elshtain’s Women and War (1995b; see also 1981), Sylvester’s Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era (1994; see also 2002), and J. Tickner’s Gender in International Relations (1992; see also 2001). Several accessible textbooks on gender and IR include Peterson and Runyan’s Global Gender Issues in the New Millennium (2009, 3rd ed.), Shepherd’s edited volume, Gender Matters in Global Politics (2010), and Gender and International Relations by Steans (2006, 2nd ed.). Seminal edited volumes of feminist IR scholarship include Ackerly, Stern, and True 2006; Beckman and D’Amico 1994; Grant and Newland 1991; Peterson 1992a; Sjoberg and Tickner 2011; and Parpart and Zalewski 2008. Other important feminist scholarship includes Hooper 2001, Pettman 1996, and Zalewski 2000. For discussions of feminist ethics and IR, see Ackerly and True 2008; Hutchings 2007; and Robinson 2011, 1999. There have been numerous forums and special issues on the subject of feminism, gender, and IR, including two Special Issues (1998, 1988) and a Roundtable Discussion (2008) of Millennium, forums edited by Carver (2003) and Sylvester (2011) in International Studies Review, and the development of a journal entitled International Feminist Journal of Politics, which is devoted to the intersection of IR, politics, and women’s studies. Scholarship that focuses on gender and political economy includes Agathangelou 2004, Hartsock 1983, Marchand and Runyan 2000, Mies 1986, Peterson 2003, Prügl 1999, and Whitworth 1994. Scholarship that focuses on gender, violence, and war includes Berkin and Lovett 1980, M. Brown 2012, Sjoberg 2009, Sjoberg and Gentry 2008, Sjoberg and Via 2010, Tetreault 1994, and True 2012. The postcolonial feminist scholarship is quite extensive, and a representative sampling includes Agathangelou and Ling 2004, Alexander and Mohanty 1997, Chowdhry and Nair 2002, Darby 2000, Grewal and Kaplan 1994, Ling 2002, and Mohanty 1988.

■ Notes 1. Joshua Goldstein has found, for example, that “culture directly influences the expression of genes and hence the biology of our bodies,” and that “no universal biological essence of ‘sex’ exists, but rather a complex system of potentials that are

Feminism

271

activated by various internal and external influences” (2001: 2). Both Goldstein (2001) and Enloe (1993) have also noted the tremendous effort that is required to create the supposedly “natural” masculine military persona. 2. See also responses to Tickner’s piece: Keohane 1998b, Marchand 1998, and J. Tickner 1998. For related discussions, see Squires and Weldes 2007; Sylvester 2002; Youngs 2004; and Zalewski 2007, 2003. 3. See Haraway 1989; Harding 1991, 1986; and Peterson 1992b. 4. For example, Caprioli 2004; Carpenter 2002; Carver 2003; Hudson, BallifSpanvill, Caprioli, and Emmett 2012; and J. Tickner 2005. 5. These perspectives focus on “economic forces, revealing how capitalism and patriarchal gender relations interact to disadvantage women in the workplace and the home” (Peterson and Runyan 1999: 28). Peterson and Runyan also discuss radical, cultural, and ecofeminism (1999: 169–170). Steans discusses five distinctive strands of feminism: liberal, standpoint, critical (which she links to Marxist feminism), poststructuralist, and postcolonial (2006: 12–19). To these we could add psychoanalytic feminism, which emphasizes the gendering role of the unconscious (see Gilligan 1982), and feminist empiricism, which is data collection on the status of women. 6. Sylvester also points out that third world women have challenged the assumption that Western feminists will understand their standpoint or that the standpoints of particular women are representative of all women. “Whose standpoint, they implicitly ask, finds its way into feminist standpoint; whose tools of science reinforce Western-subject-centered otherness; and whose deconstructions are required to displace it?” (1991/92: 35). Sylvester notes elsewhere that, while postmodern feminism does draw upon everydayness, “it understands experience, however, as mobile, indeterminate, hyphenated, homeless” (1996: 271).

8.2 Liberal Feminism: Valuing Local Narratives Julie Mertus Marysia Zalewski (1996) has observed the multiple usages of theory in the field of IR: as a tool, as a critique, and as everyday experience. One intellectual tradition that exemplifies these three usages, but that has been marginalized in international politics, is liberal feminism. As this book demonstrates, there are many ways to analyze IR problems. It is the combination of feminist methodology and normative critique that makes liberal feminism so useful in IR analysis and problem solving. Studies based on liberal feminism uncover the subjectivity of traditional approaches to international relations by searching for silences and imagining the addition of unheard voices. Feminist methods correctly “emphasize conversations and dialogue rather than the production of a single, triumphant truth” (Charlesworth 1999). This approach has particular resonance when applied to Iraq because it is an area where international interests have eclipsed local voices and truths are contested. To the field of IR, then, liberal feminist critique contributes both a methodology and a deep normative critique. According to Katherine Bartlett (1999: 34), “feminist method works from a hypothesis which, in its simplest terms, boils down to something like this: the circumstances of women are unjust in significant respects and ought to be improved.” The approach to IR “as it should be” must be responsive to women, reflect their experiences, and seek to transform their lives in a manner that recognizes individual agency and corrects disproportionate power imbalances (Slaughter and Ratner 1999: 416). Over the past two decades, liberal feminism has helpfully played this role. In so doing, liberal feminism draws on the traditional themes of liberal theory, stressing the importance of individual rights, the rule of law, and other supportive institutional mechanisms found in liberal states. Compared with neighboring states, Iraq has historically boasted better conditions for women and girls seeking to exercise their basic human rights. They had access to education, they could vote and run for office, and they could own property. Nadje Al-Ali and Nicola Pratt point out that the situation in Iraq with respect to women “was much more complex” and that “Iraqi women were until quite recently among the most educated in the region and had been actively involved in Iraq’s labor force until economic sanctions destroyed Iraq’s economy” (Al-Ali and Pratt 2009: 21). Yet the Western media portrayed them as victims who needed to be rescued. The problem is that the voices of women and girls who enjoyed better conditions prior to the occupation were rarely, if ever, heard. 272

Liberal Feminism

273

In this chapter I weave Iraqi women’s narratives in and out of discussion of the liberal feminist contribution to IR analysis. Feminist methodology includes personal experience as a theoretical starting point, narrative, contextual reasoning, and multiperspectivity (Schneider 1986). Doing so ensures that marginalized voices are included, thereby highlighting what is not recognized or acknowledged and making them central to analysis. The chapter begins with Dr. Rajaa Al-Khuzai, a well-known obstetrician who has also received accolades for her support of women’s rights. Dr. AlKhuzai provides historical and contemporary context. The main tenets of liberal feminism are then outlined and applied to two additional narratives (see, e.g., Charlesworth and Chinkin 2000). This leads to a discussion of a liberal feminist framework and to examples of how the framework can be applied. Researchers studying women and/or gender in the Middle East may also use the provided table and list of questions developed herein as a template or in the very least as a guide for their own work. Narrative: Dr. Rajaa Al-Khuzai, 2009. Dr. Rajaa Al-Khuzai’s firm belief in the equal rights of women stems from her liberal upbringing. 1 She was born in the small town of Diwaniyah to a large middle-class family of five brothers and three sisters. “My father, a schoolteacher, was the most liberal in my hometown. I never saw my father or my mother discriminate between boys and girls,” she recalls, “they treated us equally. Sometimes we thought that my father preferred girls more than boys.” AlKhuzai remembers life before the military intervention as peaceful and egalitarian. We had a happy life. People were very generous even if they were poor. I never felt a sense of fear even when I was a child. I used to play with our neighbors’ children and it was very normal for us to go to each other’s houses. But now things have changed completely. . . . Today the threat of violence is constant and there are no services. There is now no electricity, no clean water. Children are all suffering. And I felt the suffering is on the woman’s shoulders. . . . There’s nothing like peace and you can never imagine how important peace is for life until you lose it.

According to the biography maintained by the online exhibit of the International Museum of Women,2 When Saddam Hussein’s government was overthrown, Al-Khuzai founded the Iraqi Widows Organization. As the first woman to establish a microcredit system for women in Iraq, Al-Khuzai has provided thousands of job opportunities to the two million Iraqi war widows who have suffered economically and emotionally. When she was appointed into the Iraqi Governing Council, she was one of three women. Her motivations for accepting the position were to dedicate her efforts beyond mothers and widows to all the women and people of Iraq. The position has come

274

Feminist Approaches

with major risks. In 2004, Al-Khuzai’s colleague, Dr. Aqila al-Hasimi was assassinated in a car bomb near her doorstep. Because of the dangers, AlKhuzai’s husband has closed his clinic and she and her children are always accompanied by their 30 bodyguards.

Yet Al-Khuzai remained undaunted: “This is the time for a woman to move. We have the background. It’s our history. Women are strong. They can push themselves and they can make changes. And you know, without women, I don’t think there will be change happening in Iraq. I think women, if given the chance, can change the world.” The doctor’s unwavering optimism stems from her firm belief in the promise of liberalism, combined with the tenets of feminist theory.

■ Liberal Theory and Feminist Theory The theory and politics of liberal feminism are shaped by a conception of human nature, individual agency, and rationality identified with liberal political theory (Donnelly 1999: 81). Also known as bourgeois feminism, the theory “is grounded in the claims of the classical liberal philosophy developed by Locke, Rousseau, Bentham and Mill for equal rights, individualism, liberty and justice” (Andermahr, Lovell, and Wolkowitz 1997: 123). The notion of progress is important for liberals; liberals share a faith in the progressive unfolding of humankind’s ability to reason. Al-Khuzai’s narrative, for example, was classically liberal, as it demonstrated a belief that disputes can and should be resolved by recourse to rational argument. At the same time, the narrative was classically feminist because, at its core, it revealed the conceptual foundations of power structures and advocated for their demolition (see Francine D’Amico’s contribution to this volume in Chapter 8.3). Al-Khuzai also demonstrated a belief that women’s equality with men may be promoted through a system of legally enforceable individual rights (Vincent 1986: 152). Here lies the radical potential of liberalism for women advancing their claims under a rights framework. Women are empowered as capable subjects of the law (and not mere objects) and states (and, in some cases, other duty-bearers) are burdened with the duty to recognize and respond. However, the idea of individual rights necessitates recognition of the agency and identity of the individual that may exist apart from the community (Donnelly 1999: 81). Nonetheless, the liberal recognition of individual worth does not negate the importance of communal life. Individuals are not free-floating entities; they exist and gain meaning through social relationships and communal responsibilities and duties (C. Brown: 1999). Identification and enforcement of the individual rights of women thus depends greatly on community (Cahill 1980).

Liberal Feminism

275

This is important for both liberal feminists and critical feminists. A liberal feminist agenda may very well incorporate a communal orientation along with recognition of the rights of individuals within communities. In so doing, liberal feminists need not essentialize the category known as “woman,” treating all women as if their experiences with power were the same (C. Scott 1995). On the contrary, the liberal feminist approach may be used to expose the differences among and between women. The next set of narratives tells the story of how two Iraqi women can experience a fundamental liberal value—the right to vote—very differently, based on their social status, the history of their family and ethnic group, and their opportunity to exercise personal agency. These narratives were collected and written by trainees for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), for a website on “Women’s Voices on Election Day” in Iraq, 21 December 2005.3 Narrative: Election Celebration, 2005. Awaz Ali, a 35-year-old primary school teacher, treated election day as a holiday. She woke up early in the morning, and prepared a meal of apricot soup, rice and meat. Ali, her husband and her children all put on their traditional Kurdish clothing— shimmering, flowing dresses in bright hues for the women and girls, and baggy pants with wide waistbands and vests for the men and boys. She painted the flag of Kurdistan on the cheeks of her three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, who carried Kurdish flags to the polls. “No one else sacrificed as much as we did, and now no one else is as happy as we are,” she said, referring to her delight at voting in the election. Women, she said, no longer fear the regime nor worry that their children will be forced to serve in the Iraqi military, which was notorious for persecuting Kurds. And, she maintained, women now have a voice in democracy. “You see that my husband and I went to vote together,” she said as she left the polling station, holding her three-year-old daughter’s hand. “Everyone now has the right to vote—and I won’t give up this right.” Ali and her husband both backed the Kurdistan Alliance, the main Kurdish list. She believes the list will empower her people and defend their rights in Baghdad. “We are here today because of the blood of the martyrs and the efforts of our officials,” she said. “I’m sure we will continue to be victorious.” Narrative: Elections, Just Another Day, 2005. For many Iraqi women, election day was a government-mandated holiday during which they could vote and spend time with their families. But Sadiyah Hamad Shanshal was not among them. Shanshal, a squatter in a former intelligence apparatus building from Saddam Hussein’s reign, spent most of the day rummaging through

276

Feminist Approaches

garbage and stuffing cans in a large plastic bag. Her husband divorced her eight years ago, she said, and she has since provided for her seven children. She does so by selling aluminum cans, which local dealers often resell in Iran. Her nine-year-old son, Munthir, worked with her on election day, which proved more profitable than most. Garbage workers had not collected trash in the city for several days due to strict curfews imposed before the election. Poor families in the capital squat in deserted offices that once housed Saddam-era bureaucrats. Shanshal paid 350,000 Iraqi dinars (about 235 US dollars) to take over some space in one building. “We live here with 100 families,” she said. “We live in poverty and don’t get help from any party.” Shanshal collected cans around a polling station where she planned to vote. She is a Sunni Arab, but did not vote along sectarian lines. “I voted for al-Jaafari’s coalition,” she said, referring to the United Iraqi Alliance led by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. “They didn’t kick us out of our residence even though the finance ministry warned us to leave. I hope the new government will give us permanent homes.”

■ A Liberal Feminist Framework There are three ways to analyze women’s narratives suggested by Table 8.2.1 on feminist approaches to IR problems. The first approach looks for the ways women are made “invisible” in international relations analysis, unless, that is, they are “like men” and adopt male roles. The explanation for this problem has been articulated variously as (1) “men run the world,” thus, there simply are few women in the kinds of positions that matter in IR; (2) there are women who should be made visible, but men run the field of IR and they will not or cannot see women; or, (3) women have been there in the IR landscape all along, but their gender role has made them less visible (i.e., they are more likely to be caretakers in the home than public officials) (see, e.g., Enloe 2000). A “gender perspective” addresses the socially constructed roles of men and women and, in so doing, exposes the manner in which political decisionmaking constructs masculinities and femininities and impacts men and women differently (see Mertus 2000: 15). Thus a slightly different liberal feminist approach would stress the consequences of the failure of local and international actors to take into account women’s differing interests, skills, and expectations. This approach recognizes that the mere inclusion of women may be insufficient to expose the gendered impact of political decisions. In other words, what impact do political decisions have on men’s and women’s roles, relationships, opportunities, and achievements? The explanation for this problem of ontology is the use of a “male” or “masculine”

277

Liberal Feminism

Table 8.2.1 Feminist Approaches to International Relations Problems Problem

Explanation

Solution

Long-Term Result

Women invisible; unless same as men, women’s role not valued

Men run world; men run IR

Add women

See women; value women

Hidden gendered consequences

“Male lens”

“Gender lens”

Transform ontology

Gender distortion

Ask “who wins?” and “who loses?”

Apply gender toolbox

Hidden gendered causes

Political nature of constitutive elements of IR system: state, security, sovereignty, militarization

Challenge IR system; expose political nature; interrogate power

Transform epistemology; generate demands for deep-rooted change

lens that accepts the masculine/feminine and public/private binaries as natural and overlooks the deeply embedded impact of patriarchy. The use of a gender perspective thus “can be used to challenge dominant assumptions about what is significant or insignificant, or what are central or marginal concerns” in Iraq (Steans 1998: 5). The third approach to feminist IR analysis directly addresses the most important difference between liberal feminism and critical feminism. In Francine D’Amico’s words (see Chapter 8.3 in this volume), “liberal feminists advocate paying attention to women in or adding women to existing structures of power; critical feminists reveal the conceptual foundations of those power structures and advocate their demolition.” The goal of this more radical gender analysis in Iraq is to transform epistemological orientations and in so doing uncover and challenge sites of power and domination and expose and challenge the apolitical nature of methodological assumptions (J. Scott 1991; Hirschmann 1992). The traditional unit of analysis within IR theory—the state—has historically been treated as gender neutral. Yet, when subjected to feminist examination, the state is unveiled as heavily indoctrinated with masculinist predispositions. In matters of sovereignty, citizenship, and war, these hegemonic underpinnings are decidedly influential. Critical feminist analysis of IR theory identifies inherent problems with the conceptualization of power relations and inequity as practiced and entrenched in conceptualizations of the state. According to this school of thought, women stand to benefit as state borders break down and sovereignty becomes more fragmented and textured over time. While a “gender impact” approach unravels gender consequences of reliance on the state, a “gender causes” approach criticizes reliance on the state as the unit of analysis. The gender causes approach

278

Feminist Approaches

rejects the realist notion of power as control over others and invokes instead the concept of power as cooperation. In so doing, this alternative approach exposes the ways the maintenance and expansion of the territorially bounded state relies in large part on the silencing and suppression of women (see Peterson 1992a, 1992b). Even if state institutions do not overtly discriminate against women, they effectively exclude or inhibit women’s participation by adopting a male worldview as the standard by which behavior is judged (J. Tickner 1992: 64). Each of these three approaches, outlined in Table 8.2.1, can be applied to the following narrative. This story was collected by an anonymous Iraqi female journalist and published on the web page of the IWPR on 14 January 2008. The narrator, a teenage girl, wished to remain anonymous as well.4 Narrative: The Disappearing Neighborhood, 2008. My neighborhood in Baghdad was once known for its luxurious houses and large gardens. It was a quiet place when I moved here in 1990. I was in primary school then, and in the afternoons, children would spill out of school and the streets would fill with shoppers, bringing the neighborhood to life. We would often stay out until midnight, even during the difficult days of the United Nations sanctions. One of the things that I enjoyed about the neighborhood was its diversity. My closest friend, Thana, lived two blocks away. While she was pious and I am secular, such things were not an issue for us. She went to the mosque almost every day to pray and to hear the sermons of the imam. Although I wanted to accompany her, I never had enough faith to do so. After the fall of Baghdad in 2003, everything changed. I started to hear strange stories about people being killed and kidnapped, some of whom I knew. Residents began leaving for safer areas. Then it got even worse. By 2005, my neighborhood had gained the reputation of being one of the most dangerous places in the capital. A Sunni extremist group calling itself the “Islamic State of Iraq” took over, declaring my neighborhood their stronghold in Baghdad. The members would patrol the area by night, either on foot or in cars. They had weapons slung over their shoulders and would shoot people dead in the street for breaking one of their “rules.” We learned of their “laws” from their flyers, which told residents not to dare challenge their authority or work with the Americans, and also praised al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It was common knowledge that they used a local mosque as a meeting place and to store weapons. They made it clear that one of their objectives was to rid our neighborhood of Shias. I hadn’t thought much about sectarianism when I was growing up because it wasn’t an issue in this neighborhood. However, it entered my life one hot afternoon when there was a knock on the door. It was Thana

Liberal Feminism

279

and her mother, who had received a note telling them, “Get out, you Shia people.” “It is over,” said Thana, speaking not only for herself but also for most of the Shias in our neighborhood. “We can’t stay here any longer. They threatened to kill all of us if we stay, and they have even banned me from praying in the mosque, saying it’s for Sunnis only. I will miss you.” We hugged and cried, and she was gone. For those of us who stayed, life changed dramatically. Although my family is secular, we are Sunni by background, so we were not threatened with sectarian attack. However, for the first time in my life, I could not leave the house without putting a scarf on my head and wearing long sleeves and skirts. Trousers, of course, were out of the question. I made sure never to wear make-up when leaving the house. My parents are liberal and never told me what to wear, so I enjoyed a lot of freedom growing up. The new restrictions were difficult for me to take. I have complied with the new “laws” of my neighborhood, while my blood silently boiled. The consequences of not complying were made clear. A friend of mine once rushed into my house, her voice trembling as she told me how she had almost been killed. The skirt she was wearing was long but too tight fitting, and caught the eye of a militiaman who stopped her and threatened to kill her if she ever dared to leave the house like that again. Boys were banned from wearing shorts or certain hairstyles that might stand out. The school I once attended is gender-segregated now. After it was attacked and a pupil killed, children stopped going to class. Our oncebustling central shopping street emptied, and all of the shops were forced to close. It was one of the worst times of my life, and I hope that it remains a thing of the past. After two years of continuous suffering, the situation has now started to improve somewhat. My neighborhood pressured the government to include us in the Baghdad security plan, and members of the Sunni “Awakening Councils” who have pledged to cooperate with the government helped establish security. My neighbors are slowly beginning to return from places such as Syria, where many of them had run out of money. They hardly recognize the neighborhood, which is a shell of its former self after fighting between the Islamic extremists and Iraqi and US forces. A Shia woman named Um Salam has come home. However, she says the memories are almost too difficult to bear. She is selling her furniture and will not be staying on. Her son Salam was killed by al-Qaeda. “I can’t stand living in my house any more,” she told me. “Each wall and corner reminds me of Salam. . . . He was a peaceful, quiet boy who was killed because of his sect. It is unjust.”

