The Social Construction of State Power: Applying Realist Constructivism 9781529209846

Realism and constructivism are often viewed as competing paradigms for understanding international relations, though sch

147 93 23MB

English Pages 246 [248] Year 2020

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Table of contents :
Front Cover
The Social Construction of State Power: Applying Realist Constructivism
Copyright information
Table of contents
Notes on Contributors
1 Realist Constructivism: An Introduction
Realism and constructivism
Concepts and definitions
Oppositions
Institutions and interests
Agency and prudence
Realisms and constructivisms
Plan of the book
References
2 Causation in Realist Constructivism: Interactionality, Emergence and the Need for Interpretation
A critical realist account of causation
Causation in classical realism: rationality, interactionality and power politics
Causation in constructivism: emergence and normative structures
Co-constitution and causation between agency and structure
Theorizing the causal power of agency and structure and RC’s need for interpretivism
References
3 Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms
Neoclassical realism
System structure
Social constructs
Method and methodology
Constructivism
Power
Conclusion
References
4 Huadu: A Realist Constructivist Account of Taiwan’s Anomalous Status
A systemic-domestic realist constructivism
Co-constitution
Huadu
Conclusion
References
5 The India–US Nuclear Deal: Norms of Power and the Power of Norms
Definitions
Methodology
Conclusion
References
6 Coercive Engagement: Lessons from US Policy towards China
Introduction
Definitions
Methodology
Rhetoric and the CTBT
Background
Rhetorical dynamics
Post-signature developments
Conclusion
References
7 Taking Co-constitution Seriously: Explaining an Ambiguous US Approach to Latin America
Towards a realist-constructivist approach
The centrality of casual deviations
A realist-constructivist approach to the study of press–state relations
Towards a realist-constructivist explanation of contemporary US–Latin American relations
Methods
Why Venezuela’s coup of 2002?
Analysing the pre-coup phase
Analysing the post-coup phase
Results
The pre-coup phase
The post-coup phase
Conclusion
References
8 The Bridging Capacity of Realist Constructivism: The Normative Evolution of Human Security and the Responsibility to Protect
Introduction
Theoretical approaches and definitions
Constructivism
Realism
Methodology
Realist constructivism
Empirical analysis
The R2P principle and the conflict in Libya
The conflict in Syria
Conclusion
References
9 Permutations and Combinations in Theorizing Global Politics: Whither Realist Constructivism?
Why stop at two?
The India–US nuclear deal: realisms, constructivisms and decolonial approaches
The anomaly of Taiwan: realisms, constructivisms and critical theories
US–Latin American relations: Realisms, constructivisms and queer approaches
Human security and R2P: Realisms, constructivisms feminisms
A case for ‘ism’ promiscuity
References
10 Saving Realist Prudence
Saving realist foreign policy from realist explanatory theory …
… downplaying interpretivism …
… and missing constructivism’s political ontology
Conclusion: Realist prudence as constructivist foreign policy strategy?
Notes
References
Index
Back Cover
Recommend Papers

The Social Construction of State Power: Applying Realist Constructivism
 9781529209846

  • 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

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

S A MU EL B A R KI N

Author name Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Lorem Ipsum, commodo, ex

Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Ut enim ullamco ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco consequat.

SAMPLE BAR CODE

E D I T E D BY J. S A M U E L B A RKI N

B R I S TO L

XXXXX

@bristoluniversitypress www.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk

AP P LY I N G RE AL I ST CON ST RU CT I V I S M

Cover image: JR Korpa – unsplash.com

ISBN: XXX-X-XXX-XXX-X

T HE S O C I AL CO N ST RUCT I O N O F STAT E P OW E R

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER Applying Realist Constructivism Edited by J. Samuel Barkin

First published in Great Britain in 2020 by Bristol University Press North America office: 1-​9 Old Park Hill c/​o The University of Chicago Press Bristol 1427 East 60th Street BS2 8BB Chicago, IL 60637, USA UK t: +1 773 702 7700 t: +44 (0)117 954 5940 f: +1 773-​702-​9756 www.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk [email protected] www.press.uchicago.edu © Bristol University Press 2020 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN 978-​1-​5292-​0983-​9 hardcover ISBN 978-​1-​5292-​0985-​3  ePub ISBN 978-​1-​5292-​0984-​6  ePdf The right of J. Samuel Barkin to be identified as editor of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved: no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of Bristol University Press. Every reasonable effort has been made to obtain permission to reproduce copyrighted material. If, however, anyone knows of an oversight, please contact the publisher. The statements and opinions contained within this publication are solely those of the editor and contributors and not of The University of Bristol or Bristol University Press. The University of Bristol and Bristol University Press disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any material published in this publication. Bristol University Press works to counter discrimination on grounds of gender, race, disability, age and sexuality. Cover design by blu inc Front cover: image jr-korpa / Unsplash Printed and bound in in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY Bristol University Press uses environmentally responsible print partners

Contents Notes on Contributors

iv

1

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction J. Samuel Barkin 2 Causation in Realist Constructivism: Interactionality, Emergence and the Need for Interpretation Germán C. Prieto 3 Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms J. Samuel Barkin 4 Huadu: A Realist Constructivist Account of Taiwan’s Anomalous Status Martin Boyle 5 The India–​US Nuclear Deal: Norms of Power and the Power of Norms Saira Bano 6 Coercive Engagement: Lessons from US Policy towards China Chi-​hung  Wei 7 Taking Co-​constitution Seriously: Explaining an Ambiguous US Approach to Latin America Justin O. Delacour 8 The Bridging Capacity of Realist Constructivism: The Normative Evolution of Human Security and the Responsibility to Protect Andreea Iancu 9 Permutations and Combinations in Theorizing Global Politics: Whither Realist Constructivism? Laura Sjoberg 10 Saving Realist Prudence Stefano Guzzini Index

1 19

47 73

101

123

145

171

193

217

233

iii

Notes on Contributors Saira Bano is a lecturer at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada.

She completed her PhD in the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. She is the recipient of a doctoral scholarship by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, a graduate research award by the Simons Foundation and the Kodikara Award by the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Sri Lanka. She was a visiting research fellow at the Stimson Center, Washington, DC. Her research focuses on Constructivist approaches in International Relations theories, the nuclear non-​proliferation regime and nuclear weapons issues in South Asia. J. Samuel Barkin is Professor in the Conflict Resolution, Human

Security, and Global Governance Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His research focuses on IR theory and epistemology, sovereignty and international organization, and global environmental politics. He is the author or editor of 10 books, including Realist Constructivism: Rethinking International Relations Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and, most recently, International Relations’ Last Synthesis (with Laura Sjoberg, Oxford University Press, 2019). Martin Boyle is a teaching fellow at University College London.

He received his PhD in International Relations from the University of Kent with a thesis on Taiwan’s state identity. He is the recipient of an Erasmus Mundus visiting fellowship at Peking University and a European Association of Taiwan Studies research grant at Leiden University. His research explores the interface between language and power to interrogate various realisms, constructivisms and Marxisms. His current research interests range from China–​Taiwan relations to Brexit, British state identities, Brazilian political speech and the discourses of social movements. He has authored a number of books for

iv

Notes on contributors

Chinese international students and articles on pedagogy and academic sojourner adjustment. Justin O. Delacour is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lewis

University in Romeoville, Illinois. He studies how the interests of the American state and US cultural discourses interact in shaping US policy towards Latin America. His other research interests are in comparative political development, with a particular focus on why states differ in their capacities to improve the health and longevity of their populations. He has co-​authored articles in Democratization and NACLA Report on the Americas. He earned his doctorate in political science from the University of New Mexico. Stefano Guzzini is Professor at Uppsala University and PUC-​Rio de

Janeiro, and Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. His research focuses on international theory, social and political theories of power, critical security studies, approaches to foreign policy analysis and interpretivist methodology. He has published nine books, including The Return of Geopolitics in Europe?: Social Mechanisms and Foreign Policy Identity Crises (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and Power, Realism and Constructivism (Routledge, 2013), winner of the 2014 ISA Theory Section Best Book Award. From 2013–​2019 he served as President of the Central and East European International Studies Association. He is co-​editor of International Theory. Andreea Iancu has a PhD in Political Science from Alexandru Ioan

Cuza University of Iaşi, Romania. She has also been a research fellow and Fulbright Visiting Researcher in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She currently serves as a diplomat with the Romanian foreign service. Her research interests include constructivist approaches to international relations theory, the evolution of norms in the international system, human security and the responsibility to protect, on which she has published several papers. Germán C.  Prieto is Associate Professor in the Department of

International Relations at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. He holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Manchester. His current research interests revolve around philosophy of science and IR, particularly constructivism, critical realism, interpretivism and the issue of causation. He has also engaged in research on the topic of regionalism in Latin America. His recent

v

newgenprepdf

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

publications are Identidad Colectiva e Instituciones Regionales en la Comunidad Andina:  Un Análisis Constructivista (Editorial Javeriana, 2016), and ‘Identity in Latin American Regionalism:  The Andean Community’ in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latin American Politics (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Laura Sjoberg is Professor of Political Science at the University of

Florida with a courtesy affiliation in women’s and gender studies. Her research on gender and war has been published in more than three dozen journals in political science, gender studies, geography and law. She is author or editor of more than a dozen books, including, most recently, International Relations’ Last Synthesis (with J. Samuel Barkin, Oxford University Press, 2019) and Handbook on Gender and Security (with Caron E. Gentry and Laura J. Shepherd, Routledge, 2018). Chi-​hung Wei is Assistant Professor in the Institute of European and

American Studies at Academia Sinica, Taiwan. His research interests include the US–​China–​Taiwan triangle, international relations theory, economic statecraft, the politics of resource wealth and ethnic conflict in Latin America. His work has been published in numerous journals, including Millennium: Journal of International Studies, International Political Science Review and International Relations of the Asia-​Pacific.

vi

1

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction J. Samuel Barkin

The relationship between realism and constructivism in international relations (IR) theory is a fraught one. The two paradigmatic framings of IR are often understood, and taught, as being in opposition to each other. The relationship is also an important one. Realism and constructivism are two of the central concepts around which the academic discipline is organized. They are often presented as incompatible or paradigmatically irreconcilable, not only to most graduate students studying to be IR scholars, but also to most students in undergraduate introductory IR classes as well. This leads both scholars of IR and informed non-​specialists more broadly to understand power politics on the one hand, and constructivist research foci such as norms, identity and discourse on the other, as incompatible and to engage in sterile debates about whether material power or discourses matter more. Assuming that realism and constructivism are mutually hostile understandings of how international politics work impoverishes both understandings; it takes away from realists the ability to study normative phenomena that matter to the conduct of power politics, and it limits constructivists’ ability to study power politics in the first place (Barkin 2010). The mutual hostility of the two paradigms is easy to trace historically; some of the best-​known early works of constructivism cast themselves either as critiques of particular realisms (eg Wendt 1999), or of a rationalist understanding of politics under which neorealism is subsumed (eg Ruggie 1998). However, these critiques are not really aimed at political realism in general, but rather at specific variants of

1

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

neorealism. More recently a number of scholars have either proposed readings of classical realism that are compatible with constructivism or argued explicitly that the two are compatible (eg Sterling-​Folker 2002; Steele 2007a; Steele 2007b; Barkin 2010). However, these discussions have tended to be at a theoretical rather than applied level; they have opened up spaces for discussions of the relationship between the two understandings, but they have not necessarily given clear guidance to scholars as to how to combine realism and constructivism as parts of a specific research design. In part this is because there are a variety of ways in which one could reasonably combine the two. Realist constructivism is in this sense a space for a conversation between the two paradigmatic understandings, rather than a specific combination of them. Creating the space for that conversation can usefully be supplemented by some examples of what the conversation has produced. Is it generating interesting research? How are the two understandings being combined in practice? This volume is about how to apply the concept of realist constructivism to specific research projects in IR. Rather than develop a single methodology for doing so, it examines the range of creative ways in which it is currently being done. It collects some of the most exciting work done by scholars who self-​describe as realist constructivists and uses this work as the basis for an analysis of the range of the possible offered by the concept, and for thoughts on where realist constructivism might be headed. There are in fact a number of examples of published scholarship that could reasonably be called realist constructivist and that may well be so described by their authors. These include work on the strategic use of discourse as a power resource (eg Krebs and Jackson 2007), and on the construction of identity that necessarily underlies the idea of the state as an actor (eg Risse 2001). These two bodies of work, however, only skim the surface of the possibilities of combinations. This volume provides a set of examples of applications of different realist constructivisms and an analysis of where they fit in this conversation, and how they speak to each other. Providing such a set of examples serves several functions. It helps to establish the range of the possible in the conversation between realism and constructivism as a set of research practices rather than deductive claims. In doing so, it helps theorizing on the relationship between realism and constructivism overcome a stagnation that suggests the limits of primarily deductive theorizing. Finally, it provides examples to junior scholars of how to build research programmes that combine constructivism and realism. The first section of this volume, consisting of this introduction and the following two chapters, lays some theoretical background for

2

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction

the discussion of specific realist constructivisms. This is followed, in Chapters  4–​8, by five specific applications. The volume concludes with two chapters that contextualize the contributions in a pair of broader analyses and critiques of the conversation between realism and constructivism, in order to create a more effective map of the terrain. The bulk of this introductory chapter provides a brief overview of the relationship between constructivism and realism, to set the stage for what follows.

Realism and constructivism Key to the claim that there are many different realist constructivisms (which is distinct from the claim that there are many applications of a single realist constructivism) is the intellectually prior claim that there are both many realisms and many constructivisms. The argument in support of this claim has been made elsewhere with respect to both realism and constructivism and need not be rehashed here (Barkin 2010). Nonetheless, a useful starting point for this volume is to lay out a common understanding of what both constructivism and realism are and are not. This section briefly discusses each individually and the spaces of overlap between them. It looks at two of the dichotomies often used to separate them: materialism versus idealism, and the logic of consequences versus the logic of appropriateness. Finally, it looks to the logic of the social and questions of agency for common grounds for a realist constructivism. The next section looks at different strains of realism and constructivism and asks how they might fit into the realist constructivism conversation. A context for these discussions is a look at the role of both constructivism and realism in IR; a prior question to asking whether a piece of scholarship is realist constructivist is asking what we mean when we call a piece of scholarship either realist or constructivist. One potential usage, which is reflected in the introduction to this chapter, is as a paradigm, although this begs the question of what we mean by a paradigm in the social sciences. In practice, often we mean either a research programme or a research network to which a set of scholars are committed (on the subject of paradigms as research networks, see Barkin and Sjoberg 2019). A paradigm, in either case, can easily become an exclusive group, both in the sense that some scholars are in and others out, and in the sense that individual scholars come to be seen, and see themselves, as partisans of one paradigm or another. In this context it is easy to understand how constructivism and realism can be seen in opposition to each other and as mutually exclusive. Understood

3

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

as paradigms, they are too easily seen as incompatible by assumption; by this understanding, if one is paradigmatically a constructivist or a realist one cannot by definition be the other. Another potential usage of terms like realism and constructivism in IR theory is as concepts, as understandings about how politics works. This usage is described by Patrick Thaddeus Jackson as scientific ontology, by which he means assumptions about what matters in the world (Jackson 2010). By this usage there is no inherent incompatibility between a piece of scholarship being both constructivist and realist at the same time unless the conceptual underpinnings of the two assumptions are directly in opposition to each other. But the conceptual underpinnings of paradigmatic terms in IR that are sometimes taken to be in direct contradiction of each other are often not. This is true even of realism and liberalism. Many if not most of the most noted mid-​ century classical realists, such has E.H. Carr, Hans Morgenthau, Innis Claude Jr and John Herz for example, were both realists and liberals, the former describing their understanding of how politics works, and the latter describing their understanding of what the goals of politics should be (Morgenthau 1948; Claude 1962; Herz 1957; Carr 1964). And many neorealisms are liberal in their assumptions about how to model international politics, drawing as they do on microeconomic theory and market analogies (Boucoyannis 2007).

Concepts and definitions Similarly, understood as scientific ontologies, the assumptions of constructivism and realism are orthogonal to each other. The core assumption of realism is that power matters, and that as a result, however robust the institutional structure of IR, those relations will remain political. The core assumption of constructivism is that social, and therefore political, institutions are socially constructed, meaning both that they are changeable over time, and that they cannot be deduced from first principles (Barkin and Sjoberg 2019). The first is an assumption about how politics works, the second about what politics is made of. There is no necessary reason that both cannot be true at the same time, and some reasons (discussed in the next section of this chapter) why the two assumptions can work well together. To unpack these core assumptions, realism’s understanding of power is as power politics, or realpolitik. This understanding is relational, meaning that it is a measure of the effect one actor can have on another, as distinct from critical understandings of power as structural constraint (Barnett and Duvall 2005). Power can come from a variety of sources,

4

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction

ranging from military materiel to ideological cohesion to rhetorical skill, and may or may not be fungible across both target actors and issues. It is also worth noting in a discussion of the relationship between realism and constructivism that realists see power as corporate, allowing them to focus on social institutions such as the state, rather than (or instead of) individuals, as actors in international politics. While various IR theorists have defined political realism in various ways over the years, power politics, and the susceptibility of political institutions, however well designed, to power politics, provides both the common theme across and the ultimate logic behind most definitions. This is clear both in E.H. Carr’s critique of utopia and Hans Morgenthau’s critique of ‘scientific man’, as well as in Kenneth Waltz’s claim that even when stripped down to the simplest model, the anarchy of IR leads to self-​help (Morgenthau 1946; Carr 1964; Waltz 1979). It underlies the realist focus on the state, the centrality of which to international politics is the result of its power potential, not its cause. And it underlies realist claims on rationality, inasmuch as an actor that is not rational in a world of power politics is unlikely to thrive. Meanwhile, to say that the core assumption of constructivism is the social construction of political institutions and actors skirts close to tautology. However, unpacking the two words of the phrase social construction points to two key conceptual components. The first, drawing on the social, is the idea of intersubjectivity. Central to constructivism is not how actors individually understand, internalize and reproduce ideas, norms, discourses, rules, practices, identities and so on, but how actors collectively do so. Intersubjectivity suggests that constructivist analysis studies political institutions neither as objective, existing outside of actors’ beliefs about and practices within them, nor as purely subjective, existing within the heads of individual actors. Rather, it studies institutions as being what actors collectively take them to be. The second component is co-​constitution, the idea that political actors and institutions are simultaneously constitutive of each other. Agents are not only constrained, but also constructed by the structures within which they developed; the identities agents hold, the norms they believe in, the discourses and practices through which they act, all of which are constitutive of them as agents, develop from existing social structures. But at the same time those structures have no existence independent of the agents that created them and continually recreate them through discourse and practice. Constructivist research therefore looks at international politics as a set of historically contingent institutions that exist because their constituent actors hold them in

5

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

common, and which both constitute, are created by, and can be changed by those actors.

Oppositions There can certainly be non-​constructivist realism and non-​realist constructivism. For example, Kenneth Waltz simply assumes his agents into existence, and builds his structures from them (Waltz 1979). There is no intersubjectivity and no co-​constitution in his model. Conversely, many constructivisms assume that a secular normative progress in the construction of international political institutions is possible (Price 2008). But how compatible are the assumptions, the scientific ontologies, of constructivism and realism? Before discussing ways in which they might be compatible, it is worth debunking briefly arguments that they are incompatible. The first of these arguments is that realism is necessarily materialist while constructivism is idealist. The second is that realism focuses on a logic of consequences, and constructivism on a logic of appropriateness. An opposition between realist materialism and constructivist idealism (understood here as being about ideas, not ideals) plays a major role in arguments distinguishing the two, both in key early works of constructivist theory (eg Wendt 1999) and in various recent realisms, both of the structural and neoclassical varieties (eg Mearsheimer 2001 and Ripsman, Taliaferro and Lobell 2016 respectively). The basic claim underlying this opposition is that constructivism, grounded as it is in the concept of intersubjectivity, is necessarily about ideas, specifically about those that political actors hold in common at any given time. However, realism, so the argument goes, being grounded in the concept of power, is focused on the capabilities that are the basis of power, such as military might and economic potential. At the margins, non-​material sources of power, such as morale or diplomatic skill, might matter a little, but even then primarily via the ability to marshal material resources. This argument gets both the relationship between materialism and idealism and the relationship between materialism and realism wrong. It gets the relationship between materialism and idealism wrong by positing that they are categorically distinct and distinguishable. But the purely material is rarely a source of social power unless embedded in a set of ideas about how the material can and should be used, and ideas often involve material referents. Money, for example, need have no particular material embodiment. It is in a sense a pure exercise in intersubjectivity; it has value because its users collectively ascribe

6

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction

value to it. And yet financial capabilities are often taken as indicators of power measured as capability. Phrased differently, the material bases of power in IR are not separable from the ideas they embody. To fully understand relational power in IR, one must therefore understand the relationships between ideas and the material, and the ideas that make materiel in power capabilities. It gets the relationship between materialism and realism wrong as well. In the most direct sense, the reason for this follows from the argument that it gets the relationship between materialism and idealism wrong. Not all material capabilities translate equivalently into relational power, and not all capabilities that support relational power, not least discourse, can be meaningfully reduced to the material. This observation speaks to realist arguments against constructivism; the relationship between ideas and power cannot be dismissed so easily. From the perspective of constructivist arguments as well, materialism is being blamed for epistemological damage that it has not caused. Specifically, it is blamed for the propensity of neorealists to create static models of the international system, which is incompatible with the constructivist view of political institutions as historically contingent. But this disagreement about historical contingency is not in fact directly related to a materialism/​idealism dichotomy, and in any case identifies an incompatibility between constructivism and certain kinds of neorealist modelling, rather than political realism more broadly. The second of the two oppositions often used to distinguish between realism and constructivism is between the logic of consequences and the logic of appropriateness (Ruggie 1998). The logic of consequences is the logic of rational choice theory, of homo economicus, in which actors are assumed to make decisions that maximize their individual utility. The logic of appropriateness, which comes to IR from organizational theory, assumes that actors behave in ways that reflect what is expected of them in given contexts, that they follow institutional norms (March and Olsen 1998). The dichotomy as used in IR theory is more about distinguishing constructivism from rationalism than from realism per se, but realism’s frequent invocation of rationality makes it a target of the argument by association. This opposition does not effectively distinguish between realism and constructivism, however, because realist analysis does not require assumptions that people behave rationally, and constructivism does not require assumptions that they behave appropriately. Many, if not most, realists speak of rationality, but they mean a variety of different things by it, and those meanings are often different from the narrow technical use implied by the logic of consequences, that individuals can

7

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

be assumed to be instrumentally rational. Classical realists, for example, used the term in its colloquial rather than economic sense, to mean reasonableness. Furthermore, they used it as exhortation rather than assumption –​arguing that statespeople should be rational to maximize the national interest, rather than that statespeople (let alone states) can be assumed to be rational (eg Morgenthau 1948). Even in neorealisms that draw on microeconomic models there is not a necessary assumption of rationality. These arguments posit that actors (generally defined in this case as states rather than people) that respond rationally to systemic incentives are most likely to thrive in an anarchic system, but do not assume that all actors will necessarily do so (eg Waltz 1979). Some constructivist analyses, meanwhile, do concern themselves more with appropriate than consequentialist behaviour. This is particularly the case for norms-​based constructivisms and is true perhaps to a lesser extent for habit-​and practice-​based constructivisms. But this concern is particular to those constructivisms, rather than conceptually inherent in constructivism. A focus on a logic of consequences, on strategic behaviour, is in no way incompatible with intersubjectivity and the study of the co-​constitution of agents and structures in international politics. Political actors can recognize socially constructed norms and rules and employ those norms and rules for strategic ends that are themselves constituted by social institutions. They can rhetorically deploy discourses to frame and reframe political context for their own purposes, purposes that again are themselves constituted by social institutions. Constructivist analysis, in other words, is not necessarily biased to the logic of either appropriateness or consequences; both are features of the social construction of international politics. The failure of these two oft-​cited dichotomies to establish a clear conceptual disjuncture between constructivism and realism suggests that they do not live on opposite ends of any particular spectrum. The conceptual underpinnings of constructivism and realism are orthogonal to each other; they are neither necessarily incompatible nor necessarily compatible. This suggests that conceptual combinations of realisms and constructivisms are viable when both sets of conceptual underpinnings are relevant to a particular research question. The next issue, then, is under what circumstances this is likely to happen.

Institutions and interests The most obvious area of overlap between the conceptual underpinnings of realism and constructivism is the focus on social institutions. Constructivist analysis assumes that social institutions, broadly defined,

8

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction

are what matter in IR. Realist analysis focuses much more narrowly on one such institution, the state. Many realists, more so in recent than classical realisms, simply assume the state as a rational actor with externally given interests, the international equivalent of the individual in rational choice theory. But realist theory at a more fundamental level is premised on the idea that the state is more than the simple cumulation of interests within it. States are corporate actors, with corporate interests, and realist theory assumes that individual people, whether statespeople making decisions or soldiers risking their lives, will act to promote that corporate interest. States, in this sense, are constitutive of the people within them, in a way that is integral to realism. This does not necessarily mean that all realists will be sympathetic to constructivist modes of analysis (although some that are not sympathetic should be, as is discussed with reference to neoclassical realism in Chapter 3 of this volume). Some realisms may well start with epistemological assumptions, or neopositivist methods, that make them incompatible with constructivist analysis. Nor does it mean that all constructivists will, or should, focus on states, either as agents or structures. But the state as a social institution is fertile ground for a realist constructivism that takes the social construction of the institution seriously. Taking the social construction of the state as a corporate agent with relational power seriously means taking the idea of its corporate interest seriously, or what realists generally refer to as the national interest. Many realists assume that survival is the core state interest and argue that this assumption is sufficient as a starting point for analysis of international politics (eg Waltz 1979; Ripsman, Taliaferro, and Lobell 2016). For most research questions, however, this assumption is inadequate; it is both insufficient and imprecise. Insufficient because most foreign policy is not about core threats to state survival. Such threats, in fact, are quite rare, particularly in the day-​to-​day conduct of foreign policy, and almost all foreign policy is informed by goals beyond immediate survival. Imprecise because it is not entirely clear what survival, in the context of a non-​corporeal corporate agent, means. Is it survival of the nation, the country, the institutional structure of the state, or the regime? Did, for example, Sudan survive the creation of South Sudan as an independent state, or did it not? Did the countries of the Soviet bloc survive the end of the Cold War, or did their states understood as communist regimes die? Any definite general answer to such questions is likely to be arbitrary. Beyond survival, what can we assume about state interests? Very little. Some realists argue that there is an objective national interest

9

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

in maximizing the capabilities associated with power (Krasner 1978). But again, this is both insufficient and imprecise. Insufficient, among other reasons, because it is not borne out by empirical observation. Most states, for example, spend less on their militaries than they could without undermining their economies, and many can be prickly about issues of national pride, deploying policy on an issue which is not necessarily related to survival. Imprecise because it conflates capabilities with power, and thereby assumes that power is more fungible than is the case. Finally, defining the national interest as maximizing power begs the question of what the power is to be used for (beyond perhaps survival, but see earlier discussion). Power is a means, not an end, and the concept of a national interest is hollow without ends. Realisms that assume that those ends are consistent across place and time are not compatible with constructivism. Realisms that see them as socially constructed are. There are different ways that various constructivisms interact with the idea of corporate, and by extension state, interest. Some speak of interest as closely related to and informed by identity (following Wendt 1999). Others suggest that interests are both constituted and circumscribed by the discourses of politics in a given context (Steele 2008; Goddard 2009). Still others speak of social purpose, a concept broader than corporate interest but which can usefully inform discussion of the national interest (Ruggie 1982). All of these, each in its distinct way, is compatible with a realist focus on states and relational power. Whether in the conceptual language of identity, discourse, purpose or some other mode of social construction, some idea of the national interest, how it differs across countries, how it expresses itself or where it comes from, is likely to be a common feature of most if not all realist constructivisms.

Agency and prudence Two other likely common features are a space for agency and an ethic of prudence. Agency is understood here to mean purposeful action by an individual or corporate actor with respect (in this context) to some aspect of international politics (Barkin 2010). Purposefulness here should be thought of as distinct from reactive behaviour. When actors behave in a way determined by structures, be they social or biological, they are being reactive rather than truly agentive  –​in such situations structure is determinative, leaving little or no scope for real agency. Not all realisms or constructivisms leave much scope for agency. But a combination of the two is likely to do so because

10

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction

the spaces where they overlap suggest mechanisms for agents to effect institutional change. By the definition given here, many ways of characterizing actor behaviour in IR theory leave little scope for agency. For example, neither arguments based on consequentialist nor on appropriate behaviour allow for agency; both have actors responding in scripted patterns to institutional stimuli, whether those patterns involve analyzing interests based on a fixed mode of calculation, or following scripts given by organizational norms (Barkin 2010). Neorealisms intentionally abstract away from agency to isolate systemic effects (Waltz 1979). All of these illustrations have in common a static structure, with actors reacting to it in programmed rather than purposeful ways. None of these examples provides fertile ground for a realist constructivism. A  constructivism that looks at ways in which the norms of the international system constrain state power is not particularly realist. A realism that argues that states will react the same way to systemic constraints is not particularly constructivist. The constructivisms and realism that speak to each other, however, both leave room for states and statespeople to act purposefully in ways that are meaningful to international politics, and allow for the possibility for meaningful change in the practices, discourses, rules, norms, identities and so on of international politics and the international system as a social institution. They bring from realism the idea that uses of power, and the purposes driving those uses, are agentive choices that affect outcomes. They bring from constructivism the idea that the institutional context for agentive choice is historically contingent, intersubjective and changeable. These overlap in the idea that state behaviour and uses of relational power in international politics affect not only position within the system, but the constitution of the system itself. An analogy to this discussion of agency can be found in some recent discussions of realist time. Andrew Hom and Brent Steele argue that the predominant view of time in IR theory is either linear or cyclical (Hom and Steele 2010). Much liberal theory is linear, in the teleological sense, in seeing in institutions a trend of secular improvement in international politics specifically and in the human condition more broadly. Many realisms, in contrast, see time as cyclical, with the same patterns of behaviour and outcome recurring (such as predictions that power will necessarily balance). Hom and Steel argue for a different, open view of time. This view was to be found in classical realism but was lost in many realisms that took the ‘science’ side of the second great debate (Lapid 1989). When scholars do not assume ex ante that

11

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

history necessarily either progresses or repeats itself, they allow a much greater scope for agency (Hom and Steele 2010). This way of categorizing views of time is also relevant to constructivism, inasmuch as many liberal constructivisms tend towards the teleological. Realisms and constructivisms that share a common view of time as open share as well this greater scope for agency. Hom and Steele connect their open view of time with, among other things, an ethic of prudence in realism (Hom and Steele 2010). Calls for prudence in the conduct of foreign policy are a long-​standing part of the realist, and particularly the classical realist, tradition, although there is less space for such calls in the more formalized models of IR that are found in many neorealisms and some neoclassical realisms. These calls are closely related to calls for an ethical prudence, in the sense that we should be prudent in universalizing our own ethics to others, who may view them variously as colonial or hypocritical, to be found in the work of such classical realists as Morgenthau and Carr (Morgenthau 1948; Carr 1964). Prudence on the part of statespeople in turn implies the necessity of prudence on the part of realist scholars of IR, who are presumably prone to the same universalizing tendencies and uncertainties about the complexities of international politics. This need for prudence on the part of the researcher and theorist resonates with what has been called an ethic of prudence in constructivism (Hoffmann 2009). This ethic is cognizant of the fact that the structures of international politics may be more delicate than we realize, and scholars should therefore be prudent in both re-​and de-​constructing them. Realist constructivisms are to be found in the significant common ground of these understandings of ethical prudence.

Realisms and constructivisms Having looked at the broad terrain of the relationship between realism and constructivism, what of the relationships among specific realisms and specific constructivisms? Each of the empirical cases in Chapters 4 to 8 of this volume specifies its own realism and constructivism, and the relationship between the two. None breaks radically new ground in the specific constructivism or realism that it uses; the contributions lie in the specifics of the relationship between the two, and the ways in which methodologies for studying social construction have been brought to bear in the study of power politics in IR. Having said this, some realisms are more conducive to constructivist methodologies than others. Waltzian neorealism, for example, offers

12

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction

infertile ground for the study of the social construction of politics. But most realisms offer more scope than this, even some neorealisms. Gilpin’s (1983) neorealism, for example, has some affinities with Onuf ’s (1989) work on rules and rule. The empirical chapters in the middle of this volume draw on three relatively recent trends in realist IR theory: neoclassical realism, rhetorical realism and reflexive realism. Neoclassical realism begins with neorealist systemic theory and asks why states do not always behave as neorealist theory would predict, finding answers in domestic politics. More specifically, it often finds answers in the social constructs of domestic politics, from political institutions to culture. The third chapter in this book discusses neoclassical realism and its relationship with constructivism in some detail. The upshot of that discussion is that, to paraphrase Kratochwil and Ruggie (1986), the ontology of its domestic variables does not match the soft positivist epistemology it generally prefers. It is, in other words, a realist theory in need of constructivist methods. Chapters 4 and 5, either explicitly or implicitly, provide constructivist methods for neoclassical realist questions. Rhetorical realism looks at the power of rhetoric in international affairs. It is a departure from many contemporary realisms that see power as vested in material resources. It draws on discussions in the works of many classical realists of the power of persuasion (eg Beer and Harriman 1996) but goes beyond that to look at the power to frame discourse and with it perceptions and understandings of the realm of the politically and ethically viable. Rhetorical realism, adopted explicitly in Chapter 6, is a natural fit with many discourse-​oriented constructivisms. Finally, reflexive realism is in a way an opposite theoretical move to neoclassical realism. It looks to classical realism not for its focus on foreign policy, but for the philosophical content that was to a significant extent lost in IR’s second debate. In this sense it is a paleoclassical rather than neoclassical realism. Brent Steele defines it as ‘the attempt to restore classical realist principles of agency, prudence and the recognition of limitations as part of an attempt to provide a practical-​ethical view of international politics’ (Steele 2007a, p. 273). In its focus on agency and the ethical it has a natural affinity with many constructivisms, and it has not internalized the unreflective positivism that is to be found with many contemporary realisms. Chapters 7 and 8 fit broadly into this approach to realism, although neither explicitly identifies itself as such. The categorization of realisms in this volume should not be taken to suggest that these are the only three strands within realism that are good fits for constructivist ontology and methods, or as an endorsement

13

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

of these over other contemporary strands of realism. Rather, the diversity of these strands, ranging from neoclassical realism’s attempts to fit in with the realist mainstream to rhetorical realism’s critique of that mainstream’s materialism, to reflexive realism’s rejection of the contemporary mainstream in favour of the philosophical richness of classical realism, is suggestive of the broad scope for overlap between realisms and constructivisms. The constructivisms used by the authors of Chapters 4 to 8 cannot be quite so neatly classified, although they all fit solidly within the traditional constructivist mainstream. They are less focused on some of the more recent developments in constructivist ontology and methodology, such as practice theory or network analysis, than on tradition constructivist concerns, such as norms, identity and discourse. The contribution to constructivist theory in these chapters lies in developing ideas of how norms, identities and discourse both affect and are affected by the social construction of power politics.

Plan of the book Chapters  2 and 3 address different aspects of the epistemological advantages of combining constructivist methodologies and politically realist ontologies, with respect to two different realist literatures. In Chapter 2 Germán Prieto argues that a combination of classical realism and reflexive constructivism can provide a better account of causality than either can on its own. He brings together classical realism’s insights on interactionality (the idea that outcomes result from the interactions of actor uncertainties) and constructivism’s insights on the role of social context in causal emergence to create a realist constructivist account of causality that is both philosophically and methodologically richer than can be provided by a focus on interactionality or social context alone. Meanwhile, I argue in Chapter 3 that constructivism provides the set of methodologies that neoclassical realism needs to meet its ontological goals. Neoclassical realists often rely on case studies embedded in a ‘soft positivism’ that neither makes sense in its own terms nor meets the epistemological needs of neoclassical realist research. Embedding neoclassical ontology in constructivist methodologies, I  argue, can meet those needs much more effectively. The middle part of the volume consists of five chapters that are applications of various interpretations of realist constructivism to specific research questions. While each chapter addresses a specific empirical question in IR, the chapters collectively are structured to

14

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction

use the research questions to illuminate the variety of relationships between realism and constructivism. Each of these five chapters proceeds in four sections, following a chapter introduction that lays out the research question. The first provides a set of definitions of the specific variant or understanding of both realism and constructivism that the author is using. The second is devoted to methodology, and specifically to a discussion of the ways in which realist and constructivist concepts are being combined, what methods are being deployed, and what data gathered, to relate these concepts to the research question. The third part presents the chapter’s empirics, in a way that highlights both the application of the research design and the realist and constructivist elements of the analysis. The final and concluding part of each chapter is a discussion of what is gained by the deployment of a realist constructivism to answer the chapter’s research question; what does this combination of concepts show us in this case that we would not see otherwise? These chapters cover a range of geographical and topical foci, as well as varying methodological tools and ways of looking at the relationship between realism and constructivism. In Chapter 4 Martin Boyle studies the discursive construction of, and the discursive gaps in, the strategic ambiguity underlying Taiwan’s policy towards China. He argues that this ambiguity results from the confrontation of the power-​political constraints of Chinese claims to the island and the construction of a distinct Taiwanese identity domestically. In Chapter 5 Saira Bano dissects the relationship between norms and power in the India–​US nuclear deal, arguing that while states can use power to change norms, they can only do so in the context of existing normative structures. Chi-​hung Wei writes in Chapter  6 about the genesis of the US policy of engagement towards China, showing that the change to this policy is better explained by changing ideas about the politics of engagement than by changes in the strategic situation. Justin Delacour looks at the framing of democracy as a tool of foreign policy in the US relationship with Latin American in Chapter 7. He argues that the ambiguousness of the role that democracy plays in US policy results from the co-​constitution of strategic calculation and cultural identities in the creation of foreign policy. Finally, in Chapter 8 Andreea Iancu examines the normative evolution of the responsibility to protect principle in response to both human security norms and political realities in Libya and Syria. The final two chapters of this volume critically review the arguments made in the first eight. In Chapter 9 Laura Sjoberg makes the case that thinking of binary combinations is too limiting, and therefore

15

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

that we should be thinking beyond the combination of realism and constructivism. She argues that combining realism and constructivism with post-​structuralism, liberalism, feminism or decolonial theory can yield even richer analyses than those provided in the empirical chapters. Finally, in Chapter 10 Stefano Guzzini returns to the idea of prudence in classical realism and argues that constructivism provides the tools necessary to reclaim the key insights of classical realism from their own internal contradictions. References Barkin, J. Samuel (2010) Realist Constructivism: Rethinking International Relations Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Barkin, J. Samuel and Laura Sjoberg (2019) International Relations’ Last Synthesis? Decoupling Constructivisms and Critical Approaches. New York: Oxford University Press. Barnett, Michael and Raymond Duvall (2005) ‘Power in International Politics’. International Organization 59: 39–​75. Beer, Francis and Robert Harriman, eds. (1996) Post-​Realism:  The Rhetorical Turn in International Relations. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press. Boucoyannis, Deborah (2007) ‘The International Wanderings of a Liberal Idea, or Why Liberals Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Balance of Power’. Perspectives on Politics 5: 703–​28. Carr, Edward Hallett (1964) The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919–​1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations. New  York: Harper & Row. Claude, Inis Jr (1962) Power and International Relations. New  York: Random House. Gilpin, Robert (1983) War and Change in World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goddard, Stacie (2009) ‘When Right Makes Might:  How Prussia Overturned the European Balance of Power’. International Security 33: 110–​42. Herz, John (1957) ‘Rise and Demise of the Territorial State’. World Politics 9: 473–​93. Hoffmann, Matthew (2009) ‘Is Constructivist Ethics and Oxymoron?’ International Studies Review 11: 231–​52. Hom, Andrew and Brent Steele (2010) ‘Open Horizons:  The Temporal Visions of Reflexive Realism’. International Studies Review 12: 271–​300.

