Self Help

Great Delusion - John J. Mearsheimer

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Matheus Puppe

· 70 min read

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Here is a summary of the key points about THE HENRY L. STIMSON LECTURES SERIES:

  • The lectures are given at Yale University’s Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies.

  • John J. Mearsheimer gave the 2017 Henry L. Stimson Lectures, which formed the basis for his book “The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities”.

  • The lectures and book aim to explain the failures of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, particularly its ambitious strategy of promoting liberal democracy and institutions globally known as “liberal hegemony”.

  • Mearsheimer’s core argument is that liberal hegemony was destined to fail because it ignores the powerful forces of nationalism and realism in international politics. Liberalism has much less influence than proponents believe.

  • The book takes a theoretical approach, comparing and contrasting liberalism, nationalism, and realism. It aims to communicate complex theory in a clear, accessible way.

  • Mearsheimer received significant feedback on multiple drafts from other scholars, which helped refine and strengthen his arguments.

  • The Henry L. Stimson Lectures provide a prominent forum at Yale for exploring important issues in international security. Mearsheimer’s lectures and book contribute a critical perspective on US foreign policy assumptions.

Here is a summary of the provided section:

The author expresses gratitude to several administrative assistants who aided in the research and writing process for this book over many years. He also thanks his wife Pamela for her support, mentioning she did not complain about the long hours he spent on the book.

Finally, the author dedicates the book to all his students from over the years, dating back to his first course in 1974. He sees “student” broadly to include those influenced by his work who were not formally in his classes. Teaching has been an important learning experience for him, having to organize big topics clearly for lectures. Interacting with students, especially in seminars, has often led him to rethink aspects of course material. Overall, teaching has helped shape his thinking on international politics reflected throughout the book. For that influence, he is forever grateful.

  • In the early 1990s after the Cold War ended, there was widespread optimism that liberalism had triumphed globally and liberal democracies would spread peacefully. Fukuyama argued history had ended with liberalism as the dominant ideology.

  • It was believed liberalism would end balance of power politics and realism as the dominant paradigm in international relations. Presidents like Clinton and Bush championed spreading liberal values.

  • However, something went badly wrong. US foreign policy since the 1990s, especially under Bush and Obama, has contributed to death and destruction in the Middle East. American actions led to crises with Russia over Ukraine. The US has been nearly constantly at war.

  • Contrary to expectations, a liberal foreign policy has led to more instability and conflict, not cooperation and peace. The book will examine US foreign policy under Clinton, Bush, and Obama during the period of pursuing liberal hegemony from 1993-2017. It will assess the assumptions and foundations of liberalism itself.

  • The author provides definitions of key concepts like political liberalism, modus vivendi liberalism, and progressive liberalism to frame the discussion.

  • Political liberalism emphasizes individual rights and assigns great importance to concepts like universal and inalienable rights. It comes in two varieties - modus vivendi liberalism focuses on negative rights and limiting government intervention, while progressive liberalism supports both negative and positive rights and an activist state.

  • In practice, even though modus vivendi liberalism receives attention as an idea, progressive liberalism has become dominant due to the demands of governing modern societies. So political liberalism refers primarily to progressive liberalism in this analysis.

  • The author distinguishes political liberalism from other ideologies like utilitarianism and liberal idealism that don’t focus as much on individual rights. He also differentiates between liberalism and democracy as concepts.

  • The book will analyze how political liberalism operates within countries versus internationally. The author believes liberalism is good domestically but that ambitious liberal foreign policies can undermine peace and liberalism itself. Future chapters will examine these arguments in more depth.

The chapter discusses human nature and its implications for politics and theories like liberalism. It makes two main points about human nature:

  1. Humans have a capacity for reason, but there are limits, especially on fundamental questions about ethics, morality and the good life. This often leads to disagreement and potential conflict.

  2. Humans are profoundly social beings who form social/political groups for survival and cooperation. But these groups sometimes break apart due to tensions between individualism and social pressures.

For a society to function, there needs to be overlap in beliefs and a common culture. There also need to be political institutions that establish rules and enforce them via mechanisms like the rule of law. This introduces politics as groups compete over who writes the rules.

Politics and power matter both within societies and between independent social groups as they compete for power and security. Social groups also tend to expand their power through conquest, but there are limits to expansion as victims resist losing autonomy. The chapter lays out this perspective on human nature and its implications.

Here is a summary of the key point:

  • The passage discusses two main assumptions about human nature - there are limits to our ability to reason about first principles, and humans are fundamentally social animals.

  • It argues that these assumptions lead to three important facts: the world contains many distinct social/cultural groups; social groups must form political institutions for survival/order; and survival is of overriding importance for individuals and groups.

  • It does not go into detail about the three facts, but focuses on defining some important concepts for the subsequent discussion: culture, groups/society, identity, political institutions.

  • In particular, it defines these concepts and emphasizes that culture gives meaning/define groups, identity is defined in relation to others, and political institutions are necessary to regulate society and maintain order.

  • The key point is that the limits of human reason, coupled with our social nature, lead to a world characterized by many distinct cultural groups, each with their own practices, beliefs, and identities - and political institutions are necessary for the survival of these groups.

  • Societies must address fundamental questions about how to organize themselves and how individuals should behave, even if consensus is never fully reached. Issues like morality, justice, and war all require some shared standards.

  • During the Enlightenment era, many believed human reason could discern objective truths about ethics and society. They had faith that education and science would allow humanity to progressively improve.

  • However, over the past 200 years, confidence in reason’s ability to establish universal moral principles has weakened. There remains deep and ongoing disagreement about questions of ethics and the nature of a good society. Debate on these issues seems “interminable.”

  • Religions also demonstrate the limits of reason, as divisions and fragmentation occur repeatedly within and between faiths over differing interpretations. Religion offers little evidence that reason leads to broad agreement.

  • Other domains like American law also reject the notion that justice is based on discoverable universal moral truths. Legal theories emphasize pragmatic judgment over appeals to objective morality.

  • In many areas concerned with ethics and justice, human reason has failed to establish widespread consensus, pointing to the limitations of reason in resolving foundational social and moral questions. Disagreement persists despite ongoing discussion and debate.

  • Some legal scholars argue judges should make decisions based on economic efficiency rather than widely agreed upon moral principles. This is a utilitarian approach that aims to benefit as many people as possible. However, judges may disagree on the economically efficient outcome in a given case.

  • Others like natural law theorists believe judges should rely on universal moral principles. Ronald Dworkin advocated this view but acknowledged it is a minority position among lawyers and judges who are skeptical there are right answers in hard cases.

  • It is virtually impossible to come up with a moral code that most in the legal field agree with. Judges regularly disagree about principles and their application in difficult cases.

  • This explains political battles over Supreme Court appointments, as both sides want to influence decisions in the 5% of truly hard cases where views matter greatly.

  • Leo Strauss is misinterpreted as believing an elite few can discern natural laws, but he acknowledged our inability to acquire genuine knowledge of what is good or right. Reason’s role is questioning beliefs, not discovering truth.

  • The good life is shaped by socialization, innate sentiments, and reason. But reason alone cannot provide universal answers, and the other factors influencing preferences are often resistant to reason and outside conscious awareness. This contributes to the difficulty agreeing on moral principles.

  • Reasoning is a process of analyzing problems logically and systematically while trying to eliminate biases and emotions from the thought process. It requires careful construction and evaluation of arguments.

  • However, completely separating critical thinking from biases and emotions is impossible according to some psychologists. Emotions may actually help with reasoning.

  • Socialization has a greater influence on how people form their views than reasoning. People are intensely socialized from a young age before their reasoning skills are fully developed.

  • Some argue that reason mostly serves to rationalize opinions formed by intuitions, not determine them. Reason helps justify opinions more than establish them substantively.

  • While reason has limits, it can help arbitrate conflicting intuitions, adjust views when environments change, and lead some to examine their deep convictions. But pure reason alone cannot lead to universal agreement on ethics.

  • John Dewey believed more education could help society reach agreement, but exposing people to diverse views tends to widen perspectives rather than find consensus. Education develops critical thinking which makes agreement harder.

  • Relativism is a fact of life since critical thinking cannot discover universal truths. Societies will always have conflicting views despite education. Individuals are fundamentally social beings shaped by their communities.

Here is a 238-word summary of the key points:

The passage discusses how humans are natural social creatures and why societies form and stay together. It draws on the ideas of Daniel Defoe, who said in Robinson Crusoe that humans are made for social interaction and community. Biology also supports this, as humans need partners for reproduction and child-rearing, and groups provide better chances of survival and access to resources.

Culture plays a huge role in shaping identity and behavior. People are heavily influenced by the society and culture they are born into. While individuals can reject their native culture, they are still formed by it. Culture provides shared values and histories that help unite groups. However, differences in circumstances cause cultures to diverge globally.

While culture gives societies cohesion, it is not enough on its own. Individuals vary in their commitment levels. Sometimes divisions or sudden changes undermine key beliefs and threaten to tear societies apart. Political institutions are needed to exert control and power to maintain order when centrifugal forces emerge. Together, the biological and psychological needs for social interaction, the formation of shared cultural identities, and political authority help explain how and why human societies are able to form and persist over time.

