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21/05/2014 at 07:51 #1731
Trong bài viết gần đây trên Foreign Policy, lý thuyết gia về QHQT Stephen Walt cho rằng, 5 năm sau khi tốt nghiệp cử nhân QHQT, có 5 khái niệm cơ bản nhất mà bạn cần phải nhớ. Và bằng cách biết tới 5 khái niệm này thì dù bạn không học QHQT, bạn cũng coi như đã tốt nghiệp ngành này rồi.
Sau đây là danh sách 5 khái niệm như vậy theo nhận định của Walt:
1. Anarchy (tình trạng vô chính phủ)
2. Balance of power (cân bằng quyền lực)
3. Comparative advantage (lợi thế so sánh)
4. Misperception and miscalculation (nhận thức và tính toán sai lầm)
5. Social construction (kiến tạo xã hội)
Sau đây là nội dung chi tiết bài viết:
How to Get a B.A. in International Relations in 5 Minutes
It’s late spring here in New England, which means it is also commencement time for the latest round of graduates from the region’s many colleges and universities. As the proud parents and relieved graduates are busy celebrating, I worry that many of them are secretly filled with regret. Why? Obviously, because many of them didn’t take enough courses in international relations. Computer science, Biology, Economics, Applied Mathematics, or Mechanical Engineering are all fine subjects, and History, English Literature, or Sociology can be fascinating, but how much will any of these subjects teach you about the intricacies of world affairs, globalization, foreign policy, and the really cool stuff that people like me get to study?
Never fear: I have a solution. A few decades ago, Saturday Night Live’s Father Guido Sarducci (a.k.a. Don Novello) created the concept of the “Five Minute University.” It was brilliantly simple: in five minutes he promised to teach you everything you’d actually remember five years after you graduated. For example: Economics? Easy: “supply and demand.” That’s it. Theology? “God Loves You.” And so forth.
So if you’re ruing the day that you got a finance degree and didn’t take any courses that were actually interesting, I offer here the Five Minute University program in International Relations. It consists of five basic concepts that teach you all you really need to know about the fascinating world of international affairs. Unless you are a very slow reader, this shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
No. 1: Anarchy
You don’t have to be a realist to recognize that what makes international politics different from domestic politics is that it takes place in the absence of central authority. There’s no cop on the beat, no authoritative judge or courts to which states can appeal, and no 9-1-1 to call if you get into trouble. (Just ask the Ukrainians, Lebanese, or Rwandans about this little problem). In the absence of a central authority that can protect states from each other, major powers have to provide security for themselves and remain on the lookout for trouble down the road. This situation doesn’t preclude cooperation or even occasional minor acts of altruism, but it means security is usually at a premium and fear casts a long shadow over the entirety of world affairs. Anarchy may be “what states make of it,” but mostly what they make of it is trouble.
No. 2: The Balance of Power (or for extra credit, the balance of threats)
Given anarchy (see above), states worry about who is stronger, who is catching up or falling behind, and what steps can each take to avoid permanent inferiority. The balance of power tells you a lot about how states identify potential allies, and whether war is becoming more or less likely. Big shifts in the balance of power are usually dangerous, either because rising powers challenge the status quo, or lagging powers launch preventive wars, or simply because shifts make it hard to know who is presently stronger and thus make miscalculation more likely. Although the precise meaning of the term has been debated for a long time, trying to understand IR without any reference to balance of power is like trying to play baseball without a bat, or play the blues without a backbeat.
No. 3: Comparative Advantage (a.k.a. “gains from trade”)
If you never took a course in international economics, then you need to grasp the basic notion of comparative advantage, which underlies the entire liberal theory of free trade. The idea is simple: states will be better off if they all specialize in producing items in which they have some relative advantage, and then exchange these goods with the good produced by others whose relative advantage lies in producing something else. Even if one country was superior at producing all goods (i.e., had an absolute advantage in everything), everyone would still be better off if they produced the good(s) where their relative efficiency was greatest. The logic of this argument is irrefutable, but it took a couple of centuries for it to become widely accepted. The (partial) rejection of mercantilism and the embrace of more open trade is the root of contemporary globalization and a key reason why the world is more prosperous today than it was two centuries ago, and it is impossible to understand the vast and remarkable web of international commerce if you don’t grasp this basic reality.
