One of the most common images is that of an international society in which States each have the attributes of persons within a community. Abnormal psychology, game-theory, value judgments and moral responses then appear to be immediately relevant to international studies. In reality the nation-State is not of this order; if there must be an analogy then it would be at least as appropriate to use mechanics or electronics as sociology. It is only by describing the world system as it operates that there can be any understanding of it: and then it becomes clear why mentally healthy leaders sometimes appear to respond abnormally in the international system, why seemingly moral people take seemingly immoral decisions, why mild and humble members of the leading elite appear aggressive. |
---- Burton, 1968: 36-37
1. Perspective And Summary
15A. Phasing Propositions and Their Evidence on International Conflict
Democratic Peace page
As an exchange society with a libertarian political system, international relations forms a sociocultural field.
Of all modern societies, contemporary international relations is closest to a social field. Interactions are primarily spontaneous
Statesmen act towards goals (interests) in a context of these multiple balances; they "speak out of an environment" (Sprout and Sprout, 1962); they are restrained by a complex of rules they implicitly accept; they have finely tuned expectations about the behavior of others; they approach issues gingerly lest some balances somewhere, at some level, be upset, conflict ensues, and a new, unpredictable and possibly less desirable balance results.
But statesmen are not the only actors, nor other statesmen the only concern. Indeed, who, more specifically, are the actors in the international field?
The state is obviously a candidate for actor. The relations between states were the focus of my attention in discussing the international society in Chapter 2. States have status in international law as entities. They are responsible for official actions in their name; they can enter into treaties and make war; they have rights; they have defined territories and people. Of course, all this is legal fiction that has evolved among diverse societies. It is a structure of international relations widely accepted.
Nonetheless, although as with domestic corporations states are persons under the law, states do not act.
"Power, ultimately is personal." (Berle, 1967: 428).
But, people are still acting in the framework of and in reference to legal fictions. The state is still not a living human being; it has no real personality; it does not behave; you cannot kick it. The modern state is a society controlled by a government (another legal fiction) based on an internal balance of powers among the people of a state, which defines who has authoritative status to act on behalf of the state.
In the name of the state a policy is formulated and presented to other countries as though it were, to use Rousseau's terminology, the general will of the state. Dissenters within the state are carried along by two
considerations: their inability to bring force to bear to change the decision; their conviction, based on perceived interest and customary loyalty,
that in the long run it is to their advantage to go along with the national
decision and work in the prescribed and accepted ways for its change. The
less good the state, by Rousseau's standards, the more important the first
consideration, and in the ultimate case the unity of the state is simply the
naked power of the de facto sovereign. On the other hand, the better the
state, or, we can now add, the more nationalistic, the more the second
consideration is sufficient; and in the ultimate case the agreement of the
citizens with the government's formulation of foreign policy is complete.
---- Waltz, 1968: 178
While one may refer to the policy, or commitment, or conflict, of the United States, while meaning the policies, commitments, and conflicts of a specific elite,
So far, then, one actor in international relations is the authority--the leader or ruler--who can, according to his domestic status and power, and by international law, speak and write, promise and threaten, and make or break commitments on behalf of his state.
But each state has a complex of authorities who act in its behalf: diplomats and statesmen, trade and custom officials, soldiers, legislative leaders, cabinet members, prime ministers, presidents, monarchs. Their actions are diverse and divided, sometimes contradictory. Authoritative decisions require implementation by subordinates; decisions must filter down the chain of command; lower level officials may veto by inaction or alter the decision. Therefore, from a complex of authorities ensues a complex of state-actions through complex political and organizational processes.
What gives this complex coherence is a structure of foreign policies, alliances, and treaties determined at the highest authoritative level; the internal balance of powers within which authorities are imbedded; and the roles of all authorities that are framed by the state's geography, economic development, political system, culture, and so on. To therefore say a state behaves is to say that a complex of authorities acts within a direction delineated by an internal and external structure of expectations.
