The Cultural Construction of International Relations: The by Beate Jahn (auth.)

By Beate Jahn (auth.)

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The belief in the objectivity of the laws of politics makes a theory which reflects these objective laws possible (Morgenthau, 1993: 4; Waltz, 1979: 6). Rationality lies in the lawlike character, in the 18 The Cultural Construction of International Relations recurrence or repetition of certain kinds of behaviour under similar circumstances and not with `irrational elements'. Yet a theory of foreign policy which aims at rationality must for the time being, as it were, abstract from . . irrational elements and seek to paint a picture of foreign policy which presents the rational essence to be found in experience, without the contingent deviations from rationality which are also found in experience.

Realist accounts accept, according to Beitz, the analogy between the individual and the state in the state of nature. And on the basis of that analogy, Realists invest states just like individual persons with rights. But, says Beitz, `if the idea of the national interest plays any role in justifying prescriptions for state behavior, it can only be because the national interest derives its normative importance from these deeper and more ultimate concerns' (1979: 52f ). Hence, in this view national survival, for instance, can only be accepted as a right if what it really means is the survival of the individual members of the nation; it certainly is not a right for the survival of `cultural life or to the defense of economic interests' (Beitz, 1979: 55).

We do not ask whether states are revolutionary or legitimate, authoritarian or democratic, ideological or pragmatic. We abstract from every attribute of states except their capabilities. Nor in thinking about structure do we ask about the relations of states ± their feelings of friendship and hostility, their diplomatic exchanges, the alliances they form, and the extent of the contacts and exchanges among them. We ask what range of expectations arises merely from looking at the type of order that prevails among them and at the distribution of capabilities within that order.

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