International Relations Theory

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    • 00:11

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU: Well, it's about the efforts of peoplesfrom different cultures, histories, backgrounds,languages interacting and trying to work with one another.Sometimes, of course, coming into conflict with one another.It's really politics at the highest level,and the most dramatic stage, you could

    • 00:31

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: say, of political interaction.So it has enormous excitement to it, I think.I actually didn't start out in the field,I started out in science.Caught up in the Sputnik era, went off to study engineering.

    • 00:55

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: But learned in the first few yearsthat I really wasn't too excited by laboratory work.I come out of a background where my father was both an historianand a philosopher.So there was some interest in these subjects of politics,and history, and economics.So I decided after serving in the army--and after having read, by the way, the Churchill volumes,

    • 01:18

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Winston Churchill's accounts of the Second World War,which got me very excited, I thought to myself, gosh,this is the kind of thing I'd like to study.So I went back to graduate schoolin political science and international relations.And it was a great to a decision on my part.Because while I kept some interest in scienceand still do, it would not have absorbed me

    • 01:41

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: the way that the field of international affairs has.I think it was the human drama.I mean, this is sort of novels of reality.Students always tell me how much they enjoy reading novels,and I have a wife who loves to read novels.And I say, well, then you've got to study international affairs.It's the most interesting novel you can think of.It has every aspect of what we like in novels.

    • 02:04

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Romance, tragedy, death, inspiration, success, failure.It's all there.And, of course, it tells us how we got to where we are.So it's actually even more important than just simplyenjoying a very good novel that introduces us to human feelingsand perceptions, but doesn't really

    • 02:24

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: help us to understand exactly how the world gotto be the way it is.Yeah, I studied under were very prominentone, Robert Osgood, who was a very inspirational teacher.And preeminent scholar in the early postwar period,

    • 02:44

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: along with people like Henry Kissingerand others who had to confront this question of howdoes the world deal with nuclear weapons.And also with, of course, the confrontationwith the Soviet Union.So he wrote some wonderful books, idealism and selfinterest in American foreign policy.And so he was had a big inspiration on me.

    • 03:04

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: So did a professor of political science, Norman Padelfordat MIT, where MIT had a little burgeoningschool of international affairs in the late '50s and early '60swhen I was there.And he got me working on the UN in connectionwith a project that he was doing,and that also sparked my interest.

    • 03:32

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Well, it's hard to know anything without theory, actually.Students sometimes don't understand what that means,but I give them a little example, which is simplya glass that's half full.And so we can describe that glass.But what does that glass mean?Does it mean it needs to be filled up?Does it mean it needs to be empty,

    • 03:53

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: or does it mean it's just right?So kind of it's in a Goldilocks state.Well, we don't know until we apply some expectations to it,or we apply some process, some objective to it.And that's what theory does.Theory helps us to understand the meaning of facts.Which facts are important.Which facts are more important than others, which facts maybe

    • 04:16

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: cause other facts.And without that, we really wouldn'tknow more than just description, which wouldn't help us terriblyin trying to prevent something, let's say,from happening in the future.If we don't know what caused it, if we don't knowwhy the glass is half empty, we can't probablyreproduce that in the future.

    • 04:41

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Yes, there are.Theory can't tell us the truth.Theories, of course, proposed propositions, which we thentest against reality.We may find that they are consistent with reality,but we never know whether they are, in fact, coincidentwith reality.That is, whether the reality is actually that way.

    • 05:04

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And a good example of that is, of course, physics.Physics thought for years that motion was simply linear,and then somebody came along and applieda new idea of periodic motion.And that changed our way of thinking about physics.The same thing is true, obviously, about the universe.

    • 05:26

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I mean, we have a physics that tells us about the universe.Tells us that everything is fixed in time place,and that time exists.But now, another branch of physics,another theory of physics, quantum mechanics,tells us that there is no fixed time, place, or space.That things can appear in multiple places at once.And yet both of these theories are correct.

    • 05:49

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: So which describes the true world?Well, we don't know.Both are consistent with the world, but we cannot really,therefore, know truth.We can know what is consistent with the world,but not necessarily what is actually the true world.

