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Ideas in Foreign Policy.pdf

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Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework This book is about how ideas, which we define as beliefs held by individual lated to G y lain political outcomes, particularly those re- ei n policy. As social scientists we are interested in using ~ . , empirica .w ence to e v a l s ~ i h e hypothesis that ideas are often irn- ~i *, .-..* Fr , e nt kernunantrifof Our argument is that ideas ~nfluence pa i r wke nt he principled or causal beliefs
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  Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework This book is about how ideas, which we define as beliefs held by individual lated to Gy ain political outcomes, particularly those re- ei n policy. As social scientists we are interested in using empirica w ence to evals~ihe ypothesis that ideas are often irn- ~i*, -.. Fr,ent kernunantrifof Our argument is that ideas ~nfluence airwkenthe principled or causal beliefs they embody provide road maps that increase actors clarity about goals or ends- means relationships, when they affect outcomes of strategic situations in which there is no unique equilibrium, and when they become ern- bedded in political instituiions. For milennia~phiosophers nd historians have wrestled with the is- sue of the role of ideas in social and political life, and for as long as social science bas existed its practitioners have debated these questions. In many ways this volume is an extension of the approach first enunci- ated by Max Weber. Like Weber, wedo not argue that ideas rather than We thank partidpants at two mnferen er on h role of ideas in foreign policy, spon- mred by th Sd cimce Research Council, which wc organized and chaired at the Center for Advanced Studv in h Behavioral Sciences. Stanford. California. lanuarv 18-20 1990 and April lg-ao, 1991 We are particularly grateful to James Fearon. Geoffrey Garrett, Ernst B. aw Pcvr Hall Nannerl mhane, Stephen D Kraa~er Henry Naq Daniel Philpu, and Jack Snyder for critiques of earlier draft of thtr chapter.  JUDITH OLDSTEIN ND ROBERT KWHANE interests (as interpreted by human beings) mwe the world. Instead, wesuggest that ideas os well as interests have causal weight in explanations f human action. If the study of the impact of ideas on policy is so old, why revive it now? Simply because in modern political economy and in international 1 elations, the impressive elaboration of rationalist explanations of be- havior has called into question old assumptions about whether the sub- stantive content of people's ideas really matters for policy. To many economists, and to political scientists captivated by their modes of thinking, ideas are unimportant or epiphenomenal either because agents correctly anticipate the results of their actions or because some selective process ensures that only agents who behave as if they were rational succeed. In such functional arguments, effects explain causes through rational anticipation or natural se1ection.l The extreme ver- sion of this argument is that ideas are ust hooks: competing elites seize on popular ideas to propagate and to legitimize their interests, but the ideas themselves do not play a causal role.P These interests may be strictly material-in many economic models, individuals are wealth- maximizers-but they also may encompass broader utility functions, in which such values as status and power are included. Whatever the de- tails, in this rationalist view interests are given and logically prior to any beliefs held by the actors The most widely accepted systemic approaches to the study of inter- national relations, realism and liberal institutionalism, take rationalist models as their starting points. Both realism and institutionalism as- sume that self-interested actors maximize their utility subject to con- straints in such models, actors' preferences and causal beliefs are given, and attention focuses on the variation in the constraints faced byactorss Most analysts who rely on such approaches have relegated ideas to a minor role.4 ee Kenneth Shepsle. Institutional Arrangement and Equilibrium in Multidimen- slonal Vottng Models, AncrironJdofPolilical Sch g (1979): ~7p60 or a sophis- see Paul Milgrorn. Dough North, and Barry Weingast, The Role thc Revival of Trade: The Law Merchant. Private Judges, and the Champagne Fain, Ecmomic~ nd Polilia (~ggo): xg. Kenneth A. Shepsle. CommenL in epkfq Po and ocial Scintcm, ed Roger Noll, pp 231-37 (Berkeley: University of California Pnas, 1985). 'A striking contrast can be found in the work of Henry R. Nau, who emphasirer ourooser and ideas in The Mrlh ofAtnn s Decline: mdinr Wm d cowmv itllo llrr .