No. 4: Misperception and Miscalculation
A wise friend of mine likes to say that most of international politics can be summed up in three words: fear, greed, and stupidity.We’ve already covered the first two (anarchy and the balance of power are about fear, and free trade is about the benevolent effects of greed). But the third one — stupidity — is equally important: you can’t really understand international politics and foreign policy without recognizing that national leaders (and sometimes whole countries) frequently misunderstand each other and often do remarkably stupid things. One country feels threatened and reacts defensively, leading other countries to falsely conclude that it has vast and dangerous ambitions that must be countered. Sometimes it works the other way, however, and a relentless aggressor manages to fool others into believing that its aims are limited. Or states tell themselves self-serving, sanitized narratives about the past — one where they never did anything bad to anyone and their opponents are always at fault — and then they get surprised when other states don’t see the historical record in the same way.
Any qualified IR graduate also needs to know that national leaders often do dumb things, even when surrounded by hordes of well-trained advisors and backed up by vast government agencies and intelligence services. Why? Because information is imperfect, other states sometimes bluff or lie, and because bureaucrats and policy advisors are subject to the usual human foibles (including cowardice, careerism, and imperfect rationality). You won’t remember all these details five years from now, but keep this lesson firmly in mind: the people in charge usually don’t know what they are doing.
No. 5: Social Construction
I’m not a constructivist, but even I acknowledge that the interactions of states and other human institutions are often shaped by changing norms and identities, and that these norms and identities are themselves are neither divinely ordained nor fixed. On the contrary, they are themselves the product of human interaction: what we do on a daily basis but also how we talk or write and how our ideas and beliefs evolve over time. One cannot understand nationalism, the end of slavery, the laws of war, the rise and collapse of Marxism-Leninism, changing attitudes toward gay marriage, and a host of other important global phenomena without understanding that social reality is not like the physical world; it is made and remade by what humans do and say and think. Although we can’t predict how attitudes, norms, identities, and beliefs will evolve, being aware of this aspect of world society will keep you from being completely blindsided when seemingly unchallenged orthodoxies are suddenly swept away.
* * *
This concludes the Five Minute University program in International Relations. There’s a lot more to say about this whole subject, but I’m afraid our time is up. If you understand these five concepts well, you now know what most IR undergraduates will remember five years after receiving their diploma, unless they end up doing this sort of work for a living.
To be clear: I’m not suggesting that these five concepts exhaust the whole of the field. To be a real expert, you’d need to know something about deterrence and coercion, institutions, selection effects, democratic peace theory, international finance, and a number of other key ideas. A good working knowledge of international history would surely help as well, plus a lot of detailed expertise in specific policy areas.
But acquiring this level of knowledge means you’d have to think seriously about graduate training, and that would take at least another five minutes. In any case, if you (or your child) are a member of the Class of 2014, please accept my heartiest congratulations. And if you did get an IR degree and plan to work in this field, don’t worry: my generation has left you plenty of thorny problems on which to work — and you can hardly do worse than we did.
22/05/2014 at 04:48 #1742honganhamsModerator
Gửi các bạn một bài phản hồi lại Walt của Laura Sjoberg:
‘Mansplaining’ International Relations?: What Walt Misses
Posted on 21 May 2014 by Laura Sjoberg
Following the tradition of Saturday Night Live’s Father Sarducci, Steve Walt turned the “Five Minute University” from the 1970s into a lesson for the undergraduate class of 2014 on Foreign Policy yesterday, providing a five-minute lesson as a substitute for a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. Walt’s lesson included five key concepts: anarchy, balance of power, comparative advantage, misperception/miscalculation, and social constructivism. While Walt acknowledges there is much more to know about the discipline (including deterrence and coercion, institutions, selection effects, democratic peace theory, and international finance), he suggests those might be “graduate level” and that “all you really need to know about the discipline” can be found his five-minute, five-concept lesson.
