International Relations and Individual US States

It is necessary to note that US international relations can be regarded as one of the most topical topics of the scholarly debate. At the same time, the role individual states play in this process has attracted quite a little attention. However, this role is impossible to overestimate as it has shaped the country’s international policy. First, it is important to note that researchers have tried to provide a theoretical framework to focus on the issue of the role of individual US state in the foreign policy of the country. It is important to understand the peculiarities of different frameworks to choose the most appropriate for the analysis of the role of the individual state in the US international relations.

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Alexander Wendt is seen as one of the most influential researchers in this filed. In his book, he outlined his version of constructivism that could be used when analyzing foreign policies of individual states.1 The author argues that meanings and sharing ideas (rather than individualism and particular economic or political interests) play a key role in effective international relations. In one of his earlier works, Wendt also introduces the idea of shared meanings and the use of “a structuration-symbolic interactionist discourse” to address the issues associated with international relations.2

Another work that provides a brief description of major theories and their development is the book by Hobson. The author argues that structuration theory is the most applicable framework in the modern globalized world.3 Some researchers note that the liberal theory is the most appropriate as states develop their foreign policies on the basis of their preferences rather than capabilities.4 Donnelly focuses on the benefits of the use of a realistic perspective when analyzing international relations. The author states that although the framework has been criticized heavily, it is still the most appropriate in the modern world as it is clear that foreign policies are shaped by countries’ interests.5 The book is a valuable source as it provides a detailed analysis of the approach that has been used to consider international relations for years.

Clearly, many other theories have also been employed. Thus, such theories as hegemonic stability theory and theories of US imperialism are utilized to address the international relations between the USA and Iraq.6 It is stressed that smaller states are threatened by larger and more powerful countries, as many people share the approaches mentioned above. Another article can be regarded as an example of the use of these theories when addressing the relations between the USA and Iraq.7 Though the focus of the article is the membership of states in international bodies, it serves as a good example of the way a theory can be applied. Waltz also employs the theory of hegemonic stability to address security issues, which is another good example of the effective use of certain theoretical frameworks during the analysis of international policies.8

Researchers often consider the effectiveness of major theories used in international relations. For instance, James Fearon considers such frameworks as neorealism, structural realism, principal-agent theory, and unitary-actor assumption theory, but he also concludes that it is impossible to define a universal theory, as each country’s policies should be analyzed in terms of the most appropriate framework.9 Other researchers focus on bridging theory and practice, and they try to trace the framework that is used at different periods.10

The present research will employ a mix of theoretical perspectives, but the major framework used will be the structuration-symbolic perspective. It is clear that the world has changed tremendously after the end of the Cold War, and these changes brought to the fore new opportunities for individual states. Waltz provides a brief description of major changes in international relations after the Cold War, and this is an important account as it provides insights into the role of US individual states in the international relations of the 21st century.11

It is clear that international relations are shaped by economic policies in many cases. Friedberg states that the economic interests of companies fostered proper development of the relations between the USA and China, and these international relations are developing at all levels (among companies, among the US states and China, among the countries).12 Fry also stresses that trade has been the most important factor that contributed to the development of international relations between US individual states and other countries.13

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More so, cities are also entering the international arena, which may or may not affect the way international relations between countries develop. It is necessary to note that state policies often have an impact on the development of the US foreign policy as local governments are lobbying certain policies and respective laws are established on the federal level.14

Interestingly, apart from the state and trade relations, non-profit organizations also play an important role in development of international relations between US individual states and other countries. Cohen also argues that international trade can be regarded as the premise for development of international relations between US states and other countries.15 Researchers pay quite considerable attention to this process and note that US NGOs often collaborate with communities located in different countries (especially African, Asian and Latin American) and since these organizations operate in terms of their state legislation, states are also involved in this type of international relations.16

Apart from economic stimuli, researchers also stress that relations between US individual states and other countries are also developing due to such products of globalization as travel, media (especially the Internet), immigration and so on.17 Therefore, it is clear that foreign relations of individual states have developed due to a number of factors. It is also obvious that information on this process is rather scarce and it is important to focus on international relations of US individual states and other countries.

It is necessary to note that there is some information on particular states. For instance, Maxwell, Crain and Santos provide a detailed analysis of Texas politics.18 The researchers also pay certain attention to international relations of the state and the way they affect the US foreign policy. McMillan also notes that US states (including Texas and New York) have had numerous relations with other countries and these relations even affected the US foreign policies.19

Notably, security issues also encouraged states to develop international relations with other countries. For instance, Howard stresses that involvement of the USA ion various military programs contributed to this process and the author provides a specific case study that shows the way Maryland developed international relations with Estonia.20 Of course, all these sources provide helpful insights into the matter and they will help understand certain trends existing in the US international relations.