280

Feminist Approaches

I recently decided to venture out and wander the streets. This was unheard of just two months ago, when I would only go directly from my house to university and return home by dark. It was quiet, and security forces were everywhere. The neighborhood still feels like a ghost town, a war zone. Many houses have been destroyed, although a few shops have reopened with the help of a 2,500 US dollar incentive given by the government. Some of the beautiful old historic buildings have been burnt or blown up, and the largest pharmacy is closed. The people in my neighborhood generally divide into two groups— those who believe something good will come out of all this and security will improve; and those who believe that the “Islamic State” group is still active and will return to take control of the area again. Thus, even with the improved security, we remain uneasy, as one question lingers at the back of our minds—will we be safe again?

■ Analysis The following analysis applies the liberal feminist framework to the story of “The Disappearing Neighborhood.” While not exhaustive, this analysis demonstrates some of the ways Table 8.2.1 on feminist approaches can help to trigger discussion and inform policy choices. The first question a liberal feminist is likely to ask is, Where are the narratives for women in Iraq? By looking closely at “The Disappearing Neighborhood,” we can see the roles women and girls play as neighbors, mothers, students, survivors, leaders, and followers. These roles are informed by gender, and people in society accept them as “gender roles.” For each role women and men play in society, we can identify the specific needs, interests, and skills that flow from occupying that position. The roles that women and girls have as leaders and survivors helps us to understand women not as victims, but rather as complex actors with agency to make decisions regarding their own lives. Identifying where women are active in the narratives underscores where they are not visible. Women are not seen at the negotiating table. Women are not included in the decisions that lead to war in the first place, nor are they involved in the decisions as to when and how to make peace. Would the mere inclusion of women change the decision on when and how to go to war? One need not essentialize all women as “naturally peaceful and good” and men as “naturally war-mongering and bad.” A “gender impact” inquiry demonstrates that no one “wins” when women are excluded in this manner. Strengthening equal participation of men and women in the political sphere is the right thing to do on the moral level, because we value equality. But also, equal participation is instrumentally desirable, as participation

Liberal Feminism

281

strengthens democracy and, thus, advances all the liberal values associated with it. Moreover, because women’s experiences with conflict are different than men’s because of their different socially constructed gender roles (see Chapter 8.3), women bring different skills, interests, and needs to conflict analysis and problem solving. For example, the women of Iraq, like most women everywhere, have primary responsibility for taking care of their children and for their elders and, thus, the organizations involved in reconstruction activities in this area may wish to consult with them. The kinds of issues Iraqi women could bring to the table do not stop with caretaking, however. Many Iraqi women, like the women featured in most of the narratives in this chapter, have university degrees in the sciences, medicine, and engineering, and their expertise on these issues is extremely valuable as well. The bottom line: inclusion of women matters. While a gender impact approach unravels gender consequences of excluding women, a gender causes approach employs a feminist toolbox that also requires thinking about why those needs exist in the first place. Above all, they ask questions about basic assumptions in IR. For example, they ask questions about the traditional acceptance of a state-based world, querying whether women’s interest in security can be adequately addressed under this traditional paradigm. In the case of “The Disappearing Neighborhood,” Iraqi women can push more normative questions such as, What is violence? Security? War? Who has the authority to define gender analysis that values local knowledge and generates demands for change? The key factor that they must remember is that security issues are not for states alone. Especially for women and girls, it is the “neighborhood” that holds the best possibility for designing culturally relevant protection and security, not the state.

■ Conclusion Liberal feminism is an approach that can illuminate many other issues and events in world politics to uncover silenced and unheard voices. It would be useful for understanding how globalization has affected women, and for shaping US policy related to the importation and sale of goods, to examine those who work in the garment industry along the US-Mexican border. Experts in civil-military relations would similarly find it beneficial to consider the experiences and narratives of women in Afghanistan, where military activity intrudes upon women’s lives on a daily basis, and in Congo, where militarized masculinity contributes to extremely high rates of sexual violence and perpetuates women’s insecurity. By calling attention to “woman as agent” instead of “woman as victim,” liberal feminism can help states to improve their relationship with civil society, at home and abroad. In the Balkans, for example, liberal feminism

282

Feminist Approaches

demonstrated how women emerge, through their involvement in political activism, as both actors and advocates for social change. In all of these examples, examining the narratives of women from a liberal prism allows us to make better policy choices based on more complete information, drawn from broader and more extensive participation.

■ Notes 1. This information and text are drawn from the Women, Power and Politics online exhibit, “Reflections of Iraq: Rajaa Al-Khuzai Fights for Iraqi Women’s Rights,” maintained by the International Museum of Women, http://www.imow.org /wpp/stories/viewStory?storyid=1509 (accessed 1 July 2010). 2. Ibid. 3. The stories can be found at either IWPR’s website (http://iwpr.net/report -news/womens-voices-election-day) or on the Kurd Net’s website (http://www.ekurd .net/mismas/articles/misc2005/12/kurdlocal62.htm). 4. Institute for War and Peace Reporting, http://iwpr.net/report-news/life-after -“islamic-state” (accessed 1 July 2010).

8.3 Critical Feminism: Gender at Work in Waging War Francine D’Amico Feminist perspectives argue that “gender matters” in international relations (Shepherd 2010). Gender analysis helps us understand decisionmakers’ conceptual frameworks, motives, and rationales for taking one action over another. Feminist scholars ask different kinds of questions than do realists, who see powerful states competing in an anarchic international system, or liberal internationalists, who focus on states, IOs, and nonstate actors cooperating in an evolving international community. Feminist inquiry requires that we begin our analysis of IR by focusing on living, breathing, in-theflesh people: Who are the people who “do” IR? A critical feminist perspective finds that traditional theoretical approaches to the study of IR respond to this question in ways that are deeply gendered, that is, that reflect social constructions of masculinity and femininity: Each of us is . . . taught what behavior is appropriate, what roles are acceptable, to become a man or woman in our society, and these behavioral expectations establish boundaries for what we can do without incurring social censure. . . . Gender boundaries also establish and maintain a division of political power in society, because the behaviors and roles associated with one gender are more valued than those associated with the other. Traits considered masculine, such as aggression, are seen as qualities needed in politics and business—and the military. Traits considered feminine, such as compassion, are seen as beneficial for personal relationships but not professional success. (D’Amico and Weinstein 1999: 6)

These gendered responses have gendered consequences. For realists, the people who “do” IR are the leaders of powerful states and the armies they command. For pluralists and liberal internationalists, these leaders and soldiers are joined by diplomats from intergovernmental organizations and managers from multinational corporations. A critical feminist lens reveals that most of the people who occupy these positions of power worldwide are male; therefore, the realist vision of IR might be represented by a “Men at Work” highway sign. In the context of Iraq, this “Men-at-Work” vision of IR focuses our attention on key powerful states and their leaders, such as US president George Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair, as well as Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the leader of the “rising power” said to have been threatening these states’ security interests via alleged nuclear proliferation and support for terrorism. Realists would also see military strategists like US secretary of state Colin Powell and secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld as important actors, while liberal IR 283

284

Feminist Approaches

theorists would focus on people in these positions as well as decisionmakers in IOs, like the UNSC and the EU. But realist and liberal analyses would either not notice that most of the “actors” in this vision are men, or they would suggest that this does not affect how policy choices are made. As discussed by Julie Mertus in Chapter 8.2, a liberal feminist approach to the study of IR shifts our focus to “Women at Work” in these power positions. This perspective might observe that none of the ambassadors serving on the UNSC at the time the United States decided to invade Iraq were women, and none of the fifteen countries serving on the UNSC at the time were led by a woman president or prime minister. In fact, in March 2003 when the invasion of Iraq began, only eight of the 192 UN member states were led by women.1 A liberal feminist lens would note there were some women in prominent government advisory roles, such as US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who would subsequently serve as secretary of state, and deputy national security adviser Meghan O’Sullivan. And this lens would also note the presence of women in gender nontraditional roles as soldiers, as in this 16 August 2009 report by Lizette Alvarez for the New York Times: Men still make up the vast majority of the 5,000 war deaths since 2001; nearly 4,000 have been killed by enemy action But 121 women have also died . . . and 620 women have been wounded. Despite longstanding fears about how the public would react to women coming home in coffins, Americans have responded to their deaths and injuries no differently than to those of male casualties, analysts say. That is a reflection of changing social mores but also a result of the growing number of women—more than 356,000 today—who serve in the armed forces, including the Reserves and the National Guard, 16 percent of the total. (Alvarez 2009)

Critical feminist perspectives shift our attention even further from “Women at Work” to “Gender at Work,” that is, to consider how gender shapes the kinds of decisions made by those who occupy powerful positions and the effects of their choices. A critical feminist perspective on the war in Iraq asks, How are the causes, conduct, and consequences of this conflict gendered? For example, one critical feminist text examines how UN sanctions against Iraq differentially affected men’s and women’s opportunities for education and employment as well as their respective roles in family relations and the larger community (Al-Jawaheri 2008). Critical feminist perspectives also ask how other “dimensions of difference,” such as race and ethnicity, shape power relations and decisions and thus affect people’s lives (Riley and Inayatullah 2006). The difference in focus between traditional, mainstream approaches and feminist perspectives on IR can be illustrated by considering the definitions of the key concept of “security.” Realists focus on state security, while

Critical Feminism

285

liberals emphasize human security; a critical feminist lens “unpacks” these terms to reveal that both concepts are gendered and that policies directed at both state and human security impact men and women differently (Hans and Reardon 2010). For example, an increase in military spending might create additional job opportunities for soldiers or for engineers in defense industries; these two professions are predominantly filled by men. An increase in military spending may be offset by a decrease in social spending to balance the budget; this would negatively impact people employed in education and other social services—professions in which women predominate. So a security policy of increased defense spending that looks “gender neutral” prima facie has a gendered impact in society. The difference in focus is also illustrated by considering the conceptualization of “power.” At its core, the study of IR is essentially the study of power. Traditional, mainstream analysts of IR define power narrowly as the relative military might of states or as a combination of military and economic capacity. These traditional approaches are content to consider who has power and how they use it. Critical perspectives broaden the definition of power to include both international and interpersonal power, and they explore how power is acquired or lost; that is, they ask how the structures of power came to be and who benefits or is hurt by them. To do this, critical theorists use a variety of analytic techniques or tools, including deconstruction and discourse analysis. They ask, Whose fight is it? Whose law is it? Who is a “citizen”? What kind of language—literally, what choice of words—do we use to talk about power? War? Peace? Why these words and not others? What implicit meanings or significance do these terms have? What images do they invoke? Critical feminist analysis uses the tools of critical theory to focus our attention on gender as an organizing principle for the distribution of power in IR (Ackerly, Stern, and True 2006; Enloe 2007, 1990). Critical feminist perspectives developed from critiques of the liberal feminist approach to international relations. A liberal feminist approach tends to focus on women only, seeing gender merely as a descriptor, that is, as an attribute of an individual like height, weight, or political party identification. Liberal feminism sees women as atomistic, autonomous individuals. To get us to look past the traditional “Men at Work” in international relations sign, Enloe asks us to begin by considering, “Where are the women?” (1990: 7), which appears to be a liberal feminist question. However, Enloe observes that power “infuses all international relationships” and that ignoring women “on the landscape of international politics perpetuates the notion that certain power relations are merely a matter of taste and culture,” while “paying serious attention to women can expose how much power it takes to maintain the international political system in its present form” (1990: 2–3). So looking for women in IR uncovers a gendered dimension of

286

Feminist Approaches

power that we did not previously see. Liberal feminists advocate paying attention to women in or adding women to existing structures of power; critical feminists reveal the conceptual foundations of those power structures and advocate their demolition. Critical feminist perspectives also expand the conceptualization of gender offered by liberal feminism by asking, “Which women?” From this perspective, IR is a series of intersecting power hierarchies constructed and maintained to advantage, privilege, or benefit those at the top of each hierarchy and to disadvantage, subordinate, or harm those at the bottom. We call these hierarchies “dimensions of difference.” Gender is just one of the perceived differences among people that society says “makes a difference,” that is, that determines who gets valued or devalued, who gets valorized or victimized. Yet there are multiple dimensions of difference in every society, and people can occupy positions of privilege on one dimension, such as gender, and yet be disadvantaged on another dimension, such as race and ethnicity. For example, gender and ethnicity combine in Iraq to give men from the dominant Arab Shiite majority political power and to exclude Sunni and Kurdish men from that power. Gender and ethnicity also combine to protect some Iraqi women from the structural violence of international sanctions and from sexual assault by men from their own ethnic group but to make other women targets because of their different ethnic identity or religion (Al-Jawaheri 2008; see also Al-Khayyat 1990). A critical feminist approach allows us to grasp the diversity of both women’s and men’s lived experiences and to view the entire power matrix in and across societies rather than just examining one dimension, that is, gender, as the liberal feminist approach does. In considering the 2003 Iraq War through a critical feminist lens, we ask, How are concepts of gender and other dimensions of difference mobilized to frame our understandings of Iraq? How have these concepts constructed community identities and policy strategies? What images of women and men are portrayed in the narratives produced by the media and by policymakers? Which women and men do we see and hear? What are their experiences? Whose stories and voices are unheard? How are these images used to support a particular agenda for responding to the conflict and for reconstructing Iraqi society?

■ Gendering the Iraq War If we think of the Iraq War as a story or narrative that is currently being written, we would need to ask who the characters are, what roles they play, and what the “plot” of the story is. We might begin our story with the Gulf War in 1991, when Iraq invaded its neighbor, Kuwait, in a dispute over access to oil reserves. The UNSC condemned this as an act of aggression and applied sanctions; when Iraq refused to withdraw, the UNSC authorized the

Critical Feminism

287

use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait, and an international coalition force did so. In this version of the story, Iraq is the villain and Kuwait is the victim. The international community, led by the United States and its allies, is the hero who comes to the rescue. In most fable rescue stories, the hero is a white knight embodying virtuous masculinity, the victim is a helpless fair maiden or princess, and the villain is evil and usually intent on violating the fair maiden—representing unchecked or uncivilized masculinity. The rescue of Kuwait was thus scripted and enacted using gender roles as subtext, and the familiarity of the gender roles in the rescue narrative helped validate the policy decision. In other words, the familiar gendered narrative legitimized intervention. Fast forward to 2003 and the Iraq War. Here there are multiple narratives, in part because the rationale for the full-scale invasion and occupation of Iraq needed more justification than did a limited military law enforcement action as had been the situation in 1991. Each of these narratives invokes social constructions of gender to make the case for war in Iraq. A primary narrative for the 2003 war in Iraq has been that the Iraqi government victimized the Kurdish people with heinous human rights violations, such that the United States and its allies needed to rescue and protect them. A secondary narrative has been that the United States (still in the role of white knight/hero) had to rescue the victims—the Iraqi people as a whole— from the tyrannous control of the villain, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, always referred to as “Saddam” and sometimes mispronounced (whether deliberately or not) to invoke sexual deviance. A tertiary narrative has been that of a son (George W. Bush) defending the life and legacy of his father (George H. W. Bush), a standard boys-to-men coming of age narrative. So how does gender analysis help us explain why President George W. Bush chose military means to solve the problem of the alleged nuclear proliferation threat in Iraq, when he did not do so vis-à-vis either Iran or North Korea, the other two candidates for the “axis of evil” he identified in his 2001 State of the Union address? Gender analysis suggests that on the individual level of analysis, President Bush may have been engaged in what is now colloquially called “peacocking,” that is, a prominent and showy display of masculinity. His willingness to use force may have been intended to signal dominance or to demonstrate “manly” presidential credentials, in counterpoint to former president Bill Clinton’s ineffective (effeminate?) nonproliferation efforts vis-à-vis both Iraq and North Korea. The US invasion of Iraq is a warning to both North Korea and Iran using what some call “demonstration violence”—and the message is clear: if Iraq is first in the “axis of evil” and has been made to suffer invasion and occupation, the same fate awaits Iran and North Korea if they continue to develop nuclear weapons capability. This signal may also have been intended to recuperate both Bush’s own and the United States’ collectively damaged masculinity vis-à-vis al-Qaeda

288

Feminist Approaches

in the wake of the terror attacks of 9/11 (Hunt and Rygiel 2007). Here dominant masculinity rebukes (in)subordinate masculinity. In the gendered narrative of the 2003 Iraq War, the hero (the United States) must protect potential victims—not just the Iraqi people, but also Iraq’s neighbors (especially Israel, although seldom mentioned by name), the world in general, and US citizens—from the villainy of a nuclear-armed Iraq.

