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JackGugino

Hegemony and Realism

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Hegemony advantages are largely based on the United States being the unipolar hegemon in the world. However in response to many criticisms of international relations (security, IR Fem, etc.) realism is run as an answer. These two are fundamentally contradictory. A fundamental part of realism is the nation-state looking out for its own self-interests. This requires a multipolar world. If the U.S. is the hegemon other nations do not have the ability to promote their own self interests. In order to avoid great power conflicts, realism has many hegemons which shut down their own regional conflicts in order to prevent conflicts from escalating, therefore avoiding superpower confrontation. If the US is the lone hegemon then it is inevitable that it has conflicts with other rising powers in order to maintain its status as THE superpower.

Is this a functional double-turn? Is the argument viable in debate? Thoughts?

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realism does not require a multipolar world, it requires only that individual states act for their own self interests. that doesn't necessarily mean that individual states have the means to get exactly what they want from the international sphere [ie, that they are supremely powerful] but rather it just means that they will choose actions that provide a comparative benefit to their own self interest as opposed to other alternatives that are on the table.

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realism does not require a multipolar world, it requires only that individual states act for their own self interests. that doesn't necessarily mean that individual states have the means to get exactly what they want from the international sphere [ie, that they are supremely powerful] but rather it just means that they will choose actions that provide a comparative benefit to their own self interest as opposed to other alternatives that are on the table.

 

With sevvs putting it like that, yes, you could make the argument that increasing hegemony may indeed break a realists framework, but you'll have to win the implications of such hegemony will, in fact, bare a greater risk or harm to the state than another option. Though i wouldn't necessarily say it's a "double turn" in standards of debate. It's more of a "Hed bad turns realism" arg obviously. I would make it a "turns framework" arg meant to go along with the rest (or labeled in high priority of) the impact analysis in your speech.

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With sevvs putting it like that, yes, you could make the argument that increasing hegemony may indeed break a realists framework, but you'll have to win the implications of such hegemony will, in fact, bare a greater risk or harm to the state than another option. Though i wouldn't necessarily say it's a "double turn" in standards of debate. It's more of a "Hed bad turns realism" arg obviously. I would make it a "turns framework" arg meant to go along with the rest (or labeled in high priority of) the impact analysis in your speech.

 

How would it be in the best interests of other nation states to have the US be a unipolar hegemon? I would agree with your "heg bad turns realism" arg, however if they are theoretically exclusive then why would it not be a turn?

Also, realism and unilateralism are opposite schools of thought. A prime example is the Iraq war. Although it did destroy credibility of the UN, it also proved that other states did not have the ability to stop the US invasion of Iraq (which was clearly expressed as not in the interests of other nations). If there is no ability for powers to have a check on other powers then how would realism function?

 

What exactly would the framework arg look like?

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Kagan, Thayer, Ferguson, etc. would seem to all provide reasons why US hegemony is in everyone's best interest.

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realism and unilateralism are not opposite schools of thought, they are schools of thought on different levels of analysis. repeating "they are opposite schools of thought" is not only completely unwarranted, it is also indicative of the larger fact that you aren't grasping these concepts appropriately. they are not theoretically exclusive, at all.

 

your lack of grasp of these concepts is made even more evident when you conflate unilateral actions like the iraq war with unipolarity. acting unilaterally is not the same as being a hegemon. unilateral's theoretical opposite is multilateral--not realism. realism does not assume or require multilateralism. realism is a way of looking at how the pieces within the international system will interact with each other GIVEN ANY INTERNATIONAL POWER STRUCTURE. IT DOESN'T PRESUME A CERTAIN TYPE OF POWER STRUCTURE, IT WORKS WITH ALL OF THEM. an international power structure that is dominated by a hegemon can be looked at through a realist lens just as easily as an international power structure that has several influential poles of power. the contradiction you're looking for is utterly nonexistent.

Edited by SEVVDOG
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How would it be in the best interests of other nation states to have the US be a unipolar hegemon? I would agree with your "heg bad turns realism" arg, however if they are theoretically exclusive then why would it not be a turn?

Also, realism and unilateralism are opposite schools of thought. A prime example is the Iraq war. Although it did destroy credibility of the UN, it also proved that other states did not have the ability to stop the US invasion of Iraq (which was clearly expressed as not in the interests of other nations). If there is no ability for powers to have a check on other powers then how would realism function?