16

Realist Constructivism: An Introduction

Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus (2010) The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations: Philosophy of Science and its Implications for the Study of World Politics. London: Routledge. Krasner, Stephen (1978) Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials Investments and US Foreign Policy. Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press. Kratochwil, Friedrich and John Gerard Ruggie (1986) ‘International Organization: A State of the Art on an Art of the State’. International Organization 40: 753–​75. Krebs, Ronald and Patrick Thaddeus Jackson (2007) ‘Twisting Tongues and Twisting Arms: The Power of Political Rhetoric’. European Journal of International Relations 13: 35–​66. Lapid, Yosef (1989) ‘The Third Debate:  On the Prospects of International Theory in a Post-​Positivist Era’. International Studies Quarterly 33: 235–​54. March, James and Johan Olsen (1998) ‘The Institutional Dynamics of International Political Orders’. International Organization 52: 943–​69. Mearsheimer, John (2001) The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: Norton. Morgenthau, Hans (1946) Scientific Man versus Power Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Morgenthau, Hans (1948) Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Onuf, Nicholas Greenwood (1989) World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. Price, Richard (2008) ‘Moral Limit and Possibility in World Politics’. International Organization 62: 191–​220. Ripsman, Norrin, Jeffrey Taliaferro and Steven Lobell (2016) Neoclassical Realist Theory of International Politics. New York: Oxford University Press. Risse, Thomas (2001) ‘A European Identity? Europeanization and the Evolution of Nation-​state Identities’, in Maria Green Cowles, James A.  Caporaso and Thomas Risse-​Kappen, eds., Transforming Europe:  Europeanization and Domestic Change. Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press: 198–​216. Ruggie, John Gerard (1982) ‘International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order’. International Organizations 36: 379–​415. Ruggie, John Gerard (1998) ‘What Makes the World Hang Together? Neo-​Utilitarianism and the Social Constructivist Challenge’. International Organization 52: 858–​85.

17

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Steele, Brent (2007a) ‘ “Eavesdropping on Honored Ghosts”: From Classical to Reflexive Realism’. Journal of International Relations and Development 10: 272–​300. Steele, Brent (2007b) ‘Liberal-​Idealism:  A Constructivist Critique’. International Studies Review 9: 23–​52. Steele, Brent (2008) Ontological Security in International Relations: Self-​ identity and the IR State. London: Routledge. Sterling-​Folker, Jennifer (2002) ‘Realism and the Constructivist Challenge: Rejecting, Reconstructing, or Rereading’. International Studies Review 4: 73–​97. Waltz, Kenneth (1979) Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-​Wesley. Wendt, Alexander (1999) Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

18

2

Causation in Realist Constructivism: Interactionality, Emergence and the Need for Interpretation Germán C. Prieto This chapter sets out an inquiry about the ways in which realist constructivism (RC) may offer better causal explanations than classical realism and constructivism on their own, framing the discussion within what these approaches have to say for the analysis of international relations. The main argument developed here is that RC has a strong potential for providing more comprehensive causal explanations. It offers the possibility of combining classical realism’s account of interactionality related to the type of rationalism tied up to power politics, in which agency acquires a significant causal role, and constructivism’s account of causal emergence, where social context is analyzed in depth and the causal role of normative structures is highlighted. Yet, it also argues that such RC potential for providing better causal explanations faces the challenge of addressing the causal power of agency, while simultaneously acknowledging the causal power of structure (which in turn demands resorting to bracketing one or the other in order to understand their process of co-​constitution and causation). In addition, I  show that RC needs to incorporate interpretivism in order to give better accounts of causation, which from a critical realist and constructivist standpoint is crucial for understanding the causal powers of both agency and structure. The chapter begins by providing a definition of what is to be understood as causation and a ‘better’ causal explanation for the

19

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

argument hereby stressed, for which a critical realist approach to it will be set out. Subsequently, the chapter addresses the accounts of causation of some classical realisms and constructivisms, focusing respectively on interactionality and agents’ rationality related to power politics, and causal emergence related to social context and normative structures. In a fourth section, the chapter analyzes some realist constructivist approaches to particular case studies where causal relationships are suggested, assessing both RC’s potential for providing more encompassing causal explanations and its limitations in simultaneously analyzing the causal powers of both agency and structure. Finally, the chapter argues for the importance of bringing into RC an interpretive account of causation that would help generate a better understanding of both interactionality and emergence, as it is more in line with a critical realist account of causation –​arguably, the approach to causation that is more coherent with a realist constructivist understanding of international relations.

A critical realist account of causation Some authors have pointed to critical realism as a more clearly defined postpostivist version of scientific realism (Kurki 2007), but in the case of social sciences, and particularly in international relations, critical and scientific realism are often used interchangeably (Kurki 2007; see also Chernoff 2007). For critical realists, causal forces are part of nature and thus exist independently of the ways we study them (Wight 2006, pp. 29–​30; Kurki 2007, pp. 364–​5; Bhaskar 2008, pp. 20–​2). For this approach, causation is understood as the working of a force or a mechanism that generates changes in the state of things. In nature, natural forces, like water and wind, cause changes in certain elements, for instance erosion on rocks. Water and wind are, among other factors, the causes of erosion but causation is the working of the force(s) or mechanism(s) through which water and wind generate erosion on rocks. A causal explanation would thus consist of the description and explanation of the working of such mechanism, for which critical realists acknowledge that there might be different explanations (Wendt 1999, ch. 2; Wight 2006, ch. 1), some better than others (to be discussed later). Critical realists believe that social structures also have causal powers, even though these structures are mostly unobservable and the only observable things are their effects, for instance, on agency. Wendt (1999, pp. 62–​3) and Wight (2006, p. 50) pose the example of capitalism, a particular setting of economic relations (or mode of production) that is not as observable as a rock, but only observable

20

Causation in Realist Constructivism

through the instantiation of certain relationships between, say, business owners and workers (where both are consumers) in which the effects of capitalism (ie the need to earn money in order to consume goods) as a social structure can in turn be observed. From a critical realist standpoint, even though social structures cannot be observed apart from the relationships they establish among agents and their effects, it is possible to theorize the functioning of the mechanisms through which such structures generate changes on agency or make agents act the way they do; in other words, their causal powers. In one of the following sections I  will argue that constructivists may find in critical realism a useful framework for analyzing the causal power of ideas. Yet, against positivism, critical realists do not think there is only one single way to understand the functioning of these mechanisms, or only a true way, but instead rely on the Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) criterion for defining which explanations are better –​or more accurate –​than others (and the same applies to the natural sciences). According to Wendt (2015, p. 290, quoting Mackonis 2013), there are five virtues to be evaluated in an explanation for it to stand as better than others: coherence, depth, breadth, simplicity and empirical adequacy. While these virtues may depend on subjective assessments, there are two key issues that operate for them not to fall into an ‘anything goes’ stand. First, they must refer to something that somehow matches them and their explanation (ie an explanation that entails humans flying by themselves could not be valid because humans cannot fly by themselves) (Wendt 1999, pp. 58–​60; Wight 2006, p. 27). Second, science is a social activity, by which the validity of scientific claims is stronger the greater the number of scholars agreeing on it (Wight 2006, p. 33; Kuhn 2012). Hence, an explanation of a causal mechanism will be better than others inasmuch as it describes its functioning in a more coherent and deeper way, with greater breadth and simplicity, and with greater potential and ease for being applied to the issue in question (utility), and inasmuch as it refers (matches) better to the object of study and gathers greater consensus among (social) scientists on its fulfilment of the required five virtues. Furthermore, two characteristics are attached to causation according to critical realists: singularity and emergence. Singularity means that a causal mechanism can generate effect X only and exclusively in a certain particular context, and the fact that the functioning of this mechanism can never be observed again in any other context, no matter how similar it is to the former one, does not invalidate the causal explanation (Wight 2006, p. 34). As long as the IBE virtues are better met, that

21

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

single causal explanation will stand as valid and better than the others, without the need for it to be applied to equal or similar mechanisms and contexts in order to find patterns of regularity (as in positivism) (Bhaskar 2008, pp. 69–​73). Emergence means that the elements that make part of a casual complex (for instance, a social institution like a habit) may not have causal powers on their own, or separate existence from one another, but acquire their causal power as they make part of the social structure as a whole (Wight 2006, pp.  36–​7). Hence, and again, it cannot be expected that the same elements have causal powers (or generate the same causal effects) in another situation or structure where their arrangement differs from that of the former causal complex, and this fact would not invalidate their account as a case of causal emergence. Having outlined the critical realist understanding of causation, I will move to examine its relation to classical realism’s and constructivism’s accounts of causation in order to assess the advantages that RC might have vis-​à-​vis both approaches for the provision of causal explanations.

Causation in classical realism: rationality, interactionality and power politics Classical realism defines international politics as the struggle for power, where power is understood as the capability one actor has of making things happen the way he/​she wants (Morgenthau 1985, pp.  11, 32; Barkin 2010, p. 19). Power involves possessing material factors, such as weapons and natural resources, but also intangible ones, such as the ability to lift the troops’ morale, charisma, and a strong and convincing diplomacy (Little 2007, p. 139; see also Morgenthau 1985, p. 11 and Williams 2005, p. 110). The struggle for power, in terms of states competing to maintain or increase their power, is what classical realism calls ‘power politics’. Yet, as Little (2007, pp. 141–​2) notes, the dynamics of power politics does not always consist of states giving free rein to their power drives, in terms of continually attempting to increase their power. On the contrary, states may also regulate and restrain their power drives, even aiming to distribute power among other states in order to preserve the balance of power. In this sense, we should expect that causal explanations provided by classical realism be related to understanding why and how agents succeed and fail to make things happen the way they want, or to make others do what they want, that is, success and failure in the struggle for power, and ultimately, in the exercise of power politics, which may include restraint and power distribution. In the account of classical realism provided by

22

Causation in Realist Constructivism

Barkin (2010), I identify two main factors that play a causal role in the struggle for power: rationality and interactionality. Rationality is the most defining feature of agency. According to Barkin (2010, pp. 57, 101), agency must be understood as purposive activity, oriented by a rational exercise where the agent considers her possibilities for succeeding in the struggle for power. But rationality is not only the calculation for maximizing resources and obtaining a marginal utility in the struggle for power (what Barkin (2010, pp. 52–​3) refers to as ‘instrumental rationality’, typical of rational choice theory) but it is also the exercise of justifying on moral bases the means for power seeking, particularly moral bases that may be acquiesced to by others (Barkin 2010, pp. 19, 53–​4). From a classical realist standpoint, thus, to behave rationally is not only to act according to the interest of obtaining or exerting power, but also according to what the others might be keener to accept in relation to the power exercise. For, as Barkin (2010, p. 19) points out, to rely on the use of force every time an agent is seeking power gains is extremely costly and is, moreover, a straightforward way to remain in permanent conflict. Instead, rational agents leave the use of force as a last resort, often seeking to exercise their power through persuasion and acceptance, even if possessing the means for coercion backs their actions (Morgenthau 1948, pp. 13–​14). Thinking in moral terms, the latter, understood as considering others’ judgement of one’s acts, is a key component of rationality (Barkin 2010, pp. 134–​5). Interactionality, on the other hand, refers to the results of the struggle for power among two or more actors. Departing from a rational exercise, agents enter the power struggle without having total certainty as to whether they will achieve their aims to a greater or lesser extent. Rationality, in other words, is no guarantee of success; it is just the most adequate way of playing the game of power politics. But depending on what the others do, agents will succeed or fail in their struggle for power (Barkin 2010, p. 137). In these terms, behaving more or less rationally will have causal effects on an agent’s power exercise; and the others’ reaction to one’s acts will have causal effect on the results of the power struggle. Some cases for examining classical realist causal explanations based on rationality and interactionality can be found in the seminal works of E.H. Carr and Hans J. Morgenthau. The following paragraphs analyze how both authors address the causal power of both factors, and the extent to which they can be associated with a critical realist account of causation. This exercise will be done in order to subsequently find possible points of coincidence between classical realism and

23

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

constructivism, and thus provide an assessment of the type of causal explanations that could be framed within an RC approach. From the very beginning of his Twenty Years’ Crisis, E.H. Carr reveals his interest in causal analysis. In ­chapter 1 (Carr 2016, p. 5), he suggests that the task of the investigator is to analyze the causes of trouble and illness of the body politic, and at p. 6 he states that the analysis of cause and effect is a main task of the political sciences. At p. 7, Carr’s commitment to causal analysis is again stressed when he asserts that, in contrast with his own approach, neither Confucius nor Plato sought ‘the underlying causes of the [political] evils they deplored’. Furthermore, at p.  10 he asserts that realism ‘places its emphasis on the acceptance of facts and on the analysis of their causes and consequences’. And at the beginning of c­ hapter 2, he even posits causal analysis as the antithesis to utopian thinking (Carr 2016, p. 12), namely, his object of critique and the one he uses to analyze the causal power of (bad) rationality. In c­hapter  3, Carr suggests that Woodrow Wilson’s utopianism, expressed in his blind trust in public opinion, was a main cause for the disastrous end of the League of Nations. But this causal claim does not correspond to a critical realist causal explanation, for no thick description of the working of the causal mechanism –​the one making the League of Nations fail because of the trust in public opinion  –​is provided. The causal explanation rather consists of contrasting utopianism against realism (which Carr does in this and in previous chapters), and arguing that since utopia is wrong, and given that trusting public opinion is part of utopianism, Wilson’s utopian approach to peace making after the war caused the League of Nations to fail. This causal explanation fits better into the ‘Analyticism’ methodology proposed by Patrick T. Jackson (2011, p. 199), where causal explanations resort to ideal types –​in this case utopianism and realism –​in order to explain why things occur the way they do. In Carr’s account, rationality failed because by leaning on utopianism, the US, Great Britain and partly France trusted public opinion (­chapter 3) and believed in the principle of harmony of interests (­chapter 4), which established that what was best for these dominant powers was best for other countries. As a consequence, interactionality, consisting of the interplay between the Allies’ (mainly the US and GB) utopianism and Germany, Italy and Japan’s exercise of power politics, caused the Second World War to break out. Carr also rejects a positivist Humean account of causation, because he holds a strong belief in the purpose that human action has and the causal power of it: ‘If the sequence of cause and effect is sufficiently

24

Causation in Realist Constructivism

rigid to permit of the “scientific prediction” of events, if our thought is irrevocably conditioned by our status and our interests, then both action and thought become devoid of purpose’ (Carr 2016, p. 86). For Carr, purpose makes the causal difference: it can be utopian or realist, and what caused the Twenty Years’ Crisis was Western powers’ utopian rationality (particularly the US and GB) failing to recognize that, under unequal conditions, the harmony of interests does not work. Knowing what kind of purpose will guide actors’ actions cannot be achieved through scientific predictive laws. Achieving this knowledge can only be the product of thorough reflection in every moment and circumstance, and there is no objective law that can predict when agents will adopt a more realist or a more utopian purpose. In these terms, Carr’s account of causation is mainly philosophical, in the sense of a priori judging what is right and what is wrong. Utopianism is wrong because it focuses on desires and hopes, on what the world should be. In contrast, realism is right because it concentrates on what is really possible and on what the world really is. The use of utopianism and realism as ideal types is more clearly observed in Carr’s account when he recognizes that our daily thinking is a constant combination of both types of reasoning (rationality), and thus precisely the analyst must take the realist pathway in order to provide objective and useful solutions to real problems (Carr 2016, p.  10 and ­ch.  6). Throughout his book, Carr’s way of argument is counterfactual, again coinciding with the analyticist approach to causation (Jackson 2011, p. 199): had the Western powers adopted a more realist view on the world, the Twenty Years’ Crisis and the Second World War could have been avoided. For his part, Morgenthau is committed to the identification of objective laws: objective not in the sense of scientific empiricism –​ which Morgenthau opposes –​but in the sense of not being subject to moral or emotional aspects (see, for instance, Williams 2005, p. 97). These laws for him explain politics understood as the struggle for power. His aim is to ‘detect and understand the forces which determine political relations among nations, and to comprehend the ways in which those forces act upon each other and upon international political relations and institutions’ (Morgenthau 1948, p. 3). Though no explicit mention of causal forces is made here, his interest in causal analysis could be so understood. In the first principle of realism, which asserts that politics is governed by objective laws (Morgenthau 1985, p. 4), it is not clear whether these laws are causal, though they could be expected to be so, as Morgenthau speaks of logical necessity (1985,

25

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

p. 3) (a Humean term for addressing causation). The second principle, the power interest (1985, pp. 5–​6), causes foreign policy to be what it is, motives and ideology notwithstanding. Morgenthau also tells us that the objective of his book is to present a rational theory of international politics (1985, p. 10). Rationality, for Morgenthau, is the agent’s capability of realistically judging the circumstances, that is, to leave motives and ideology behind and be guided solely by the rationale of power politics, (1985, p. 7), the latter understood as defined earlier. Although Morgenthau plainly coincides with critical realism (and constructivism) in his acknowledgement of multicausality (1985, pp.  47–​9), his conception of causation is much closer to the Humean positivist one, despite his rejection of a scientificist approach to politics. Morgenthau’s master variable for explaining the functioning of politics is the concept of ‘balance of power’, which he addresses as a natural force (objective law) to which all political systems are subject. Balance of power as a pursuit is caused by agents’ rationality, and its resulting form or composition is caused by agents’ interactionality. For Morgenthau (1985, p. 187), what causes the balance of power is states’ ‘natural’ interest in trying to either maintain or overthrow the status quo, derived from their natural interest in power (rationality), and what determines one option or the other is their rational examination of what is best to exercise their power and their possibilities of success. This natural interest in power and the subsequent action of maintaining and overthrowing the status quo is clearly an objective law of the sort Morgenthau proposes to find from the beginning of his book. This objective law provides a causal explanation based on a regular pattern of behaviour, which, according to Morgenthau, explains power politics in any time and at any moment in history. The following passage lays this out clearly: It will be shown in the following pages that the international balance of power is only a particular manifestation of a general social principle to which all societies composed of a number of autonomous units owe the autonomy of their component parts; that the balance of power and the policies aiming at its preservation are not only inevitable but are an essential stabilizing factor in a society of sovereign nations; and that the instability of the international balance of power is due not to the faultiness of the principle but to the particular conditions under which the principle must

26

Causation in Realist Constructivism

operate in a society of sovereign nations. (Morgenthau 1985, p. 187) Although Morgenthau does not provide a thick description of the working of the causal power of rationality (beyond stating that power interest is inherent to human nature), he does provide broader detail on the natural working of equilibrium and balance of power, and of interactionality as the causal force that produces them, all of which could bring him methodologically (not ontologically) closer to critical realism. Morgenthau suggests that equilibrium, namely a synonym of ‘balance’ [of power], is a natural force that operates both at the level of the human body and of the body politic. Astonishingly, Morgenthau equates equilibrium to opposition, speaking of different things that oppose or at least contrast each other, like ‘savings and investments, exports and imports, … East and West, North and South, … agriculture and industry, … city and country, … the economic and the political sphere, the middle classes and the upper and lower classes’ (1985, p.  188). Equilibrium, in this sense, has nothing to do with equity, equality, justice or fairness. Instead, it is closer to Marxian and Hegelian dialectics, David Campbell’s (1992) ‘otherness’ and Jacques Derrida’s différance (Zehfuss 2009, p.  142). Equilibrium, for Morgenthau, is merely the condition of existence of things in opposition to other things, and in his naturalistic view of social life this is an intrinsic force of nature (Morgenthau 1985, pp.  187–​8), a common tendency ‘to maintain the stability of the system without destroying the multiplicity of the elements composing it’ (1985, p. 189). Equilibrium and balance, thus, are caused by nature –​or the conception of (social) nature as a system that has a natural capacity and tendency to preserve itself –​and agents’ natural interest in power, and this makes an objective law based on a regular pattern that repeats itself throughout history (1985, p. 188, n 2). Equilibrium, though, is different from stability, as [i]‌f the goal were stability alone it could be achieved by allowing one element to destroy or overwhelm the others and take their place. Since the goal is stability plus the preservation of all the elements of the system, the equilibrium must aim at preventing any element from gaining ascendancy over the others. The means employed to maintain equilibrium consist in allowing the different elements to pursue their opposing tendencies up to the point where the tendency of one is not so strong as to

27

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

overcome the tendency of the others, but strong enough to prevent the others from overcoming its own. (Morgenthau 1985, p. 189) Starkly, Morgenthau goes as far as to contend that the American political order and its system of checks and balances is just reproduced at the international level in the form of the international balance of power (1985, p.  192), omitting that the functioning of the former is the product of a particular constitutional design, clearly absent in international politics. Yet, for Morgenthau, the system of checks and balances of the American government seems so natural as to project it into the international system, simultaneously suggesting that this is the logical order of things, and as a consequence, that any domestic political order lacking such a system of checks and balances is incoherently contradicting nature (no matter how many authoritarian regimes could be found out there!). However, the balance of power does not lead to international stability, and this is where the causal power of interactionality comes in. In Morgenthau’s account, rationality (power interest) has the causal power of making states pursue status quo or imperialist policies. But once they undertake action to pursue their interests –​adopting opposition or competition behaviours (1985, pp. 192–​3) –​this interactionality has causal effects over the balance of power. In the pattern of opposition, the stability provided by the balance of power (resulting either from the weaker yielding to the stronger, or from war deciding the issue) is always in danger of being disturbed, and therefore, is always in need of being restored … Since the weights that determine the relative position of the scales have a tendency to change continuously by growing either heavier or lighter, whatever stability the balance of power may achieve must be precarious and subject to perpetual adjustments in conformity with intervening changes. (Morgenthau 1985, pp. 193–​4) Causal effects of interactionality are also displayed over states’ behaviour, since the independence of the nations concerned is also essentially precarious and in danger … given the conditions of the power pattern the independence of the respective nations can rest on no other foundation than the power of each

28

Causation in Realist Constructivism

individual nation to prevent the power of the other nations from encroaching upon its freedom. (Morgenthau 1985, p. 194) For the case of the other power pattern, competition, Morgenthau (1985, p. 196) addresses the causal effects of rationalism in small states’ decision to remain neutral or to buffer against greater powers, and the causal effects of interactionality are assessed in their survival and preservation as neutral or buffer states. In both cases (opposition and competition), the causal powers of the balance of power –​as a product (or a causal effect) of rationality and interactionality –​are posited by Morgenthau as objective laws of states’ natural political behaviour. In these terms, Morgenthau’s description of the working of power patterns and their more or less stable results could be methodologically in accord with critical realism inasmuch as the [thick] description of the causal mechanism is provided. But, ontologically, Morgenthau’s stand on causation is incompatible with critical realism, for his approach to causation through the use of objective laws and relations of logical necessity rule out critical realism’s principle of singularity. Yet, it is worth noting that Morgenthau’s treatment of the balance of power is highly adjacent to the concept of emergence, for one cannot know for certain what is going to derive from either opposition or competition until states’ actions have taken place. In this sense, the concept of emergence could help explain why and how certain results derive either from opposition or competition. This point will be further developed in a subsequent section. Hence, it has been possible to observe the causal power of rationality and interactionality in both Carr’s and Morgenthau’s accounts. In the case of Carr, we have seen a stand on causation closer to the analyticist one, given his use of ideal types and invitation to counterfactual thinking for demonstrating causation. In the case of Morgenthau, his stand on causation remains closer to the positivist Humean one, due to his belief in the functioning of objective laws and logics of necessity related to nature’s [natural] tendency to equilibrium, manifested in the natural tendency of political systems to balances of power. As a conclusion, neither Carr nor Morgenthau show signs of subscribing to a critical realist treatment of causation. Yet, singularity in Carr’s work, and multicausality and emergence (though not singularity) in Morgenthau’s, and deep description of the working of certain causal mechanisms in the latter’s (although in the context of explaining the functioning of an objective law) are positions on causation that coincide with critical realism and, as we shall now see, with constructivism.

29

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Causation in constructivism: emergence and normative structures Among other things, constructivism in international relations (IR) does not have a unified agreement on how to treat causation (Klotz and Lynch 2007, pp. 4, 15). For some constructivists causation might not even be part of the question (as pointed out by Yee 1996, p. 100 and Ruggie 1998, p. 881). Yet, for others causation is a main issue in explanations and, since constructivism lacks a defined set of methods for analyzing the role of ideas, it is necessary to resort to different methods and philosophies of science (or methodologies, as Patrick T. Jackson (2011) proposes to call them), in order to provide causal explanations. Precisely because radical constructivists tend not to be interested in causal analysis, the two constructivist works addressed in this section belong to the ‘moderate’ branch and explicitly manifest their aim of providing causal explanations. The first of them is my doctoral work (Prieto 2013; 2016) on the causal role of collective identity and regional institutions in the unfolding of the Andean Community regionalist project. The second is Craig Parsons’ work (2003) on the idea of ‘community Europe’ causing the EU to be what it is today. In my work (Prieto 2013, 2016), I argue that constructivists may find in critical realism a useful framework for analyzing the causal power of ideas, namely the main ‘causal problem’ for those constructivists interested in providing causal explanations. Hence, when ideas can be observed as generating changes in agents’ actions, they can be assessed as playing a causal role. Ideas can be observed in agents’ discourse, in the form of reasons for action, norms and metaphors that imply change in the state of things. They can also be observed in normative structures such as institutions, law bodies and decisions made by institutional bodies that tell agents what they can or cannot do according to their subscription to such bodies (ie an international organization). Using an interpretive methodology based on analyzing transitive verbs and metaphors denoting change, I analyzed the causal role of ideas in the unfolding of a regionalist project, particularly of collective identity and regional institutions, considered as ideational structures. The project was the Andean Community (AC), a regional scheme existing between Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia since 1969 (though my analysis addressed three case studies dating from the 1990s and early 2000s). I  could observe those cases in agents’ discourse when ideas of collective identity, related to cultural (Andean) issues, ideological views or an inter-​g roup sense of a ‘we’ were posed by interviewees (decision makers in charge of Andean integration at

30

Causation in Realist Constructivism

the time of the processes observed in the three case studies, both at the national governmental and regional levels) as reasons for action, or in the form of metaphors that denoted change in the state or course of things. A salient example of issues of collective identity as reasons for action was interviewees’ reference to the ‘political cost’ of leaving the AC that the Peruvian government did not want to pay, despite neglecting incorporation into the Andean Free Trade Zone and the adoption of a Common External Tariff –​namely two trade schemes necessary for achieving Andean integration goals such as the constitution of a common market. This ‘political cost’ is a metaphor related to issues of collective identity mentioned by some interviewees, such as one of them asserting that ‘[t]‌here could not be an idea that Peru was not Andean’, and that although the Peruvian president wanted Peru to leave the AC in 1997, ‘[Peru] could not escape the concept of fraternity’. This was related to the same interviewee’s view that AC member countries are ‘naturally Andean [and] this makes it very difficult to tell a country “get out of here” [the AC]’ because ‘[w]e are brothers’. When related to other interviewees’ identification of the other AC member countries’ ‘integrationist spirit’ and ‘Peru’s integrationist vocation/​identity’, the causal power of the ‘political cost’ metaphor, pointed out by other interviewees, could be assessed (Prieto 2013; 2016, ­ch. 2). Likewise, there were several cases where norms were discursively framed as making agents do certain things or making state officials identify among them or with regional norms because of the benefits these offered (see also Prieto 2015). A  good example of the latter was national and regional decision makers’ pointing to the benefits that Andean norms provided them in terms of pursuing negotiations with third parties, or strengthening their national norms on areas like environment, trade and social policy. Moreover, regional norms and institutions generated national and regional bureaucrats’ identification among them as a group, which created what I named the ‘inter-​group dimension’ of Andean collective identity, and which was posed by interviewees as explaining the well-​functioning of Andean integration in different stances (Prieto 2015). Hence, in those cases where interviewees used transitive verbs or metaphors to denote change related to issues of collective identity and regional institutions, or posed these ideas as reasons for action, I argued that those ideas played a causal role, in distinction from a constitutive role that could be assessed when ideas were mentioned by agents as referents for action, but in a different fashion from reasons, metaphors denoting change, or ideas making agents act in certain ways and not

31

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

others. By using this interpretive methodology, I was able to show that ideas such as the political cost of abandoning the AC, related to the cultural dimension of Andean collective identity, and ideas such as the opposite ideologies about trade and development that flooded Andean regionalism in the mid-​2000s, could be understood as causal factors that could explain Peru remaining an AC member in the 1990s and the breaking-​off of trade collective negotiations with the EU in 2008, respectively. Normative structures, such as Andean norms and institutional bodies, also made member states act in certain ways towards Peru’s reluctance to adopt crucial regional trade and tariff agreements, also to undertake trade negotiations with the EU collectively, and to develop a social issue area of Andean regionalism in order to save or relaunch the Andean integration process. My engagement of critical realism allowed me to highlight the ‘real’ existence of ideas in agents’ discourse, showing that the causal role of collective identity and regional institutions did not depend on one or several agents believing in such causal power, but crucially that such ideas were shared by several agents as constituting a real reference framework (structure) for thinking and deciding on what to do towards regionalism. Such analysis was carried out using interpretive methods, showing that a constructivist ontology and a critical realist epistemology can be fruitfully bridged through interpretive methods. By contrasting interviewees’ views on the role of ideas, and relating them to the contexts where decisions were made in the different case studies, I was able to assess how the causal power of ideas emerged as a product of agents’ views on issues of collective identity and on regional institutions, and of their interpretations of those contexts. In these terms, causal emergence and the causal power of normative structures were part of my critical realist and constructivist causal analysis. The work of Craig Parsons (2003) represents a cutting-​edge milestone in constructivist causal analysis. In footnote 29 on p.  9, Parsons declares his subscription to ‘an epistemological position close to Wendt’s scientific realism, which recognizes the interpretive challenge of social science in a socially constructed world but holds that reasonably objective study of ideas and norms as “social facts” alongside structural or institutional “facts” is possible’. Parsons states that his conception of the ‘autonomous role of ideas does not imply a monocausal approach’ (2003, p. 9), thus engaging multicausality in concordance to critical realism. His engagement of critical realism can also be observed in his adoption of falsifiability as a validity criterion for his causal account (2003, p. 19), which aligns his work with the IBE criterion outlined in the first section of this chapter; quoting Lakatos (1970), ‘[t]‌here is

32

Causation in Realist Constructivism

no falsification before the emergence of a better theory’ (quoted in Parsons 2003, p. 28; see also p. 242). Parsons’ approach is causal but non-​deterministic, thus rejecting any aim of prediction (2003, p. 19), and therefore in line with critical realism. Parsons (2003, p.  11) is particularly concerned with the ‘how much’ problem in the causal power of ideas, that is, how much ideas make the difference with respect to other causal factors (such as, for instance, structural constraints). His answer to this problem is that the causal power of ideas can be more clearly observed when, facing the same structural or material conditions, two different actors respond in different fashion according to their ideas about the same situation, which Parsons calls ‘crosscutting ideas’ (2003, p. 12). The other case where the causal power of ideas can be clearly assessed is when a leader’s ideas make others (mainly his or her followers to a greater or lesser extent) do things in one particular way and not another (2003, p. 15). Causal emergence is present in both cases, for Parsons does not imply that every time two actors choose different options facing the same material constraints, or every time there is a leader, the causal power of ideas is displayed. Quite the contrary, he underscores that it is in those cases where the causal power of ideas can be observed with greater clarity, but it is always context dependent and unique to a particular setting of structural constraints and actors’ ideas about what to do. In his causal quest, Parsons is even more ambitious, to the point of establishing why certain ideas win over others, mainly through institutionalization (2003, pp.  19–​22), thereby showing the causal power of normative structures. His causal explanation is twofold: on the one hand, certain ideas win because they promote change within prevailing institutions –​that is, they seek institutional reform inside such institutions instead of replacing them with others. This explanation highlights the causal power of norms (institutions), as norms tend to make agents more attached to them and keener to accept internal reform of current norms than their replacement by other norms. And on the other hand, some ideas fit better with elements of the environment, that is, they gear with structural constraints in a smoother way than other ideas, for instance, better incorporating a greater number of issues or providing less shocking or less costly solutions for certain problems (2003, pp. 20–​1). Note that in both causal explanations Parsons’ commitment to singularity and emergence remains. Emergence is also found in Parsons’ account when he states that the causal power of ideas is more feasible to be assessed when, among a variety of opposing options, actors prefer to do what their ideas indicate

33

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

(2003, p. 236). That is different from assuming that in any context, and facing any (or not too different) options, actors’ ideas are what always explain their actions. Facing certain structural constraints (like normative structures, environmental conditions, material needs and so forth), action might not be explained much by actors’ ideas if there is no ‘crosscutting battle of ideas’ taking place (2003, p. 19). But the opposition of a leader’s ideas with the previously standing ideas of the institutional setting may have causal effects on the actions of decision makers, all this happening in certain contexts or historical moments, though never as an uninterrupted process (2003, p. 19). Causal emergence and the causal power of normative structures are characteristic of constructivist analyses engaging a critical realist approach to causation. As Parsons points out, in the work of constructivists like Alexander Wendt, Martha Finnemore, Peter Katzenstein and Audi Klotz, ‘the causal arrows flow primarily from [normative] structures to agents’ (2003, p. 237, paraphrasing Checkel 1998, brackets added by Parsons). Emergence is also acknowledged in Barkin’s account of constructivism, as the analysis of internal logics within social constructs is what allows constructivists to address both continuity and change (Barkin 2010, p. 49). The following section will argue that constructivism’s focus on causal emergence and on the causal power of normative structures may be of great benefit for causal explanations provided from a realist constructivist approach, which in turn might benefit from rationality and interactionality for understanding the causal effects of agency and power politics.

Co-​constitution and causation between agency and structure This section argues for the complementarity between rationality and interactionality, on the part of classical realism, and causal emergence and the causal power of normative structures, on the part of constructivism, for providing better causal explanations from a realist constructivist approach, than classical realist and constructivist explanations on their own. First, the encountering of these causal conceptions will be analyzed in Barkin’s (2010) version of RC, and second, the actual working of these conceptions will be assessed in some realist constructivist works, showing that constructivists can focus on the analysis of power, and provide causal explanations of its results through the study of communicative strategies and rhetoric, and their interplay with social structures such as normative structures that determine the possibilities of success of communicative (rhetorical)

34

Causation in Realist Constructivism

power. In both cases, the limitations of a realist constructivist causal account will also be highlighted. Classical realism’s compatibility with constructivism is underscored by Barkin (2010, p. 36) when he asserts that ‘[a]‌gency requires ideas because without thought as motivation, there is no agency, there is only inertia and reaction’. This must not be misunderstood as contradicting Morgenthau’s rejection of motives as part of realist analysis; while Morgenthau rejects motives such as emotions for guiding political behaviour (rationality), he acknowledges the importance of motives as moral reasons, in terms of evaluating the extent to which one’s reasons might be accepted by the other’s moral settings, which would in turn facilitate one’s exercise of power. According to Barkin (2010, p. 72), ‘[p]ower politics is … the ability to achieve your public interest in a world in which it is in conflict with other public interests’. In this sense, classical realism could provide a causal explanation of why agents reproduce or change structures, but the concrete reason for either reproducing or changing them could better be provided by constructivism (the study of ideas). As Barkin (2010, p. 4) suggests, classical realism tells us what politics is about –​the struggle for power –​ and constructivism tells us how to study it. The relation between agency and structure is precisely the middle ground or place of encounter where realist constructivist causal explanations might benefit from classical realist and constructivist accounts. As Barkin points out, the realist constructivist synthesis is one that brings from classical realism a focus on power politics and on foreign policy, and from constructivism a focus on, and a methodology for studying, the co-​ constitution of structures and agents. It builds on a common foundation on a logic of the social, and a demand for reflexivity and historical context found in both constructivism and classical realism. (2010, p. 7) Barkin places the causal focus of classical realism on agency, just as it has been shown in the present chapter in the review of Carr’s and Morgenthau’s works. In the case of Carr, utopianism, as a property of agency (agents’ rationality), is the causal explanation of international disaster. In the case of Morgenthau, it is power interest, also as a property of agency, that is the causal explanation of power politics. For both authors, interactionality is mainly determined by agency, namely the interplay of actors’ actions guided by their interests, and neither in Carr’s nor in Morgenthau’s accounts is the role of external

35

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

structural constraints underscored. However, they both acknowledge the existence of structural constraints: for Carr, the harmony of interests approach does not work where states face unequal material conditions; for Morgenthau, material resources are crucial for engaging different power patterns (ie opposition and competition), and systems’ tendency to equilibrium and balance is a natural, structural force (though explained by actors’ natural interest in power, at least in the case of political systems). But both Carr and Morgenthau’s analyses focus on agents’ rationality, interests and interactionality. Instead, constructivism’s primary focus is on structure. Ideas, in the form of identity, norms and culture (institutions) are part of structure, not of agency (Wendt 1999, ch. 3). Causal emergence, for critical realism, and for constructivism, is the product of the interplay of agents’ interests (agency) with ideas and material constraints (structures) in a particular time and place. Reality, moreover, is not what each agent chooses to acknowledge, but what is socially shared by two or more agents: the more agents there are sharing particular understandings of reality, the more ‘real’ such reality is to them. It is in the understanding of mutual constitution between agency and structure that constructivism may provide a great contribution to classical realism, which may in turn benefit the former in providing explanations for structural change, based on agents’ interests and rational behaviour (understood as the use of rationality). Barkin narrowly affirms that in both realism and constructivism the motor for change is agency (2010, pp. 10–​11), thus suggesting that agency is where causal power should be mainly sought. But a critical realist and constructivist account of causation points precisely to the causal role of ideas, those being part of structure and not agency: in other words, ideas make agents act in certain ways and not others, and hence have causal power on agency. And here is where RC can benefit from constructivism for understanding why agency, and therefore causation, takes place in the ways it does. However, classical realism’s understanding of rationality can help in understanding why sometimes agents’ ideas tell them to reproduce ideational structures (such as normative structures and institutional settings), and why sometimes ideas indicate to change them. Considering the other’s material resources and moral beliefs, as part of agents’ rationality may help to understand why agents choose to attempt to change or to preserve the status quo (ie opposition or competition). As Barkin (2010, p.  58) points out, constructivism opposes methodological individualism from rational choice theory, not rationality as the use of reason.