    • 06:11

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Well, when I've came into the field,really the major theories were whatwe called idealism and realism.Idealism was all about the competitionof ideas, especially communism and freedom.Realism was all about the balance of power,the competition for power.In the '70s and '80s, we developed some differentthe approaches or theories.

    • 06:32

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: We developed something called neorealism, which talked abouthow power was structured in the world,and whether power was balanced or unbalanced.And that everything followed from the structureof the balance of power.Neoliberalism told us about how institutionsinfluenced the events in international affairs.

    • 06:54

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: How negotiations and organizations like the UnitedNations, et cetera, influenced the field.In the 1990s, in the last decade or so,idealism has come back a bit, but it'scome back in a different form.It's called constructivism, and it'sall about how we talk about the world, how we discuss it.

    • 07:17

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: The dialogue and the discourse thatgoes on among groups of different culturesand backgrounds, and how we come upwith terminology and language thathelps us to understand the world.It's a way of thinking socially about howthe world gets constructed.So power may not be important unless, in fact, it'simportant in our discourse, and in our discussion.

    • 07:37

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And so we change the relative importance of thingsby the way in which we talk about them.I think some of the more recent work that has gotten me excitedis trying to empirically measure ideas, and how ideas differ.

    • 07:60

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And then how they hook up with actions in orderto change circumstances.I mean, normally we tend to start alwayswith circumstances.We say, well, look.We live in a world in which the UnitedStates is the dominant power.But we don't ask the question too often about, well,how did the United States get to be the most dominant power?

    • 08:20

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Was it an accident?Was it because of something the United States did?Was it because of something the United Statesis in terms of what its ideas are,and what the nature of its society is?And we need to know that in some sense.We need to be able to learn how, or weneed to be able to need to measure how ideas are not just

    • 08:44

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: words, but they get translated into strategies.They get translated into programs.Those programs then maybe go through a legislatureand become law, or they go through some bureau,and they become policy.And then they actually affect the degreeto which you mobilize people, and power, and institutions,

    • 09:05

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: and you then change and create circumstances.One small example of that is in the 1970s,the United States was considered to be in decline.We were reeling from the Vietnam experience and Watergate,and we were not growing very rapidly.The Soviet Union was considered to be moving forward.They were projecting power far from their borders

    • 09:27

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: for the first time.They were thriving on the increase in oil pricesthat occur in the 1970s, et cetera.So if you had projected those circumstances forward 10 years,you would have never imagined that the Soviet Union woulddisappear, and that somehow, rather, the United Statesand the west would emerge from the Cold Waras the only viable societies.

    • 09:48

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: So something happened between the mid '70s and the 1990s.And maybe it had something to do with the role of ideaswith the revitalization of America's faithin itself, with the programs that President Reagan--but also, to some extent, President Carterbefore him-- put into place to strengthen America's defense,and to make America a more effective competitor

    • 10:12

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: against the Soviet Union.And in that competition, eventuallysome new circumstances were created.Such that by the end of the Cold War,Gorbachev was saying to his politburo colleaguesthat we can't really compete with the United States.We'd better sit down and negotiate, and figure outwe can do through peaceful processes.

    • 10:41

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I think now we have a somewhat more balanced debate,I think, in the field of IR.We have the constructivists, who are the new idealists, whoemphasize the role of ideas.We still have the neoliberals, who worry about institutions,and negotiations, and diplomacy, et cetera.And, of course, we still have realists,who are most focused on the balance of power

    • 11:02

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: and the shifts in power.So I think one of the big debates going on nowis whether or not, as the power of the United States declines,how will the world change?Or will it change?Do shifts in power, in other words,cause other things to happen?Now, realists tend to think they do,and so they anticipate that the world may become

    • 11:23

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: a little more complicated.Multiple powers competing against one another,potentially more trouble.And neoliberals, or those who focus on institutions,they're somewhat more optimistic.They believe that we've already put into place a lotof mechanisms like globalization,and international institutions, the UN, and so on.

    • 11:43

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And that these organizations are goingto hold us together even as powerdiffuses through the system.And finally, you have those who are focusedon ideas and ideologies.And they're a bit more worried, maybe,about the challenges that are the ideological challengesto the liberal international order that currently exists.

