Monday, August 19, 2013

Quote of the day

Having written, somewhat hastily, my short post "A note on 'just war'" (see below), I took a look at ch.8 of Hedley Bull's The Anarchical Society (1977), the chapter on "War and International Order," because I recalled his passing reference to Grotius's three just causes for war ("self-defence, the recovery of property and the infliction of punishment": p.198) but couldn't remember offhand what the second and third were. 

However, something on the previous page proved more interesting: I had forgotten that Bull has a passage about the decline of interstate war and the rise of civil war. This is a point that is now made all the time but Bull made it roughly 35 years ago: "...the obstacles standing in the way of resort to war between sovereign states have encouraged the tendencies making for war or violence within them. International war, as a determinant of the shape of the international system, has declined in relation to civil war."  At the bottom of the same page he refers to "the now circumscribed political role of...interstate war."  (So the next time someone in an article refers to the decline or near-disappearance of interstate war, she or he can throw in Bull, The Anarchical Society, p.197, somewhere in a string citation. It conveys a "see-I've-read-the-classics-I-don't-just-crunch-numbers" message, if the hypothetical author wants to convey that.)     


Ronan said...

Do you like the the English School theorists, LFC? I read a bit of Buzan a while back (think he's ES)but have never looked into it in too much detail (never read Bull for example)
I want to get up on my system theorising! and it always struck me as a more realistic a starting point than structural realism etc

Ronan said...

Also (IIRC) Gregory Gause touches upon the ES in the 'IR of the Persian Gulf' when taking about regional security complexs..i remember it being reasonably convincing and complex

LFC said...

Hi Ronan

Do I like the English School theorists?

Short answer: on the whole yes, I like the ES emphasis on the importance of history, institutions, int'l law, normative issues, etc. I prefer it to structural realism -- if that's the choice for purposes of this comment.

Long answer: It's a little more complicated. (Sorry, you asked this of someone who has a PhD in IR. So I can't give you just a 'yes' and leave it at that. [True, no one hired me after I got my PhD but still, I have to at least pretend to be an IR scholar :). But I'm not an English School expert. In fact not much of an expert on anything].

OK, with all that throat-clearing out of the way: There are two English Schools, or two tendencies within the school. They have fancy names in the literature (pluralist and solidarist, or something like that) but basically one is more conservative, committed to the existing state system and rules of strict nonintervention etc , less concerned w economic inequality, etc., than the other.

Of the ES people writing today, Robert Jackson (eg 'The Global Covenant' 2000, bk on sovereignty in '07) wd be a good rep of the more conservative camp (or James Mayall, maybe). Nicholas Wheeler, e.g., is more on the other side, I think. And perhaps somewhere in the middle, Buzan, Andrew Hurrell, Hidemi Suganami, Richard Little to mention a few names.

Bull -- by which I mean here 'The Anarchical Society', he also wrote other things -- is still worth reading and is very lucid, very well organised (British spelling for this comment:)); the specifics of course have become dated. (There are also various collections of essays about Bull's work, the typical sort of thing academics do.) And there's a whole bk on the ES by Suganami and someone else whose name is escaping me at the moment. And there's a bk on non-intervention that Bull edited, from early '80s, based on a series of lectures by various people at Oxford.

Jackson's 'The Global Covenant' is long and repetitive but parts are interesting -- I have read large pts of it -- he's way too conservative for my taste but still perhaps worth reading. K.J. Holsti (e.g. 'Taming the Sovereigns' 2004 and earlier bks) is also readable.

Published around the same time as Bull -- a yr earlier in fact -- was F.S. Northedge, 'The Intl Political System', based on lectures at the LSE. Readable, v. opinionated, and all the 'contemporary' specifics are dated, of course. (And probably quite hard to put one's hands on a copy these days, though I happen to have one.)

I have read very little Buzan (though am familiar in a general way w some of his ideas), v. little Hurrell. They are probably two of the most prominent ES people writing today. Hurrell's 'On Global Order' (2008) is prob. good -- I haven't read it.

So if you want to get an overview of the ES I wd start with 'The Anarchical Society' (I see from Amazon there is a '3rd ed.' with forewords by S. Hoffmann, from '95 I think, and Hurrell, but the text itself is no doubt the same '77 text), then maybe Hurrell's 'On Global Order', then cd follow particular interests from there.


Gregory Gause: Only thing I've read by him I think was a Foreign Affairs article or two but I'm sure 'IR of the Persian Gulf' is good.


Sorry -- very long-winded reply.

LFC said...

P.s. To clarify, the bk I vaguely mentioned, above, on intervention is:

H. Bull, ed., Intervention in World Politics (1984). It's lectures by a bunch of people Bull brought in to talk to his Oxford students. Contributors incl. Rosalyn Higgins, S. Hoffmann, R. Falk etc, etc.

