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Notes from APSA annual meeting: Boston, 2002

NOTE: These transcribed notes from the 2002 American Political Science Association meeting are bound to contain one or more unintentional misrepresentations of the various speakers' comments and should NOT be used for attribution. Titles of each panel are given, but not the titles of the individual papers. For some panels not all of the speakers are included. Asterisks (*) denote highly prominent scholars.

Thursday, August 29

8:45 -- Theoretical advances in foreign policy substitutability

Kenneth Schultz -- If events are subject to multiple interpretations, domestic party/factions whose initial party preferences are rather close to each other are liable to polarize apart.

Marc Simon & Harvey Starr -- Computer simulations of two-level security-threat model. States may allocate or extract resources to meet internal or external threats. Oddly, democracies do NOT tend to integrate with democratic allies and apply "dovish" internal strateges. This contributes to democ. peace AND realist IR theories. Under conditions of non-compensability, Paul Kennedy's "imperial overstretch" results.

Billy Dixon -- Substitutability: At some level you CAN compare apples and oranges. This requires sophisticated modeling, and all papers succeed. There is also RIGIDITY in policy tradeoffs; e.g. for G. W. Bush, tax cuts cure all ills. Simon & Starr's key contribution: allowing for learning. But their model is too close to real world, should be more abstract and theoretical.

10:45 -- New views of American grand strategy: Power, identity, and institutions

John Ikenberry * -- No rivals have emerged to challenge U.S. hegemony; Ger., Japan, Russia have moved CLOSER to U.S. Powe asymmetry has become meaningless. (?) Over last 50 years, U.S. has institutionalized its power position, like never before. G. W. Bush puts my argument to the test every day, but U.S.-internat. bargains are deep enough to endure.

Charles Kupchan * -- I'm less confident about U.S. "unipolar moment." Reasons: 1) Rise of united Europe; whose current problems are like early U.S.A. 2) Decline of liberal internationalism; G. W. Bush reflects deep trends. Isolationism and unilateralism are two sides of same coin. 3) Shift from industrial to digitial era; U.S. for. pol. will be more hamstrung by dom. pol., e.g., Hispanics in Calif. & Texas. This is the end of an ERA, not of history. (Fukuyama) Strategic restraint after end of Pax Americana. Interestingly, all four on panel seem to come to similar policy conclusions.

Henry Nau * -- I bring in a constructivist perspective to realism. Without identity, power is inert, lacking legitimacy. Collapse of USSR. Various dimensions of identity shift over time (internal, external) and these DRIVE internat. BOP shifts. Remarkable convergence of identities with G-7 states. U.S. unilateral acts under Bush have NOT been at odds with multilateralism. A nationalist U.S. grand strategy is modest in goal of reforming rogue states.

Joseph Nye * -- Echoing Paul Kennedy, in 1992 Paul Tsongas said the Cold War was over and JAPAN won! I disagreed. Lesson: beware of "conventional wisdom." Neocons like Krauthammer, Will, Kagan, and M. Kelley are in vogue now. Terrorism is not new, but their destructive power has skyrocketed. Privatization of war must be recognized in reformulated grand strategy. Mearsheime's recent works omit any mention of transnational threats. Krauthammer trumpeted U.S. victory in Aghan., but police cooperation is needed to track down al Qaeda. Military is only one dimension. Unlike Rome, U.S. cannot rotect its own citizens by acting alone. Paradox of power! I worry U.S. is not facing up to threat of "new barbarians."

Colin Dueck (disc.) -- Clinton was part of U.S. tradition of "hegemony on the cheap" -- seeking benefits without incurring risk. Hard to get away with. All four authors convince me the BOP isn't what it used to be.

Gideon Rose (chair) -- Nye's for. pol. recommendations are very sensible, centrist. Kupchan's book is "ballsy" -- courageous for indep., contrarian predictions. All books start from real material power and then add on. Good! But this risks sliding into fuzzy eclecticism, which pure theorists loathe. In Ikenberry's book, Waltz's article was the odd man out, alone inarguing trad. realist BOP could still explain. It seemed desperate.