■ Gendered Discourse One technique that critical feminist approaches use to uncover “Gender at Work” is discourse analysis, which carefully examines the specific language, words, and images that political actors use to explain their decisions (Ackerly, Stern, and True 2006). Discourse analysis shows us that officials of the Bush administration used heavily gendered language to justify the invasion of Iraq. For example, in announcing the invasion on 19 March 2003 in a televised address from the Oval Office, President Bush stated, My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger. On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war. . . . To all the men and women of the United States armed forces now in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you. . . . The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery. The people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of the American military. In this conflict, America faces an enemy who has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality. Saddam Hussein has placed Iraqi troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women, and children as shields for his own military, a final atrocity against his people. (Bush 2003c)

So the purpose of the war is to liberate the oppressed from atrocity and to protect the world from Iraq’s nuclear ambitions. Liberating and protecting are masculine-gendered behaviors; those in need of protection are feminized. That the WMD were as fictitious as fire-breathing dragons is beside the point: the knight had to ride to the rescue because he is a knight, a man of action. This rescue imagery is repeated in the narrative of US Army private Jessica Lynch. Lynch, an army clerk, was in a convoy that was ambushed near Nasiriya in the early days of the invasion in March 2003. Official reports at the time stated that she emptied her rifle in the firefight and was then captured and held as a prisoner of war in an Iraqi hospital, where she was physically and sexually abused. Her dramatic rescue was filmed with

Critical Feminism

289

night vision video and broadcast worldwide. In a subsequent investigation of the incident, Lynch and other witnesses revealed that she “had been injured by the crash of her vehicle, her weapon jammed before she could fire, the Iraqi doctors treated her kindly, and the hospital was already in friendly hands when her rescuers arrived” (Kirkpatrick 2003). That is, the rescue was staged, the story given a heroic “spin” to capture media and public attention. Embarrassed by the exaggerated overstatement of her “rescue,” Lynch said that she felt “hurt and ashamed” that the story had been “blown out of proportion” when there were so many soldiers serving in Iraq who were “true heroes” (Bragg 2003). Yet such narrative spinning was not unusual. As one British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report notes, “The American (media) strategy was to ensure the right television footage by using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, including editing the film themselves” (Kampfner 2003). In both Iraq and Afghanistan, US media strategy often resulted in such misrepresentation, as in the case of Corporal Pat Tillman, the NFL football player turned army ranger. Official reports stated that Tillman was killed in a firefight with Afghan insurgents; a subsequent investigation revealed that he was accidentally killed by friendly fire and the fratricide was covered up (New York Times 2008). Another example of “peacocking”—a public display of masculinity— was the infamous “Mission Accomplished” media event. US forces and the “coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq on 20 March 2003. On the first of May, a Lockheed jet fighter landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln just off the coast of southern California as the aircraft carrier made its way toward San Diego harbor. President Bush, wearing a flight suit, got out of the plane and posed for photographs with crew members on the flight deck in front a huge banner reading “Mission Accomplished.” He then removed the flight suit and gave a speech declaring that major combat operations in Iraq had ended: “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed” (Bush 2003e). The publicity photos of Bush in flight gear suggest that Bush piloted the plane, but he did not; although he had trained as a military pilot, he was not rated on that plane and had never landed on a carrier. Critics quickly pointed out that the carrier was close enough to shore for Bush to have made a more typical but less dramatic presidential entrance via helicopter (Loughlin 2003). And critics of the Bush administration policy point out that the mission in Iraq still had not been fully “accomplished” by the end of Bush’s second term of office in 2008 (Galbraith 2008). Gendered discourse—in this case, language that asserts masculinity— was evident in the press conference on 2 July 2003, in which President Bush uttered his now infamous “bring ’em on” comment in response to this reporter’s question:

290

Feminist Approaches

Q: A posse of small nations, like Ukraine and Poland, are materializing to help keep the peace in Iraq, but with the attacks on U.S. forces and casualty rates rising, what does the administration do to get larger powers like France and Germany and Russia to join in the American (inaudible)? BUSH: Well, first of all, you know, we’ll put together a force structure that meets the threats on the ground. And we got a lot of forces there ourselves. And as I said yesterday, anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice. There are some who feel like that if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don’t understand what they’re talking about, if that’s the case. . . . There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring them on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. (Bush 2003f)

The statement was intended to bolster troop morale but has been widely criticized as taunting Iraqi insurgents and putting US service members at greater risk (Galbraith 2008: 11). The phrasing invokes a masculine swagger, a throwing down of the gauntlet, a drawing of a line in the sand; provocative discourse such as this precludes a policy choice of diplomatic conflict resolution as cowardice. In the wake of these and similar remarks, Iraqi leaders and troops could not negotiate: their manhood had been insulted. Their response would have to demonstrate their strength and virility in the face of such a challenge to recuperate their masculinity. Other examples of the use of gendered discourse can be found in criticisms of the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq War, from, for example, Peter W. Galbraith, a diplomat who served as an adviser to the Kurdish regional government in the early years of the war (New York Times 2010). In his most recent book, Unintended Consequences (2008), Galbraith feminizes the Bush administration in order to discredit it. For example, he accuses the Bush administration of weakness and promiscuity, two concepts associated with women, that is, people gendered feminine by society’s standards. “The Iraq War was intended to project American strength in the world. Instead it revealed weakness,” Galbraith asserts, and “if there had ever been a chance for success, George W. Bush’s weak leadership guaranteed failure” (2008: 10, 62). He later decries the administration’s effort at regime change in neighboring Iran as “feeble or feckless” (Galbraith 2008: 71). Strength is considered a masculine trait, while weakness is associated as feminine. This is an interesting turnabout, since taking military action is usually gendered masculine (and therefore praiseworthy), while negotiation is typically gendered feminine because it is regarded as “passive” rather than active, and ineffective—as in the now universally discredited strategy of “appeasement” adopted by UK prime minister Neville Chamberlain vis-à-vis Hitler’s Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II (Galbraith 2008: 182). But for Galbraith, who previously served as US ambassador to Croatia, the Bush administration’s military action itself is not masculine

Critical Feminism

291

enough—he apparently wanted them to “man up” where he believed real force was needed—against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan—but to rely on diplomacy in Iraq (2008: 148–149). Galbraith feminizes the Bush administration by using gendered references to sexual activity, sexuality, and gender identity. For example, he writes, “the Bush Administration was promiscuous in permitting conservative activists to go to Iraq, and even design their own projects” (Galbraith 2008: 58). The adjective “promiscuous” is seldom used to describe men: in a gendered double standard, men who have multiple sex partners are praised in popular culture as “players,” while women are condemned as “whores” (Sjoberg and Gentry 2008). Galbraith subsequently uses androcentric discourse to accuse the Bush administration of having no real strategy in Iraq except to “run out the clock” (2008: 45). This sports analogy reinforces Galbraith’s depiction of the Bush administration as passive and therefore feminine. In case we have missed his gendered point, Galbraith reiterates empathically, “George W. Bush lost the Iraq War . . . the Bush administration showed weakness when it needed to be strong,” and Bush “was too weak or too inattentive to make his own administration follow his orders” (2008: 48–49, 54, emphasis in original). Galbraith argues that the Bush administration’s weakness had the unintended consequences of provoking civil war in a disintegrating Iraq, empowering and failing to disarm Iran, abandoning and alienating Turkey, and endangering Israel (2008: 108–144). Galbraith uses this gendered critique or feminization of the Bush administration and its policies to legitimize Galbraith’s own Iraq strategy of diplomacy and negotiation to partition Iraq (2008: 167–186). This legitimization is needed because Bush administration officials had consistently dismissed diplomacy as a tool of the weak and claimed that a divided Iraq would jeopardize US strategic interests in the region. Galbraith contends that diplomacy is a policy of pragmatism, not “appeasement”—he is, of course, trying to excise the historical association of appeasement with cowardice or unmanliness. Galbraith compares the proposed partition of Iraq with the partition of Yugoslavia, and he contends partition is necessary for peace and stability but critiques both processes as unnecessarily violent due to an emphasis on military rather than diplomatic means. Here, Galbraith’s analysis deploys gender to support his argument without even mentioning women. But where are the women in his analysis? Well, let’s see: How can we identify the bad guys in Galbraith’s narrative about Iraq? Galbraith uses women’s socially subordinate gender status, unequal treatment, and victimization to reveal the villains. “Democracy does not exist in Arab Iraq. Shiite religious parties rule Iraq’s south, where they have created their own theocratic dictatorships . . . a version of Taliban rule in Afghanistan where women do not work, girls do not go to school, and any deviance in dress or conduct means death” (2008: 6). Galbraith also

292

Feminist Approaches

notes that the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia “assassinated local chieftains and in some instances forced their daughters to marry AQM fighters. (Such marriages were thinly disguised rapes),” while the Mahdi Army was “a potent force in Sadr City and other Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad” (2008: 17, 23).2 So Shiites and al-Qaeda are the bad guys, but so is George Bush because he failed in his masculine role of protector and rescuer of Iraqi women. Thus Galbraith portrays Bush as an impotent bungler rather than a knight in shining armor. Galbraith also recognizes how gender was deployed by the Bush administration and its allies to make themselves look good in a strategy to promote their “modern” credentials to the West. In Iran, the opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) used gender propaganda to woo US support: To emphasize its being a modern organization as distinct from the Tehran theocrats, the MEK appointed a woman as Camp Ashraf’s nominal commander and maintained a women’s tank battalion. The commander was clearly not in command and the women mechanics supposedly working on tank engines all had spotless uniforms. (Galbraith 2008: 73)

The gender implications of discourse can be overt or quite subtle. For example, the language of international relations today distinguishes between “hard power,” primarily understood as military might, and “soft power,” characterized as influence wielded by diplomats, among others (Nye 2004b). In gender relations, of course, it is far better to be “hard” than “soft.” It is no surprise, therefore, that Galbraith emphasizes the courage of diplomats serving in “hot spots,” recuperating the masculinity of a profession often feminized as too “soft” by its critics: In recent years, every diplomat serving in a war zone (Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s, Iraq and Afghanistan today) volunteered to go. They are well aware of the dangers but willing to take the risk because these are places where diplomats can accomplish something. . . . We routinely ask our military to put their lives on the line in pursuit of national security objectives. It is absurd to stop diplomats from voluntarily taking a fraction of the military’s risk in order to accomplish these same goals. (Galbraith 2008: 178–179)

Galbraith himself welcomed dangerous assignments in war zones. In 2009, Galbraith was appointed UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan to assist in observing the election process; the UN mission would decide whether the August presidential elections were free and fair. Subsequently, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Galbraith accused his supervisor, the UN mission chief Kai Eide, of covering up massive fraud in the Afghan elections to support the reelection of President Hamid Karzai. Eide countered that the UN mission was only to observe, not

Critical Feminism

293

to interfere with or direct, the electoral process, which was the responsibility of the Afghan national election commission. Galbraith was recalled from Afghanistan for consultation and dismissed due to “irreconcilable differences” with Eide (Oppel and MacFarquhar 2009). These differences may stem from Galbraith’s gendered conceptualization of a more active, vigorous brand of diplomacy, where diplomats are willing to take risks and “to put their lives on the line,” rather than to stand by passively and observe the action—that is, a more masculine, less feminine style of diplomacy.

■ Gendered Torture A petite woman in military fatigues smiles for the camera, holding a dog leash. On the other end of the leash is a naked Iraqi man, crouched on all fours. It is no accident that this prisoner’s humiliation is enhanced by the gender reversal in the scene: this is a deliberate strategy both to dehumanize and to demasculinize, that is, to physically subordinate the Iraqi prisoner’s masculinity to the dominant US masculinity embodied by the man holding the camera (whom we do not see) and directing the scene. Here, gender is deployed as a weapon of torture. This photo and dozens of others like it document systematic torture of detainees held at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison complex in northern Iraq in the early years of the US occupation of Iraq (D’Amico 2007). The digital pictures of abuse by US military police in charge of guarding the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were leaked to the media, prompting an investigation. The photos showed guards physically and sexually assaulting prisoners, documenting the use of beating, rape, and sodomy against both male and female prisoners. Prisoners were frequently kept naked in their cells, their exposure intended to shame and embarrass them, and they were hooded to disorient them and presumably to prevent them from being able to identify their abusers. Restraints were used to keep prisoners in “stress” positions, and cigarette burns and electric shocks were applied to their genitals. The irrefutable photographic evidence of torture led to court martial trials of some two dozen personnel, with eleven being convicted (Mestrovic 2006; Sjoberg 2006). Gender analysis provides critical insights to help us make sense of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. “The Iraq prison scandal starkly reveals the assumptions beneath the US military’s gender camouflage—that is, the multiple overt and subtle ways gender is deployed in the military context to include or to marginalize, to honor or to stigmatize” (D’Amico 2007: 45). A key dimension of gender in this context was the US military dynamic in which women soldiers are still seen as “outsiders” in what many perceive as a quintessentially masculine institution. When questioned about why she participated in the abuse, the woman in the picture described above, Private

294

Feminist Approaches

Lynndie England, replied that she just wanted to be “one of the guys,” that is, to fit in, to be accepted. She posed under the direction of her superior officer, Sargeant Charles Graner. Women who serve in the military feel this pressure to conform to the dominant group behavior because they remain highly visible in the gender-nontraditional occupation of soldier. But gender cuts both ways, as male soldiers also felt pressured to participate in the abuse rather than risk being mocked or ostracized as unmasculine, as “wimps” who “couldn’t hack it” (D’Amico 2007). Private Joseph Darby, who blew the whistle on the atrocities, left the service in part to escape from the retaliation he experienced for having turned over the photos and testified against Graner and others involved in the incidents. Gender also shaped the discourse and direction of the investigation into the Abu Ghraib abuses. For example, a report by Major General Antonio Taguba criticized Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the military police commander for Iraq’s prison system, for a “failure of leadership” and for being “emotional” during questioning—a descriptor rarely applied to men (D’Amico 2007: 48). In her autobiography, Karpinski claims that her leadership was derailed by overt and covert insubordination: several men in her command routinely ignored her orders, and her efforts to discipline soldiers who participated in improper treatment of prisoners were undermined by a “boys will be boys” attitude in the chain of command (Karpinski and Strasser 2005; see also Copeland 2004).

■ Gender and War Critical feminists analyze the ways war itself is gendered. In most societies, most if not all warriors/soldiers are men. The militarization of masculinity is used to mobilize men to fight; the US Marines “are looking for a few good men,” as the recruiting slogan stated so succinctly. Yet war “does not come naturally to men,” but rather “requires intense socialization and training,” and gender identity “becomes a tool with which societies induce men to fight” (Goldstein 2001: 252). Because war is seen as “men’s work,” women who want to serve in the military—an institution whose primary purpose is to prepare for and engage in war—are seen as violating society’s prescribed gender boundaries. In the anthology Gender Camouflage, Laurie Weinstein and I explore the connections between gender, defined as the hierarchical relations between men (people gendered masculine) and women (people gendered feminine), in the US military: The military plays a critical role in the creation and maintenance of a particular pattern of gender relations in the wider society. The military has a unique position in society because of the “close identification of the military to the state”

Critical Feminism

295

and the “financial, labour, and material resources” at its command. The military’s privileged position makes it not just a mirror of gender relations in society but a fundamental site for the construction of gender, that is, the defining of the boundaries of behavior—indeed, of life possibilities—for the people we call men and women. (D’Amico and Weinstein 1999: 7)

Despite the ubiquitous use of the gender-inclusive phrase “US servicemen and women” by US policymakers and the media, gender shapes behavior expectations and job assignments for both men and women who serve in the US military. In Band of Sisters (2007), journalist Kirsten Holmstedt demonstrates how the social construction of gender affects the experiences of US servicewomen serving in Iraq at the intersection of gender policy and gender identity. In the passage below, US Army captain (now Major) Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down, discusses US combat policy, which, prior to spring 2013, excluded servicewomen from “direct combat” military occupational specialties (“MOS” or jobs): When I was recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., I was asked to address a group of female legislators (Congresswomen and Senators) on what I felt on the ban on women in combat. I told them it was stupid and unrealistic under the conditions of modern warfare . . . the country needs to know that women are fighting and dying and that we need to move on. (Holmstedt 2007: x)

Many of the women profiled in Holmstedt’s book joined the military out of a strong sense of patriotism. They wanted to serve their country but often found that their ability to do so was questioned by some who saw military service as gender-inappropriate for women. Many servicewomen are from military families, and many have families of their own. The story of US Air Force lieutenant colonel Polly Montgomery illustrates the conflict between women’s gender-traditional role of mother and the gender-nontraditional role of soldier (or in this case, airman—and no, they don’t say airwoman): One of Montgomery’s greatest challenges during this deployment had to do with how well she handled the grief that came from missing her children. All three of her children were in their formative years, five and under, which meant Mom missed some critical moments she’ll never be able to recapture. Five-year-old Molly lost her first tooth. Charlie, four, made the switch from drinking out of a bottle to drinking from a glass. And Betsy “Booboo,” just under two years old, spoke her first words when her mom was gone. (Holmstedt 2007: 199)

Despite the official combat exclusion rule, US servicewomen deployed with combat patrols in Iraq. Their services were needed to search Iraqi

296

Feminist Approaches

women who might be hiding weapons or explosives, since Iraqi culture does not permit men to do so. “Marine supervisors weren’t thrilled about sending their women into combat but they didn’t have a choice in the matter. In this war, there was no front line, or every line was the front line. No place was safe in Iraq” (Holmstedt 2007: 2). Congress has recently debated but still has not modified the Department of Defense’s 2013 change to the combat exclusion rule (Clemmitt 2009). Yet this rule does not protect US servicewomen from harm: in addition to casualties and fatalities caused by the conflict, US servicewomen have reported high rates of sexual assault and rape by US servicemen (Benedict 2009). This “gender terrorism” helps police gender boundaries by making all women potential victims, reinforcing their subordinate position in the gender hierarchy (D’Amico 2007). In all conflicts, gender is used as a weapon of war. Women work with the Iraqi insurgency to deliver messages and weapons, and increasing numbers of women are being recruited as suicide bombers. Their femininity makes them less suspect to the occupying forces, who see war as “men’s work” and perceive women as nurturers and caretakers (Sjoberg and Gentry 2008). The insurgents mobilize Iraqi men to participate by challenging their masculinity to protect “our women” from the occupiers. Gender is thus deployed and manipulated to validate and exacerbate the violence (Sjoberg and Gentry 2008; see also McKelvey 2007).

■ Gendered Consequences The effects of any conflict are gendered because conflict itself is gendered and because men and women experience the violence of war differently. Iraq is no exception to this pattern. The demasculinization of Iraq as a result of the Iraq War is both literal and figurative. Iraqi fatalities are predominantly men because their gender makes them subject to military service or mobilization, and directly engaged in the conflict. Even when they are not involved in the fighting, they are suspected by the occupying forces as possible insurgents, and therefore targeted. And the Iraqi state itself has been demasculinized by the imposition of a Western-style model of parliamentary democracy and the pro-Western “subaltern” government of President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, “our men in Iraq.” This subordination did not survive the withdrawal of US troops, as collective Iraqi masculinity reasserted itself. Women in a war zone are less likely to be combatants but more likely to be displaced from their homes and communities, comprising a majority of refugees, which increases their vulnerability to both economic and physical victimization. In postconflict societies, women single heads of household have reduced personal security and access to resources, which results in a pattern of feminization of poverty. And there are gendered political

Critical Feminism

297

consequences as well: soldiers who have sacrificed for their country are lauded as heroes and rewarded not only with military honors but often also political power. Women who typically have not served in the military or who have fled from the fighting as refugees are not seen as potential leaders but instead are encouraged to help heal the divided nation in caretaking roles. Postconflict justice is also gendered. Rape was not recognized by international humanitarian law as a war crime until the 1990s when the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia concluded that the systematic rape of Albanian Muslim women had been a deliberate strategy of ethnic cleansing by the Bosnian Serb forces. The soldiers raped the women to force them to bear “Serb” children and to shame the men of their community who were unable to protect them from the abuse. While recognition of the crime of rape in war is a step forward, the treatment of that crime solely as an assault on the collective identity of the ethnic group targeted, and not also as a gender-based hate crime against a person, provides collective justice for the community but not individual justice for the victim (Charlesworth, Chinkin, and Wright 1991). In the context of Iraq, this would mean that only mass rape used as a strategy of war can be prosecuted as a war crime, but “ordinary” rape—that is, rape by soldiers acting on their own volition rather than on orders—will not be punishable as a war crime.

