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Autonomy in Foreign Policy: A Latin American Contribution to International Relations Theory  

María Cecilia Míguez

Autonomy is a concept constantly referred to in Latin American foreign policy analysis, especially with respect to Argentina and Brazil. As great powers continue to exert effective control over peripheral economies and their political decision making, autonomy emerges as a possibility for self-determination in the areas where hegemonic powers’ economic, political, and cultural interferences are expressed. Although this is not a new concept, the quest for autonomy within the “global periphery”—and elsewhere too—still remains relevant. Helio Jaguaribe and Juan Carlos Puig’s theoretical approaches are fundamental epistemological contributions to international relations (IR), not only in South America (where the theoretical approach was first developed) but also to the wider IR field outside the mainstream scholarship. In line with global historical changes, autonomy took on some subsequent new meanings, which led to new and heterogeneous formulations that transformed, and in certain cases also contradicted, the very genesis of the idea of autonomy. As a result, the so-called autonomy “with adjectives” emerged within IR peripheral debates. The 21st century witnessed the rebirth of the concept amid the rise of multilateralism and the new Latin American regionalism, which brought its relational character to the fore. Some of the new approaches to autonomy, especially from Brazil, used the concept as a methodological tool to understand the historical evolution of the country’s foreign policy. As such, autonomy and its theoretical reflection remain central to the analyses and interpretations of the international relations of peripheral countries, and it is in this sense that the autonomy can be highlighted broadly as a Latin American contribution to IR discipline. The concept of autonomy has a unique and foundational content referred to the discussion of the asymmetries in the global order. Studying autonomy is critical to understanding peripheral countries’ problems and dynamics.


International Cyberpolitics  

Benjamin R. Banta

The earliest scholarly writing on “cyberpolitics” focused mainly on the domestic sphere, but it became clear by the mid-2000s that the Internet-generated “cyberspace” was also having massive effects on the broader dynamics and patterns of international politics. A great deal of the early research on this phenomenon focused on the way cyberspace might empower nonstate actors of all varieties. In many respects that has been the case, but states have increasingly asserted their “cyberpower” in a variety of ways. Some scholars even predict a coming territorialization of what was initially viewed as a technology that fundamentally resisted the dictates of sovereign borders. Such disparate possibilities speak to the ambiguity surrounding the intersection of the international system and the political affordances generated by the Internet and related technologies. Does cyberpolitics challenge the international system as we know it—perhaps altering the very nature of war, sovereignty, and the state itself—or will it merely be subsumed within some structurally mandated logic of state-centric self-help? As might be expected, research that speaks to such foundational questions is quite sprawling. It is also still somewhat inchoate because the object of study is complex and highly malleable. The cyber-“domain” involves a physical substrate ostensibly subject to a territorially demarcated international system, but Internet-enabled activities have expanded rapidly and unpredictably over the past few decades because it also involves a virtual superstructure designed to be a network of networks, and so fundamentally at odds with centralized control. As such, some argue that because cyberspace has so enmeshed itself into all aspects of society, international politics and cyberspace should be seen as coevolving systems, and concomitantly that fields such as International Relations (IR) must update their theoretical and methodological tools. Such contentions indicate that an understanding of extra-domestic cyberpolitics has not so much involved progressively developing insights as differing perspectives compete to explain reality, but rather the growing recognition that we are only now catching up to a rapidly changing reality. As part of that recognition, much of the cutting-edge International Studies (IS) work on cyberpolitics is aimed at researching how the central actor in global politics, the state, is increasingly a cyberpolitical actor. This has meant the abandonment of strong assertions about the way cyberspace would exist separate from the “real world” of state interaction, or that it would force the alteration of especially hierarchical forms of state power. Instead, burgeoning literatures examine the myriad ways states seek to resist and control cyberpolitical activity by others, deploy their own cyberpolitical power, and even shape the very cyberspace in which all of this can occur. This focus on “international cyberpolitics” thus involves tracking a complex and growing milieu of practices, all while reflecting on the possibly fundamental changes being forced upon the international system. All of this points to the likelihood that the study of international politics will increasingly also be the study of international cyberpolitics.