It is the internal structure that establishes the hierarchy and policies among the complex of authorities; it is the external structure that provides meaning and understanding to the complex of actions. Thus, we can evaluate and weight a speech by the American President which claims that NATO is strong and can withstand an invasion by the Warsaw Pact versus a speech given elsewhere that same day by the Secretary of the Army who claims that NATO has become dangerously weak.
Further clarification is yet required. All states are, more or less, antifields
Externally, states are fields of expression.
In short, one kind of actor is the state-authority whose actions contribute to a field of expression locating the state in the international field.
Aside from state-authorities, there are three other international actors. First, there is the individual who for personal reasons is involved in international society. Tourists, foreign students, migrants are the most obvious, but also those who correspond with foreigners, watch foreign movies, read foreign books, or purchase foreign goods are part of international relations. And so are pirates, plane hijackers, and dope smugglers who cross international boundaries. Moreover, there are the invisible nets of travelling, transacting, communicating scientists, academics, artists, athletes, and businessmen, whose interests and activities transcend state boundaries. All help define and knit together international society.
Second, there is the nonstate group, or group for short, which is involved in international relations or whose organization is cross-national. Here, I have in mind multinational corporations (having foreign subsidiaries), companies with foreign investments, religious organizations like the Catholic church, associations like the International Political Science Association, political groups like the Palestine Liberation Organization, and terrorists like the Che Guevera Internationalist Brigade.
Like states, groups are integrated authoritative structures and legal fictions. They may have a legal identity within domestic law (as does the corporation or church), or within domestic law be extralegal (as the Palestine Liberation Organization), or illegal (as are terrorist organizations). In any case, each group has internal law norms which establish its hierarchy and command structure, and specify who can legally (by group law) represent and commit the group in international relations. The same analysis of the state as actor applies to the group: the actions of group-authorities form a pattern within a direction given by the group hierarchy and policies.
Finally, there are the various intergovernmental and nonintergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations, which have legal identity in international relations. Like states and other groups composing the international society, international organizations are legal fictions represented by authorities who act on their behalf, usually administering rules and regulations governing state, group, and individual international relations.
Thus, the international field is a complex of individuals acting in different international capacities and roles, representing different international groups, and interacting at different international levels.
This control by the state and the complex of relations between the diverse international actors can be made more coherent by dividing international relations into interstate, intersocietal, and interpersonal.
Interstate relations are those authoritative actions, understandings, or commitments of the governmental authorities--the leaders--of one state to or with the governmental authorities of another state or its groups or citizens, either bilaterally or through international organizations. For example, this would not only include the obvious international conferences, military aid, state visits, treaties, and the like, but also nationalizations of foreign business, expelling foreign newsmen, arresting a foreign national, applying duties to foreign goods, censoring foreign magazines. Thus, any authoritative actions of a state's governmental elite against any citizen or group or another state is part of interstate relations.
Intersocietal relations are those authoritative actions, understandings, or commitments of the authorities of groups
And interpersonal relations (in international relations) are those relations of or between citizens of different states acting in their personal interests. Tourists, migrants, foreign students, the international jet set, exemplify such interpersonal relations, as do a portion of international mail, telegrams, phone calls, and cross-border air and surface traffic.
International relations are interpersonal, intersocietal, and interstate: the international field comprises interpersonal, intersocietal, and interstate behavior and attributes.
To picture this, consider first the three major types of state-societies shown at the ends of the triangle in Figure 3.1.
As shown in Figure 3.1, in the libertarian state individual interests dominate over social groups and both over the government. The state's agent, the government, is limited by human rights standing above government. These rights, such as of religion, the press, and speech, create the dominating sphere of individual powers (no social group can dominate through governmental control).
No true libertarian state exists today. The United States, West Germany, and Switzerland are perhaps the closest to it, but in each the governmental sphere encroaches on individual liberty and dominates social groups.
In the totalitarian state, the truest manifestation of an antifield at the state level, the political elite controls the society. Most social groups are appendages of the state, and those that are independent have little autonomy. Individuals have no rights above the state; their daily lives are dictated, regulated, or channelled by the state-elite.
