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Torbjørn L. Knutsen

The atomic bomb ended World War II. It also opened up for a new, post-war peace: a world order divided between the USA and the USSR. The two, rivalling, extra-European powers were trying to outdo each other in ideological prowess and atomic capabilities. Their efforts divided the world in two ideological camps and two spheres of influence. Within the Western camp, interstate relations were largely conceived in terms of liberal internationalism. Relations between the two atomic superpowers, however, were approached in power-political terms. The USA knew little about the inner workings of the USSR. US analysts compensated for scant empirical knowledge by developing theories about Soviet behavior and models of US-Soviet interaction. Such efforts, which drew heavily on rational-actor models and statistical techniques from Economics and Engineering, stimulated several new approaches – more technical or scientific than those invoked by IR scholars in the past. Among the new approaches were game-theory and systems-theory. Their advance sowed the seeds for a big debate about the most suitable methodology for the study of IR: the new, behaviouralist approach or the traditional, historical approach.

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
The Cold War after Stalin
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

This chapter presents the early, tense period of the Cold War and examines the IR theories that evolved under its impact. First, studies of the superpower rivalry stimulated the rise of the new field of ‘security studies’ – a scientific spin-off from the Realist tradition. On its heels followed the development of ‘peace research’, informed by an anti-war sentiments and left-wing theories. Second, studies of the increasing cooperation within the West revived old, liberal theories of interdependence and triggered new and special theories of integration. Third, anti-Western rebellions and wars in the colonies – what was increasingly termed ‘The Third World’ – brought in radical theories of exploitation and dependency to IR. This proliferation of approaches spurred IR scholars to chart and systematize the theories of their field. This chapter discusses two such efforts during the 1950s. First, those of Martin Wight who sought to chart the three different traditions of Realism, Rationalism and Revolutionism. Then, the efforts of Kenneth Waltz, who mapped IR theories in terms of the three different images or levels of analysis: that of the individual, the societal and the systemic.

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
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The coming of the neo-liberal world
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

At the end of the 1970s the West reasserted its liberal ideals of rational individuals and free, self-interested interaction. Britain, the USA and other nations along the north-Atlantic rim initiated structural reforms to deal with problems that plagued their modern, industrial societies – economic stagnation, uncertain energy supplies and environmental pollution were foremost among them. Liberal reforms soon swept other regions of the world as well. Even some communist nations embraced market-economic principles. This rise of a liberal sentiment also impacted IR, whose theorists toned down the simple structural approaches of the past and were deeply affected by actor-focused assumptions of individual rationality and models of free-market interaction. This chapter focuses on one theoretical debate that dominated IR throughout the 1980s: that of the merits of Neorealism – an approach which relied on structural as well as on rational-actor based assumptions.

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
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Torbjørn L. Knutsen

The collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War altered the international system. For half a century, its bipolar structure had affected the behavior of the world’s states. Suddenly, the collapse of the USSR left the USA as the world’s only remaining, ubiquitous superpower. The collapse suddenly released a score of states from Soviet dominance; all of them sought to preserve and enhance their new-won independence while scrambling for new alignments to help maximize their wealth and security. The result was realignments and flux. Pessimistic observers saw breakdown of order and increasing uncertainty. Optimistic observers saw new opportunities and a new world order based self-determination. The optimistic attitude prevailed in the West. This chapter explores this optimism. It considers in particular the resurgence of neo-idealist values which informed the liberal-democratic activism of the USA and its Western allies. The prime reflection of this neo-idealist thrust was the theory of the democratic peace, which is presented and assessed in this chapter.