Operational Codes in Foreign Policy: A Deconstruction  

Michael Haas

Codes of conduct exist in many areas of life, including cultural, ethical, legal, medical, and scientific. Those pertaining to politics and especially the conduct of foreign policy are crucial for understanding how decision-makers can be effective in dealing with problems involving opposite numbers who subscribe to different codes. Accordingly, the concept of “operational code” has been developed in the study of international politics to refer to a set of lenses that filter how decision-makers perceive, process, and react to situations involving other countries. Although some operational code researchers enlighten puzzles in past history and construct theories, others hope to use the research to advise policy-makers on how to avoid blunders in future decision-making. The present historiographic essay begins by tracing the foundations of operational code research in the late 1940s. Because some foreign policy leaders appear to adhere more strictly to an operational code than others, a major puzzle is how to determine the essential components of an operational code. Various efforts are contrasted, with a standardization of definitional parameters two decades later. Efforts to develop operational code methodology have developed over time with successes in quantification that are best validated by qualitative analysis. The codes of decision-makers are micro-codes compared to the partisan ideologies (meso-codes) that bring them to office and the political cultures (macro-codes) in which they operate in various countries around the world. What began as a cognitive psychological exercise became transformed into a form of social psychological analysis of decision-makers. A current view is that the upbringing of leaders shapes their goal seeking, whereas occupying the role as leader of a country in the context of world politics also shapes their operational codes. As a result, operational code research has become involved in the continuing quest to determine which major paradigm of social science best provides a coherent explanation for how leaders guide their decision-making.


Nationalism and Post-Communist International Relations  

Robert English, Ekaterina Svyatets, and Azamat Zhanalin

Nationalism contributed to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and helped put an end to the epoch-defining East–West rivalry, while ethnic conflict rearranged borders and peoples across the post-communist regions. After these initial shocks, however, most international relations (IR) scholars saw a region that was generally on a path toward political stabilization and international integration. This belief was reflected in the predominance of research on democratization and civil society, privatization and economic transition, and integration with the European Union. Nearly two decades after the collapse of communism, a simmering ethnic conflict in Georgia has sparked another major geopolitical shift. Nationalism remains a potent force not only in the post-Soviet and post-communist regions, but also for IR more generally, in the “normal” politics of parties and elections, development and trade, foreign policy making, and even war making. Regarding the politics of eastern Europe and central Eurasia, at least three distinct international dimensions of post-communist nationalism can be identified: the immediate impact of national or ethnic conflict on state-to-state relations as well as conflict spillover; nationalism’s impact on the foreign policies of states, the ways in which domestic ethnic issues can shape foreign policy debates and decisions; and the transnational spread of nationalist ideology. Present circumstances offer an opportunity not only to end the animosity and even reverse the hardening of antagonistic post-Cold War identities, but also to assess the respective impact of cultural–historical, economic, and leadership factors on the ongoing development of national identity and nationalism.


Russian Theory of International Relations  

Andrei P. Tsygankov and Pavel A. Tsygankov

Unique features of Russia’s perspectives on international politics as practice can be obtained quite clearly through the investigation of the debates on Russian foreign policy orientations. Russian foreign policy has been framed out of identity politics among different political factions under highly politicized conditions. Structural changes in international politics in the 1990s complicated internal reforms in Russia and the aggravation of socio-economic conditions due to the rapid reforms which intensified conflicts between conservatives and progressives in Russian domestic politics. Unfortunately, the aspirations of Russian reformist elites to make Russia strong could not reconcile with the conservative tendency the nation showed during the worsened economy in that period. This led to conflicting evaluations of Russian identity, which caused a fundamental shift in domestic sources for foreign policies. This transformed Russia’s perspectives on international politics, which brought about changes in its foreign policy orientation. Pro-Western Liberalism played a major role in defining Russian foreign policy under the A. Kozyrev doctrine, which defines Russia’s identity as one of the agents in the West-/US-centered system of liberal democracy and the market economy. Significant challenges to this pro-Western foreign policy came not only from outside, but also from internal changes that brought more fundamental changes to Russian foreign policy. This change should be understood within the cultural and institutional context of Russian society, since this framework determines the conceptualization of “national interest” and/or the formulation of diplomatic and security policies.