    • 12:03

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: In other words, what is the challengeof the authoritarian powers of China and Russia mean?I mean, these are countries that are notcomfortable with liberal democracy.Or more importantly, perhaps, whatdoes the challenge of radical Islamic extremismpose to the system?The creation of an Islamic state, or an Islamic caliphate

    • 12:24

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: which would have a value content verydifferent from what we currently have in the liberal order.Discrimination against women, and other featuresthat a state run by religious principlesrather than being secular as our liberal democracies.

    • 12:48

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: So there are people who are focused on those issues,and how they might be resolved.Are we in for another clash of ideologies,or clash of civilizations?There's been a lot of development,actually, in research methodologies

    • 13:11

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: in the social sciences, I think for the good.I came up actually during a periodin which quantitative studies were really being emphasized.So-called empirical and quantitative studies.And number crunching.And actually had a chance to go into that field,and work under one of the preeminent practitionersof that kind of methodology.

    • 13:32

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Bruce Russett at Yale, he was doing studiesat the time on the democratic peace.Collecting all of these large numbers of cases of countriesthat had been democracies, and determining whether or notdemocracies fight against one another.And coming up with some very interesting results,which were rare fairly robust.

    • 13:53

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: That, in fact, democracies do tendto be more peaceful with one another.Maybe even more peaceful in general.Some people have referred to thatas the only law, perhaps, of international affairsthat we have.Because it's solidly now grounded in empirical studies.But you can only focus on certain thingsthrough quantitative methods.

    • 14:13

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: So much of the field has to be dealt with qualitatively.And there, too, we've made some progress.My own preferences, of course, after Idecided to leave the field of science,is for qualitative methods.Using a lot of history and economics,trying to get across to students someof the basics of those disciplines, because they are

    • 14:36

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: very important, it seems to me, for understandingcontemporary life in the field of economics, for example.I mean, understanding something verysimple like opportunity cost.People generally get very excited about an issue,and they say we ought to do something about that issue.And they don't ask the question of how much money it'sgoing to cost.Or maybe they do, but they never realizethat when they're focusing on that issue,they're taking money away from some other issue.

    • 14:58

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And that's opportunity cost.Opportunity cost is always what opportunityare you forgoing by investing in this particular area?So when we invest in guns for example,we may be taking money away from investing in butter, as we say.There's that guns butter trade off.Or if we invest in climate change,we may be taking money away from money

    • 15:20

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: that can be used to solve poverty,or to improve the lot of so many poor people around the country.And so it's important to know that concept,because you can't do everything.You don't have resources to do everything.And yet often, that's the way our politics works.One group gets excited about this issue,another group gets excited about that issue,and so on, and so on.

    • 15:40

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And then we think we have enough money to do them all.And that money isn't drawn from one or the otherin order to accomplish the third.Again, my interest is, of course, principallyin what we have been doing by wayof refining our understanding of ideas,and how ideas get translated into actions,

    • 16:03

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: and those actions ultimately change circumstances.I think we have a long way to go there.Because both realists and liberal internationaliststend to start with circumstances,they start with what they call the realities, the constraintsthat countries face.

    • 16:23

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: But they don't ask the question of whocreated those constraints, and what new constraintscould I create in the future if I envisioned a set of actionsand put those actions into place thatmight change circumstances?So economic growth is a major factor here.In other words, what motivates economic growth?

    • 16:44

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Why do some countries grow suddenlyvery fast, and other countries don't grow very fast?And historians generally tend to explain that justin anonymous terms.In other words, it's just happenstance.Economic growth spreads randomly across the system.But there may be some economic policies

    • 17:06

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: that, under certain circumstances,are more productive.And therefore, more efficient, produce more benefitsthan other economic policies.So we're learning more about that, but we still debate it.We debate whether or not the Keynesian solutionof spending money is better, or whether the supply side

    • 17:30

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: solution of lowering taxes is better.How do you motivate people to create resourcesand to become more efficient, and therefore to grow?Well I think one of the big benefitsis to learn about other cultures and societies,and to learn other languages.

