Foreign Policy Theory in Menem's Argentina

By Carlos Escudé | Go to book overview

5
How Peripheral Realism Differs
from Complex Interdependence

In some respects peripheral realism is closer to the complex interdependence model than to central realism. As it should by now be clear, peripheral realism, with its focus on development, is quite at odds with the security rationale and the obsession with war that characterize central realism. (Peripheral realism is more liberal than even the so-called liberal version of mainstream international theory, inasmuch as it avoids the implicit subordination of the individual to the state.) Although the intention of mainstream realist authors has always been to reduce the probability of war, the normative effects of their theories have been to nurture hawks. In terms of the foreign policies of peripheral states, the hawks are Hussein, Khomeini, Khadaffi, and Galtieri, among others. In contrast, the peripheral realist foreign policies of Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Argentina under Menem are dovish. Peripheral realism deactivates policies such as Argentina's Cóndor II missile or its refusal to accept nuclear safeguards. This is surely closer to the spirit of Anglo-American liberalism than its opposite.

In my view, the complex interdependence model, developed by Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye in 1977 and revised in 1989, correctly rejects the classical realist's obsession with the "ever-present possibility of war among sovereign states." 1 According to these authors, Morgenthau's realist assumptions about world politics "can be seen as defining an extreme set of conditions or ideal type" (their emphasis). However, they tell us, "One can also imagine very different conditions. . . . We shall construct another ideal type, the opposite of realism. We call it complex interdependence. . . . We shall argue that complex interdependence sometimes comes closer to reality than does realism." 2

According to Keohane and Nye, the three assumptions central to Morgenthau's realist vision are that states as coherent units are the dominant actors in world politics, that force is a usable and effective instrument of policy, and

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