■ Conclusion In considering the 2003 Iraq War through a critical feminist lens, I have explored how social concepts of gender and other dimensions of difference have been mobilized to frame our understandings, to construct community identities, and to justify policy strategies. I have used the technique of discourse analysis to examine how the images of women and men are portrayed in the narratives produced by policymakers, government critics, and the media. Understanding how gender and other dimensions of difference shaped the situation in Iraq can help us to examine how the “lessons” learned here may be (mis)applied to other contemporary conflicts, and our awareness of gender should make us more cautious in our evaluation of calls for intervention in other places. One example is Sudan. Here the international community has alleged that the Janjaweed militia has committed mass rape of women and girls that justifies the imposition of sanctions and a call for humanitarian intervention. While these mass rapes are truly atrocities and rightly condemned, the women of Sudan—who have long suffered from the structural violence of extreme poverty, malnutrition, lack of health care, and physical insecurity in a “zone of turmoil”—were ignored and all but invisible to the international community—that is, until they became victims of rape in war. Before

298

Feminist Approaches

we ask the knight to ride to the rescue to protect Sudanese women, we should think about the gendered consequences of increased political violence and militarization of the situation in Sudan and think about policy alternatives to a full-scale war in which there will be no winners, only survivors.

■ Notes 1. These were Finland, Indonesia, Latvia, New Zealand, Panama, the Philippines, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Serbia (Christensen 2010). 2. AQM is an acronym for al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a Sunni insurgent group in Iraq.

9 English School Approaches 9.1 The English School Jennifer Sterling-Folker As its name suggests, the English School originated in the British study of IR. Yet many of its present practitioners are not of that nationality, and the perspective is sometimes referred to as the “classical” or “international society” approach instead (Dunne 1998: 4). It developed out of what was called the British Committee on the Theory of International Politics, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to be the parallel to a US committee with a similar mission.1 The British committee consisted of a group of IR scholars and policymakers who first met in January 1959, and as its membership expanded to include later generations of scholars, it held regular meetings until the early 1980s. Its organizers were Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, and some of the other original members who were to prove influential in the development of the English School were Hedley Bull, Adam Watson, and Michael Howard.2 The committee represented, as Tim Dunne has observed, “the first self-conscious attempt to organize a community of scholars working in Britain for the purpose of generating a deeper understanding of the ‘big questions’ in International Relations” (1998: 89). Although the English School did not initially develop a large following in the US discipline, some of its members were involved in the theoretical debate over methodology that roiled the discipline in the 1960s. This debate is often referred to as the “second great debate” in the discipline, and it reflected a fundamental dichotomy that exists to this day regarding how to study the subject matter of IR.3 On one side were the behavioralists, who argued that the subject matter of IR should be studied scientifically, so that it would be limited only to phenomena that could be empirically observed and measured. They advocated the adoption of methods such as “attitude surveys, content analysis, simulation and gaming, statistical correlations, model building, and the use of computer-driven quantitative analysis as a basis for achieving precision in measurement and analysis” (Dougherty and 299

300

English School Approaches

Pfaltzgraff 1997: 33).4 On the other side were the traditionalists, represented by Bull (1969), who argued that “the most important questions in international relations were not amenable to empirical verification” and that concepts such as “the state, international society, diplomatic community and so on were all knowable even if they were not observable” (Dunne 1998: 9). While the debate was cast as a methodological disagreement by its participants, it clearly involved epistemological and ontological differences that foreshadowed the contemporary split between IR positivists and postpositivists. English School scholars, along with other traditionalists on both sides of the Atlantic, lost the battle to behavioralists in the US discipline, although the impact of behavioralism was never as totalizing as its critics feared it would be. But one unfortunate effect, as Miles Kahler notes, is that “the apparent defeat of the traditional or classical approach in this second great debate imposed losses even on the empirical program that the victorious scientists would pursue. International relations was severed from political philosophy, diplomatic history, and international law” (1997: 31). Fortunately these were subjects that English School scholars continued to explore, and the perspective continued to develop parallel to, but not in partnership with, subsequent theoretical perspectives and variants in the US discipline. Today the English School has adherents from around the globe, and an ISA section devoted to it was established in 2002. The English School is often categorized as either a modified version of realism or a variant of liberal IR theorizing, yet both of these characterizations are inaccurate.5 Certainly realism was the perspective’s starting point, and the committee was heavily influenced by the work of realist E. H. Carr. Hence the role of power in IR, and of balance of power in particular, is a central concern of the perspective. But many of the committee’s originating members were dissatisfied with the ethical position that a subscription to realism seemed to suggest. The concern with ethical questions, and a concomitant interest in international diplomacy and law, was derived from classical realism, and it was precisely what was discarded by the scientifically oriented US neorealism (R. Jackson 1996: 212–213). These subjects were also discarded by many US liberal IR scholars. Despite a common interest in regimes as facilitators of international cooperation, for example, there are clear analytical differences between the English School and liberal IR variants such as neoliberal institutionalism. The result is that the English School attempts to combine elements of realism and liberalism under the same analytical umbrella. In its focus on international law, the English School draws heavily on the philosophical work of Hugo Grotius, who had argued in the seventeenth century that when states accept international laws as binding, the establishment of an international legal order could effectively neutralize the impact of anarchy. The Grotian tradition, which English School scholars sometimes

The English School

301

refer to instead as “rationalism,” is juxtaposed to a Hobbesian tradition, which approximates realism and characterizes IR as a zero-sum context in which power is essential and war endemic. It is also juxtaposed to a Kantian tradition, which approximates liberalism and characterizes IR as a transnational social context that has the potential to evolve into a community based on common interests. Alternatively, the Grotian tradition characterizes IR as an “international society” in which states are bound, out of a combination of expediency and morality, by the rules and institutions they create (see Bull 1977: 13; and Bull and Watson 1984: 1). While the Grotian tradition combines elements of the other two traditions, it differs in recognizing the critical tension between them since, in any given international situation, what may be minimally necessary to uphold a self-interested legal order might conflict with its moral demands for legal justice. The concept of an “international society” is central to the English School perspective, which argues that the existence of such a society does not contradict the assumption that IR occurs in an anarchic environment. Rather there is an “anarchical society” (Bull 1977) of sovereign states that arises out of engineered balances of power, established rules based on customary behavior and enlightened self-interest, and a shared subscription to a particular set of universal norms. According to the English School, the creation of an international society allows its members to obtain three basic goals: “some limits on use of force, some provision for sanctity of contracts, and some arrangement for the assignment of property goods” (Buzan 1993: 334). Yet commonly held values and norms play as important a role in the creation and maintenance of international societies as do self-interests and power. It is the combination of shared values and common self-interests that distinguishes the concept of international society, which is self-conscious and self-regulating, from that of an international system, which merely involves interacting parts (Buzan 1993: 331). There can be ordered relations in a system, but they are quite minimal, involving interactions such as diplomatic exchanges and negotiated treaties. An international society, on the other hand, is several ordering steps beyond this, involving shared understandings, common rules or procedures for interaction and conduct, and some sort of codification of these understandings and rules. It is possible to have international systems without international societies, and in fact the presence of international societies has been the historical exception rather than rule. Some examples of periods and regions that have been identified by English School scholars as having obtained the status of international societies include the classical Greek city-states, the Chinese warring states, and the ancient state system of India. Contemporary international society is founded on the principle of nation-state sovereignty, which constitutes a common understanding that

302

English School Approaches

nation-states have an obligation to respect the territorial integrity of other nation-states and refrain from interfering in their internal affairs. This understanding has given rise to long-standing behaviors, normative understandings, and rules of conduct that have been codified in international law. The centrality of sovereign states to the formation of an international society is an important clue for distinguishing it from an international system. So too is the presence of self-conscious balance-of-power politics, which English School scholars argue are as essential as international norms and laws for the order and maintenance of an international society. Given the general parameters of the perspective, a number of central questions drive English School scholarship. How do international societies come into being, and at what point can they be distinguished from the international systems within which they are embedded? Have they always existed, and how is it possible to identify them historically? Do international societies need to first develop out of regional subsystems, and must states always be the constitutive units of international societies? To answer these questions, English School scholars have adopted a methodology involving the “historical sociology” of state systems, which traces the evolution of international society norms and behaviors.6 “In order to understand the institution of sovereignty, for example, an English School approach would advocate a historical sociology of the term and the meanings given to it by state leaders at particular historical junctures” (Dunne 1998: 186). In this way, the diplomatic and political practices that devolve from these different cultural and historical meanings may be traced and revealed. The approach is “interpretive” to the extent that it involves historical and philosophical reflection, so that international society “remains better developed as a historical than as a theoretical concept” (Buzan 1993: 329). It is also “realist” to the extent that, as Dunne (1998: 119–120) notes, there is an implicit assumption that the lessons of history may be applied to contemporary IR. There are divisions within the English School, however, and one important division involves the minimal foundations upon which international societies develop. Are societies created out of conscious self-interest, or do they evolve naturally on the basis of a preexisting common identity? In the former situation, which was expounded upon by Bull, international societies are consciously and contractually constructed. They develop out of functional interests that states hold in common, such as a desire to reduce interstate violence or protect property rights, and they do not require any preexisting cultural similarity. Alternatively in the latter situation, argued by Wight, international societies develop out of common experiences and identities, and these shared social practices in culture, religion, and language serve as a necessary foundation for shared goals. Obviously these two foundations are not mutually exclusive, and it may be possible for an international society to start from a functional basis and then develop a

The English School

303

common identity among its participants. It is also possible that international societies consist of concentric circles in which the core shares a common identity while more peripheral states participate for functional reasons alone (Buzan 1993: 345, 349–350). But an analytical tension between these two foundations remains, and it has interesting implications for how to analyze modern international society. The tension informs debates between two variants within the English School known as the pluralists and the solidarists.7 English School pluralists argue that states are interested in peaceful coexistence and will only agree to the minimum requirements for maintaining international order, such as the mutual respect of each other’s sovereignty, nonintervention, and abiding by established codes of diplomacy. Beyond these principles, states will not act in concert to enforce larger moral principles, and encouraging them to do so can actually destabilize international order. English School solidarists, on the other hand, argue that there is at least the potential for the mutual respect and enforcement of international law and universal ethics based on shared values and norms. Given this potential, elements of solidarity should be encouraged “by drawing attention to them whenever they are left out of legal and political judgements, and by leaving a margin for the use of reason and morality in the interpretation of existing rules of law” (Knudsen 2002: 23). These solidarist concerns are quite clear in Chapter 9.2, in which Tonny Knudsen argues that the principles of international legal and political order were upheld in the UNSC debates over the US invasion, thereby avoiding potentially damaging consequences to contemporary international society. English School pluralism and solidarism are not simply analytical alternatives; they represent alternative moral accounts of the nature of international society and what binds it together. They also suggest alternative policy prescriptions for maintaining the contemporary global order, since the solidarist’s insistence on common responsibilities for universal justice is a potential source of conflict and instability from the pluralist point of view.8 Thus the English School perspective is not simply about whether states should conform to international law or how to account for instances when they do not. It is instead about the tension that arises between the need for order and the desire for justice. While there have been attempts to bridge the pluralist-solidarist divide within the English School perspective (for example, Vincent 1986), these positions are not easily reconcilable. Instead they represent a basic philosophical problem that is also suggested by, but not fully delineated in, debates among realists, liberals, and constructivists over what produces cooperation (see, for example, Starr 1995). The English School also differs from these other theoretical perspectives in that it takes seriously not only our ability to socially construct alternative orders, but also our moral responsibility to do so. The work of early

304

English School Approaches

scholars of the English School was influenced by Carr’s observation that since people are generally willing to accept a given reality, ideas must have rhetorical and political power that can be mobilized to create new normatively informed social orders (Buzan 1993: 329–330). Thus the English School argues that “the international society tradition can offer critical openings into theorizing a universal moral order” (Dunne 1998: 189), and it is committed to putting these philosophical observations into moral practice. Although the universal moral order envisioned by English School scholars is typically liberal in content, their desire to radically rethink and recast the subject matter of IR places the English School perspective closer to the poststructuralist end of the epistemological spectrum. The English School does not simply deconstruct, however; rather it seeks to sustain and develop an international society in which the tension between order and justice will not destroy the consensus upon which the society rests. Hence the pluralist-solidarist divide within the perspective also represents a difference over how to socially construct the future world order, since “the very act of perceiving international relations in societal terms will itself condition behavior by opening new understandings of what is possible and what is desirable” (Buzan 1993: 330). In this way, the English School combines elements of almost all other IR theoretical perspectives, and at the same time it has maintained a Grotian tradition, involving law, morality, and international order, that was almost entirely lost to the US IR discipline.

■ Further Reading Although he was not a member of the British Committee or an English School scholar, the work of E. H. Carr (1939) had an enormous impact on the perspective’s development. The scholar most often identified as the “father” of the English School perspective is Martin Wight, yet the member who has been most influential within the discipline is Hedley Bull with his book The Anarchical Society (1977). Bull was a student of Wight’s and played a lead role in having Wight’s work (1991, 1978, 1977) published posthumously. Another member of the original British Committee whose work has been influential is Adam Watson, especially his book The Evolution of International Society (1992). The original founder of the British Committee, Herbert Butterfield, is best known for a volume of early committee papers he and Wight edited, titled Diplomatic Investigations (1966). A subsequent edited volume by Bull and Watson, The Expansion of International Society (1984), represents the end of the collaboration among original committee members, but not of the English School itself. Tim Dunne’s Inventing International Society (1998) provides an overview of the school’s development and includes chapters devoted to each of its early practitioners.

The English School

305

By the mid-1970s, a second generation of English School scholars had emerged, including Michael Donelan (1990, 1978) and James Mayall (1991, 1982). The work of one of Bull’s students, R. J. Vincent (1986, 1974; also Miller and Vincent 1990), was particularly influential on the post–Cold War generation of English School scholars. And Barry Buzan (2004, 2001, 1993) has been influential in the contemporary (or what is sometimes called “new”) English School. English School works that focus on historical international societies, the origins of contemporary international society, and the application of the English School to particular regions include Buzan and Gonzalez-Pelaez 2009, Buzan and Little 2000, Gong 1984, Manners 2002, Suganami 1989, and Zhang 1998. Examples of pluralist English School scholarship include Bain 2003; R. Jackson 2000, 1999, 1990; and A. Roberts 2003, 1993. Examples of solidarist scholarship, besides the work of R. J. Vincent, include Bellamy 2006; Bellamy and Williams 2011, 2005; Dunne 2003, 2001; Dunne and Wheeler 1999; Frost 1991; Knudsen 2012, 2002, 2000; Knudsen and Laustsen 2006; Weiss 2004; and N. Wheeler 2000, 1996. Other seminal works in the English School include C. Brown 1995; Bull, Kingsbury, and Roberts 1990; Cutler 1991; Clark 2005; Epp 1998; Fawn and Larkin 1996; Hurrell 2007; James 1986, 1973; C. Manning 1962; Rengger 1999; and Suganami 2001. Scholars such as Andrew Linklater and Iver Neumann might also be cited as English School participants, although their work has been listed in the overview chapters on critical theory and constructivism, respectively. For historical overviews and assessments of the English School, see Bellamy 2005, Jørgensen and Knudsen 2006b, and Linklater and Suganami 2006. There are a number of works about the relationship between the English School and other IR theories, including Der Derian 1988, Dunne 1995, Evans and Wilson 1992, Holsti 1997, Hurrell 1993, R. Jackson 1996, Little 1995, Reus-Smit 2002, Roberson 2002, and Wæver 2002. James Der Derian’s volume (1995a), cited in the overview chapter on postmodernism and critical theory, purposely pairs English School essays with articles from positivist and postpositivist perspectives in the discipline. Additional English School readings may be found at this website, which maintains comprehensive bibliographies and was useful in compiling this list: http://www.polis.leeds.ac.uk/research/international-relations-security /english-school/resources.php.

■ Notes 1. The US committee consisted of prominent realists, such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Morgenthau, Arnold Wolfers, Paul Nitze, Richard Fox, William Thompson, and Kenneth Waltz, but Tim Dunne (1998: 90) notes that it was less successful due to di-

306

English School Approaches

visions between the theorists and the policymakers in the group. For an in-depth analysis of the US committee and its impact on US internatinal relations theory, see Guilhot 2010. 2. Other members of the committee included Desmond Williams, Donald Mackinnon, Geoffrey Hudson, and William Armstrong, most of whom were not scholars of IR (Dunne 1998: xiii). Dunne (1998: chap. 5) provides details on the committee’s formation, membership, and inner workings. 3. See Chapter 6.1, endnote 4 in this volume for a description of and sources for these debates. 4. James Dougherty and Robert Pfaltzgraff further note that precision was necessary for “what was hoped would be a cumulative theory linking various islands of theory in a grand or general theory of IR based on interlinked propositions” (1997: 33). The debate between the behavioralists and traditionalists played out in the pages of World Politics and International Studies Quarterly, and some of the most seminal pieces, including Bull’s essay, were later published in an edited volume by Klaus Knorr and James Rosenau (1969). Dunne (1998: chap. 6) discusses this debate from the traditionalist and non-US perspective. 5. For example, Paul Viotti and Mark Kauppi (1999: 63–64) include a discussion of the English School in their chapter on realism, while Mark Zacher and Richard Matthew (1995: 133–134) discuss it as an institutional strand of liberal theorizing. 6. For overviews of historical sociology and its relationship to IR theories, see Hobden and Hobson 2002 and Lawson 2007, 2006. For English School methodology in general, see Navari 2009. 7. The terms were introduced by Bull (1977, 1966), and Knudsen notes that they are “a reflection of a much older controversy between the legal traditions of positivism and naturalism over the nature of international society and the proper foundation of international law” (2002: 21). Pluralists are grounded in legal positivism, while solidarists are grounded in cosmopolitan ethics. 8. Dunne (1998: 11) notes that the two variants provide alternative answers to a variety of normative questions in the discipline, including the use of force and conduct of war, justification for intervention, distribution of global resources, and the content of human rights. Knudsen (2002: 24–25) provides a useful discussion and chart of their differences.