    • 17:52

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: People say you think differently in different languages.I once knew a lady who spoke five languages very fluently,and I was always impressed by that.And I asked her, how did she do that?She says, well, you know, I have a different soulfor every language I speak.And she meant by that she had a different orientation,mental, physical, emotional, spiritual,

    • 18:13

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: towards the world when she operated out of each language.So for students to learn a languageand truly learn a language, I thinkit can be a life changing experience in termsof recognizing that you can see things very differently.You travel, you have a chance to experience other places

    • 18:34

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: in other countries.And I think it makes you more aware of both whatyou believee-- it's important to know, of course, whatyou believe, and how you think, and where you come from.It's important not to lose your own center of gravity.But it makes you then very much aware of the factthere may be some distance between how you see thingsand how other people see things.

    • 18:54

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Maybe it makes you a little more tolerant.But I think it mostly makes you more realisticabout working with other people around the world.If you want to learn a language and you reallywant to learn how people in that culture think about the world,I think you have to spend a good deal of time,maybe even more than a few months.

    • 19:15

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: It depends upon your facility for language.Some people pick it up rather quickly.This lady obviously did that I mentioned before.So yeah, it takes a lot more than just travel.When I got out of college, we nevereven thought about the possibilityof traveling overseas.Now, almost every student.

    • 19:36

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I mean, 2/3, I ask students to raise their hands what they'redoing during the summer.And my goodness, 3/4 of them are going someplace, traveling.So that's a real advantage of the new world,and the new globalization that they encounter.But it shouldn't be thought that a quick trip somehow or othermakes you an expert on some particular culture,

    • 19:58

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: or some particular part of the world.Hopefully, you pick up friends, make friendships,and you sustain the ties, and therefore, the learningand understanding of other cultures that persists.America is very, I think, commendable in this regard.I mean, our people are open.We are interested in travel.We're open to people coming to this country,

    • 20:19

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: and I think we have a good impact alsomaybe on some other societies whosometimes for historical reasons,they're a little bit more closed off,or a little bit more self centered.Well, it's very important.I mean, I'll give you an example in finance just outof economics.

    • 20:40

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: When I first started traveling to Germany in the 1960sI had a sense that the German marketwas going to go down in value.So I wanted to act-- I'm sorry, it was going to go up in value,and the dollar was going to go down in value.So I wanted to put as many dollars I couldinto German marks at the time.I wanted to set up a bank account in Germany.I couldn't do it.

    • 21:01

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I had to be a resident, I had to have an address in Germany.Not just a hotel address, but I hadto have a permanent residence in Germany.And this was the late '50s, early '60s.Today, you can set up an account in German marks--no longer in German marks, but in European euros,you can set up that account at the bank down the street,really at the local branch.

    • 21:21

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: So globalization, in that respect,has made it so easy to move money around the world,to buy and sell goods around the world,to travel around the world.It has opened us up also, by the way, to other problems.I mean, it's opened us up to diseases,as we experienced this summer with the Ebola virus.

    • 21:43

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Things now travel very rapidly.We have to have global plans for trying to deal with this.We've got problems like climate change, whichclearly are going to affect the entire world if theycome about.So we are unable to compartmentalize things anymoremaybe the way we once did.Although conceptually and culturally,

    • 22:06

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: you still want to help people to remember where they come from,help people to understand in a good waytheir differences and their similarities.This is diversity.Globalization has clearly enabledus to expand our sense of diversity.That can sometimes lead to conflict.

    • 22:27

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: But it can also lead, I think, to enrichmentof our understanding, and of our own lives.So there's some, I think, far greater benefits than costs,although we need to be aware of the factthat we have to deal with, now, many

    • 22:47

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: of the problems in the world, at least in conversationwith one another.Because things travel and happen very quickly.It is.You know, Einstein once said that this study politics washarder than studying physics.And since I studied both, I often

    • 23:09

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: wondered what he meant by that.But I think what he meant is that when you study physics,you're studying things that do not have a mind of their own.You're studying planets, for example.You're not studying yourself, you're notstudying other human beings.And planets don't usually change their minds.I mean, they don't change their course of behaviorvery quickly.