 

What exactly would the framework arg look like?

 

You're making generalizations in terms of Heg being against a nations best interest. Although that may be true in terms of the "real world," odds are the team that you are debating that would be running this sort of "REALISM IS BEST" framework or offensive argument alongside a heg advantage, than you would still have to win the debate on the implications of Hegemony, since odds are they're not gonna say, "well, heg does cause transitions wars and stuff, but it's good for US." And with the framework arg, it's just an arg you can make against a team that has a realism framework in say the affirmative constructives. If they sit on the (crappy) arg that "even if we lose the heg debate, as long as it's most beneficial for the U.S., than you vote aff" you can just make the arg that they lose within they're own framework. Like i said, thats more of a turn you can make within the impact analysis, not necessarily a "double turn" in the sense that the community deems it.

realism and unilateralism are not opposite schools of thought, they are schools of thought on different levels.

 

what he said

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Also, it's really easy for hege-good teams to win that American hege has the best interests of other nations at heart - nations like France, Japan and Germany are all dependent on the US "security umbrella" and have ceased military buildup and a lot of nuclear development. Although that may seem contrary to the thesis of realism, it's explained by the fact that those nations know it's better to be secure under the US than on their own, where they'd have to expend their own troops and resources to secure their own interests.

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realism is a way of looking at how the pieces within the international system will interact with each other GIVEN ANY INTERNATIONAL POWER STRUCTURE. IT DOESN'T PRESUME A CERTAIN TYPE OF POWER STRUCTURE, IT WORKS WITH ALL OF THEM.

 

I think abstracting realism to this level necessarily makes it impossible to actually determine what states will do in any given situation. What is "in a states best interest" is going to drastically change depending on the distribution of power, which means even if we accept a realist within a unipolar world, the "realist" actions will differ from realist actions within a multipolar world. Therefore, I think, under Sevv's interpretation, that you can still turn "realism good" but not necessarily "realism inevitable".

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Also, it's really easy for hege-good teams to win that American hege has the best interests of other nations at heart - nations like France, Japan and Germany are all dependent on the US "security umbrella" and have ceased military buildup and a lot of nuclear development. Although that may seem contrary to the thesis of realism, it's explained by the fact that those nations know it's better to be secure under the US than on their own, where they'd have to expend their own troops and resources to secure their own interests.

 

I'd argue that the US security umbrella proves something slightly different than realism. It proves "Institutionalism" which is a minor critique of Realism that says the framework is right but how nations will behave under the framework may be different. In other words, nations acting in their own interest won't always seek to maximize the power difference between themselves and smaller powers, if those powers are behaving in ways that are also in their interests. Hence, nations may come together on things where they agree, while simultaneously bickering and arguing over other things. Institutionalists point to agreements in NATO, the UN, WTO and other arrangements as proof of rational self motivated behavior acting in concurrence. Thus the "institution" monicker.

 

Institutionalism is one of those theories that hasn't seemed to make a splash in the debate world to my knowledge, but is very much en vogue as an IR theory in most of the real world. It's just that Robert Keohane doesn't write as well for debaters as Kenneth Waltz et al. But splitting the difference between Realism and say Fem IR or some of the more radical theories could be devestating IMO.

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i skipped a bunch of stuff because heg was yelling, and i dont want to interfere with him ranting at someone.

 

but here's my gut reaction

gut reaction: realists are obsessed with power. that's all realism is. power politics. heg anyone?

 

do you get it?

 

if you disagree, you dont get it. if you don't get it, be honest and i'll explain.

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I'd argue that the US security umbrella proves something slightly different than realism. It proves "Institutionalism" which is a minor critique of Realism that says the framework is right but how nations will behave under the framework may be different. In other words, nations acting in their own interest won't always seek to maximize the power difference between themselves and smaller powers, if those powers are behaving in ways that are also in their interests.
Interesting distinction.

 

I think we use institutionalism as a method of conflict management/resolution. We use it in ways which amplify our power (perhaps over the longer term)--for instance WTO, NATO, and the CTBT.

 

I think the congruence between hegemony and realism is a matter of where you stand on US power. Some realists favor unipolarity.....some favor more engagement with international institutions (and I'm sure there are many in the middle which selectively favor international institutions....for instance the ICC and the UN and WTO but not Kytoto and the CTBT and the NPT--although I doubt anyone has that exact configuration)

Edited by nathan_debate

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