In all communist societies, for example, the state is virtually the only employer, producer, farmer, renter, and landowner. Thus, in Figure 3.1 the governmental
Finally, unlike the others the authoritarian state is dominated by social groups, as illustrated in Figure 3.1. The church, the caste, the tribe, the clan, or the family legitimately controls society through their adherence and representation of widely prevalent customs and norms. Their authoritative power orders social relations within an ideational culture.
In an ideational culture--a traditional, group dominated, society--the sphere of individual power is small, as shown in Figure 3.1. Individual interests are circumscribed socially by the traditional norms; politically by the authoritarian government. Not more than a century ago the traditional state and its authoritative society used to be the most prevalent form in international relations. Of the few remaining today, most in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is a good example.
Although, therefore, international relations are interstate, intersocietal, and interpersonal, the scope of these relations depends on the type of state. For example, as shown in Figure 3.2, the relations between libertarian and totalitarian states can be interstate, intersocietal, and interpersonal. But, virtually all the foreign relations of a totalitarian state are controlled by the state, including much of the foreign relations of what would be the autonomous international relations of groups and individuals in libertarian societies. Thus, the interstate relations of a totalitarian state compose nearly all its relations, while those of a libertarian state would be of small scope compared to societal and individual relations. This creates a basic asymmetry in the international relations between libertarian or welfare-liberal states and totalitarian ones, which can be readily seen from Figure 3.2.
The sphere of state power is the sphere of coercion, threats, force. As the international relations between two states are dominated by interstate relations, so their relations are dominated by coercion, threats, and force. And by violence and war.
It is a major argument of this book that international relations are more violent, more warlike, as interstate relations overspread and permeate all. International violence is shaped by and a consequence of state power.
Returning now to my initial questions about who are the actors in the international field, the answer is that there are four kinds: three types of authorities--the elite of states, domestic groups, and international organizations--and individuals acting in their private interests. Each actor is, of course, a person. But when the elite of the state, international organization, or social group are acting in their authoritative roles, they represent the group's policies and reflect its characteristics. It is the complex of the international relations between these actors and their group or personal attributes which define the international field. In other words, the international field is delineated by the behavior and attributes of the different actors.
This has profound implications for our image of international relations, as systematically articulated by Quincy Wright.
* Scanned from Chapter 3 in R.J. Rummel, War, Power, Peace, 1979. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.
1. In previous volumes I have dealt with the nature and use of a field concept in philosophy and the sciences (Part I of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field), and have applied it to understanding perception psychologically (Part II of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field), and socially (Part II of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix); to expectations and behavior (Part III of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field), social behavior (Part III of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix), and society and culture (Parts IV and VIII of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix). Moreover, the concept's mathematical framework has been developed at the psychological level (Part III of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field), at the social level (Chapter 11 of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix), and applied to and tested on international relations (Rummel, 1977; "A Catastrophe Theory Model Of The Conflict Helix, With Tests"). At this point, therefore, I will assume that the field concept has been given sufficient exposition and justification.
2. Throughout, an interest will have the precise psychological meaning I gave it in (Chapter 20 of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field), and social implications given it in (Volume 2, 1976: Sections 19.6 of Chapter 19 and passim in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix). Briefly, an interest is an energized attitude, which has the form "in these circumstances I want to do x with y." It is thus a situation-goal-means complex, a disposition to behave in a certain way in a specific situation to achieve a particular goal. An interest is linked to basic human needs through a lattice of interconnected attitudes and (if the attitudes are energized) interests. An attitude becomes transformed into an interest when a connected need is stimulated.
3. I am using spontaneous to mean uncommanded and unmade, with the social meaning given by Hayek (1973), particularly in his chapter 2 discussion of two kinds of order: made and grown (spontaneous). His distinction is similar to my antifield (Chapter 22 in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix) and field.
4. "Capability" involves resources or abilities which can be applied to satisfy interests. At the state level military capability is obviously important, as are economic, technological, and political capabilities. Less obvious is moral (as of the Catholic church) or ideological (as of the Soviet Union and China representing two communist creeds) capability.