    • 23:32

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: So you can kind of get a bit of a fix on what you're studying.When you're studying international affairs--or indeed, politics in general-- you're studying people,and people can change their minds.I always worry about surveys because youcould ask me a question today, I might tell you one thing.And tomorrow ask me the same question,I might tell you something else.

    • 23:52

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: So people can change their mind, which meansit's hard to get a fix on them.And we're studying things that we like or dislike.So when we study, for example, certain things,like corporations, or labor unions,or certain political parties, we may belong to a labor union,or to a political party.

    • 24:14

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Now, we can try, as scholars, to beobjective about our analysis, but we're not superhuman.We are, in fact, studying ourselves,and we're studying things we like and dislike.So those two factors, I think, make the studyof international relations both more difficult than physics,and probably more exciting.Because it makes us aware of what

    • 24:36

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: is involved in studying human behavior.Because we're human beings studying human behavior.We have a stake in what we are studying.And if we're aware of that, and I think are honest about it,then we're much better off and we'remore aware of the greater difficulties

    • 24:57

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: in coming up with any definitive answers.We should remember, of course, that even science doesn't comeup with definitive answers.But nevertheless, we can do so even less, it seems to me.And so all of our conclusions are contingent on, well,it depends now on how people think about this tomorrow,or it depends upon what happens to labor unions tomorrow,

    • 25:20

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: et cetera.Well, I used to have my students reada book called Peter the Great, which is a wonderful book.I used to call it the gorilla, because it was 800 pages long.And so they thought it was a pretty big assignment.But when they read it, they realizedwhy I had them read it.

    • 25:41

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: It's a book written by Robert Massie.And it is a historical novel.It's all very accurate.In other words, it's all history.So you know that when you're reading it,you're reading something that actually happened.And yet it reads exactly like a novel.It portrays this idea that international affairs is reallya novel of human life at the highest level.

    • 26:02

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And it has all the drama but you can imagine.So when they read that, I think they get the sense that somehowor other, this is exciting.Now, they're reading also a book about another culture,about another great leader.They can't really, at the beginning at least,empathize with that culture.But it gives them immediately a sense that, oh my gosh,

    • 26:24

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: this world is really big, and very different.And there's some really interesting other groupsin this world.In the case of Russia at the time of Peter the Great,essentially an Asian society that Peter the Great thenyanks into the Western world, or yanks towards Europe,you could say.Giving, of course, Russia to some extentits split personality today where

    • 26:45

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: it's both a European and Asian country.And that, I think, got some of them excited.I've had students come back years later and say,you know that book you made us read?By golly, that really sparked my interest,and I got into whatever.The Peace Corps, I got into some aspectof international affairs, or I continueto read those kinds of books.

    • 27:12

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Well I think because we're studying ourselves,I think we all have a stake in not only our studies,but also in the world that we're trying to influence.And all of our work, in some way or other,relates to trying to change something in the world.We're not just describing it, we'retrying to either move it in this direction or in that direction.

    • 27:35

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I've had the unique experience of being somewhatof a minority in the international affairs field,because my political orientation is conservative.Most of my colleagues are liberals.That has sharpened, I think, my senseof the realities around me.I think it's contributed to the discussion in the community.

    • 28:00

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I think it's also had an impact on practical world events.I had the unique experience-- some other colleagues havehad that experience as well-- but of serving in governmentat the highest level twice.Both in Republican administrations.I would always see my academic friends who are mostlyDemocrats leaving office as I was walking into office,

    • 28:24

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: and we always joked about that.But both of us were having an impact through our studies,and through our understanding of politics,we're having an impact on the world around us.In this particular case, on the policies of the country that weall love, and want to serve.And so I think that what's important is balance.

    • 28:46

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I think it's terribly important for usto have a balance in our debate in America,as well as in the Academy.We should be very wary of situationswhere we have a predominant majority.And so I think it's worth celebrating

    • 29:09

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: exactly what our founding fathers thoughtwas very important for the country,namely celebrating factions and parties.Because if you have competing parties,then you can be sure you're alwaysgoing to see problems from different points of view,and maybe you won't miss anything.It's when you have only one party, or one group that'sdominating something that you're very likely to go off track.

