International Relations Theory Responses

respond to two forum posts and answer one question. Topic international relations theory. 200 words each with works cited.

Post 1

There are always exceptions to analysis or research. In this particular situation, the questioning of “if there are times where an individual level of analysis is more useful compared to a unit or system level?” is going towards a concise and narrowed lower level of questioning in its approach. It is an approach that focuses on individuals or people. Conditions that make individual levels of analysis more important compared to the other higher levels of analysis are entirely dependent on the nature of the situation. For example, an individual made decision that causes a higher level problem to reach to a state or system level issue is a more direct root cause of the problem that helps answer the proposed question. This is the reason why it is possibly more important compared to the other levels of analysis. Sometimes a lower tier question and analysis is the exact level and type of analysis that is needed.

Three examples that I may use that proves individual level of analysis provides better insight are going to be firstly, political leaders, their independent decision can cause system and state level problems, but the individual level allows for people to analyze that political leaders reasoning for their decision making. A better explanation would be for example, when Gaddafi was trying to set up the Gold Dinar currency to be used in his nation and surrounding countries and create the United States of Africa, it brought external intervention and finally his demise. Or Hitler can be used as a perfect example that is explained well according to Byman and Pollack’s article. Secondly, individual level of analysis brings forth a closer level of approach towards the analysis and use of theories on a personal level. Thirdly, this level of analysis also provides information of the behavioral traits and influences of individuals that conduct decisions, this includes some things such as personality, cognitive behavior, and perception.

In addition, theories such as realism, social constructivism, and cognitive theories are examples that are possible to be used in the further pursuit of the individual level of analysis in the field of international relations compared to those at higher levels of analysis.

Post 2

The challenge in this week’s forum post response lies within the stance we must take to argue for the usefulness and effectiveness of the individual level of analysis. Although I agree that every point of view can be argued for the pro or the con, formulating the pro argument for this particular assignment was difficult, especially after reading enough material cautioning against the individual level of analysis; the instantaneous reaction is to denounce the idea that singular human beings placed into leadership positions are capable of remaining humane enough to be able to serve their nations vision as well as holding an active and contributing role within an international forum. Throughout history, there have been countless examples of individual leaders who have taken it upon themselves to steer a nation into what they believed was “the best path” (classic example of this being Adolf Hitler). However, there have also been examples in which individuals have truly lead a nation towards an improved state just by being genuine in character and ambition (sticking with Germany as the example, Angela Merkel fits this description very well). Being able to lead a nation on an individual level of analysis certainly has its benefits as well. In Steve Smith’s article “Groupthink and the Hostage Rescue Mission”, he emphasizes the dangers of being too deeply involved within a leadership group. Quoting Irving Janis’s work, he describes that “The basic argument esprit de corps and amiability restrict the critical faculties of groups, thereby leading to foreign-policy fiascos – is both an appealing and a stimulating one” (Smith, 1985). Furthermore, this esprit de corps within a policy making group can lead to decisions being made to benefit the group, more so than the individual nation who may have needed that particular attention to begin with. Therefore, I believe the following three supportive arguments resonate with an individual approach and can further the needs of a nation more than the systemic or unit level analysis could. For one, the individual approach is sympathetic to the needs of their nation and will place those needs before the collective needs of the international community. This focus could then drive a nation to achieve a greater direction and new ambitions that it may have not been able to achieve in the communal environment, where its needs may have been placed below other nation’s needs. Second, consistency within one nation can benefit the consistency of the international realm; a nation will serve to benefit others better once it has gathered focus onto itself and stabilized itself first. Lastly, standing up as an individual nation (particularly its leader) can in turn spur international relations in the long run; a good example of this is the ending of the Cold War, in which Raegan and Gorbachev (two fairly charismatic leaders) were able to come together on an individual level to end a senseless stalemate amongst two powerful nations.

Answer this question

You wrote: “For example, Hitler played a key role in the World War II and also Gorbachev can be termed as an individual decision maker in triggering the end of the cold war.” By the way, are you familiar with the terms Glasnost and Perestroika?

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