5. Social power is a family of powers, including coercive, bargaining, intellectual, authoritative, altruistic, and manipulative. Note that coercive (or at the international level, what is mainly military) power is only one type. Balances of powers may consist of any one of these types or their combination, although in the international society such balances primarily involve coercive, bargaining, and authoritative powers. See Chapters 19, 20 and 21 in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix.
6. All this stems from the Treaty of Münster, October 24, 1648, which along with the Treaty of Osnabrüeck made the Peace of Westphalia. The former treaty "provided that differences in the political status no longer exist and that all electors, princes, and states of the Roman Empire are confirmed in and guaranteed their ancient laws, prerogatives, liberties, privileges, free exercise of local law, either spiritual or temporal ... that they enjoy without contradiction the right of suffrage in all imperial deliberations, especially in the making or the interpretation of laws, the declarations of war." (Mangone, 1954: 31). The Peace of Westphalia originated the modern international system.
7. "To deny personality to the state is just as absurd as to assert it. The personality of the state is not a fact whose truth or falsehood is a matter for argument. It is what international lawyers have called 'the postulated nature' of the state. It is a necessary fiction or hypothesis--an indispensable tool devised by the human mind for dealing with the structure of a developed society." (Carr, 1964, 148-149).
8. My view of states is nominalist, rather than methodological holist (Section 33.4 of Chapter 33 of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix). To me, individuals are the concrete reality and wholes such as groups or collectivities are mental fictions. Nonetheless, wholes do have reality in our minds. We do act as though wholes are real. I distinguish, therefore, between the perceiving, interest directed, emotion prone, rational and rationalizing actor, who is always an individual, from the cognitive framework and perceptual context of his actions.
9. Adolf Berle's point is better appreciated in context: "As a minor diplomat at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, spectator and, from time to time, special missioner between wars, assistant secretary of state during World War II, and in government service as the cold war was at its height in 1961, I have observed a substantial sector of twentieth-century American foreign affairs. Included has been opportunity to observe the workings of power. Some instances are recorded here. In substantial measure, they are the basis of one of the propositions set out in this book: power, ultimately, is personal. In each of the recorded cases, the power holder could have made a different decision from the one he made." (Italics added)
10. That roles give structure and constancy to state-level relations is not as obvious as it may seem. Kal Holsti, for example, felt it useful to write an article (1970) on employing the concept of role in foreign policy analysis. For a consistent use of the role concept in analyzing international relations, see Burton (1968). Rosenau (1968) compared the ability of individual versus role variables to explain the behavior of American Senators, and found the role variables more potent.
11. "What baffles [the observer ] is the massive continuity of American policy--despite the innumerable verbal clashes, the promises of drastic reform, the temporary oscillations a-round the main trends, and the headlines announcing crises and bankruptcy. The wrapping changes: the substance remains much the same; images multiply, but the reality they mirror is monotonous. Consequently, there is constant clamor for change." (Hoffmann, 1965: 161)
12. By elite (or leaders or rulers) I will always refer to the incumbents of authoritative positions in a group. The elite have a right to command and apply sanctions by virtue of the group's law norms. Thus, the elite are the upper, or superordinate class in the group. In the state those who are the governing elite form its upper class. See (Chapters 24 and 25 in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix) for this concept's formulation and grounding in the literature.
My conception of elite combines political and bureaucratic elites and excludes influentials, such as "interest and communication elites." These influentials, insofar as they act on behalf of groups, are group elites. Through their influence and activities, they play a role in international relations, but meaningfully distinct from that of the legitimate, governing elite. Only the latter can legally wield coercive power on behalf of the state.
13. The Vietnam war is a good example of how a domestic balance of powers underlies policy, even that of war. In 1965 when President Johnson formally committed the United States to military action in South Vietnam, he had the support of the American public and Congress, and could justify his actions by the SEATO Treaty, and the policy of Containment. By 1968, militant opposition and public frustration, as well as the defection of significant segments of the Democratic party, administration officials, and former congressional supporters, led to Johnson's withdrawal from the 1968 Presidential race, violent clashes at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and the defeat of the democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey by Richard Nixon.