36

Causation in Realist Constructivism

While it is true that constructivism addresses structure and human agency as a process of mutual constitution, it does not offer a particular method for studying how this process takes place (besides, of course, the wide-​open method[s]‌of process tracing). Realism’s rationality may provide a means for doing this, though, clearly, engaging such a method would imply a strong ontological commitment (one that constructivists might not be able to accept: see the conclusion later). But a point of coincidence between constructivism and classical realism is their focus on people as agents, particularly decision-​making elites. Both Carr and Morgenthau, as well as Parsons and myself, focus on decision makers to understand state agency, their rationality (the process by which actors decide on what to do) and the ideas that inform and cause their actions. In these terms, RC could provide better causal explanations than classical realist and constructivist accounts on their own, for it may be able to address the relationship between agents and ideational and material structures in a more comprehensive fashion. Following Barkin (2010, p. 57), the logic of appropriateness in constructivism may be an excessively structural condition that reduces agency to an exercise of norm following. As Barkin (2010, p. 57) points out, ‘[i]‌f people act according to existing social norms, and do not interact with those norms strategically, then where do norms come from, and how do they change?’ Classical realism can complement constructivism in showing that agents’ rational behaviour can explain how agents strategically deal with norms. In turn, the critical realist constructivist assumption about the causal power of reasons may help a great deal in understanding agents’ choices about structure, where reasons may be also explained from a constructivist perspective, and conflate with classical realism’s rationality at different levels of analysis. At the agent’s level, power interests may explain to a large extent agents’ choosing of power patterns. But at the interplay of agency and structure, agents’ reasons in relation to ideational structures (like identity, institutions, knowledge and culture) may explain a great deal of agents’ choices. Furthermore, the concept of emergence may help to understand why certain results derive from interactionality and not others. As pointed out earlier, the way Morgenthau addresses the balance of power is consistent with the concept of emergence because we remain uncertain about the results from agents’ struggle for power until interactionality has taken place (note here that Morgenthau’s search for objective laws refers to how agents behave, not to the results of their interaction). In the two constructivist works dealing with causation discussed earlier, emergence and singularity were key concepts for assessing the causal

37

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

power of ideas, as both Parsons and myself observed causal effects of ideas in particular circumstances without claiming that they would repeat uninterruptedly in similar contexts. Indeed, classical realism and constructivism’s rejection of causation as regular patterns of behaviour facilitates the provision of causal explanations from a realist constructivist account (although remember Morgenthau rejects the finding of mechanical laws, but not of objective laws that can yield a general theory of politics). In synthesis, RC’s combination of rationality and interactionality on the one hand, and emergence and the causal power of normative structures on the other, can enable it to provide more comprehensive causal explanations than classical realist and constructivist accounts on their own. In what follows, the presence of these elements is analyzed in some works identified by Barkin as subscribing to a realist constructivist approach. It is shown that constructivist analyses of power can be carried out through the study of communication and rhetoric, but that pursuing such analysis might upset the balance between constructivism and classical realism, as communicative and rhetorical choices and their success are addressed as being more determined by normative structures than by power asymmetries in terms of material resources. Barkin (2010, p. 166, n 6) suggests Bially Mattern (2005) as one example of a realist constructivist analysis. Bially Mattern subscribes to a constructivist ontology, and what brings her closer to realism is her concern about the ways in which soft power can be effectively exercised. For Bially Mattern, what causes attraction (and the success of exercising soft power) is communicative strategy, that is, how the speaker articulates his or her interpretation to listeners during communicative exchanges. Accordingly, communicative strategy ‘emphasizes the particular manner in which a speaker links the phrases of her narrative together to form a coherent representation’ (Bially Mattern 2005, p. 598). Bially Mattern distinguishes different kinds of communicative strategies (argumentation, bargaining, manipulation, seduction and representational force, among them), but ultimately they all have something key in common directly related to interactionality: that they always take the other into account, that is, they are all deployed considering the other’s degree of disposal to attend the strategy. Furthermore, interactionality also has causal power because when actors choose their communicative strategies they locate themselves in the sociolinguistically constructed reality that indicates who they are (how others see them) and what may be the best way to frame their messages in order for others to accept them,

38

Causation in Realist Constructivism

or at least find them understandable and worth listening to (2005, pp. 599–​600). In these terms, both the others’ disposal or scope to attend the message, and their views on the chooser of the strategy, have causal effects on the choosing of the communicative strategy. All this is closely related to Carr’s and Morgenthau’s acknowledgement of the importance of the others’ moral frameworks, and it is of course completely aligned with constructivism’s ontological view of reality as a social construction. However, what is missing in Bially Mattern’s account in order to fit better into a realist constructivist approach is the analysis of the determinants of the others’ disposal to attend messages. While sociolinguistic structures may exert significant power over agents in determining such disposal, the power interests of those agents and their relation to material constraints (like threats or pressures from other agents) surely have a great deal of influence over agents’ disposal to attend others’ communicative strategies. It is this more materialist dimension of Bially Mattern’s constructivist account –​of course seen from an emergent perspective –​that could make her analysis a more robust realist constructivist one. Another work identified by Barkin (2010, p. 166, n 6) as adopting a realist constructivist perspective is Krebs and Jackson (2007). For Krebs and Jackson (2007, p. 42), ‘language has a real causal impact on political outcomes’. In principle, what makes Krebs and Jackson’s article realist constructivist is their interest in ‘constructivism with coercive characteristics, focused on the exercise of power’ (2007, p. 37). Moreover, Krebs and Jackson’s interest in providing a causal realist constructivist account is explicit in their article’s last paragraph (2007, p. 58): We further suggest that it is possible to make causal claims without trespassing into the murky waters of subjective motivation and without relying on problematic mechanisms like persuasion. Many IR constructivists would be comfortable with the first of these claims, many realists and students of political culture with the second, few from either camp with their combination. This article has sought to demonstrate that their conjunction is both logically sustainable and potentially productive. They are interested in explaining the causal power of rhetorical coercion and in establishing the conditions under which rhetorical

39

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

coercion can be (causally) effective (like rationality, interactionality, emergence and normative structures): In sum, one argument ‘wins’ not because its grounds are ‘valid’ in the sense of satisfying the demands of universal reason or because it accords with the audience’s prior normative commitments or material interests, but because its grounds are socially sustainable –​because the audience deems certain rhetorical deployments acceptable and others impermissible. (Krebs and Jackson 2007, p. 47) From a realist constructivist perspective, it could be argued that what determines how acceptable certain rhetorical deployments will be is determined by agents’ rationality (moral expectancies) and normative structures (for instance, establishing the social validity of arguments), and also by interactionality –​in terms of how agents communicate with each other and how they see/​interpret each other’s claims; all this approached from a conception of emergence where context frames rhetorical options and deployments, and closure of the possibilities for answer. Yet, in any case, Krebs and Jackson’s account of rhetorical coercion consists much more of a linguistic-​c ommunicative and even constructivist approach than a realist one, even more so considering the absence of material power analysis in their study. For them this begs the question to what extent the closure of the possibilities for answer (rhetorical coercion) can work when those pursuing such closure have much weaker material means to broadcast their claims, mostly in terms of legitimacy. Both Bially Mattern’s and Krebs and Jackson’s works show that it is possible –​and desirable –​for constructivists to focus on power and to analyze interactionality under normative structures in order to understand the success of the exercise of power, all this approached from an emergent perspective. However, their focus on communication and language poses the greater weight on communicative interaction (interactionality) than on the power constraints (not only from normative structures, but from power asymmetries regarding material resources) that agents might suffer when attending the other’s rhetoric. This might, on the one hand, grant priority to constructivism over classical realism, further showing that the combination of both approaches is not an easy one to make; but on the other, their focus on communication should call RC’s attention to seriously engage the analysis of language and interpretation, for these are crucial ways in

40

Causation in Realist Constructivism

which power is exerted. The final section of this chapter will develop this point and show that it also applies to critical realism, particularly to its methodological dimension.

Theorizing the causal power of agency and structure and RC’s need for interpretivism The previous sections have argued for a possible  –​and desirable  –​ combination of classical realism and constructivism, for each approach strengthens the other’s weakness in addressing the causal power of agency and structure. While classical realism underscores the causal power of agency by focusing on agents’ rationality and interactionality, constructivism underscores the causal power of structure by emphasizing normative structures and the structural constraints of power through the conception of emergence. In this sense, an RC approach may well be able to provide better causal explanations than classical realism and constructivism on their own, at least engaging critical realism as a philosophy of science that may provide solid epistemological grounds to address causation for each of them, and for RC in a more comprehensive fashion. However, the combination of classical realism and constructivism faces some challenges and limitations both in methodological and ontological terms. Regarding the former, understanding the causal power of agency over structure and vice versa requires bracketing each of them (Finnemore 1996, pp. 24–​5; Checkel 2001, p. 579; see also Prieto 2013, p. 67), which may imply limitations to the understanding of their mutual constitution (co-​constitution). Constructivism should provide to classical realism the possibility of accounting for what Barkin (2010, p.  132, referring to the work of Barnett and Duvall 2005) points to as constitutive power, namely the effects that power has on the constitution of actors and the situations they are involved in. This account should complement realism’s interactional power, namely the strategies agents use to exercise power considering other agents’ interests, morality and power resources, which in turn have effects on the reproduction and transformation of that constitutive power (social structures). Thus, on the one hand, constructivism tells us that agents’ interests (rationality) are constituted by normative structures and social context. On the other, rationality tells us that agents’ choices may well change or preserve social structures. While it is technically impossible to simultaneously give account or grant greater weight to one or another in a concrete case, bracketing each of them directly leads to ignoring (at least momentarily) their constitutive effects on each other. Hence,

41

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

when accounting for the causal power of agents’ choices one needs to put aside the constitutive effects of social context and normative structures on such choices (rationality); and when accounting for the causal power of social structure one needs to put aside agents’ purposive action over such structures. In these terms, realist constructivist causal explanations accounting for the causal power of both agency and structure might be richer, but not particularly dynamic, and in any case hardly easier. With regard to ontology, RC requires the assumption that agents are (natural) power seekers, something that escapes/​skips the process of social construction. For constructivism, rationality  –​ what is understood as such and how to enact it  –​is socially constructed, and this process of social construction all has to do precisely with the constitutive and causal effects of structure over agency. Hence, it becomes a hard shot for constructivism to accept that, in order to understand the causal power of agents’ choices over structure, RC departs from the assumption that such choices are a priori guided by power politics. If combined as realism as ontology and constructivism as methodology (as Barkin himself suggests), RC offers the possibility to better understand the mutual causal effects between agency and structure. But if combined as two ontologies, it becomes difficult to match power politics as realism’s main ontological category with constructivism’s ideational structures like identity, knowledge, institutions, roles and culture. Furthermore, I  consider that RC needs to seriously engage interpretivism in order to give an account of the causal power of interactionality, particularly adopting an emergent perspective. In classical realism, exercising power considering the other’s moral stands crucially depends on persuasion, which in turn depends on language and communication. This is clearly shown in Bially Mattern’s and Krebs and Jackson’s works reviewed in this chapter. Indeed, Barkin himself acknowledges the causal power of interpretation: Even if all actors in the international system at a given point in time accept the same basic set of normative structures, they will differ in their interpretation of those structures, whether for rationally self-​interested reasons or for psychological reasons, or because of the complexity and room for interpretation within any moral system. When interpretations differ, the power of the interpreter continues to matter. (Barkin 2010, p. 135)

42

Causation in Realist Constructivism

Moreover, my work (and partly Parsons’, because of his focus on the ‘battling of ideas’) shows that the use of interpretive methods helps a great deal with constructivism’s aim of accounting for the causal power of ideas. In this sense, the causal power of agents’ actions, even if assumed to be oriented by the rationality of power politics, may be better explained by incorporating interpretive methods (as Bially Mattern and Krebs and Jackson do), as may be the causal effects of ideas (structure) over agents’ choices (as my work and partly Parsons’ does). In synthesis, RC may well have the potential to offer more encompassing causal explanations than classical realism and constructivism on their own, but its proposed middle ground comes at certain ontological costs and faces significant methodological challenges that scholars engaging this approach must crucially be aware of. References Adler, Emanuel (1997) ‘Seizing the Middle Ground: Constructivism in World Politics’. European Journal of International Relations 3: 319–​63. Barkin, J. Samuel (2010) Realist Constructivism: Rethinking International Relations Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Barnett, Michael and Raymond Duvall (2005) ‘Power in International Politics’. International Organization 59: 39–​75. Bhaskar, Roy (2008 [1978]) A Realist Theory of Science, 2nd edn. London: Verso. Bially Matter n, Janice (2005) ‘Why “Soft Power” Isn’t So Soft: Representational Force and the Sociolinguistic Construction of Attraction in World Politics’. Millenium:  Journal of International Studies 33: 583–​612. Campbell, David (1992) Writing Security:  United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity. Minneapolis, MN:  University of Minnesota Press. Carr, Edward Hallett (2016) The Twenty Years’ Crisis. Reissued with a new preface by Michael Cox. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Checkel, Jeffrey T. (1998) ‘The Constructivist Turn in International Relations Theory’. World Politics 50: 324–​48. Checkel, Jeffrey T. (2001) ‘Why Comply? Social Learning and European Identity Change’. International Organization 55(3): 555–​88. Chernoff, Fred (2007) ‘Critical Realism, Scientific Realism, and International Relations Theory’. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 35: 399–​407. Finnemore, Martha (1996) National Interests in International Society. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

43

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Hopf, Ted (1998) ‘The Promise of Constructivism in International Relations Theory’. International Security 23: 171–​200. Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus (2011) The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations. London: Routledge. Joseph, Jonathan (2007) ‘Philosophy in International Relations:  A Scientific Realist Approach’. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 35: 345–​59. Klotz, Audie and Cecilia Lynch (2007) Strategies for Research in Constructivist International Relations. New York: M.E. Sharpe. Krebs, Ronald R. and Patrick Thaddeus Jackson (2007) ‘Twisting Tongues and Twisting Arms:  The Power of Political Rhetoric’. European Journal of International Relations 13: 35–​66. Kuhn, Thomas S. (2012 [1962]) La Estructura de las Revoluciones Científicas. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Kurki, Milja (2007) ‘Critical Realism and Causal Analysis in International Relations’. Millennium:  Journal of International Studies 35: 361–​78. Little, Richard (2007) ‘The Balance of Power in Politics Among Nations’, in Michael C. Williams, ed., Realism Reconsidered: The Legacy of Hans Morgenthau in International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mackonis, Adolfas (2013) ‘Inference to the Best Explanation, Coherence and Other Explanatory Virtues’. Synthese 190: 975–​95. Morgenthau, Hans J. (1948) Politics Among Nations. The Struggle for Power and Peace. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Morgenthau, Hans J. (1985) Politics Among Nations. The Struggle for Power and Peace, 6th edn. Revised by Kenneth W. Thompson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Parsons, Craig (2003) A Certain Idea of Europe. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Price, Richard and Christian Reus-​Smit (1998) ‘Dangerous Liaisons? Critical International Theory and Constructivism’. European Journal of International Relations 4: 259–​94. Prieto, Germán C. (2013) Collective Identity and Regional Institutions in the Andean Community. Thesis presented for obtaining the degree of PhD in Politics, University of Manchester. Available at: www.escholar. manchester.ac.uk/​uk-​ac-​man-​scw:207671 Prieto, Germán C. (2015) ‘Collective Identity in the Andean Community: An Institutional Account’. Papel Político 20: 585–​604. Prieto, Germán C. (2016) Identidad Colectiva e Instituciones Regionales en la Comunidad Andina: Un Análisis Constructivista. Bogotá: Editorial Javeriana.

44

Causation in Realist Constructivism

Ruggie, John Gerard (1998) ‘What Makes the World Hang Together? Neo-​u tilitarianism and the Social Constructivist Challenge’. International Organization 52: 855–​85. Wendt, Alexander (1999) Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wendt, Alexander (2015) Quantum Mind and Social Science. Unifying Physical and Social Ontology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wight, Colin (2006) Agents, Structures and International Relations: Politics as Ontology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Williams, Michael C. (2005) ‘Hans Morgenthau and the Historical Construction of Realism’, in Williams, ed., The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Yee, Albert S. (1996) ‘The Causal Effects of Ideas on Policies’. International Organization 50: 69–​108. Zehfuss, Maja (2009) ‘Jacques Derrida’, in Jenny Edkins and Nick Vaughan-​Williams, eds., Critical Theorists and International Relations. Abingdon: Routledge.

45

3

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms J. Samuel Barkin

Neoclassical realism is one of the major new developments in realist theory in the past two decades, and provides a theoretical framework, whether explicit (Boyle, Chapter 4) or implicit (Bano, Chapter 5) for two of the chapters in this volume. It is an approach that aspires to bridge the gap between classical realism’s focus on foreign policy and neorealism’s systematism and parsimony. Rather than classical realism’s focus on policy prescription, neoclassical realism looks to explain foreign policy, and to do so by using neorealism’s conclusions about the nature of anarchy and the international system as a starting point. But to the extent that it espouses a neopositivist methodology, as most neoclassical realists do, it fails. This methodology, which assumes that specific policy predictions can be derived from neorealism and claims to be using specific cases to generate broader inferences about foreign policy making, is inappropriate to its goal of explaining foreign policy decisions. In practice, the absence of fit between explanatory goal and espoused methodology has meant that for the most part the methodological claims of neoclassical realists are not matched by the methods they use. Jennifer Sterling-​Folker, for example, notes that ‘realist structural expectations are so broad that most of the heavy explanatory lifting must be done by constructivism instead, which is why neoclassical realist scholarship typically produces historical narratives’ (Sterling-​ Folker 2009a, p.  111). This chapter expands on and unpacks her observation. It argues that constructivism, which assumes that international politics are socially constructed rather than determined

47

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

by a distribution of material capabilities, and which therefore focuses on the norms, identities, discourses, and so on that inform foreign policy decision making, provides the appropriate set of methodologies for neoclassical realism. Matching their generally implicit constructivist methods with explicitly constructivist ontologies and methodologies would allow neoclassical realists to broaden the scope of cases they can usefully discuss, to better address questions of power in the making of foreign policy, and to deal effectively with the belief structures that so often underlie foreign policy. It would also, contra neopositivist claims to science by many neoclassical realists, improve the explanatory robustness of the approach by moving the focus of debate from discussions about neorealism and foreign policy that cannot be decided empirically to discussions of specific foreign policy contexts that are based on empirical analysis. This chapter first presents a brief introduction to neoclassical realism. It continues with three general critiques of the neopositivist and system-​driven versions of the approach:  that system structure does not provide specific enough guidance to serve as a basis for foreign policy analysis, that it does not provide a useful basis for discussing the beliefs that underlie the national interest, and that neopositivist methodological and epistemological claims not only fail to match, but in fact undermine the methods actually used. It then builds the argument that constructivist methodology provides a better fit with the methods that neoclassical realists actually use. Finally, it pre-​empts a common critique of constructivism, that it cannot speak the realist language of power.

Neoclassical realism The term ‘neoclassical realism’ was first coined in 1998 by Gideon Rose to describe a growing body of literature that attempts to incorporate both the systemic thinking of neorealism and the foreign policy focus of classical realism (Rose 1998). He was speaking of a body of work that had not previously been seen as a coherent approach and therefore did not have a clear and coherent set of assumptions and methodological tools in common (including Wohlforth 1993; Brown, Lynn-​Jones and Miller 1995; Christensen 1996; Schweller 1998; Zakaria 1998). But he did identify among them a common commitment to developing a systematized and generalizable theory of foreign policy. He also identified a preferred methodology, of theoretically informed narratives, process tracing, and counterfactual

48

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

analysis, which he identified as occupying a middle ground between structural theory and constructivism (Rose 1998, pp. 153–​4). Neoclassical realism has been variously described as a general approach, a research community (Sterling-​Folker 2009b), and more recently as a research programme (Ripsman et al 2016, p. 1). A recent attempt to codify the approach has identified a set of assumptions held in common by most (although not all) of the community. This project resulted first in an edited and then an authored volume by Steven Lobell, Norrin Ripsman and Jeffrey Taliaferro (Lobell et  al 2009; Ripsman et al 2016). They identify three key elements to the approach. The first is the assumption that neorealism is an accurate theory of international politics and that it provides sufficiently clear guidance to foreign policy decision makers that they should in at least some circumstances be able to identify the proper policy to maximize security and/​or power (Taliaferro et al 2009, p. 19). The general point of reference for neorealism is Kenneth Waltz’s version as elaborated in Theory of International Politics (Waltz 1979) but they do not explicitly argue that it is this, rather than other versions of neorealism, that must be the starting point for determining systemically appropriate policy. The second is what they identify as the neoclassical realist conception of the state. They begin with the assumption of human sociality, that people act in, and identify with, groups, and suggest that sovereign states are the relevant groups for the purposes of studying foreign policy making. They then look at two groups of actors within states. The first is those directly tasked with making or advising foreign policy, a group they refer to as the foreign policy elite, or FPE. This group is assumed to act, or at least try to act, in the national interest, or at least in the national interest as they perceive it. The second group, elements of domestic society that pressure or lobby the FPE, are assumed to think in terms of their own private and parochial interests, rather than the broader group or national interest. The FPE is thus seen as the focal point of tension between the international system and particular domestic interests, and as an honest proponent of the national interest (Taliaferro et al 2009, pp. 23–​8). The third element is what they call soft positivism but which fits into Patrick Thaddeus Jackson’s definition of neopositivism, a commitment to a set of ideas about how social science should be conducted (Ripsman et al 2016, pp. 105–​7). They claim that neoclassical realists ‘aspire to a greater methodological sophistication than their classical realist predecessors’ (Taliaferro et al 2009, p. 19). It is not always clear what counts as methodological sophistication, for which they seem to draw on sources ranging from King, Keohane and Verba (1994) to

49

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Lakatos (1970). But it seems to be consistent with the use of inferential logic to test deductive theories. It draws on Rose’s observation about generalizable theory but is not compatible with the methodology he identifies, as will be discussed later.

System structure These three elements provide the starting points for the three critiques presented here of the mainstream neoclassical realism that Lobell, Ripsman and Taliaferro’s work represents (the order of their names is different across publications, so in reference to the general body of their work I refer to them in alphabetical order). The first of these critiques is that neorealist arguments about system structure are a bad starting point for understanding foreign policy and foreign policy making. As Jennifer Sterling-​Folker notes, neorealism is simply too underdetermining of policy –​it is designed to identify constraints on, rather than to predict specific, foreign policies (Sterling-​Folker 2009a, p. 111). As such, it does not provide the sort of analytical anchor that most neoclassical realists call upon it to provide. The standard starting point of neoclassical realist analysis is that the system will in some cases, or at minimum in the ideal case, identify a clear, preferred policy option, and that domestic politics as a category then needs to be used to explain situations in which states fail to choose this policy option, or when system imperatives are unclear. But systemic imperatives, for reasons discussed later, never dictate a clear and objectively preferable foreign policy. Therefore, to assume the existence of such a policy as an analytical starting point and to try to explain divergences from it is to build an analysis on ground that does not exist. Lobell, Ripsman and Taliaferro accept that neorealism does not always specify a clear policy outcome. They argue that systemic imperatives will be clearer in some sorts of cases than in others, and it is when systemic policy imperatives are less clear that we must look to domestic politics to predict outcomes (eg Ripsman et al 2016, p. 5). But this is problematic in three ways. The first is that most neoclassical realists study cases that involve serious security threats, where systemic imperatives should apply most clearly. This is odd in the context of an argument that it is precisely to these cases that neoclassical realism should apply least well. The second is that it introduces a potential tautology into the argument. If one assumes that states will follow systemic imperatives when they are clear, the best way to tell how clear systemic imperatives are is to see to what extent states are following them. But then divergence from systemic imperatives becomes both

50

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

an explanatory factor and that to be explained. And the third way in which it is problematic is that it undermines the role of neorealism at the core of the argument. It assumes that neorealism works except when it does not work. To the extent that neoclassical realists do study core security crises, the implication is that systemic imperatives are unclear even with respect to these crises. If this is the case, what useful role is neorealism really playing in the analytical process, and therefore as a starting point for neoclassical realism? In this sense, neoclassical realism is in fact a pointedly weak realism. Furthermore, even should the system provide clear guidance for the general direction of policy, it does not provide guidance for the actual content of policy. Neorealist theories, and neoclassical realist theories in their portrayal of systemic imperatives, speak of such things as balancing and bandwagoning (eg Waltz 1979; Schweller 1994), and at their most specific of alliances (eg Walt 1987). Colin Elman (1996) argues that if activities such as balancing can be defined precisely enough, they can act as variables in a neorealist theory of foreign policy. But ‘balancing’, whether external or internal, is a goal, not a foreign policy. External balancing can happen through a broad range of mechanisms, from tacit political understandings to the institutional integration of military structures. Balances can happen through formal alliances or informal coalitions. And it is not clear ex ante which format will be more effective –​formal alliances are often designed as much to deal with internal political disputes as to promote external political effectiveness, and ad hoc coalitions may turn out to be more effective organizational tools for war fighting (Weitsman 2004, 2010). Systemic imperatives are unlikely to give clear guidance as to which of this range of institutional forms of external balancing is ideal for any specific circumstance. Nor can external and internal balancing be taken as distinct categories. External balancing, after all, creates clear collective action problems, and to be effective requires efforts at internal balancing on the part of major (and minor) powers as well (eg Christensen and Snyder 1990). Even if we accept defensive neorealism unproblematically, therefore, we cannot look to systemic imperatives to predict specific trade-​offs between military expenditures and economic development, between internal and external balancing, and between alliances and coalitions, let alone among specific strategies of pre-​emption or containment. For example, Mark Brawley (2009) discusses the strategies of Britain, France and the Soviet Union in response to a growing but temporally distant threat from a resurgent Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. He clearly allows that the systemic logic of balancing leaves space for a wide

51

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

variety of specific choices. But he frames his analysis as a question of why the three countries did not construct a balancing alliance earlier. There is, however, no particular reason to believe that a formal alliance, with the attendant risk of buckpassing, of debate between France and the more distant Britain and Russia about defending frontiers versus defence in depth, and of organizational ossification, would have yielded more effective balancing than the ad hoc approach adopted. The logic of the system may well have suggested balancing behaviour in general, but it did not suggest a formal alliance per se, or any other specific form of balancing. Not only is policy under-​specified by neorealism, but the most fundamental of realist concepts, power, is under-​specified as well (Guzzini 1993). Classical realists tell us that political science is the science of power, but they also tell us that power is a psychological relationship, and that what counts as power is contextually specific (eg Morgenthau 1985, pp. 34–​6). Some theorists of power in international relations, and in political science more broadly, define power as the ability either to get what one wants or to get others to do things they otherwise would not, a category of definitions that speaks of power in terms of outcomes (Dahl 1961; Baldwin 1979). But because of the focus on outcomes, this category understands power in a post hoc way, useful in constructing explanatory narratives after the fact, but not particularly useful in prescribing specific policies in specific contexts. Neorealists avoid the contextualism of early realist understandings of power and the pitfalls of the post hoc operationalizations of some later realists by defining power in terms of capabilities (eg Waltz 1979, pp.  56–​60). This has the ostensible advantage of measurability. But unless a clear relationship can be shown between a specific algorithm of capabilities and outcomes in international relations, even this neorealist definition of power does not point to specific foreign policies. Neorealist theory tends to look at capabilities as a disaggregated mass, with an emphasis on material capabilities but without any discussion of which such capabilities are likely to matter most in which contexts, or the time scale across which they should be maximized (Brawley 2009 makes this point). As such, it gives little guidance for how power can most effectively be maximized with respect to specific foreign policy decisions or needs. And without such guidance, neorealist theory does not usefully identify ideal foreign policies in specific contexts. None of these observations should be taken as critiques of neorealism per se. To argue that the system does not determine specific foreign policies would only be a critique if neorealists claimed that the system is determinative of foreign policy. And for the most part they do not

52

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

do so. Neorealist theory tends to be about patterns of polarity and structure in the system over the long term, not about specific foreign policies. Kenneth Waltz, for example, specifically cautions us not to ‘mistake a theory of international politics for a theory of foreign policy’ (Waltz 1979, p. 121). More broadly, to read Waltz as a starting point for predicting foreign policy making may be to fundamentally misconstrue his argument. In fact, he warns us in this context not ‘to commit what one might call “the numerical fallacy” –​to draw a qualitative conclusion from a quantitative result’ (Waltz 2000, p. 38), a warning specifically against what Taliaferro, Lobell and Ripsman (2009, p. 20) call ‘competitive hypothesis testing’. Stacie Goddard and Daniel Nexon (2005), for example, argue that Waltz should be read as an exercise in structural functionalism, and Patrick Thaddeus Jackson (2010) argues that his argument is intended as an ideal type, not as an exercise in prediction. Both of these arguments read Waltz as arguing that systemic outcomes cannot be understood as an aggregation of foreign policies, but at the same time foreign policies cannot be understood as reducible to the system. The system, in this view, affects outcomes over time despite policy choices, rather than by determining policy choices. In other words, Waltz claims that we cannot understand the system from the actions of its parts, but nor can we understand the actions of its parts from the system. Even Colin Elman (1996, pp. 30–​1), in making the argument that neorealism can be used as a theory of foreign policy, suggests that because of its internal inconsistencies, Waltz’s version of neorealism is among the least well placed to do so. But Waltz is the most frequent starting point for neoclassical realists. The claims of this sort of neorealist theory, then, are at the same time sufficiently strong that they are not sensitive to particular foreign policy decisions, and sufficiently weak that they cannot be applied meaningfully to everyday politics. They are strong to the extent that outcomes in the long term are not sensitive to national foreign policies. For Waltz (1979), bipolar systems are more stable than multipolar systems, and systems tend naturally towards balancing, regardless of the foreign policy competence of particular states. For Robert Gilpin (1981), changes in the balance of power undermine hegemony and drive change in the international system, again regardless of the foreign policy competence of the hegemon or its competitors. It is true that if the system determines great power success in the long term, then states in this category whose foreign policies systematically diverge from systemic imperatives will be punished by the system. In Waltz’s terms, they will either be socialized by the system to the appropriate foreign policies, or they will be marginalized

53

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

as powers by the system, or in the extreme will cease to exist (Waltz 1979, pp. 127–​8). From the perspective of neoclassical realism, this argument cuts two ways. On the one hand, this provides the argument by which neorealism is the logical starting point for the analysis of foreign policy. States (or at least adequately socialized ones) should figure out the appropriate foreign policies and act accordingly. Failure to do so therefore needs to be explained, although from a neorealist (as opposed to neoclassical realist) perspective there is no inherent reason that systemic imperatives should mandate particular foreign policies rather than sets of better or worse foreign policy choices. Reading neorealism as a source of clear foreign policy imperatives is for the most part something more likely to be ascribed to neorealists than to be claimed by them. On the other hand, however, the argument presents a logical dilemma for attempts to study systematic divergences of national foreign policies from those demanded by systemic imperatives. To the extent that system structure determines outcomes in international politics over the long term, states whose foreign policies diverge systematically from those into which the system should have socialized them should be punished by the system. If they do not reform their policy making to eliminate the domestic pathologies that are undermining their foreign policy effectiveness, they should ultimately be eliminated by the system. The system here plays the same disciplining role with respect to states as the market does with respect to firms in economics (Boucoyannis 2007). This introduces an internal contradiction into any attempt to look for patterned divergence from a neorealist baseline, as many neoclassical realists claim to do (Oren 2009). The sorts of systematic foreign policy-​making pathologies that these scholars are looking for should not, according to the logical starting point of their approach, be able to persist over time. The argument to this point has focused on Waltz’s theory, but there are of course many other versions of neorealism. Among the best known of these is offensive realism, a school of argument of which John Mearsheimer (eg 2001) is the best-​known proponent. The existence of different neorealist theories, with different specific claims about foreign policy, is itself problematic for neoclassical realism. If one is to take the constraints of the system as a starting point for analysis of foreign policy, and different neorealist theories posit different constraints, how does one know which constraints to begin with? A neoclassical realist who begins with neorealism as a predictor of foreign policy must take a particular version of neorealism on faith as a starting point because the neoclassical realist exercise itself is premised on the assumption that

54

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

the system has failed in a particular instance to generate the policy suggested by systemic theory. And in applying the theory to specific cases, scholars cannot be sure if divergences from theoretical predictions are driven by flaws in the neoclassical realist theory of foreign policy or in the neorealist theory of the international system on which it is built. Unlike Waltz, Mearsheimer does, within fairly broad parameters, predict great power foreign policies. But his predictions are problematic as a starting point for neoclassical realism, for two reasons: they are tautological and they are wrong. They are tautological inasmuch as he defines great powers as those whose foreign policies are generally in accord with his predictions for the foreign policies of great powers (Mearsheimer 2001, pp. 5, 37). A country the foreign policy of which systematically diverges from his predictions, therefore, can be simply dismissed as not a great power. One could then reasonably ask why that country did not choose to become (or to try to become) a great power, but there is within Mearsheimer’s logic no reason to believe that the answer to this question lies at the systemic level of analysis. The predictions are wrong to the extent that countries that would colloquially be considered to be great powers often do not act as predicted by the theory. With respect to the United States since the Second World War, this is true by Mearsheimer’s own admission (eg Mearsheimer and Walt 2007). More broadly, few neoclassical realists begin with offensive realism as an analytic starting point in part because states since the Second World War have so often not acted as the theory predicts, despite its claims to predict foreign policy. One exception to this generalization is Randall Schweller (2009), who starts with Mearsheimer despite admitting that offensive realism is successful only at predicting the foreign policies of fascist powers, and no one else, in the 20th century. He then goes on to argue that it is the failure of other countries to behave according to the dictates of the theory that needs explaining, rather than the failure of the theory to predict as it purports to do. He concludes that most states these days are insufficiently fascist. By this rhetorical sleight of hand, a theoretical approach that claims to be empirical rather than normative ends up making normative prescriptions in the face of its own empirical failure. The use of systemic theory as a starting point for a neoclassical realism that makes specific predictions about foreign policy is therefore problematic at two levels. The first is that most neorealisms provide an expected constraint of foreign policy decision making, rather than a specific expected foreign policy. To the extent that neoclassical realism is talking about deviations from the foreign policy behaviour predicted by neorealism, the absence of such predictions in the first

55

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

place is a fatal flaw. The second is that there exist a number of specific neorealist theories, and there is no a priori mechanism for deciding among them. Furthermore, beginning with one of these and building a neoclassical realist argument on it yields a conceptually untestable result because we cannot know if any errors of prediction come from the specific neoclassical realist argument about foreign policy, or from its neorealist systemic anchor.

Social constructs The second core critique of a neoclassical realism that takes systemic theory as an analytical or predictive starting point is that it often ends up drawing on arguments about various kinds of social constructs (eg Ripsman et al 2016, ­ch. 3), from the formal (domestic political institutions) to the informal (strategic culture and beliefs), but cannot address these constructs adequately from its theoretical and methodological starting point. Some neoclassical realist work, of course, deals with social constructs directly without embedding the discussion in inferentialist language. This work is often constructivist in its method, sometimes self-​descriptively so (eg Sterling-​Folker 2009a). But much, and perhaps the majority, of work from the neoclassical realist community has an awkward relationship with the social constructs that are at the core of its explanatory logic. A useful example of such a construct is the idea of the national interest. Many works of neoclassical realism posit the concept of a national interest, but the concept is often left un-​or under-​defined. There is often the implication that there is a single, clear and objective national interest, following neorealist arguments. But not all neorealists agree on what the national interest is, and most posit a minimalist definition of its content. Waltz, for example, argues that states have at minimum an interest in survival (Waltz 1979, p. 126). But this only applies when state survival is directly threatened, and even then can mean different things. For example, states can face choices between territorial and institutional integrity, and neorealist logic does not give a clear answer to which should be, or is likely to be, prioritized. This minimalist definition is not a problem from Waltz’s perspective –​he is arguing that even with such a minimalist definition, the system affects outcomes. But it is a problem for neoclassical realism because it is an inadequate basis on which to build a theory of foreign policy. This is the case for two reasons. The first is that a concern for state survival does not, as a general proposition, create sufficient content for the national interest to usefully inform foreign policy making. States are rarely

56

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

if ever confronted with a clear policy choice between surviving and perishing. As such, even though states may share survival as a common element of their national interests, they will have other elements to their national interests that they do not have in common, different things the preservation and promotion of which they value differently. States may value a cultural or religious identity, a political or economic structure. These symbols and foundations of nationhood cannot be separated from the national interest because they are constitutive of the nation that is to be preserved. Different populations are likely to have different theories about the long-​term efficacy of various policy types, and different ideas of the most comfortable place to be in the international system (Morgenthau 1985, pp. 31–​2). All of these differences in interest are ideational rather than material and are particular (or, in Waltz’s terminology, reductionist) rather than systemic. In other words, to understand the national interests of a particular states requires looking at the beliefs about foreign policy and international politics within, and particular to, that state. The second reason that a national interest in survival is an inadequate basis on which to build a theory of foreign policy is that, to the extent that the details of the national interest are ideational rather than objectively given, there may not be a single commonly held national interest within a particular state. In other words, to the extent that the national interest is in part based on beliefs, and beliefs can reasonably differ across people, we can expect that understandings of the national interest will also differ across people and groups within a state. Even if all the relevant players in national politics agree on a common interest in state survival, there can be disagreement over what constitutes state survival and how it can best be achieved. As such, there may well be no clear single national interest (but see Krasner 1978). Disagreement over foreign policy priorities and strategies may stem from legitimate conflict over what constitutes the national interest, rather than attempts by particular interests to subvert the national interest to their particular interests. As an example, Colin Dueck (2009) looks at the implementation of decisions by US presidents to go to war in Korea and Vietnam. He begins by assuming that the respective presidents acted in their perception of the national interest, after dispensing with the idea of an objective interest in the first place (Dueck 2009, pp. 139, 146). In both cases implementation of war plans was affected by domestic opposition. But much of this opposition was itself cast in third-​image and national interest terms –​Waltz himself opposed the war in Vietnam for neorealist reasons (Waltz 1967). Dueck’s historical analysis of the

57

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

effects of domestic opposition on the implementation of the wars is sound. But his claim that these are cases of domestic, particularistic interference with the pursuit of the national interest is not. Rather, these are cases of clashes between two different interpretations of the national interest, interpretations based on different beliefs both about what the national interest should be, and about how to maximize American power in the international system. This tension between the assumption of a single objective national interest that underlies much neoclassical realist logic and the reality of national interests based on beliefs and subject to contention and redefinition is mirrored in the tension between neoclassical realism’s assumptions about politics and sociality, and its frequent use of two-​level games to model foreign policy making. Without the assumption of sociality, the assumption that people form, think in terms of, and act as members of political groups, the idea of a national interest rather than an aggregation of individual interests that informs policy making, does not make sense (Sterling-​Folker 2002). Lobell, Ripsman and Taliaferro note this explicitly (Taliaferro et al 2009, p. 24), and it is an idea well within the historical mainstream of realist thinking. But at the same time, they posit a two-​level game approach to modelling foreign policy decision making, viewing the FPE as a fulcrum between the demands of the international system on the one hand and of domestic politics on the other (Putnam 1988). Not all neoclassical realist work explicitly adopts this model but it appears to inform the thinking behind much of it (eg Christensen 1996; Zakariah 1998). It is a fundamentally liberal model, drawing as it does on rational choice theory’s assumptions that individuals will act in their own, exogenously given, interests. And in doing so, it presents an awkward mix of liberal and realist assumptions about human nature and human behaviour. Realist assumptions apply to the FPE, which is assumed to make decisions in the national interest when allowed to do so by other politically potent people within the country. But those other people, in effect everyone who is not a member of the FPE, are all assumed to act in their particular parochial interests, even when these conflict with or undermine the national interest. There is no real justification for the assumption that members of the FPE think primarily of the national interest, and everyone else does not. Members of the elite may well be acting in parochial interests, whether these be economic, political or ideological. And realist assumptions about sociality should apply nationally, not just to the elite, otherwise free rider problems would inevitably undermine the elite’s efforts to marshal resources for use in the creation of the mechanisms of national

58

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

power. Norrin Ripsman justifies the distinction by pointing to a difference in access to information –​the FPE is better informed about the demands on foreign policy and therefore is able to make better decisions (Ripsman 2009, p. 172). But a rational domestic audience that accepts that decision makers are acting in the national interest will realize this informational disparity and should as a result defer to the FPE. And there is no a priori reason to expect that the FPE is rational (as it must be to respond appropriately to systemic constraints) and the rest of the population is not. The fact that neoclassical realist research shows that it often is not suggests that either the logic or the assumptions of Rispman’s justification is flawed.