Kindred Winecoff said...

LFC, nice find!

Ronan, It's definitely worth dipping into the English School. I'm certainly no expert on it, but it's refreshing to read some old-school theory that isn't well-worn debates about absolute vs relative gains or whatever.

LFC said...

Thanks Kindred :)

Ronan said...

“Sorry, you asked this of someone who has a PhD in IR. So I can't give you just a 'yes' and leave it at that.”

Sure that’s why I asked ; )

Great answer though, thanks! I’m going to check out those sources.

Also, I’m only getting back into that ‘Empire Project’ book (if you remember from earlier in the summer) as a few things caught up on me, just in case you were wondering why I haven’t got back to you about it yet


Sure it was all your hobby horsing over at UNC on complex systems, networks etc that got me looking down this avenue! Very interesting stuff though

LFC said...

Thanks, and I do remember the 'Empire Project' discussion. Don't worry about the timing (I'm generally behind schedule on everything myself).

Ronan said...


I was also meaning to ask you..did you ever end up writing a post on the Arab Spring from a regional context (viewing the causes of it as regional rather than domestic to each country) I know Jay Ulfelder did recently, but I remember you saying something about it a few months back

LFC said...

I don't remember KW writing such a post but I might well have missed it. Anyway, prob. best to ask him on his own blog or by e-mail. He's starting his job (at Indiana U.) this fall and has, I suspect, already left Chapel Hill, so I don't know whether he will continue to blog at IPE@UNC. Prob. not. But I've seen no post about that over there, unless it went up in the last 12 hrs or so.

It will be interesting to see if KW finds the time to ride his various (online) hobby horses (to use your phrase) as a new assistant professor. My guess is he will.
p.s. one more book title re the ES: Bull & Watson, eds., 'The Expansion of International Society'.

hank_F_M said...


Figures, my internet connection was down so you have a great discussion.

A question.

The Just war doctine is of course important to those of a cultural/religious tradition where it was developed and is accepted,. Other than self defense the UN Charter would only allow military action as an enfacement action. If ten members (with no vetoes) of the Security Council authorize an enforcement action then it is lawful and member nations are required to at least passively support it. While I am sure the drafters of Charter assumed the Just War Doctine would apply, it is not a specific requirement. I would suspect that most of the counties that are members of the Security Council are not of the cultural tradition that would accept the JWD. And even in countries where it might be traditional, prominent political parties reject the religious tradition that birthed the JWD.

At a practical level is the JWD even relevant as a mater of international law?

P.S. I think it should be.

Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

LFC said...


"At a practical level is the JWD relevant as a matter of international law?"

I suppose not very, esp. since 'statespeople' (leaders, etc.) don't routinely refer to the JWD or its vocabulary in their public pronouncements.

JWD or 'the just war tradition' today is mostly something that some academics continue to write about. But some of them may be increasingly ambivalent about it, or perhaps have been all along. In a recent article (Int'l Studies Rev., June 2013), one scholar (Cian O'Driscoll) writes -- I'm closely paraphrasing here -- that he thinks the just war tradition is useful in supplying a vocabulary to criticize the recourse to force, but he prefers to think in terms of 'the lesser evil' rather than "the notional just war," which he no longer believes in as a possibility.

His point seems to be, from glancing at the article, that deploying the categories of just war theory can muffle the horrors of war or dull one's response to them. This may be a, or the, main source of discomfort with/rejection of JWD today, rather than the fact that it orig. comes out of a specifically Christian context.

Ronan said...

Thanks for the other link LFC
I didn't want 'hobby horse' to be taken up the wrong way (which is idiomatically neutral - if that's a thing - where I come from)and be seen as snarky etc.. like you, I like IPE@UNC a lot, one of the more consistently interesting blogs at the moment
You should also, LFC, if you have the time in the future look into the book 'patterns of empire', which I have lined up to be read at some stage, which (I think) adopts an ES perspective to compare 'common imperial characteristics' btw the US and British 'empires'/systems/hegemonic orders..whatever the term

LFC said...

Thanks for 'Patterns of Empire' recommendation.

No worries on 'hobby horse' -- I didn't take it as snarky.

I often disagree w Kindred W. on various things, btw. (But I agree his blog is/has been interesting.)

LFC said...

Perhaps I shd revise slightly what I said about leaders not referring to just war theory. Obama did so in his Nobel Peace Prize speech -- not that I recall it v. well, but Stephen Carter's 2011 bk 'The Violence of Peace' apparently takes off from the Nobel speech. I didn't know that Carter, a Yale law prof and novelist, had written something on Obama and foreign policy until I happened to glance, just now, at a post at the USIH blog. Link to follow.

LFC said...

Link here