High Noon in the IR Corral

Dan Drezner and Anne Marie Slaughter are having a debate over whether realism or new liberalism better describe world affairs.  It began with a column by Slaughter in the Atlantic, which led to this response by Drezner, and then this riposte from Slaughter.  Very interesting reading for the IR set.

(Edit: This debate has legs.  Since my original post, Drezner put up another post on the subject.  Furthermore, Dan Trombly and Henry Farrell have written very interesting (and long) posts weighing in on the debate).

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About Jake Wobig

I teach international relations and comparative politics at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina
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4 Responses to High Noon in the IR Corral

  1. Alex Kroeger says:

    This has been interesting reading indeed. After following the debate, two points are worth further discussion. The first is that Drezner has the upper hand in this debate. Slaughter provides a very lazy discussion of realism which she contrasts with her networked/liberal/social/did I say networked view of world politics. This is not to say that realism, particularly the structural branch developed by Kenneth Waltz, can explain everything in the realm of world politics. Those who believe it can or attempt to refute the theory on that basis need to go back and read Theory of International Politics (if it doesn’t make your head hurt, you’re not reading carefully). This error is compounded by Slaughter’s inductive generalizations which Drezner correctly points out in his response.
    Which leads me to my second point: Slaughter is right on when she states that “What is at stake is nothing less than what we think foreign policy is actually about.” While this tempts me to discuss the nuances of structural realism, I will resist that urge for now. The statement does, however, highlight a broader issue. This debate is really about each scholars understanding of theory and science as it applies to international relations. This almost makes the banter about networks and social forces irrelevant. Discussing this basic disagreement certainly would certainly not settle the debate, but it would help clarify the fundamental differences in each scholars approach to IR.

  2. Jake Wobig says:

    Alex, do you ever read Dan Trombly’s blog? He’s a grad student at Columbia and a really smart guy; he weighed on the debate on his blog and I think you might like his angle:

    http://slouchingcolumbia.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/old-school-realism-and-the-problem-of-society/

    Secondly, the question that naturally arises from your comment is: What is foreign policy about? I think it would be both fun and beneficial for some of us grad students to have this discussion. What do you think – should we make this a thing? Could be an event, a blog discussion, a debate or debates, etc. Or I could set up an online forum and link it to the blog. I think this sounds fun and I bet a few other people would also.

  3. Alex Kroeger says:

    I think it would be worthwhile and should help us better understand what we are actually doing. At the very least, this gives us another chance to argue and make fools of ourselves. I’m not sure what format would be best, but what about turning this into a brown bag event followed by an online forum on the blog?

  4. Jake Wobig says:

    I like it.

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