Method and methodology This third general critique of neoclassical realism is that the sort of neopositivist language in which it is usually presented fails to match what neoclassical realists actually do. Most neoclassical realists espouse a neopositivist language of variables, of testing, and of inference and prediction. Randall Schweller (2003), for example, talks of rigour, of accepted social science, and of testing the propositions of realism. Lobell, Ripsman and Taliaferro talk variously of ‘soft positivism’ and of ‘conscious efforts to derive testable hypotheses, specify the predictions or observable implications of those hypotheses, and finally to test the relative explanatory power of neoclassical realist and alternative hypotheses against empirical evidence’ (respectively Ripsman et  al 2016, 105–​7; and Taliaferro et al 2009, p. 23). Not all self-​described neoclassical realists use this language. Jennifer Sterling-​Folker (2002, 2009a), for example, is a notable exception. A growing group of neoclassical realists in the UK are less wedded to the language of inference (eg Kitchen 2010. Buzan, Jones and Little 1993 can also be read as a precursor to a constructivist neoclassical realism). But even some internal critics of the mainstream of neoclassical realism argue in neopositivist terms. Benjamin Fordham (2009), for example, argues against using neorealist theory as an analytical starting point, and in favour of examining the interactive effects of the international and domestic levels of analyses. But he couches this model in neopositivist language that undermines his ability to look at the constitutive effects of this interaction. Colin Dueck (2006), meanwhile, explicitly invokes constructivism in his discussion of American grand strategy, but nonetheless speaks in neopositivist terms of theory testing. Notwithstanding their discussions of method, what neoclassical realists generally do, along with theorizing, is historical narrative. They are in

59

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

effect using theoretical models not as the bases to predict outcomes, but as ideal types to help explain outcomes. Some neoclassical realists seem to accept this proposition in practice even as they make broader claims about scientific method and testability (eg Schweller 2003, p.  317; Ripsman et  al 2016, pp.  105–​7). Historical narratives trace processes and relationships, rather than isolating specific variables for purposes of comparison. They are as such methodologically better suited to the explication of particular cases than to the drawing of inference from comparisons of cases. The role of theoretical models in historical narrative is to use the necessarily simplified framework of the model to illuminate key processes and relationships in the far more complex history. As such, historical narratives are not particularly useful for testing theories because the role of theory in the method is not to be accurate per se but to be illuminating, to assist in our understanding of the case (Jackson 2010; Barkin 2015). Therefore, the methodological language that neoclassical realists tend to use does not match the method they generally use in their empirical analyses. Two reasons may explain why historical narrative is the predominant empirical method used by neoclassical realists. The first is that they tend to be interested not in the average case of foreign policy making, but in particularly important cases; hence the focus on major wars and political confrontations in their case studies. The focus on historical narratives about key foreign policy contexts or decisions follows a political interest in key events and debates rather than in the everyday decision making that would dominate an inferential study. The goal here seems to be to understand key historical events and to make more heuristically useful theory, rather than to develop models that predict specific policy outcomes. In other words, neoclassical realists’ empirical methods seems to match their analytical goals, but their methodological language does not. The second reason that neoclassical realists tend to rely on historical narrative despite the frequent use of the language of neopositivism and hypothesis testing is that their theories are, for the most part, far too under-​specified to use in strict comparisons across cases, whether these comparisons be quantitative or qualitative. In particular, the dependent variable, foreign policy, is unclear. What constitutes a foreign policy? Is it an overall strategy, or a particular tactic or set of tactics? Is it internal discourse or external activity? Creating testable hypotheses would require creating specific measures of foreign policy and codifying policy outputs accordingly. Elman argues that this is exactly what we should be doing in order to make neorealism into a theory of foreign policy (Elman 1996, pp. 44–​7). But neoclassical realists tend not to

60

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

do this, for two reasons. The first, as noted earlier, is that they tend to be interested in important cases rather than average cases. The second is that coding policy outputs for the sort of variables that they talk about, such as balancing, requires both making extensive subjective decisions in coding and coding rules (what exactly counts as an alliance, and why?), and reducing complex and nuanced policy environments and decisions into simple dichotomous or linear measures. To do this in order to attempt to draw predictive inferences for the general case means losing explanatory depth in specific cases. And it is this explanatory depth that neoclassical realists tend to be looking for, and which constructivist methodology is well placed to provide. Even then, the tests would be of specific hypotheses. Lobell, Ripsman and Taliafero’s stated aim to test neoclassical realism as an approach against other general approaches to understanding foreign policy making is therefore a methodological non-​starter –​approaches have in common not their predictions, but their assumptions, and these cannot usefully be tested as a set against those of other approaches. Furthermore, the goal of testing the approach against others is unclear. Defending an approach to the study of international relations makes sense when that approach is normative because one is then defending one’s values. This is the case with classical realism and its normative claims for prudence in foreign policy. But it makes less sense with respect to empirical approaches. The point of empirical theory is presumably explanation or prediction. To the extent that the goal is to predict better, then we should presumably prefer whatever specific hypotheses do so, regardless of what general approach generated them (Schweller 2003). The idea of defending the approach draws heavily on the epistemological ideas of Imre Lakatos, who argued that research programmes remain progressive as long as auxiliary hypotheses continue to increase their explanatory power (Lakatos 1970). This argument may be of assistance in determining the usefulness of neoclassical realism as an approach in its own terms. But it does not provide a basis for testing it against other approaches because Lakatosian logic does not suggest measures by which progressive approaches can be compared with each other. Furthermore, Lakatos’ logic was an explicit argument against simple Popperian falsifiability. As such, to the extent that testing approaches against each other is an exercise in determining which is the more falsifiable, it cannot provide a reasonable basis for determining the progressiveness of a research programme in Lakatosian terms. Discussion of the general value of neoclassical realism as an approach, whether phrased in the language of a progressive research programme

61

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

or the language of testing against other approaches, serves only to distract from the more empirically useful question of the value of the approach in illuminating the politics of specific cases. The combination of the underdetermination of policy by the international system, the general awkwardness of the way in which it deals with social constructs, and the tension between a descriptive method and claims to an inferential methodology, has two key effects on most neoclassical realist theorizing. The first, as already noted, is a strong tendency to favour historical narrative as a form of empirical analysis because the contextual nature of beliefs undermines comparability across cases. This should not be taken as a critique of historical narratives, as will become clear later. The problem arises from the fact that the neopositivist and inferential methodological claims that many neoclassical realists make do not themselves privilege the results of these methods. The narratives then end up in a methodologically awkward position because they cannot live up to the claims made of them, and at the same time they are not used as effectively as they might be to support the sorts of claims to which they are methodologically and epistemologically suited. The second effect is a tendency in developing theory to end up either with highly schematized and under-​specified models, such as those that can be displayed in 2×2 charts, or garbage-​can models that list possible causal variables but do little to distinguish effectively among them. An underdetermined starting point and the contextually specific role of social constructs leads to garbage-​can models because neither gives the ability to effectively identify which causal variables will have key effects in a general sense –​it will depend on the case, on how the system is perceived in a particular setting. We can then list causal variables that are likely to have an effect in the general case but have no basis for determining ex ante how they might apply in particular cases (eg Lobell 2009; Ripsman 2009). This is not meant as a critique of either schematic or garbage-​can models, both of which are useful approaches to theory building. But neither is suitable for the development of testable hypotheses, and as such both are in tension with the methodological claims often made on their behalf by neoclassical realist scholars. In short, then, neoclassical realism as generally practised in the published literature suffers from a mismatch between what it sets out to study and the way in which it sets out to study it. The commitment to a narrow understanding of ‘science’ saddles the approach with a flawed interpretation of neorealism as an analytical starting point, and an inability to deal effectively with social constructs that are often central

62

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

to explaining foreign policy making. Revising the approach to make it fit within its claimed methodology would mean losing the focus on the interaction between system and domestic politics in the making of foreign policy, or in other words allowing method to drive the questions that social scientists ask. This suggests that the best course of action to deal with the tension between method and methodology is to embed neoclassical realism in an appropriate methodological setting. And that setting, as hinted at by a number of neoclassical realists (Rose 1998; Dueck 2006; Sterling-​Folker 2009a; Kitchen 2010), is constructivism.

Constructivism Constructivism provides a useful set of methodologies for the historical narratives that neoclassical realists generally prefer. An example of such a historical narrative argument that will be familiar to most readers is Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. He uses an argument about a social norm widely held in a particular society, what he calls the Protestant ethic, to explain a particular but historically important case, the emergence of Holland as a core player in the global political economy in the 16th and 17th centuries (Weber 1958). This study is of little inferential value –​Weber makes no attempt to create a generalizable argument about Protestant ethics –​but it is of significant explanatory value. This is not an example from international relations per se, but it is relevant to a discussion of neoclassical realism inasmuch as he is arguing among other things that it is the Protestant ethic that allowed Holland to become a (sort of) great power for a time. It is also, obviously, not a work of self-​described constructivism, having been written almost a century before the term came into use to describe an approach to the study of international relations. But it nonetheless fits neatly within constructivist assumptions. And it locates constructivism within a long tradition central to the development of contemporary social science. Explicitly adopting a constructivist methodology would deal with all three of the general critiques of neoclassical realism. It deals with the tension between method (specific techniques for collecting and analyzing information) and methodology (the logic by which these techniques fit together) by providing a methodology that fits the core empirical method that most neoclassical realists already use. Constructivist analysis aims to explain particular cases through detailed empirical analysis, much the same as historical narrative. It does not make inferential claims that historical narrative is generally unable to support. It is also well placed to use specifically those types of

63

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

theoretical models, such as schematic and garbage-​can models, that neoclassical realists often generate. These models, while they cannot serve effectively as a basis for specific predictions, are useful in telling the analyst where to look in establishing causal relationships in specific cases. They can also be used prospectively as well as retrospectively –​ they can tell the analyst what the important causal relationships are likely to be in current or future foreign policy situations. In other words, while they cannot be used for inferential prediction in the narrow neopositivist sense, they can be used effectively to support policy analysis, in concert with details of the social construction of the international politics relevant to that case. Historical narrative need not be constructivist, of course, inasmuch as it need not focus on intersubjectively held ideas and norms. Biography as historical narrative, for example, may focus primarily on purely subjectively held ideas. And not all constructivism need be in the form of historical narrative. It can use methods as varied as discursive analysis and quantitative measurement (eg Barkin and Sjoberg 2017). The two do, however, overlap strongly (eg Klotz and Prakash 2008). Adoption of a constructivist methodology would require of neoclassical realists that they abandon neopositivist claims of inferential prediction, testability and paradigmatic superiority. But at the same time it would allow them to make methodological claims that they can back up. Constructivist logic allows the researcher to determine what the principals in a case consider the national interest to be, rather than positing an interest in state survival so minimalist that it provides little specific policy guidance either for statespeople or scholars. In other words, it deals with the national interest as an empirical matter, as that which the nation considers its interest to be, rather than as a deductive principle, thereby providing a much sounder basis for studying why policy makers make the policy that they do. It also obviates the tension between liberal and realist assumptions about human nature by allowing that different groups within a polity might have legitimately different beliefs about what constitutes the national interest. Finally, it allows for contestation of the national interest. It allows for the possibility that political actors will promote their visions of the national interest, and convince others, and thereby change the vision underlying foreign policy making. Changes in policy can therefore come from changes in belief or culture, rather than only from changes in the international system. Constructivism would thereby give the neoclassical realist a greater scope for explaining change in policy without calling on the deus ex machina of the system.

64

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

On a related note, explicitly adopting a constructivist methodology deals with the problem that system structure is underdetermining of policy, by reading the system as a background condition rather than as a direct determinant of policy. Neopositivist (or soft positivist) neoclassical realism needs a fixed starting point against which to measure policy behaviour, in order to make claims of scientific precision. Neorealism is called upon to provide that starting point, even though it cannot for the most part meaningfully do so. Constructivist methods do not require this sort of fixed starting point and thereby take the pressure off neorealism, allowing system structure to be the background constraining condition that most neorealists intended it to be (and that many neoclassical realists in practice take it to be). Note that this does not entail a rejection of neorealism, or even a demotion. It could remain central to a constructivist neoclassical realism. But the role of systemic constraint on specific foreign policies would be treated as part of the question being asked, rather than being assumed from a badly under-​specified baseline.

Power A potential criticism of constructivism as a methodology for neoclassical realism is that it is unable to deal adequately with power because power is a fundamentally material phenomenon (Ripsman et al 2016, p.  174). Realists on the one hand and both critical theorists and some constructivists, particularly of the postmodern variety, on the other, often talk past each other when discussing power because they mean different things by the term. The latter group often speaks of what might be called structural power, the constraints on individual behaviour imposed by social institutions. This is power as constraint, the power of an impersonal system rather than power used by political actors. Realists, conversely, speak of power as relational, as something used by one actor or social group on another (Barnett and Duvall 2005). These are, in effect, two related but different concepts that share the same word. Constructivist methodology can encompass both kinds of power, and in doing so might serve as a useful means of communication between realists and critical theorists (eg Guzzini 2005). More central for the purposes of the argument here, however, is that constructivist methodology can address relational power in ways that act as a useful bridge between classical and neoclassical realism, and that it offers a richer view of power than a simple counting exercise. Power for classical realists was not a simple matter of measuring material capabilities. For theorists such as E.H. Carr and Hans

65

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Morgenthau, power was a measure of control, a measure of the ability to get others to do (or to not do) things. This ability might come from possession of military or economic capabilities but it might also come from institutional position or rhetorical skill. For Carr, power over public opinion was a key category of analysis (Carr 1964, pp. 132–​45). For Morgenthau, issues of national character and morale were key components of national power (Morgenthau 1985, pp. 146–​55). In other words, for classical realists, who focused on foreign policy rather than system structure, beliefs were a central component of power. Neorealists can (and generally do) gloss over the relative importance of various components of national power because they are not concerned with particular policy outcomes (eg Waltz 1979; Gilpin 1981). For neoclassical realists to effectively reconnect system with foreign policy outcomes, they may well need to draw on those insights about power and foreign policy that neorealists could abstract away from. And key among these insights are that non-​material factors, such as culture, beliefs and discourse, matter as power resources. Constructivism is well placed to provide the methodology to make this connection. It can address not only what beliefs are and how they come to be formed in a particular case, but also how discourse can be deployed to change beliefs, both domestically and internationally, in a way that serves a particular interpretation of the national interest. It provides the tools, in other words, to analyze words as power, in the realist, relational sense of the term. This is particularly important in the analysis of foreign policy making because discourse is a key mechanism by which particular understandings of the national interest are disseminated. The FPE cannot effectively generate the material power resources that neorealists speak of as capabilities without convincing the population at large that the investment in national material power is worthwhile. The politics of foreign policy making is thus as much about conflict over definition of the national interest as it is about clashes between the national interest and particular and private interests. And that conflict is both ideational and discursive. Finally, a neoclassical realism informed by constructivist methodology can have a much broader empirical scope than one informed by a neopositivist methodology, and can do more justice to the basic realist premise that power matters in international relations. Ripsman, Taliaferro and Lobell argue that their neoclassical realism works in those circumstances when neorealism does not determine outcomes (Ripsman et  al 2016, p.  5). In other words, they argue that when power analysis fails we must look to domestic institutions to explain outcomes. This argument, driven by an impetus to neopositivist

66

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

methodology rather than by commitments to realist theory per se, sells short the potential not only for neoclassical realism, but for realism more broadly. They argue that realism is simply not particularly useful when information about potential threats is unclear (Lobell et al 2009, p. 286). This implies that in such situations neither considerations of power nor the constraints of the international system matter much. But both classical realists and neorealists would disagree. Classical realists argue that power always matters, that the study of politics is about power. When threats are not clear, foreign policy makers nonetheless continue to think of foreign policy goals in terms of power. In the absence of clear threats they may be motivated by opportunities, or simply by prudent planning, but in either case power is the means of effecting the national interest. And constructivist methodology is a good way to get at the content of the national interest, even more so when there is no generally accepted immediate threat. Similarly, neorealists argue that the system always matters (or, at least, that it always matters for great powers). In a bipolar system, internal balancing needs no clear threat  –​a great power knowing only that the system is not multipolar should face systemic incentives to balance internally. In a multipolar system, balancing logic should always predominate, and in the absence of a clear threat, balancing logic requires the maintenance of strategic flexibility, in itself as clear a set of policy choices as balancing. Either way, systemic imperatives are towards maximizing power capabilities, regardless of the clarity or immediacy of the threat. The key insight of neorealism, in fact, is that the system always matters, even when it is not sending clear signals, even when the strategic setting does not indicate a clear or immediate threat. A neoclassical realism informed by constructivist methodology could address the question of the effect that system structure has on foreign policy, even in the absence of a clear threat. In short, constructivist methodology allows a neoclassical realist approach to make a much broader set of claims, both with respect to when it is useful (in all cases of foreign policy making) and with respect to what it can tell us (a generative explanation of policy, rather than just a default explanation).

Conclusion In occupying a space between the sparse systemic theorizing of neorealism and the richer but more prescriptive theorizing of classical realism, neoclassical realism has great potential to expand the scope of realist explanation of world politics. But it is too often hobbled by the commitment of many of its proponents to a methodology that simply

67

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

does not fit either their theoretical claims or their empirical focus. Were neoclassical realists to focus on average foreign policy outcomes, forego meaningful discussion of beliefs or culture as a causal element, systematize a precise definition of foreign policy, and codify outcomes quantifiably on the basis of such definition, then neopositivism would work better as a methodology. But adopting these commitments would require eschewing precisely the sorts of important cases and nuanced historical analysis that neoclassical realists generally focus on. The alternative is to maintain a focus on important cases and historical nuance and apply to these a more appropriate methodology. And constructivism, with its focus on the intersubjective, fits the bill. It would allow for the study of the actual contents of beliefs. It would allow for a richer and more nuanced analysis of such core realist concepts as power and the national interest. And it would allow neoclassical realists to apply the insights of systemic realism, without needing to pretend that the system ever gives perfectly clear signals about specific policies. Applying constructivist methodology to neoclassical realist research foci would enable neoclassical realism to provide better answers to the questions it is really interested in, and to better explore foreign policy beliefs, processes and outcomes as complex rather than one-​dimensional phenomena. Only then might neoclassical realism begin to achieve its full potential as a research programme. References Baldwin, David (1979) ‘Power Analysis and World Politics: New Trends Versus Old Tendencies’. World Politics 31: 161–​94. Barkin, J. Samuel (2015) ‘On the Heuristic Use of Formal Models in International Relations Theory’. International Studies Review 17: 617–​34. Barkin, J. Samuel and Laura Sjoberg, eds. (2017) Interpretive Quantification: Methodological Explorations for Critical and Constructivist IR. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Barnett, Michael and Raymond Duvall (2005) ‘Power in International Politics’. International Organization 59: 39–​75. Boucoyannis, Deborah (2007) ‘The International Wanderings of a Liberal Idea, or Why Liberals Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Balance of Power’. Perspectives on Politics 5: 703–​78. Brawley, Mark (2009) ‘Neoclassical Realism and Strategic Calculations: Explaining Divergent British, French, and Soviet Strategies Toward Germany Between the World Wars (1919–​1939)’, in S. Lobell, N. Ripsman and J. Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 75–98.

68

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

Brown, Michael E., Sean M. Lynn-​Jones and Steven E. Miller, eds. (1995) The Perils of Anarchy: Contemporary Realism and International Security. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Buzan, Barry, Charles Jones and Richard Little (1993) The Logic of Anarchy: Neorealism to Structural Realism. New  York:  Columbia University Press. Carr, Edward Hallett (1964) The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919–​1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations. New York: Harper and Row. Christensen, Thomas J. (1996) Useful Adversaries:  Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization, and Sino-​American Conflict, 1947–​1958. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Christensen, Thomas J. and Jack Snyder (1990) ‘Chain Gangs and Passed Bucks:  Predicting Alliance Patterns in Multipolarity’. International Organization 44: 137–​68. Dahl, Robert (1961) Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Dueck, Colin (2006) Reluctant Crusaders: Power, Culture, and Change in American Grand Strategy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dueck, Colin (2009) ‘Neoclassical Realism and the National Interest:  Presidents, Domestic Politics, and Major Military Interventions’, in S. Lobell, N. Ripsman and J. Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 139–69. Elman, Colin (1996) ‘Horses for Courses:  Why Not Neorealist Theories of Foreign Policy’. Security Studies 6: 7–​53. Fordham, Benjamin (2009) ‘The Limits of Neoclassical Realism: Additive and Interactive Approaches to Explaining Foreign Policy Preferences’, in Lobell, Ripsman and Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gilpin, Rober t (1981) War and Change in World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goddard, Stacie and Daniel Nexon (2005) ‘Paradigm Lost? Reassessing Theory of International Politics’. European Journal of International Relations 11: 9–​61. Guzzini, Stefano (1993) ‘Structural Power: The Limits of Neorealist Power Analysis’. International Organization 47: 443–​78. Guzzini, Stefano (2005) ‘The Concept of Power:  A Constructivist Analysis’. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 33: 495–​521. Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus (2010) The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations: Philosophy of Science and Its Implications for the Study of World Politics. London: Routledge.

69

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

King, Gary, Robert Keohane and Sidney Verba (1994) Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Kitchen, Nicholas (2010) ‘Systemic Pressures and Domestic Ideas: A Neoclassical Realist Model of Grand Strategy’. Review of International Studies 36: 117–​43. Klotz, Audie and Deepa Prakash, eds. (2008) Qualitative Methods in International Relations. New York: Palgrave. Krasner, Stephen (1978) Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials Investments and U.S. Foreign Policy. Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press. Lakatos, Imre (1970) ‘Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes’, in Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave, eds., Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press. Lobell, Steven E. (2009) ‘Threat Assessment, the State, and Foreign Policy: A Neoclassical Realist Model’, in S. Lobell, N. Ripsman and J. Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 42–74. Lobell, Steven E., Norrin M. Ripsman and Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, eds. (2009) Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mearsheimer, John (2001) The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W.W. Norton. Mearsheimer, John and Stephen Walt (2007) The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Morgenthau, Hans (1985) Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 6th edn. New York: Knopf. Oren, Ido (2009) ‘The Unrealism of Contemporary Realism:  The Tension Between Realist Theory and Realists’ Practice’. Perspectives on Politics 7: 283–​301. Putnam, Robert (1988) ‘Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-​Level Games’. International Organization 42: 427–​60. Ripsman, Norrin M. (2009) ‘Neoclassical Realism and Domestic Interest Groups’, in Lobell, Ripsman and Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press. Ripsman, Norrin M., Jeffrey W. Taliaferro and Steven Lobell (2016) Neoclassical Realist Theory of International Politics. New York: Oxford University Press. Rose, Gideon (1998) ‘Neoclassical Realism and Theories of Foreign Policy’. World Politics 51: 144–​72.

70

Constructivist and Neoclassical Realisms

Schweller, Randall (1994) ‘Bandwagoning for Profit:  Bringing the Revisionist State Back In’. International Security 19: 72–​107. Schweller, Randall (1998) Deadly Imbalances:  Tripolarity and Hitler’s Strategy of World Conquest. New York: Columbia University Press. Schweller, Randall (2003) ‘The Progressiveness of Neoclassical Realism’, in Colin Elman and Miriam Fendius Elman, eds., Progress in International Relations Theory: Appraising the Field. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Schweller, Randall (2009) ‘Neoclassical Realism and State Mobilization: Expansionist Ideology in the Age of Mass Politics’, in S. Lobell, N. Ripsman and J. Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, pp. 227–50. Sterling-​Folker, Jennifer (2002) ‘Realism and the Constructivist Challenge: Rejecting, Reconstructing, or Rereading’. International Studies Review 4: 73–​97. Sterling-​F olker, Jennifer (2009a) ‘Neoclassical Realism and Identity: Peril Despite Profit Across the Taiwan Strait’, in S. Lobell, N. Ripsman and J. Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 99–138. Sterling-​Folker, Jennifer (2009b) ‘Realist Theorizing as Tradition: Forward Is as Forward Does’, in Annette Freyberg-​Inan, Patrick James and Ewan Harrison, eds., Rethinking Realism in International Relations: Between Tradition and Innovation. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Taliaferro, Jeffrey W., Steven E. Lobell and Norrin M. Ripsman (2009) ‘Introduction: Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy’, in S. Lobell, N. Ripsman and J. Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 194–226. Walt, Stephen (1987) The Origins of Alliances. Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press. Waltz, Kenneth (1967) ‘The Politics of Peace’. International Studies Quarterly 11: 199–​211. Waltz, Kenneth (1979) Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-​Wesley. Waltz, Kenneth (2000) ‘Structural Realism after the Cold War’. International Security 25: 5–​41. Weber, Max (1958) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Charles Scribner’s Son. Weitsman, Patricia (2004) Dangerous Alliances:  Proponents of Peace, Weapons of War. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

71

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Weitsman, Patricia (2010) ‘Wartime Alliances versus Coalition Warfare:  How Institutional Structure Matters in the Multilateral Prosecution of Wars’. Strategic Studies Quarterly 4: 113–​38. Wohlforth, William Curti (1993) The Elusive Balance:  Power and Perceptions during the Cold War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Zakaria, Fareed (1998) From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America’s World Role. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

72

4

Huadu: A Realist Constructivist Account of Taiwan’s Anomalous Status Martin Boyle

As I said, we have been an independent sovereign state ever since 1912. Next year we will celebrate our centennial. So there’s no reason for this country to declare independence again. (Ma 2010) In 1999 the DPP also adopted a resolution that recognized the status quo that Taiwan is already independent with the national title the Republic of China, and I’m sure the Chinese know that. (Wu 2016) On the eve of Taiwan’s January 2016 presidential election, Chou Tzu-​ yu, a 16-​year-​old Taiwanese pop singer, was accused by angry Chinese netizens of promoting Taiwan Independence –​taiwan duli or taidu for short –​for waving Taiwan’s national flag on South Korean TV. Taiwanese voters hovered between outrage and perplexity when Chou was forced by her Chinese promoter to record a humiliating apology, not least because the flag of Taiwan is that of the Republic of China (ROC). The next day, the ‘pan-​Green’ Taiwanese nationalist Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate, Tsai Ing-​wen, defeated Eric Chu, the candidate for the incumbent ‘pan-Blue’ Chinese Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT), and pledged to uphold the ROC constitution before a portrait of Sun Yat-​sen, the father of the ROC. Deep-​Green taidu groups took a different stance. Accusing Chou of mindlessly conniving in ROC

73

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Independence –​ zhonghua duli or huadu for short –​they also dismissed the DPP and other pan-​Green parties as maintaining ‘the ROC colonial government-​in-​exile’ (Tsay 2016). Thus in 2016 huadu became both a rebuke and a definition of Taiwan’s provisional status, while taidu remains an aspiration until the ROC is replaced by a Republic of Taiwan (ROT) (Yeh 2016). Deep-​Greens perceive ROC institutions and symbols as a threat. Yet the fact is that the ROC flag now represents Taiwan. Nowadays, young Taiwanese paint it on their cheeks as a mark of Taiwanese-​ness, not Chinese-​ness. For hard-​core taidu supporters, this is unthinking acquiescence to Chinese symbols. Yet, it shows that, for most Taiwanese, taidu and huadu are indistinguishable and that as much as the ROC made Taiwan, so Taiwan made the ROC. Taiwan is the artefact of particular political and historical circumstances. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has claimed it since 1949, when KMT forces under Chiang Kai-​shek lost the Chinese Civil War to Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and withdrew there under US protection, taking the ROC state apparatus with it and adhering to the myth of return to the mainland as the legitimate ‘Free China’ during the Cold War. Beijing’s stance is officially upheld by the UN, the US and most of the international community, and Beijing threatens to invade Taiwan if it declares taidu. Yet, the US guarantees Taiwan’s security, and the international system recognizes its sovereign existence in China’s threat to kill it –​and China’s restraint. The ROC’s loss of legitimacy during the 1970s led its elites to end authoritarian KMT rule and to democratize after 1987. Secret political talks with Beijing culminated in November 1992 with a verbally stated, unsigned agreement to disagree –​the 1992 Consensus, a status quo based on the principle of One China, Respective Interpretations (OCRI). Between 1992 and 2008 Taiwan continued to diverge politically from China under KMT and DPP administrations. However, the 1992 Consensus was revived as the basis of renewed détente and entente after 2008 under an ostensibly China-​leaning KMT. This rapprochement foundered and, when the DPP returned to power in 2016, China suspended talks, citing the DPP’s refusal explicitly to recognize the 1992 Consensus. Yet Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-​wen, blocked a referendum on taidu. Moreover, in January 2019 Tsai stated that Beijing must ‘face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China’, treat Taipei as an equal, and only engage in cross-​ strait negotiations through government or government-​authorized agencies (Taiwan Today 2019). At the same time, PRC President Xi Jinping renewed Beijing’s warnings against ‘Taiwan Independence separatists and their activities’ and refused to rule out force to prevent

74

HUADU

‘Taiwan Independence’ (China Daily 2019). While the international media kept repeating the English term ‘Taiwan Independence’, the Chinese term that Xi had used was taidu and Tsai’s discursive nod to huadu in her reference to the ROC sidestepped both the threat and the dilemma by signalling to Beijing that huadu was as far as Taipei wanted to go. Of course, Beijing already knew this, but the exchange allowed both sides to assert their respective claims and to save face. Rationalist and materialist approaches alone cannot account for this puzzle, and some constructivist and neoclassical realist (NCR) literature seeks an answer in national identity (Sterling-​Folker 2009; Li 2014; Lindemann 2014; Chen 2017). The evolution of Taiwan’s national identity has been recent and modernist; any primordial sub-​ethnic split soon gave way to a civic identity and the national interest shifted relentlessly away from unification. But Chinese threats produced an interest in political survival, and there is a consistent and invariant attachment to the status quo of ‘no independence, no unification, no war’ (Dittmer 2017, p. 3). This study, however, argues that it is huadu state identity that provides the pretext and context for Taiwanese national identity and which accounts for Taiwan’s ability to maintain the status quo. Since taidu originally represented independence for Taiwan from the ROC, not the PRC, and since the ROC and Taiwan are now one and the same, the term is a misnomer and a misconception. For Beijing, the cross-​Strait status quo maintains the ROC, allowing it officially to frame cross-​Strait relations as domestic. For Taipei, the status quo is code for huadu and huadu is code for taidu. Beijing implicitly conceded this between 2008 and 2016 by engaging institutionally with Taiwan while discursively interpreting the ROC flag as that of a separate country. As de facto independence, huadu is a status and an identity –​the contingent outcome of the Taiwanization of the ROC. Taiwan’s case invites a constructivist response to a realist puzzle; power forms an anarchic structure that states must respect in order to survive. Yet, in order to survive, Taiwan must neither declare independence nor unify with China. Taiwan’s US-​imposed undetermined status and protection combined with the PRC’s irredentist claim forms the systemic context that led Taiwan to engage in two overlapping conversations, one cross-​Strait and one domestic, that constructed a Chinese identity after 1945 and a Taiwanese one after 1971. In telling Taiwan’s story, this study demonstrates a realist constructivism that accounts for state identity and foreign policy construction at the interface of interstate and domestic politics; that is, the PRC–​ROC and the ROC–​Taiwan dimensions. The result is a two-​level, three-​ stage, three-​dimensional framework of power politics and identity.

75

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

The introduction presents the context; the first section discusses how this study’s realism and constructivism inform each other; the second lays out a research design to show how they are combined and provides a method; the third presents the study’s empirical data; and the fourth discusses what the combination brings to the research question that other approaches do not.

A systemic-​domestic realist constructivism Morgenthau’s (1978) Six Principles of Political Realism provides the realist underpinning of this study. First, politics is governed by objective laws with roots in human nature; second, the power of interest gives rational order and theory to politics; third, the meaning and practice of power are not fixed, but contextual; fourth, there are moral consequences to political action, but such principles are weighed and contingent on context and agency; fifth, a state’s claim to moral rightness and universal morality are unconnected  –​the power of interest saves states from unrestrained behaviour; sixth, ‘political man’ is a necessary theoretical abstraction who in the real world makes utilitarian trade-​offs in order to live politically with others (Morgenthau 1978, pp. 4–​15). It is beyond the scope of this study to attempt a novel parsing of Morgenthau’s principles. However, recent scholarship interprets these as producing the following broadly realist assumptions: first, the world is as it is, not as it ought to be; second, power produces recurrent patterns of conflict; third, security-​seeking, agentive, territorially bounded entities (states) are ontologically prior to the system, and may be status quo or revisionist as opposed to unitary; fourth, state behaviour is rational and seeks survival as the most important national interest; fifth, anarchy permits rather than causes state behaviour; sixth, anarchy can hinder cooperation, pushing states towards relative over absolute gains (James 2002; Kirshner 2010; Narizny 2017). For Morgenthau, anarchy may inhibit or permit state behaviour; ideas and domestic factors all influence foreign policy (Morgenthau 1978, p. 272). Although expressed differently, the ontological and epistemological claims of International Relations (IR) constructivism align with those of classical realism: there is a real world out there, but states exist in a world of their own making in which social facts depend on human action (Onuf 2013, p.  90). Social reality is the product of social construction (Katzenstein 1996). International relations are shaped by changing identities, practices and norms. In this sense, actors are social beings whose identities and interests are ‘the products of inter-​ subjective social structures’ (Reus-​Smit 2005, p. 193). Wendt’s systemic

76

HUADU

constructivism takes intersubjective co-​constitution and claims: first, states are the principal units of analysis for international political theory; second, the key structures in the states system are intersubjective rather than material; third, state identities and interests are constructed by these social structures, rather than exogenously given (Wendt 1994, p. 385). These claims produce two core Wendtian axioms, namely ‘identities determine interests’ (Wendt 1999, p.  1) and ‘anarchy is what states make of it’ (Wendt 1992). A social identity entails a collective interest. The claims, principles and assumptions just discussed suggest that certain core concepts can be used to create a realist-​constructivist framework. This coreconceptual approach takes classical realism’s interest in power politics and foreign policy and constructivism’s intersubjectivity as its starting point (Barkin 2010, pp. 5–​7). It then expands these into a framework. Classical realism acknowledges morality, prudence and diplomacy in international relations but draws on constructivism for epistemological and ontological backing. The political is the social, so the anarchic structure leads states to redefine their identities through socialization, co-​constituting each other and the structure. Material reality is the product of historical social practices and can be transcended in socialization (Copeland 2000, pp. 190–​1). Core concepts interact in complex ways, providing a lens to analyze connections among the material and the ideational, social construction and rationality, and identities and interests. This realist constructivism argues the following:  first, the intersubjective co-​ constitution of agents and structure accounts for power politics; second, the distinction between what is given and what is contingent rather than the social construction, materialism and rationality distinction is the real dichotomy; third, realism and constructivism share a logic of the social, made explicit in the national interest; political ideas are contextual and perceived differently by different actors; fourth, social structures constrain and enable foreign policy, with human agency driving and changing it. Classical realism indicates that constructivism is neither necessarily idealist nor distinct from materialism or rationalism (Barkin 2010). In attempting to create a systemic-​domestic realist constructivism that accounts for foreign policy, two existing contenders, Wendtian systemic constructivism (WC) and NCR, certainly address constructivist and realist core concepts. However, as a systemic theory, WC operates tangentially to domestic social constructivisms, while Ripsman, Taliaferro, and Lobell’s (2016) NCR, although it draws explicitly on WC, has an incoherent relationship both with it and with structural realism. However, these problems relate to epistemology rather

77

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

than ontology. The core assumptions and concepts outlined earlier permit a systemic-​domestic realist constructivism that draws on both approaches. Ripsman et  al (2016) assume, first, the international system is anarchic and states must resort to self-​help; second, survival is the most important national interest in anarchy; and third, anarchy impedes cooperation, leading states to prefer relative gains. There is nothing in this realism that precludes domestic analysis. Indeed, Lobell et  al (2009) and Ripsman et  al (2016) address a number of constructivist domestic factors such as identity, norms, culture, resource mobilization and institutions as intervening variables. A true realist-​constructivist understanding might condense them all into measurement of capabilities, thus adhering to Rose’s (1998) NCR core concepts. Appropriately explicated, these concepts can be developed into a systemic-​domestic realist constructivism. Walt’s (1985) Balance of Threat then provides a structural realist link with classical realism’s acknowledgement of domestic actors’ varying normative responses to policy choices, discussed earlier. By accounting for threat perception, it brings in constructed identities and interests. Wendt’s bracketing of the domestic invites analysis of how domestic interest groups (DIGs) relate to the state. Such a two-​level realist-​constructivist framework looks at how domestic preferences are constructed by state nation-​ building projects in the first place. Barrington (1997, p. 713) defines the state as ‘the principal political unit in the international political system’, as distinct from ‘a collective of people, whose belief in the right to territorial self-​determination is what unites them’. National identity is the state’s internal set of discourses that locate it ideationally in relation to other states; states produce and reproduce their own and their nations’ identities (Doty 1999, p. 128). The nation identifies with the state as the social institution determining external relations and securing its sovereignty and both are co-​constituted in domestic and interstate political relations. To account for power’s co-​constitution of the national interest, domestic and international factors need to be considered. Hopf (1997) sees the identity of a state implying its preferences and consequent actions: ‘A state understands others according to the identity it attributes to them, while simultaneously reproducing its own identity through daily social practice. The producer of the identity is not in control of what it ultimately means to others; the intersubjective structure is the final arbiter of meaning’ (Hopf 1997, p. 175). Realist-​constructivist principles create space for this framework: the power of state identity is deployed in response to the security dilemma. In this regard, the Taiwan problematique is acutely realist constructivist.