3:30 -- Political participation and representation in open economies in Latin America

Paul W. Posner -- Theories of econ. & pol. liberalization usually omit dealing with the primacy of the state. "Social capital" theory, like modernization theory a generation ago, oversimplifies by treating development as simply adopting X values. Chile is a success story but has 2nd worst income distrib. in Lat. Am. Success of econ. lib. depends on how state structures soc.-econ. relations.

Stephen Ropp -- Panama constit. grants state vast powers to bestow juridical personage on social organizations; same for Nicaragua. El Salv. & Hond. are in middle. Costa Rica & Guat. are LEAST corporatist, C.R. is more democratic. Concl.: Small states of Cent. Amer. may not be as helpless in face of globalization as we thought.

James Samstad -- Traditionally, corporatism in Mexico existed on 3 levels: 1) Micro - local farmer & worker groups; 2) Macro - beginning with Cardenas; 3) Party-level - also beg. with Cardenas. Despite PAN's business background, govt. of Fox has reverted to a corporatist gov. approach, with tripartite bargaining. Corporatism is not nec. contrary to liberal pluralism. (?)

Jane Marcus-Delgado -- Fujimori & Menem succeeded but were corrupt. De la Rua fell because of inherited econ. problems AND his inept, weak style. Menem's legacy corroded an already unhealthy system. Reforms were often arbitrarily carried out. Privatizations were illicit, unregulated, and incomplete. Unpopular reforms were postponed. Military regime made people fear and distrust govt. Arg. is very decentralized in fiscal authority; central govt. collects nearly all revenue, then allocate much to provinces. Susan Stokes: Peru & Arg. corruption were tolerated because it wasn't seen as part of a fundamental problem. Three turning points leading to De la Rua's downfall: 1) Attempt to reform labor depended on bribing legislators; 2) Arms sales to Croatia & Ecuador (!); 3) In Nov. 2001 elctions, Peronists regained majority.

William C. Smith (disc.) -- What is happening to peripheral Fordism in Mexico? Marcus Kurtz's paper is less descriptive; he's a "lumper," trying to draw out broad patterns.

Friday, August 30

1:30 -- Exchange rates and domestic politics

Michele Chang -- Mexico vs. Korea: odd comparison? Similarities: 1) Strong govt. with presidential system; 2) Interventionist policy record; 3) Crises in election years; 4) Legislative majorities. Alt. explanations of currency crises: 1) Econ. fundamentals, self-fulfilling speculative attacks, TWIN crises; 2) Pol. econ.: electoral instability (Mayhew) obscures future policy course, delays stabilization; 3) Institutions: veto gates, separation of powers in pres. sys. I created a "news model" with database of pol. & econ. events ranked acc. to discord level (1-4) and source (govt. or oppos.). Dep. variable: stock market index volatility in election years. Mexico: hyperpresidentialism, dom. party leads to unity of purpose, delayed stability. Korea: leg.-exec. split divided purpose.

Scott Kastner, Chad Rector -- Studied 12 W. Eur. parl. democ., responding to currency crises. Rightist govts. opt to devalue, leftist govt. opt for currency controls. 3rd option of adjustment (hike int. rates) often unpalatable for both.

Joe "Vanya" Krieckhaus -- Neolib. pol. econ.: Bad public policy (hike exch. rates) is due to POLITICS. Self-interest, trading favors, rent-seeking are theoretical answers. But empirical findings of direct hypotheses don't support this. Politics does NOT nec. drive (bad) policy. Hypotheses: 1) Inequality in society leads to populist redistrib., hiked exch. rates. 2) Ethnic division; 3) Democracy (Haggard 1990, Wade 1990): fear of losing next election; 4) Authoritarianism; 5) Pol. instability; 6) Low-quality institutions (Evans 1995). Results: Hardly any stat. signif. coefficients. Lack of effect by political variables calls into question neoliberal consensus.