Hence, it is clear that there is some information on particular cases of US individual states international relations with other countries. However, the information is insufficient and it is still unclear to what extent international relations of states affect the US foreign policies, how globalization affects this process and what benefits of such relations exist.

Bibliography

Aldecoa, Francisco, and Michael Keating. Paradiplomacy in Action: The Foreign Relations of Subnational Governments. New York: Routledge, 2013. Web.

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International Relations and Individual US States
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Cohen, Saul Bernard. Geopolitics: The Geography of International Relations. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. Web.

Donnelly, Jack. Realism and International Relations. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Web.

Fearon, James D. “Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, and Theories of International Relations.” Annual Review of Political Science 1, no. 1 (1998): 289-313. Web.

Friedberg, Aaron L. “The Future of US-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?” International Security 30, no. 2 (2005): 7-45. Web.

Fry, Earl H. “State and Local Governments in the International Arena.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 509, no. 1 (1990): 118-127. Web.

The Expanding Role of State and Local Governments in US Foreign Affairs. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1998. Web.

Hinnebusch, Raymond. “The Iraq War and International Relations: Implications for Small States.” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 19, no. 4 (1997): 451-463. Web.

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Hobson, John M. The State and International Relations. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Web.

Howard, Peter. “The Growing Role of States in US Foreign Policy: The Case of the State Partnership Program.” International Studies Perspectives 5, no. 2 (2004): 179-196. Web.

Maxwell, William, Ernest Crain and Adolfo Santos. Texas Politics Today. New York: Cengage Learning, 2013. Web.

McMillan, Samuel Lucas. The Involvement of State Governments in US Foreign Relations. New York: Cengage Learning, 2013. Web.

Melissen, Jan. “The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice.” In The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, edited by Jan Melissen, 3-28. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Web.

Moravcsik, Andrew. “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics.” International Organization 51, no. 3 (2006): 513-553. Web.

Sargent, Daniel J. A Superpower Transformed: The Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Web.

Saunders, Elizabeth N. “Setting Boundaries: Can International Society Exclude Rogue States?” International Studies Review 8, no. 1 (2006): 23-53. Web.

Waltz, Kenneth N. “The Emerging Structure of International Politics.” International Security 18, no. 2 (1993): 44-79. Web.

—. “Structural Realism after the Cold War.” International Security 25, no. 1 (2000): 5-41. Web.

Wendt, Alexander. “Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics.” International Organization 46, no. 2 (1992): 391-425. Web.

—. Social Theory of International Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 40.
  2. Alexander Wendt, “Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics,” International Organization 46, no. 2 (1992): 425.
  3. John M. Hobson, The State and International Relations (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 40.
  4. Andrew Moravcsik, “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics,” International Organization 51, no. 3 (2006): 513.
  5. Jack Donnelly, Realism and International Relations (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 7.
  6. Raymond Hinnebusch, “The Iraq War and International Relations: Implications for the Small States,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 19, no. 4 (1997): 461.
  7. Elizabeth N. Saunders, “Setting Boundaries: Can International Society Exclude Rogue States?” International Studies Review 8, no. 1 (2006): 23.
  8. Kenneth N. Waltz, “The Emerging Structure of International Politics,” International Security 18, no. 2 (1993): 76.
  9. James D. Fearon, “Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, and Theories of International Relations,” Annual Review of Political Science 1, no. 1 (1998): 309.
  10. Jan Melissen, “The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice,” in The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, ed. Jan Melissen (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 23.
  11. Kenneth N. Waltz, “Structural Realism after the Cold War,” International Security 25, no. 1 (2000): 39.
  12. Aaron L. Friedberg, “The Future of US-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?” International Security 30, no. 2 (2005): 13.
  13. Earl H. Fry, “State and Local Governments in the International Arena,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 509, no. 1 (1990): 118.
  14. Francisco Aldecoa and Michael Keating, Paradiplomacy in Action: The Foreign Relations of Subnational Governments (New York: Routledge, 2013), 123.
  15. Saul Bernard Cohen, Geopolitics: The Geography of International Relations (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), 121.
  16. Daniel J. Sargent, A Superpower Transformed: The Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 79.
  17. Earl H Fry, The Expanding Role of State and Local Governments in US Foreign Affairs (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1998), 34.
  18. William Maxwell, Ernest Crain and Adolfo Santos, Texas Politics Today (New York: Cengage Learning, 2013), 14.
  19. Samuel Lucas McMillan, The Involvement of State Governments in US Foreign Relations (New York: Cengage Learning, 2013), 41.
  20. Peter Howard, “The Growing Role of States in US Foreign Policy: The Case of the State Partnership Program,” International Studies Perspectives 5, no. 2 (2004): 179.
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