  • Social groups require political institutions to govern interactions between members and establish rules and mechanisms for dispute resolution. This helps move groups beyond anarchy and establishes hierarchy.

  • Political institutions are also needed to protect groups from external threats from other groups. They help groups survive in an anarchic world without overarching authority.

  • However, political institutions are not neutral - they reflect particular visions of societal organization and favor some interests over others. There is often competition over who controls these institutions.

  • Politics exists both within groups as different factions compete for power, and between groups in an anarchic system where might makes right and no rules really apply.

  • Groups have incentives to expand their power and territory at the expense of others for ideological, economic and survival reasons. Becoming more powerful helps maximize security against potential threats.

  • While voluntary merging of groups is possible, expansion is usually the result of coercion or conquest given fundamental cultural differences. There are limits to how much territory can be absorbed and controlled through force alone.

The passage discusses some key challenges to global domination or the formation of a global society. It notes that:

  • There is an abundance of diverse human groups globally, and many would resist attempts to dominate or control them militarily.

  • Groups are geographically dispersed around the world, making it difficult for any one group to project power over long distances, especially given natural barriers like oceans, mountains, and deserts.

  • As a society expands its control and influence, it encounters diminishing returns due to these logistical and geographical constraints on power projection.

  • These factors help explain why there is no single global political authority or “global society” - the international system remains decentralized and anarchic without a single dominant power.

The core point is that geographical dispersion and barriers, as well as the willfulness of diverse human groups, pose fundamental obstacles to any attempt at total global domination or control by a single political entity. Distance and terrain diminish a expanding power’s ability to assert its will over others.

  • Political liberalism is founded on two main assumptions: 1) all individuals are equally entitled to natural rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and 2) humans have the ability to reason and resolve differences rationally. This represented a break from premodern theories that saw humans as naturally political/social beings or some as naturally fit to rule.

  • However, liberalism acknowledges that people will reasonably disagree on moral and political issues due to differences in values, opinions, and interests. This threat of conflict is at the heart of liberalism.

  • Liberals propose a three-pronged strategy to deal with this: 1) emphasize individual rights, 2) promote the norm of tolerance, 3) establish a strong but limited state to act as a night watchman, rulemaker, and arbitrator to maintain order and prevent violence.

  • The liberal state seeks to limit its powers and refrain from promoting a specific conception of the good life or moral behavior. Its goal is to allow individuals maximum freedom to live as they choose through limited government and strong protections of rights, toleration, and civil order.

So in summary, liberalism is founded on ideas of individual rights and reason but acknowledges disagreement, proposing a limited state and political tolerance as a solution to maintain social peace in the face of philosophical/moral differences.

  • Liberalism seeks to ameliorate political conflict by giving individuals freedom to live as they see fit, thus reducing reasons for fighting over core principles. However, this also risks emptying politics of meaningful debates.

  • Liberals acknowledge the importance of economic freedom but aim to make economics overshadow politics. This reflects the thinking of philosophers like John Locke and Adam Smith who advocated limiting government interference in the economy.

  • Liberal states are not truly neutral as they set the rules that govern daily life and influence first principles. There will always be competition to influence these rules through elections.

  • Modus vivendi liberalism is highly pessimistic about reaching agreement on core principles through reason alone. Reason shows ethical conflicts are often deeper than thought and offers no clear resolution. Most human behavior is non-rational, habitual and emotional.

  • Modus vivendi liberals see liberalism as providing a modus vivendi or framework for social cooperation despite ethical disagreements, not a higher moral order everyone must accept. The goal is peaceful coexistence of diverse views under an umbrella of basic rights and procedures.

Here is a summary of the key points about modus vivendi liberalism:

  • Modus vivendi liberals emphasize negative rights that protect individuals from constraints by others, including the government. They focus on rights like property rights.

  • They believe in equality of individuals but not equality of outcomes, so they do not support government efforts to level the playing field.

  • Tolerance is central, but they see limits to coexistence and support a strong state to maintain order.

  • They oppose state efforts to foster equality of opportunity or redistribute resources, as these would infringe on property rights and personal freedom.

  • The paramount goal is to protect threatened rights, not promote new rights or have the state interfere much in society or economy.

  • They are pessimistic about our ability to agree on principles or for governments to achieve ambitious goals through social engineering.

  • The state’s role should be limited to maintaining order and allowing people maximum freedom to live as they choose, with no place for an expansive welfare state. Overall it offers a limited and non-progressive view of politics.

  • Bounded progressivism, as exemplified by Rawls, acknowledges that there is no consensus on life’s big questions or universal principles. Citizens in liberal societies hold diverse, “reasonable” but irreconcilable comprehensive doctrines.

  • Rawls believes citizens will be constrained by a sense of reasonableness and will cooperate through “public reason” and compromise, respecting each other’s views, leading to “reasonable pluralism.” Tolerance is central.

  • Unbounded progressivism assumes broad agreement on first principles is possible through reason, so tolerance is less important. Difference would be minimized.

  • Bounded progressivism is more intuitive as it acknowledges disagreement, but its expectation of deep tolerance is not supported by evidence and lacks explanation. People are not naturally reasonable or tolerant.

  • Rawls does not provide a strong basis for why citizens in liberal societies have developed a “certain moral character” of reasonableness and tolerance, given intolerance was historically prevalent and non-liberal societies today are still mostly unreasonable.

  • The essay critiques both forms of progressivism. Unbounded is overly optimistic about consensus through reason, while bounded overstates tolerance without empirical support and does not fully explain its origins. Both ultimately fail to persuasively argue their positions.

  • Modus vivendi and progressive liberals differ in their views of rights and the role of the state.

  • Modus vivendi liberals emphasize negative rights like freedom from government interference and private property rights. They are wary of positive rights that require state action.

  • Progressive liberals support both negative and positive rights like equal opportunity, healthcare, education. They see the state’s role as promoting overall well-being through these social and economic rights.

  • Positive rights can conflict with negative rights, especially property rights. Progressive liberals are more willing than modus vivendi liberals to redistribute wealth to foster equal opportunity.

  • Due to their different views on rights, the two theories also diverge on the role of the state. Modus vivendi liberals favor a limited state that maintains order but does not engage in social engineering.

  • Progressive liberals support an interventionist state that uses experts and policymaking to actively promote social goals like equal opportunity through wealth redistribution and welfare programs.

  • Both agree that reason alone cannot determine truths about the good life. But progressive liberals have more faith in instrumental rationality and the state’s ability to act rationally through social engineering.

  • The key difference between the two variants of political liberalism is how they view rights and the role of the state. Modus vivendi liberalism favors a limited state that protects civil and political rights but does not promote social and economic rights, while progressive liberalism supports an interventionist state that actively promotes positive rights.

  • Over the past two centuries, progressive liberalism has become the dominant form, as the laissez-faire approach of modus vivendi liberalism was unable to address issues like inequality and poverty that arose with industrialization.

  • Major forces driving the ascendancy of progressive liberalism included the Industrial Revolution, which led to social changes requiring state intervention; nationalism, which increased citizen demands on the state; and democracy, which gave voters power to demand state services.

  • In both the US and UK, progressive liberalism came to define mainstream politics in the early 20th century. Though modus vivendi ideas still have influence, in practice governments have embraced the interventionist state model. The Libertarian Party stands alone in genuinely advocating modus vivendi principles in the US.

  • Three major forces have contributed to the dominance of progressive liberalism: popular pressure, the modern military-industrial complex, and the changing nature of warfare.

  • Politicians who deliver on bold promises tend to get reelected, creating popular pressure for policies that promote equal opportunity and positive rights.

  • Modern militaries require large numbers of healthy, educated citizens and provide incentives for government welfare programs. Total wars also force governments to interfere extensively in society.

  • Wars and national security concerns compel liberal states to engage in social engineering and promote individual rights. This fosters progressive liberalism over modus vivendi liberalism.

  • Returning veterans from wars often demand expanded rights and benefits from the government, like education programs, pensions and healthcare. This further pushed states toward progressive policies.

  • In short, national security considerations force liberal states not only to engage in large-scale social engineering but also to promote individual rights, both of which promote progressive liberalism over time.

  • Liberal idealism is a liberal theory founded by T.H. Green that emphasizes society over the individual. It sees humans as fundamentally social beings defined by their relationships and interdependence.

  • Liberal idealism differs from political liberalism in placing less emphasis on individualism and inalienable rights. Rights must be circumscribed to promote social unity and cooperation.

  • It was influenced by Hegel’s organic view of society. Many liberal idealists viewed nationalism positively as a force for social unity and popular sovereignty.

  • While favoring a strong state to intervene for the common good, liberal idealists also feared a too-powerful state.

  • Idealism is reflected in their focus on moral progress rather than utilitarian happiness. They had faith in using reason to realize undefined moral ideals and perfect humanity.

  • Liberal idealists, led by thinkers like Dewey, championed democracy and had faith in people’s ability to use reason cooperatively to solve social problems through “organized intelligence.”