~ rggm (Nm York: Oxford ~ni&rs<~ ress: ~ggq):eap hap I ~lauical iberal ar&ments have also cmphasized,:$:wlesta 4.9 n shaping references. See And- Momik. Lberalism and~ReI1ti~iiB~~r~ okber . no gn-6. Cmter for lnlerna~onal ffairs. Harvad University (0cto&r ,992). ' drar. like (,ulitical culturc, haw tradiuomlly kn rand he status uf unexplained variance. or ,urh a treatment c~f deas n realist analysis, tephrn Krasner. Dcfmdslg Idcar and Foreign Policy In this wlume we seek to show that ideas matter for policy, even when human beings behave rationally to achieve their ends Indeed, rationalist analysts of international politics have often recognized that the assumption of rationality, like that of egoism, is a theoretically useful simplification of reality rather than a true reflection of it. = But r even if we accept the rationality premise, actions taken by human beings depend on the substantive quality of available ideas, since such ideas help w clarify principles and conceptions of causal relationships, and to coordinate individual behavior. Once institutionalized, furthermore, ideas continue to guide action in the absence of costly inn~vation.~ Hence this wlume criticizes approaches that deny the significance of ideas, but does not challenge the premise that people behave in self ~nterested nd broadly rational ways. More far-reaching criticisms of rationalistic models have become common in the literature on international relations. According to this e iew, beliefs are a central element of all research krause, in t ords of Alexander Wendt, analysis turns on how knowledge- ablr practices constitute subjects. Refledvists sttare awhich identities and intcresa are han a rarionalist-beha ignal one in which they are exogenous ' This reflectivist critique is irrefutable in lha National InUnrt (Princeton: Princeton University Pm. 197 ). Among rationalistic works that seek to explain moperation in a nonxaliil way but do not focus on idcas are Robert 0 Keohane. A/Ln He-: Coopanha md Dhrd n Wmld Pulilical Ecomny (Princeton: Princeton University Pm, 1g8q1, and Kenncth A. Oye ed, Cooyrralioa under Anar* (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986). IKeohane, Aflm Hcgemrmy, p 108. 6A ~otahle tudy of the role of idcas on policy is Peter AHall, ed Tk PoSlicol Pwm ofEcaanicIdms Kms~innirm rr rr Ndmu (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989). The research design of that study, haveucr. differs from ours. Hall controls for knowledge of Keynesian idea of macroeconomic management in a Variety of countries, and aaounu for the variety of ouummea on the bark of other variables, such as the orientation of the governing para the structure of the Slate and slaw-rociety relations, the structure of political discourn and the impact of World War 11 We xplore a variety of issue am ith each author seeking to show how variations in the ideas a-ilable ~ .... r~~~- ' l-nder Wendt. Anarchy is What States ake of It: The Social Construction of Paver Politics, IWmdoml OIgoniurlion 46 (Spring ,992): ggz. For a discussion of reflectiw vs. rationalistic views, see Robert 0 Keohane, International instituxionr: TWO Approaches, IntcrMlional S I Q ly 32 (December 1988): 379-96, reprinted in Keohane. Itllrmnlionnl inrlh m md SIols P-: Esrw in lnlmmlbnnl Relations Theory (Boulder, Cola: Westview, 1989). pp 158-79 For examples of the reflectiviot critiqne not otherwise cited, we Richard Ashley and R. B. J. Walker, Speaking the Language of Exile: Dissident Thought in International Studies, Inlnnalional Studies Qunrlrrly gg (September 1990): nggbs: Thomas I Biersteker, Critical Reflections on Port-positivism in International Relations, 11 Sludbs rl 33 (September 1989): 26347; Robert Cox, Produclia. P md WWmLl 01da (New Yark: Columbia University Press, 1987); Ymef Lapid. The Third Mbau On the Prospecu of International Theory in a  JUDITH LDSTEIN AND ROBERT KEOHANE Ideas and Foreign PO the abstract and reminds researchers to investigate not just what strate- gies are devised to attain interests but how preferences are formed and how identities are shaped. The key issue, however, is not whether identities niatter but m they matter, and how their effects can be systematically studied by social scientists. Unfortunately, reflectivist scholars have been slow to articulate or test hypotheses W~thout ither i well-defined set of propositions about behavior or a rich empirical analysis, the reflectivist critique remains more an expression of under- standable frustration than a working research program. This volume was written as a challenge to both rationalist and re- flectivist approaches. Although weconcede that the rationalist ap- proach is often a valuable starting point for analysis, we challenge its explanatory power by suggesting the existence of empirical anomalies4 that can be resolved only when ideas are taken Into account. We dem- 1 onstrate this need to go beyond pure rationalist analysis by using its own premise to generate our null hypothesis: that