78

HUADU

Co-​constitution This research design does the following: first, it combines the core concepts outlined earlier to create a two-​level, three-​stage, realist-​ constructivist framework; second, it states the methods employed; third, it outlines the data gathered to relate these concepts to the research question. The framework shows how state identities construct the national interest and deploy it in foreign policy; how these phenomena are co-​constituted within and across domestic and interstate socialization. There is nothing analytically fundamental to realism or WC that says they must exclusively concern themselves with interstate interaction. This framework draws on Bozdağlıoğlu’s (2007) constructivist model of domestic identity formation. In prioritizing constructivism, it acknowledges intersubjectivity as the processual catalyst. First, a state defines its interests based on corporate identity –​a stage theoretically exposed by WC, but observed in the realist practice of power in domestic politics where state, national and DIG identities are co-​ constituted. Second, that corporate identity is reconstituted as a social one through interstate socialization  –​explained by WC, but also implicit in classical realism. Third, in observing interstate socialization, DIGs perceive a threat and invoke state-​constituted national identity, a stage implied by classical realism, by Walt and in NCR. The actors then return to stage two. State identity, the national interest and foreign policy are constituted in this process. The primacy of constructivist theories appears to contradict the principle of abstracting from realism yet it is essential in accounting for Taiwan’s historical experience and current policy. How else are we to understand how OCRI constituted huadu? At first glance, OCRI seems to violate the principles of sovereignty and legitimacy. Yet in fact it was a three-​stage realist-​constructivist proposal. From the start, for obvious reasons, Taipei and Beijing were reluctant to institutionalize formal relations. Thus, OCRI included no provisions for international law, FTAs or explicit recognition of sovereignty. These were only added as de facto international relations developed, discursively presupposing and implying them. So, the power of Taiwan’s identity accounts for its national interest in security and determines the anarchy that prevails around that. Identities entail interests ‘because an actor cannot know what it wants until it knows who it is’ (Wendt 1999, p. 231), and states do not have a portfolio of decontextualized interests; rather, ‘they define their

79

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

interests in the process of defining situations’ (Wendt 1992, p. 396). But, how are those identities acquired to start with? It is Wendt’s distinction between corporate and social state identities and his concept of the first encounter that provide the answer. Corporate identities are formed prior to first encounter and generate interests in recognition and self-​security. Since such interests come from intersubjective processes of knowledge creation, intersubjectivity must operate domestically too. Granted, how a state fulfils its corporate interests depends on its view of self and other, which is a function of systemically generated social identities, but their genesis must be domestic (Bozdağlıoğlu 2007, pp. 136–​7). Constructivism’s claim that social facts are discursive permits Wendt’s Hobbesian, Lockean and Kantian systemic identities. Their representations of enmity, rivalry and friend are determined through socialization, and the macro-​and micro-​level discourses they represent take on ‘a life and logic of their own’ (Wendt 1999, p. 264). Accordingly, as states engage and threat perception changes, structure determines how they act (Wendt 1992, p. 397). However, Wendt’s first encounter suggests Ego and Alter bring unshared and unrefined a priori national interests and identities (Wendt 1999, p. 328). These are exogenous to first encounter because WC ‘treats identities and interests as endogenous to interaction’ (Wendt 1999, p. 336). Yet, they cannot be exogenous to their domestic formation. For a workable domestic-​systemic argument, therefore, Wendt’s constructed corporate identities need domestic power:  first, systemic identity construction alone ignores how state–​nation socialization changes state identity and interests before and during interstate socialization. Social identity, not corporate identity, is constructed through the other’s recognition. Wendt identifies the two sources but fails fully to account for their co-​constitution because he has bracketed the domestic. One could argue that by bracketing he is saying what is true of the system is true of the domestic, but this would still make them discrete rather than interconnecting categories. Second, Wendt treats states as unitary actors, stripped of contingency; domestic realism brings power and agency to state identity construction. Third, the content of a state’s corporate identity may predict who it will identify with, despite Wendt’s assumption that only interstate socialization determines in-​or out-​groupness (Bozdağlıoğlu 2007, p. 137). Granted, a state may do this and subsequently be disabused of the idea in socialization, causing cultures of anarchy to oscillate after first encounter. Power acts to transform state corporate identity through strategic practice. Social processes such as democratization, constitutional

80

HUADU

changes and elections alter domestic actors’ roles in the state-​making process (Barnett 1996, p.  441). Powerful groups institutionalize their own preferences to produce identity cleavages, oscillation or consolidation as foreign policy is developed. Over the long term, the executive cannot retain an identity separate from that of the nation that its state constructed. A two-​level, three-​stage systemic-​domestic process can exacerbate domestic identity conflict that rebounds in interstate socialization and foreign policy; the perceived threat of systemic changes caused by interstate trade policies can affect domestic cleavages, weakening or consolidating the state’s relationship to the nation (Barnett 1996, p. 413). Such changes may stabilize or weaken identification with others, shifting from selfish to collective or vice versa. It is not necessarily Wendt’s one-​way liberal argument. Co-​constitution aside, this framework adds a revised conceptualization of power. The ability of A to get B to do what B would otherwise not do remains the realist baseline (Dahl 1957, pp. 202–​10). However, rather than relative power, it is the relational capacity of actors to shape others’ and the system’s norms and values or the ability to determine outcomes that reflects constructed identities. This means actors do not simply have ‘power over’ others. Rather, they have the ‘power of ’ and ‘power to’ act and affect outcomes (Barnett and Duvall 2004, p. 9). Carr acknowledges ‘power over opinion … is a necessary part of all power’ (Carr 1946, p. 145). Morgenthau calls power ‘the domination of man by man’, regardless of ends, safeguards or justification (Morgenthau 1978). Power, like identity, is not just an exogenous systemic variable. Waltz’s claim that ‘states are differently placed by their power’ presupposes that this power must be generated endogenously too (Waltz 1979, p. 97). It also suggests states accrue power through behaviour. Thus, in the words of Barnett and Duvall (2004), p. 23), ‘[k]‌nowledgeable actors become aware of discursive tensions and fissures, and use that knowledge in strategic ways … to increase their sovereignty, control their own fate, and remake their very identities’. Political rhetoric rarely accounts for policy responses to perceived threats; more often than not, it provides ‘not an explanation but an expectation’ (Brooks and Wohlforth 2008, p.  71). Rather, it is the underlying discourse that better evidences foreign policy. This study’s methodology holds that there are facts that can be located, analyzed and interpreted logically, but does not uncritically follow positivism. Rather, it draws on an abductive, pluralist approach to the philosophy of science (Jackson 2010). It employs a linguistics-​informed discourse analysis that seeks to locate firm textual warrant for empirical claims. In doing so, it distinguishes among rhetoric, discourse and text. This

81

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

approach creates space for linguistic analysis, process tracing and triangulation to historical narrative –​a historical-​linguistic approach that treats discourse as ‘the pragmatic process of meaning negotiation and the acting of context on code’ and text as its product (Widdowson 2004, p.  8). This methodology combines micro-​interactional and macro-​structural IR discourse approaches (Holzscheiter 2013, pp. 1–​ 21), corpus linguistics (Baker 2012), and the Discourse Historical Approach (DHA) (Wodak and Meyer 2009). The data consists of a large historical corpus of Taiwanese political speech with salient discourses triangulated to historical narrative. Corpus linguistics provides an initial way into the text and exposes salient themes and recurring textual patterns that evidence a discourse. This is the first step in locating valent text and it gets around subjectivity, selective interpretation and confirmation bias. The DHA then permits two forms of textual analysis that facilitate this study’s claim that identities are grammatically rather than rhetorically encoded in political speech. First, analysis of actors’ argumentation strategies exposes superficial rhetoric and, second, linguistic analysis unearths an authentic underlying discourse of identity. This does two things: first, it locates firm textual warrant for plausible interpretations of a speaker’s meaning, thus actually doing discourse ‘analysis’; second, it provides empirical linguistic evidence from which pragmatic meaning can be  derived, thus  linking text and discourse. This step permits warranted interpretation. The next section explores the effect of state identity change in Taiwan’s cross-​Strait policy making from 1945 to 2016 and how this constituted a shift from a cross-​Strait Hobbesian culture between 1949 and 1987 to an oscillating Lockean one between 1987 and 2016. The conclusion relates state identity and culture of anarchy to the embedding of a Lockean culture after 2008 and the impossibility of a Kantian one. It is the 1992 Consensus of OCRI that gave power to Taiwan’s identity and constituted the Lockean status quo of huadu.

Huadu There is no shared national past for Taiwan before September 1945, when the island was ‘gloriously returned’ (guangfu) to the ROC after 50 years of Japanese colonial rule. That is not to say the island was not ‘Chinese’ before then; no study of Taiwanese identity can ignore constructed Chinese identities (Brown 2005; Andrade 2008). However, presenting the island as ‘an open-​hearted, forward-​looking society that has incorporated diverse elements of civilization from around the

82

HUADU

world in a distinctive and harmonious manner’, Taiwan’s government qualifies that Chinese-​ness: While Taiwan may be described as a predominantly Han Chinese society, with more than 95 percent of the population claiming Han ancestry, its heritage is actually much more complex. The successive waves of Chinese immigrants that began arriving in the 17th century belonged to a variety of subgroups with mutually unintelligible languages and different customs. Today in Taiwan, however, distinctions between them have become blurred as a result of extensive intermarriage and the universal use of Mandarin. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2017) The Dutch first brought Hoklo-​speaking migrants from Fujian to Taiwan during the 1620s. The Hoklo, along with Hakka from Guangdong, continued to migrate under Qing rule. The so-​called ‘native Taiwanese’, or benshengren, come from this loose clan-​based Han community that developed and partially integrated with Austronesian indigenous tribes (Brown 2005). The Qing never completely controlled Taiwan and ceded it to Japan in 1895. However, the Qing represented neither a Chinese state nor a Chinese nation, but a Manchu empire ruling a loose sinic culture to which Taiwan was peripheral. When Sun Yat-​sen declared the ROC in 1912, Chinese Nationalists did not consider Taiwan to be Chinese. The KMT did not construct an irredentist claim to Taiwan until after the 1943 Cairo Declaration and did not include it in the list of China’s provinces until 1947. By 1945 Japanese rule had constructed an ethnic Taiwanese, or benshengren, community but it took the Chinese Nationalists to turn it into a Taiwanese nation. In September 1945 the KMT received a cautious welcome from a sympathetic benshengren elite, but the welcome turned to trauma in 1947 during the 228 Incident –​a KMT massacre –​and with the martial law and the White Terror that followed. Combined, these events became the founding national myth that made Taiwanese-​ness imaginable (Edmonson 2002, pp. 25–​46). In 1949 the KMT lost the Chinese Civil War and moved the ROC government to Taiwan. The 1952 Treaty of Taipei ended China’s Anti-​Japanese War and left Taiwan’s status undetermined, but under de facto ROC administration. The Soviet boycott of the UN and the outbreak of the Korean War ensured the ROC maintained China’s UN seat. The KMT regime in Taiwan was dominated by Mainlander, or waishengren, elites who held to a myth of return to the Mainland. The

83

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

ROC was the legitimate state of the whole Chinese nation, the PRC was a Communist insurgency and Taiwan was a Chinese province that had to be re-​sinified. Both Communism and taidu were sedition and capital crimes. US Cold War support meant ‘Free China’ remained recognized in the UN until 1971, when postcolonial support for the PRC and Nixon’s move to balance the Soviet Union through rapprochement with Beijing prompted UN Resolution 2758: to restore all [China’s] rights to the People’s Republic of China and to recognise the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-​shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organisations related to it. (UN, 1971) The resolution mentions neither the ROC nor Taiwan. In 1972 the US ‘acknowledged’ and did ‘not challenge’ Beijing’s claim that ‘all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China’ (Taiwan Documents Project 1972). The ROC haemorrhaged diplomatic allies and, in 1979, following the PRC’s 1978 Open Door Policy, the US normalized relations with Beijing and ended official relations with Taipei. Beijing offered Taipei One Country Two Systems (OCTS), which Taipei rejected, officially maintaining its Chinese state identity under the Three Nos of ‘no contact, no compromise and no negotiation’ (Wu 2005). However, the US did not abandon Taipei; instead, it passed the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which guaranteed Taiwan’s military security. The stand-​ off continued throughout the 1980s until the end of the Cold War changed the international system again. In the domestic realm, Taiwan under the authoritarian KMT was a Leninist, corporatist, anti-​Communist state. Paternalistic sinification, patronage and the developmental state model facilitated economic growth and created a modern, industrial nationalist Chinese state with Mandarin as the official language and a Hoklo-​speaking Taiwanese bourgeoisie. Land reform in 1950 had created a benshengren small-​ farmer client class, beholden to the KMT and removed from its rural Taiwanese elite, which transferred to industry. Yet, this development model also constructed an international Taiwanese identity for the ROC through ‘Made in Taiwan’. In 1964 dissident benshengren elites published a Declaration of Formosan Self Salvation, condemning the ROC as illegitimate and arguing for Taiwanese statehood on the grounds

84

HUADU

of modernist conceptions of the nation (Peng et al 1964). They were imprisoned and exiled. KMT sinification campaigns in the 1960s embedded Mandarin as the national language and forced the islanders to identify nationally with China and Chinese nationalism. However, demographic change, reformist political pressure and the co-​opting of young benshengren technocrats into the KMT elite meant that the Taiwanese became a political force. The death of Chiang Kai-​shek in 1975 led to limited liberalization under his son, Chiang Ching-​kuo. A social process known as bentuhua –​ localization, or Taiwanization –​had been spreading from the arts to politics since the 1960s, driven by the dangwai (outside the Party) movement. Bentuhua was ‘a type of nationalism that champions the legitimacy of a distinct Taiwanese identity, the character and content of which should be determined by the Taiwanese people’ (Makeham and Hsiau 2005, p. 1). As Chiang Ching-​kuo drew on bentuhua to Taiwanize the KMT and the provincial government, he liberalized Taiwan’s political culture, spawning Taiwan-​identifying DIGs. The definitive domestic shift in power from Chinese to Taiwanese occurred with the Zhongli Incident in 1977 (Gold 1986). The dangwai had already won 34 per cent of the votes in Taiwan’s provincial assembly when a benshengren KMT politician, Hsu Hsin-​liang, stood as an independent dangwai candidate in a by-​election and openly espoused taidu. In response to KMT ballot rigging, a Taiwanese crowd rioted and burned down the Zhongli police station. The KMT mobilized local conscripts, and the crowd responded with chants of ‘don’t beat your fellow Taiwanese’. The dangwai galvanized around Formosa magazine (meilidao) and in December 1979 the KMT put the dangwai leaders before a military court in a purge known as the Kaohsiung Incident. Espousing taidu and parliamentary democracy, the Kaohsiung defendants lambasted the ROC as nationally and internationally illegitimate, since bentuhua and international derecognition meant the ROC could credibly represent neither China nor Taiwan. The family of one of the defendants, Lin I-​hsiung, was brutally murdered on 28 February 1980, while he was in detention being tortured. The devastating symbolism of the date cannot be underestimated and it sparked annual pilgrimages to the Lin family graves on the anniversary of the original 228 massacre. International observation prevented death sentences, but the Kaohsiung defendants were given life sentences for sedition (Hughes 1997). During the 1980s the KMT continued rhetorically to assert legitimacy as China, while instituting limited democratic reforms. At the 13th National Congress in 1981 it announced defiantly that ‘the Chinese

85

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Communist regime is at death’s door’ and reasserted its mission as an ‘anti-​Communist revolutionary party’ that sought to ‘unify China under the Three Principles of the People’ by completing ‘the economic development of the Taiwan bastion’ for ‘the people’s well-​being’ (Taiwan Review 1981). Yet, the context indicates that ‘the country’ and ‘the people’ referred to were shifting from China to Taiwan. With no ties to the Mainland, benshengren KMT technocrats and dangwai activists aimed at common political ground between Mainlanders and Taiwanese (Hughes 1997) In 1987 the KMT ended martial law. The dangwai had already formed the opposition DPP, presaging a broadly Taiwanese nationalist (pan-​Green)–​Chinese Nationalist (pan-​Blue) liberal-​democratic political spectrum based loosely on the benshengren–​waishengren distinction. Given the KMT’s corporatist identity, however, it could still count on broad benshengren electoral support. The benshengren KMT leader, Lee Teng-​hui, became president in 1988, began democratic reforms and initiated secret unofficial talks with Beijing. Given that both sides claimed to be China, from 1991 talks were conducted through ‘white-​glove’ semi-​ governmental organizations, the ROC’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the PRC’s Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). Talks culminated in Hong Kong in December 1992 with OCRI, a verbally delivered statement that had been composed by the ROC Office of the President and thus ‘represented Taiwan’s internal consensus toward the One China question at the time’: The two sides of the Taiwan Strait uphold the One China Principle, but the interpretations of the two sides are different … Our side believes that One China should mean the Republic of China established in 1912 and existing today, and its sovereignty extends throughout China, but its current governing authority is only over Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matzu. Admittedly, Taiwan is a part of China, but the mainland is also part of China. (Su 2009, p. 13) The terms OCRI and ‘consensus’ spread among ministers on both sides but were not articulated as the 1992 Consensus until KMT minister Su Chi coined the term in 2000 on the grounds that ‘it enjoyed the beauty of ambiguity’ (Su 2009, p.  91). The term began to accrue discursive power after 2005 when KMT–​CCP talks proposed it as a basis for rapprochement. By 1992 loss of legitimacy and the end of the Cold War had led the ROC to reassess its identity. Democratization and de facto interstate

86

HUADU

relations through cross-​Strait diplomacy were constructing a Taiwanese nation and a Taiwanized ROC, even though Taipei maintained that it was the legitimate government of China. In doing so, Taipei acquired a new identity, moving away from China while staying close to it. Chinese-​ness was no longer perceived as a core element of Taiwanese political identity although Taiwan and the Mainland shared a cultural background (Makeham and Hsiau 2005, p. 33). In 1991 the KMT under Lee Teng-​hui introduced constitutional reforms that effectively limited the ROC’s sovereignty to the Taiwan Area and the electorate of Taiwan while implicitly recognizing the PRC and officially envisaging unification as a long-​term aim. In the same year, the DPP inserted a Taiwan Independence Clause in its Party charter. As the ROC continued to Taiwanize, however, taidu became a straw man. In 1999 the DPP Resolution on the Future of Taiwan stated: Independent and autonomous sovereignty is the prerequisite for national security, social development and the people’s welfare. Taiwan is a sovereign independent country, not subject to the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China. This is both a historical fact and a reflection of the status quo. It is not only a condition indispensable to Taiwan’s existence, but also a crucial element to the development of democratic political practices … although named the Republic of China under the current constitution … any change in the independent status quo must be decided by all residents of Taiwan by means of a plebiscite. (DPP 1999) This Grand Compromise acknowledged that the shell of the ROC with its Chinese Nationalist symbols was to be retained. It was struck because only a minority of Taiwan’s population supported a declaration of taidu. Systemic factors aside, an independent Taiwan would require a new national identity and a new state. In 1994, in response to DPP and pro-​Taiwan DIG concerns, Lee imposed restrictions on burgeoning informal cross-​Strait trade, to the chagrin of economically liberal business interests (Lin 2016). This created space for the ROC to diverge further from China politically. By retiring waishengren legislators and co-​o pting others while working with the DPP on a top-​down Taiwanese nation-​building project, Lee acted as a political entrepreneur. He made provocative statements on Taiwan’s political status. Lee’s words and deeds led to a split between the Taiwanized mainstream, or zhulipai, KMT faction and the Chinese Nationalist anti-​mainstream, or feizhulipai. Yet, Lee

87

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

maintained unification as the long-​term goal and rejected the DPP’s taidu stance. However, on a private visit to Cornell University in 1995, Lee stated:  ‘What actually is the goal of Taiwan’s democratisation? Speaking simply, it is the “Taiwanization of Taiwan” (taiwande bentuhua)’ (quoted in Jacobs 2005, p. 7). Beijing was angered and responded with verbal threats and missile tests before Taiwan’s first full democratic elections in 1996. The US sent a carrier battle group and Taiwanese voters elected Lee. Lee’s KMT faction, with DPP support, continued with their Taiwanese nation-​building project. In 1998, in supporting the waishengren KMT candidate Ma Ying-​jeou as Taipei mayor, Lee articulated a New Taiwanese, or xin taiwanren, identity: Today, all of us who have grown up and lived together on this island are Taiwanese. No matter whether you are aboriginal or came here hundreds of years ago or in the last few decades, we are all masters of Taiwan … [H]‌ow to transform our love of Taiwan and our feelings towards our compatriots into specific action … is the mission of every New Taiwanese. (Quoted in Harrison 2016, p. 197) In response, Ma stated: ‘I am a New Taiwanese who has grown up drinking Taiwan water and eating Taiwan rice’ (quoted in Corcuff 2002, p. 128). New Taiwanese was a KMT trope that aimed electorally to counter DPP claims to Taiwanese-​ness but also drew on broader bentuhua discourses. In 1971 the Presbyterian Church, which had supported the dangwai and to which Lee belonged, had issued a Statement on our National Fate that used the same term (Presbyterian Church 1971). By combining waishengren and benshengren ethnic identities into a common civic national one, Lee averted ethnic strife and in the process constituted the ROC’s political identity as democratic. In 1999 Lee articulated his Two State Theory in the context of a Chinese threat to Taiwan’s security: the Beijing authorities ignore the very fact that the two sides are two different jurisdictions and that the Chinese mainland continues to pose a military threat against us. The historical fact is that since the establishment of the Chinese communist regime in 1949, it has never ruled Taiwan –​ the territories under our jurisdiction … the legitimacy of the rule of the country comes from the mandate of the Taiwan people and has nothing to do with the people on the mainland … the 1991 constitutional amendments have 88

HUADU

designated cross-​strait relations as a state-​to-​state relationship or at least a special state-​to-​state relationship, rather than an internal relationship between a legitimate government and a renegade group, or between a central government and a local government. Thus, the Beijing authorities’ characterization of Taiwan as a ‘renegade province’ is historically and legally untrue. (New Taiwan 1999) By 1998 SEF–​ARATS talks had broken down and would remain suspended until 2008. In 2000 the DPP’s Chen Shui-​bian assumed the ROC presidency and called for cross-​Strait talks without preconditions, but the PRC insisted he recognize the One China principle. Despite leading an ostensibly pro-​taidu party, Chen Shui-​bian stressed shared Chinese culture and history and promised not to declare independence (Chen 2000). Chen liberalized cross-​Strait trade, ending the 50-​year ban on direct trade and investment and displeasing pan-​Green DIGs. Yet, Chinese non-​cooperation and threats continued. In 2002 Chen stated: ‘with Taiwan and China on each side of the Taiwan Strait, each side is a country’ (Chen 2002). In 2004 he proposed and shelved an Independence Referendum. Beijing responded in 2005 with military drills and an Anti-​Secession Law that explicitly threatened Taiwan with invasion if it declared taidu. These were perceived as direct threats by pan-​Blue as well as pan-​Green DIGs and Chen Shui-​bian responded by restricting cross-​Strait trade and further Taiwanizing the ROC through a Name Rectification Campaign. Beijing’s animus towards the DPP administration, diplomatic isolation of Taiwan and Taiwan’s own economic downturn prompted back-​door CPP–​KMT talks and the return of the KMT to power in 2008. The KMT’s 2008–​2016 cross-​Strait policy was characterized by rapprochement with Beijing, cosmetic re-​sinification and an attempt to drive through a comprehensive free trade agreement (ECFA) and several follow-​on agreements –​notably a trade-​in-​services pact (CSSTA). These policies were framed in terms of OCRI, the 1992 Consensus and cross-​Strait peace and prosperity. They were responded to by two broadly oppositional DIGs; the pan-​Blue taishang –​ Taiwanese businesspeople in China –​and the pan-​Green Sunflowers –​a student-​ led protest movement. Despite the rhetorical turn to China, the 2008–​2016 KMT administration was characterized by a crystallization of Taiwanese national identity and a huadu discourse. This is apparent in SEF support missions to taishang, which frame rapprochement in liberal terms as crucial to Taiwan’s economic security while framing the Taiwanized ROC state as defender of taishang interests in a threatening

89

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Chinese environment. Taishang were perceived as unpatriotic by pro-​ Taiwan DIGs and certainly, they tended to vote KMT and express an interest in economic convergence. However, the data shows their national identity as Taiwanese, and taishang business groups donated more to the DPP than to the KMT in the run-​up to the 2016 presidential election, suggesting that the DPP had become the party of the Taiwanese bourgeoisie. Despite post-​2 008 Chinese conciliation and rapprochement under an ostensibly Chinese-​identifying KMT, Taiwan’s interest in unification continued to wane. The island’s national identity shifted from predominantly Chinese at the start of democratization to a prevailing Taiwanese identity during Ma’s second term. In 1992 over 25 per cent perceived themselves as exclusively Chinese. This fell to under 11 per cent in 2001 at the start of Chen Shui-​bian’s DPP administration and was just 3 per cent in 2016. Conversely, exclusive Taiwanese identity rose dramatically from under 18 per cent in 1992 to over 41 per cent in 2001 and almost 60 per cent in 2016. Joint Taiwanese-​Chinese identification also declined steadily from just over 46 per cent to 34 per cent percent in the same period (Election Study Center 2017). In other words, nearly two thirds of Taiwan’s population identify as exclusively Taiwanese, and this crystallized under Ma Ying-​jeou. Even KMT elites suggest that Taiwanese national self-​identification stands at 85 per cent and Chinese at less than 5 per cent (Jiang 2017, p. 27). Intense DIG opposition to the KMT’s cross-​Strait policies came to a head in 2014 when the Sunflower students and civic groups occupied Taiwan’s legislature and effectively blocked the CSSTA, alleging lack of due diligence and democratic process. Pan-​Green DIGs claimed it threatened national security, acquiesced in Beijing’s efforts to achieve unification by stealth and was a KMT attempt to sell out Taiwan. This study found no evidence in ROC government text to support the last claim. If anything, the KMT’s discourse was scrupulously huadu throughout cross-​Strait negotiations. At the SEF–​ARATS talks in 2012, for instance, the ROC stated: Defending the Sovereignty of the Republic of China, putting Taiwan First for the Benefit of the People, ROC is an independent sovereign state. The highest guiding principle of the government in promoting Mainland policy and carrying out cross-​strait negotiations is to ‘put Taiwan first for the benefit of the people.’ Putting Taiwan first means defending Taiwan’s identity; for the benefit of

90

HUADU

the people means that the fruits of cross-​strait negotiations must be shared by all the people and not just benefit specific business groups. Under the SEF-​ARATS framework, the two sides have held official-​to-​official negotiations and signed agreements, fully manifesting the fact that the Republic of China’s sovereignty does exist. (Mainland Affairs Council 2012) However, pro-​Taiwan DIG perceptions were coloured by their view of Ma as a waishengren, his rhetoric of pan-​Chinese-​ness and the KMT’s authoritarian Chinese Nationalist past. The Sunflowers prevented the signing of cross-​Strait agreements and constrained cross-​Strait policy, yet they did so by appealing not to taidu but to the ROC constitution. Ma became a lame-​duck president, yet he still met Xi Jinping in 2015 in Singapore. Despite pan-​Green accusations of a sell-​out entailed in his diplomatic rhetoric of Chinese-​ness, Ma in fact deployed a huadu discourse that presupposed and implied Taiwanese identity and interests. His overarching policy statement was: ‘today I wish to put forth five points for maintaining the status quo of peace and prosperity in the Taiwan Strait’ (Mainland Affairs Council 2015). In extrapolating on the points, Ma deployed a surface pan-​Chinese rhetoric while discursively presupposing and implying huadu. Ma told Xi that the ROC constitution did not permit taidu. Of course, given that he had already asserted huadu pragmatically, Ma was asserting taidu. Beijing knew this. So, over a period of 70 years, the ROC has gone from a legitimate Chinese state to a government in exile to the Taiwanese state. Sinification and bentuhua operated reciprocally; Taiwan was sinified and in turn it Taiwanized the ROC through liberalization and democratization. The result was that taidu became a straw man. State and national identity change were mutually constitutive in domestic and cross-​Strait dimensions. What had been a domestic ROC–​ Taiwan dimension, in which Taiwan sought independence, became an international dimension in which Taiwan as the ROC sought sovereignty and interstate relations with China. If Taiwan could not free itself from the ROC, it had to make the ROC Taiwanese. Huadu is the status quo and the mechanism by which Taiwan maintains the undetermined status it was accorded in 1952, thereby averting a Chinese invasion. Pro-​Taiwan DIGs have perceived the content of the KMT’s and the DPP’s cross-​Strait policy as a threat to Taiwan’s security at different times. However, Taipei’s policy vis-​à-​vis the status quo has remained constant.

91

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Conclusion A two-​level, three-​dimensional realist-​constructivist framework may lack parsimony, but it does account for the Taiwan problematique. It sees Taipei accommodating rising Chinese power while using the power of its identity to shape its strategic choices in the political context. First, huadu represents a Lockean culture of anarchy that is sustained through the power of Taiwan’s identity. Second, power operationalizes identities and interests at the interstate and domestic levels; the power of state identity change changes the national interest and foreign policy. Third, intersubjective co-​constitution operates all the way down. Fourth, in Taiwan’s case, state identity change occurred in the space created by the systemic balance of power and has resulted in cross-​Strait peace. Taiwan’s cross-​Strait policy was seen to have changed dramatically after 2008. Ma Ying-​jeou’s election symbolized a break with the perceived anti-​Chinese Taiwanization of previous administrations. NCR readings in particular allege KMT underbalancing, a reversal to a Chinese Nationalist state identity and DIGs perceiving a Chinese threat, pulling the KMT back to the status quo (Lindemann 2014; Lin 2016; Chen 2017). However, such a bottom-​up liberal view ignores the power of huadu. An alternative realist-​constructivist view, informed by the longer historical picture from 1945 through democratization to rapprochement, foregrounds the continuities in Taiwan’s state identity and security interests. It also makes salient the ROC’s top-​ down Taiwanese nation–​state-​building project and the co-​constitutive state–​nation relationship that developed. Underlying the KMT’s post-​ 2008 strategic diplomatic rhetoric of sinification was a genuine huadu discourse which drew on a longer-​term macro-​structural bentuhua discourse. This strengthened Taiwan’s autonomy in three interrelated ways. First, it forced China to socialize with Taiwan as a state and to recognize the KMT not as Schmittian Civil War enemies, but as Lockean rivals. Second, by signalling a diplomatic turn in Taipei’s approach, sinification rhetoric softened China’s image of Taiwan’s leadership. Third, it drew policy lines by linguistically securing Taiwan’s sovereignty and legitimacy. Such rhetoric had been used by Lee and Chen. However, read in the context of Ma’s perceived identity and rapprochement, such rhetoric alarmed pro-​Taiwan DIGs, who took them as policy signals, and this tension prompted a DIG reading that contributed to the KMT’s loss of power. At the same time, however, it signalled to China Taiwan’s adherence to the status quo. Of course, this view does not deny suboptimal policy proposals; on the contrary, by exploring their rhetorical underpinnings, it places them

92

HUADU

in context. People are political actors who organize into conflictual groups. Domestic and ideational variables affect foreign policy decisions and it is foreign policy choices, not structure, that explain political outcomes. However, it argues that, while elite and DIG preferences are important, huadu has prevailed. The state is the primary politically defined group and only it can provide security (Gilpin 1981). As a state, the ROC provides Taiwan with security on the basis of a collective Taiwanese national interest, distinct from DIG and elite interests (Krasner 1978). It does this knowing that Beijing may ultimately kill it. So, Taipei’s cross-​Strait policy is motivated primarily by fear of danger and a desire for security before other interests. So, this realist constructivism is state-​centered. However, the state is contingent and constructed. Taiwan’s autonomy is intersubjectively co-​constituted within and across cross-​Strait and domestic politics. This framework looks at two levels and three dimensions. But it shows that the relationship between realism and constructivism is not linear, but orthogonal and multidimensional. This realist constructivism treats power as social and historically contingent. In focusing on identities, interests and discourses, it is prescriptive and problem focused (Barkin 2010, pp. 125, 166). This realist constructivism shows how power can be used relationally in the conduct of policy and also that it acts as a constraint. Thus, relational power politics can determine the foreign policy that constitutes the structure that then constrains the operation of those relational power politics. Rather than boxing them into a corner, identities may create unintended leeway for states. Taiwan’s state identity change represents a move from ethnic Chinese nationalism to a pluralistic Taiwanese nationalism that exhibits aspects of Chinese cultural and Taiwanese political identity. Loss of legitimacy made Chinese nationalism flexible enough to metamorphose. Taipei could not create a Republic of Taiwan in the early 1990s owing to systemic and domestic constraints. Instead, Taipei followed a different path from that taken in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s: the state waited for national identity to catch up and the balance of power gave it that space. Huadu represents a form of legitimacy and political power, guaranteed structurally through US power  –​ a creative solution to Taiwan’s challenge to Chinese identity. Huadu allowed the international system to incorporate this challenge by providing somewhere international for the ROC to go, thus relieving the PRC of a challenge to its own legitimacy. Huadu is implicitly recognized by powerful Taiwanese DIGs who act on it and transfer it into the national interest. More surprisingly perhaps, despite its formal stance, Beijing also tacitly acknowledges

93

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

huadu in its de facto diplomacy with Taipei. As such, huadu impedes any attempt to use national identity to change the status quo. Constructivism provides a dialectic epistemology that aligns to classical realism. Power is not just material and relative; it is ideational and relational and contingent; shifts over time matter more than distribution. Hence, changes in relative power generate perceptions and influence socialization. The system, as well as China, constrains Taiwan’s choices and Taiwan cannot sacrifice as much as China in the face of these constraints. Taiwan is rational, purposeful and motivated but its cross-​Strait policy is shaped by other non-​structural factors, including domestic politics, history, identity, culture, ideology, norms and perceptions of legitimacy. These are co-​constitutive of structure and Taiwan must balance structure against them in its cross-​Strait policy decisions and it makes choices informed by vulnerability in the context of uncertainty. Cross-​Strait interdependence may help maintain peace but does not prevent war; identity-​driven policy responses to it shape future economic relations and reinforce political foundations (Abdelal and Kirschner 1999). By moving away from NCR, this framework shows how the national interest is normatively, ideationally and domestically constructed by political actors and that the cross-​ Strait discourse of ‘peace and prosperity’ aligns to Morgenthau’s claim that the national interest is the maintenance of peace and that power has social purpose. Morality shapes Taiwan’s behaviour in so far as it deploys norms instrumentally; neither Taiwan’s nor China’s actions are good or bad (Carr 1946, pp. 65, 69). Prudence is ‘the supreme virtue in politics’ (Morgenthau 1978, pp. 10–​11). The ‘recognition of power realities’ is ‘the gentle civilizer of national self-​interest’ (Kennan 1951, pp. 47, 50). References Abdelal, Rawi and Jonathan Kirshner (1999) ‘Strategy, Economic Relations, and the Definition of National Interests’. Security Studies 9: 119–​56. Andrade, Tonio (2008) How Taiwan Became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century. New York: Columbia University Press. Baker, Paul, ed. (2012) Contemporary Corpus Linguistics. London: Continuum. Barkin, J. Samuel (2010) Realist Constructivism: Rethinking International Relations Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

94

HUADU

Barnett, Michael (1996) ‘Identity and Alliances in the Middle East’, in Peter Katzenstein, ed., The Culture of National Security. New York: Columbia University Press. Barnett, Michael and Raymond Duvall (2004) Power in Global Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Barrington, Lowell (1997) ‘ “Nation” and “Nationalism”: The Misuse of Key Concepts in Political Science’. Political Science and Politics 30: 713. Bozdağlıoğlu, Yücel (2007) ‘Constructivism and Identity Formation: An Interactive Approach’. Uluslararas› Hukuk ve Politika 3: 121. Brooks, Stephen and William Wohlforth (2008) World out of Balance: International Relations and the Challenge of American Primacy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Brown, Melissa (2005) Is Taiwan Chinese? The Impact of Culture, Power and Migration on Changing Identities. Berkeley, CA:  University of California Press. Carr, Edward Hallett (1946) The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919–​1939. New York: St Martin’s Press. Chen, Dean (2017) US-​C hina Rivalry and Taiwan’s Mainland Policy: Security, Nationalism, and the 1992 Consensus. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Chen, Shui-​Bian (2000) Taiwan Stands Up: Presidential Inauguration Address, 20 May. Available at: http://​china.usc.edu/c​ hen-s​ hui-b​ ian-​ % E 2 % 8 0 % 9 C t a i wa n - ​ s t a n d s - ​ p re s i d e n t i a l - ​ i n a u g u r a t i o n -​ address%E2%80%9D-​may-​20–​2000 Chen, Shui-​bian (2002) President Chen: ‘One country on each side’ Our own Taiwanese road. Taiwan Communique, September. Available at: www.taiwandc.org/​twcom/​tc102-​int.pdf China Daily (2019) Highlights of Xi’s speech at Taiwan message anniversary event, 2 January. Available at: www.chinadaily.com.cn/​ a/​201901/​02/​WS5c2c1ad2a310d91214052069_​2.html Copeland, Dale (2000) ‘The Constructivist Challenge to Structural Realism’. International Security 25: 187–​212. Corcuff, Stephane (2002) Memories of the Future: National Identity Issues and the Search for a New Taiwan. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. Dahl, Robert A. (1957) ‘The Concept of Power’. Behavioral Science 2: 202–​10. Dittmer, Lowell, ed. (2017) Taiwan and China: Fitful Embrace. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

95

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Doty, Roxanne Lynn (1999) ‘Sovereignty and the Nation: Constructing the Boundaries of National Identity’, in Thomas Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, eds., State Sovereignty as Social Construct. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) (1999) Resolution on Taiwan’s Future, 8 May. Available at: www.taiwandc.org/​nws-​9920.htm Edmonson, Robert (2002) ‘The February 28 Incident and National Identity’, in Stephane Corcuff, ed., Memories of the Future: National Identity Issues and the Search for a New Taiwan. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. Election Study Center (2019) ‘Changes in the Taiwanese/​Chinese Identity of Taiwanese as Tracked by Surveys of the Election Study Center (NCCU)’, National Chengchi University. Available at: https://​esc.nccu.edu.tw/​course/​news.php?Sn=166# Gilpin, Robert (1981) War and Change in World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gold, Thomas (1986) State and Society in the Taiwan Miracle. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. Harrison, Mark (2016) Legitimacy, Meaning and Knowledge in the Making of Taiwanese Identity. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Holzscheiter, Anna (2013) ‘Between Communicative Interaction and Structures of Signification: Discourse Theory and Analysis in International Relations’. International Studies Perspectives 15: 142–​62. Hopf, Ted (1997) ‘The Promise of Constructivism in International Relations Theory’. International Security 23: 175. Hughes, Christopher (1997) Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism: National Identity and Status in International Society. Abingdon: Routledge. Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus (2010) The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations: Philosophy of Science and Its Implications for the Study of World Politics. London: Routledge. Jacobs, Bruce (2005) ‘ “Taiwanization” in Taiwan’s Politics’, in Makeham and Hsiau, eds., Cultural, Ethnic and Political Nationalism in Contemporary Taiwan: Bentuhua. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. James, Patrick (2002) International Relations and Scientific Progress: Structural Realism Reconsidered. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University. Jiang, Yi-​hua (2017) ‘Taiwan’s National Identity and Cross-​Strait Relations’, in Lowell Dittmer, ed., Taiwan and China: Fitful Embrace. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. Katzenstein, Peter J. (1996) ‘Introduction:  Alternative Perspectives on National Security’, in Katzenstein, ed., The Culture of National Security. New York: Columbia University Press.

96

HUADU

Keng, Shu and Emmy Ruihua Lin (2017) ‘Mingling but Not Merging: Changes and Continuities in the Identity of Taiwanese in Mainland China’, in Lowell Dittmer, ed., Taiwan and China: Fitful Embrace. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. Kennan, George (1951) Amer ican Diplomacy 1900–​1 950. New York: Mentor Books. Kirshner, Jonathan (2010) ‘The Tragedy of Offensive Realism: Classical Realism and the Rise of China’. European Journal of International Relations 18: 53–​75. Krasner, Stephen (1978) Defending the National Interest. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Li, Yitan (2014) ‘Constructing Peace in the Taiwan Strait:  A Constructivist Analysis of the Changing Dynamics of Identities and Nationalisms’. Journal of Contemporary China 23: 119–​42. Lin, Syaru Shirley (2016) Taiwan’s China Dilemma. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Lindemann, Björn Alexander (2014) Cross-​S trait Relations and International Organizations. Wiesbaden: Springer. Lobell, Steven E., Norrin M. Ripsman and Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, eds. (2009) Neoclassical Realism, The State and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ma, Ying-​jeou (2010) CNN Interview, 28 October. Available at: http://a​ rchives.cnn.com/​TRANSCRIPTS/1​ 004/3​ 0/a​ mpr.01.html Mainland Affairs Council (2012) Opening Up and Guarding the Country Benefits of the 16 Cross-​Strait Agreements, Results of the Seven Rounds of Chiang-​Chen Talks. Available at: www.mac.gov. tw/public/Data/2101911582271.pdf Mainland Affairs Council (2015) Full text of ROC President Ma Ying-​ jeou’s remarks in meeting with Mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping, 7 November 7. Available at: www.mac.gov.tw/c​ t.asp?xItem=113323 Makeham, John and A-​chin Hsiau, eds. (2005) Cultural, Ethnic and Political Nationalism in Contemporary Taiwan:  Bentuhua. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan) (2017) People. Available at: https://​taiwan.gov.tw/​content_​2.php Morgenthau, Hans J. (1978) Politics among Nations:  The Struggle for Power and Peace, 5th edn. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Narizny, Kevin (2017) ‘Paradigms and Domestic Politics: A Critique of the Newest Realism’. International Security 42: 155–​90. New Taiwan:  Ilha Formosa (1999) Interview of Taiwan President Lee Teng-​hui with Deutsche Welle Radio, 9 July. Available at: www. taiwandc.org/​nws-​9926.htm

97

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Onuf, Nicholas (2013) Making Sense, Making Worlds: Constructivism in Social Theory and International Relations. Abingdon: Routledge. Peng, Ming-​min, Hsieh Tsung-​min and Wei Ting-​chao (1964) Declaration of Formosan Self-​Salvation, 20 September. Available at: www.hi-​on.org.tw/​ad/​peng_​0707_​z05.html Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (1971) Statement on our National Fate, 29 December. Available at: http://​english.pct.org.tw/​enArticle_​ public_​main.htm Reus-​Smit, Christian (2005) ‘Constructivism’, in Scot Burchill, ed., Theories of International Relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Ripsman, Norrin M., Jeffrey W. Taliaferro and Steven Lobell, eds. (2016) Neoclassical Realist Theory of International Politics. New York: Oxford University Press. Rose, Gideon (1998) ‘Neoclassical Realism and Theories of Foreign Policy’. World Politics 51: 144–​72. Sterling-​Folker, Jennifer (2009) ‘Neoclassical Realism and Identity: Peril Despite Profit Across the Taiwan Strait;, in Lobell, Ripsman and Taliaferro, eds., Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Su, Chi (2009) Taiwan’s Relations with Mainland China: A Tail Wagging Two Dogs. Abingdon: Routledge. Taiwan Documents Project (1972) Joint Communique of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, 28 February. Available at: www.taiwandocuments.org/​communique01.htm Taiwan Today (2019) ‘President Tsai affirms Taiwan will not accept “one country, two systems”’, 3 January. Available at: https://​taiwantoday. tw/​news.php?unit=2,6,10,15,18&post=148108 Taiwan Review (1981) The Kuomintang’s 12th National Congress, 1 April. Available at:  https://​taiwantoday.tw/​news.php?unit=4,29,31,45&p ost=4857 Tsay, Ting-​kuei (2016) Facebook, 23 February. Available at: www. facebook.com/​tingkuei.tsay/​posts/​967539406664616 United Nations (1971) General Assembly Resolution 2758 (XXVI): Restoration of the Lawful Rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations, 25 October. Available at: https://undocs.org/ en/A/RES/2758(XXVI) Walt, Stephen (1985) ‘Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power’. International Security 9: 3–​43. Waltz, Kenneth (1979) Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-​Wesley.