So in summary, liberal idealism diverged from political liberalism in seeing individuals as defined by their social relationships more than their rights, and prioritized moral progress through reason over individual pursuit of happiness.

The passage criticizes two core aspects of political liberalism: its emphasis on individualism and its view of inalienable rights.

Regarding individualism, it argues that liberalism wrongly assumes humans are fundamentally solitary individuals, when in fact people are social beings who derive their identities from collective groups like nations. This leads liberalism to downplay nationalism, which has an enormously powerful influence. Nationalism places major limits on liberalism’s ability to shape society.

On rights, the passage claims liberalism’s idea that rights are self-evident and universally recognized is not compelling. The real-world impact of rights is much more limited than liberals assume, even in countries like the US strongly influenced by liberal values.

While these flaws do not completely invalidate liberalism, they reveal limits to liberalism’s ability to shape daily life within nation-states. Nationalism usually wins out when in conflict with liberalism.

The passage also raises the possibility that liberal democracies may be intrinsically unstable because political factions have strong incentives to permanently capture the state and prevent rivals from gaining power. However, mature liberal democracies have some safeguards against this problem.

In summary, the passage critiques liberalism’s assumptions around individualism and rights, arguing they underestimate the power of nationalism and collective identities in shaping society.

  • Before nations emerged, social groups in Europe were more fluid and identities were more malleable. Groups like the Goths or Vandals could rise and fall quickly over generations.

  • With the rise of nations, groups became more tightly integrated and permanent. Boundaries between nations became clearer. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary nation dissolving or transforming identity rapidly.

  • Pre-national Europe was stratified between aristocracy and peasantry, with a huge gap between them. But by the late 1700s, the gap had narrowed as elites and common people communicated in the same language and saw themselves as part of a shared national enterprise.

  • Each nation has a distinct culture comprising shared beliefs, practices, languages, rituals, etc. that distinguish it from other nations. Cultures vary in thickness - more homogeneous nations have thicker cultures while diverse states have thinner cultures.

  • National identity and culture are socially constructed, not predetermined. Elites often play a role in shaping national identity and culture over time. Nations become very resistant to change once established due to socialization and written histories cementing shared traditions.

Here is a summary of the key points in a new political context:

As nations transitioned from oral to literate cultures, social boundaries became more fixed and identities less fluid. This aided the formation of stronger national identities within states.

Most nations pride themselves as superior to others. They emphasize their unique attributes that elevate them above other groups. This “chauvinism” breeds contempt for outsider nations.

Countries craft founding myths that glorify past achievements and villainize rivals to strengthen national pride. They rewrite history to cast themselves in a favorable light.

Territory takes on sacred significance as part of a nation’s cultural heritage. Losing land damages national identity so territories are fiercely defended.

Sovereignty shifted from divine monarchs to “the people.” While autocrats may rule, they claim a mandate from citizens of the nation-state. Even non-democratic regimes invoke popular sovereignty to justify assertive nationalist policies.

In summary, as nations emerged, literate cultures solidified group identities. Countries emphasized uniqueness and bolstered pride through historical myths while fiercely guarding sacred lands. The principle of sovereignty also transferred to citizens, giving nations authority over their political destiny.

  • Historically, governing elites (e.g. dynastic rulers) did not see themselves as servants of the populations they controlled. Instead, they acted to serve their own interests or what they perceived as the state’s interests.

  • Sovereignty is the principle that states have the right to self-governance without external interference in domestic and foreign policy. This applies to both dynastic states and nation-states.

  • Nationalism is associated with democratic ideals because it fosters a strong sense of community and collective self-determination among a group of people defined as a nation. However, nationalism does not necessarily lead to liberalism.

  • Nations serve important psychological and survival functions for their members. They facilitate cooperation, identity, shared culture and history, which enhances group cohesion and chances of survival.

  • For a nation to thrive and fulfill its essential functions, having its own independent state is ideal. This allows for exclusive control over territory and self-governance free from external interference.

The newly emerging nations placed great importance on developing their own nation-states. Each nation wanted to control its own political institutions and determine its own fate, which is best achieved through having an independent state. Nations also wanted their own states to ensure their long-term survival and preservation of their culture. Being a minority within a multinational state presented risks like having their culture suppressed or being targeted in civil wars. States also had incentives to cultivate nationalism to boost economic competitiveness and military strength during the industrial era. Nationalism created cohesive fighting forces and mass popular support for wars. In addition, governing elites fostered nationalism to increase popular allegiance and unity within otherwise fractious societies. This development of nationalism and pursuit of independent nation-states by both nations and states drove the emergence of the modern nation-state system.

Here is a summary of the key points about nation-states:

  • States try to mold their populations into nations to make governance easier. They aim to simplify societies and make them more legible/transparent by reducing heterogeneity. One powerful way is imposing a single official language.

  • This process of simplification and homogenization helps create unified nations and nation-states, even if that was not the original intent. Nation-states have become the dominant political form globally.

  • Liberalism and nationalism can coexist within nation-states. Liberalism operates within the context of nation-states, which provide the framework for individual rights and sovereignty. A purely liberal state without notions of peoplehood/nationalism is not feasible.

  • Nation-states combine aspects of nationalism like shared identity/culture with liberal principles like individual rights. Both dimensions are important for political legitimacy and motivating defense of the state. Civic nationalism based solely on liberal values is not a meaningful concept.

In short, nation-states emerge from states’ efforts to mold heterogeneous populations into more legible and homogeneous nations, combining national identity with liberal governance in practice. Pure nationalism or liberalism alone cannot sustain states.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • Nationalism is a more powerful force than liberalism in society. Nationalism is pervasive and affects daily life more, while liberalism operates within the context of nationalist states.

  • Liberalism and nationalism don’t always conflict. In societies with a single dominant nation and thick shared culture, like the U.S., there can be space for both individual rights and nationalism. Problems arise in multinational states with hostility between groups.

  • Nationalism is better aligned with human nature as people have a strong psychological need to belong to a larger group. Liberalism focuses too much on individual rights and utility maximization rather than community.

  • Liberalism fails to provide a sense of shared community and identity that binds a society together. Nationalism satisfies the emotional need to belong to a nation or people.

  • People have a strong attachment to territory, which is central to nationalism but ignored by liberalism. Overall, nationalism is a more ubiquitous force that addresses core human needs better than liberalism.

So in summary, the passage argues nationalism dominates over liberalism because it is more aligned with human psychology and needs for community, identity and attachment to land, whereas liberalism focuses too much on individualism.

  • Liberals claim that certain rights are universal and inalienable, but this view is problematic for a few theoretical reasons. First, there is no universal agreement on what constitutes “the good life,” so there can be no global consensus on individual rights. Liberalism is fundamentally particularist, not universalist.

  • Second, in practice, people will prioritize stability, security and self-interest over abstract rights, especially in situations of conflict, turmoil or existential threat. Rights take a backseat to other considerations.

  • Third, the concept of national sovereignty means that states determine which rights matter within their own borders. Nationalism is particularist and privileges the rights of citizens over outsiders. This threatens the notion of universal rights.

  • There is also evidence that the idea of natural rights emerged relatively recently in human history and political philosophy. Key premodern thinkers did not necessarily conceive of such rights. And liberals disagree on how to balance competing rights claims.

  • Even rights advocates acknowledge rights can be overridden or limited during supreme emergencies when survival is at stake. And in times of upheaval, stability often trumps democratic rights and ideals. Many populations privilege order over freedoms when stability has broken down.

So in summary, the author argues that the liberal concept of universal, inalienable rights faces both theoretical problems and challenges in real-world implementation given nationalism, conflict, existential threats and historical contingencies.

  • Liberalism aims to establish universal individual rights, but this is difficult due to competing factions within societies. Each faction wants to gain power to shape society according to its views.

  • This creates a temptation for authoritarianism, as one faction may seek to permanently take control of the state rather than relinquish power through elections, as described by James Madison.

  • However, liberal democracy is not necessarily doomed to fail due to this incentive structure. Factors like balanced power among factions, crosscutting social cleavages, economic interdependence, and shared nationalism can help insulate liberal systems from collapse.

  • In particular, no single overwhelmingly powerful faction incentives a power grab, crosscutting identities complicate efforts to consolidate power, economic ties make civil war costly, and nationalism upholds faith in democracy.

  • While liberalism faces challenges due to political competition, these factors provide checks that can sustain liberal democratic stability against the authoritarian temptation over the long run, though it may remain an uneasy equilibrium between factions.

  • When a liberal state is powerful, it will almost always pursue a policy of liberal hegemony - an interventionist foreign policy aimed at spreading liberal democracy globally through regime change and social engineering.

  • The main goals are to protect individuals’ universal human rights everywhere, make the world more peaceful by spreading liberal values, and eliminate ideological competitors that could threaten liberal states.

  • Liberals argue spreading democracy facilitates peace by fostering transnational respect for rights and limiting nationalism. It also enhances economic prosperity.

  • However, the author argues liberal states are rarely in a position to pursue hegemony, as they normally face competition from other great powers requiring realist foreign policies based on balance of power.

  • While liberal hegemony may be possible in a unipolar world with no competition, as demonstrated by the US post-Cold War, it tends to go badly due to resistance to interference and the difficulty of implanting liberal democracy in foreign cultures.