variation in policy across countries, or over time,is entirely accounted for by changes in factors other ih n ideas. Like reflectivists, we explore the impact of ideas, or beliefs, on policy. But this volume also poses an explicit challenge to the antiempir~cist bias of much work in the reflectivist tradition, for we believe that the role played by ideas can and should be examined empirically with the tools of social science. Our line of argument should also be distinguished from that sug- gested by psychological approaches. Cognitive psychology has shown convincingly that people frame information in ways that depart sig- nificar~tly rom ideal-typical rationality.' Political scientists have used psychological insights and social-psychological work on group decision making to build a substantial literature stressing how cognitive pro- cessing affects foreign policy choice^.^ Work on foreign policy has em- phasized how collecttve myths that affect conceptions of self-interest can be created and then perpetuated through propaganda and social- Post-positivist Era. InUrnalio~l tdies Qwtmly 99 (September ,989): ng5-54; Alex- ander Wendf The Agent-Structure Problem in lnlernational Relacins Theory, I national OrpmkIb 41 (Summer 1987): g35-70. Qaniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Fhoiceg Values, nd Frames. Ammican Po- hologi l 39 (1984): 341-50; Amos Twrsky and Daniel Kahneman, The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choi~ c ZII (1981): 453-58. )See, inter alia, Robert Jervis, Pmcrplion and Mis@mrph in Intmnational Polih (Princeton: Princeton University Prs, 1976); Deborah Welch Lam 1idm of Colain- menr: A P~ logibical Explamlion (Princeton: Prinaton University Press, 1985); Richard Ned Lebow Bel~uern eace and War: k atm o lntnnolirmal Cvisir (Baltirnorc: Johns Hopkinr University Press, 1981): Robert Jervis, Richard Ned Leba: and Janice Cmss Stein, PsyAoIog, and DeLcrrmcc (Baltimore: Johns Hopkiis University P 1985). 'OStephen Van Evera, ?he Cult of the Offemive and the Origins of the Fint World Was InImulliond Security g (Summer 1984): 58-107; Jack Snyder, Myths o Empire: Drm~ fu o13ics and nfrrmfioME AnWn Ithau: CorncU Uniwrsity Press. ~ggr). See The Rational Deterrence DcLmte: A Symposium, mld Po 41 (January I so>. ization of children in schools'0 On issues such as deterrence, a vigorous debate has ensued about the relative adequacy of rationalist theories versus interpretations based on cognitive psychologytt Cognitive psychology certainly concerns ideas, since it investtgates beliefs of individuals about social reality that identify possibilittes for action, reflect moral principles, and specify causal relationships This -=-= ~ See rg., Friedrich Kratochwl The Force of Prescriptioru, IrunM60MI Dganiur- lion 38 (Autumn 1984): 685708. I volume, however, is concerned not with the implications of cognitive psychology for interpretation of reality but with another facet of the role of ideas. We focus on the impact of particular beliefsshared by ct large numbers of people-about the nature of their worlds that have I implications for human action. Such beliefs range from general moral principles to agreement on a specific application of scientific knowl- edge When we refer to ideas in this volume, we refer to such beliefs Since all of these beliefs were processed thmugh human brains, it seems safe to assume that cognitive psychology played a role in their emergence; but weare interested in the impact of particular beliefs, not on the relationship between beliefs and objective reality (Irowwer defined and determined). Wedo not seek to explain the sources of these ideas; we focus on their effects. In our critique of both rationalist and reflective approaches to the study of foreign policy, we concelve of beliefs in a manner consistent with the logic of these two schools of thought and not that suggested by cognitive analyses. A sophisticated rationalist view could agree that interests are always interpreted through psychological processes, yet hold that knowledge of these interests, thus interpreted, enables the observer to understand behavior. Similarly, a reflectivist approach would not dispute that psychological forces are at work on the hunian brain. But like their rationalistic colleagues, reflectivists are far more interested in shared behavioral regularities attributable to linguistic constraints, for example, than in error attributable to deficiencies in human pro~essing.'~ eflectivist research focuses not on misinterpreta-, tions of human environments but on the constraints imposed by lan- guage, culture, and history on all aspects of individuals' abilities to define and act on objective interests In this introduction, we present the analytical structure for this vol- ume. Webegin by distinguishing three types of beliefs: world views,
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