Four forum responses 300 words each with works cited. See details.

Four forum responses 300 words each with works cited. Also answer one additional question listed below, no word limit on that question. The classes are International Relations (International Organizations) and Anthropology.

International Relations forum responses

Post 1

  1. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of Mearsheimer’s perspective on international institutions.

I tend to agree with Mearsheimer’s view that ultimately the effectiveness of international organizations (IO’s) are limited by a realist paradigm. It was not hard for Meirsheimer to convince me of this as I am a realist myself. Mersheimer (1994, pp.5) explains realism as a “brutal arena where state look for opportunities to take advantage of each other” and where, “daily life is a struggle for power” with each state seeking to become not only more powerful but to also limit the power of rival states. Into this arena step IO’s who seek to, “prescribe acceptable forms of state behavior and proscribe unacceptable forms of behavior (Meirsheimer, 1994, pp. 4).

IO’s seek to smooth over differences between states in an effort to avoid conflict. That member states agree to these efforts, is in my opinion largely a result of their realist perspective where temporary alliances, shifting loyalties and deal making are all part of the tools of statecraft intended to help achieve long term objectives. States (particularly powerful ones ) may go along with IO’s as long as it suites their national self interest. Where the interests of the member states and the IO’s converge is a win-win for both sides. Peace can be in the national self interest for a period even for aggressive states. These states than can work within the system prescribed by IO’s to secure a temporary peace for several reasons: to rearm, to grow economically, to consolidate politically and for various other reasons. However, at the end of the day, realists posit, that states will do what are in their interests regardless of the role of IO’s, which, have limited (if any ) punitive power. The Cold War serves as a classic example.

During the Cold War many believed that the IO’s such as the United Nations, or NATO or the Warsaw Pact kept the peace. I don’t believe this to be the case. For if either NATO or the Warsaw Pact saw the opportunity to roll back the other then they would have. The peace was kept by a very rational realistic appraisal of the situation, where neither side was powerful enough to inflict their will upon their adversary and survive. Nuclear weapons, Mutually Assured Destruction and the Rational Actor Model kept the peace during the Cold War, not, liberal institutions like the United Nations despite their best intentions and lofty rhetoric.

  1. Evaluate the counterarguments offered by Pevehouse and Russett (2006), and Ruggie (1982).

I find Pevehouse and Russett’s (2006), confidence in, rejecting the realist hypothesis that IGOs are fundamentally irrelevant to reducing violent international conflict.” (pp.993) unpersuasive. The fact that democratic states more effectively use the structure of IO’s to reduce conflict should not be surprising as conflict, in most democracies is seen as a policy failure. Constituents in democracies can apply political pressures to national leadership to avoid conflict in ways that people living in authoritarian regimes can not. When was the last time you saw a peace demonstration protesting an aggressive regimes moves (in that country) on CNN?

Ruggie’s (1982), writes that,. “international regimes limit the discretion of their constituent units to decide and act on issues that fall within the regimes domain” (pp.380). Perhaps nothing limits the autonomy of a regime like market forces, but, this is not a function of IO’s per se but of markets which have rules and an order all their own. I find Ruggie (1982) more persuasive than Pevehouse and Russett’s (2006), because Ruggie merely explains the effects of monetary policy on IO’s rather than assumes that IO’s are positive or negative. Ruggie (1982) asserts that, “if economic capabilities erode the liberal order is expected to unravel and it’ s regimes become weaker” (pp.3). Ruggie’s writing on economics’ merely reflect Meirsheimers realist beliefs (and a neutral view of markets). Like other IO’s sovereign states will use the existing world monetary system when it serves their interests to either (a) advance their objective or to (b) hurt a competitors. In contemporary terms Ruggie’s argument can be seen it China’s attempt to manipulate it’s currency in an effort to gain market share by making their (Chinese) imports significantly cheaper. This despite well established trade rules designed to prevent this. But this is just another example or realism in the monetary form, where states may disregard IO rules when convenient and abide by them when it is seen as beneficial.

  1. Assess how relevant the realist paradigm is for making sense of international institutions and international regimes today.