Neoclassical Realism  

Norrin M. Ripsman

Neoclassical realism is an approach to foreign policy analysis that seeks to understand international politics by taking into account the nature of the international system—the political environment within which states interact. Taking neorealism as their point of departure, neoclassical realists argue that states respond in large part to the constraints and opportunities of the international system when they conduct their foreign and security policies, but that their responses are shaped by unit-level factors such as state–society relations, the nature of their domestic political regimes, strategic culture, and leader perceptions. Neoclassical realists have identified a number of important limitations to the neorealist model—for example, states do not always perceive systemic stimuli correctly, or the international system does not always present clear signals about threats and opportunities. Adherents of neoclassical realism insist that their approach represents a significant improvement on existing approaches to international relations and foreign policy, including “Innenpolitik” approaches. Nevertheless, neoclassical realism faces a host of criticisms, such as the claim that it is comparatively inefficient and that it is impossible to separate international and domestic variables. To overcome these challenges, neoclassical realists need to consider a few key avenues for future research, such as generating well-specified neoclassical realist theories of foreign policy and devoting more attention to the domestic politics of international cooperation in order to shed the “competition bias” of neoclassical realism.


Foreign Aid, Development Cooperation and International Relations  

Bernabé Malacalza

Despite the dominance of development economics in the study of foreign aid and development cooperation since the 1950s, particularly with the emergence of modernization theory, an examination of academic contributions to the larger debates in international relations (IR) reveals something not extensively documented in the scholarly literature. It is that the study of foreign aid and development cooperation is inherently intertwined with IR, constituting an integral component thereof. Understanding the evolution of foreign aid and development cooperation studies, as well as its interaction with IR theories, is essential for deciphering the contemporary theoretical, normative, methodological, ontological, and epistemological challenges faced by the field. Investigating the historical evolution of this field in relation to IR involves analyzing, in parallel, its development alongside shifts in the international order. The historical analysis highlights how foreign aid and development cooperation have been shaped by changing power structures, ideological shifts, and geopolitical events, underscoring its inseparable connection to broader IR dynamics and its theorization. The interconnected nature of these domains demonstrates how prevailing theoretical perspectives influence not only the methods employed but also the identification of underlying forces and the normative principles guiding research, as well as the design of foreign aid and development cooperation policies. Analyzing how epistemological approaches, such as rationalism and reflectivism, have influenced the investigation of narratives and practices within the realms of foreign aid and development cooperation reveals potential elements of theoretical complementation. Beyond mere theoretical differentiation, there are elements that contribute significantly to fostering notions of dialogue, pluralism, and interdisciplinarity within the field of foreign aid and development cooperation studies. The prevailing trend is a movement toward theoretical eclecticism, wherein researchers increasingly draw upon a variety of theoretical frameworks to better grasp the intricate dynamics of foreign aid and development cooperation. This transformation stems from the evolving nature of global challenges and the recognition that a singular theoretical approach may fall short in capturing the multifaceted dimensions of foreign aid and development cooperation. Moreover, it underscores the dynamic and evolving nature of the field, emphasizing the need for interdisciplinary approaches and theoretical flexibility to address the complex issues surrounding foreign aid and the discussion of the concept of development in times of global planetary crisis.


International Relations (IR) in Colombia  

Carolina Cepeda-Másmela and Arlene B. Tickner

Assessing the International Relations (IR) discipline in Colombia requires deep description of key aspects related to its genealogy, the nature of its scholars and research, and its community structure. IR in Colombia grew out of practical concerns about the creation of adequate human and institutional resources needed to analyze world affairs and Colombian foreign policy. As the field expanded and consolidated, the IR professoriate became more robust and diverse in terms of thematic and geographical trends in research and increased levels of integration at the national and international levels. Several factors have figured prominently in shaping the discipline in Colombia, including the academic training and professional focus of IR scholars, foreign policy interests of the Colombian state, internationalization processes in academia, financial and institutional constraints on research, and patterns of interaction between scholars and policy makers. IR studies in Colombia have not been thoroughly explored, and broad description both allows for a preliminary explanation of their general character and highlights the need for greater reflection about the field’s evolution, shape, and challenges.