    • 29:35

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I think this work on the Democratic piecethat I mentioned earlier, which started in the '60s.And for about 20, 25 years, political scientistsand statisticians worked over all of these cases.And they eventually developed thousandsof cases of countries that came into conflict with one anotherover the years.

    • 29:56

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And they were either democracies or they weren't democracies.And so they were trying to understand how often theycame into conflict with one anotherwhen they were democracies.Now by the late 1980s, they had established that relationshipso clearly-- even though science doesn't do anythingdefinitively, so there were stillsome arguments and some questions.

    • 30:16

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: But on the basis of that research,Bill Clinton announced a strategywhen he came into office in 1992 of whathe called democratic enlargement and economic engagement.And he actually cited this research,showing that it would be very important for us to exploitthe opportunity at the end of the cold warto help other countries firm up their democratic societies.

    • 30:40

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Because we know, he says from political science research,that democracies, in fact, do not fight one another.They have disputes, and they have controversies,but they don't take up arms in orderto resolve those disputes with one another.So his idea was, look, if we can expandthe number of democracies, we may havea more and more peaceful world.

    • 31:00

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And there's a value judgment embedded in that,obviously, that democracy is otherwise good.That it's not just good in keeping the peace,but it's also good in terms of helping individualsreach their full potential.That may be a Western bias, and that'ssome of the criticism about this democratic peace of literature.

    • 31:22

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: But there was a very concrete case,I think, of how a President of the United Statespicked up something.Obviously, in the economic area, by the way,there's a lot of examples of presidents who have picked up.I mean, for example, John Kennedypicking up Keynesian economics.Ronald Reagan picking up supply side economics.

    • 31:43

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Orientations towards monetary policy.Economists have had a much bigger impact, maybe.I mean, we see their work more visibly, I guess,than we do the work of other social scientists.But there are many examples where economic research hasled to public policy changes.Although by the way, again, we haven't

    • 32:04

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: found the silver bullet.That is, we haven't found economic policythat good for all times, and under all circumstances.So that's probably true about the democratic piece as well.Well, it's a much bigger and more diversefield today than it was when I got into it.

    • 32:26

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I mean, '50s, international relations was just starting.It was just really beginning to develop.Remember, we had come out of the '20s and '30swhen American had been pretty isolated from the world.So we didn't have many schools of international affairs.Now we have many, many schools of international affairs.So more and more students taking a majorin international affairs.We have 10,000 undergraduates at George Washington University.

    • 32:48

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: 2000 of them are IR majors.That is, they are majoring in international relations.Now, that's a great school, and a great placeto be studying international relationships,right in Washington.We're six blocks from the White House,and three blocks from the State Department,so that may be a little bit unusual.But I think there's just much more interest, and therefore,much more activity.

    • 33:10

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I think the field is more diverse.I think we have a better balance of theories,as we spoke about earlier.They constantly interact, and debate one another,and analyze issues differently from the perspectivesof the different theories.I have a textbook which is called Perspectiveson International Relations, which does precisely that.

    • 33:31

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: It takes a look at all of the contemporary controversies,and shows how, in fact, people disagreeabout those controversies.And you can explain those disagreementsfrom these different theoretical perspectives.Now, it doesn't tell students whichperspective is the right one.It leaves that up to the students.I mean, it says to the students, look,this is what we're trying to do.Educate you how to think, not indoctrinate you

    • 33:53

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: as to what to think.You have to make that up for yourself,make up your minds on that for yourself.So I think it's a healthy field at the moment, and by the way,I don't think it's going to continue to grow the way ithas the last three decades.It's probably beginning to hit a steady state.

    • 34:14

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And we have to, I think, be a little bit concernedabout circumstances in the world.We have to hopefully avoid any sort of serious divisionsin the world in the future.Because when they occur, as they did,for example, certainly in World War I, and World War II,and then even in the Cold War, they separate the world.They push people apart.People can't have access to each other.