98

HUADU

Wendt, Alexander (1992) ‘Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics’. International Organization 46: 391–​425. Wendt, Alexander (1994) ‘Collective Identity Formation and the International State’. American Political Science Review 88: 385. Wendt, Alexander (1999) Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Widdowson, Henry (2004) Text, Context, Pretext. London: Blackwell. Wodak, Ruth and Michael Meyer (2009) Methods for Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Sage. Wu, Joseph (2016) ‘Assessing the Outcomes and Implications of Taiwan’s January 2016 Elections with Joseph Wu’. Center for Strategic and International Studies, 18 January. Available at:  www.csis.org/​ events/​assessing-​outcomes-​and-​implications-t​ aiwans-j​ anuary-2​ 016-​ elections-​joseph-​wu Wu, Yu-​shan (2005) ‘Taiwan’s Domestic Politics and Cross-​Strait Relations’. The China Journal 53: 35–​60. Yeh, Chieh-​ting (2016) ‘“Taiwan Independence” Doesn’t Mean What You Think’. Foreign Policy, 11 April. Available at:  http://​ foreignpolicy.com/​ 2 016/​ 0 4/​ 1 1/​ t aiwan-​ i ndependence​china-​republic-​huadu-​taidu/​

99

5

The India–​US Nuclear Deal: Norms of Power and the Power of Norms Saira Bano

A major dilemma for the nuclear non-​proliferation regime is to engage the nuclear-​armed states that are not in the Non-​Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, more effectively in the broader nuclear non-​proliferation regime without weakening or discrediting the NPT. The Indo–​US Civilian Nuclear Agreement claims to bring India, as a ‘responsible’ nuclear state, closer to the nuclear non-​proliferation regime (Tellis 2006; Burns 2007). It was criticized by the non-​proliferation community, concerned that global non-​proliferation norms would be undermined by treating India ‘exceptionally’ (Einhorn 2005; Gallucci 2006; Kimball 2006). The United States sought an India-​specific exemption from the non-​proliferation rules and discouraged others from seeking such exemptions to limit the damage to the regime. This chapter employs a realist constructivist approach to understand how the US–​India nuclear agreement has affected the key norms of the global nuclear non-​proliferation regime by deviating from the established expectations of the regime. The NPT is a nearly universal (except for four countries) treaty and the cornerstone of the global non-​proliferation regime. The NPT is a bargain between NWSs (Nuclear Weapons States) and NNWSs (non-​Nuclear Weapons States) in which NWSs agreed to share nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and gradually disarm, through negotiations in good faith, their nuclear arsenals while NNWSs agreed

101

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

not to develop nuclear weapons and to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on their peaceful nuclear activities. The non-​NPT states cannot be coerced to join the NPT as NNWSs nor is it possible to admit them as NWSs due to the complexity involved in amending the treaty. The indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 solidified this gap. After the India–​US nuclear deal, India is getting the benefits of nuclear energy cooperation along with its nuclear weapons programme, creating a tension within the regime. On 18 July 2005, US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a joint statement announced a framework for nuclear cooperation between the two countries, which brought an end to more than three decades of sanctions against India following its 1974 nuclear test. The United States had to change its domestic law to facilitate this nuclear cooperation. The US President has the authority to waive these sanctions against India, with the approval of the US Congress. The Hyde Act, approved by the US Congress and signed by President Bush into law on 18 December 2006, provides the required waiver authority to the president, but contains seven conditions that must be met before it can be exercised. Among these requirements are a credible civil-​military separation plan by India, an India–​IAEA Safeguards Agreement and a consensus decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to exempt India from its export guidelines –​ specifically the full-​scope safeguards (FSS) requirement. The United States did not act arbitrarily but tried to modify the regime in such a way as to pursue its strategic objective regarding India because nuclear non-​proliferation is also an important policy objective. It altered the rules of the regime by the passing of the Hyde Act (changing US domestic laws for India), obtaining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver on nuclear trade for India (achieving consensus in the NSG after intense diplomacy), and by India signing India-​specific the IAEA Safeguards Agreement. This regime objective explains why the United States, rather than establishing a set of rules that would apply to all states that have not signed the NPT, sought an India-​specific exemption and is discouraging others from seeking a similar agreement. The question is how far the United States will be able to limit the effects of this ‘exception’. How did the United States attempt to accommodate India within the nuclear non-​proliferation regime? How has this deal affected the interpretation of the central norm, the FSS norm, of the non-​proliferation regime? How did power manifest itself in the contestation over this norm and its interpretation? Realist constructivism can account for changes and stability in normative structure by looking at power structures, normative factors,

102

The India–US Nuclear Deal

domestic culture and elite perception. Realist constructivism provides a frame to help identify and organize some factors and processes that can help us understand and explain normative contestation and its outcomes, though the results of these processes may be highly contingent rather than easily predictable. Change is both conduct-​ and context-​shaping and it is the interpretation of the powerful state, through normative structures, that rules most of the time.

Definitions Realist constructivism as used here aims to understand how norms emerge out of a particular power relationship and how new norms change existing power structures. It emphasizes the role of agency in explaining normative change (Barkin 2010). It allows analysis not only of the impact of the nuclear deal on the regime, but also of how other factors have influenced the changes by tracing the process of meaning construction of this norm. Realist constructivism’s assumption that powerful agents can generate a change but at the same are constrained by normative structure broadens our understanding and explains why the United States modified the non-​proliferation regime to conclude the India–​US nuclear agreement and presented these changes as India-​ specific to discourage other states from following this precedent. Since the announcement of the deal in 2005, the United States has tried to keep these changes India-​specific. Realist constructivism helps to explain the subsequent developments in the nuclear non-​proliferation regime and the extent to which the United States is able to present these changes as India-​specific. Realist constructivism emphasizes that power and norms are best understood as mutually constitutive. Samuel Barkin argues: Even if all actors in the international system at a given point in time accept the same basic set of normative structures, they will differ in their interpretations of those structures, whether for rationally self-​interested reasons or for psychological reasons … When interpretations differ, the power of the interpreter continues to matter. The role of a realist constructivism, then, is to examine, skeptically from a moral perspective, the interrelationships between power and international norms. (Barkin 2003, p. 337) Agents resist or advocate norms and by doing so they not only give norms varied meanings, but also try to link or separate various norms

103

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

in a broader normative structure. This shows that power is essential in the processes of social construction, highlighting why powerful agents are in a privileged position. Power, however, does not determine that everything is possible; rather powerful agents have to take into account the existing power relations and normative structure. These constraints force powerful agents to interpret norms, to justify violations or exemptions, in a way that is socially acceptable. Power disparities do matter and influence the meaning construction of a norm. Powerful states usually dominate the discursive structure and are more influential in this process of social construction and meaning interpretation of a norm. Ignoring the role of power leads to oversight of argumentation processes in which powerful states are in a dominant position to make their case. Powerful states interpret norms and frame issues in such a way that empowers their arguments at the expense of others. Discourses are developed to serve one’s interest and not others, endorsing a certain meaning and discrediting others. Therefore, it is important to analyze dominating discourses and how their meanings are structured for later practices to make them legitimate. However, even dominating discourses do not work on their own; they have to be articulated and rearticulated to keep them relevant and legitimate (Milliken 1999, p. 229). It is important to take into account how power disparities affect norm contestation. Powerful states interpret and reinterpret norms to justify their self-​interested behaviour and have vast material resources for strategic construction of social acceptance. They are in a privileged position to propagate their interpretation and forum shopping in search of an institution in support of their position. The realist constructivism approach explores the interaction of norms and power in the sense that they affect change in one another. In norm contestation the power of an interpreter matters and significantly affects the pattern of normative change. Power is the ability to frame strategic actions in a legitimate manner. International regimes not only provide effective forums to achieve states’ strategic interests in an acceptable way, but also serve to constrain naked use of force or the taking of arbitrary actions. The realist constructivism approach emphasizes the role of legitimacy in strategic actions. The process of legitimation in norms’ construction involves power relations, the normative context and the need for broad consensus (Clark 2005, p. 4). When states violate norms, they try to justify their breach by linking that behaviour in compliance with some other accepted standards of conduct rather than publically accepting their contravention (Wheeler 2000, pp. 9, 24). In so doing, they seek

104

The India–US Nuclear Deal

to reconstruct and reinterpret the norms in ways that will serve their self-​interests, but they need to build a broad consensus (Hurd 2007, p. 196). When states reinterpret norms, in response other states evaluate the fit of these claims to the established normative structure according to their own interests and assess how legitimate these claims are. The audience either will approve the reinterpretation of rule adherence or penalize violation. Powerful states persuade a majority of states to accept their position to make the reinterpretation of a norm tolerable within the institutional environment (Hurd 2007, p. 197). Legitimation of a normative order hence requires a broad consensus and this acts as a restraint on powerful states. The process of legitimacy is not something that operates by itself, rather it is a soft power and requires constant work of taking into account existing power relations, normative context and institutional structure. These constraints prevent powerful states from taking arrogant and unilateral actions (Hurd 2002, p. 47). International legitimation processes demonstrate state practice and its impact on international norms because agents and structure influence each other. Consequently, although powerful states are in a position to influence norms disproportionately as compared to weaker states, they must do this within the normative structure. In each legitimation process, a broad consensus has to be developed among all stakeholders on how norms are to be interpreted and applied (Clark 2005, p. 201). Due to this constraint powerful states cannot change norms repeatedly. There is a limit to using the existing normative structure to interpret and reinterpret norms. Moreover, once a state has interpreted a norm and developed a broad consensus then it may constrain that state’s future deviation from that shared norm (Wheeler 2000, pp. 25, 26). In this way, norms are both constraining and enabling of state power. Power is also an ability of powerful states to use discourses for their self-​interest. They convince other states of the rightness of their interpretation of norms and shape international opinion in their favour. But powerful states must link their subjective interpretation to existing intersubjective normative structures. Powerful states cannot change the norms unilaterally but they must construct an intersubjective consensus among relevant states to gain legitimacy for their practice. Therefore, the powerful states participate in language games to develop the required intersubjectivity. Norms do not exist in a vacuum but are contested in a given institutional context. The most effective way to promote one’s preferred interpretation is to demonstrate coherence between a new interpretation and existing collective standards of appropriate behaviour. Hence, states must convince others that their interpretation is reasonable. The presence of a gap between subjectivity

105

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

and intersubjectivity of norms opens up opportunities for different interpretations. It is on the basis of the resulting intersubjective understanding that norms are produced and reproduced. This social construction of norms gives powerful states a privileged position to shape normative structure. They have power to intervene at critical moments to shape a new norm or reinterpret an established norm. They also shape understanding of how a norm is to be implemented and whose practice is to count within a normative structure. Thus, it is important to understand the choice of arguments as part of a strategic social construction: in the case of the India–​US nuclear deal the aim is to gain a degree of legitimacy, but to avoid precedents that would damage the non-​proliferation regime.

Methodology Applying a realist constructivist approach to the non-​proliferation and disarmament norms requires that power disparities, normative structure, elite perceptions, and intersubjective dominant discourses be taken into account. These factors provide a comprehensive framework to analyze norm changes and evolution within a regime through contestation. The fundamental norms in the nuclear non-​proliferation regime are influenced and shaped by power structure, normative factors, domestic culture and elite perceptions. The proliferation and disarmament norms are influenced by power disparities in which powerful states exert decisive influence in the meaning construction and interpretation of these norms. The United States has always remained the most influential actor in the regime. The United States and the group of guardians it leads mostly initiate only those norms that are consistent with its strategic interests, and ensure its sway. The non-​proliferation norms first evolved from the principles espoused by the Atoms-​for-​Peace plan and subsequently were debated during the NPT negotiations. Though the NPT was not a consensual affair many states subsequently joined despite reservations about its bargain in the belief that it was the most reasonable way to avoid a nuclear conflagration. Therefore, the regime is an unfair bargain shaped by the interests of the powerful states. The United States spent decades requiring the NPT NNWSs to place their entire nuclear programmes under permanent FSS through material incentives and normative arguments. Most countries have allowed intrusive inspections into their nuclear programmes because they stand to gain in two respects. First, by opening up these programmes, countries obtain access to external suppliers of nuclear fuel, reactors

106

The India–US Nuclear Deal

and other essential technologies. The NSG has agreed to condition sales of nuclear fuel and technologies on NNWSs’ acceptance of FSS on their nuclear programmes. Second, as part of this bargain, countries under safeguards help assure their neighbours that they are not making nuclear weapons. After the beginning of the nuclear age, marked by the power demonstration of nuclear weapons’ destruction capacity during the Second World War, the international community realized that a spread of nuclear weapons would pose a major threat to international security. The normative structure is based on the belief that proliferation increases the likelihood of war and a peaceful use of nuclear technologies is compatible with the aim of non-​proliferation of nuclear weapons. The NPT has provided the normative basis underpinning the regime: this is an explicit recognition by the international community that it is undesirable that additional states should acquire these weapons and an implicit acknowledgement that it is undesirable that any state should possess them. This normative basis is also a source of considerable contestation among NPT parties and of criticism by states which still refuse to adhere to it. This is because the treaty distinguishes between NWSs and NNWSs. While the former are only required to negotiate ‘in good faith’ on measures of nuclear disarmament, the latter are forbidden to possess nuclear weapons. States still criticize the perceived discrimination inherent in this distinction. The non-​NPT states never signed the NPT and remained under sanctions due to their refusal to accept the FSS. US policy towards India focused nearly entirely on nuclear weapons concerns, with Washington and New Delhi on opposite sides of the issue. The Bush Administration viewed India as a strategic partner and offered it a nuclear deal to counter a rising China. The United States also had economic interests in capturing the potentially huge Indian nuclear market. Both the Indian government and the Bush Administration had to build consensus at domestic level in order to negotiate and sign this deal. The Indian government had to assuage the concerns that the deal would in any way restrain the nuclear weapons programme. The Bush Administration, on the other hand, had to convince Congress that the deal would not weaken the nuclear non-​proliferation regime and would not help India in boosting its nuclear weapons programme. Domestic politics substantially impeded  –​and may have entirely prevented –​US nuclear accommodation with India; when domestic obstacles were overcome, US–​India negotiations advanced; and even after negotiations advanced, domestic factors placed conditions on and affected the scope of the deal. In the end, US–​India negotiations

107

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

only advanced when the conditions of nuclear cooperation satisfied key domestic constituents in both countries in order to conclude a historic and politically contentious nuclear deal. Building a dominant intersubjective discourse at the international level was an uphill task for the United States because the deal was against the existing shared understanding of acceptable forms of behaviour. The United States had to build a normative fit in order to get consensus at the NSG. The deal was presented as an energy agreement and an essential step in order to help India to meet its energy requirements. It was argued that the deal would decrease New Delhi’s reliance on fossil fuel and would minimize environmental damage. India’s non-​proliferation credentials were highlighted and the consensus was built by arguing that the deal would not damage the NPT. The deal was presented as India-​specific and it was argued that the NPT does not prohibit civilian nuclear cooperation with non-​ NPT states. The United States convinced the NSG member states that the deal would not contribute to the Indian nuclear weapons programme and the non-​proliferation commitments would increase New Delhi’s stakes in the regime. At the end, the United States had to threaten a few member states that blocking the consensus would have implications for its relations with those states. Therefore, the India-​specific NSG waiver was obtained through normative arguments and material threats. Now the United States is trying to limit the damage to the regime by keeping the deal and its attendant developments as India-​specific. Looking at power structure, normative factors, domestic politics of other non-​NPT states and reservations of the NNWSs at domestic and international level would help to determine the implications of the deal for the fundamental non-​proliferation and disarmament norms. It is important to take into account material, normative and cultural factors in analyzing the process by which norms are affected and changed. An analysis of the narrative of the contestation in building a dominant discourse helps to determine the implication of the norm contestation for the regime. The India–​US nuclear deal met with considerable resistance at the normative level. The United States promoted the deal and was able to override resistance through normative arguments by presenting it as an energy deal and through material factors by making it a top priority and investing considerable diplomatic efforts. The United States is keeping the deal India-​specific by arguing that India was a special case and the other three non-​NPT states do not qualify for this special treatment. Norm contestation theory in combination with realist constructivism provides a framework

108

The India–US Nuclear Deal

to analyze the extent to which the United States has been successful in keeping the deal India-​specific. This chapter analyzes the creation and content of the Indo–​US Nuclear Deal (India, Ministry of External Affairs 2007), the Hyde Act (US Government 2006), the NSG waiver for India (Nuclear Suppliers Groups 2008), the IAEA-​India Safeguards Agreement (IAEA 2008), the NPT review conferences (2010, 2015), NSG meetings, and the Indo–​US Reprocessing Agreement (India 2010), among other documents (eg official statements, testimony and press releases). I also conducted 31 interviews with US policymakers who were involved in the India–​US deal negotiations, and with the non-​proliferation community during my three-​month research fellowship at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC in the summer of 2015. Apart from these primary sources, this study will also rely on secondary sources in which nuclear non-​proliferation experts and academics argue either in favour or against the deal.

The India–​US nuclear deal After an initial flurry of anger and sanctions following the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in May 1998, it became clear that neither state was going to give up its nuclear weapons and the world had to accept this reality. However, the Clinton Administration’s approach towards the Indian nuclear programme remained to ‘cap, roll back, and eventually’ eliminate it. Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and Strobe Talbott, US Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 to 2001 and the chief US negotiator with India, held eight rounds of discussions to explore opportunities for a better relationship between the two countries during 1998–​2000. The seven rounds of talks between Singh and Talbott in 2001 and 2002 can be viewed as a way to cautiously institutionalize India into the dominant order of global governance (Muppidi 2004, p. 289). India’s growing economy played an important role in improving the relations. In 2000 the economic growth rate was 6 per cent as compared to 3.5 per cent in 1980. President Clinton visited India in March 2000 to improve economic relations and started a new beginning of ‘dynamic and lasting partnership’ but the nuclear issue still remained a stumbling block (Chellaney 2000). A few months after the 1998 tests there were already suggestions that India should be enticed with civilian technology to adhere to non-​proliferation norms (Warren et al 1999). India’s economic growth was creating a ‘voracious appetite for electricity’ (Victor 2006). The resulting growing energy appetite of the rapidly industrializing country

109

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

was to be met primarily by fossil fuels, largely coal and hydroelectricity. India’s electricity generation capacity had grown over 150-​fold since independence and it was projected that the sector must grow by a further factor of five to six times, fuelled largely by fossil fuels, to sustain the desired GDP growth (Mathai 2013, p. 142). Such developments were poised to exacerbate the environmental crisis. Nuclear power as a clean and sustainable source of energy became the focus of attention. India’s growing nuclear energy needs were being recognized at the international level. India’s rising economy provided an opportunity for the nuclear suppliers to revise the nuclear non-​proliferation norms. Strobe Talbott wrote in 2004 that the French government was eager to have a nuclear agreement with India in late 1998: In September 1998, during a visit by Vajpayee to Paris, President Chirac had announced that France would conduct its own ‘strategic dialogue’ with New Delhi. The French dangled the possibility that India might, with French help, become eligible for nuclear assistance of the kind forbidden to non-​NPT states. If that happened, India would have broken free of the restrictions that resulted from its long standing refusal to join the NPT. (Talbot 2004, p. 143) Italy along with France was also supporting the idea of lifting sanctions on India. ‘Seeing France and Italy breaking ranks, the United Kingdom and Germany showed signs of being tempted to step up the pace of restoring to normal their own relations with India’ (Talbot 2004, p. 143). Russia and India have enjoyed strong strategic, military and economic relations since the Cold War, and Russia has always been in favour of lifting sanctions against India. In May 2000 Mikhail Ryzhov, a Russian Atomic Energy Ministry official, argued in favour of the recognition of the nuclear status of India and Pakistan and reasoned that both countries have nuclear weapons and could no longer be expected to sign the NPT as NNWSs. He called this situation ‘unnatural’ and needing to be addressed in such a way that ‘it does not promote and encourage further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world’ (The Hindu 2000). Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy knew that, without US help, it would not be possible to lift these sanctions against India and had been proposing this idea but this proposition was dismissed outright by the Clinton Administration, which refused to compromise its non-​proliferation agenda.

110

The India–US Nuclear Deal

The Bush Administration discarded the Clinton Administration’s approach and adopted a flexible strategy to bring India closer to the non-​proliferation regime without its being a signatory to the NPT. Secretary of State Rice concluded that progress towards an across-​ the-​board strategic partnership would require decisively resolving the issue of India’s relationship to the non-​proliferation regime (Zelikow 2015). During her visit to New Delhi in March 2005, she indirectly noted to Indian officials the possibility of civilian nuclear cooperation to mitigate New Delhi’s reaction to the US decision to sell F-​16 fighter jets to Pakistan (Mistry 2006, p. 682). The thaw in Indo–​US relations led to the unprecedented nuclear deal when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush signed a joint statement on 18 July 2005. This joint statement was the framework of the Indo–​US nuclear deal, under which India agreed to undertake several obligations to strengthen its commitment to the nuclear non-​ proliferation regime and, in exchange, the United States agreed to civil nuclear cooperation (Mohan 2005). India agreed to separate its military and civilian nuclear facilities, placing the latter under IAEA safeguards; this required an India-​specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA. This provision is against the FSS norm but is consistent with the item-​specific safeguards norm which was applicable before the NSG and the NPT adopted comprehensive safeguards in the early 1990s. This is also consistent with the NWSs’ practice of separating military and civilian nuclear facilities and accepting voluntary safeguards on the latter. India also agreed to sign the IAEA Additional Protocol, which is consistent with the United States’ effort to make this measure universal. India committed to refraining from transferring enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology to states that do not have it. This commitment is consistent with the ENR technology ban norm, but there is a difference of opinion as to whether India should be getting this technology. India’s interpretation of the ‘full civil nuclear cooperation’ includes the transfer of such technology while the US interpretation does not allow New Delhi to access this technology. For its part, the United States had to change its domestic law to accommodate a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with India. This touched on the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), which governs US nuclear cooperation with other countries, and its section 123, which requires FSS. On 18 December 2006 President Bush signed the Hyde Act into law to provide a waiver for India from the relevant provisions of the AEA (White House 2005).

111

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

The zeal with which the deal has been driven forward in India and the United States has been met with a matched response of opposition, criticism and suspicion. The deal generated a controversy with diverse opinions not only within India and the United States. The non-​ proliferation community in general also argued against the deal. The supporters called the deal a net gain for the non-​proliferation regime by pointing to India’s commitments to the regime as a result of it, while the opponents pointed to the flaws in the deal, which they argue would undermine the regime. The problems highlighted by the opponents of the deal explain why the United States presented the deal as India-​ specific and discouraged other states from following this precedent. Ashley Tellis contends that ‘[o]‌ne of the issue that we have to deal with in 2005 was whether we provide this exceptionalism to all three parties that is India Pakistan and Israel or only to India alone and the decision for various reasons was made only offer to India alone’ (Tellis 2015). Similarly, Ambassador Richard Boucher argues that ‘[t] here was a concern [in the Bush Administration] that [the deal] might open doors for other states to develop nuclear weapons and get them accepted later or set a precedent … this is the reason we made it very clear that this deal is only for India’ (Boucher 2015). On 6 September 2008, the NSG agreed on an India-​specific exemption to its nuclear export guidelines after complex negotiations. The exception initiated by the Bush Administration and strongly backed by France, Russia and the United Kingdom, was a remarkable development in the non-​proliferation regime, reversing the NSG policy requiring FSS as a condition of export, which was adopted in 1992. India is now the only country with nuclear weapons which is allowed to engage in nuclear trade with the rest of the world, enjoying the benefits of nuclear trade reserved for NPT states without being required to sign the treaty. Many countries, such as New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway, criticized the exemption as lacking any conditions and proposed amendments to its various drafts in view of their non-​proliferation concerns. Their proposed amendments included clauses concerning a ban on the transfer of ENR technologies to India, termination of the waiver if India detonated a nuclear weapon, and a ‘review’ mechanism to assess India’s compliance with non-​proliferation commitments. India’s insistence on a ‘clean and unconditional’ waiver, due to domestic opposition, made negotiations complicated, and the United States had to redraft the proposal draft three times in order to meet the some of the objections and reservations. The NSG exempted India from its nuclear export guidelines, which require FSS, after complicated negotiations. The NSG waiver was

112

The India–US Nuclear Deal

essential for the completion of the Indo–​US Nuclear Agreement, announced in July 2005. The requirement of consensus for the NSG decision made it difficult for the United States and India to bring all the members on board − especially the ‘like-​minded’ states, which have strong non-​proliferation commitments. Anish Goel, the former US State Department official, recalls the strategy of the US negotiations: There was a lot of opposition in the beginning. One of our chief negotiators Richard Stratford was brilliant. He was working on the nonproliferation issues since the NPT was signed. He has been negotiating bilateral agreements for 25 years. He was able to point out that the waiver is not inconsistent with the NPT as states have been selling nuclear material to India before the NPT and NSG adopted full-​scope safeguards. This argument helped in getting a lot of these countries to turn around. Out of 44 countries when we started we had may be five on our side. He got at least 25 more to our side, just from regular briefings. In the end, there were about ten countries that were still very abstinent:  we call them nonproliferation ayatollahs. We swayed them on the strength of our bilateral relationship with each country. The very high level of US government got involved and made clear to these other countries that if you do not support this agreement it will have ramifications for our bilateral relationship. Some call it bullying or arms twisting. Whatever you call it, it took place at a very high level that finally get the rest of the countries on board. They wanted to stand up for the nonproliferation ideals but they weren’t willing to risk their relations with the United States. (Goel 2015) In norm interpretation the institutional context matters; specifically, the degree to which the normative status quo is entrenched or institutionalized matters profoundly because the defenders enjoy special strategic and tactical advantages when defending entrenched norms. The consensus rule of the NSG provided many opportunities to the member states to block a decision. Powerful states were in a position to offer positive and negative incentives to achieve consensus but that required huge political and diplomatic investment. The interpretation of meaning of norm is determined by context rather than by universal principles. India’s rise provided a context

113

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

in which the Bush Administration was motivated to lift nuclear sanctions against India. Consequently, Washington invested huge political and diplomatic efforts to build consensus in Congress and at international level. The Indo–​US Nuclear Deal is a paradigm shift in US foreign policy and marked a new era between the two countries. Strategic and economic interests led the United States to adopt a flexible policy to boost India’s military and economic power against China and to open the Indian nuclear energy market to American companies, creating jobs and profit. Nicholas Burns called this deal a ‘strategic deal’ (Burns 2015). Vikram Singh argues that ‘[t]‌he Bush Administration knew that the deal will damage the regime, but at the end it was worth a shot’ for strategic reasons (Singh 2015). For India, this deal ended New Delhi’s isolation by lifting three-​decades-​old sanctions and now it can import much needed technology and fuel for its energy programme. India saw good relations with the United States as insurance, should China turn aggressive, while cultivating good relations with China as long as Beijing behaves peacefully. Rather than simply ignoring its non-​proliferation obligations, the Bush Administration went to great lengths to justify its conduct within existing norms, attempting to make its conduct appear to comply with the existing normative structure. When a norm is heavily institutionalized then changing policy is harder than maintaining the status quo –​and the greater the proposed change the greater inertia’s sway. The Bush Administration had to build consensus both at domestic and international level. It made a case in Congress that the nuclear deal offered major strategic, energy and environmental benefits; its non-​ proliferation drawbacks (of undermining the FSS rule) were offset by non-​proliferation benefits (of India’s separating its civilian and military facilities and placing the civilian facilities under safeguards); and that the strategic benefits would be lost and India–​US relations would suffer if Congress rejected the agreement. Philip Zelikow argues that ‘[t]‌he Bush Administration decided to strike a deal with India first and then fight a political battle in Congress’ (Zelikow 2015). India’s democratic system and rising economy created a soft image. The US Congress did not oppose the deal and was convinced of the Bush Administration’s justification but wanted to include more stringent non-​proliferation conditions due to its concerns for the regime. The United Sates and other major supportive countries were able to fix the meaning of this norm by presenting this deal as India-​specific and as unlikely to set a precedent. The deal is unlikely to have a negative

114

The India–US Nuclear Deal

impact for the IAEA FSS norm for a variety of reasons: the United States presented the deal as India-​specific; the level of resistance to the deal, despite arguably India’s strong non-​proliferation credentials, stable democracy and rising economy, rules out a similar deal for other non-​NPT states; and there was a minimal opposition from NNWSs at the NPT review conferences due to their good relations with India and the United States. Power and norms are mutually constitutive: at any particular moment in time, norms shape the system of power that exists in a particular context. In other words, the power relations, the distribution of power, the ability of states to draw from different types of power, and the ability to exercise power in a given situation, are constituted by norms and are, at a particular moment, fixed. Over time, however, norms evolve as this system of power privileges certain states, enabling them to construct and interpret norms. Thus, the power dynamics in a particular context determine, at least partially, how and why certain actors are able to influence the processes of norm evolution. In other words, norms shape relations of power while relations of power shape who influences norms over time and in what ways. Norms constitute power relations by holding in place meanings associated with concepts, which distribute power and privileges among states. Norms change over time and states influence their evolution according to their national interest, but to do so they have to draw on existing normative structure. The way states construct and interpret norms is shaped by the nature of existing prevailing broader normative structure.

Conclusion The realist constructivism approach can explain the importance of particular agents in generating change in patterns of international politics. It can also look at structural constraints on agency and mechanisms through which agency might generate change. It has the following four benefits for norm studies: first, it can explain normative change by focusing on the interplay of structure and agency. Second, this approach gives more space to agency and can analyze how agents handle opportunities and constraints created by structures to produce change or maintain the status quo. In this way this approach can explain the importance of specific agents in generating change in patterns of international regimes. Third, this approach takes power as relative and relational. Fourth, by taking domestic factors into account, this approach highlights the neglected relationship between culture and agent. Interrelated beliefs and ideas have an influence over actors

115

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

and in order to understand agency it is important to understand the context of these beliefs and ideas and the placement of actors within the social structure and the material resources they can bring to bear on each other. It is in a better position than other forms of constructivism to account for changes and stability in international regimes by looking at power structure, normative factors, domestic culture and elite perception. Constructivists can hardly use the logic of appropriateness independently from power considerations to explain why in a certain situation, a state or any other international actor occupies a particular role or acts according to a particular norm and not others that may have competing or even contradictory imperatives. According to the logic of appropriateness the United States should not have offered this deal to India and realism cannot explain why the United States went to such pains to legitimize this deal through international institutions rather than simply ignoring this normative structure. The contestation over the non-​proliferation and disarmament norms demonstrates that state interests and norms affect each other. More powerful states are able to interpret norms according to their own state interests but their actions are not unilateral: rather they have to construct a mutual understanding with others through the normative structure. Powerful states have more leverage to develop that understanding and can provide more positive and negative incentives to other states to obtain their preferred interpretation. In this process, however, they have to accommodate the interests of other states and this in turn brings changes in the norms they are attempting to advance. Power affects the evolution of norms and norms affect the power structure. A realist constructivist approach provides a power-​sensitive approach in taking into account material factors, normative structure, domestic factors and elite perceptions of national interests. State interests are social constructions that are open to redefinition. State elites define national interests through constructing mutual understanding at domestic level. Domestic structure and culture influence the bargaining process and the way these perceived national interests can be achieved. The Bush Administration perceived India as a strategic partner and decided to lift nuclear sanctions against New Delhi to build that partnership on a solid basis. This was against the ‘shared understanding’ of US domestic law and the non-​proliferation regime. The Bush Administration had to make a normative fit and presented this deal as being in compliance with the other accepted norms of the regime. That is why Washington highlighted the energy and environmental aspect of the deal and downplayed the strategic aspect.

116

The India–US Nuclear Deal

The realist constructivism approach suggests that norms provide legitimacy and it is important to seek legitimacy and moral justification in power politics. An ideological mask for strategic interests can serve the purpose of legitimacy and acceptability at the international level. In order to seek this legitimacy the Bush Administration had to modify its domestic law by convincing the US Congress to approve the deal at domestic level, and at international level it had to invest huge political and diplomatic efforts to get a consensus decision at the NSG. Power influences the norm contestation process via the key role played by states to develop, maintain or change norms. State practice is crucial to implement norms and that helps to uphold a fixed meaning of a norm or construct a new interpretation. Powerful states disproportionately influence norm interpretation but the existing normative structure and peer approval impose restraints upon the unhindered exercise of power. When states violate a norm or deviate from the accepted standard of behaviour they try to justify that deviation by drawing upon legal, moral or political arguments. The discourses are used carefully to defend the deviation and to win the support of relevant states. Now it depends on the reaction of other states whether they accept the presented arguments with explicit support or reject them through outright condemnation. Powerful states have resources at their disposal to popularize their norm interpretation on the level of discourses. They possess discursive power. Through discourses they try to shape the values, perceptions, preferences and consequently the behaviour of other actors. This is how power is diffused and embodied in discourses and produces ‘regimes of truth’ (Foucault 1991). This contributes to the stabilization of existing structures of inequality. Powerful states have plenty of resources to appeal to the incentive structure of weaker states. By providing incentives they can acquire the required consent from weaker states. Sometimes they also rely on threats to deter opposition from the relevant states. Consequently, powerful states significantly shape the incentives and disincentives for other states to acquiesce in their norm interpretation, and their resources provide them with a variety of options which can be used to induce consent and deter opposition. Norms are not opposites to power but rather a vehicle through which states can achieve their self-​interest through legitimate means. While powerful states possess discursive power, this power is by no means unlimited. They must construct a tolerable consensus among their peers to achieve acceptance for their preferred interpretation. The efforts to create this broad consensus put certain constraints on their unlimited use of power. The United States was in a position to

117

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

engage in extensive diplomacy to build consensus for the deal. The Bush Administration had extensive consultations with major countries to get support for the deal. At the NSG the United States was also in a position to shape the context in which like-​minded states assessed that blocking the consensus at the cost of their relations with Washington is not in their interest. Powerful states promote norms collectively that serve their interests. They not only coordinate the efforts of this promotion among themselves, but also pressurize their subordinate states within their areas of influence and alliance system by exploiting their unequal power with them. When major powers have a collective interest in promoting a norm then it is possible to change a heavily institutionalized norm. Defenders of the heavily institutionalized norm have certain strategic and tactical advantages in defending the entrenched normative structure. Institutional designs and voting systems also empower states in different ways. For example, a two thirds majority voting system empowers major states and it is convenient for them to attain their objectives. On the other hand, consensus voting favours smaller states by giving them veto power. It was easier for the United States to get approval for the India–​IAEA safeguards agreement by means of the two thirds majority rule than getting a consensus decision at the NSG. Due to this consensus rule the United States had to accommodate the concerns of the like-​minded states, though these accommodations had little impact on the final draft. In the end, Washington threatened these states that their decision to blockade the consensus would negatively impact their relations with the United States. The level of resistance, despite India’s arguably good non-​proliferation record, rules out the possibility for similar deals for other non-​NPT states and this deal is likely to remain India-​specific for the foreseeable future. International regimes provide a useful forum where states seek legitimacy and in this way regimes are effective tools to achieve national interests. Powerful states effectively use international regimes for their interests but regimes also constrain the great powers’ capacity for excessive use of force. In order to develop and maintain legitimacy, regimes need to be seen to possess a certain degree of independence. Powerful states strive to keep a balance in providing regimes with sufficient independence on the one hand, and retaining a control of regimes for their self-​interests on the other hand. The exercise of power is about shaping a context in which actors redefine their preferences and interests. International regimes provide a context in which powerful actors frame issues in a normative structure and through persuasion and coercion seek to develop

118

The India–US Nuclear Deal

consensus in the legitimation process. Realist constructivism provides a power-​sensitive approach to norm contestation theory in which powerful states are in a better position to shape and reshape international norms through intersubjective standards of appropriate behaviour. This approach is beneficial in norm contestation theory to assess normative change and stability by taking into account domestic factors, the interplay of structure and agency, and power as relative and relational, and giving more space to agency and how agents can handle opportunities and constraints. The United States framed the deal through an acceptable normative structure and reshaped the norms to bring India closer to the regime. Despite the collective interest of all major powers in lifting nuclear sanctions against India, it was not easy for the United States to build that consensus and it had to invest considerable political and diplomatic effort. Washington presented the changes as India-​specific and similar waivers for other non-​NPT states are unlikely. References Barkin, J. Samuel (2003) ‘Realist Constructivism’. International Studies Review 5: 325–​42. Barkin, J. Samuel (2010) Realist Constructivism: Rethinking International Relations Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Boucher, Richard (2015) Interview with author, Washington, DC, 26 August. Burns, Nicholas (2007) ‘America’s Strategic Opportunity with India’. Foreign Affairs 86: 131–​46. Burns, Nicholas (2015) Interview with author, Washington, DC, 22 June. Chellaney, Brahma (2000) ‘The Clinton Visit:  Hype and Reality’. Rediff.com, 28 March. Clark, Ian (2005) Legitimacy in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Einhorn, Robert (2005) Witness for ‘The U.S.-​India Nuclear Deal’, US House International Relations Committee, Washington, DC, 26 October. Foucault, Michel (1991) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of a Prison. London: Penguin Gallucci, Robert (2006) Testimony of Robert Gallucci (Dean of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University) before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, 26 April. Goel, Anish (2015) Interview with author, Washington, DC, 30 June.

119

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

The Hindu (2000) ‘Legalize India’s N-​Status, Says Russia’. The Hindu, 31 May. Hurd, Ian (2002) ‘Legitimacy, Power and the Symbolic Life of the UN Security Council’. Global Governance 8: 35–​51. Hurd, Ian (2007) ‘Breaking and Making Norms: American Revisionism and Crises of Legitimacy’. International Politics 44: 194–​213. IAEA (2008) Agreement between the Government of India and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the Application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities. International Atomic Energy Agency INFCIRC/​754/​Add.2, 9 July. Available at: www.iaea.org India, Ministry of External Affairs (2007) Text of the Indo–​US Nuclear Agreement. Available at: https://​mea.gov.in/​press-​releases.htm?dtl/​ 2529/​fact+sheet+on+the+india+us+civil+nuclear+energy+coope rationconclusion+of+the+123+agreement India, Department of Atomic Energy (2010) India–​US Civilian Nuclear Cooperation-​Reprocessing Agreement. Available at: www. dae.gov.in/​ Kimball, Daryl (2006) Witness for ‘Legislative Options for Congress Regarding the Proposal for Full U.S.-​Indian Nuclear Cooperation’, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, 11 May. Mathai, Manu V. (2013) Nuclear Power, Economic Development Discourse and the Environment: The Case of India. New York: Routledge. Milliken, Jennifer (1999) ‘The Study of Discourses in International Relations: A Critique of Research and Methods’. European Journal of International Relations 5: 225–​54. Mistry, Dinshaw (2006) ‘Diplomacy, Domestic Politics and the U.S.-​ India Nuclear Agreement’. Asian Survey 46: 675–​98. Mohan, Raja (2005) ‘Singh, Bush, Press Civilian Nuclear Button’. The Indian Express, 19 July. Muppidi, Himadeep (2004) ‘Colonial and Postcolonial Global Governance’, in Michael Barnett and Robert Duvall, eds., Power in Global Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. NPT Review Conference (2010) ‘2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-​Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)’, 3–​28 May. Available at: www.un.org/​en/​conf/​npt/​2010/​ NPT Review Conference (2015) ‘2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-​Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)’, 27 April–​22 May. Available at:  www.un.org/​en/​conf/​npt/​ 2015/​ Nuclear Suppliers Group (2008) Text of US NSG Proposal on India, 13 August. Available at: https://​carnegieendowment.org/​2008/​08/​ 13/​text-​of-​u.s.-​nsg-​proposal-​on-​india-​pub-​20388

120

The India–US Nuclear Deal

Singh, Vikram (2015) Interview with author, Washington, DC, 15 July. Talbott, Strobe (2004) Engaging India:  Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb. Delhi/​Washington: Viking/​Brookings. Tellis, Ashley (2006) Testimony for U.S.-​India Atomic Energy Cooperation:  Strategic and Nonproliferation Implications, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, 26 April. Tellis, Ashley (2015) Interview with author, Washington, DC, 21 July. US Government Printing Office (2006) Text of the Hyde Act. Available at:  www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​BILLS-​109hr5682enr/​pdf/​ BILLS-​109hr5682enr.pdf Victor, David J. (2006) ‘Nuclear Power for India is Good for Us All’. International Herald Tribune, 16 March. Warren, Christopher, David A. Hamburg and William J. Perry (1999) Preventive Diplomacy and Preventive Defense in South Asia: The US Role. New York: Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict. Wheeler, Nicholas (2000) Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. White House (2005) Joint Statement between George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, White House Press Release, Washington, DC, 18 July. Available at: https://​2001-​2009.state.gov/​ p/​sca/​rls/​pr/​2005/​49763.htm Zelikow, Philip (2015) Interview with author, Washington, DC, 10 July.