  • Nationalism and realism, not liberalism, have largely shaped the international system and will continue to do so given anarchy among sovereign states.

  • Liberals believe liberal democracy should be promoted globally as a foreign policy goal to advance individual rights and facilitate peace. This would involve regime change and social engineering to transform non-liberal states into liberal democracies.

  • Liberal states are also shaped by nationalism, which reinforces the belief they can transform other countries. American policymakers often claim special qualities that enable the US to instruct other nations.

  • Liberals argue spreading liberal democracy causes peace because liberal democracies do not fight wars with each other due to shared respect for individual rights. This restrains realism and nationalism between liberal states.

  • Protecting liberalism at home is also a motivation, as non-liberal states can support internal anti-liberal enemies ideologically and materially. Transforming such states removes this threat.

  • Pursuing an ambitious strategy of global regime change generally requires a highly powerful state able to topple foreign regimes at low cost and build stable liberal democracies, which modern liberalism is committed to but not always feasible.

  • A liberal foreign policy seeks to maximize the number of liberal democracies in the world through pursuing three missions: protecting individual rights, building international institutions, and promoting an open international economy.

  • International institutions aim to establish rules to guide state behavior and peacefully settle disputes, in line with liberal values of rule of law and rights protections.

  • Liberals favor economic globalization as it advances individual pursuits of prosperity while making states economically interdependent and less likely to go to war.

  • However, foreign policy elites are generally more committed to liberal hegemony than the average public, which tends to be more nationalist. Elites are better educated, cosmopolitan, and have a material interest in an activist foreign policy.

  • No great power can pursue liberal hegemony in a multipolar system, as realist competition for power is inevitable without a global authority. Liberalism depends on hierarchy and becomes realism absent a world state.

So in summary, it outlines the goals of liberal foreign policy but argues realist competition makes its pursuit infeasible in a multipolar world system lacking a dominant authority.

  • Intentions are difficult to discern as they are in the heads of policymakers, while capabilities like military assets are visible and easier to measure. During the Cold War, the US could count Soviet tanks but not know intentions.

  • States are always concerned about their survival. They want to maintain physical survival, territorial integrity, and sovereignty without being coerced by others.

  • In anarchy there is no central authority, so states must provide for their own security through self-help. Alliances are not guaranteed and states have no permanent friends or enemies.

  • To survive, states compete for power which is seen as the means to security. Being powerful deters attacks and supports warfighting if needed. States aim to maximize their own power relative to others.

  • This systemic competition for power in anarchy creates fear and incentives for states to see others as potential threats. War is an ever-present risk due to unclear intentions and capabilities.

  • Realism is a timeless theory applicable beyond modern states to anytime violence is possible between autonomous actors without a higher authority, like drug cartels or lawless frontiers. It explains the decline of violence as the reach of states has expanded.

  • Liberalism assumes that individuals have inalienable rights, but these rights cannot be protected in the international system due to anarchy (lack of a global authority).

  • This means that liberal states, despite promoting rights and norms of conflict resolution, essentially behave like realist states when it comes to international relations - focusing on survival and power dynamics between states in anarchy.

  • Liberal foreign policy can only truly operate according to its principles if there is a world state to enforce rights across borders. Otherwise it defaults to realism.

  • Occasionally a unipolar power can pursue liberal hegemony by promoting democracy, but success is limited given entrenched cultures, soft support for rights, and nationalism within other states. Transforming other societies is extremely difficult.

  • Even liberal great powers usually cannot ignore realism and must consider the balance of power, making large-scale liberal intervention rare and risky. Promoting rights abroad often backfires due to these obstacles.

So in summary, liberal principles are difficult to apply in international relations without a global authority, forcing even liberal states to behave more like realists when dealing with other sovereign entities in an anarchic system.

  • Nationalism tends to overcome liberal ideals when considering foreign policy, as people feel a stronger attachment to their own nation and view outsiders as different and less deserving of rights.

  • Even liberal countries like the US do not generally value foreigners’ rights equally or see themselves as equally responsible for protecting foreigners. Americans are more concerned about American deaths than those of foreigners.

  • Promoting liberalism abroad through social engineering is difficult given nationalist tendencies and resistance from target countries and other states concerned about shifts in power. Spreading democracy has thus often failed.

  • Building international institutions and economic ties is more consistent with realism and liberalism, so these goals have seen more success, though liberals and realists disagree on whether they promote peace.

  • A foreign policy based on modus vivendi liberalism would be less interventionist and opposed to social engineering abroad due to concerns about nationalism, self-determination, and slippery slopes toward overextension. It would favor restraint and non-interference more than progressive liberalism.

The modern international system of sovereign nation-states emerged over the last 500 years from a heterogeneous collection of political entities like empires, city-states, and principalities that existed before. Two main forces drove this transformation - nationalism and realism.

Realism, with its emphasis on state survival and power politics, helped the state form emerge as the dominant political unit. States proved superior at extracting resources and building military power to compete in the cutthroat security environment of Europe. This gave states an advantage over other entities.

Nationalism also contributed significantly. As nations began forming in Europe, they strongly preferred having their own state to guarantee long-term cultural and political survival. States also benefited from nationalism as a source of legitimacy and military power.

Together, nationalism and realism created powerful incentives for political units to take the form of nation-states. Over centuries, this spread globally and led to the current international system dominated by sovereign nation-states. Realism and power politics helped the state system arise initially, while nationalism reinforced it and drove the transition to nation-states in particular. This transformation, more than liberalism or other ideologies, defines the modern political world.

  • Central governments cultivate national identities and nation-states for reasons beyond just security, such as economic and administrative benefits. It is easier to govern a country with a unified culture and strong bonds between citizens and the state.

  • Nationalism is a powerful force that has overridden other ideologies like Marxism. Marxist ideology predicted the working classes would unite internationally, but they still fought for their nation-states in WWI. Attempts to weaken nationalism even failed in the Soviet Union.

  • The contemporary system of nation-states has emerged from the interaction of nationalism and balance of power politics. Both privilege the state and aim for survival. Liberalism has played a secondary role at best in shaping the modern world.

  • A world state is not feasible in the near future. Nation-states are unlikely to voluntarily give up sovereignty. Generating a universal global culture to underpin such a state also seems impossible. Conquest by a single dominant power is not achievable given resistance from other nations.

  • Without a world state, international anarchy will persist, forcing nations to act according to realist principles of self-help and power balancing for security. Liberal internationalism is unlikely to succeed under anarchy. Its pursuit may backfire by fostering instability.

The passage discusses the concept of “liberal militarism” which refers to liberal states that are willing to use military force to actively promote liberal democratic values and human rights around the world.

Some key points made:

  • Liberal states see it as their responsibility to protect civilians from serious human rights violations like genocide, even if it means intervening militarily in other countries.

  • The goal of spreading liberal democracy is also seen as making the world safer and more prosperous. So military force can be used to remove non-liberal regimes and promote regime change.

  • Examples given are the Bush Doctrine’s goal of democratizing the Middle East after 9/11 and invading Iraq in 2003. Promoting democracy was seen as a way to confront terrorism and security threats.

  • Liberal hegemony by a powerful state like the US makes perpetual war more likely since there are many non-liberal regimes in the world.

  • Liberal hegemony also makes diplomacy with authoritarian states more difficult, further increasing the risk of war, as diplomacy requires concessions but liberal ideals see other systems as illegitimate.

So in summary, the passage argues that liberal values combined with military power can lead states to take an interventionist and militaristic approach to actively spreading liberal ideals around the world through threat or use of force.

The passage discusses how liberalism and the pursuit of liberal hegemony can undermine respect for sovereignty and increase the likelihood of war with illiberal states. Some key points:

  • Sovereignty is a core principle of international relations that aims to minimize war by respecting states’ authority within their own borders. However, liberalism involves interfering in other countries’ politics to protect rights and spread democracy.

  • Liberal states find it difficult to diplomatically engage with illiberal opponents, seeing the world in “good vs evil” terms with little room for compromise. This reduces chances for peaceful settlement of disagreements.

  • Liberal intolerance and “loathing” of illiberal states pushes liberal powers to pursue decisive military victories rather than limited wars. They seek the unconditional surrender of opponents viewed as “evil.”

  • Woodrow Wilson exemplified this view after WWI, seeing compromise with Germany as unacceptable and the goal as completely defeating evil forces.

  • Leading liberal politicians like Blair and Fischer acknowledged that liberalism requires qualifying or moving past the traditional notion of non-interference in sovereignty that emerged after the Peace of Westphalia.

So in summary, the passage argues liberalism’s emphasis on rights and democracy promotion undermines respect for sovereignty and increases likelihood of war with illiberal states that are seen as intolerable opponents rather than legitimate rivals.

  • The author argues that pursuing a liberal foreign policy of promoting democracy and human rights has undermined state sovereignty and made it easier for powerful states like the US to intervene militarily in other countries.

  • This erosion of sovereignty and greater interventionism has heightened instability in the international system and fostered endless wars as liberal states feel more justified in fighting to spread their vision of democracy and human rights.