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
Torbjørn L. Knutsen

IR changed during World War II. This chapter tries to show how. First, it presents the war aims of the major belligerents – Germany, Britain, the USSR and the USA. It spends some time on Germany’s war aims before it zeroes in on the US approach to the war and its visions of the post-war peace. The main vision was liberal and internationalist in nature. It was expressed by President F.D. Roosevelt who drove a purposeful war-time diplomacy to lay down the institutional foundations for a liberal post-war order. The chapter discusses Roosevelt’s war-time conferences with Churchill and Stalin. It then takes up the criticism of the Roosevelt administration. George F. Kennan thought that it was naïve about Soviet affairs and the ‘realities of power’. Reinhold Niebuhr was critical of the ways in which the administration gullibly negotiated peace with master-Realists like Stalin. However, the sharpest attack came from Hans J. Morgenthau. In the wake of the war, he claimed that the Roosevelt administration was composed of naïve technocrats who did not know the first thing about the power-based politics among nations.

in A history of International Relations theory (third edition)
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Andrew Whiting

In the book’s Conclusion, I summarise the main contributions of my research and reflect on how similarly motivated constructivist research in this domain could provide scope for further development.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Andrew Whiting

Chapter 4 continues in the same vein as the previous chapter but shifts the focus to the threats themselves. The chapter considers how danger and destructiveness are constituted as self-evident features of various nefarious acts executed by a diverse range of actors that present salient and credible threats in the present as well as for the future. The analysis contained within this chapter identifies a number of discursive tactics, such as the way in which ‘cyber-threats’ are synonymised with physical threats (bombs, bullets, etc.), as well as the use of military historical analogies. As with the previous chapter, an effort is made not only to capture the sentiment of the dominant position regarding cyber-threats but also those divergent moments and dissident voices that co exist alongside them.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Andrew Whiting

Chapter 5 draws together the empirical and theoretical work to reflect on the importance of the internet security industry in the construction of cybersecurity knowledge and the role relationships between private entities and professionals of politics play in the sedimentation of cybersecurity as analogous with national security. I begin by highlighting the broad homogeneity that exists between the expert discourse that I have studied and the ‘dominant threat frame’ identified by others such as Dunn Cavelty (2008) before theorising as to why this is and what impact it has on a broader process of knowledge construction. To achieve this I pay particular attention to the positon and raison d’être of the industry I have studied as well as the formation of communities of mutual recognition that have provided mutual benefit for both the industry and the state. I conclude that the arrival of the ‘technological age’ poses challenges to the traditional Weberian model of security governance. Subsequently, there has been an expansion and reorganisation of the security dispositif to more fully include private expertise as a means of overcoming a sovereignty gap and allowing for the continuation of a strategy of neoliberal governance.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Power, expertise and the security industry
Author: Andrew Whiting

Constructing cybersecurity adopts a constructivist approach to cybersecurity and problematises the state of contemporary knowledge within this field. Setting out by providing a concise overview of such knowledge, this book subsequently adopts Foucauldian positions on power and security to highlight assumptions and limitations found therein. What follows is a detailed analysis of the discourse produced by various internet security companies, demonstrating the important role that these security professionals play constituting and entrenching this knowledge by virtue of their specific epistemic authority. As a relatively new source within a broader security dispositif, these security professionals have created relationships of mutual recognition and benefit with traditional political and security professionals. The book argues that one important product of these relationships is the continued centrality of the state within issues of cybersecurity and the extension of a strategy of neoliberal governance.

Andrew Whiting

Chapter 3 is the first of two chapters that present the empirical findings of the research into the internet security industry. In this chapter, the focus is placed upon ‘cyberspace’, characterised as the milieu within which (in)security plays out. The chapter provides a number of references to the articles, white papers, blogs and reports produced by the various different companies to reveal the themes, tropes and tactics in evidence here. The chapter divides these by the categories of vulnerability and uncertainty. The constructivist analysis that is conducted within the chapter reveals a space constituted as inherently weak and vulnerable to exploitation and attack as well as affording nefarious actors tremendous scope to conduct activities in relative secrecy, which serves to compound this vulnerability with a large degree of uncertainty. While efforts are made in this chapter to identify a dominant discourse, the chapter does also draw attention to dissident and counter-hegemonic expertise that stands at odds with it.

in Constructing cybersecurity