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WWI and levels of analysis, Idealism

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Jack Amoureux

on 24 January 2017

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Transcript of WWI and levels of analysis, Idealism

Idealism's Historical Context: Destruction of WWI
Narrative #1: Immediate events
Narrative #2: Long-term events
Narrative #3: Personalities
Assassination of Austrian-Hungarian heir
Austria-Hungary declares war
Treaty obligations bring in Russia, German, France and Britain, while the U.S. joins later on its own
States interpreting their domestic and national interests as events unfold
The Black Hand's assassination
Wilhelm's expansionist policies
Wilson's liberalism
Social Darwinism
Economics and industrialization
Arms race (naval and land)
Shifting balances of power
Communist Revolution in Russia
Lessons Learned
Germany and Hitler
To the victor goes the spoils
Conspiracy (Hitler)
The United States and Wilson
Europe's war
Making the world safe for democracy
Peace through:
Freedom of the seas
Limited militaries
Peace through punishment and dismantling Germany
Idealism: A Theory of International Politics
Home: The U.S. and Britain
Empirical and normative aims
Basic Tenets of Idealism
1) Primacy of the individual
4) Importance of institutions (domestic and international)
The Successes, Failures and Challenges of Idealism
League of Nations
Based on collective security and open diplomacy
Some success mediating conflicts
Not supported by key players
Precursor to the United Nations
Self-determination and end of colonialism
World War II
Unresolved issues
Germany left out and revengeful
Vulnerable small states
Critical Engagement: Kant's Perpetual Peace
Group Exercise
What does the article ask of states? How would it advance perpetual peace?

Is the article realistic for our time (think about examples from international politics)? If not, how can it be altered, or advanced, for achieving peace in international politics today?
Act from fear and appetite
“In this way, nature guarantees perpetual peace by the actual mechanism of human inclinations. And while the likelihood of its being attained is not sufficient to enable us to prophesy the future theoretically, it is enough for practical purposes. It makes it our duty to work our way towards this goal, which is more than an empty chimera.” --Immanuel Kant
To what extent do we have a 'pacific federation' in today's international order? How effective is it in achieving peace?
Freedom and Autonomy
Enslavement and Heteronomy
Nature's laws
Our laws
First major IR theory

Influenced by historical study of relations between political communities (Aristotle, Thucydides, Machiavelli, Kant, etc.)
International Relations: The study of a system that features states as the main actors
What are the causes of WWI?
Human Beings:
Rational and Autonomous
Freely choose ends
War and conflict (from mistrust and the security dilemma)
Peace and well-being (through international law, international institutions and treaties)
The 'principle of evil' is the 'whetstone of virtue'.
Human nature
Moral agent
2) Possibility of progress
3) Interdependence = Need for cooperation
Conquest and conflict are not profitable
Democracies: more peaceful; autonomy and freedom
Internat'l orgs: further the collective goods of peace and prosperity
Benefits of peace
How can we analyze international politics?
Knowledge and world politics
Reasons for Studying the Great War
Academic field of IR
Altered world map
Different 'Lessons Learned'
Telling the Story of War
Immanuel Kant's influence on Idealism
Perpetual Peace
duty and nature advance peace
consequences of war
Written in the form of a treaty, but reformulates the idea of a treaty

A proposal for reform of international relations

Preliminary articles and definitive articles
Democratic Peace?
Democracies fight less
Economic interdependence
Membership in IOs
Domestic/ National
Theories of international politics: lenses for viewing or understanding the world (idealism, realism, constructivism)
Theories of knowledge: how we can know
We interpret others' interpretations:
How do actors understand the world and give meaning to their actions?
Objective knowledge about the world through observation:
Which X brings about Y?
How might we interpret WWI?
We cannot actually know. How should we act on this uncertainty?
What kind of story?
King George V
Great Britain
Kaiser Wilhelm
Czar Nicholas II
Emperor Franz Joseph
The Spark
Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia & Herzegovina
angers Serbia
Do not want Slavic people under Austrian control
Terrorist group Black Hand forms
Plans to attack Austria-Hungary
Europe is now at war!
Life in the Trenches
Soldiers lived in trenches 24/7
Under constant bombardment
Rats, lice
Open latrines
Dead bodies
Poison Gas
USA & the War
US remained neutral
Sell war materials to each side
US ships stopped by British Navy
US ships sunk by German subs
US believed they had freedom of the seas
British passenger liner sailing from New York to England
Germans warn travelers that the ship will be sunk if found by a U-Boat
Lusitania was smuggling war materials
May 7, 1915: Lusitania torpedoed and sunk by German U-Boat
1,195 people killed, 123 Americans
Americans outraged
Anti-German attitude strengthens in the US
Lusitania in New York

German Warning to Passengers
US Does Not Declare War
President Wilson demands German apology
Germany makes Sussex Pledge
Will not sink anymore US ships without warning, ends unrestricted sub warfare
How will this effect Germany's ability to win the war?

"Unless the Imperial Government should now immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its present methods of submarine warfare against passenger and freight-carrying vessels, the Government of the United States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the German Empire altogether" - Presidet Wilson
Germany's Dilema
Sussex Pledge
keeps the US out of the war
allows supplies to get to Great Britain
makes it harder for Germany to win the war
Unrestricted Subwarfare
keeps supplies from getting to Great Britain
will bring the US into the war
Germany will now have to fight another enemy
Zimmerman Note
Germany sends coded telegram to Mexico
Proposes an alliance with Mexico
Germany will aid Mexico
Mexico will declare war on the US
British intercept & decode the telegram
Published in US newspapers March 1, 1917
Americans outraged, demand action
United States Declares War!
April 2, 1917 President Wilson asks Congress for a declaration of war against Germany
US will join the Allied Powers
Wilson says the US will fight to "make the world safe for democracy"
Wilson Addressing Congress
The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind.

It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.
Wilson's Address to Congress

President Woodrow Wilson
United States
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