9.2 The English School: International Society’s Constraints on Power Politics Tonny Brems Knudsen

At first sight, the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 may seem to be a destructive case to the English School and its theory about an orderly and potentially just international society based on common rules and institutions. After all, the UNSC was bypassed, basic rules of international law like nonintervention and the general ban on the use of force were broken, and the widespread international opposition to the war was brushed aside. This led some English School theorists to wonder whether modern international society had given way to international hierarchy dictated by the United States (Dunne 2003). This was, indeed, a hard test of the basic English School assumption that rules and institutions matter in international politics, and apparently one that it did not pass! At least, this could be the obvious conclusion. On the other hand, there are also some strong indications that the rules and institutions of international society actually did matter in this case, even when challenged by hegemonic power. Why, after all, did the United States and the coalition continue to push for a UNSC authorization of the attack month after month during the Iraq disarmament crisis? And why did France, Germany, China, Russia, and many other states work so hard to prevent the passing of such an authorization? It is this battle over international legitimacy and political support in the UNSC that is at the heart of the present English School analysis of the 2003 Iraq War. The first element I examine is the legal validity and political force of the main justifications of the war presented by the coalition. These included (1) a defense of international peace and security, (2) a preventive war including the imposition of democracy as a means of security, and (3) a humanitarian intervention to bring an end to torture and tyranny in Iraq. I then discuss whether international rules and institutions actually made a difference. Finally, I ask whether the war led to a new and more expansive international interpretation of the right to the use of force in IR, as desired by the United States and other members of the coalition. In combination these questions add up to one of IR’s big puzzles: Are rules and institutions mere reflections of power politics, or do they actually make a difference? Before proceeding to the case, however, the theoretical concepts of the English School should be reviewed.

307

308

English School Approaches

■ The Theory of International Society According to the English School, international society is not simply another name for what the realist tradition refers to as “international anarchy,” that is, a system of states characterized by competition, conflict, and power politics. On the contrary, what is meant by the term international society is a social order in which states, as well as peoples, individuals, IOs, and a number of other actors, are engaged in habitual and regularized interaction based on shared interests and values, shared norms and rules, and shared institutions and practices.1 An international society is, in other words, much more than an international system, since the latter can be conceived of simply as a group of interacting states, meaning a state of affairs in which two or more states have sufficient contact with each other to cause them to behave as parts of a whole (Bull 1977: 9–16). According to the English School, modern international society can be identified, evaluated, and discussed in terms of several dimensions. First, it is an idea that exists inside the minds of state leaders, diplomats, NGO representatives, journalists, and ordinary citizens throughout the world, and that is shared by them and often appealed to in national and international dialogues at all levels. Second, the idea of international society has a normative expression in shared rules, norms, and standards of morality, and in the related language of social, orderly, and just interaction. Third, it has an institutional manifestation in shared practices and arrangements like sovereignty, diplomacy, international law, the balance of power, great power management and intervention, and in related practices such as collective security, great power concert, international trusteeship, and humanitarian intervention. Finally, it has a physical expression in embassies, in documents of international law, and in the buildings and machinery of IOs and NGOs just to mention a few examples.2 International society, in other words, is about shared understandings and, as argued by Hedley Bull (1977: 4–6, 18–19), the most basic of these understandings concern the minimum requirements of international coexistence. Such requirements include limitations on the use of force (stipulated in Article 2.4 and Chapter VII of the UN Charter), the stabilization of possession (expressed in the mutual recognition of sovereignty) , and the keeping of promises (the basic legal principle that agreements must be honored). Shared expectations, rules, and institutions mean that there is a significant element of predictability in international politics and thus a basic social structure of international order (Bull 1977; R. Jackson 2000). There are also some important reflections of international justice and solidarity in that common ideas about the equality of states (Bull 1977: 81–82), human rights, international humanitarian law, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian intervention, and the rebuilding of war-torn societies are present in the common rules, institutions, and practices of international society.3

The English School

309

Changes in the most fundamental shared expectations and practices are therefore directly relevant to international order and justice. Sometimes, new rules and practices are developed and incorporated into the institutional machinery of international society by means of dialogue and consent. At other times, the turbulence associated with the proposal of new principles and practices, or a challenge to established ones, might cause divisions within international society. Or established fundamental norms may simply be shattered by the sheer example of deviant behavior or policy, especially when the agent is a great power. But according to the English School, the international reception and destiny of a given policy will depend not only on power, position, and national interests, but also, and perhaps even most of all, on the extent to which the given policy or step is in accordance with, or compatible with, already established shared expectations, values, rules, and institutions. International rules, principles, and practices are not something that can be changed by any power unilaterally but require acceptance and participation of other states (Knudsen 2002). Similarly, international legitimacy is not something that can simply be claimed. To be legitimate a given step must be perceived to be in accordance with international law (or a desired development of it), or it must be considered politically prudent or morally right (R. Jackson 2000). Furthermore, it is important to follow the procedures of international diplomacy and organization. These English School expectations about the importance of rules, institutions, and legitimacy materialize themselves into a series of probing questions for the tough test of the 2003 Iraq War. First, to what extent were the three main justifications for the war (defense of international peace and security, preventive war, and humanitarian intervention) consistent with international law and the resolutions and procedures of the UN? Second, were these justifications received by the international community as legitimate or illegitimate? Third, what were the wider implications of the invasion for the rules and institutions of international society, especially the ones regulating the resort to force? All of these questions derive from the English School’s primary concern that what was at stake in the Iraq War were the most basic principles and institutions of international society.

■ Showdown in the UN Security Council: Iraq as a Threat to Peace and Security? The point of departure for an analysis of the legality and legitimacy of the 2003 attack on Iraq must be the UN Charter’s general prohibition of all use of force and threats thereof, as established in Article 2.4, which states that “all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of

310

English School Approaches

any state, or in any manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” This principle is fundamental to the maintenance of international order, as it makes illegal any resort to force for private purposes, unless the purposes are consistent with those of the UN. There are three exceptions to the general prohibition of the use of force. First, the UNSC can authorize the use of military force to maintain or to restore international peace and security as provided for in Articles 39 and 42 in the UN Charter. Second, there is an inherent right of individual or collective self-defense against an armed attack until the UNSC takes the necessary steps to restore international peace and security as stipulated in Article 51 in the Charter. Third, the Security Council might authorize the use of military force for the purpose of bringing an end to ongoing crimes against humanity, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, or genocide.4 Although the US-led coalition pointed to all three justifications for the war, the primary justification was that Iraq was a threat to international peace and security due to its alleged possession of WMD combined with references to possible links with terrorist organizations. The analysis of this first justification for the war is divided into two parts, namely, the attempt to obtain an authorization of the war as a defense of international peace and security in the UNSC, and the attempt to base the war on older resolutions from the Security Council. Authorization by the UN Security Council? On 12 September 2002, the Bush administration presented its case against Iraq to the UN General Assembly. President Bush’s address looked more like an ultimatum than an invitation to negotiation and diplomacy, however, since it insisted that earlier UNSC resolutions would be enforced with or without the UN (Bush 2002c: 8–9). The majority of UNSC members, led by France, Russia, and China, insisted that Iraq should be given a final, but real, opportunity to straighten out any reasonable accusation and thus avoid war. This position was also put forward by an overwhelming majority of the countries that spoke in the Security Council’s open meeting on 16 and 17 October 2002. France and other countries advocated renewed weapons inspections combined with a so-called two-stage approach that would involve listing demands to Iraq as a final chance to comply and, in case of continuing noncompliance with these demands, reassembling to consider an appropriate response.5 This led to the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 on 8 November 2002, which represented a compromise. First, UN weapons inspectors were sent back into Iraq as a last chance for the regime to be acquitted of the accusation that it remained in possession of the WMD. Successive UNSC resolutions, from Resolution 687 of 3 April 1991 and onward, had

The English School

311

obliged them to destroy these (UN Security Council 2002a: 1–13). Second, the resolution stated that Iraq would face “serious consequences” as demanded by the United States if it continued to violate its obligations (UN Security Council 2002a: Article 13). While UN inspectors returned to Iraq, the United States maintained pressure on Iraq. In his 5 February 2003 speech to the Security Council, US secretary of state Colin Powell presented what he saw as evidence of Iraqi WMD and terrorist connections (UN Security Council 2003e: 2–17). However, he did not convince the Security Council that Iraq constituted a threat to the peace that could only be addressed by military means, as is evident from the ensuing debates in the Council. This impression was confirmed by the briefings from Blix and ElBaradei to the Security Council on 14 February 2003 (UN Security Council 2003d) and 7 March 2003 (UN Security Council 2003b). At the beginning of March 2003 the UN weapons inspectors led by Blix and ElBaradei still had not found any WMD or programs for their development. And to judge from the reports and briefings of the UN weapons inspectors in January, February, and March 2003, the likelihood that Iraq actually possessed or produced weapons of mass destruction, and especially nuclear weapons, seemed smaller and smaller. 6 On this basis, a large majority in the UNSC remained unconvinced in March 2003 that there was a reasonable basis for a resort to force rather than continued weapons inspections. Accordingly, a Spanish-British-US draft resolution that indirectly authorized an attack on Iraq was rejected by a large majority of the UNSC (UN Security Council 2003b, 2003c).7 UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also believed that an attack on Iraq would be illegal in the absence of a new mandate from the UNSC, arguing that “If the US and others were to go outside the Council and take military action, it would not be in conformity with the Charter” (Annan 2003: 1). Thus the first justification, that the invasion was a defense of international peace and security, was left on very thin legal ice. But the missing UN mandate, to use the popular term for it, was much more than a legal problem. Politically, it was also a manifestation of the profound international opposition to the war that had been openly presented in the Security Council meetings leading up to the attack. Three of the five permanent members of the Security Council (France, Russia, and China), several regional great powers (including Germany, India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Egypt, and South Africa), and a great number of other states from all over the world, including close European NATO allies, spoke against it during the often TV-transmitted sessions from the UN meetings (UN Security Council 2003a). The limited backing of the war was plain to see. Consequently, the problem of legitimacy followed not only from the fact that it could be convincingly argued that the attack was illegal without

312

English School Approaches

authorization from the UNSC. It also followed from the fact that so many states openly claimed this to be the case in a political demonstration of their discontent. The failed attempt to secure a mandate at the UN, as prescribed by international law and organizational procedure, immediately transformed itself into political costs, primarily the costs of lost legitimacy. From a theoretical angle, this can be seen as a confirmation of one of the key points of the English School, namely, that international law and international politics are directly connected—with legitimacy and prestige as some of the mediating factors. Older Resolutions on International Peace and Security Being deprived of its preferred justification for the war (i.e., a new resolution authorizing use of force), the US-led coalition also tried to rely on older UNSC resolutions on Iraq to justify its actions. Thus it argued that the Security Council had in fact already authorized the use of force as a combined effect of Resolution 1441 and earlier resolutions concerning the liberation of Kuwait (Goldsmith 2003: 1–4; UN Security Council 2003a: 15– 16; UN Security Council 2002c: 3). However, Resolution 1441 of 8 November 2002 did not “authorize the use of all necessary means” against Iraq (the standard formulation when the Security Council provides for the use of force). Instead, the resolution demanded “immediate, unconditional and active” cooperation with the UN weapons inspectors. It also contained the threat of “serious consequences” in the case of continued Iraqi noncompliance. But, in accordance with the wish of the majority in the Council, this was as far as it went: an automatic or a unilateral (meaning nonauthorized) resort to force was excluded on the basis of Resolution 1441. As for Iraqi compliance, Hans Blix stated on 7 March 2003—twelve days before the war broke out—that on the whole Iraq had cooperated unconditionally, actively (in full with respect to process, in part with respect to substance), and increasingly, although not immediately (UN Security Council 2003b: 5). It was then up to the UNSC to decide what less than 100 percent Iraqi compliance with Resolution 1441 would mean, and at what point a possible resort to force should take place.8 Although Washington kept the door open for a possible resort to other justifications for the anticipated use of force against Iraq, the United States had accepted the two-stage approach with the passing of Resolution 1441 on 8 November 2002. On this occasion, John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the UN, had stated, “this resolution contains no ‘hidden triggers’ and no ‘automaticity’ with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA or a Member State, the matter will return to the Council for discussions as required in paragraph 12” (UN Security Council 2002c: 3). Thus UNSC members agreed that a war against Iraq based on Resolution 1441 presupposed the finding of a so-called smoking or loaded gun; ei-

The English School

313

ther a direct Iraqi connection to the 9/11 terror attacks or WMD constituting a threat to international peace and security. If the “gun” were found in either form, and if Iraq were unwilling to disarm, Resolution 1441 strongly indicated that the UNSC would proceed to military intervention, on the basis of either a new resolution or a unanimous public declaration (to be put forward by the presidency of the Council) stating that a resort to force was the last remaining option. However, the smoking or loaded gun was never found; and therefore the Security Council never stated that the time was ripe for a resort to force. Consequently, the war cannot be justified in legal terms on the basis of Resolution 1441, at least not on its own. Politically, it might be argued that the Security Council should have authorized an attack on Iraq in March 2003, since the weapons inspectors were unable to positively acquit Iraq at the time. However, given the absence of any clear threat from Iraq, military means were not the only option if the goal was to maintain international peace and security. Since the Security Council has an obligation to exhaust all nonmilitary measures before turning to military means, an authorization for the resort to force would not have been in accordance with the Charter. Furthermore, the Security Council has been granted the power to resort to force exclusively to repel international aggression or breaches of and threats to peace. The assumption has always been that at a minimum such a threat should be substantial and direct; otherwise war could be justified in far too many and far too hypothetical situations (Goodrich, Hambro, and Simons 1969: 295–302).9 As long as no WMD had been found, and as long as there were no clear indications that Iraq had hostile intentions toward other countries, the UNSC could hardly come to the conclusion that military force was required in the circumstances of March 2003. In fact, an authorization of the war against Iraq in March 2003 could have discredited the UN Security Council and the UN. For these reasons, it is also very doubtful that a legal case for the war can be built and defended on the basis of earlier UNSC resolutions about the liberation of Kuwait (UN Security Council 1990a, 1990h) and the disarmament of Iraq as a condition of the cease-fire back in 1991 (UN Security Council 1991). The argument that these resolutions were still effective in 2003 as an authorization for the resort to war was not convincing given that Kuwait had already been liberated. Furthermore, there was no authoritative reactivation of these mandates from the UNSC. Consequently, the argument that the authorization to use force contained in Resolution 678 of November 1990 could be invoked for the purpose of securing the disarmament of Iraq in March 2003 in the context of Resolution 1441—which did not authorize the use of force—cannot be supported, either by reference to the text of these resolutions, or by reference to the relevant legal principles and the political circumstances of the early 1990s and early 2003, respectively.

314

English School Approaches

In conclusion, there was no new or old UNSC authorization for an attack on Iraq in March 2003 in defense of international peace and security, at least not of any convincing legal validity, and postulates to the contrary did not claim much international support. In this situation, it is not surprising that the US-led coalition raised entirely different arguments concerning self-defense on the one hand and humanitarian and democratic intervention on the other.

■ Self-Defense, Preventive War, and Democratic Imposition It might be argued—as the United States has done on some occasions—that the attack on Iraq can be justified by the inherent right to self-defense, as in the case of the US intervention in Taliban-led Afghanistan following 9/11. The resort to force against Afghanistan was also not directly authorized by the UNSC. But the intervention in Afghanistan was generally considered to be in accordance with the UN Charter and international law since the UNSC unanimously found that the right to self-defense could be invoked following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, which were by all indications planned and sponsored by the al-Qaeda network headquartered in Afghanistan.10 In contrast, the claim that Iraq was a threat to the United States in 2002–2003 was not self-evident, given Iraq’s unsuccessful war against Iran in 1980–1988, the defeat at the hands of the US-led coalition in the war over Kuwait in early 1991, and the loss in April 1991 of military and political control over northern Iraq following the humanitarian intervention in relief of the Kurds, which led to the establishment of a security zone in that part of the country. Moreover, throughout the 1990s Iraq had been contained by international sanctions and weapons restrictions—although it was unclear how far Baghdad had complied given the fact that the UN weapons inspections were aborted in late 1998 following ongoing Iraqi harassment. Consequently, it was a weakened, but defiant, Iraq that President Bush designated as a member of the “axis of evil,” together with Iran and North Korea, in his 29 January 2002 State of the Union address. The argument for that claim was precisely Iraq’s alleged possession of WMD, and a general fear that members of the “axis of evil” would attack the United States in cooperation with terrorist movements (Bush 2002a: 2–3). This line of reasoning was also put forward by the Bush administration in September 2002 when it introduced its new National Security Strategy, according to which Washington reserved to itself the right to launch preventive attacks on states that might take hostile steps toward the United States: Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter

The English School

315

a potential attacker, the immediacy of today’s threats, and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries’ choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first. . . . To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act pre-emptively. (White House 2002: 15)

This was, effectively, a relaunching of the old and, so it was generally believed, long-compromised principle of the right of preventive warfare. As David Sanger (2003) summarized it in a comment to President Bush’s speech to the nation prior to the attack, “His argument for deposing Saddam Hussein boiled down to one precept: In an age of unseen enemies who make no formal declarations of war, waiting to act after America’s foes ‘have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide.’” The problem with this argument is that the inherent right to self-defense concerns the situation in which a country has been subjected to an armed attack (see Article 51 of the UN Charter). This right might have been invoked if there had been reason to fear that Iraq, in cooperation with the al-Qaeda network, was on the verge of attacking the United States. In that case the resort to force could, in a liberal interpretation of the UN Charter, have been seen as an act of so-called anticipatory self-defense, which is less controversial than preventive war. However, no evidence has ever been produced that supports the allegation that Iraq had anything to do with the terror attacks on 9/11, nor is there evidence of any connection between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. Certainly one can point to the Islamic terrorist groups operating in northern Iraq before the war. But that area was controlled not by Saddam Hussein, but by the Kurds as a result of the establishment of the security zone after the humanitarian intervention in April 1991. As we have seen, the UN weapons inspections found no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program, or a resumption of other dangerous programs of WMD. Furthermore, the attempt by Secretary of State Powell to demonstrate the imminence of an Iraqi threat failed to convince either the UN weapons inspectors or the majority of the member states. To the great majority of the international community, the justification of a necessary resort to preventive force simply did not fly. It was mainly used by the United States (and in combination with the other justifications), whereas the other members of the US-led coalition preferred to refer to the need to enforce the older UNSC resolutions regarding Iraq in an alleged defense of the first justification involving international peace and security. The principle of preventive war was also combined with the idea of democratic imposition or war for the sake of democracy in US justifications. The United States argued that it desired to change the political order in the Middle East, Central Asia, and possibly globally. According to the 2002 US National Security Strategy and the general foreign policy doctrine of the Bush administration, dictator states, rogue states, and terrorist states

316

English School Approaches

should be transformed into modern democracies respecting human rights and the rule of law. Not only would this make them better places in which to live, but they would also be less likely to harbor terrorists or threaten the United States and the West (Bush 2004a: 4; Simes 2003; White House 2002). Furthermore, a successful democratization of Iraq by means of imposition could serve the double political purpose of acting as a vehicle for political change in the Middle East and a lever to pressure other nondemocratic regimes.11 While these ideas might seem attractive, they can easily turn the project of democracy into a sort of crusade based on military force. Moreover, democratic imposition is severely at odds with the basic requirements of international order, including the principle of nonintervention, the mutual recognition of sovereignty, and the limitations on the use of force. In any case, and probably for these reasons, the doctrine of democratic war has no basis in international law and, judging from the reaction to the war against Iraq, it seems also fair to conclude that it does not enjoy much support in contemporary international society. More generally, preventive attacks might seem sensible and reasonable from a private security point of view, but since World War I, such attacks have been regarded with fear and suspicion. Consequently, the doctrine was deliberately outlawed by the establishment of the League of Nations in 1919, the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, and the UN in 1945. From an English School perspective, this rejection of the right of preventive and preemptive attacks in the twentieth century rests on the historically accumulated prudence of modern international society. First, the right is closely connected with, and difficult to separate from, the earlier idea of an unlimited right for states to declare war on one another. Second, it carries with it an obvious and considerable risk of mistakes and abuse, since it is always a matter of judgment as to whether a state is threatened to a degree that would justify a preemptive strike. Third, this right is bound to spread fear among countries not considered to belong to the civilized or inner circles of international society, something that could lead them into the status of genuinely excluded pariah states. Thus a right of preventive war is simply at odds with basic principles of international order and society like the mutual recognition of sovereignty (which can then no longer be trusted by all states), state equality, and the limitations of the use of force. Theoretically and empirically, there are strong reasons to expect a vicious circle of mutual threats and dangerous armament when states are officially outlawed and threatened with preventive attacks, no matter whether the initial causes for political exclusion are well founded or not. In light of these reservations against the doctrine of preventive war, the fact that the UNSC neither authorized nor lent its name to the attack on Iraq

The English School

317

actually had some important positive consequences. First, it was good for the international standing of the UN that the Security Council did not authorize a war that was inconsistent with international law and the UN Charter in the eyes of the great majority of the international community. Second, it was constructive for the future of the international regulation of the use of force that the UNSC did not contribute to legitimizing the doctrine of preventive war.