David Bearce -- IS/LM model: Fiscal & monetary expansion with floating fixed exch. rates in an open economy. [Yawn -- goodbye!]

1:30 -- Local politics, society, and democracy in Brazil

John Guidry -- Belem, Brazil has 1.2 million pop. & is very poor. "Favela" is considered a degrading term there, unlike in Rio. They prefer "invas&3245es." State-society relations are changing as result of neliberalism; "colonizing the state" is one way for soc. movements to advance their interests.

Alfred Stepan * (disc.) -- "Decentralization" is new mantra of NGOs, etc. but it may result in MORE concentration of power in hands of existing regional elites. Guidry's paper helpfully points to new opportunities for activists. Papers are all good, addressing key topics, but are too cautious.

3:30 -- International relations theory and the crisis of September 11, 2001

David Lake * -- Over past decade, war has come to be understood as a case of bargaining failure: both sides are worse off. Sept. 11 calls into question this rationalist approach. Sept. 11 shows terrorists aim to provoke a threat that polarizes, thus making war inevitable. Tradeoff: Bigger retaliations are more likely to succeed but are more likely to radicalize moderates, as terrorists hope. Hard to manage dilemma. I don't have a simple answer for this indeterminate problem.

Robert Keohane * -- U.N. Charter UPHOLDS sovereignty as basic norm.

Peter Katzenstein * -- The notion that terrorists are "over there" and the target is "over here" is false. Germany & Japan for decades faced a terrorist movement that kept reproducing itself despite arrests.

Miles Kahler * -- Nuremburg estab. norm of no genocide, during 1990s norm of not attacking one's own civilians, since Sept. 11 perhaps new norm encompassing non-state actors, whose terrorism used to be excused as "weapon of the weak."

David Lake * -- Terrorists' motives are perhaps unknowable, but many Americans inflate OUR importance in what is essentially a civil war within the Muslim world. Do they just want to expose our indecisiveness or stop supporting Israel? [He didn't get to my question about warfare being considered as quite rational means of promoting state building (Tilly 1990, etc.) and whether in light of state failure in Somalia, etc., terrorism therefore might be considered as a quite rational creatively adaptive tactic geared toward a long-term strategy of SUPRA-state building on a civilization scale, rallying people from the entire Muslim world to a single banner.]

7:00 -- Plenary session II: The Future of North America: The view from each corner of the triangle

Robert Pastor * -- Unlike Treaty of Rome (1957), which aimed for an "ever-closer union," NAFTA reads like a business contract among quite separate peoples. Yet there has been much integration, cross border flows, etc. Jorge Castañeda had to stay in Mexico for Pres. Fox's "Informe" (like State of Union), and Lloyd Axworthy had to stay in Canada because his son suddenly fell ill. [???]

Lloyd Axworthy (faxed speech was read by Robert Pastor) -- Bush admin. has scrapped obligations of ICC, Kyoto, and ABM Treaty, putting Canada in a bind. N. America missile defense is over OUR air space! Alaska oil drilling ignores Can. wildlife. Can. wants a broader definition of security, not just "punishing evildoers." Focus on community, not fortresses and perimeters! Canada's predilection for bilateral deals plays into hands of Bush admin., which is happy to be the "hub" of a "spoke & hub" arrangement. N. America doesn't need new institutions, it needs a new mandate to address environmental, transport, etc. issues. Can. needs to "go global" to gain allies to deal more effectively with U.S. in regional orgs.