121

6

Coercive Engagement: Lessons from US Policy towards China Chi-​hung  Wei

Introduction In the mid 1990s, the United States crafted a policy of engagement that sought to enmesh a rising China in webs of international organizations or regimes built upon liberal norms or rules. Debate has since centred upon whether US efforts at engagement can steer China onto a peaceful path. If not, why? (Bernstein and Munro 1997; Friedberg 2000; Mearsheimer 2001, p.  402). If so, can engagement work absent material rewards offered for Chinese cooperation or economic sanctions levelled against Chinese obstructionism? If so, how? In other words, through what mechanisms might engagement exert normative influence on Beijing? In the study of US policy towards China, a group of ‘optimistic constructivists’, as Friedberg terms them, believes that US engagement initiatives can manage Beijing by socializing it into accepting liberal expectations about appropriate behaviour (Friedberg 2005). Unlike neoliberal institutionalists and interdependence theorists, both of whom see engagement in terms of its potential to alter the material benefits and costs of Chinese compliance or non-​compliance (eg Nye 1995; Ikenberry 2008a; Ikenberry 2008b; Deudney and Ikenberry 2009), optimistic constructivists maintain that engagement operates as a communicative device that softens ‘Chinese strategic culture’ (on Chinese strategic culture see Johnston 1995). ‘Communicative engagement’, as Lynch terms it, refers to ‘a dialogical process of exchanging reasons … which does not rest upon coercion or manipulation’ 123

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

(Lynch 2002, p.  204, emphasis added). In the eyes of optimistic constructivists, Washington persuades Beijing of the legitimacy of internationally held norms, and Beijing in response enters into open-​ minded deliberation by distinguishing good arguments from poor ones in order to find truth claims. Eventually, Washington will likely shape Chinese interests in line with the liberal world order. As Economy and Oksenberg (1999, p. 18) put it, ‘when intensive, high-​level, strategic dialogue with China’s leaders was conducted … progress was made in shaping Chinese thinking’. Over time, engagement will likely transform China into a ‘social state’, as Johnston (2008) suggests. This chapter speaks to such a liberal-​constructivist analysis of engagement. I argue that the normative mechanism through which engagement influences Beijing is not socialization, communication or persuasion (which I  use interchangeably). Building on recent scholarship that presents methodological critiques of liberal-​ constructivist approaches, I argue that engagement works through a realist constructivist mechanism that several scholars call ‘rhetorical coercion’ or ‘rhetorical entrapment’ (eg Schimmelfennig 2003; Krebs and Jackson 2007; Krebs and Lobasz 2007; Goddard 2008–​9). In the presence of antisocial behaviour on Beijing’s part, the United States and other members of international institutions do not just condemn Beijing’s violation of international consensus; they also set ‘rhetorical traps’ by framing Chinese non-​compliance as inconsistent with Beijing’s self-​identification as a ‘responsible major power’. By appealing to the commitments to which Beijing has agreed in public, America and its allies lock Chinese leaders into their own words, leaving them unable to continue with policies contrary to the ‘peaceful rise’ or ‘peaceful development’ discourses they have proposed before international audiences. The US–​Chinese case illustrates a realist constructivism by showing what may be called ‘coercive engagement’. While I  agree with optimistic constructivists (also referred to as liberal constructivists) that bringing China into ‘international society’ is a better policy than isolating it, I refrain from viewing engagement as communicative or socializing. While Crawford and Klotz (1999; see also Klotz 1995) see sanctions as an instrument of socialization rather than coercion, I  argue that engagement exercises coercive power (in the form of rhetoric) vis-​à-​vis the ‘engagee’. By integrating Beijing into multilateral institutions, the United States increases the audience costs of Chinese hypocrisy when the international public exposes the inconsistency between what Beijing has promised and what it is currently doing. Once engagement connects China with the outside world, the United

124

Coercive Engagement

States and like-​minded states will have a better chance of talking Beijing into a corner and undermining its antisocial urges. If ‘soft power isn’t so soft’ (Bially Mattern 2005), the same holds true for engagement. Although engagement differs from sanctions, it is not without coercive elements. Engagement and entrapment, I suggest, are two sides of the same coin. In this chapter I first define realism and constructivism, as they are used here, in terms of power politics and the social construction of international politics, respectively. I then discuss my methodology and provide empirical evidence. While the American policy of engaging China covers several issues, including human rights, security, trade, arms control, and so on, I focus on the engagement/​entrapment process that pushed Beijing to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. In response to Beijing’s nuclear tests conducted between 1994 and 1996, America and other states manoeuvred Beijing’s pre-​existing commitments to nuclear disarmament, thereby rhetorically compelling it into signature. To place this case in comparative perspective, I  briefly examine the post-​signature period in which US opposition to CTBT ratification has diminished the utility of engagement, as evidenced by Beijing’s reciprocal refusal to ratify the treaty. Norms embodied in engagement are thus not as progressive or transhistorical as argued by optimistic constructivists. I conclude that a realist constructivism, compared with liberal constructivisms, helps scholars uncover (1) the coercive language lurking behind the process in which engagement extracts Beijing’s pro-​social behaviour and (2) the contextually contingent nature of Chinese conformism.

Definitions In this chapter, realism and constructivism are used and defined in ways that fit both international relations (IR) theory and the study of engagement. To begin with, the core concept underlying realism is power politics. While this concept is embraced by nearly all realist theories, the variant of realism used here is classical rather than structural. The structural variant is left out of consideration for two reasons. At the theoretical level, it pays no attention to sociality and is thus incompatible with constructivism (eg Barkin 2010, p. 167). At the explanatory level, most structural realists cannot account for why the United States decided to adopt an engagement policy through which Beijing would establish itself as a powerhouse (Waltz 2000; Mearsheimer 2001). Nor can they explain why and how engagement elicits a specific concession from Beijing, given that they usually explain

125

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

concessions as a result of the use of coercive material capabilities (eg sanctions and containment). Classical realism, by contrast, is better positioned to explain US engagement with China. As a theory of foreign policy, it holds that the impact of China’s rise on the international system is largely unwritten and that how China acts depends on US foreign policy. Without ruling out the possibility of conflict, classical realists suggest that engagement becomes an option if China is willing to improve its prestige and position within the existing world order. As Kirshner argued in 2010, ‘[w]‌hile classical realism must be wary and pessimistic regarding the consequences of China’s rise, its perspective nevertheless leads to the conclusion that engaging rather than confronting China is the wisest strategy’ to influence Chinese behaviour in a desired direction (Kirshner 2010, p. 65). It follows that influence is what the classical realist definition of power politics is mainly about. While structural realists conceptualize power in terms of material resources and see international political outcomes as dependent upon the distribution of material capabilities among sovereign states, classical realists define power in terms of influence and argue that every state has innate interests in influencing others to its advantage by means of statecraft, be it sanctions or engagement (Baldwin 1985). For classical realists, power as influence, as opposed to power as resources, is the ability to get others to do something they otherwise would not do (Dahl 1957). This relational aspect of power politics underlies what Barnett and Duvall call ‘interactive power’ (Barnett and Duvall 2005). Power as influence is also a fundamental concept in the engagement literature. Engagement, according to Schweller, refers to ‘the use of non-c​ oercive means to ameliorate the non-​status quo elements of a rising major power’s behavior … It encompasses any attempt to socialize the dissatisfied power into acceptance of the established order’ (Schweller 1999, p. 14, emphasis added). As the engager seeks to get the engagee to accept something it otherwise would not accept, engagement is a form of power politics. As Baldwin points out, ‘positive sanctions’ (namely, engagement) are a subset of influence attempts and therefore should be analyzed via the conventional power concepts used for the analysis of ‘negative sanctions’ (Baldwin 1971). American power is successfully exercised if engagement influences Beijing to accept the established world order. The sources of power, according to classical realists, are both material and non-​material. Carr, for example, distinguishes among three types of power: military power, economic power, and power over opinion

126

Coercive Engagement

(Carr 1961). In particular, power over opinion –​the art of propaganda –​ lays the ground for a conversation between classical realism and constructivism. For classical realists, state abilities to influence others are derived as much from social judgements about appropriate ways that power is exercised as they are from material capabilities. While classical realists deny the existence of universal morality or legality, they argue that moral/​legal factors in a particular condition of time or space define what constitutes legitimate power acceptable to others. Only when the use of power is socially judged legitimate can the power holder influence others in an effective way (Voeten 2005). Viewed in this way, power is social. The notion of sociality serves to connect classical realism and constructivism. Non-​material, social sources of power are also integral to the politics of engagement. As Schweller’s definition makes clear, engagement differs from coercive material measures; although it takes the material form of economic inducements or institutional incentives, it also spreads to the engagee the values that the engager holds dear or the norms shared by members of international institutions. In other words, to influence others to become like ‘us’ is the ‘social purpose’ of engagement (on social purposes see Ruggie 1982). The power that the engager pursues is social. The United States can preserve its hegemonic power at a lower cost if China ‘becomes like America’. According to Schweller, engagement enforces norms through the mechanism of socialization, and such a normative process is largely non-​coercive. This chapter, by contrast, argues that coercion or power (exercised through the medium of language) is a salient feature of normative engagement. The classical realist conception of power politics rejects the argument that ideas or discourses designed to shape social opinion are deployed in a persuasive, appropriate way. For classical realists, if a state attempts to delegitimize others, it must invoke the language of legitimacy or illegitimacy through coercive means. If Beijing reneges on the commitments it has made, the United States and other states use its rhetoric to ‘teach’, in a coercive manner, Chinese leaders that deeds should be consistent with words (on teaching in IR see Finnemore 1993). If engagement succeeds in influencing the engagee, that is not because the promoted values are persuasive but rather because they are introduced in a coercive way. To the extent that power politics is about norm-​induced change in target behaviour, coercion rather than socialization is the normative mechanism at work. With respect to constructivism, its core concept is the social construction of international politics. For constructivists, the material, structural factor of anarchy has no direct effects on interstate relations,

127

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

precisely because state behaviour is driven partly by such non-​material factors as ideas, discourses and norms. If states find themselves in an anarchical world, that is because they bring realist-​type worldviews into interstate interactions. ‘Anarchy is what states make of it’, as Wendt (1992) puts it. Of course, the culture of anarchy may evolve from a Hobbesian one to a Kantian one if international politics is characterized by liberal principles. (I am not suggesting a progressive trajectory of the development of that culture, as Wendt (1999) is prone to do.) Such an evolution suggests that a social construction is not fixed once and for all; instead, it changes over time, depending on what worldviews states bring into play. The social construction of international politics is also a defining feature of engagement. First, the utility of engagement depends in part on how Washington treats Beijing. According to Ross, ‘if the United States treats China as a partner, then it will not become an enemy’ (Ross 1999, p. 188). Conversely, ‘[e]‌nmity would become a self-​fulfilling prophecy’ should Washington treat Beijing as an adversary, as Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Nye put it in 1995 (Nye 1995). To analyze engagement thus requires a process-​based ontology. Second, engagement becomes socially constructed when Beijing accepts liberal rules or norms, whatever the means deployed by Washington (argumentative persuasion or rhetorical coercion). To the extent that engagement is indicative of a Kantian culture of anarchy, its rules or norms should be intersubjectively held between Washington and Beijing. Engagement is thus an intersubjective politics. To analyze social construction processes and their change over time, I use a constructivism that sees states as both social and strategic. To put norms and rationality in opposition to each other, as optimistic constructivists tend to do, is not helpful in explaining change (in this case, in the degree of Chinese compliance: signing the CTBT but then refusing to ratify it in retaliation for US non-​ratification). In fact, few constructivists hold that the logic of appropriateness is definitional to constructivism. Such a definition leaves little room for agent initiatives taken to construct and reconstruct international politics. Only when states have consequentialist logics will social constructions change. Indeed, Finnemore and Sikkink (1998) integrate norms and rationality into an analytical framework in order to describe a process they call ‘strategic social construction’. Note that I  am not defining constructivism in terms of the (re)constitution of state identity or interests. Doing so would fit into a liberal-​constructivist approach that suggests a role for norms in socializing states. In this chapter, the social construction of international

128

Coercive Engagement

politics occurs when the target accepts the norms promoted by ‘norm entrepreneurs’ but it does not require that the former has become socialized or internalized the promoted norms. The target may accept a norm for instrumental reasons, even if over the long term it never becomes convinced of the legitimacy of that norm (eg Krebs and Jackson 2007; Goddard 2008–​9). The constructivism defined and used here has two advantages. First, while liberal constructivisms dismiss power as secondary to the logic of appropriateness, a constructivism that excludes the notion of socialization helps to reveal the role of power in social construction processes. Second, although classical realism pays some attention to power over opinion, it says little about the social construction processes through which ‘agent action becomes social structure, ideas become norms, and the subjective becomes the intersubjective’ (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998, p. 914). The notion of social construction thus distinguishes constructivism from classical realism. While the two approaches have some compatibilities (eg their shared emphases on non-​material factors and sociality), they focus on different aspects of international relations:  power politics and social construction processes, respectively.

Methodology For classical realists, engagement is a form of power politics; for constructivists, engagement is socially constructed. This chapter, by contrast, argues that realist and constructivist variables should be combined in order to explain how engagement works. On the one hand, because classical realism and constructivism hold distinct core concepts, a realist constructivism will not become a redundant framework of analysis. On the other hand, because neither classical realism nor constructivism tells a complete story of international relations, one needs the other in order to study those complex phenomena inexplicable in either realist or constructivist terms. Such synergy constitutes an important step toward what Sil and Katzenstein (2010) call ‘analytic eclecticism’. A way to combine classical realism and constructivism is to stress the coercive use of norms or rhetoric by state actors who endeavour to structure and restructure international politics. To uncover the role of power in engagement, I  avoid two methodological weaknesses associated with liberal-​constructivist approaches. First, I refrain from seeing states’ pro-​social claims or acts as evidence of socialization or internalization. To study socialization or internalization, according to

129

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Krebs and Jackson, rests on ‘a strong specification of the subjective motivations of individuals and [is] thus methodologically intractable’ (Krebs and Jackson 2007, p. 36). A Chinese claim that ceasing nuclear testing is appropriate is never an indicator that engagement has socialized Beijing. Of course, China may be a ‘social state’ once it is trapped in its own commitments to international cooperation. However, one cannot equate a social state with a socialized state, as Johnston (2008) tends to do. A social state can be judged as such in terms of observable behaviour, but to search for a socialized state involves methodologically unanswerable questions about its intentions. When a pro-​social claim or act is mistakenly identified as a sign of socialization (namely, when intentions are inferred from discourses or behaviour), one loses sight of the intervention of power in pro-​socialness. Second, liberal constructivists see persuasion as the main normative mechanism, but their empirical narratives show that what is at work is actually some form of coercion (eg Payne 2001). Crawford and Klotz’s study of anti-​apartheid movements (1999), for example, clearly shows that economic coercion, rather than genuine communication, was conducive to South Africa’s compliance. Similarly, optimistic constructivists associate engagement with socialization but they often portray Beijing as feeling under ‘social pressure’ to comply, social processes as ‘constraining’ Chinese behaviour, and Beijing as sensitive to reputational losses caused by ‘social opprobrium’ (eg Foot 2000; Kent 2007; Johnston 2008). These arguments reflect coercion, rather than persuasion, at work. In other words, optimistic constructivists identify what is actually a coercive process as socialization. Such a misidentification occurs, I  argue, because optimistic constructivists ignore the fact that Beijing often deploys counterarguments in response to international condemnation. In international politics, rhetorical contestations are as common as material ones, such as arms races, diplomatic disputes and economic competition. Social censure produces a pro-​social response only when the target is denied any socially legitimate counterarguments. It is in such a situation that power is embedded in rhetoric. Without examining Chinese counterclaims, optimistic constructivists too quickly assume that Beijing becomes pro-​ social once it is confronted with social pressure. When they mistakenly equate social pressure with socialization, they obscure the role of power. This chapter thus examines Chinese counterclaims and the dynamics of rhetorical contestation. A key question, then, is how to uncover or operationalize the power of rhetoric? According to Baldwin (1985, p. 38), ‘coercion refers to a high degree of constraint on the alternative courses of action’. In the same logic, rhetoric displays coercive power

130

Coercive Engagement

when it leaves the interlocutor ‘without access to the rhetorical materials needed to craft a socially sustainable rebuttal’ (Krebs and Jackson 2007, p. 36). To trace rhetorical power, I use discourse analysis and interpretive methods. I examine what the United States and other members of international institutions said in response to Chinese nuclear testing. I particularly focus on their framing of Chinese testing as contrary to pre-​existing Chinese promises of nuclear disarmament. I also analyze what counterarguments Beijing deployed and how socially legitimate or illegitimate they were. These analyses allow us to examine the rhetorical contestation between ‘international society’ and Beijing. I show that rhetorical traps proved to be coercive when they deprived Beijing of any claims with which to legitimize its testing before international audiences. With respect to data collection, I  search the United Nations Document System for international condemnatory statements issued against Chinese testing. Beijing’s decision making on the CTBT, by contrast, is not clear to outsiders, due to the authoritarian nature of Chinese politics. To overcome this difficulty, I delve into official documents, Chinese-​language magazines, and writings of China’s arms control officials. Of course, rhetoric exerts coercive influence under certain conditions. To investigate its scope conditions, I  use comparative methods. In addition to China’s CTBT signature, I  examine the subsequent Chinese refusal to ratify the treaty. Examining both the success and failure of engagement provides better insights into the  conditions under which rhetorical traps work. Moreover, because  the failure case came immediately after the success one, many factors remained largely constant over such a short span of time, and factors that varied can be identified as the conditions for rhetorical coercion. I  find that, other things being equal, rhetorical traps foreclose legitimate counterclaims from Beijing when ‘international society’ is relatively existent. Conversely, rhetoric becomes less coercive when other states, particularly the United States, become antisocial. Optimistic constructivists may counter-​argue that my comparative analyses exactly suggest that Chinese compliance is dependent upon how strong ‘international society’ is. If social influence is what really matters, then why bother with attention paid to rhetoric? An important case suffices here to suggest that social influence alone is not likely to extract Chinese compliance. The United States and other states have repeatedly urged Beijing to peacefully settle its disputes with Taiwan. However, such social pressure has not been effective, as evidenced by

131

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

the frequent threats made by Beijing to use force against Taiwan. There are two reasons for the Chinese resistance to social pressure, both of which involve the role of rhetoric. First, although Beijing has adopted a ‘peaceful unification’ approach towards Taiwan since the 1980s, it has never relinquished its right to use force to achieve ‘unification’. Any rhetoric of peace will thus never trap Beijing. Second, Beijing invokes the language of sovereignty, counter-​arguing that Taiwan is China’s internal affair and that international interference is illegitimate. In sum, one should pay more attention to rhetorical dynamics than to social pressure alone.

Rhetoric and the CTBT Throughout the 1990s the United States was concerned about China’s arms proliferation activities, in addition to human rights abuses and unfair trade practices. Applying sanctions only twice in 1991 and 1993 (Rennack 1997, p. 203), Washington dealt with the proliferation issue primarily by entangling China in multilateral arms control regimes. By 2000 the American policy had yielded some desirable results: Beijing agreed to observe the guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 1991, signed the Treaty on the Non-​Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1992, joined the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1993, became one of the first states to sign the CTBT in September 1996, and joined the Zangger Committee –​a multilateral organization that monitored nuclear exports  –​in 1997 (Medeiros 2007, p. 2). Of these engagement cases, the conclusion of the CTBT is particularly puzzling. In terms of technological development, China was well behind declared nuclear-​weapon states. When CTBT negotiations began in 1994, the United States had conducted 1,032 nuclear tests; Russia (including the former Soviet Union), 715; France, 191; the United Kingdom, 45; and China, only 39 (Zou 1998, p.  4). At a time when the first four states possessed more advanced nuclear weapons than did Beijing, the CTBT put China in a disadvantageous position as it prohibited Beijing from further nuclear testing, thereby ensuring US nuclear superiority over Beijing. The CTBT case thus presents a puzzle for realists who stress Beijing’s pursuit of material capabilities. The CTBT case is also puzzling in terms of economic incentives and disincentives. During CTBT talks, the United States never transferred dual-​use or civilian nuclear technology to China in exchange for Chinese signature. Although some US technological

132

Coercive Engagement

assistance occurred after Beijing agreed not to export missile systems to Iran or Pakistan, the CTBT case itself involved no US technology transfers to China (Johnston 2008, pp. 111−12). Nor did Washington threaten to use sanctions should Beijing not join CTBT negotiations or sign the treaty. As mentioned earlier, only on two occasions did Washington level sanctions against Beijing for its proliferation activities. Engagement, not sanctions or containment, was the cornerstone of US China policy in the 1990s. The puzzle is thus why US engagement initiatives  –​without invoking coercive material measures and offering side payments  –​ succeeded in prodding Beijing to do something that caused damage to its relative power position. To explain US–​China engagement in the CTBT, I adopt a realist-​constructivist approach. Unlike optimistic constructivists, I focus on the role of rhetoric and its coercive functions.

Background In the 1980s, when China sought to modernize its economy, it believed that one way to attract international investment and foreign technology was to promote its international image and reputation (or face, as the Chinese use the term). With image concerns in mind, Beijing claimed that it would act as a ‘responsible major power’ in international affairs. (While the Chinese term emphasized responsibilities, it also revealed Beijing’s desire to be recognized as a great power.) After the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, however, Beijing was met with international sanctions. To worsen its own image, China conducted other ‘misdeeds’ in the course of its rising, including military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. To break its post-​ Tiananmen isolation and avoid US containment, Beijing sought to reassure other states that it was a responsible major power dedicated to ‘peaceful rise’ or ‘peaceful development’ (Zheng 2005). A crucial dimension of these discursive campaigns was a Chinese commitment to non-​proliferation. As Beijing sought to project its image as a responsible, peace-​loving state, arms control was a key test. At a domestic meeting held in the early 1980s, a number of Chinese officials from various government agencies, including the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), argued that China’s nonproliferation policies should be more cooperative than those adopted during the Maoist era in order to boost China’s image among international audiences (Huang and Song 1987, p.  6). For this reason, Beijing joined the UN Conference of Disarmament (CD) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1980 and 1984, respectively. In 1986, it

133

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

also pledged to abide by the Limited Test Ban Treaty prohibiting atmospheric nuclear tests. Even after Tiananmen, it acceded to the NPT in 1992 out of fear of becoming the lone holdout after France had agreed to sign the treaty in 1991 (Medeiros 2007, p. 74). In May 1995 NPT parties held a conference on the review and extension of the treaty. They reached three important conclusions, to which Beijing assented, though reluctantly. First, the NPT, rather than being extended for an additional 25-​year period (as preferred by Beijing), would remain in force indefinitely. Second, in the spirit of Article VI of the NPT, which stipulated that signatories should ‘pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to … nuclear disarmament’, NPT parties agreed to complete negotiations on a CTBT ‘no later than 1996’. Third, pending the entry into force of a CTBT, all the nuclear powers should ‘exercise utmost restraint’ with respect to nuclear testing (UN Doc. CD/​PV.708, 15 June 1995, 15). In November 1995 Beijing released its first White Paper on arms control and disarmament. It claimed that its attitude towards the issue was ‘proactive, sincere, and responsible’ (emphasis added). It also reaffirmed its commitments to the NPT, the treaty’s indefinite extension, and the conclusion of a CTBT, stressing these commitments as the ‘responsibilities’ it would bear (State Council 2005).

Rhetorical dynamics By 1996, however, US engagement initiatives could not curb Chinese testing. During CTBT talks (between January 1994 and August 1996), Beijing carried out seven nuclear tests. Particularly provocative to international audiences was the one conducted on 15 May 1995, less than two days after the end of the NPT Review and Extension Conference, and before delegates departed. Three months later, Beijing carried out another test. Chinese tests came under attack during CD sessions. Other member states argued that any tests flew in the face of the commitments Beijing had made to nuclear disarmament. This charge was particularly widespread after the two tests conducted in 1995. The United States, for example, ‘deeply regrets this [Chinese] action, coming only days after the successful conclusion of the NPT Extension Conference in New York where China agreed to exercise “utmost restraint” in nuclear testing’. In 1993 the United States had voluntarily extended a moratorium on nuclear testing. Without conducting its own tests in retaliation for Chinese ones, the United States now urged Chinese

134

Coercive Engagement

leaders to act on their own publicly declared pledges (See UN Doc. CD/​1315, 2 June 1995). Similarly, New Zealand argued that nuclear testing ‘runs counter to China’s responsibility as a major Power … There can be no justification for any testing, especially now that China and the other nuclear weapons States have agreed to a deadline’ for a CTBT (See UN Doc. CD/​1318, 8 June 1995). Switzerland also felt ‘disappointed’ at China’s violation of its own disarmament promises. ‘[T]‌here is at least a moral incompatibility between the resumption of nuclear tests and the commitments entered into in New York’ (UN Doc. CD/​PV.709, 22 June 1995, 13). Furthermore, some states criticized Beijing as insincere. Austria, for example, argued that ‘[o]ne of the unfortunate consequences of China’s decision to continue testing is that nations … will question the sincerity’ of Chinese leaders (UN Doc. CD/​PV.714, 17 August 1995, 17). Such a charge was also raised by Norway, Ireland, Belgium, German, Canada, Chile, Argentina and the Philippines (See UN Docs. CD/​PV.683, 23 June 1994, 3; CD/​PV.708, 15 June 1995, 18; CD/​1319, 15 June 1995, 2; CD/​PV.714, 17 August 1995, 13; CD/​PV.708, 15 June 1995, 15; CD/​1342, 24 August 1995, 2; CD/​ 1314, 31 May 1995; CD/​1344, 28 August 1995). Of course, other charges were also raised during CD sessions, but framing Chinese tests as contradictory to what Beijing had promised was the most significant. Of all the accusations levelled against China, 5 per cent centred on the possibility of creating a new arms race; 20 per cent on China’s violation of international preferences; 33 per cent on the possibility of obstructing the CTBT negotiation process; and, most importantly, 42 per cent on Chinese inconsistency between words and deeds (Johnston 2008, p.  14). As Johnston observed of international condemnation, Beijing was primarily ‘accused of moral hypocrisy and of behavior inconsistent with its (nascent) identity as a responsible major power’ (Johnston 2008, p. 14). Confronted with the charges of hypocrisy, Beijing countered that it had conducted the smallest number of tests among the five nuclear powers. Utmost restraint, Beijing argued, by no means meant zero tests, and the comparison in number among the big five indicated that China had acted with greatest restraint (UN Doc. CD/​PV.683, 23 June 1994, 24). For Beijing, the small number of Chinese tests was not inconsistent with its promise of utmost restraint. Beijing also sought to point out American hypocrisy, saying that the United States had conducted the largest number of tests and offered its allies a nuclear umbrella. For Beijing, any US criticism of Chinese tests amounted to a double standard. As Chinese Ambassador to the CD Sha Zukang

135

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

declaimed, ‘the United States is not qualified to point its finger at China’s extremely limited number of nuclear tests’ (UN Doc. CD/​ PV.724, 8 February 1996, 26). These two counterclaims were true in terms of the numbers of American and Chinese tests but they lost much of their persuasiveness when Beijing repeatedly conducted its own tests in the course of CTBT negotiations. Every time a Chinese test was reported, non-​nuclear-​ weapon states laid their blame on Beijing rather than Washington. Their blame was particularly compelling when Washington had refrained from retaliating via further testing. Alternatively, Beijing could admit openly its insincerity. Although most Chinese leaders were reform minded after China opened its door in the 1980s, nationalism and realpolitik ideologies were not missing in their minds. For them, nuclear weapons were necessary for enhancing national prestige and bargaining leverage. Moreover, Beijing became increasingly suspicious that Washington was enforcing a containment strategy against China. Beijing thus concluded that keeping strong nuclear arsenals was essential to ensuring China’s territorial integrity and defence against foreign invasions (Garrett and Glaser 1995/​6, pp. 44−9). In an interview, for example, Sha echoed Mao Zedong’s hard-​line doctrine that ‘China cannot renounce nuclear weapons if we wish to resist foreign bullyism’ (Zhong 2000, p. 36). Admitting insincerity, however, was not feasible because Beijing was also concerned about its reputation. While Beijing sought to delegitimize US criticism and insisted on its sovereign rights to develop nuclear arsenals, international opinion that called on Beijing to make good on its promises resonated with leaders who sought to restore China’s international reputation. From a Chinese perspective, an act inconsistent with existing commitments would create serious repercussions among international audiences. Indeed, Beijing never articulated any anti-​social counterclaim when faced with international reproaches. To the contrary, Beijing proposed a face-​saving claim, arguing that it ‘fully respects and understands’ international concerns about its nuclear testing (UN Doc. CD/​PV.683, 23 June 1994, 25). It also sought to reassure other states that ‘there is no ground to feel such concern about China’s nuclear tests’ (UN Doc. CD/​PV.733, 28 March 1996, 25). These pro-​social claims, however, fell far short of explaining away international censure. Beijing needed more than rhetoric to convince other states of its ‘peaceful rise’ discourses. Left without any claims in justification of nuclear testing, Beijing was caught in a bind created by hypocrisy charges. Consequently, it

136

Coercive Engagement

conceded the legitimacy of international opprobrium. In explaining Beijing’s signature to the CTBT, one member of the Chinese delegation who later held a visiting position at Stanford University repeatedly stressed that Beijing put much weight on the match between words and deeds. ‘Signing the CTBT was in line with China’s consistent stand’ (emphasis added) on nuclear disarmament. In reference to the Chinese promise of ‘utmost restraint,’ the Chinese official admitted that ‘[t]‌he May 15, 1995, test inflicted the most political damage on China’. For Beijing, appearing inconsistent (namely, making that promise while at the same time carrying out nuclear tests) had undermined its self-​ proclaimed image as a responsible major power. Ultimately, ‘[t]he necessity of maintaining its international image was a reason for China’s decision to adjust its position on the CTBT negotiations’ (Zou 1998).

Post-​signature developments As pointed out earlier, there was an international consensus, particularly among non-​nuclear-​armed states, on a CTBT during the period of negotiation. Another driving force was that the United States, as one of the architects and champions of nuclear disarmament, never adopted a tit-​for-​tat approach towards Chinese tests. Although France carried out nuclear tests in 1995, it soon agreed to negotiate a CTBT. Therefore, it was in the presence of an anti-​nuclear community of nations that rhetorical traps denied Beijing any socially legitimate rebuttals. After the CTBT signature, however, the normative environment changed in a way that upset US efforts to engage (or entrap) Beijing. In no small part, the change was of US making. In 1999, the Republican-​controlled Congress rejected the Clinton Administration’s call for ratifying the CTBT. Worse yet, the treaty was met with opposition from the subsequent Bush Administration. The Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, conducted in 1998, had little to do with US action, but the United States, while opposing Pakistan, only raised mild criticism of India. In 2006 Washington even agreed to transfer dual-​use nuclear technology to India (Hayes 2009). To the extent that ‘international society’ had existed before the CTBT signature, it began to decline afterwards. These US-​led (or -​related) events have presented a major obstacle to Beijing’s ratification of the CTBT (Beijing has yet to ratify it as of 2019). While cohesive social pressure foreclosed Chinese counterclaims to the CTBT signature, US opposition to ratification has allowed Beijing to justify its own refusal to ratify it, even though Beijing has refrained from recommencing nuclear testing. In 2014, for example, Sha argued that

137

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

‘were the U.S. to ratify the treaty, China would definitely follow’. He also criticized American inconsistency: ‘The U.S. should undertake its responsibility earnestly … In recent years, the Obama Administration has made some positive commitments on ratification, but it is actions that count’ (Sha 2014). Of course, Beijing has suffered some image costs of non-​ratification. The Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, for example, accused Beijing of using the American opposition as a pretext for not ratifying the treaty (Kent 2007, p. 97). However, the fact that Beijing has blamed the American side indicates that Beijing is more inclined to justify its non-​conformism and less constrained by its own commitments. Other arms control-​related cases indicate that American reciprocity, or lack thereof, largely determines the degree of Chinese compliance. In the 1990s, for example, US leaders painstakingly urged Beijing to curb its missile sales to Iran, Pakistan, Syria, and so on. In 1991 Beijing agreed to MTCR guidelines, as mentioned earlier. However, Washington repeatedly detected evidence that Beijing had violated its MTCR promises. Arguably, the Chinese violation was of US making: the United States had been the largest supplier of weapons to the Middle East. Of particular concern to Beijing was US arms sales to Taiwan. In 1992 President George H. W. Bush sold 150 F-​16 fighter jets to Taiwan. Therefore, any US demand that Beijing end its missile sales to America’s adversaries was viewed cynically by Beijing. Indeed, Beijing counter-​argued that US arms sales to Taiwan were a form of proliferation no different from Chinese ones to America’s adversaries. Just as US arms sales to Taiwan helped the island balance against China, so too Chinese ones to Pakistan created a military balance vis-​à-​vis India (Medeiros 2007, p. 136). Because America and China held opposing understandings of arms control, US engagement initiatives proved to be a dialogue of the deaf. (Beijing has yet to join the MTCR as of 2019.) These cases suggest one important implication for US China policy. If Washington seeks to engage or entrap Beijing, it needs to act first as a role model for China, as it did during CTBT talks. Although it is social cohesion that renders a rhetorical trap effective, how Washington acts will have a significant effect on how cohesive the international system is. If Washington free-​r ides on the efforts of other states (as it did after the conclusion of the CTBT), it will undermine the formation of an international ‘united front’. In such a situation, American hypocrisy will become a target of Chinese criticism, and any international condemnation of Chinese hypocrisy will become less coercive.

138

Coercive Engagement

Conclusion In comparison with liberal constructivisms, a realist-​constructivist approach to analyzing US engagement with China has two advantages. First, it shows that engagement exerts coercive rather than communicative or socializing forces. In the eyes of optimistic constructivists, a policy of isolation will leave Washington few viable means of influencing Beijing, and the United States has ‘a far greater chance of having a positive influence on China’s actions if we welcome China into the world community’, as President Bill Clinton (2000) stressed. However, I  argue that engagement is ironically rooted in the exercise of power (in a rhetorical rather than material form). If Washington continues down the path of engagement, it will likely extract Chinese commitments step by step and eventually make Beijing a prisoner of its own rhetoric, especially when the United States itself remains pro-​social. US power, from a realist-​constructivist perspective, inheres in a seemingly communicative process of engagement. Viewed in this way, a US discourse on China that appears persuasive is actually ‘trapful’. In 2005, for example, Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick delivered a speech on China. He urged China to act as a ‘responsible stakeholder’ in the international system. While he used the word stakeholder instead of major power as used by Beijing, he nonetheless appealed to pre-​existing Chinese commitments to responsibilities. He also argued that the ‘idea of a “peaceful rise” will spur vibrant debate. The world will look to the evidence of actions’ (Zoellick 2005). While liberal constructivists would regard what Zoellick said as communicative, realist constructivists would argue that it conveyed a warning to Beijing that talk would carry costs if Beijing reneged on its promises of responsibilities and a peaceful rise. To the extent that China is too big to free-​r ide on the global commons, other states will expect Beijing to take more responsibilities. Then, social expectations about appropriate Chinese behaviour are not soft but rather put some degree of pressure on Beijing. In the course of engagement, power may also be exercised by Beijing. In addition to ignoring the power-​laden process contributing to the success of engagement, optimistic constructivists assume that engagement is a one-​way process in which the United States remains a teacher vis-​à-​vis Beijing. Although they notice that US engagement initiatives spread norms to China, they imply that Washington is immune from any teaching from Beijing. A realist constructivism, by contrast, holds that engagement is a two-​way or reciprocal process.

139

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

While engagement exerts coercive influence on China, Beijing may also apply a feedback effect on Washington. As Goddard pointed out in 2008/​9, US leaders might find it difficult to oppose China’s economic activities in US spheres of influence if Beijing justified its economic expansionism by appealing to free trade norms. How could Washington legitimately oppose China’s economic involvement in the rest of the world when it had championed free trade principles? (Goddard 2008/​9, p. 141). Whether or to what extent Washington will fall into Chinese traps is outside the scope of this study, but a realist constructivism certainly refuses to view the United States as exogenous to China’s attempts at rhetorical coercion. A second analytical advantage is that a realist constructivism challenges the liberal-​constructivist view that the norms carried by engagement are transhistorical or progressive. Due to their emphasis on socialization or internalization, optimistic constructivists assume that there is little chance engagement will change directions once it hooks Beijing up to the liberal world order. In their view, the development of engagement is linear, and norms will endure for an extended period of time. A  realist constructivism, by contrast, suggests that neither engagement nor norms will likely be institutionalized. As this chapter has shown, although the United States took the lead in the conclusion of the CTBT, domestic politics has prevented it from ratifying the treaty. Beijing then has retaliated in kind, although no further Chinese tests have occurred. Consequently, US–​China engagement in the CTBT has not been completed, nor has Beijing internalized CTBT norms. Instead, how Beijing responds to CTBT norms depends on what Washington does. As Kent argues, ‘its [China’s] current compliance will not guarantee its cooperation in the future under changed international circumstances’ (Kent 2007, p. 97). In other words, Chinese compliance is contextually contingent. A realist constructivism is not without limitations, however. This chapter focuses on the 1990s, when China was in the early stage of rising. Since then, by contrast, China has become more and more powerful, especially under the leadership of Xi Jinping. Therefore, whether the United States and its allies can still trap Beijing in its own commitments seems to be an open question. The South China Sea is a case in point. In 2002 Beijing signed a declaration with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) states on a code of conduct but it has recently adopted a series of revisionist policies. With an interest in the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, the United States has criticized Beijing for violating its promise but Beijing seems not to be deterred by any hypocrisy charges. Therefore, the utility of

140

Coercive Engagement

rhetorical coercion seems to be contextually contingent, as is Chinese compliance. It seems to decrease with the increase in China’s material power. Future research, I would like to suggest, should examine the relationships between rhetorical coercion and material power. This mission will offer a more complete understanding of when and under what conditions rhetoric works. References Baldwin, David A. (1971) ‘The Power of Positive Sanctions’. World Politics 24: 19–​38. Baldwin, David A. (1985) Economic Statecraft. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Barkin, J. Samuel (2010) Realist Constructivism: Rethinking International Relations Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press. Barnett, Michael and Raymond Duvall (2005) ‘Power in International Politics’. International Organization 59: 39–​75. Bernstein, Richard and Ross H. Munro (1997) The Coming Conflict with China. New York: A.A. Knopf. Bially Matter n, Janice (2005) ‘Why “Soft Power” Isn’t So Soft: Representational Force and the Sociolinguistic Construction of Attraction in World Politics’. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 33: 583–​612. Carr, Edward Hallett (1961) The Twenty Years Crisis 1919−1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations. London: Macmillan. Clinton, William (2000) ‘Remarks at the Paul H.  Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, March 8, 2000’. Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents 36: 487−93. Crawford, Neta C. and Audie Klotz (1999) ‘How Sanctions Work: A Framework for Analysis’, in Crawford and Klotz, eds., How Sanctions Work: Lessons from South Africa. New York: St Martin’s Press. Dahl, Robert A. (1957) ‘The Concept of Power’. Behavioral Science 2: 201–​15. Deudney, Daniel and G. John Ikenberry (2009) ‘Myth of the Autocratic Revival:  Why Liberal Democracy Will Prevail’. Foreign Affairs 88: 77−93. Economy, Elizabeth and Michel Oksenberg, eds. (1999) China Joins the World:  Progress and Prospects. New  York:  Council on Foreign Relations Press. Finnemore, Martha (1993) ‘International Organizations as Teachers of Norms:  The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and Science Policy’. International Organization 47: 565–​97.