■ The War Against Iraq as a Humanitarian Intervention The English School approach to questions of legality and legitimacy can be further illustrated by comparing the 2003 Iraq War with the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, which enjoyed substantial, though not universal, international support due to its humanitarian justification. At first glance, the two cases might appear to be quite similar, and this was also the point made by representatives of the intervening powers in an attempt to supplement the security arguments for the war against Iraq with a third justification—a humanitarian argument. In both cases, there was no UNSC authorization for the use of force, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was guilty of crimes against humanity just like Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia. However, in the case of Iraq the humanitarian grounds for the use of force were significantly weaker since there were no ongoing massacres or assaults on parts of the population at the time of the attack. There were violations of human rights and the Torture Convention, and the maltreatment of the Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq (such as drainage of the marsh lands; see Human Rights Watch 2003a). But the charge of crimes against humanity went back to the Anfal campaign in 1987–1988, when thousands of Kurdish (and Christian-Assyrian) villages in northern Iraq were destroyed and chemical weapons used against civilians on several occasions with the rest of the world as bystanders (Human Rights Watch 1993). A second round of crimes against humanity occurred in 1991 when Saddam Hussein’s forces brutally turned on the Kurds and Shiites after they revolted during the Gulf War (Freedman and Boren 1992). After weeks of hesitation, the Western great powers finally intervened with the establishment of a no-fly zone over northern Iraq that led to Hussein’s permanent loss of control over Kurdistan (Knudsen 1996). Thus there was some precedence for humanitarian intervention in the past, but the humanitarian case for war in 2003 depended on much more dubious propositions. Either the human losses necessary to defeat Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003 were justified to prevent possible future Iraqi atrocities, or they were necessary to punish earlier ones. The 1991 atrocities had, however, already evoked some sort of intervention response so it was a

318

English School Approaches

difficult justification to sell. In the first place, the right of humanitarian intervention that evolved from the practice of the UNSC in the 1990s was about stopping an unfolding genocide or massive crimes against humanity. While the Hussein regime certainly engaged in egregious human rights abuses, it was not clear that genocide or massive crimes against humanity were occurring in Iraq in 2003. Second, the United States and its allies did not take their case against Iraq to the UNSC as a humanitarian case. Occasionally, the United States and Britain did point to Iraqi violations of human rights in the meetings in the UNSC; but it was not a central argument, and the demands presented to Iraq by the United States and the UNSC under the threat of force were not humanitarian (Roth 2006, 2004). What Iraq was offered (at least rhetorically) was a last chance to peacefully disarm, not a last chance to live up to the principles of international humanitarian law and human rights conventions by means of human rights inspections. Assuming a humanitarian intervention in Iraq could have been considered, Iraq should at a minimum have been presented with a set of humanitarian demands before military force could be employed.12 In other words, it would have taken an entirely different approach than the one that was set out under the leadership of the United States. It was only when the case for preemptive action and Iraqi compliance turned out to be too weak to obtain a UNSC authorization for the use of force that the humanitarian argument was given priority. Third, it is crucial for the comparison of Kosovo in 1998–1999 and Iraq in 2003 that the situation and the international agenda were humanitarian in the case of Kosovo, whereas in the case of Iraq it was about alleged WMD, alleged connections with 9/11 and international terrorism, and alleged noncompliance with UNSC resolutions. The intervention in Kosovo was undertaken with a widespread awareness of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention and the humanitarian agenda prevailing at the time, whereas the war against Iraq was launched with a widespread awareness of the doctrine of preventive war and coercive democratization of rogue states possibly harboring terrorist organizations. These are two radically different international contexts, and the (delayed) humanitarian argument was greatly at odds with the initial call for preventive action against rogue states. Abuse of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention came immediately to the mind of some actors, and not only in third world quarters where fears of neocolonialism and imperialism are normally high. The humanitarian situation in Iraq, the timing of the war (which did not follow upon atrocities), the immediate background to the war (a case for preventive war), and the international context (the global war on terrorism) all worked against the humanitarian case for the war. As one would have expected, the humanitarian justification did not convince states outside the USled coalition itself, judging from the debates in the UNSC and beyond. The

The English School

319

dominant, shared assumption in the international community today appears to be that in human rights situations not amounting to crimes against humanity, the respect of human rights must be promoted through a mixture of diplomacy, sanctions, promises, and threats. Furthermore, preventive humanitarian intervention or humanitarian intervention as a punishment for earlier crimes can never live up to the legal and moral principle of proportionality. What an English School analysis of the humanitarian justification arrives at, then, is similar to its point about the justifications of peace and security and preventive war. If the facts and the situation do not correspond with the rules that are the basis for the calls to legitimacy (in this case intervention to stop ongoing crimes against humanity), and if the actors involved do not play by the procedures prescribed (in this case to go through humanitarian diplomacy and pressure at the UN before resorting to humanitarian intervention), then it is unlikely that a resort to force will obtain much international support. The English School approach also draws attention to another point, and that is the potentially damaging consequences to the rules and principles invoked, especially when these are not firmly accepted in international society and firmly stipulated in international law. In 2003 the right of humanitarian intervention was still a young and vulnerable principle, since it did not exist beyond a series of resolutions from the UNSC on an ad hoc basis and the interventions in state practice that followed from them. At the same time, a good deal of the third world and great powers like Russia and China were still convinced (as they seem to be today) that the doctrine of humanitarian intervention could be open to wide abuse. The war against Iraq has subsequently come to be seen as an example of how humanitarian intervention can be abused or exploited in debates about the atrocities in Darfur or about the scope of the principle of “the responsibility to protect.” Arguably, the humanitarian case for the war against Iraq not only failed, it also backfired as a discrediting of the right and institution of humanitarian intervention (Bellamy and Williams 2006; Knudsen 2004; Roth 2006, 2004; Weiss 2004; Whitman 2005). This is not to say that the war cannot be defended at all. International legitimacy is a function not only of legality, but also of political rationality and moral concerns. Politically, it is difficult to argue the war was one of necessity given the lack of a clear threat, and its prudence has been cast into further doubt due to the prolonged difficulties the United States and its allies encountered with turning Iraq into a stable democracy. Consequently, the moral argument might be the strongest claim to legitimacy after all, despite the shifting argumentation by the coalition along the way. Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, and his fall from power was a relief for the Iraqi people, or presumably at least for all but the Sunni who were generally privileged under his rule.

320

English School Approaches

However, the moral argument for the war is not straightforward either. Many civilians lost their lives during and after the initial war, and the military casualties must be counted in thousands as well (Human Rights Watch 2003b, 2003c). Furthermore, the destruction of Iraqi society, the damaging consequences for international society and the international legal order, and the enormous consumption of resources that could have been devoted to other purposes—including the real war against terror (which has arguably suffered a setback due to the war against Iraq)—or development must be taken into account as well. This is a high price to pay to get rid of a single tyrant.

■ The Importance of Rules and Institutions: Legitimacy, Order, and Justice The war against Iraq and the developments after 9/11 involved a serious threat not only to specific international rules and procedures, but to fundamental institutional bases of international order and justice (Dunne 2003; Hurrell 2002; Knudsen 2004; Weiss 2004; Whitman 2005). Arguably, the combined effects of the US-led attack on Iraq and the policy changes that preceded it even amounted to an attack on international society as such (Dunne 2003), or at least the solidarist or internationalist version of it including the belief in collective action, collective security, and international organization (Knudsen 2004).13 The 9/11 terror attacks sent shock waves through the international community and not least through the political leadership of the United States. But it was, arguably, the reactions of the latter more than the attack itself that put the bases of international society and international order under pressure. The proclamation of the diffuse global war on terrorism, the introduction of an “axis of evil” to be excluded from the ordinary rules and institutions of international society, the publication of the 2002 US National Security Strategy (which involved a right of preemptive and, in reality, preventive warfare, a policy of democratic imposition, and a preference for “coalitions of the willing” rather than collective enforcement under UN authority), and not least the US-led attack on Iraq in March 2003 were events and statements that questioned long-standing and important rules and institutions of international society. More precisely, the war against Iraq involved a challenge to the UN and the collective security system stipulated in the UN Charter following World War II, to the general ban on the use of force, to the more recent but highly important principle of humanitarian intervention, and to international law as an institution of international society. But how serious were these challenges and what have been or will be the consequences of them in the longer run? To begin with, the case of Iraq certainly does not seem to support the argument that the UN and the collective security system matter a whole lot

The English School

321

when the game is national interest and power politics. Looking back at the course of events leading up to the attack on Iraq, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that in reality there was no way that Iraq could have avoided the war, unless Saddam Hussein had stepped down voluntarily and accepted a peaceful occupation of the country. This also means that there was no chance that the UN could have achieved the most fundamental goal of the organization, namely, to maintain international peace and security with nonmilitary means. Consequently, the US decision to take the case against Iraq to the UNSC without a genuine intent of a peaceful disarmament was at odds with both the letter and the spirit of the UN Charter. It might be argued that this case is much more in accordance with the realist expectation about an instrumental use of international institutions than with English School and liberal expectations about international cooperation and the importance of the basic principles of international order. To be sure, the war against Iraq was a hard test of the importance of international society, and its fundamental rules and institutions, including the UN as a world organization. However, the war against Iraq is not simply a case of a superpower getting its way in spite of a doubtful legal case and widespread opposition at the UN. Following the attack on Iraq, the great powers and the international community as a whole were torn to a degree unseen since the Cold War, Kosovo included. The immediate reason for this was the disagreement as to whether the attack was justified under the circumstances prevailing at the time. The more fundamental reason, however, was presumably the fact that the United States presented the case against Iraq in the context of the much more wide-ranging and controversial project for a new international order, the axial points of which would be a right of preventive warfare against terrorism and rogue states, regime transition in favor of democracy and human rights by force or pressure, a strong element of unilateralism at the expense of UN-based collective action, and acceptance of a subordination of international law to national security concerns due to the threat from international terrorism.14 In an English School perspective, the showdown over Iraq within and outside the UNSC can therefore also be seen as a showdown over the basic principles of the twenty-first century’s international legal and political order. In this showdown the United States was the offensive, reforming party while the majority of the rest of the international community, led by France, Russia, China, and Germany, was the defensive party with a political and legal status quo as the objective (Knudsen 2004: 80–85). On the face of it, the conclusion seems to be that the United States and its supporters won the battle in the UNSC over Iraq, while those opposed to the war lost along with the UN as an organization and international law as a set of binding rules. However, the general opinion in the international community was that the war against Iraq was in conflict with international law and the resolutions

322

English School Approaches

of the Security Council. In fact, all three main justifications for the war and their subvariants were generally dismissed by the international community. Consequently, the war did not set up a precedent for a wider use of force, be it unilateral enforcement of UNSC resolutions, preventive war, coercive democratization of rogue states, or preventive or punitive humanitarian intervention. Furthermore, nothing indicates that a political understanding about a wider access to the use of force in terms of the points just mentioned is under way. Put differently, all use of force in international politics (except for collective self-defense against armed aggression or genocide until the UNSC takes action) must still have the authorization of the UNSC to command widespread international support. The general ban on the use of force in the UN Charter and international law therefore still stands in spite of the serious challenge that was posed to it by the Iraq War and the doctrine of prevention launched in the 2002 US National Security Strategy. At the same time this is a testimony to the continued importance of the UN and international law as such. As for the latter, its binding nature and regulating potential were arguably put at stake by the war and the justifications and doctrines accompanying it. It is essential to the maintenance of international order and mutual trust that it is possible to tell the difference between legal and illegal use of force in international politics. Otherwise, the general prohibition on the use of force loses its significance, and if this happens, the political judgment of the legitimacy of the use of force in international relations also becomes arbitrary and contested (Whitman 2005). Seen in this light it was a good thing that the rules regulating the use of force could not be bent, ignored, or changed that easily. As for the UN and its collective security system, it was indeed bypassed but at a very high cost for the coalition in terms of legitimacy. There is a big difference between ignoring international rules, procedures, and organizations, and being able to establish a broad international acceptance of and support for such steps. Without an authorization from the UNSC— which the United States and the coalition had done so much to obtain—it was effectively impossible to convince skeptical powers and regions, including France, Germany, China, Russia, India, Latin America, and the greater part of the third world, about any alternative legal or political case for the war against Iraq. English School assumptions of the relationship between international politics and international law, and between power and institutions, can thus be confirmed insofar as the United States found it important to get the mandate and the failure to do so led to a serious problem of legitimacy at the outset of the war. Getting the mandate and a firm grounding in international law would have meant to ride with the wind. Not getting it in spite of heavy political pressure surely meant riding against it. The immediate costs to the United States and the coalition were a delegitimization of the war in the

The English School

323

UNSC, a loss of international prestige and ability to lead, and a failure to secure the support of not only the usual opponents like Russia and China, but also close allies and democracies including France and Germany who held back political, economic, and military support for the war, and Turkey who refused to make its territory and air space available for the attack. Finally, the United States could not compel or persuade the rest of international society to change the international rules concerning the use of force in a more permissive, and arguably more dangerous, direction. Upon closer inspection, therefore, the war against Iraq should rather be seen as a testimony of the importance of the rules and institutions of international society even when they are challenged by hegemonic power (Knudsen 2004). The showdown in the UNSC was a battle over international legitimacy and political support for the war against Iraq, and here the coalition was unable to get its way. Furthermore, it was a battle over some of the basic principles of international order that the United States and the coalition wanted to change, but without success. In contrast to analyses from other quarters (Glennon 2003), it might therefore be argued that the importance of the UN and its Security Council was confirmed rather than weakened. Along with other factors (like the shift of power in Washington and the unfortunate developments in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after they were launched), this is one possible explanation for why the United States has returned to a policy of multilateralism and a collective defense of international peace and security. But lost legitimacy is not easily recaptured, and it can be argued that the United States and the West have found it more difficult to set the agenda for the use of force or sanctions since the 2003 Iraq War, for instance in relation to the atrocities in Darfur in that period and the atrocities in Syria in 2011–2013. The UN-authorized humanitarian intervention in Libya in 2011 briefly indicated that the great powers were once again able to act in concert, but renewed great power conflict over the outcome of the intervention in Libya, and over Syria, suggest that the ghost of the Iraq War is easily revived, even when the West has a strong case and a restrained approach (Knudsen 2013). The principle of humanitarian intervention may have suffered long-term damage from the war against Iraq and the global war on terrorism (Bellamy and Williams 2006; Knudsen 2004; Weiss 2004).

■ Iraq and the Study of International Society: Further Implications Just as there was a political battle in the UNSC over Iraq, there has also been an academic battle and, as with most questions, this is one that can never be ultimately settled because different perspectives are inclined to focus on different aspects, explanations, consequences, and values like security, order, and humanitarianism. As is evident at this point, it is difficult

324

English School Approaches

to come up with a defense of the war against Iraq from an English School perspective. It is simply too difficult to ground the war in the rules and institutions of international society or in prudence. As for the long-term consequences, an English School perspective leads logically to a concern for the institutional bases of international society as evident from the furious and well-argued attack on the war from Tim Dunne (2003). However, the war can also be given some defense from an English School perspective. One legitimate concern is the Iraqi defiance of the cease-fire conditions of 1991, and the case for enforcement that can be built on it (A. Roberts 2003). Another is the concern for international order, which would in most respects lead English School writers to dismiss the war, but which can also be turned around with the argument that Iraq had been a threat to regional international society for a long time. However, the most obvious conclusion to be made from an English School position is that although the war against Iraq amounted to a serious challenge to international law, the UN, and the collective security system, it was the United States and the coalition that lost the battle over Iraq in the UNSC, a battle over international legitimacy and political support. This conclusion would seem paradoxical from a realist perspective (although the theory of soft balancing might be invoked in a convincing realist explanation), but it follows naturally from a preoccupation with international rules, institutions, and legitimacy. An application of the English School to other cases regarding the use of force—or to institutionalized international politics more generally, for example, the recognition of new states or the reconstruction of war-torn societies—is likely to focus on the same aspects as in the case of Iraq, namely, the way institutional practices and legal rules affect the conduct of international politics. More specifically, it is important to examine the institutional procedures and shared expectations about proper behavior, the relevant legal principles, the struggle for legitimacy, the political dilemmas of the specific case, and not least the potential ramifications for international order.

■ Notes 1. The primacy ascribed to the state vis-à-vis other actors in international politics varies from writer to writer and from text to text. See, for example, Bull 1977; Buzan 2004; R. Jackson 2000; Manning 1962; N. Wheeler 2000; M. Wight 1966. 2. See Bull 1977; Buzan 2004; R. Jackson 2000; James 1973; Knudsen 2002; Manning 1962; Watson 1992. The most refined English School typology of international institutions is offered by Barry Buzan (2004), who distinguishes between master and derivative institutions (both primary and fundamental) on the one hand and IOs (secondary) on the other. 3. See Buzan 2004; Knudsen 2002; Knudsen and Laustsen 2006; Vincent 1986; N. Wheeler 2000.