  • Attempts by the US to promote liberalization in major powers like China and Russia through supporting civil society groups, linking trade to human rights, etc. have largely backfired by antagonizing these countries and worsening relations.

  • Regime change efforts in weaker Middle Eastern countries after 9/11 through both military intervention and aid also failed to establish stable democracies, instead producing civil wars and unrest in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria with no end in sight.

  • The author argues social engineering of other societies is beyond the capacity of even powerful liberal states and often does more harm than good.

  • The US fought prolonged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to try to stabilize those countries and install democratic governments, but achieved little success. Both countries remain fractured and unstable, with ongoing conflicts.

  • The US intervened in Libya in 2011 to help overthrow Gaddafi, but Libya has since descended into civil war and chaos with no stable government.

  • When Syria’s civil war began in 2011, the US backed rebel groups seeking to overthrow Assad, spending over $1.5 billion. However, Assad remains in power and the conflict has caused massive death and destruction with no resolution.

  • The Syrian war has generated refugee flows that have strained Europe and fueled far-right anti-immigration sentiments there.

  • In Egypt, the US pushed for democratic reforms but was unable to stabilize the country’s politics. The US intervention contributed to a military coup replacing the elected government.

  • These failed efforts show the limits of social engineering and nation-building in complex foreign societies, especially through military means like occupation which tend to breed resentment and instability rather than democracy.

  • Imposing democracy on another country through intervention is unlikely to work unless certain favorable internal conditions exist in the target country, such as ethnic/religious homogeneity, strong central government, economic prosperity, prior experience with democracy. These conditions are rare in countries where the costs of intervention are low for great powers like the US.

  • The US has a poor track record of successfully establishing liberal democracies through intervention. Out of over 35 interventions since WWII, only one (Colombia) resulted in a stable democracy within 10 years, a success rate of less than 3%. Other studies found superpower interventions often reduced democracy.

  • The cases of democratization in Eastern Europe in 1989 are not examples of externally imposed democracy, as the transitions were homegrown after communist rule collapsed. The US helped but did not impose democracy.

  • Pushing liberal hegemony risks miscalculation with other states following realpolitik logic. This could lead to crises if liberal states fail to consider geopolitical realities. The Ukraine crisis is a case where Western states were blinded by liberal ideals and failed to see Russian geopolitical concerns over NATO expansion.

  • NATO expansion was the most threatening part of the Western strategy to integrate Ukraine. Russia strongly opposed further expansion towards its borders but these concerns were ignored by the US and NATO. The Ukraine crisis resulted from this strategic miscalculation by the West.

  • Russia viewed Western policies like NATO expansion, EU expansion, and democracy promotion in neighboring countries as hostile to its interests and aimed at integrating those countries into the Western sphere of influence.

  • The Ukraine crisis began in late 2013 when Ukraine’s president rejected an EU deal in favor of a Russian counteroffer, sparking large protests. After clashes left over 100 protesters dead, the president fled Ukraine in February 2014.

  • The new pro-Western Ukrainian governmentcontained some members with neofascist leanings and was openly anti-Russian. The West supportedthe coup, further antagonizing Russia.

  • Putin seized Crimea and supported separatists in eastern Ukraine, seeing the West as threatening Russia’s core strategic interests by moving into its backyard. No Russian leader would tolerate a former enemy’s military alliance in Ukraine.

  • Western elites were surprised by Russian actions because they had a flawed view of international politics, believing geopolitics no longer mattered and they could build a “Europe whole and free” based solely on liberal principles like democratization. Their policies inadvertently turned Russia into an enemy.

  • In the post-Cold War period, Western liberal democracies sought to promote democracy and economic integration in Eastern Europe by expanding NATO membership and embedding those countries in international institutions like NATO and the EU. The ultimate goal was to transform the region to look more like Western Europe.

  • During the 2000s, the liberal worldview came to dominate thinking in the West about European security issues. Both the Bush and Obama administrations adhered strongly to liberal principles of promoting democracy and Western ideals abroad.

  • However, pursuing an ambitious agenda of liberal hegemony and regime change abroad tends to undermine liberal values at home. Countries engaged in frequent warfare and seeking to reshape other nations must build up powerful national security states, which threaten civil liberties and transparency.

  • Pursuing liberal hegemony requires high levels of government secrecy that limit accountability and public scrutiny of foreign policy decisions. It also encourages the use of propaganda, deception and even lying to gain public support for military interventions abroad.

  • Over time, an interventionist foreign policy empowers the security state in ways that erode civil liberties, individual rights and the rule of law - the very liberal principles being promoted abroad. Frequent warfare and national emergencies are exploited to curtail speech and monitor citizens.

The passage discusses how democratic governments often prioritize security over civil liberties during perceived times of crisis. It gives examples from US history like Lincoln’s policies during the Civil War and McCarthyism.

It argues the Bush and Obama administrations pursued policies that diminished civil liberties after 9/11 due to exaggerated fears of foreign threats. Three examples are discussed:

  1. Warrantless surveillance and NSA data collection of US citizens, which faced little oversight.

  2. Undermining of due process for “enemy combatants,” through indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo Bay and “extraordinary rendition” torture policies.

  3. Obama’s increased use of drone strikes to assassinate suspects rather than capture them, which circumvented legal oversight and often resulted in civilian casualties.

The passage concludes by connecting these policies to James Scott’s notion of “high-modernist ideology,” where liberal democracies pursue utopian social engineering schemes abroad with overconfidence in their designs and ability to reshape other societies, often with coercive means, leading to disastrous failures when applied in foreign contexts with weak civil societies.

  • Liberal theories argue that increasing liberal democracies, facilitating open trade, and building international institutions will lead to peace. However, these theories have significant flaws and do not provide a clear formula for peace.

  • Democratic peace theory claims democracies don’t fight each other, but it does not predict reduced wars involving non-democracies. Economic interdependence theory argues trade makes wars too costly, but states may prioritize security over prosperity. Liberal institutionalism says commitment to rules deters aggression, but states may disregard rules to act aggressively.

  • Bundling the theories together does not remedy the flaws. Empirical evidence does not clearly show any of the theories have caused peace. The causal logic behind each theory is also not fully compelling.

  • Even accepting the theories on their own terms, they do not diminish the importance states place on survival, which sits at the core of realism. By focusing on conditional claims and uncertainty, liberal theories do not provide a certain path to peace and supersede realism’s emphasis on the survival motive. In total, liberal theories of peace are not persuasive and do not offer a clear formula for a peaceful world.

  • Liberal theories like democratic peace theory, economic interdependence theory, and liberal institutionalism argue that factors like respect for rights, prosperity interests, and adherence to rules can dominate realist concerns about survival.

  • However, these theories all have limited scope - they don’t apply unless certain conditions are present, like the existence of democratic states, strong economic ties, or international institutions. The world has never been populated solely by democracies.

  • None of the theories applied to challenges like the Cold War, as the conditions they require were lacking between the Soviet Union and Western countries.

  • Even if conditions exist to apply one theory between some states, realist logic can still dominate in other relationships that fall outside the theory’s scope, like between a democracy and non-democracy.

  • The theories also fail to completely eliminate the possibility of war, which is necessary to override realist survival priorities. As long as some chance of war remains, states must still act according to realpolitik.

  • The democratic peace theory in particular is flawed - several historical examples show wars have occurred between democracies, contradicting its central claim. Authoritarianism is also rising, reducing the theory’s relevance.

So in summary, while liberal theories aim to diminish realist priorities, they ultimately cannot displace realist logic due to limitations in their scope and inability to guarantee no chance of war between states. Survival concerns therefore remain paramount for states.

  • The passage questions the democratic peace theory, which claims that democracies rarely go to war with each other. It argues this theory has two major problems.

  • The first problem is there are several historical examples of wars between democracies, undermining the statistical significance of democratic peace. Even a few wars would eliminate the difference in warfare rates between democracies and other states.

  • The second problem is the theory offers no compelling explanation for why democracies wouldn’t fight each other. Commonly proposed explanations based on democratic institutions or norms are critically examined and found lacking.

  • Institutional explanations like public aversion to war, difficulty of decision-making, and “audience costs” are not convincing since democracies do initiate wars against non-democracies. Checks and balances don’t prevent swift crisis responses.

  • Normative arguments around democracy promoting conflict resolution, respect, tolerance, trust also don’t fully explain the behavior of real-world democracies in international crises and relations. No explanation is fully satisfactory.

In summary, the passage critiques democratic peace theory by highlighting historical counter-examples and arguing its explanations fail to account for democratic military behavior. This undermines the core claims and statistical significance of the theory.

The passage discusses some key criticisms of the argument that liberal democratic norms significantly reduce the likelihood of war between liberal democracies (the democratic peace theory).

It argues that liberalism and democracy alone cannot ensure peaceful conflict resolution, as they do not guarantee profound disagreements will be resolved non-violently. There is also no overarching authority to enforce norms at the international level like states do domestically.

Nationalism can also undermine liberal democratic norms by emphasizing differences between states and promoting a sense of superiority over others. There is no universal respect for liberal principles of rights.