By 1974, a new balance of domestic powers had solidified in opposition to U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia, either directly or indirectly through military aid, and to new commitments elsewhere, such as in Africa. Thus, in 1975 Congress defeated attempts by President Ford and Secretary Kissinger to provide 28 million in military aid (in addition to $32 million covertly given by the CIA) to the two non-Marxist independence movements fighting against Agostinho Neto's Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which was ultimately supported by 12,000-22,000 Cuban troops and large Soviet aid. This provoked Secretary Kissinger to point out that: "Angola represents the first time since the aftermath of World War II that the Soviets have moved militarily at long distances to impose a regime of their choice. It is the first time that the United States has failed to respond to Soviet military moves outside their immediate orbit. And it is the first time that Congress has halted the executive's action while it was in the process of meeting this kind of threat." (Statement of Secretary Kissinger before the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs of the Foreign Relations Committee, January 29, 1976)
14. Graham Allison (1969) has distinguished three models of foreign policy through which behavior is seen: as largely purposive value maximizing choices of unified national governments (a rational policy model); as routine outputs of large governmental organizations with their own goals, programs, and repertoires (an organizational process model); and as outcomes of political bargaining and conflicts between bureaucratic groups and individuals within government (bureaucratic politics model).
In my perspective, all national behavior comprises acts, actions, practices, or reflexes of individuals (see Section 4.1 of Chapter 4). Of greatest foreign policy relevance are acts and actions, which are always purposive choices (whether personally value maximizing is a wholly subjective matter). Organizational routines and bureaucratic bargaining influence, frame, and may even determine the individual's foreign perception, interests, expectations, and behavioral dispositions. But this does not assume a rational process model, with its assumption of the state represented by a single, rationally choosing, decision maker. While totalitarian states may come closest with the central power of a Hitler, Stalin, of Mao, each of them must still have chosen acts or actions within a policy process and organizational-bureaucratic structure. For example, the actions of each depended on information and intelligence channelled through bureaucratic layers. Moreover, once an action was chosen it could only remain a command until moving down the bureaucratic layers it eventually ensued as a foreign policy act or action.
For a theoretically oriented, former insider's view of the foreign policy process, see Hilsman (1964: 541)
15. Antifield is a central concept, and refers to a coercive organization. It has a command structure--a clear class structure dividing members into those who command and obey--and task-oriented goals according to which the organization is constructed and commands given. It is coercive in that authoritative commands are backed up by negative sanctions. In the pure antifield, membership by the obey-class is also coerced, as exemplified by prisons, concentration camps, draftees in the Army, and communist states (where those attempting to leave without permission may be shot, and if captured, imprisoned). For the development of the concept, see Part VI of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix.
16. For the development of this concept of person-perception, see Part II of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix. All individuals, whether statesmen, or simply citizens, perceive other states holistically: acts, actions, practices, and characteristics give meaning to and take on their meaning from a gestalt. Thus, some see the foreign policy, actions, and capabilities of Soviet rulers as defensive, seeking security, and traditionally Russian; others see them as aggressive, driven by the communist ideology, and seeking world hegemony. Each of these images provides a causal-functional, contextual understanding of Soviet behavior.
17. This all may seem painfully obvious, but in fact it is a perspective different from the most respected contemporary scholarship. Consider Aron's words in his Peace and War (1966: 94-95): "An international system, like a party system, involves only a small number of actors. When the number of actors increases (there are more than a hundred states in the United Nations), that of the chief actors does not increase proportionally, and sometimes does not increase at all. We note two super powers in the world system of 1950, at most five or six great powers, actual or potential. Therefore, the principal actors never have the sense of being subject to the laws of the market. The structure of international systems is always oligopolistic. "
18. This includes nonnational governments, such as of cities. For example, the city governments of Honolulu and Hiroshima have established official relationships, but these do not represent or involve the American-Japanese national governments, and therefore are not interstate relations. A state-group only can be authoritatively represented by a national government.