As I have alluded to in my previous answers I feel that the realist paradigm is the most accurate for assessing the international landscape and the intersection of states and IO’s still today. Despite the hope and belief that the world has progressed to a point where all states live in a community of nation’s with shared ideals and responsibilities, states will continue to do what they believe to be in their national interest even if in conflicts with IO’s objectives. Not to be to contentious, but consider the role of the USA in pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. Despite this accord being “socialized and normalized” to the point of being quasi treaty-like, the Trump administration decided to pull the United States out of this deal supported by most the big IO’s (namely the UN). Why? Because it played well politically to a domestic populace who feel that IO’s have designed trade deals that place US manufacturing at a competitive disadvantage. I’m not arguing whether Pres Trump’s actions where right or wrong, but, merely acknowledging that with the stroke of a pen one state could disregard the policies of the International Community designed by the world IO’s. This is not a unique situation. States do this all the time (it gets more press for some things than others). In totem though, it’s easy to see that at the end of the day, and despite our (the worlds) best intentions, states, like people will do what they consider appropriate given the situation with little regard to the established norms.

Post 2

Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of Mearsheimer’s perspective on international institutions.

Personally, I found it somewhat difficult to place my personal beliefs and feelings aside in order to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of Mearsheimer’s thoughts in international institutions. Part of me is an eternal optimist and some of what Mearsheimer wrote was difficult for me to accept or find strength in. His adamancy that international institutions have little to no bearing on how states behave bordered pessimism (again, in my opinion) so I viewed this as a weakness. Naturally, when an author writes theory, they do so with their perspective in the driver’s seat so for this author, realist theory was driving. As such, I understand why the article was written that way, but I did see institutionalist theory somewhat discounted and devalued. Another weakening point I felt, was the generalized statement that liberal institutionalists have no ambition (Mearsheimer, 1994). Perhaps that was too broad in scope, but again, I am sure some will argue this is simply naivety on my part.

Trust me, growing up as the only Democrat in a family of very strong Republican, I am used to the “bleeding heart liberal” comments and the like. However, I did find Mearsheimer’s argument about how realists view institutions to be incredibly compelling. The current geopolitical landscape gives me little to no confidence that states are acting with anyone other than themselves in mind (an inherently realist approach). Mearsheimer makes a point by affirming that states have a military presence because war is always possible (Mearsheimer, 1994). I don’t see this as a realist assumption, but rather a fact. Consider a nation state without a military presence within their border – how long would it be before a neighboring state saw the opportunity for what it is and took over? A sustainable military is an absolute necessity.

Evaluate the counterarguments offered by Pevehouse and Russett (2006), and Ruggie (1982).

I have to admit, I was mildly let down by the counterargument by Pevehouse and Russett. From the onset (in the Abstract), the authors state “a set of statistical tests provides strong support…” (Pevehouse and Russett, 2006). Unfortunately, their argument was largely lost on me for that reason. In my opinion, data gleaned from “statistical tests” with regard to state behavior is weak and questionable. Now, this is not to undermine or devalue their research, but I feel that in this instance solid, historical data which truly proves (or disproves) a point would have carried far more weight. Instead we are considering probabilities and likelihood. At the end of the day, the fact remains that there are reprobate nations and no matter what type of cooperative and peacekeeping efforts are being used, if they choose to engage in conflict or hostilities, they are going to do it. Unlike the Pevehouse and Russett perspective, the Ruggie article makes a stronger argument for the efficiency of international organizations by addressing factors which make IOs effective (rather than just stating they are or are not). Ruggie provides concrete data likening economic prosperity on the strength and momentum of states and IOs alike (Ruggie, 1982). For me, I felt this statement somewhat aligned with a part of realist theory which addresses self interest and solidifying power.

Assess how relevant the realist paradigm is for making sense of international institutions and

international regimes today.

One of the most gripping facts about the realist paradigm and international institutions is that there is little pragmatic data showing that institutions have any influence on the actions and behavior of states (Mearsheimer, 1994). I addressed this in my first answer, but it was difficult for me to separate the facts presented in the readings from my personal beliefs. I want to believe the institutionalist theory of being able to alter states behaviors and dissuade war, but the facts simply do not support it. In our current landscape, you could use the example of North Korea and the United Nations of how IOs have negligible bearing on state behavior. North Korea clearly exhibits some of the standard assumptions of a realist theory by repeatedly stating in their media that survival is of the utmost concern to them and how their pursuit of a nuclear program supports their survival. You could argue North Korea parading their military on the news is a national pastime (dating back several regimes), but I also believe that this type of showboating serves as a futile reminder to the watching world that their military is ready for any imminent fight. The United States shares an even greater pride for our military, but I can’t recall the last time we paraded ICMBs through Times Square or down Pennsylvania Avenue. Despite the UN presenting a chiefly united front with regard to the DPRK’s nuclear pursuit and provocative test efforts, little has been done to dissuade their aggressions. History shows us that North Korea is only minimally phased by sanctions and is willing to sacrifice the health and mortality of its own citizens in the name of patriotism. This is radicalism; words will not phase them, stopping humanitarian aid and food supplies will not phase them, and limiting exports will only marginally phase them (if at all).

