Inside the Cave: The Banality of I.R. Studies

Inside the Cave: The Banality of I.R. Studies

Mini Teaser: In general, the landscape of international relations thinking in the United States is a view of a great American desert with a few refreshing and enlivening oases. Here's how to improve it.

by Author(s): James Kurth

For liberals, the answer was inevitable. There was, they reassuringly
announced, life after hegemony. It was to be found in some new
version of their old friend, international organization. One such
version was put forward by Robert Keohane of Harvard in his aptly
entitled book, After Hegemony (1984). Keohane acknowledged that
American hegemony and power had originally been necessary to set up
important international economic organizations such as the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). But once these organizations
became established and institutionalized, their salutary principles
and practices could assume a life of their own and could carry on
even in the absence of American power. Liberal structures, or
structural liberalism, could maintain the stability of the
international economy "after hegemony." Keohane thus became the
founding father of structural liberalism.

International Regime Studies: The Lowest Form of Academic Liberalism

The notion that liberal principles and practices--liberal
structures--in international relations could carry on in the absence
of American power was captivating to academic liberals. They had
always avoided (and some had energetically hated) the realities of
American power anyway. In the 1980s, they enthusiastically developed
a new sub-sub-field called "international regime studies." The use of
the word "regime" in this context had nothing to do with previo

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