Empirically, liberal democracies have interfered in each other’s politics and brought other democracies down, contradicting claims of mutual trust and respect. Several cases of liberal democracies coming close to war also show strategic considerations, not norms, determined outcomes.

Liberal democracies also do not necessarily fight “virtuous” wars and often disregard rights and harm civilians when necessary militarily. Backsliding is also possible as no democracy is guaranteed to remain democratic permanently. In summary, realist strategic interests are a more compelling explanation for relations between liberal democracies than liberal democratic norms alone.

The theory of economic interdependence argues that states will avoid war even over intense political differences if they are economically interdependent. Starting a war would have disastrous economic consequences that outweigh any potential political or strategic benefits from war. The theory assumes that states prioritize prosperity over security or survival concerns.

The theory is based on the idea that publics demand their leaders promote economic welfare. If leaders fail to do so or damage the economy through war, they risk being removed from office. Powerful interest groups like bankers also oppose war because it could undermine profits. Economically interdependent states are therefore averse to conflict.

Scholars debate which exact aspects of economic interdependence are most important - trade relations, capital markets, trade enabled by market institutions, or interconnected multinational corporations. However, the core claim is that economic interdependence raises the costs of war, making conflict prohibitively costly. It also argues conquest provides few economic benefits in the modern world.

However, critics argue economic interdependence does not always deter war. The costs of war may be underestimated or some wars can be fought with limited economic impact. Politics often overrides economics, especially regarding core security issues where states prioritize survival over prosperity. There is also little empirical evidence economic interdependence reliably prevents conflict. While it sometimes deters war, it does not guarantee peace between states.

  • Liberal institutionalism argues that international institutions can help promote cooperation between states by establishing rules and organizations to facilitate cooperation. However, it acknowledges institutions have limited impact and cannot compel states.

  • The primary goal of institutions according to liberal institutionalists is to help states cooperate when they have common interests, but lack mechanisms to realize them due to incentives to defect or take advantage. This helps address problems like the prisoners’ dilemma.

  • Institutions have little relevance when states have profound conflicts over important issues, as they will see things as win-lose and compete strongly over security, sometimes leading to war. Institutions cannot effectively resolve deep conflicts between great powers.

  • Liberal institutionalism focuses mainly on fostering economic and environmental cooperation, as states are most likely to need institutional help there. It devotes less attention to security issues where cooperation is more difficult. Military alliances are a form of security institution but have limited impact on great power behavior.

  • In general, liberal institutionalism makes modest claims about what institutions can do and acknowledges their limited influence, especially regarding security issues and great power conflicts where political and strategic factors often outweigh economic or institutional pressures.

  • Liberal institutionalist theories like neoliberal institutionalism claim that international institutions can help facilitate cooperation among states by reducing uncertainty, increasing transparency, and creating mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing agreements.

  • However, in reality international institutions lack any coercive authority over states. They rely on states voluntarily upholding agreements, but states may choose to violate rules when it is in their national interest to do so. Powerful states like the US have violated international law when they felt strategic or moral imperatives outweighed adherence to rules.

  • The threat of cheating or defection is especially serious in security matters, where betrayal could lead to devastating military defeat. Economic cooperation is less risky.

  • Institutions have limited ability to manage disputes between rival powers that have fundamental differences and security competition drives states to pursue their self-interest through maintaining a balance of power.

  • While institutions can help cooperation in areas of common interest, they do not solve the underlying “anarchy problem” in international relations or discourage states from pursuing self-help through balancing power when security is at stake. This is why realism better explains state behavior related to war and peace.

In the international system, there is no overarching authority to protect states from defeat in war. States must rely on themselves in a self-help world where the best way to survive is to amass as much power as possible, even if that requires ruthless policies. While not a pleasant scenario, this realist perspective recognizes the realities of international politics - states prioritize their own survival above all else. According to this view, the alternative of abandoning realism for moral notions like liberal hegemony will not work and is more likely to embroil powerful states in costly, losing wars as they overreach abroad. In essence, the most prudent path for great powers is to practice restraint in foreign policy rather than pursue ambitious goals of remodeling the international system in their image through regime change and institution building.

  • During the Cold War, US policymakers worried that any country governed by communists would help spread communism to neighboring states (domino theory).

  • The US response was to intervene extensively in other countries’ politics to prevent them from becoming communist, through funding allies, sponsoring coups, and direct military intervention.

  • However, this strategy was doomed to fail because social engineering is very difficult, especially from the outside. Nationalism makes populations resistant to foreign interference in their politics.

  • Intervening powers usually don’t understand local cultures and politics. Military interventions often backfire by making the invader look like an oppressor.

  • While some US interventions succeeded temporarily by putting allies in power, they often poisoned long-term relations, as seen with Iran after 1979. Most coup attempts also failed their objectives.

  • Extensive US intervention during the Cold War was immensely costly for target states, with many civilian deaths. The impacts of American actions continue to shape geopolitics decades later.

  • In retrospect, a policy more respectful of nationalism would have been wiser and avoided damaging relations and regional instability.

  • The Domino Theory of the Cold War overstated the danger of communism spreading and underestimated the power of nationalism. Nationalism is a stronger force than ideologies like communism or liberalism.

  • Countries prioritize their own national interests over ideologies, and resent being controlled by other states, even those promoting the same ideology. This explains why communist countries resisted Soviet dominance and later fought each other.

  • The US interventionist policy of trying to control minor powers during the Cold War was misguided. A better approach would have been non-interference and focusing on aligning interests rather than ideology. This may have won over public sentiment.

  • Nationalism explains why communist Vietnam fought communist Cambodia/China, and why the US now has good relations with Vietnam despite their past conflict being “unnecessary.”

  • Instead of intervention, the US should have encouraged the Soviets to get bogged down in unwinnable conflicts like Afghanistan. Restraint is generally the best strategy for major powers dealing with smaller nations.

  • In a multipolar world with rising powers like China, realism will likely replace liberal hegemony as the guiding US foreign policy approach. However, liberal tendencies may still influence policy on the margins. The dangers of overriding nationalism must also continue to be recognized.

  • If Chinese growth slows significantly while the US continues growing, unipolarity may reemerge and allow the US to keep promoting liberal hegemony without challenge. Maintaining sole superpower status reduces the need for realism.

  • Even if the US suffered further foreign policy disasters, its security would not be endangered as no other great power could directly threaten it due to geographic barriers.

  • It would be difficult for the US to abandon its goal of promoting liberal democracy globally, as liberal democracies see creating more liberal states as desirable. Obama tried but failed to change the foreign policy establishment’s approach.

  • However, there is some hope if the US embraces a realist, restraint-based foreign policy once the flaws of liberal hegemony become clear through experience. Trump’s election showed liberal hegemony is vulnerable.

  • To help ensure this transition, a counter-elite need to make the case for restraint through new institutions. Emphasizing restraint is in America’s national interest given its security situation and the costs, failures, and damage to democratic values from recent interventionist policies.

  • Younger generations and the public are promising audiences as they are less invested in the status quo. An appeal to balanced nationalism, focused on American well-being, could gain support for restraint over continued burden of liberal hegemony.

  • The book argues for a realist-based foreign policy over the current liberal hegemony approach taken by the US. A realist policy emphasizes national interests and power politics over promoting democracy and human rights globally.

  • A realist policy would be more restrained and avoid overreach. The best way to spread democracy is by building a strong democracy at home that others want to emulate, not through coercion abroad.

  • Liberal hegemony is a tough policy to change as the foreign policy elite strongly support it. But it tempts overreach and mission creep.

  • Competition from a rising China may end unipolarity and the question of liberal hegemony, forcing the US to compete with a peer. But it would be better to retain unipolarity without liberal hegemony through American public understanding of realism’s virtues and restraint.

  • The book aims to help Americans understand the dangers of liberal foreign policy and arguments for a more restrained, realist approach focused on national interests and power politics over coercion to spread democracy.

Here is a summary of the key points from the sources provided:

  • Alasdair MacIntyre argues in After Virtue that we cannot reach agreement on ethical or moral principles due to the limits of our rational faculties. This view is echoed by other philosophers like Stuart Hampshire and Bernard Williams.

  • Max Weber notes that different value systems or “gods” struggle with one another, and there is no objective way to decide which culture is superior.

  • Brian Leiter contrasts legal positivism, which sees law as determined by social facts, with legal realism which is skeptical of using moral reasoning to decide cases.

  • Ronald Dworkin argues that judges must consider principles of political morality in hard cases, and reject a purely positivist view of law as determined by social facts alone.

  • Jonathan Haidt’s social intuitionist model maintains that moral judgment is driven more by intuition than reasoning, which often comes after the judgment to rationalize it.

  • David Hume was skeptical of reason’s ability to directly guide our conduct, arguing that passions and sentiments are more influential. John Dewey also emphasized the social and experiential basis of reasoning over pure rationalism.

  • Scholars note the social nature of human development and question theories that see humans as fundamentally atomistic individuals in a state of nature prior to society. Culture and community are highly influential.

  • Liberalism emerged as a philosophy that seeks to protect individual rights and limit the power of government and political authorities. Key early liberal thinkers included John Locke, who emphasized natural rights like life, liberty, and property.