? Varuga (sp?; filling in for Jorge Castañeda) -- U.S.-Mex.-Can. for. min. summit in Santa Fe 1999 was first ever. Pres. Bush & Fox meeting in Guanajuato was first document outlining plans to go beyond NAFTA. Deals that don't respect each country's national interests will be non-starters. Fox visited D.C. 4 days before Sept. 11, which ruined plans for new immig. treaty. Societies, esp. businessmen, operate faster than govts. NAFTA didn't have to be "sold" to business, which had been trying to trade despite barriers for years. U.S. baby boomers will soon start to retire, while Mexico is just peaking in demographic growth. There is a 10-year window of opportunity to find work for 1.3 m new Mexicans every year during this time. Sept. 11 forced Mex. & U.S. to cooperate on security issues much quicker tan is typical under econ. integ. systems. A NAFTA "visa" or identity card would facilitate travel by businessmen and boost trade. Post-Sept. 11 border restrictions are killing economy in north Mexico. We need customs clearance at the factory; China is cutting into Mexico's export trade. The "missing NAFTAs" yet to be created: Social, Cultural, Energy, Labor, Security, Health (W. Nile virus). My "FOREIGN POLICY SCIENCE FICTION": In future, U.S. will handle Europe and Mideast, Canada will handle Pacific, and Mexico will handle Lat. America. [!!?]

Robert Pastor -- Surprising paradoxes: Canada wants bilateralism, despite disadvantage in bargaining, Mexico pushes most ambitiously for broader NAFTA despite being #3. People in all 3 countries are way ahead of their govts., in terms of identifying with North America. Lack of instit. mech. for coordinating macro-econ. policy under NAFTA set stage for peso crisis. Also, failure to consult on Sept. 12 led to old-style border closing, a missed opportunity. Bush met first with Putin; it should have been Fox & Chretien. We need North American institutions, incl. research institutions across the country. Teaching studetns to think as "global citizens" is too abstract; let's start on a continental scale.

[COMMENT: The fact that neither the Mexican nor Canadian speakers were able to attend was quite an embarassment and may signify the rather chilly present state of relations between the United States and its neighbors.]

Saturday, August 31

10:45 -- Democracy's international effects and their limits

Michael Mousseau -- Liberal econ. culture goes hand in hand with econ. dev. and with democracy. But alliances are more likely among developed democracies than less developed democracies. (Test of additive vs. interactive term models to sort out joint effects.)

Holger Schmidt -- Some emp. support for monadic hypotheses, but NO support for dyadic hypotheses. (Testing willingness of states to call upon U.N. or regional IOs to resolve conflicts.) It is mostly small & weak countries that make such appeals.

Errol Henderson -- My book was just pub. by Lynne Rienner!! Huntington is a cultural realist who updates Morgenthau. Ian ??? stole my idea, which should not be confused with strategic culture. Huntington posits three clashes, hyp. tested with data from Ted Gurr (1995), Sambanis (2000), Regan (2000). Proportion of total conflicts that fit "clash of civ." stayed about 30% from supberiods 1978-1988 to 1988-forward. Democ. peace thesis and clash of civ. theses are both WRONG. It's a case of MISTAKEN IDENTITY.

Will Waldorf (U.Va.) -- B. Goldwater denounced U.S. abandonment of Chile ("friend") in 1976. Why do democracies abandon their for. strat. commitments? Activated liberalism: humanitarian motives account for most of this. Illiberal behavior by allies only tranlsates into legislative reaction when interest groups become engaged in policy. Otherwise, small complaints. Despite NGO pressure, the fact that Arg. govts. made certain liberal moves deflected Cong. retaliation after 1976 mil. coup. Bush & ABM treaty? Dom. institutionalism can be complemented by realist-strategic perspective.

Scott Siegel -- What conditions define "democracy"? Can we disaggregate components to get better results on democ. peace thesis? (Levy says it's a LAW!) Democ. peace thesis is "overdetermined." I'm not satisfied! Model 1) Economy & diversionary war; Model 2) Regime type (constit., party compet., etc.); Model 3) Interacting economy & regime type. Qualitative analysis is necessary to better grasp democ. peace.

James Lee Ray * (disc.) -- Waldorf wrongly assumes that exec. leaders serve nat. interes, when they really focus on staying in power. Good paper, needs to link to lit. Mousseau's & Henderson's papers are thorough, fair-minded, and persuasive, up to a point. You shouldn't have control vaiables that are either intervening variables or definitionally related to other variables. Read Henderson's book! He talks much about "war" but his data deal with mil. interstate disputes (MIDs). Testing democ. peace shouldn't penalize the thesis for cases of peace (which is normal) between non-democ. states.