19. Mansbach, Ferguson, and Lampert (1976: 275, italics omitted) systematically analyzed the behavior of state and nonstate actors in the Middle East, Western Europe, and Latin America, 1948-1972. In sum, they found that for all dyadic interactions "under half involved nation-states simultaneously as actors and targets, and over 11% involved nonstate actors exclusively!" Their data are cooperative and conflictful events, and therefore do not take into account cooperative flows (trade, student movements, tourists, and so on). Thus, if anything, they overstate formal state-to-state interactions. See also Alger (1977)
20. These types have been developed in Chapters 22 and 23 in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix, and especially Figure 31.2.
21. Most influenced by the liberal philosophers (Sir John Harrington, John Locke, Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill), England most exemplified a libertarian state in the nineteenth century. The United States was under its Constitution of 1787 founded as a libertarian republic, whose principles at first limited governmental power to the smallest sphere. These principles were three: that each individual has certain inalienable rights standing above government; that all governments carry within themselves the seeds of tyranny which can be checked by a balance of powers and interests (the checks and balances system); and that the purpose of government is mainly to define and administer the customary law.
England has by now become a near socialistic society, with government power dominating over social groups and the individual. In the United States governmental power has also grown to dominate. This can be seen by direct and indirect government taxes taking almost 40% of all earned income. On the average, individuals who are employed are now forced to work without pay almost five months of the year for government. And this at the point of a gun, for if you do not turn your income over to the tax collector, your property will be forcefully confiscated and you may be imprisoned.
22. By government I mean the governing system, and not just the formal or constitutional institutions. As a case in point, in the Soviet Union the Supreme Soviet and its Presidium are constitutionally vested with supreme power; the formal Soviet government at the top comprises The Council of Ministers, which is appointed by the Supreme Soviet and Presidium and accountable to them. By the Soviet Constitution, the Council is the highest executive and administrative organ of the state.
However, the Stalin Constitution also established through Article 126 that the Communist Party (CPSU) "is the leading core of all organizations of the working people, both public and private," and this dominance of the CPSU has been maintained in the just approved Brezhnev Constitution. According to CPSU rules, the "supreme organ" is the Party Congress, which is convened by its Central Committee every four years. The Central Committee, which is ostensibly elected by each Party Congress, elects its own members to its Politburo. By CPSU rules, the Politbureau is responsible to the Central Committee and handles its work between plenary meetings. In practice, however, the Politburo has become the dominant body over all Soviet domestic and foreign policy.
The formal government headed by the Council of Ministers and the Politburo of the CPSU are two parallel structures governing the state, with the formal government by law and practice subordinate to the CPSU. Thus reference to the Soviet government or its governing elite is to this dual structure; reference to the top governing elite is to the members of the Politburo.
23. The concept is Pitirim Sorokin's (1937-1941; 1957) and refers to empirically oriented, sensory, hedonistic, and materialist supercultural systems. The opposing type of system is called ideational, and refers to other-worldly, principled, and spiritually ordered cultures. Both the United States and Soviet Union are sensate cultures; early nineteenth century Japan, precommunist China, and contemporary Saudi Arabia were or are ideational. In Section 30.6 of Chapter 30 in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix, I relate this distinction to the exchange, authoritative and coercive types of society.
24. See note 23, above.
25. This assertion is subsequently formalized as a proposition. See the Joint Freedom Proposition 16.11 and supporting evidence in Appendix 16B.
26. In addition to the proposition noted in note 25, see also in Appendix 16B the proposition labeled Joint Power (16.5), Status quo Power (16.18), Power Parity (16.21), Freedom (16.27), Totalitarianism (16.30), State-Power (16.31), and Power Vector (16.32 ). All these propositions are supported by the evidence. [Added in 1998: for the most recent evidence of this, see Power Kills.]
27. See Wright (1955: Chapter 32, particularly p. 557). He dealt separately with locations of people, nation, state, and government within his analytic field. His people correspond to my individual actor; his government to my state authorities (except that he also includes the influential elite, such as business of labor leaders). His nation represents the literate population aware of national values and identity; his state the population participating in politics, such as by voting. For me, neither his "nation" or "state" has group identity with distinguishable authoritative actors and roles, and therefore cannot independently act in international relations.