Diversionary Theories of Conflict: The Promises and Challenges of an Opportunities Approach  

Charity Butcher

Since the early 1990s, a significant amount of research has been dedicated to refining the causal mechanisms that lead to the diversionary use of force and the various conditions under which such diversionary actions are most likely. This article focuses specifically on the latter—highlighting the research on the various conditions that create opportunities for states to utilize diversionary tactics—while also emphasizing how these opportunities are connected to specific causal processes for diversionary conflict. While significant attention has been paid to the domestic factors that provide additional opportunities for or constraints on actors to utilize diversionary force, less research has considered the international and dyadic opportunities for diversionary force and the interaction and interplay of these domestic and international, or dyadic, factors. These international and dyadic factors specifically focus on those related to the potential target of diversionary conflict and are an important part of fully understanding the decision-making process of leaders contemplating diversionary tactics. Both the domestic and international opportunities for diversionary force identified in the literature will be considered, specifically those focusing on advancements made in understanding the international and dyadic dimensions of these opportunities and the characteristics of potential target states. While the movement toward identifying various opportunities for diversionary behavior, both domestic and international, or dyadic, is an important pathway in diversionary research, this approach comes with some significant challenges. First, diversionary motivations are extremely hard to “prove” since leaders have incentives to hide these motives. This problem is compounded as more opportunities for diversionary force are added to the mix—as these opportunities may, in themselves, provide motives for war. For example, rivalry and territorial disputes are shown as international opportunities for diversionary force, yet these factors are also known to be two of the most prominent causes of war between states. Thus, parsing out diversionary motives from other fundamental national security motives becomes increasingly difficult. While quantitative studies can help uncover broad patterns of potential diversionary behavior, they are less equipped to fully explain the ways that various domestic and international opportunities might interact. Nor can these studies demonstrate whether diversion was actual present within specific cases. Case studies can help fill these gaps by allowing more in-depth analysis of these potential diversionary opportunities. Overall, quantitative studies that help uncover patterns and qualitative studies that investigate diversionary tactics in a single case or set of cases are both important parts of the puzzle. To best understand diversionary conflict, researchers need to rely increasingly on both approaches.


International Competition and Cooperation in the New Eastern Mediterranean  

Zenonas Tziarras

In the 21st century and particularly during the 2010s, the Eastern Mediterranean acquired unprecedented attention and significance as a distinct geopolitical space with new international and security dynamics. This “new” Eastern Mediterranean geopolitical order was largely “constructed” by global and regional power shifts as well as local developments, such as the trajectory of Turkish foreign policy and the discovery of offshore hydrocarbon reserves. The result was a change in the region’s patterns of interstate conflict and cooperation. On the one hand, countries such as Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Israel became part of an emerging network of cooperation and security architecture. On the other hand, owing to its problematic relations with these states, Turkey remained an outsider wanting to “deconstruct” this new state of affairs and change it to its own benefit. As such, the new Eastern Mediterranean was ushered in during a period of geopolitical polarization that is more conducive to crisis rather than peace and stability and often transcends its boundaries.


International Insertion: A Non-Western Contribution to International Relations  

Fabrício Chagas-Bastos

International insertion is a concept that comes from non-Western intellectual origins and can help individuals understand how peripheral and semi-peripheral countries behave in world politics, and their interests, core values, and strategies. International insertion also expands the knowledge to characterize how agency spaces are created by peripheral countries. Insertion is a necessary step to those countries attempting to transition from the condition of one who seeks to be recognized as part of, to one who is admitted as possessing and capable of seeking status and acting within political, economic, and military global hierarchies. In a nutshell, insertion means being recognized by the small group of gatekeeping states as a relevant part of the specific social networks that constitute the global hierarchy. The conceptualization of international insertion allows a robust middle-range explanation that considers multiple dimensions (political, economic, and military) of the national and international structural and contextual aspects these actors must translate to navigate world politics.


The Politics of Regional Integration in Africa  

Paul-Henri Bischoff

On the African continent, a commitment to Pan-African unity and multilateral organization exists next to a postcolonial society whose 54 Westphalian states interpret the commitment to unity and integration to different degrees. The tension between a long-term Pan-African vision for a unified continent that prospers and is economically self-empowered, and the national concerns of governing state-centered elites with immediate domestic security and political and economic interests, lies at the heart of the politics surrounding African integration and affects both the continent and its regions. The politics of integration demand that a patchwork of regionalisms be consolidated; states give up on multiple memberships; and designated regional economic communities (RECs) take the lead on integration or subordinate themselves to the strategy and complement the institutions of the African Union (AU). In the interest of widening the social base of regional organization, politics needs to recognize and give status to informal regional actors engaged in bottom-up regionalism. Of issue in the politics of integration and regionalism are themes of norm adaptation, norm implementation, intergovernmentalism and supra-nationality, democracy, and authoritarianism.