1:30 -- Problems in New Democracies: Cross-national and quantitative perspectives

Cynthia McClintock * -- Since nearly all of Lat. Amer. is now democ., we focus on democ. QUALITY rather than democ. vs. authorit., using Freedom House data, which correlate well with LASA data ex. for Bolivia. Democ. VALUES (question on reliability of poll data) correlate strongly with democ. quality. We don't have Lat. Am. data for social capital but we use social trust as a proxy. (Data on presid. elec., 1996-1999) We use Heritage Found. data for econ. freedom. Weak effect of parties due to closed nature of over-institutionalized two-party sys. in Col. & Para. [goodbye]

1:30 -- Hierarchy, History, and International Relations

David Lake * -- Conception of sovereignty as absolute either/or is coming under attack. In hierarchic relationships, dominant party has authority to resolve disputes with subordinate parties. The various manifestations of systems can be described along a spectrum in four dimensions:

SECURITYAllianceSphere of
Economic zone DependencyEconomic
Mandate DominionImperium
STATE FORMATIONInter-jurisdictional
functional authority

Research designs have suffered from selection bias due to ignoring hierarchy. Even committed neorealists must grab any evidence of hierarchy they can find in order to properly specify the dependent variable. [NOTE: This paper's conclusions are perfectly in line with those of my dissertation, which takes a quite unorthodox stance in questioning the standard assumption of anarchy in the international system.]

3:30 -- Is balance of power theory still relevant?

T. V. Paul -- Three types of balancing exist in the world: 1) HARD (realist) - overt military buildups; 2) SOFT - submerged, informal, tacit alignments (e.g., Russia & China), often not noticed; 3) ASYMMETRIC - involves state and non-state actors. e.g. Pakistan uses "incidents" in Kashmire to balance against India.

James Wirtz -- Wars between strong and weak states occur because of the disparate ways the respective countries view the structural constraints of the internat. system. In Vietnam, commies had ideological motivations, but acted primarily under the expectation that U.S. could not bring full power to bear because of Cold War (USSR). Some say that U.S. has not been challenged since end of Cold War; I disagree.

Robert Ross (presented by Douglas McDonald) -- East Asia has shifted from tripolarity to bipolarity, with U.S. maritiem sphere of infl. vs. Chinese continental sphere. China wants to build up power without making U.S. hostil, a very difficult task. China is not a threat to U.S.

Douglas Lemke -- Power transition theory is alternative to BOP, based on HIERARCHIC view of internat. system. Dissatisfied states will act to improve their position if they don't expect to be defeated. Since Cold War, GB, Fr, Ger have bandwagoned (fitting power transition theory), China has balanced, Russia has done nothing? U.S. trade with China would be stupid under BOP theory. It would require severe stretching to makes these facts fit offensive realist theory.

Dale Copeland (U.Va., disc.) -- Paper by T.V. Paul doesn't ask why a rational state would choose soft balancing over hard balancing. I agree with Ross that Pacific has become bipolar, but he needs to look at RELATIVE power shifts between U.S. & China. I think U.S.-China peace is not due to bipolarity but to U.S. doubt that China will ever catch up. Paper underestimates China's land-based expansion ambitions, not nec. military. Oil in central Asia. Wirtz's use of psychological explan. was ad hoc, not deductive. Lemke should deal with types of realism other than offensive. Also, power transition theory is fundamentally weak. Deductively, there is no reason for rising powers to engage in war; bide time! Empirically, it is usually the declining powers that start wars. Why would U.S. take such a hardline pre-emptive stand against Iraq under this theory? Definition of status quo is based on tautology, therefore non-falsifiable.

Douglas Lemke (hilariously witty rejoinder) -- Use of proxy to define status quo is best we can do. Power trans. theory has flaws but has advantages over alternatives. My training was to look at documents in research. You and I should get married and combine our approaches. (loud laughter, Copeland red-faced)