  • Liberalism holds that individuals should be free to pursue their needs and desires without interference, as long as they do not infringe on the equal rights of others. This includes toleration of different religious and political views.

  • The state’s role in liberalism is to act as an impartial umpire that protects rights and resolves conflicts, not to promote any particular moral or religious doctrine. Government is seen as a necessary evil that should be limited.

  • Nationalism is important for liberal democracies, as it provides the deep cultural ties between citizens and the state needed for such systems to function and survive over the long term.

  • Some critiques argue liberalism can lead to spiritual emptiness or fails to address important questions about meaning and community. However, liberal thinkers believe individuals should be free to deal with such questions themselves rather than having the government promote any single view.

Here is a summary of the key points from pages 127 of Stephen Holmes’s book “Public Reason Revisited” (1999):

  • Holmes argues that classical liberals believed politics should be limited to maintaining a framework for cooperation and commerce, with minimal state interference in civil society. The goal was peaceful coexistence among free individuals pursuing their own conception of the good life.

  • In contrast, modern progressive liberals see politics as a process for identifying and promoting the right view of the good life. They want to use state power to culturally engineer a more just, compassionate and harmonious social order.

  • For classical liberals, the purpose of politics is to establish neutral rules to adjudicate clashes of interest in a just yet tolerant way. For progressive liberals, politics aims to instill certain ethical values and nurture specific virtues in citizens.

  • This shifts politics from facilitation of modus vivendi to inculcation of a comprehensive moral worldview. It transforms liberalism from a mere guarantee of negative liberty to an agent of moral and cultural transformation.

Rawls shows a reluctance to focus on states in his book The Law of Peoples, purposefully avoiding discussing states which are usually seen as the main actors in international politics. Instead, he talks mainly about peoples, which are typically given less attention in international relations scholarship. This displays Rawls’s hesitance to fully embrace the power and role of the modern state.

Here is a summary of the sources provided:

The passage discusses liberalism and communitarianism. It notes that the communitarian critique of Rawlsian liberalism fostered growth in liberal idealist work in recent decades. It referenced the book The New Liberalism: Reconciling Liberty and Community by Simhony and Weinstein as discussing this issue.

It then provides quotes and discussions of works by philosophers like T.H. Green, Dewey, and Hegel related to topics like natural rights, the relationship between the individual and society, and the state. It analyzes how liberal idealists viewed integrating liberalism and nationalism. The passage also references other works exploring topics like nationalism, internationalism, the state, and how different theorists like Green, Bosanquet, Dewey and Zimmern viewed related issues. Overall, it examines the philosophical underpinnings and debates within liberalism and between liberalism and communitarianism on issues of the individual, society, and the state.

  • The primary loyalty of residents in the Roman Empire was to their social group and local territory, not to a singular Roman identity. People identified more with class, occupation or city than an overarching Roman ethnicity.

  • Similarly, in medieval and early modern Europe, most people identified with their local community, occupation or social class rather than a broader national identity. Peasants thought in local terms and aristocrats had cosmopolitan, multi-national connections.

  • The concept of a unified “Roman identity” disappeared in Europe after Rome fell, except in the city of Rome itself. The Holy Roman Empire encompassed many social groups but most inhabitants did not see themselves as Roman.

  • Nationalism later played a key role in destroying the remnants of that loosely-knit imperial system in the 19th century by promoting stronger exclusive national identities over local or multi-national affiliations.

  • Xi Jinping said China will never allow any territory to split off from China. He said China will not accept any harm to its national sovereignty, security, or development interests.

  • However, China has settled some territorial disputes with neighbors through compromise and surrendering some territory. There are large territories China considers sacred lands that rightfully belong to China and it would never surrender willingly.

  • While controlling territory is not as important today for economic and security reasons as in the past, nationalism makes people care more deeply about homeland territory on an emotional level. However, not all occupied or sought after lands are considered equally sacred.

  • In summary, Xi reiterated China’s firm stance on territorial integrity while acknowledging China has compromised on some borders before. But there are key lands, likely including Tibet, Xinjiang, and possibly Taiwan, that China considers integral parts of its sacred homeland territory.

Here are summaries of two of the sources referenced in the passage:

Offmann (1998): In his 1998 book, Offmann discusses liberalism and its relationship to peace, though no specifics are provided in the passage.

Fischer (2000): In a 2000 paper, Markus Fischer discusses the “liberal peace” and examines it from ethical, historical, and philosophical perspectives. The passage specifically references pages 22-27 and 56, which likely discuss the relationship between liberalism and peace, but no direct quotes or claims are presented.

The passage provides references to various other academic works on topics related to liberalism, nationalism, democracy, and rights but does not include substantive summaries of their arguments. The references are generally used to support different claims made in the paragraph they appear in.

Here is a summary of the key points about the concept of human rights in history based on the sources provided:

  • The concept of inalienable human rights first gained widespread attention in the late 18th century with the American Declaration of Independence (1776) and French Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789). However, for the next 150 years, individual rights were not a major focus in the West.

  • Hunt argues that human rights again became an important subject of discussion in 1948. Moyn argues it was not until 1977 that human rights gained real prominence and became “the last utopia.”

  • Both Hunt and Moyn see contingency as central to the development of human rights. Hunt argues against natural rights, saying rights only have meaning within a political context. For Moyn, human rights were just one appealing ideology among others.

  • The story of human rights put forth by Hunt and Moyn highlight how the concept has waxed and waned in importance over time and has been shaped by contingent political factors, rather than having a linear or inevitable progression. The meaning and prominence of human rights has depended on the specific historical context.

  • Fischer adds that both Hunt’s and Moyn’s accounts present human rights as ideological concepts that gain or lose political traction depending on circumstances, rather than as innate or naturally existing rights.

  • Great powers are sometimes willing to allow an important ally to gain economic advantage at their expense because it is necessary to deter or fight against an especially powerful adversary. However, this realist logic has nothing to do with promoting global justice.

  • Huntington and Walt argue that declining American influence is in part due to failures of the foreign policy elite to adjust grand strategy in the face of changing geopolitical realities.

  • Realism comes in human nature and structural forms. Structural realism, as presented in the text, emphasizes that the international system causes states to pursue power.

  • For structural realists like Mearsheimer, states’ main goal is survival in an anarchic international system lacking central authority. This causes states to pursue power in order to be secure.

  • No state can be a global hegemon due to geographical constraints. Regional hegemony is the best a state can achieve.

  • Anarchy in the international system and self-help nature of states causes security competition and balancing behavior according to realist theory.

  • Realism argues that states are the main actors in international politics and are primarily concerned with security and relative gains, not absolute ones.

  • Liberalism works at the domestic level but not internationally where states see each other as threats in an anarchic system and act according to balance of power logic.

  • A world state is impossible for similar geographical reasons that rule out global hegemony. The units that make up the international system, such as states, do not affect realism as a theory.

  • Liberalism can contribute to instability and conflict in the international system in certain circumstances, contrary to its aspirations of promoting peace. Its emphasis on spreading democratic values and human rights can motivate interventionism.

  • The Bush Doctrine after 9/11 captured this tendency, seeking to promote democracy worldwide and engaging in preemptive wars against “rogue states” seen as threatening. This widens the potential for conflict.

  • Invoking universal principles like “humanity” against opponents risks dehumanizing them and fueling extreme hostility and inhumanity in war. It becomes a secular crusade rather than restrained conflict.

  • Realists argue this interventionism is destabilizing and that sovereignty and political independence of states must be respected to have a functioning international order. while liberals want to reform other nations, fueling potential disorder.

  • International institutions created by liberalism to regulate state behavior have limited effectiveness and states still pursue self-interest in an anarchic system, so instability from liberal interventionism is still possible.

Here is a summary of the key sources regarding the Treaty of Westphalia and sovereignty:

  • The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 is often seen as marking the beginning of the modern international system based on sovereign statehood. Leo Gross’s 1948 article characterized it as establishing the principles of territorial integrity and non-intervention.

  • However, more recent scholars challenge this interpretation. Andreas Osiander argues the Westphalian system is a myth and elements of sovereignty predated 1648. Derek Croxton claims Westphalia consolidated rather than created sovereignty.

  • Daniel Philpott agrees Westphalia signaled the consolidation rather than creation of sovereignty, which had been developing over the prior three centuries.

  • While Westphalia was important, sovereignty emerged gradually over time through the accumulation of state power rather than appearing instantly in 1648. The sources suggest Westphalia reflected and reinforced emerging norms of sovereignty but did not establish them on its own. The modern international system evolved over a long period.

  • The US has adopted a largely “do-nothing” policy in the Middle East, providing some assistance to allies like Saudi Arabia but avoiding significant military intervention.

  • The US has provided aerial refueling, intelligence, and bombs to Saudi Arabia for its military intervention in Yemen’s civil war since 2015.

  • However, the Saudi air campaign in Yemen has involved widespread bombing of civilian targets and inflicted enormous suffering on the Yemeni people.

  • So while the US backs Saudi Arabia, it has adopted a hands-off approach overall in the region and avoided committing ground troops or taking a leading role in conflicts like the Yemen war.