I’d like to introduce Steve and his audience to a (sixth) concept that comes from outside of International Relations but applies to it: ‘mansplaining.’ A term introduced by Rebecca Solnit in 2008, the idea has gained traction both in popular circles and in academic ones. Though many different ‘definitions’ of ‘mansplaining’ exist, a picture of Steve’s post could be in the dictionary next to mine: it is a short, humorous ‘explanation’ of the discipline of IR, from one of its male/masculine/(masculinist) elite aimed at its feminized/feminine/(female?) margins: new trainees and potential trainees. In that explanation, Walt accounts for a global political arena in which it appears that men and women; sex, gender, and sexualities; masculinities and femininities; masculinizations and feminizations do not exist. This might be where my definition of ‘mansplaining’ differs from others: I think a ‘mansplanation’ is an explanation made in a masculinized tone that endogenizes, makes invisible, or leaves out gender. Walt does this almost artfully: the global political arena that we can learn about from Walt in five minutes is indeed one where it is possible that women do not exist at all. That, among other things, makes it both a ‘mansplanation’, and deeply problematic.
My problems start at what Walt does not talk about, and continues as I read what he does discuss. Let’s start with five ideas that I’d characterize as key to understanding global politics, which Walt leaves out:
1. Hierarchy. While anarchy has been the structuring heuristic of the discipline of IR for as long as most of us can remember, its dominance is sociological, rather than empirical or even conceptual. Recent conversations about hierarchy in IR made possible by Janice Bially Mattern, Ayse Zarakol and David Lake indicate that I am not alone in this thinking: that many scholars see ‘anarchy’ as an empty signifier for the absence of structured governance that causes the turning of an (inaccurate) blind eye to hierarchy everywhere we look in IR: among people, among states, among cultures, among nationalisms, among corporations, among religions, among norms, among laws, and even among narratives of international history. Students trained to look for the lack of order in the global political arena (in five minutes or otherwise) will be startled by the rank-ordered (implicit and explicit) organization of most phenomena that they encounter in the ‘real world’. Waltz’s supposition that states are like-units with similar functions has never held up to scrutiny, and critical engagement suggests that focusing on anarchy obscures, rather than erasing, hierarchical structures in global politics, as I have argued before (along with many others). These hierarchies are based on race, gender, nationality, and class, among other factors.
2. The ‘Private Sphere.’ Cynthia Enloe once made the argument that, while it is appropriate to study global politics by looking at state governments, military commands, and multinational corporations, it is also appropriate to study global politics by looking at dining room tables, bedrooms, hair salons, hospital rooms, and other places traditionally understood as outside of the realm of the public sphere. Building of feminist critiques of the public/private divide, the argument that the ‘private sphere’ matters in global politics can be seen (and seen as ignored in mainstream IR scholarship) over and over again in contemporary global politics. The personal is international: IR graduates (and non-IR graduates) have the opportunity and the burden of their choices mattering to the structure and function of global politics; they will profoundly influence the lives of others around the world, directly or indirectly. The international is also personal: IR graduates (and non-IR graduates) will have their lives profoundly impacted by goings on around the globe. Whether it is the integral part Korean prostitutes played in the South Korea-US relationship in the 1970s or the role of diplomatic sociability in dictating interstate relations, non-elite people, households, and the political margins matter not only to the constitution of global politics but to the outcomes, and global politics happens as much in the bedroom as in the boardroom; as much in the poor house as in the White House.
3. Poverty. At least 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10/day. Even more people than that live in communities, nations, and regions where the income gap is widening, not decreasing, and purchasing power is decreasing rather than expanding. UNICEF estimate that around 21000 children die from poverty each day; that doesn’t even count the adults. Put into perspective: the leading cause of death on September 11, 2001 was not smoke inhalation or burning buildings: poverty, starvation, and preventable disease teamed up to eclipse that at least tenfold. And that happens every day. The reality is that most people in the world don’t have, and aren’t looking for, ‘comparative advantage’ – and comparative disadvantage in global politics is anything but randomly distributed. Most people most places spend most of their time trying not to starve. Nothing about global politics makes sense without understanding that, and it is a lesson that helps provide perspectives for students in any discipline.
4. Embodiment. People in global politics live in bodies. That’s why they can get sick, why they can starve, and why they can engage in feats of incredibly strength and endurance. The bodies people live in come with lineages, geographical locations, capacities, limitations, vulnerabilities, races, (presumed) sexes and genders. Whatever bodies ‘come with,’ they are also governed, (re)designed, imposed on, and injured in migration, war, labor, and other phenomena in global politics often talked about in IR in terms of transaction costs, civilian victimization, mobility, and health. Lauren Wilcox’s forthcoming book, Bodies of Violence, deals with some of these issues in impressive detail. Understanding the global political arena (from the elite to the furthest margin) as composed of bodies is an important lesson for students looking to understand how to relate to people, from next door to the next continent. An important part of understanding people as embodied is understanding those bodies as marked by (located by, ranked by, and judged by) sex, gender, race, nationality, and religion. Anyone that does not understand the simple notion of ‘where you stand is where you sit’, materially and metaphorically, will miss more about global politics than they see.