    • 34:36

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: And some of that is beginning, some signs of thatmay be emerging in terms of the closedness of some societiesto controversy, and to difference of opinion.I mean, I get very worried about countriesperhaps like Russia, that are putting opposition mediapeople into jail, or in China where someone

    • 34:59

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: is put in jail for having access to prohibited websiteson the internet.I mean, they have different culturesand different politics, we understand that.But somehow, we hope that that openness doesn't retreat.That somehow or other it continues to move forward.Because that's the basis for all of the interaction,

    • 35:21

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: globalization, and excitement that we have actuallygenerated a field of international affairssince the Second World War.The question has always come up on a regular basis that is,is America in decline?I actually wrote a book 25 years ago called

    • 35:44

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: The Myth of America's Decline.This was in 1990, just before the Cold War ended.And I was concerned then that we were overstating,or we were giving too much importanceto the role of declining power, or shifts in power.I was trained as a realist, and thereforeI always gave a lot of emphasis to these shifts in power.

    • 36:06

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: But then I began to notice that even though America had beendeclining in power regularly since 1945-- I mean,we were at our peak of global power in 1945,you could argue, at least in the Western world.And from that moment on, we began to lose relative power.Yet the liberal Western world that we know,

    • 36:29

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: which is open and vital in terms of globalization and so on,that world got stronger and stronger over the entire 70years since 1945.So something else must be more important than justthe distribution of power, that'sthe conclusion I come to.Now, some of my colleagues say that, well, yes.

    • 36:50

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: What's more important are the constraintsthat countries face.Because now they face all of these constraints, firstof all, of nuclear weapons.Nobody dares use nuclear military force,because they're nuclear weapons and theycould blow up the world.And then there are all these constraintsof international institutions that we have built up.And so people are forced to mediate things

    • 37:11

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: through these international institutions.And then finally, there's this enormous constraintof globalization.Where everybody wants to export and import, and trade,and get rich with one another.So these are things that are going to keeppeople for sure tied together.So we can expect this world to continueto grow, this liberal world, regardless of how power shifts.

    • 37:33

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I have a little problem with that argument,too, because I wonder to what extent all of those constraintsflow from a calculus that is rationalist.In other words, a cost-benefit calculus that is rationalist.And what happens if a country comes alongthat may think rationally in terms of instruments,

    • 37:54

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: but would not think rationally, at leastas liberal Western people think about it,in terms of their goals.What if, in fact, their goal is to establish a religious state?Or what if their goal is to establish a nationalist empire?Or what if their goal is to establishan ethnic regime of some sort?

    • 38:17

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Then they may impose a different kind of calculus that will overweigh the cost-benefit calculus of not using nuclear weapons,or not breaking up trade.So I conclude, as a result, that weneed to pay more attention to not just the shifts in power,

    • 38:38

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: and not just the constraints of institutionsand economic interdependence.But we need to be worried about howpeople evaluate, or make calculationsabout those things.So we need to pay more attention to ideologies, ideas.I call it identities in my work.But the perspectives that people apply.

    • 38:60

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: Because there are a variety of perspectives that people apply.As I mentioned, ethnic, national, religious.And then there are political ideologies like liberalism.And these ideologies, really if you think about the last 100years, maybe even longer, they have reallydetermined the course of the evolution of the world.

    • 39:20

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: I mean, what if liberalism had lost out in World War I?What if England had been defeated in World War I?What if either fascism or communism had won World War II?What if communism had won the Cold War?Where would the world be today?So these ideologies I think are really quite important in terms

    • 39:42

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: of inspiring the way people think about the instrumentsof power, and think about the institutions of globalization,interdependence.And so my work tends to focus on that.And I'm concerned about trying to emphasize differences

    • 40:02

      PROFESSOR HENRY NAU [continued]: in ideology but trying to accurately describe ideologiesso that we can better determine what we have in common,and what we do not have in common.And then we're in a better positionto deal with both our similaritiesand our differences, and move forward.

International Relations Theory

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Professor Henry Nau discusses his career in International Relations and how the field developed over the second half of the 20th century.

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International Relations Theory

Professor Henry Nau discusses his career in International Relations and how the field developed over the second half of the 20th century.

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