  • The policy has been one of providing limited support to allies without direct US military involvement on the ground. It represents a more restrained stance compared to past major interventions in the region.

In summary, the US “do-nothing” policy entails providing some forms of assistance to allies but not engaging directly in regional conflicts through military force on the ground. It reflects a less interventionist approach than past administrations.

Here is a summary of chapters 1-4 of Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I. B. Tauris, 2015) and chapter 2 of Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post–Cold War Order (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015):

Chapters 1-2 of Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands provide historical background on Ukraine. Ukraine has long been divided between tendencies toward Russia and the West. Russian dominance extended back to the Kievan Rus state. Ukraine gained independence after the fall of the Russian Empire and Bolsheviks in WWI but then became part of the Soviet Union in 1922. Chapters 3-4 discuss the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s independence in 1991. Ukraine had strong economic and cultural ties to Russia but also a desire to pursue its own interests. The division between Ukraine’s western and eastern regions grew over relations with Europe and Russia.

Chapter 2 of Conflict in Ukraine analyzes the roots of the 2014 crisis. It discusses NATO expansion and the debate over whether this contributed to tensions. While NATO argued expansion was peaceful, Russia saw it as a threat. The chapter also examines disagreements over the EU Association Agreement, which Russia opposed as pulling Ukraine away economically. These developments exacerbated Ukraine’s internal divisions and helped spark the 2014 revolution and Russian annexation of Crimea.

There is no summary to provide for the given information. The prompt asks to summarize details from a source titled ”, Cambridge, MA, June 5, 1997.” However, no text or details are provided from that specific source. The prompt only lists other sources and quotes but does not include any content directly from the named source date and location. Therefore, a summary cannot be generated from the information given.

Here is a summary of the selected sources:

  • The major critiques of audience costs theory include works by Downes and Sechser (2012), Snyder and Borghard (2011), and Trachtenberg (2012). These argue that the theory of audience costs is flawed or overstates the constraints it places on leaders.

  • Lewis (2014) and Trachtenberg (2014) specifically discuss Nixon, Vietnam, and Kennedy/Vietnam in the context of audience costs.

  • Rosato outlines three additional institutional explanations for democratic peace beyond the main three, but argues they do not provide compelling causal stories. These explanations relate to leader caution, anti-war groups, and surprise attacks.

  • Owen found democratic structures were nearly as likely to drive states to war as restrain them. Russett also notes wars can be driven by democratic governance structures.

  • Other works cited discuss further evidence supporting democratic peace theory, such as its relation to just war theory and liberalism.

  • However, critiques note democracies still engage in military interventions and target civilians, questioning how “pacific” they truly are. Concerns are also raised about the current state of global democracy.

  • Additional theories discussed include how economic interdependence and capitalism could promote peace between states through trade and economic linkages. However, countries have also engaged in trade during wartime.

This summarizes key arguments and concepts from the sources referenced in the prompt, but does not provide a full summary of any single source. It discusses realist perspectives on the ability of international institutions to constrain states and promote cooperation, citing several scholars. It references the role of hegemony in enabling cooperation according to structural realists. It also briefly discusses liberal perspectives on how institutions can shape state interests and behavior over time.

Here is a summary of the relevant paragraphs:

Paragraphs 1-7 provide background information, citing scholars who argue against using force to spread liberal democracy (paragraphs 1 and 2) and scholars who outline realist theories of international politics that emphasize constraints on power (paragraphs 3-7).

Paragraph 8 distinguishes between major powers and minor powers in terms of their strategic importance to the United States.

Paragraphs 9-13 discuss the importance of understanding unintended consequences of actions and avoiding overconfidence in being able to control outcomes, citing realist theorists and historical examples.

Paragraph 14 briefly mentions another scholar’s work on covert regime change operations.

Paragraphs 15-17 discuss the massive death and destruction caused by United States military interventions in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East, as well as historical studies on escalation dynamics.

Paragraph 18 concludes by citing Stephen Walt’s work on the failures of American foreign policy elites.

The summary also mentions that the paragraphs reference additional works for further information, including works by Axelrod and Keohane on cooperation under anarchy.

Here is a summary of Stephen Walt’s book The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy:

  • The book argues that the foreign policy doctrine of liberal hegemony pursued by the U.S. since the end of the Cold War is misguided and has hastened the decline of American primacy. Liberal hegemony seeks to promote democracy, human rights, free trade, and international institutions globally through military interventionism and nation-building.

  • Walt claims this strategy is based on unrealistic assumptions about other states’ willingness to cooperate and America’s ability to remake other societies. It has incurred massive financial and human costs and alienated potential partners. A realist, restrained approach would better serve U.S. interests.

  • The book traces how liberal hegemony became the dominant American grand strategy, despite predictions by realist scholars of its risks and limitations. Key events that propelled its adoption include the 1991 Gulf War, NATO expansion, and the aftermath of 9/11.

  • Walt argues liberal hegemony has negatively impacted American security, finances, democracy, and alliances. It has embroiled the U.S. in unwinnable wars and magnified threats like terrorism and illiberal populism. A strategic pivot toward offshore balancing is recommended.

  • In conclusion, Walt contends realist thinking offers a healthier vision of a sustainable unipolar world where U.S. power is balanced with restraint, not wasted in unnecessary crusades to remake the global order alone.

Here is a summary of the key points about liberal hegemony from the passage:

  • Liberal hegemony refers to the dominance of liberal democratic values and institutions globally, motivated by powers like the U.S. and Britain.

  • It aims to promote goals like global peace, justice, open markets, and human rights worldwide.

  • However, in practice it has often relied on militarism, war, and regime change interventions which undermine its goals and harm domestic liberalism.

  • By adopting a missionary zeal and intolerance of other viewpoints, it has hindered diplomacy and cooperation with non-liberal states.

  • Its promotion of rapid democratic and economic changes has often led to instability in target countries and regions like Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

  • While intended to maintain peace, the failure and overreach of liberal hegemony may paradoxically increase conflict and undermine the norms of democratic peace theory.

  • In general the passage argues liberal hegemony has failed to achieve its aims and instead brought significant negative geopolitical consequences through its aggressive and coercive application globally.

Here is a summary of the key points about liberalism from the provided text:

  • Liberalism prioritizes individualism, reason, tolerance, and rights. It sees the good life as one of individual freedom and sees human nature as driven by self-interest.

  • There are two main types - modus vivendi liberalism, which sees a limited role for the state in protecting negative rights and security, and progressive liberalism, which supports a more active state role in promoting positive rights and social welfare.

  • Liberalism emphasizes universal principles of morality and freedom but this can clash with nationalism’s focus on particular ethnic or cultural groups. Nationalism is a key difference from liberalism.

  • Liberalism faces criticisms that its norms are not viable in international politics due to issues like different cultural values and the primacy of sovereignty and survival in relations between states. Liberal hegemony may also undermine political stability.

  • Liberalism aims for pluralism, democracy, individual liberties, and peace between states, but mechanisms proposed for achieving this include liberal idealism, utilitarianism, modus vivendi liberalism, and progressive liberalism. Each has strengths and limitations.

  • Key debates discussed include the appropriate role of the state, tensions between individualism/universalism and particularism/nationalism, and whether international politics is amenable to liberal principles or requires alternative frameworks like realism.

  • Progressivism had both bounded and unbounded forms in the United States. Bounded progressivism sought modest reforms within the existing system, while unbounded progressivism pursued more extensive social engineering.

  • In the early 20th century, progressivism achieved a triumph in the US through the implementation of both bounded and unbounded reforms. This represented the triumph of social engineering ideas in American politics.

  • Realism understands international politics based on human nature, national interests defined in terms of power, and the anarchic structure of the international system without global government. Realism sees states as primarily concerned with their own survival in a dangerous world.

  • Realism maintains that international relations can be best understood through realist theories and that the modern state system is based on realist assumptions of politics as a competition for power. In contrast, liberalism believes international cooperation is possible through institutions and shared democratic values.

  • The public and public opinion are ideas that liberal idealists and utilitarians have had faith in to promote cooperation. However, realism and historical examples show the public can also incline toward conflict and war in international relations.

Here is a summary of some key points from the passage:

  • The passage discusses American foreign policy and its advocacy for liberal interventionism and the promotion of democracy and human rights globally. It notes debates around these approaches.

  • It discusses nationalism and popular understandings of rights within the US over time. Also mentions progressivism in the early 20th century.

  • Makes recommendations for the future direction of US foreign policy.

  • Notes the regional hegemony and global influence of the US. Discusses relations between the US and both Russia and Ukraine in recent decades.

  • Analyzes the concept of universalism and how it relates to liberalism, morality, and justifications for interventionism.

  • Summarizes views on utility maximization and utilitarianism in relation to liberal thought.

  • Provides an overview of perspectives from different scholars discussed in the passage.

  • Mentions periods like the Venezuelan Crisis, Vietnam War, and post-Cold War era in discussing US policies and use of military force over time.

So in summary, it touches on America’s role in the world according to a liberal viewpoint, debates within the US on these issues, and recommendations for the future of US foreign policy.

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