5. Earth. Bodies in global politics live in the environment around us, built and ‘natural.’ The land that people live on, the climates that they experience, the natural disasters that they survive (or don’t), the pollution and degradation that they cause and/or endure all seriously influence the ways that they can (or cannot) operate as actors and agents in global politics. Even a statist interpretation of global politics needs to understand the unique position of the physical world in shaping the ways that global politics works: the ways that the distribution of water affects how states relate, the ways that mountain ranges and bodies of water delineate borders (then move), the ways that the lack of working sewage spreads disease, the geographies of urban living, the United States’ geographic ‘isolation,’ etc.
In discussing the five principles I would prioritize (but not find exhaustive), I have expressed opinions about some of Walt’s principles – briefly, ‘anarchy’ does not tell us a lot about how the world works; ‘balance of power’ is notion that ignores underlying inequalities and issues of access, not to mention the private sphere; ‘comparative advantage’ pales in comparison to comparative disadvantage; the biggest misperception/miscalculation in global politics is the tendency to ignore the margins entirely; and the social constructivism that Walt acknowledges but does not endorse is only the tip of the iceberg into how people relate that makes up the substance of global politics.
Of course, the IR ‘experts’ on global politics can explain the world without reference to any of these concepts, much less ‘women’ or femininity. Instead, they can be discarded with jokes about the ‘fear, greed, and stupidity’ of the global elite, and ‘all you really need to know.’ If Walt’s five concepts are all students remember about an IR degree, we have done them a grave disservice. The ‘good old days’ of this account of IR came (and went) with Sarducci and the ‘good old days’ of SNL – and is about as representative of the world as they were too. Walt gives a narrow, privileged, and masculinized notion of global politics with a casual tone that defines the concepts I have mentioned, and many others, not only out of its core but out of the realm of possibility. This sort of ‘mansplaining’ narrows both the substance and the audience of the discipline of IR.
22/05/2014 at 21:52 #1755trungmam93Participant
Stephen Walt là một học giả chủ nghĩa hiện thực về quan hệ quốc tế.
Thế giới hiện nay, nhất là các nước lớn, vẫn đang tư duy theo quan điểm hiện thực.
Quả thực, sẽ là thiếu sót nếu không biết đến những lý thuyết về quan hệ quốc tế khi luận giải, dự đoán các vấn đề quốc tế. Tuy vậy, điều này lại không được coi trọng ở Việt Nam – thật đáng buồn – và người ta cũng đang vướng vào cái vòng luẩn quẩn giữa lý thuyết và thực tiễn chính trị.
Cái khó sinh viên những ngành này – theo ý kiến cá nhân của mình – là gặp phải những ông thầy dạy về quan hệ quốc tế, về chính sách đối ngoại nhưng chẳng hiểu, chẳng biết gì về lý thuyết quan hệ quốc tế cả, toàn mang Mác-Lenin và Hồ Chí Minh ra dùng. Đến chịu!
23/05/2014 at 10:13 #1759
04/06/2014 at 13:53 #2210The TheoristParticipant
Rất vui vì còn có những SV quan tâm đến lý thuyết QHQT như bạn trungman93 :good:
A Hiệp ơi trong 5 cái khái niệm của ông S. Waltz kia e nghĩ chắc phải thêm khái niệm “thể chế” (regimes)! Thế giới hiện nay không thể thiếu vai trò của các thể chế quốc tế và nhất là đối với các nước nhỏ như VN ta thì thể chế quốc tế lại càng quan trọng. Chứ cứ để các nước lớn kia chỉ quan tâm đến cân bằng quyền lực với lợi thế so sánh thì các nước nhỏ chỉ có đường bị đem làm vật đổi chác B-)
05/06/2014 at 07:54 #2221
Đề nghị The Theorist tổng hợp 5 hay 10 khái niệm cạnh tranh với Walt đi :-)
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