From Nuclear Military Strategy to a World without War: A History and a Proposal

By Roger Hilsman | Go to book overview

tween states, like the business of reaching decisions within a single state, requires techniques for persuasion, negotiation, and bargaining, as well as for manipulating power.

The practitioners of statecraft in foreign offices and embassies do not make a practice of generalizing about the "political process in international affairs" or about the "interstate decision-making system." Yet faced with the problem of doing something in international affairs -- whether it is trying to bring about a Geneva conference on arms control or implementing a decision to blockade Cuba -- any practitioner, from desk officer to foreign minister, would unerringly tick off the steps to be taken. "This great power would have to be consulted in advance; those lesser powers need only be informed; this line of argument should be taken in the United Nations; that line of argument with the press. Moscow should be told this at that stage; Paris should be handled in a different way." Practitioners may not generalize about the "international political system," but they intuitively know it exists, and they consciously know how to manipulate it.

All this adds up to what is only a rudimentary political process. Of the several functions that a political process serves, the present-day international political system provides an arena and techniques for resolving certain kinds of disputes, for allocating certain kinds of benefits, and for establishing rules for certain kinds of competition. But the present-day international system provides little else, and certainly not enough to be as effective as the political process within a stable, well-established state with a working political system of its own.

In international affairs, the actors are states. If humankind is to move toward a global political process that is something more than what we have just described, it must be possible for both groups of individuals and individuals themselves to work other than through their own particular state. If the present structure is inadequate and establishing a world state is unrealistic, what can be done?


NOTES
1
This chapter is a further development of some ideas from Roger Hilsman, The Crouching Future; Roger Hilsman, The Politics of Policy Making in Defense and Foreign Affairs: Conceptual Models and Bureaucratic Politics ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 1987).
2
Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, trans. and ed. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills ( New York: 1946), 78 (emphasis original).
3
Ibid.
4
The first definition is that of Charles E. Merriam, Political Power: Its Composition and Incidence ( New York: 1934). The second is that of Harold Lasswell, Politics: Who Gets What, When, How ( New York: 1936). After Merriam, the author who is most noted for defining politics as a struggle for power is Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, 4th ed. ( New York: 1970). V. O. Key is the one who restricts politics to the process of government, defining politics as the "human relationship of superordination and subordination, of dominance and submission, of the governors and the governed." V. O. Key , Politics, Parties, and Pressure Groups, 4th ed. ( New York: 1964). The definition of politics as the making and executing of authoritative decisions is from David Easton,

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