The English School

325

4. This is according to an extended interpretation of Articles 39 and 42 in Chapter VII of the UN Charter (humanitarian intervention or “the responsibility to protect”) as evidenced in a number of UNSC resolutions passed since the early 1990s, for example, in the cases of Somalia 1992–1993, Bosnia 1992–1995, and Rwanda 1994. See Knudsen 1996; N. Wheeler 2000. 5. See UN Security Council 2002d (meeting recordings 16–17 October 2002) including resumptions 1–3. See especially 3–4 and resumption 3: 5–28. The majority in favor of the two-stage approach and war as the last resort to be authorized by the UNSC remained roughly the same after the rotation of five members at the turn of 2002. 6. See the successive meeting recordings from the UN Security Council (2003b: 3–5, 8–9; 2003d: 2–6, 9; 2003f: 12). 7. For the Spanish-British-US draft resolution of 7 March 2003, see UN Security Council 2003c. For the overwhelming resistance to immediate military action in the Security Council on 7 March 2003, see UN Security Council 2003b: 9–34. For the French veto threat, see UN Security Council 2003b: 19. 8. Self-defense and unilateral enforcement of UNSC resolutions as stated in the Security Council on 8 November 2002 (see UN Security Council 2002b: 3). Apparently, the United States did not want to commit itself to a process in which it would either be forced to follow the UN track to the end, even if this meant nonintervention, or to admit that it was going to war in breach of international law. As it was, Washington had secured itself a fall-back option, at least rhetorically. 9. This point was also made by several members of the Security Council, among them Mexico (UN Security Council 2002b: 6), Pakistan (UN Security Council 2003b: 33), and Russia (UN Security Council 2003a: 8). 10. See UNSC Resolution 1368, 12 September 2001 (UN Security Council 2001). Afghanistan is itself an interesting case for further discussion and analysis of changing rules and practices since the resolutions passed in the UNSC indicate a precedence for a (considerably) broader interpretation of the right to self-defense than before. 11. The results have been mixed at best. Indeed, North Korea and Iran seem to have taken an even more confrontational course following the war on Iraq. 12. The threat of force on humanitarian grounds (“humanitarian dictate”), the establishment of humanitarian inspections and centers in Iraq, and a permanent surveillance of Iraqi compliance with the weapons restrictions under the auspices of the UNSC followed by a normalization of Iraq’s relations with the international community would have been the most obvious alternative to war. For a discussion, see Knudsen 2004. 13. On the distinction between pluralist and solidarist principles of international society, see the English School introduction by Sterling-Folker in Chapter 9.1 in this volume as well as Bull 1966, Buzan 2004, R. Jackson 2000, Knudsen 2002. 14. Evidence that these principles were not just elements in a new US security policy but also a proposal for world order change can be found in the 2002 US National Security Strategy, which presents these principles as a necessary adjustment of the rules and practices of international society in response to the war on terror (White House 2002). The case against Iraq was presented in the same way; compare the analysis above and Knudsen (2004). For a strong critique of the world order program of the United States following 9/11, see also Dunne (2003).

10 Environmental Approaches 10.1 Environmentalism Jennifer Sterling-Folker Environmentalism is concerned with the analytical relationship between the natural environment and global politics. There are a number of different research agendas within this perspective that reflect disagreement over how to characterize the relationship between IR and the environment as well as how this relationship should be studied. As a result, there are considerable empirical and methodological differences among IR theorists who analyze environmental political issues on a global scale. International or global environmental politics, green theory, and green political thought are often used as general terms to describe this approach. Yet these terms can also be used to indicate specific, alternative research programs within the study of the environment and global politics. For this reason, the term “environmentalism” is used here as an umbrella term meant to capture the entire body of alternative approaches within this perspective. While environmental concerns had informed some prior IR scholarship, it was not until the early 1990s that environmentalism, as an analytical approach in its own right, began to emerge. Since then environmentalism has become an increasingly prominent IR theoretical approach and several disciplinary journals devoted to the subject now exist.1 Why it has increased in prominence is related to changes in the earth’s natural environment because, as Peter Dauvergne (2005a: 11) notes, “the history of research on global environmental politics is woven into the history of global environmental change.” The end of the Cold War and the global economic events that unfolded thereafter are particularly important in this regard. Because the Cold War’s end was analytically unexpected, it encouraged the development of new IR theories, such as constructivism and new variants of realism. It also encouraged a growing interest in environmentalism thanks in part to the subsequent effects on the natural environment of increased global economic exchange after the Cold War. The end of the bipolar ideological and economic split meant that participation in the global 327

328

Environmental Approaches

capitalist system appeared to be the only viable economic option for most states. The era of globalization that followed was, for better or worse, a period of increased industrial activity and global economic exchange. Industrialization’s detrimental impact on the natural environment had long been recognized, as had the impossibility of sustaining economic growth without more effectively managing global natural resources. Since the 1970s environmental activists and scholars had been warning that there were environmental limits to global economic growth and that ignoring these could produce serious environmental problems.2 Such concerns had informed the 1987 Brundtland Report (UN General Assembly 1987), which, in recognizing the interrelationship between natural resources and industrialization, had proposed the adoption of “sustainable development” practices meant to balance economic and environmental needs. Yet during the Cold War the analytical attention of many IR scholars was on the “high” politics of security given the intense military and nuclear rivalry between the two superpowers. Economic and environmental issues were relegated to what was pejoratively labeled “low” politics as these were seen as less consequential to state survival. With the end of the Cold War, the environmental limitations of industrial growth took on new urgency, and analytical interest in these topics increased accordingly. The sheer scale of increased industrialization and global economic exchange magnified the negative effects on the global environment. Greater economic interaction combined with new and more efficient means of moving goods and services enabled invasive species and diseases to spread more quickly and easily, thereby putting increased strains on global ecosystems. Increasing economic activity produced worsening regional and global pollution levels. It also encouraged ever greater resource exploitation, as expanded industrial and consumer demand required greater energy and natural resource consumption, particularly for fossil fuels, minerals and precious metals, timber, and fishing stocks. For many states, natural resource limitations became an increasing reality rather than a projected future problem. Thus the concept of sustainable development gained further traction and has informed global cooperative efforts on the environment since the early 1990s.3 Increased demand for natural resources also increased competition over who had access to particular resources in a world carved into separate, territorial nation-states. As more former colonies gained their independence after World War II, the number of competing sovereign claims to exclusive rights over particular territories and the resources they contained increased as well. Disputes between states and within particular regions over access to resources like fishing, fresh water, arable land, and fossil fuels became more common, particularly as most of these resources could not be contained within sovereign boundaries drawn on a map by policymakers. As

Environmentalism

329

Elizabeth DeSombre (2002: 1) has observed, “politically, the world is composed of states,” but “environmentally, the world is made up of ecosystems,” and this disconnect reinforces the intractability of competing resource claims. Finally, post–Cold War globalization amplified damage that had already been done to the environment, particularly to the earth’s ozone layer and with regard to global warming. Prior industrial and consumer practices would have contributed to deteriorating global environmental conditions regardless of globalization, but global economic activity after 1990 compounded the problems. By the early twenty-first century, acid rain, unexpected droughts, increasing storm intensity, rising sea levels, deforestation, and rising mercury levels in aquatic species in rural, isolated streams led to a growing recognition that these global effects were no longer a distant threat and had ongoing repercussions for daily lives across the planet and regardless of nationality. These environmental developments attracted the attention of IR theorists, particularly since many of the causes for environmental deterioration were the sort of global political, economic, and social forces that were already central to IR analysis. In fact, a striking attribute of environmentalism’s different research programs is the extent to which they have been informed by or have borrowed from prior theoretical perspectives, even as their subject matter appears to lie beyond the boundaries of traditional analyses. Some strands clearly adhere to realist propositions, others utilize an NLI perspective, and more recent IR environmental theorizing employs elements of constructivism, postmodernism, critical theory, historical materialism, and/or feminism. Thus it is fitting that environmentalism should be the last IR theoretical approach reviewed in this book, as it draws insights from many of the perspectives we have already encountered. The first wave of environmentalism literature came about in the 1980s and reflected the dominance of realist and NLI perspectives in the discipline. Early realist environmentalism sought to explore the relationship between resource scarcity and armed conflict. While not all scholars who explored this relationship were (or are) avowed realists, their focus was clearly shaped by a traditional realist understanding of world politics. Environmental issues were examined as extensions of geostrategic and balanceof-power politics. Hence environmental scarcity was analyzed in relation to nation-state security and for its potential to be elevated to the realm of high politics. Early realist environmentalism was also positivist in its epistemological commitments, as many scholars sought to build on the early findings of Thomas Homer-Dixon (1999), which suggested a strong correlation between scarcity and conflict. This strand of realist environmentalism has not flourished as many scholars had predicted, however, in part because Homer-Dixon’s findings

330

Environmental Approaches

were subjected to heavy and sustained subsequent criticism. While research on scarcity and conflict has continued, scholarly attention has increasingly turned to the development of an “environmental security” approach that attempts to “broaden the concept of national security to include nonmilitary threats” (Matthew 1999: 1). Daniel Deudney (1999: 26) argues that while this approach has a great deal in common with the geostrategic interests of classical realism, its proponents have tended to be explicitly antirealist, while most self-avowed realists “have sought to downplay environmental issues and exclude them from the ‘security studies’ subfield of IR.” The result is a relative absence of sustained realist contributions to contemporary environmental debates, and it remains a comparatively underdeveloped strand of environmentalism. Alternatively, NLI scholars have long evinced an interest in environmental issues. Two of NLI’s foundational texts had used environmental resource issues to illustrate the efficacy of the approach (Keohane and Nye 1977; Keohane 1984). Thus NLI scholars could rightfully argue that they were among the first IR theorists to analytically examine the topic. The focus of NLI environmentalism is on the role that IOs, regimes, interstate negotiations, and institutional design play in inducing or inhibiting cooperation on environmental affairs. It is also positivist in its epistemological orientation, although unlike realist environmentalism it has “a programmatic, reformist orientation to the institutional arrangements in global politics,” and is concerned with “how to reform the UN machinery to deliver more effective environmental governance” (Paterson, Humphreys, and Pettiford 2003: 1). The application of NLI to the study of the environment remains an active if not dominant approach to the subject matter in the mainstream IR literature. Yet despite NLI’s greater attention to and interest in environmental issues, many environmentalist scholars have found both realist and neoliberal analysis of the subject to be problematic. One of the central concerns is that realism and NLI focus their attention on the activity of nation-states. This means that they are unable to analytically include the important role often played by nonstate actors and processes. Instead these approaches fit the subject matter into their existing theoretical frameworks and take the interstate system as a given. This has two deleterious consequences for scholarship on the environment. First, it does not consider how natural resources may have unique analytical attributes that make traditional frameworks less appropriate. Second, it replicates a bias for standard state practices, such as militarization or interstate cooperation, some of which have produced or prolonged many environmental problems in the first place. The analytical bias for taking state practices as a given also runs counter to the normative commitments of most environmental scholars, who argue that change must be both peaceful and substantive if we are to

Environmentalism

331

avoid any further degradation of planetary resources. Realism’s tendency to view the topic in militarized terms clearly runs counter to such commitments. Yet so too does NLI’s tendency to celebrate state cooperation as a good in itself rather than to consider whether interstate cooperation effectively addresses the underlying environmental problem. As Matthew Paterson (2009: 261) puts it, institutionalists “tend to eschew discussion of any broad ‘environmental crisis,’ and focus on how international institutions deal with specific issue areas.” Alternatively, Paterson continues, many environmental scholars “insist on such a crisis and the need for political transformation to deal effectively with it.” Thus while many environmentalist scholars appreciate NLI’s theoretical contributions, they are also concerned that NLI analysis obscures the ongoing role institutions can play in legitimizing exploitive neoliberal economics (Paterson, Humphreys, and Pettiford 2003: 2). Because both realist and NLI environmentalism raise a number of analytical red flags, many environmentalist scholars have sought to develop alternative theoretical approaches to the topic. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, two broad strands of environmentalism had emerged that collectively may be referred to as “green theory.” These approaches are intended to address the shortcomings of realist and NLI approaches, and they draw upon a variety of theoretical perspectives, such as postmodernism, critical theory, historical materialism, and feminism. Fundamental to both strands is a shared belief that environmental issues need to be understood on their own terms, not simply as addendums to existing IR theories and modes of thought. Both view environmental issues in the context of a larger structural phenomenon that often drops out of mainstream analysis, and they share a normative commitment to promoting peaceful, sustainable change. Yet ultimately each strand tends to focus on different aspects of international politics and economics, and adherents sometimes criticize work in the alternative strand as a result (see, for example, Paterson 2009). The first strand “reflects a shift away from the view that states alone shape global affairs” and focuses instead on the role played by transnational actors and processes in global environmental politics (Dauvergne 2005a: 19). Scholars in this strand are usually quite explicit that their goal is to delineate the ways environmental governance and justice may be equitably achieved. With this goal in mind, the examination of environmental NGOs, scientific experts, and activists (at both the local and global levels) becomes particularly important, as these actors collectively represent a growing global civil society that increasingly mediates between states, corporations, and environmental outcomes. Global civil society is also seen as more participatory and representative than are interstate cooperative practices, which is important because, as Kate O’Neill (2009: 6) notes, “a more democratic, or participatory, vision of global governance may help us reach a more

332

Environmental Approaches

environmentally sustainable world.” Some authors within this strand also draw upon constructivism and postmodernism to examine environmental norms, transnational identities and citizenship, and the discourse of global environmental politics. The second strand is associated with international political economy (IPE), particularly historical materialism, but it also draws insights from critical theory, critical feminism, and postcolonial feminism. Its focus is on the interrelationship between the global economy, political institutions, and the natural environment. As such, it is concerned with how different actors and processes within the capitalist world system encourage or depend on particular material practices that lead to environmental degradation. Expanding on earlier analyses of the relationship between industrialization and the environment, these new environmental political economy scholars examine the environmental effects of trade, corporate activity, consumerism, foreign aid, and globalization itself. None of these economic activities exist in a vacuum, however, and the political and ideological components that naturalize such activity (such as racism or gender bias) are also considered. Chapter 10.2 by Simon Nicholson provides an application of this particular strand of green theory. Drawing upon the work of Matthew Paterson (2007, 2000), Nicholson argues that to understand the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, we must examine not just oil but car consumerism as a global culture that depends on oil access and extraction. While there are clear differences in emphasis between these two green theory research strands, there is also considerable analytical overlap and some scholars straddle the two perspectives. Paterson (2009: 280) points out that green theory is not simply about the environment but about “the whole range of ‘issues’ that make up the global political agenda” and how this agenda might be equitably and sustainably reconfigured. It is this “overriding preoccupation with environmental justice,” Robyn Eckersley (2010: 258) argues, that “unites the IPE and normative wings of green theory.” Thus green theory and other environmentalism strands draw our attention to phenomena that have long been ignored by IR theorists yet are pertinent to human survival in a very direct, immediate, and physical way. Environmentalism is committed to analyzing these problems to derive workable solutions that do not exacerbate our environmental issues. Given that global environmental degradation and overexploitation show no sign of abating quickly, we can expect even more interest in and further advances of this theoretical approach in the years to come.

■ Further Reading While many scholars have contributed to the development of environmentalism, several are particularly representative of green theory and its variations.

Environmentalism

333

Paul Wapner’s Environmental Activism and World Civil Politics (1996; see also 2011), for example, focuses on transnational environmental groups. Robyn Eckersley’s The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (2004; see also 1992) attempts to reconceptualize the relationship between liberal democratic states and the environment with a theory of “critical political ecology.” An influential representative of green theory’s political economy strand is Matthew Paterson’s Automobile Politics: Ecology and Cultural Political Economy (2007; see also 2000). Ronnie Lipschutz’s Global Environmental Politics: Power, Perspectives, and Practice (2004; see also 2010, 1999) combines the two strands by emphasizing the relationship between local actors and capitalism’s material and ideational structures. For overviews of environmentalism and its methodologies, see Betsill, Hochstetler, and Stevis 2005; Dauvergne 2005a; DeSombre 2002; Dryzek and Schlosberg 1998; Eckersley 2010; Mitchell 2002; O’Neill 2009; Paterson 2009; Wapner 2008; and Zurn 1998. Work in a realist environmentalism vein that examines the relationship among the environment, armed conflict, and geopolitics includes Gleditsch 2012, 1998; Deudney and Matthew 1999; Homer-Dixon 1999, 1994; Humphreys 2005; Matthew 2005; Peluso and Watts 2001; Rustad and Binningsbo 2012; and Sanders and Davis 2009. A representative sampling of NLI environmentalism includes work by P. Haas 1989; Helm and Sprinz 2000; Mitchell 2010, 1994; Ovodenko and Keohane 2012; Vogler 2000; Whalley and Zissimos 2001; and Young 1999, 1989. Besides work already cited above on green theory, scholarly work on transnational activism, global civil society, norms, identities, discourse, democracy, and environmental justice includes Barry and Eckersley 2005; Bernauer and Betzold 2012; Dobson 2003; L. Ford 2003; Jasanoff and Martello 2004; Kütting and Lipschutz 2009; Okereke 2011, 2010; Okereke, Bulkeley, and Schroeder 2009; Paehlke 2004, 2001; and Wapner and Matthew 2009. Examples of green theory scholarship on global consumer culture, globalization, trade, and political economy include Chatterjee and Finger 1994; Clapp and Dauvergne 2005; Clapp and Fuchs 2009; Conca 2001; Dauvergne 2005b, 2008; Esty 2001; Levy and Newell 2005; Newell 2005; Park, Conca, and Finger 2008; Princen 2001; Princen, Maniates, and Conca 2002; and Robbins 2002. ■ Notes 1. These journals include Global Environmental Politics and The Journal of Environment and Development. 2. See The Limits to Growth (Meadows et al. 1972) as well as Falk 1971, Ophuls 1977, Sprout and Sprout 1971.

334

Environmental Approaches

3. According to the Brundtland Report (UN General Assembly 1987), “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the first Earth Summit or Rio Conference, was held in Rio de Janeiro and relied on the concept to develop an Agenda for the Twenty-First Century (known as Agenda 21), which outlined voluntary steps states could take to promote sustainable development. A UN-hosted Earth Summit focused on sustainable development has been held every ten years (2002 and 2012) to mark the anniversary of the Rio Conference.