141

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

Finnemore, Martha and Kathryn Sikkink (1988) ‘International Norm Dynamics and Political Change’. International Organization 52: 887−917. Friedberg, Aaron L. (2000) ‘The Struggle for Mastery in Asia’. Commentary 110: 17−26. Friedberg, Aaron L. (2005) ‘The Future of U.S.-​China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?’ International Security 30: 7−45. Foot, Rosemary (2000) Rights beyond Borders: The Global Community and the Struggle over Human Rights in China. New  York:  Oxford University Press. Garrett, Banning N. and Bonnie S. Glaser (1995/​6 ) ‘Chinese Perspectives on Nuclear Arms Control’. International Security 20: 44−9. Goddard, Stacie E. (2008/​9) ‘When Right Makes Might: How Prussia Overturned the European Balance of Power’. International Security 33: 110−42. Hayes, Jarrod (2009) ‘Identity and Securitization in the Democratic Peace:  The United States and the Divergence of Response to India and Iran’s Nuclear Programs’. International Studies Quarterly 53: 977–​99. Huang, Tingwei and Baoxian Song (1987) ‘Special Characteristics of the Current International Disarmament Struggle and Policy Proposals’, in China and the International Arms Control Struggle, published by China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. Beijing: Shishi Publishing House (in Chinese). Ikenberry, G. John (2008a) ‘The Rise of China and the Future of the West’. Foreign Affairs 87: 23−37. Ikenberry, G. John (2008b) ‘The Rise of China: Power, Institutions, and the Western Order’, in Robert S.  Ross and Zhu Feng, eds., China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and the Future of International Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Johnston, Alastair Iain (1995) Cultural Realism:  Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History. Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press. Johnston, Alastair Iain (2008) Social States:  China in International Institutions, 1980−2000. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Kent, Ann (2007) Beyond Compliance: China, International Organizations, and Global Security. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Kirshner, Jonathan (2010) ‘The Tragedy of Offensive Realism: Classical Realism and the Rise of China’. European Journal of International Relations 18: 53–​75. Klotz, Audie (1995) Norms in International Relations: The Struggle against Apartheid. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

142

Coercive Engagement

Krebs, Ronald R. and Patrick Thaddeus Jackson (2007) ‘Twisting Tongues and Twisting Arms:  The Power of Political Rhetoric’. European Journal of International Relations 13: 35−66. Krebs, Ronald R. and Jennifer K. Lobasz (2007) ‘Fixing the Meaning of 9/​11: Hegemony, Coercion, and the Road to War in Iraq’. Security Studies 16: 409–​45. Lynch, Marc (2002) ‘Why Engage? China and the Logic of Communicative Engagement’. European Journal of International Relations 8: 187–​230. Mearsheimer, John J. (2001) The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: Norton. Medeiros, Evan S. (2007) Reluctant Restraint:  The Evolution of China’s Nonproliferation Policies and Practices, 1980–​2004. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Nye, Joseph S. (1995) ‘East Asian Security:  The Case for Deep Engagement’. Foreign Affairs 74: 90−102. Payne, Rodger A. (2001) ‘Persuasion, Frames and Norm Construction’. European Journal of International Relations 7: 37−61. Rennack, Dianne E. (1997) China:  U.S. Economic Sanctions (CRS Report for Congress). Washington, DC:  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Ross, Robert S. (1999) ‘Engagement in US China Policy’, in Alastair Iain Johnston and Robert S.  Ross, eds., Engaging China:  The Management of an Emerging Power. New York: Routledge. Ruggie, John Gerard (1982) ‘International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order’. International Organization 36: 379–​415. Schimmelfennig, Frank (2003) The EU, NATO and the Integration of Europe: Rules and Rhetoric. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schweller, Randall L. (1999) ‘Managing the Rise of Great Powers: History and Theory’, in Alastair Iain Johnston and Robert S. Ross, eds., Engaging China: The Management of an Emerging Power. New York: Routledge. Sha, Zukang (2014) ‘The Entry into Force of the CTBT:  The Chinese Perspective’. Available at: www.europeanleadershipnetwork. org/ ​ c ommentar y/ ​ t he- ​ e ntr y- ​ i nto- ​ f orce-​ o f-​ t he-​ c tbt-​ t he​chinese-​perspective/​ Sil, Rudra and Peter J. Katzenstein (2010) Beyond Paradigms: Analytic Eclecticism in the Study of World Politics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

143

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

State Council (2005) White Paper  –​ China:  Arms Control and Disarmament. Beijing:  Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. Available at: https://​fas.org/​nuke/​ guide/​china/​doctrine/​wparms.htm Voeten, Erik (2005) ‘The Political Origins of the UN Security Council’s Ability to Legitimize the Use of Force’. International Organization 59: 527−57. Waltz, Kenneth (2000) ‘Structural Realism After the Cold War’. International Security 25: 5−41. Wendt, Alexander (1992) ‘Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics’. International Organization 46: 391−425. Wendt, Alexander (1999) Social Theory of International Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press. Zheng, Bijian (2005) ‘China’s “Peaceful Rise” to Great-​Power Status’. Foreign Affairs 84: 18−24. Zhong, Daoyi (2000) ‘CTBT: Sha Zukang and the Negotiations’. The History of the Chinese Communist Party 10: 36 (in Chinese). Zoellick, Robert B. (2005) Whither China:  From Membership to Responsibility? Remarks to National Committee on U.S.-​China Relations, New York City, 21 September. Available at: https://2​ 001-​ 2009.state.gov/​s/​d/​former/​zoellick/​rem/​53682.htm Zou, Yunhua (1998) China and the CTBT Negotiations. Draft paper, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University.

144

7

Taking Co-​constitution Seriously: Explaining an Ambiguous US Approach to Latin America Justin O. Delacour In the study of international relations (IR), there tends to be little discussion of the fact that different theoretical camps have deeply contrasting assumptions about the relationships between Western cultures and states. One commonly unstated assumption of neorealism is that states are able to manage their nations’ discourses about foreign affairs in such a way as to assure that officials enjoy considerable autonomy from their societies in making foreign policy decisions (eg Waltz 2000). Conversely, liberals and mainstream constructivists assume that the cultural identities and discourses of a Western society are largely independent of the state and therefore exert great pressure on the state to abide by its professedly liberal norms, even where strict adherence to a liberal foreign policy course could impede the state’s ability to achieve its immediate strategic objectives (Doyle 1983; Owen 1994; Kahl 1998; Russett and Oneal 2001; Hayes 2012). However, this study posits that the external behaviours of the pre-​ eminent Western power are much more ambiguous than mainstream IR theories predict because none of the mainstream camps have an accurate conception of the relations between Western cultures and states. On the one hand, neorealists fail to explain how the culture of a Western power will tend to discourage the state from behaving in ways that are openly dissonant with the core symbols of its professed liberalism. On the other hand, contrary to Doyle’s liberal postulate

145

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

that the cultures of liberal republics help ‘ensure that the officials of republics act according to the principles they profess to be just’, it is fairly commonplace for Western media to facilitate their states’ casual deviations from a liberal foreign policy course by obfuscating the existence of such deviations (Doyle 2005, p. 464). For the purposes of this study, casual deviations from a Western power’s professed liberalism will be defined as actions that are at least partially illiberal but do not readily appear to be incongruent with the minimal trappings of democracy promotion. The inability of most contemporary IR theories to explain the ambiguousness of a Western power’s foreign policies is primarily rooted in the binary logic of the debate about culture, according to which theorists either conceive of the state as autonomous from the cultural environment or treat culture as autonomous from the state (and therefore a force that consistently brings pressure on the state to adhere to its professed principles). To solve the puzzle of a Western power’s ambiguous foreign policies, we must abandon such binary logic and explore the practical implications of co-​constitution, according to which state interests and cultural identities mutually shape each other and can never be fully autonomous from each other. However, instead of drawing exclusively upon constructivist research, this study looks to the works of classical realists for guidance on how we can more adequately theorize the tensions between the two sides of co-​constitution and their practical effects on US foreign relations.

Towards a realist-​constructivist approach The classical realist theologian Reinhold Niebuhr effectively presaged a realist-​constructivist conception of co-​constitution when he posited that ‘politics will, to the end of history, be an area where conscience and power meet, where the ethical and coercive factors of human life will interpenetrate and work out their tentative and uneasy compromises’ (Niebuhr 1932, p. 4). In essence, this study’s realist-​ constructivist approach is one that unifies the constructivist postulate of the co-​constitution of interests and identities with the classical realists’ emphasis upon the profound tensions between the two sides of co-​constitution (Barkin 2003; Barkin 2010). One side of co-​ constitution –​the interest-​centred side –​involves the ways that states shape cultural discourses, identities and norms so as to facilitate their pursuit of power (Carr 1940; Morgenthau 1950; Oren 1995; Barkin 2003; Oren 2003; Barkin 2010). The other side of co-​constitution –​ the identity-​centred side –​involves the ways that cultural identities

146

TAKING CO-​CONSTITUTION SERIOUSLY

and norms simultaneously shape public discourses in such a way as to constrain the behaviours of states (Doyle 1983; Owen 1994; Russett and Oneal 2001; Barkin 2003; Barkin 2010; Hayes 2012). In the words of Barkin, a realist-​constructivist approach calls upon us to ‘look at the way in which power structures affect patterns of normative change in international relations and, conversely, the way in which a particular set of norms affect power structures’ (Barkin 2003, p. 337). This chapter’s realist-​constructivist approach is predicated upon six basic assumptions. The first assumption is that states pursue power in the world, not just as a means of ensuring their security but also of expanding commercial opportunities for national firms, promoting their value systems, and enhancing their prestige. The second assumption is that, to effectively pursue power in the world, a state must depict itself as doing so in the name of a broadly shared set of ideals. As the classical realists E. H. Carr and Hans Morgenthau posited, a state must portray its quest for power as a pursuit of ethics because doing so is necessary to uphold national morale and to limit resistance to its exercise of power abroad by convincing domestic and foreign publics that it does not exercise power arbitrarily and capriciously (Carr 1940; Morgenthau 1950). The third assumption is that there is constant tension between a state’s perceived need to portray all its foreign policies as consistent with its professed principles and the fact that some of the state’s immediate objectives are not fully reconcilable with such principles. The fourth assumption is that, for a state to effectively pursue objectives that partially conflict with its professed ethics, it must distort the ethical dimension of the issues at hand in such a way as to portray its objectives as fully in keeping with its purported principles. The fifth assumption is that a state’s narratives will influence the national culture’s discourses in such a way that the culture will commonly facilitate the state’s casual deviations from its professed principles by obfuscating the existence of such deviations. Lastly, the sixth assumption derives from Carr’s observations about the limits of a state’s ‘power over opinion’ (see Carr 1940, pp. 184–​5). While a state can influence cultural discourse in such a way as to obfuscate subtle deviations from its professed principles, there is a tipping point at which the level of deviation begins to exceed what could be effectively concealed and starts eliciting some measure of cultural backlash. In sum, the six assumptions of the realist-​constructivist approach lead us to the expectation of an ambiguous pattern, whereby the dominant culture of a Western power will discourage blatant transgressions of the state’s professed principles but encourage casual deviations that the

147

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

state is already tempted to embark upon in its pursuit of its strategic and commercial interests. Hence, a realist-​constructivist approach suggests that the policy implications of co-​constitution are also ambiguous. On the one hand, a Western power is likely to abide by its professed principles where deviations would be too obvious to conceal or where compliance with its professed principles is not at cross-​purposes with the pursuit of key strategic and commercial objectives. On the other hand, the Western power will deviate from its professed principles where a strictly principled approach would impede its ability to achieve key immediate goals and the deviation is subtle enough to allow state officials to largely conceal it by means of their influence over cultural identities and discourses. In other words, this study suggests that, by incorporating the insights of classical realists into a theory of co-​constitution, we can overcome the problem whereby the contemporary IR sub-​field has largely failed to explain the ambiguousness of a Western power’s foreign policy commitments. Conventional IR approaches take into consideration only one side of co-​constitution and thereby overlook the tensions between the different sides. Liberals and mainstream constructivists privilege the roles of political institutions and cultural identities in constraining the behaviours of Western states, ignoring how such states’ quests for power also shape cultural discourses and identities in ways that often facilitate casual deviations from the states’ professed principles. Thus, while liberals and mainstream constructivists can partially explain why a Western state will sometimes abide by its professed principles, such theorists cannot adequately explain why the state will also sometimes deviate from its professed ethics. Conversely, most structural realists’ only assumption about culture is that states shape cultural discourses in such a way as to facilitate their pursuit of power and security (eg Kreisler 2002). Thus, while neorealists can partially explain why states sometimes deviate from their professed principles, they cannot explain how a Western culture will tend to discourage blatant transgressions of the state’s professed ethics. In contrast, a focus upon both sides of co-​constitution leads us to the insight that Western cultures are fundamentally Janus faced and that their impact upon foreign policy tends to be mixed. On the one hand, Western cultures do constrain the behaviours of their states insofar as certain cultural identities and norms render it difficult for Western states to conceal blatant transgressions of their professed principles. On the other hand, the ability of Western states to shape cultural discourses in such a way as to obfuscate subtle deviations from their

148

TAKING CO-​CONSTITUTION SERIOUSLY

professed ethics reinforces the impulses of such states to casually stray from their professed principles when and where they perceive that doing so will serve their interests. However, this study’s approach does not postulate that the tensions between a Western power’s interests and identities will manifest themselves in precisely the same ways across time and space. Rather, I contend that a realist-​constructivist explanation of a state’s external behaviours must pay special attention to the degree to which the regional and geostrategic context either obscures or highlights the state’s deviations from its professed ethics. Whether a Western power’s deviations from liberal norms will be obvious or inconspicuous depends to a significant degree upon the regional and geostrategic context in which it operates. Accordingly, the degree to which a Western power is likely to deviate from (or abide by) its professed principles also depends in part upon the regional and geostrategic context. In a Western power’s approach to a region where there is little tradition of democracy, the regional context will tend to encourage more extensive departures from liberal norms by augmenting the plausibility of the claim that the state can do little to promote democratization in a region with little tradition of it. Similarly, during the intense superpower competition of the early Cold War, the geostrategic context often obscured radical US departures from a liberal foreign policy course by making it seem plausible that such transgressions were in defence of the free world against an existential threat to Western institutions. In contrast, in a regional and geostrategic context in which there is a significant democratic tradition and no rival superpower to point to as an existential threat, it becomes more difficult for a Western power to obfuscate extensive departures from a liberal foreign policy course. Nevertheless, this study will seek to illustrate that, even in a contemporary regional and geostrategic context that has narrowed the bounds within which a Western power can safely deviate from liberal norms, the tensions between its interests and identities will continue to produce discursive environments that commonly facilitate casual deviations from the Western power’s professed liberalism. In seeking to evaluate the study’s explanation of US–​Latin American relations, I (1) review scholarly research about the American state’s approaches towards Venezuela in the early years of Hugo Chávez’s presidency and (2)  compare official and media discourses about Venezuela to such discourses about other Latin American countries. Upon comparatively analyzing both the American state’s approaches to Venezuela and US cultural discourses about it, we will begin to see how the state’s interests and the culture’s identities mutually shaped each other in the process of

149

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

moulding the state’s fundamentally ambiguous approach to Venezuela in the period surrounding the failed coup of 2002.

The centrality of casual deviations In the external relations of a Western power, casual deviations from the state’s professed principles are much more common than blatant transgressions of them because casual deviations do not constitute attacks upon the core symbols of the state’s professed liberalism. In other words, a Western power is more likely to embark upon casual (rather than blatant) deviations from its professed liberalism because casual deviations pose relatively little risk of being detected and eliciting cultural backlashes. This chapter focuses upon the core symbols of one central component of the American state’s professed liberalism: its stated commitment to democracy promotion. The core symbols of such a commitment are: • the state’s support of competitive elections of a nation’s political representatives; • the state’s promotion of the basic tenet that countries should have an executive, legislative and judicial branch of government; and • the state’s support of the principle that states should respect basic freedoms of speech and assembly. In the context of contemporary US–​Latin American relations, US journalists would come under some pressure to scrutinize US actions that are blatantly inconsistent with the core symbols of democracy promotion, for the obviousness of the discrepancy would place cultural elites in a position in which failure to acknowledge it could call their credibility into question. For example, if the American state were to unconditionally support a Latin American leader who had plainly jettisoned the core symbols of democracy, such an action would place some pressure on cultural elites to take note of such an obvious breach of the state’s professed principles. Hence, a Western power will likely be reluctant to blatantly deviate from a liberal foreign policy course out of fear that obvious transgressions will elicit increased cultural resistance to the state. Conversely, the leaders of a Western power will tend to have little reason to be concerned that their casual deviations from a liberal foreign policy course will draw significant cultural scrutiny because casual transgressions will not appear to be dissonant with the core symbols of the state’s professed ethics. In contemporary US–​Latin

150

TAKING CO-​CONSTITUTION SERIOUSLY

American relations, casual deviations will tend to fit within two basic categories. The first such category includes the Western power’s common indifference to the actions of strategic allies that are at least partially illiberal but do not constitute attacks upon the core symbols of democracy. Such indifference diminishes pressure on allies to consistently adhere to liberal norms. The second main category of casual deviations entails the ambiguous signals that the Western power’s officials sometimes convey to potential coup plotters in Latin America, whereby the state’s postures cue actors that it might not actively oppose some extra-​constitutional overthrows of elected rivals (Thyne 2010). Such ambiguous signals constitute deviations from a liberal foreign policy course insofar as they increase the probability of coups and thereby jeopardize the institutionalization and consolidation of liberal-​democratic norms in the region. There are two main reasons why casual transgressions do not tend to elicit significant cultural resistance. First, a Western state’s positions and narratives will commonly influence cultural discourses in such a way that the state’s casual deviations do not appear as deviations. The primary ways that the American state can conceal casual deviations from its professed liberalism is to use its cultural authority to cue the society’s major news organizations to downplay the illiberal behaviours of allies and to exaggerate the undemocratic characteristics of rivals (Herman and Chomsky 1988; Pedelty 1995). When the state’s executive branch successfully cues mass media to depict partially illiberal allies as committed democrats, the state’s legislative branch and attentive publics will have less capacity to recognize that a definitively liberal approach to such allies would require that the state be more scrutinizing of their political practices. Similarly, when the state’s executive branch cues media to exaggerate the degree to which elected rivals have violated liberal norms, the state’s legislative branch and attentive publics will have less capacity to detect that the Western state’s failures to discourage coup plots against such rivals will usually be in breach of the state’s professed liberalism. Secondly, the American state’s deviations from its professed liberalism often involve alliances with actors whose breaches of liberal-​democratic norms have not risen to the level of attacks upon the core symbols of democracy. The illiberal behaviours of allies are usually less attention-​grabbing breaches of democratic norms, such as (1) an allied government’s unwillingness to stop its supporters from intimidating and/​or repressing its domestic critics or (2) an allied opposition leader’s clandestine preparations for a coup against a rival government. As long as American officials can point to the fact that an ally has not yet done away with competitive

151

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

elections, presided over a coup, shuttered one of the three branches of government, or abandoned all pretence of respect for the freedoms of speech and assembly, major media will typically defer to the state’s narrative that the ally is committed to liberal norms.

A realist-​constructivist approach to the study of press–​state relations The relationship between a Western power’s culture and the state is perhaps best summed up by Bennett and Livingston’s notion that news organizations are only ‘semi-​independent’ of the state. The concept of semi-​independence uniquely captures the tensions between the two sides of co-​constitution (Bennett and Livingston 2003, p. 359). In the process of shaping public discourse about the political life of foreign peoples, leading journalists tend to play an intermediary role between the ideal of objective journalism and the positions and discourses of leading officials. On the one hand, cultural elites and attentive publics tend to identify with the ideal of objectivity, according to which news organizations are to select the information they present on the basis of conventional standards of moral and practical relevance and to refrain from altering those standards from one case to another (Ryan 2001). On the other hand, journalists and attentive publics will also tend to identify officials of their own state –​and intellectuals with ties to the state –​as important authorities on the question of how to evaluate the political life of foreign peoples (Hallin 1986; Alexseev and Bennett 1995). Because official (and semi-​official) sources have ties to the state, they tend not to offer purely objective analysis but rather to cast the political life of foreign peoples in a manner consistent with the interests of the state. Hence, journalists’ tendency to defer to official and semi-​ official sources will often come into conflict with their commitment to objective norms and thereby help facilitate casual deviations from the state’s professed liberalism. However, because of the cultural ideal of objectivity, the dominant culture’s level of deference to official sources will usually not extend so far as to facilitate blatant deviations from the state’s professed liberalism. Rather, the state will tend to be reluctant to deviate from its professed liberalism in particularly obvious ways out of fear that such deviations will elicit greater scrutiny from cultural elites. In sum, the tension between journalists’ frequent deference to official sources and the cultural ideal of objective journalism is a mirror image of the tension between the different sides of co-​constitution. On the interest-​centred side, cultural elites’ frequent deference to official sources enables the state’s interests to shape cultural discourses in such a way as to facilitate its pursuit of power abroad and to largely obfuscate

152

TAKING CO-​CONSTITUTION SERIOUSLY

how it deviates from its professed principles (Carr 1940; Hallin 1986; Bennett 1990; Oren 2003). However, on the identity-​centred side, the cultural ideal of objective journalism –​combined with certain elite and public expectations of a principled approach to foreign policy –​ places limits on how far a Western power could stray from its professed principles without eliciting some negative publicity (Doyle 1983; Owen 1994; Peceny 1999; Russett and Oneal 2001; Hayes 2012). The chapter’s explanation of why leading journalists will often defer to official narratives is predicated upon scholarly analyses of: • the cultural authority of leading officials; • the national identities of Western societies; and • the ways that Western journalists are commonly socialized into their profession (Hallin 1986; Bennett 1990; Oren 2003; Inthorn 2007). Western officials play important roles in constructing culturally authoritative narratives about their nations’ roles in the world, the nature of their foreign allies, and the nature of their rivals (Hallin 1986; Oren 2003; Inthorn 2007). Because Western powers have deeply institutionalized forms of democracy, long-​standing alliances among one another, and a modern history of conflict with some powerful authoritarian states, the notion that Western powers promote democracy and resist autocracy has been central to the discourses of Western political and cultural elites throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries (Peceny 1999; Oren 2003; Inthorn 2007). Thus, when some of the interests of a Western power cause its officials to exaggerate the democratic credentials of allied governments and to overstate the undemocratic behaviours of rival governments, such narratives are likely to resonate among elites and other segments of the society because they cohere with prevailing national identities. As cognitive belief structures, national identities will often cause elites and citizens to embrace perspectives that are consistent with their pre-​existing belief structures and to be sceptical of information that does not fully cohere with such structures (Jervis 1976; Rosati 2000). Thus, the mere existence of evidence that partially contradicts official narratives would not necessarily give journalists confidence that their presentation of the discordant information would always appear accurate to Western elites and publics whose belief structures and national identities are partially bound up with official positions and narratives. In sum, the primary reason that Western journalists will often defer to official narratives in such a way as to distort the political life of some foreign peoples is that more accurate reporting about rival and allied actors would appear less

153

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

objective to many cultural and political elites and attentive publics. In other words, news organizations are likely to downplay allies’ breaches of democratic norms and to exaggerate rivals’ violations not simply for the sake of deferring to official narratives but because reporting that largely coincides with official discourses will tend to more closely fit Western preconceptions of allied and rival actors.

Towards a realist-​constructivist explanation of contemporary US–​Latin American relations Before exploring the chapter’s proposition that cultural elites will facilitate casual deviations from a Western power’s professed ethics and discourage blatant transgressions, I must clarify: • how I define a rival and an ally; • how the Western power’s interests and identities simultaneously shape its alliances and rivalries in the context of its contemporary relations with Latin America; and • how the conditions that give rise to alliances and rivalries become central to our understanding of the ambiguousness of the Western power’s commitments. This chapter defines a strategic ally as a foreign actor that the state supports because officials deem that the political success of the actor would be critical to strengthening the authority and prestige of the state and helping it to achieve its commercial objectives. Conversely, a rival is a foreign actor that the state seeks to contain and roll back because the political success of the actor would appear to jeopardize the authority and prestige of the state and impede its achievement of its commercial objectives. In contemporary US–​Latin America relations, liberal norms and identities play an important role in US alliance building and rivalry formation because the American state must at least create the appearance that it operates in accordance with its professed principles to limit resistance to the pursuit of its goals. Nonetheless, the state’s strategic and commercial objectives also shape its alliances and rivalries in ways that will often casually conflict with its professed liberalism. One way of conceiving of how a Western power’s interests and identities ‘interpenetrate and work out their tentative and uneasy compromises’ is to elucidate (1)  the necessary and/​or sufficient conditions for its alliances and rivalries to develop and (2) the ways that alliances and rivalries alter the opportunity structures of actors.

154

TAKING CO-​CONSTITUTION SERIOUSLY

Based on the patterns we have observed since the end of the Cold War, it is evident that one necessary condition for a Western power’s alliance with a Latin American actor is that the prospective ally exhibit either the minimal trappings of democratic governance or a rhetorical commitment to such trappings on the part of political actors who do not hold executive power. The contemporary unwillingness of the American state to ally with Latin American leaders who have dispensed with the minimal trappings of democracy is attributable to the identity-​ centred side of co-​constitution, which shapes cultural discourses in such a way as to increase scrutiny of governments that have plainly abandoned democratic practices. The second necessary condition for a strategic alliance is that a prospective ally act in accordance with the strategic and commercial objectives of the Western power. In combination, the two necessary conditions for an alliance operate in tension with each other and thereby contribute to the fundamental ambiguousness of the Western power’s commitments in the hemisphere. On the one hand, the first condition (that an ally exhibit the minimal trappings of democratic governance) creates a strong incentive for an aspiring ally to commit to the minimum standards of democracy. On the other hand, once the prospective ally also meets the second condition (that it support the strategic and commercial objectives of the American state), the ensuing alliance will reduce the dominant culture’s scrutiny of the ally’s subtler breaches of liberal norms. The reduced scrutiny of allies derives from the interest-​centred side of co-​constitution, whereby the strategic interests of the state cause it to cue cultural elites to downplay allies’ less democratic characteristics. Thus, alliances will diminish the Western power’s pressure on allies to consistently adhere to liberal norms. With respect to a Western power’s rivalries in Latin America, contemporary US–​Latin American relations suggest that there are two conditions that generate such rivalries and that each condition alone is sufficient to bring about a rivalry. One sufficient condition is that a Latin American actor persistently impede the strategic and commercial objectives of the Western power. The other sufficient condition for a rivalry is that an actor abandon the minimal trappings of democracy for an indefinite period. The contemporary propensity of the American state to help isolate definitively authoritarian actors in the Western hemisphere derives largely from the identity-​centred side of co-​constitution, which generates heightened cultural scrutiny of governments that have plainly abandoned democratic practices. Such scrutiny creates incentives for the American state to align against flagrantly authoritarian actors as a means of projecting an image of itself

155

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

as a liberal hegemon and thereby limiting resistance to its exercise of power abroad. However, while a regional actor’s blatantly authoritarian practices are a sufficient condition for a rivalry with the hegemon, they are not a necessary condition for a rivalry. Since democratic (or semi-​democratic) leaders can also impede the strategic and commercial objectives of the American state, some at least partially democratic leaders will become rivals of the hegemon as well. Together, the two sufficient conditions for a rivalry also operate in profound tension with each other and thus further contribute to the ambiguousness of US foreign policies. On the one hand, the fact that a Latin American government’s flagrantly illiberal turn would be a sufficient condition for an eventual rivalry with the hegemon creates powerful incentives for Latin American governments to refrain from abandoning the minimal trappings of democracy. On the other hand, when a democratic or semi-​democratic government persistently impedes the strategic and commercial objectives of the American state, the resulting rivalry will give rise to a discursive environment that can increase the likelihood of an extra-​constitutional alteration of power. The hegemon’s rivalry with an elected challenger will first cue cultural elites to exaggerate the challenger’s breaches of democratic norms. In addition, because the challenger’s domestic opposition shares the hegemon’s objective of rolling it back, opposition leaders will take on the status of allies and therefore come under relatively little scrutiny from the hegemon’s dominant culture while they perform their oppositional role. In turn, a discursive environment that significantly exaggerates a rival government’s breaches of democratic norms and minimizes the allied opposition’s violations will signal to the opposition that the hegemon may not actively oppose an extra-​constitutional alteration of power. While the hegemon’s signalling is not a sufficient condition for a coup to occur (as there are other domestic variables at play), such signalling will lessen the perceived risks of launching a coup and thereby increase its likelihood (see Thyne 2010, p. 449).

Methods Given that space does not permit us to closely examine more than one case, the case we analyse should be one that provides us insight into how the tensions between the hegemon’s interests and identities will manifest themselves in the dominant culture’s discourses and the state’s foreign policies. One dyad type that is likely to provide us important insights into the relative merits of different IR approaches is the relations between the United States and a Latin American country

156

TAKING CO-​CONSTITUTION SERIOUSLY

in which a coup takes place against a rival government that is at least partially democratic. The value of studying such a case is that it presents us with a situation in which there are clear tensions between the liberal identities of the Western power and its state’s temptations to tacitly welcome an extra-​constitutional overthrow of an elected government that has impeded its pursuit of its interests. A study of the dyad type allows us to analyze two distinct contexts: (1) a pre-​coup phase in which strategic and commercial interests are likely to play an important role in shaping the Western power’s cultural discourses about the foreign country and its state’s policies toward the country and (2) a post-​coup phase in which the coup’s blatant departure from liberal-​democratic norms may spark a new set of discourses that come into some conflict with the pre-​coup narratives and identities. In essence, the expectation of the study is that the American state’s interests will shape cultural discourses about the foreign country in such a way as to increase the likelihood of a coup in the pre-​coup phase but that the coup itself will spark an identity-​centred shift in the discursive environment that increases pressure on the state to disassociate itself from the coup in the post-​coup phase. Thus, the two phases of the dyad type are likely to illuminate different problems with different mainstream approaches to the study of IR. The pre-​coup phase is likely to illustrate problems with liberal and mainstream constructivist approaches insofar as the American state’s interests shape cultural discourses in such a way as to facilitate the coup, thus revealing that the culture partially lacks independence from the state and cannot be assumed to consistently pressure the state to abide by its professed principles. Conversely, the post-​coup phase is likely to pose fewer problems for liberal and mainstream constructivist theorists and more problems for neorealist theorists. Since neorealism’s only assumption about culture is that the state manages cultural identities and discourses to serve its strategic objectives, neorealism could not explain how cultural identities and discourses might also constrain the state by drawing some attention to the illiberal nature of the coup once it has taken place.

Why Venezuela’s coup of 2002? To determine whether our case selection is conducive to a cross-​ examination of the study’s propositions, we must first ask ourselves whether our case fits the dyad type. Within the dyad type, the discrepancy between the hegemon’s professed principles and its state’s temptation to welcome a coup against a rival government lies

157

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

in the fact that the rival government is at least partially democratic and that its forcible overthrow would therefore constitute a setback to democratic norms and institutions. Thus, to establish that a case fits the dyad type, we must establish that the rival government was at least partially democratic up to the point that a coup took place against it. Using two conventional measures of democracy, it would appear that US–​Venezuelan relations in the lead-​up to the failed coup against Chávez in 2002 fits the dyad type. Although polity scores indicate some diminution of democracy in Chávez’s early years, Venezuela continued to meet the minimum threshold of democracy until 2006, when it dipped into the category of an anocracy (which is a regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features). Likewise, the Democracy-​Dictatorship (DD) index of Cheibub, Gandhi, and Vreeland indicates that Venezuela met the minimum standard of democracy in the period leading up to the coup of 2002 (eg Cheibub et al 2010).

Analysing the pre-​coup phase To cross-​examine the study’s explanation of the pre-​coup phase, the study employs both qualitative and quantitative methods. Since the study’s realist-​constructivist approach rests on the assumption that the state’s strategic and commercial interests must first shape its own positions and narratives to be able to indirectly shape the discourses of the broader culture, I must firstly employ a method of evaluating the assumption. To cross-​examine the assumption, I employ a basic method of difference approach and compare official US statements about the initial election of Chávez with official statements about the elections of four other Latin American presidents who had comparable political histories to Chávez but posed no comparable impediment to the hegemon’s pursuit of its interests. Next, in interpreting whether the state’s positions and narratives cued media to exaggerate the Chávez government’s level of deviation from liberal norms, I begin by measuring the frequency with which the New York Times and Washington Post questioned the democratic status of Venezuela during Chávez’s first three years in office. News content at the Times and Post is likely to be a useful gauge of the quality of information available to political elites and attentive publics because the two elite newspapers serve as key sources of information for such elites and publics (see Page 1996; Sparrow 1999). Moreover, the Times and Post influence the news agendas of other major media (see Page 1996; Golan 2006). Golan (2006) found significant correlations between the

158

TAKING CO-​CONSTITUTION SERIOUSLY

Times’ international news agenda and three television news programmes’ selection of international news stories. To measure the frequency with which the Times and Post questioned the democratic status of Venezuela during Chávez’s first three years in office, I analyze all Times and Post reports about Venezuela that were datelined from Latin America or the Caribbean and written by in-​ house correspondents or reporters on special assignment to the region. Each report is coded according to whether it carries any charge that falls within the following four categories: (1) assertions that the topic country’s government, ruling party or state apparatus acts undemocratically; (2) assertions that the topic country’s president, ruling party or state apparatus wields extraordinary powers; (3) assertions that the topic country’s government, ruling party or state apparatus is akin to the government, ruling party or state apparatus of a country with a polity score of zero or below; and/​or (4) assertions that the topic country is still only in the process of becoming a democracy (which implies that the country is not yet fully democratic). If the report carries any claim that fits into at least one of the four categories, the comprehensive dependent variable is coded 1. If the report carries no such charge, the variable is coded 0. I then use regression analysis of coded Times and Post reports about Venezuela and nine other Latin American countries from 1989 to 2009 to generate an ‘objective’ model that predicts how frequently reports would call into question a country’s democratic status if the reports’ depictions were solely driven by conventional measures of the country’s levels of deviation from democratic norms. The dataset contains 1,000 randomly sampled Times reports and 1,000 randomly sampled Post reports about Latin America’s ten most populous member states of the Organization of American States (OAS). The objective model thus uses the topic country’s level of deviation from the highest polity score during the year of the report as its primary independent variable. Given that some countries have at times elected constitutional assemblies to rewrite their constitutions and that the configuration of power in such assemblies could alter the level of presidential power, the objective model also controls for how the configuration of power in a constitutional assembly will affect the probability that a report will call a country’s democratic status into question. The model employs Corrales’ (2009) measure of how favourable or unfavourable

159

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

the distributions of assembly seats were to the presidents of six Latin American countries during nine processes to amend or rewrite national constitutions. After generating the prediction of the objective model, I then compare its prediction to how frequently the press called into question Venezuela’s democratic status. Then, to cross-​examine a counter-​hypothesis that the press’s level of scrutiny of Chávez was driven more by his controversial history than by the American state’s interests, I compare the press’s depictions of the early Chávez years to the press’s portrayals of the state of democracy under another leader with a comparably controversial history: Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. Then, to assess whether the press minimized pressure on the American state and the allied opposition to adhere to liberal norms in the lead-​up to Venezuela’s failed coup, I employ a method of thick description of how reports characterized the allied opposition and official US positions toward Venezuela in the year preceding the coup.

Analysing the post-​coup phase To cross-​examine the study’s explanation of the post-​coup phase, I begin by employing a qualitative method of describing how the Times and Post juxtaposed the hegemon’s professed principles with the Bush Administration’s initial endorsement of the coup. I then compare US policy toward Venezuela and US cultural discourses about it before and after the coup in attempting to determine whether the coup altered the discursive environment in such a way as to place increasing pressure on the state’s executive branch to disassociate itself from the coup.

Results Following the end of the Cold War, Hugo Chávez was one among a series of Latin American political figures who won presidential elections despite having histories that would have called into question their commitments to democratic norms. Prior to winning Venezuela’s presidential election in 1998, Lieutenant Colonel Chávez had launched a failed coup attempt against an elected government in 1992. Similarly, before winning presidential elections in their respective countries, Ecuador’s Lucio Gutiérrez and Peru’s Ollanta Humala had gained their notoriety by using their positions as military officers to intervene in their countries’ political affairs. Before winning Bolivia’s presidential election in 1997, Hugo Banzer had been a military dictator of his country in the 1970s. And while Colombian President Álvaro Uribe

160

TAKING CO-​CONSTITUTION SERIOUSLY

had no military background, his previous and controversial policies as governor of the department of Antioquia had facilitated an increase in paramilitary vigilantism and human rights abuses in the department (see Porch and Rasmussen 2008). In all the aforementioned cases, US correspondents in Latin America were aware of the controversial histories of the figures in question, as evidenced by the fact that the Times and Post had at various times reported on their histories prior to their presidencies. Yet in only one of the five aforementioned cases does one find that US officials issued statements immediately after a leader’s election that questioned his commitment to democracy. Four days after Chávez was elected, the Washington Post reported that ‘several administration officials’ had told the Post that ‘they feared Chávez would attempt to use his broad support for fighting corruption to assume near dictatorial powers …’ (Washington Post 1998). Conversely, an examination of reports in the Times, Post and Federal News Service indicates that US officials did not express any such concerns to the press about either Banzer, Gutiérrez, Humala or Uribe in the week following each’s election. In other words, a basic method of difference approach indicates that a Latin American president-​elect’s prior history of contravening democratic norms was not a sufficient condition for the American state to decide to cast the leader as an autocratic rival. Rather, to adequately explain why Chávez was the only such president-​elect to immediately elicit US expressions of alarm, we must look to what distinguished him from the other four leaders: that he had explicitly challenged the hegemon’s political and economic leadership of the region (Washington Post 1998). US officials appeared to selectively invoke Chávez’s controversial history to cast him as a threat to democracy and thereby isolate his government and contain the challenge it posed to US leadership. In contrast, after the other four leaders signalled that they did not challenge US leadership, US officials set their controversial histories aside in the pursuit of cooperation on matters of common strategic and/​or commercial interest. Thus, consistent with the assumptions of the study’s approach, the evidence suggests that the American state’s strategic and commercial interests did play an important role in shaping its own positions and narratives about where democracy was (or was not) under threat in the region.

The pre-​coup phase The prima facie evidence with respect to the press’ depictions of Chávez’s early years also seems consistent with the study’s proposition

161

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF STATE POWER

that open official signalling of a budding rivalry will cue journalists to focus disproportionately upon charges of authoritarianism against the rival in question. To be sure, it was understandable that US journalists and analysts would initially exhibit concern about Chávez’s backing of a constitutional assembly to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution in 1999. Because the vast majority of delegates elected to the constitutional assembly supported Chávez, the process of rewriting the constitution portended an expansion of presidential power. The objective model thus predicts a high degree of media questioning of Venezuela’s democratic status in 1999. Nevertheless, the aggressiveness with which the press called into question Chávez’s commitment to democracy significantly exceeded what the country’s actual levels of deviation could explain. While the objective model anticipates that as many as 28.15 per cent of reports would question Venezuela’s democratic status during Chávez’s first three years in office, content analysis reveals that a significantly larger share of such reports –​43.51 per cent –​actually called Venezuela’s state of democracy into question (see Figure 7.1). Despite the fact that Venezuela emerged from Chávez’s first year as a country that continued to have competitive elections and some (albeit fewer) institutional checks on the president’s power, a two-​tailed t-​test indicates that the difference between the prediction of the objective model and the actual frequency with which reports questioned Venezuela’s democratic status was statistically significant (p