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IBSA, International Relations Theories, and Changes in the Global Architecture
Unformatted Document Text:  Vikrum Sequeira 8 Midwest Conference Working Paper: IBSA IBSA represents a test for the popular social science theories (international relations theories and economics models). Since the preeminent theories of international relations were developed in a hegemonic context (i.e. realism and pluralism), the political scientist needs to ask himself if these theories can adequately explain IBSA. While Flemes writes about soft balancing and uses a realist framework to make sense of IBSA, I believe that the standard social science theories are problematic and one needs to utilize a constructivist approach that looks at history in order to understand IBSA. The first theoretical question deals with alliances and alignments. In most of the alliance literature, the idea of war predominates. Stephen Walt states that “an alliance is a formal or informal arrangement for security cooperation between two or more sovereign states” 14 while Glenn Snyder asserts that “alliances… are formal associations of states for the use (or non-use) of military force, intended for either the security or the aggrandizement of their members, against specific other states…” 15 Along these lines, James Morrow writes: “Alliances and alignments occur when two or more nations agree to coordinate their actions.” 16 He distinguishes between the two be stating that alliances have a formalized commitment for a specific amount of time while alignments “reflect similarity in interest without the formal mutual commitment present in an alliance.” A typical example of an alliance would be NATO, which specifies collective defense. Realists argue that alliances are tools for aggregating capabilities against a threat. Nations ally primarily to increase security. The alliance therefore ends when the threat 14 Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987), p. 12. 15 Glenn H. Snyder, Alliance Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), p. 104. 16 Op. Cit.

Authors: Sequeira, Vikrum.
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Vikrum Sequeira
8
Midwest Conference Working Paper: IBSA
IBSA represents a test for the popular social science theories (international
relations theories and economics models). Since the preeminent theories of international
relations were developed in a hegemonic context (i.e. realism and pluralism), the political
scientist needs to ask himself if these theories can adequately explain IBSA. While
Flemes writes about soft balancing and uses a realist framework to make sense of IBSA, I
believe that the standard social science theories are problematic and one needs to utilize a
constructivist approach that looks at history in order to understand IBSA.
The first theoretical question deals with alliances and alignments. In most of the
alliance literature, the idea of war predominates. Stephen Walt states that “an alliance is a
formal or informal arrangement for security cooperation between two or more sovereign
states”
14
while Glenn Snyder asserts that “alliances… are formal associations of states for
the use (or non-use) of military force, intended for either the security or the
aggrandizement of their members, against specific other states…”
15
Along these lines,
James Morrow writes: “Alliances and alignments occur when two or more nations agree
to coordinate their actions.”
16
He distinguishes between the two be stating that alliances
have a formalized commitment for a specific amount of time while alignments “reflect
similarity in interest without the formal mutual commitment present in an alliance.” A
typical example of an alliance would be NATO, which specifies collective defense.
Realists argue that alliances are tools for aggregating capabilities against a threat.
Nations ally primarily to increase security. The alliance therefore ends when the threat
14
Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987), p. 12.
15
Glenn H. Snyder, Alliance Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), p. 104.
16
Op. Cit.


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