10.2 Environmentalism: Cars, Farming, and Resource Insecurity Simon Nicholson

The automobile . . . only fulfills its destiny: it is destined to wipe out the world. —Ilya Ehrenburg, 1929 The common assumption these days is that we muster our weapons to secure oil, not food. There’s a little joke in this. Ever since we ran out of arable land, food is oil. —Richard Manning, 2004

For close to a decade following the US invasion of Iraq, Blood for Oil, a now defunct art collective, made its name producing provocative antiwar images.1 Perhaps the best known featured President George W. Bush with a resplendent, though liquid and smeared, black moustache. The picture was titled, “Got Oil?” Another piece showed a US infantryman in full combat gear, his US Army insignia badge replaced by the corporate symbol for multinational petroleum company Shell Oil. The tag line: “Tapping new global resources for your convenience.” There is an obvious, blunt theme here. The images suggest that the United States invaded Iraq to gain control over that country’s vast oil reserves. Yet despite the popular, even visceral appeal of such an argument, does it hold up to analytic scrutiny? How is any role played by oil in producing the conflict to be meaningfully assessed? And if oil was in some sense a driver of the Iraq conflict, to what kinds of ameliorative action does this conclusion point? That is, what can IR theory tell us about the possibility of preventing future “oil wars”? In this chapter I look at the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq through an environmentalist lens. Environmentalists bring a unique perspective to the study of IR. It is a perspective grounded in a set of concerns about humanity’s collective impact on the nonhuman world. It is also a perspective that takes seriously the idea that the nonhuman world acts, in turn, to shape human existence. Taken together, these theoretical touchstones position environmentalists well to make sense of how oil and other resources figure in the production of conflict and other phenomena of interest to IR scholars. Below, I will demonstrate how the environmentalist perspective can provide new insights into the “why” of the Iraq conflict, largely by offering a fresh locus of analysis. In examining the Iraq War, environmentalists train their analytic lens on the complex web of material practices that link Iraq’s oil to households and businesses in rich countries like the United States, as 335

336

Environmental Approaches

well as on the structured modes of industrial-age energy production and use that make oil such a vital commodity within the global political-economic system. This is to say that environmentalists believe that the flow of material resources matters a great deal for the configuration of world affairs. An environmentalist perspective helps us grasp how and why such resource flows matter, and how the violence that sometimes adheres to particular resources can best be understood and tackled. An environmentalist perspective has a good deal in common with the historical materialist and world systems analyses outlined earlier in the present volume. In common with these other schools of thought, environmentalists contend that events like the Iraq War can best be explained by looking at entrenched configurations of power and interests that are long in the making. Proximate causes of conflict like foreign policy decisions and rhetorical justifications for war are certainly important factors that explain particular events, but the deeply material context that sets the conditions for war matters even more to the crafting of explanations and the developing of appropriate responses. However, unlike the historical materialist and world systems perspectives, recent environmentalist scholarship has tended to assign only limited explanatory weight to big, intangible notions like “the capitalist world order.” Nor is too much attention paid to what some other schools, realists in particular, see as immutable features of the international system—anarchy, for instance, or the survival imperative of states. Environmentalists instead have tended, in recent years, to look at how resource flows are configured by everyday actions.2 In this chapter I argue that it is in the mundane acts of driving cars and feeding families in the United States that the seeds of the Iraq War were sown. It is also in these mundane acts that new possibilities for action to prevent further “petroviolence” (Watts 2001) are made clear. Driving and eating bind together people and environments in the United States and Iraq. In turn, driving and eating are acts with their own complex histories, and any number of possible futures. There is no unassailable reason that cars have to be the dominant mode of US transportation, or oil an essential component in modern food production. In imagining alternatives to the current configurations of these everyday activities we can find, collectively, space for real human agency. I will show here, then, that an environmentalist analysis can help both to explain why the Iraq War happened and to pinpoint sites of effective resistance to the global oil economy’s most pernicious effects. I show, in particular, that a full understanding of the war requires sustained attention to practices and conditions in the United States that make Iraq’s oil reserves of such value. The Iraq War is in some very basic sense about oil. In an even more basic sense it is about the contemporary way of life in the United States.

Environmentalism

337

■ An Environmentalist Perspective on IR Research It should be made clear at the outset that there is no single environmentalist approach to IR research. IR scholars who identify as environmentalists are a diverse bunch, both in terms of the phenomena they study and the methodologies they employ in their work.3 There are, however, some shared considerations and concerns that loosely connect a growing number of researchers together under an environmentalist label.4 The most important of these shared considerations is an obvious one: environmentalists are interested in the environment. Researchers in the environmentalist tradition are striving to understand and illuminate the myriad ways by which human activities change and often harm the physical world, and are seeking to discover, develop, and demonstrate the character of effective responses to this harm. Basically, then, environmentalist scholarship coalesces around two big questions: Why is the environmental condition so bad, and what can be done about it? In seeking answers, particular attention is then given to institutions, ideologies, practices, and structural features of contemporary life that can be shown to produce environmental degradation or, on the flip side, that offer hope for ways of life that are environmentally benign or restorative (Paterson 2007: 15). A second feature of environmentalist work is that environmentalist scholarship tends to be inherently, unabashedly normative. The chief prescriptive concern of environmentalists is the production of a future in which humankind and the nonhuman world can flourish. This is hardly a simple proposition, either intellectually or practically. There is much debate among environmentalists about what a better world would look like. And even among those who agree on the contours of a preferred future there are few widely held and straightforward prescriptions for action. Still, the point holds. Environmentalists, on the whole, are concerned not just with understanding social and political life, but with working, through their scholarship and in other ways, to change the world into one that is more sustainable and just.5 These two lines of connection—what we might call a broadly held ecological concern and a normative sensibility—are basic to the IR environmentalist tradition. Looking at these features, you might rightly wonder, though, what could an environmentalist possibly have to say about the 2003 Iraq War? What could a scholar chiefly concerned with the environment have to contribute to understandings of violence, or military occupation, or any other obvious feature of the Iraq situation? An environmentalist orientation can, in fact, offer new insight on such a basic question as why the Iraq War came to be, because environmentalists tend to view what Simon Dalby (2004: 2) has called the “material context of contemporary politics” in ways that are distinct and analytically useful. This phrase—the material context of contemporary politics—has two

338

Environmental Approaches

important implications for environmentalist scholarship, and these two implications in turn offer key signposts for those seeking to utilize an environmentalist approach to IR research. A first implication is that environmentalists have found analytic benefit in what Daniel Deudney (1999) has described as “bringing nature back in” to analyses of international affairs. By urging that nature be (re)made a focus of IR analysis, Deudney was suggesting, in part, that the geographical and historical distribution of natural resources should not be ignored when trying to understand particular IR phenomena. That is to say, again, that resources matter. IR scholarship as a whole used to pay much more attention to resource endowments, and to the link between material power and access to resources.6 Such a “naturalistic” interpretation of social and political relations has largely fallen out of fashion. Still, Richard Matthew (2002: 114), among others, has argued persuasively from an environmentalist perspective that paying attention to the effects and implications of natural resource endowments and flows should not be entirely discounted for what he calls an obvious reason: “it is both sensible and useful.” A second implication has to do with the how of environmentalist scholarship. Environmentalists routinely concern themselves with the drivers and effects of resource extraction and with the practices and consequences of material consumption. Attention is given not just to resources per se, but to where they reside, and importantly, to why and how they move around. When trying to understand a phenomenon in international relations, the environmentalist maxim is “follow the resources” (Conca 2004: 12). This is an orientation to analysis that has important implications beyond strictly environmental concerns, on the grounds that an understanding of the major patterns and events in world affairs benefits from an examination of the configurations of “power, authority and violence that attach to global natural-resource flows” (Conca 2004: 12).

■ Conducting Environmentalist Research So what, then, does environmentalist research aimed at a phenomenon like the Iraq War look like? Based on the points offered above, it is possible to set out a handful of key features that would be common to most environmentalist readings of the Iraq War and other similar phenomena. First, an environmentalist studying the Iraq War would ask, Who are the central protagonists, and what are the resource flows or other environmental relations that link them? Oil is the resource that most obviously connects these actors, and it is the oil-forged relationship between populations, corporations, and state institutions in Iraq and the United States that almost certainly offers the most fruitful grounds for analysis. That said, it should be noted that in resource terms there is much more to Iraq than oil. Take

Environmentalism

339

fresh water, for example, or the food that flows into and out of the country. Both matter a great deal for Iraq’s relationships with its neighbors and with countries farther afield. Iraq is also home to bioregions such as the Mesopotamian marshes that provide important ecosystem services within and beyond the country’s borders. The point to keep in mind is that if one were to look at Iraq in other contexts—if our concern was not the Iraq War but rather, say, Iraq’s relationship with Iran or Saudi Arabia—then other resources emerge as possible points of material connection upon which to anchor analysis. Second, once such connections have been pinpointed, an environmental analysis would sketch their contours. How does oil, in this case, make its way from Iraq to the United States? How did that particular resource flow emerge? What configurations of power and influence, and what actions and forces, are required to maintain the present arrangement? As noted above, other theoretical traditions do something similar by assigning explanatory significance to outsize forces like “transnational capitalism” or “American imperialism.” Environmentalists, by contrast, can offer a different type of analysis by paying attention to what Matthew Paterson (2007: 22) has called the politics and practices of “everyday life.” Paterson’s point is that global politics, as a sphere of action, is not confined to the activities of great powers, or to the machinations of global capitalists. Instead, global politics is present and can be seen through the lives of everyday people doing everyday things. In the case of the Iraq War, attention to the politics of everyday life suggests a need to parse out precisely how resources extracted from the desert lands of the Middle East are the basis for deeply entrenched patterns of consumption in the global North. It means, for example, striving to understand just why and how people in the United States use truly mind-boggling amounts of petroleum to move themselves around, and have come to depend on a food system that would all but disintegrate but for a steady flow of cheap fossil fuels. Understanding oil and the part it played in producing the Iraq War can impel an environmentalist, in other words, to an examination of mundane, apparently unremarkable activities in the United States. Third, and finally, in line with the normative bent of environmentalist scholarship, an environmentalist would strive to determine whether the resource flows under consideration threaten human or ecological well-being. One might then look for points of effective intervention, in an effort to determine how to make the existing system more sustainable and just. There is likely no single answer to this question, and this is what makes a turning away from catch-all explanatory variables particularly compelling. If the problem is “global capitalism” or “anarchy,” what can really be done? By contrast, working to lessen the potential negative effects of the flow of oil,

340

Environmental Approaches

and the destructive effects of the consumptive practices that are basic to that flow, offers up any number of opportunities for international agreement making and institution building, state-level policy change, and personal and group-level action. Illuminating such opportunities and suggesting how to deploy them for the production of social and ecological well-being is a basic feature of environmentalist scholarship.

■ The Story of Oil I turn now to the 2003 Iraq War. A complete environmentalist reading of the Iraq War would initiate an analysis of the role played by oil in structuring the relationship between the United States and Iraq. That history, however, has already been thoroughly explored in the historical materialist and world systems chapters. Rather than repeat it, I will pick up on just a few key elements so as to leave space to consider something basic to the Iraq-US relationship that has been underdeveloped in previous accounts in the present volume: the story of oil itself. Oil is a remarkable commodity with a truly remarkable history. It is hard to imagine now, but for most of humanity’s time on the planet oil commanded little economic value. Until quite recently oil was basically ignored. It was collected in limited amounts in a few of the places where it seeped to the earth’s surface, for use as a sealant for caulking ships, for instance, or as a cure-all (and, it is to be supposed, foul-tasting and poorly performing) medical compound (Ponting 2007: 285). Nobody quite knew what to do with oil, just as people struggled to explain why it lay buried beneath the earth in the first place, and so it was, by and large, left in the ground. By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the place of oil in the wider human story, and oil’s ultimately remarkable contribution to that story, was changing rapidly. Oil has qualities that have made it the perfect industrial-age fuel, as well as a basic raw material for industrial manufacture. It packs huge amounts of available energy into a relatively portable, long-lived package, and it can be converted into any number of different forms, from an array of fuel grades and lubricants to all manner of plastics and chemicals, for a staggering number of different applications. By 1930, oil, based on these characteristics, had become the world’s main transportation fuel, and by the late 1950s oil had pushed aside coal as the basic energy source for industrial manufacturing (McNeill 2000: 298). The United States led the way in bringing about the new age of oil. On the production side, the United States was the first country in the world to begin to develop a petroleum industry of any scale, beginning with the commercial development of an oil find in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859 (Klare 2004: 8). The first real US “gusher” was opened up in Texas in

Environmentalism

341

1901, giving birth to an image and idea that has become synonymous with oil exploration. In the years to follow, US oilmen began to drill with ever greater voracity across the lower half of the United States—a tale told in a vivid way by filmmakers the Coen brothers in their 2007 movie There Will Be Blood—and, later, took their trade to countries south of the US border, beginning with Mexico and Venezuela (McNeill 2000: 298). Living as we do at the high zenith of the oil age, it is worth pausing to try to grasp just how momentous oil’s rise to dominance has been. In the preindustrial age the basic fuel of any economy was food, converted into energy within the bodies of people or animals. This energy function did not constrain human activity, precisely. A good deal happened, after all, in preindustrial times. Still, the pace and scope of humanity’s technological and social innovation had a clear governing factor, given the relative paucity of a food-based energy regime. The birth of “carboniferous capitalism,” as Lewis Mumford (1934: 156) famously termed the beginning of the fossil fuel age, and particularly the twentieth-century shift to oil’s dominance, changed all of this in a fundamental way. Modern material wealth is now derived from harnessing fossil fuel energies to service economic production, an effect colorfully described by Richard Heinberg: If we were to add together the power of all the fuel-fed machines that we [in the United States] rely on to light and heat our homes, transport us, and otherwise keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed, and then compare that total with the amount of power that can be generated by the human body, we would find that each American has the equivalent of over 150 “energy slaves” working for us twenty-four hours a day. (quoted in Giddens 2009: 36)

US oil production, then, was basic to the transition to an entirely new global energy regime, making “energy slaves” available, to a portion of the human population at least, on a previously unimagined scale. It was on the consumption side, though, that the United States really led the way in making oil the twentieth century’s dominant and defining product. And nothing exemplifies the embrace of the oil age better than the US love affair with cars. Cars It is hard to imagine now, but in 1900 the United States was home to just 8,000 cars (Ponting 2007: 329). These cars were luxury goods, symbols of relative economic wealth and accompanying status. They were also artisanal products, built as one-off creations or in limited batches by a large number of small-scale producers. Rates of car ownership boomed, however, and the overall number of carmakers radically contracted, with the advent of the assembly line process, and other innovations made famous by Henry

342

Environmental Approaches

Ford and his extraordinary River Rouge production plant in Detroit. From 8,000 cars in 1900, this figure grew to an estimated 10 million in the United States by 1924 (Ponting 2007: 330). Along with burgeoning levels of car ownership came the growth of technologies, symbols, and practices that are ubiquitous today: The first speeding ticket was issued in 1902. The first car was stolen in 1905. Painted center lines appeared in 1911; stop signs and traffic lights by 1914, the year after more cars were made than horse buggies. By the time car radios first appeared in 1929, there was one registered automobile for every five Americans—up from one for every thirteen in 1920. (Dauvergne 2008: 38)

Such innovations point to a pace of change that accelerated through the remainder of the twentieth century. Along the way, the economy was reconfigured by the demands and desires inherent to a society made up more and more of car owners. By the early 1990s, when there were around 188 million cars on US roads, car manufacture alone accounted for more than 3 percent of the US GDP (Dauvergne 2008: 39). Over the span of the twentieth century, the very physicality of the United States was also totally reconfigured in deference to cars. Roads, bridges, overpasses, neighborhoods, and entire cities were designed and built to accommodate the car and its particular, peculiar needs (Winner 1986). At the heart of all of this were natural resource flows. Car production, according to figures cited by environmental historian Clive Ponting (2007: 330), now uses more resources than any other of the world’s industries: each year, Ponting suggests that car manufacture accounts for “20 per cent of world steel production, 35 per cent of the zinc, 50 per cent of the lead, 60 per cent of all natural rubber and 10 per cent of the world aluminum production.” These figures look even starker when oil is added to the mix. Consider that an estimated one billion cars were manufactured worldwide during the twentieth century. More than 700 million of them remained on the road by century’s end. All told, these cars, along with the other vehicles that collectively make up the global transportation sector, account for around onethird of global oil consumption each year (Ponting 2007: 330). The now more than 700 million cars on the world’s roads are forecast to double in number by as early as 2015 (Urry 2006: 17), with most new car sales expected to take place in emerging economies like China and India. These countries, though, are playing catch-up to the United States. Although it has less than one-twentieth of the global human population, the United States accounts for around one-quarter of the world’s fleet of cars. And in the United States these vehicles get driven, a lot. All of this means that Americans consume each year some 40 percent of all of the gasoline produced worldwide (Dauvergne 2008: 39). By some calculations, US transportation

Environmentalism

343

accounts for around 7 percent of total world energy use (Ponting 2007: 333). This is a truly remarkable fact. The United States, if not actually addicted, at least can be said to have developed over the course of the twentieth century a deep dependency on the automobile, and in turn on the oil on which automobiles feed. Food and Agriculture Feeding is a neat transitional metaphor, since after mobility, the segment of the US economy that uses the next highest proportion of the nation’s fossil fuel energy is the food sector. One estimate puts fossil fuel use in the US food sector at 19 percent of the country’s total (Pollan 2008). This is surprising, at first glance, given that in energy terms, the food equation is one of nature’s most elegant as well as one of humanity’s most important. Every calorie of food that human beings consume ultimately derives from sunlight. Humankind’s systems of food provisioning—varied forms of crop growing and animal rearing, the gathering of fish from the oceans, hunting, and so forth—depend on plants, and in particular the ability of plants to photosynthesize the sun’s energy, making it available to other creatures. Human beings are indelibly part of these natural cycles. We either eat plants directly or eat other creatures that have eaten plants. Regardless, direct energy from the sun has traditionally underpinned the food energy equation. The modern industrial US farm, though, uses direct sunlight as just one energy input. Industrial-age farming is a system of food production that augments the daily energy from the sun with stored solar income. This is the true meaning of the phrase from Lewis Mumford’s work introduced earlier, “carboniferous capitalism.”7 Oil is a fossil fuel. It was produced over many millions of years as living matter decayed and was compressed under the earth’s surface. That living matter itself once depended on sunlight. This means that industrial farming, by its extraordinarily high rate of use of fossil fuel inputs, is a system that takes the ancient remnants of plants and animals, some that were alive during the carboniferous period that dates to some 300 million years ago, and utilizes this once-living matter to augment direct energy from the sun. Fossil fuels represent an ancient inheritance—a store of precious solar income from long ago—that is now being depleted at ever accelerating rates. US food provisioning is basic to this dynamic. A corn field in Iowa, for example, depends on fossil-fueled machinery, along with vast quantities of additives—fertilizers and pesticides—that are also derived from oil and natural gas, and that, like the harvested corn, must typically be transported long distances between manufacturing plants, farms, and processing facilities. It was not always this way. In 1940, as industrial-age farming was just beginning to take hold, the average farm in the United States generated an estimated 2.3 calories of food energy for each calorie of fossil energy that

344

Environmental Approaches

it burned in its machines or applied via its chemicals. By 1974 the ratio was more like 1:1. It has continued to worsen ever since. Now, for staple crops in the United States it typically takes significantly more than a calorie of fossil fuel–derived energy to produce a calorie of food (R. Manning 2004: 42). The implication is that the United States would have a more energyefficient food system if someone could come up with a way to pump the oil taken from Iraq and elsewhere directly into our collective veins. It is also hard to see how a food system of this nature can endure. Cornell University’s David Pimentel has suggested that the US food system is now so energy hungry that if all the world tried to eat a US diet grown via US production methods, humanity would exhaust all known global fossil fuel reserves in a little more than seven years (cited in R. Manning 2004: 42). Even if Pimentel’s calculations are out by an order of magnitude (and there is little reason to suppose that they are), it is clear that systems of transportation and agriculture that depend fundamentally on oil are not long for this earth. An Unbalanced Equation For most of human history, then, oil was little valued. Now people in the United States value oil very highly—literally, it must be said, with their lives, having come to rely on forms of existence that depend absolutely on its consistent and perpetual flow. This is a way of life that requires a vast, interconnected physical supply chain, which finds one expression in US road and rail systems. On any given day in the United States around 43 million tons of goods are being moved on the country’s transportation networks. Around a third of that weight is the coal and oil needed to keep the whole US industrial economy running (McKibben 2010: 184). This physical supply chain also stretches out into the