Additional question:

Why is the lack of effectiveness of international organizations a weakness of realism? What proof is there that international organizations are effective?

Anthropology forum responses

Post 1

The ethical issues facing anthropologists can vary depending on the time (period in history) and location the study takes place. To discuss this question, one must first understand that ethics, or a person’s moral philosophy of right and wrong, can and will vary from culture to culture. Because of this an anthropologist should prepare themselves for their study by researching the culture of which there are studying to build a “baseline” of normality for that culture. For example, in most of the Western World men and women are treated as equals but in some Eastern and Middle Eastern countries women are considered property in their culture and must subjugate themselves to the males in their family. If a researcher goes into the field with this basic understanding they can have a better understanding of why things operate the way they do but it is still possible for the researcher to experience “culture shock”. I, myself, have fallen to culture shock on my first trip to Iraq as a young Marine. In one meeting, a village elder we were speaking with kept raising his voice to a woman who was delivering tea to us. One of the times to woman returned he raised his voice and then “back-handed” the woman so hard that she fell to the ground. Not being used to this action, being raised that a woman should always be treated with the highest regard, I, and sever others, immediately jumped to the woman’s aid but was quickly told by our interpreter to step away as the elder would see it as disrespect towards him. I had had hours, days, worth of cultural training but still my ethical beliefs told me it was wrong. Another aspect that a researcher must consider is the time the research or notation took place. In This week’s lesson, we read about Ota Benga, a pygmy man, that was purchased and brought to America in 1904. The period that this man was sought out and brought to America accepted the public, and often for monetary gain, exhibition of “oddities”. Ota was one of these exhibitions. Upon arrival he, and other pygmy people, were put on display at the World’s Fair. The visitors of the fair marveled at the huts they built and that some of them had “been known to eat 60 bananas in one meal and then ask for more”. The act that finally brought unwanted attention to Ota was when he was on display in the monkey cage in the Bronx Zoo. This infuriated the black community, as it should have every person regardless of race, and eventually they attempted to repatriate Ota to no avail since his tribe had been whipped out by genocide. Ultimately Ota was sent with a family and expected to assimilate to their way of life. Unfortunately, this ended with Ota burning his close and taking his own life with a gun. In the early 1900’s this was not a big deal and the researchers thought they were doing the “right thing” for science. What they failed to consider was the human side, the moral side, of their “work”. These actions today would first never be authorized by any credible academic institution or decent human being for that matter because they were of course deplorable but one must also take into account that sometimes human curiosity takes strong hold and the sense of wonder could cloud a person’s better judgment. These are only 2 of a myriad of issues an anthropologist could face.

Post 2

The forum I chose to cover this week was to describe the ethical issues that anthropologists experience when studying human subjects. Ethical issues is a problem or situation that requires a person or organization to choose between alternatives that must be evaluated as right. We learned in our readings that anthropologists learn about different cultures through fieldwork and first-hand observation which is known as ethnography. The ethical issues that anthropologists might experience would be offending one’s culture through their differences in morals, beliefs, or customs. Even though previous ethnography culture can change. The best way to avoid small offenses is participant observations and become an accepted member of another’s society. When anthropologist first approaches these different societies they have to come non-threating to their culture to be accepted. Some societies may be deceiving at first until they are sure of an anthropologist intentions before allowing them to learn about their way of life and culture. Other ethical issues that may arise can come from culture shock. An anthropologist could feel overwhelmed with feelings of confusion and disrupt or start being bias to one’s culture and enter his or her own customs of culture, it can be difficult to adopt different beliefs of right and wrong. It is important that when anthropologists go to these different societies they have already adopted some of the cultural differences and know the language. Travel in man and woman teams for acceptance in societies for gender-specific roles and to learn the different roles between men and women in these different societies. Professional ethics can also be difficult when working with different societies, information that is gathered could be harmful or dangerous to their existence by publishing reports, so there has to be a sense of what is right morally to report.