Foreign Policy Theory in Menem's Argentina

By Carlos Escudé | Go to book overview

6
Peripheral Realism: A Normative Proposal and a Citizen-Centric Critique of Mainstream Theory
International relations theory is in a sad state both on the periphery and at the center. The lack of a theory based on the consequences of the absence of power, and the subsequent importation of the mainstream theory developed in the Anglo-American world, is potentially harmful. However, theoretical development at the center itself is also disappointingly poor, thereby aggravating the situation. Not only is a theory being imported that does not correspond to the local circumstances, but it also happens to be bad theory. Looking at thousands of books, articles, dissertations, and their footnotes often produces the feeling that they no longer deal with the world we live in but with the world of that set of writings. Mainstream theory, neorealism and liberal theory included, is extraordinarily naive for many reasons.
1. It takes the state to be unproblematic.
2. It unknowingly operates on double standards.
3. It attempts to emulate other disciplines, instead of developing a method tailored to its unique subject matter.
4. It inadvertently incorporates philosophical assumptions whereas it purports to be value-free, and it does not acknowledge that philosophical assumptions are not merely a complement to theory but part of theory and language itself.
5. It inadvertently incorporates frequent anthropomorphisms, which further contaminate theory with values in a flawed way.
6. It fails to notice that specific foreign policies are much more suitable, as subject matter for a socioscientific approach, than is the analysis of the interstate system.

In some ways, mainstream international relations theory is as naively justificatory of the state (disguised as a nation) as was Vattel's work more than

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