FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes on "The Relationship between theory and policy in IR" by Walt

BONUS LINK:  My entire (so far) grad school notes collection can be found here. 

Stephen Walt, The Relationship between theory and policy in IR, 2005

The gap between theory and policy can be narrowed only if the academic community begins to place greater value on policy relevant theoretical work

-policy-makers disdain academics and are rarely selected for their IR scholarship
-on the other side of the coin, scholars have little incentive to develop ideas that might be useful

What types of knowledge do policy makers need?
- policy-makers rely on factual knowledge, rule of thumb, typologies, empirical laws and theories.

- IR theory work: “efforts to account for interstate and trans-state processes, issues and outcomes in general causal terms”

What is a good theory?
- should be logically consistent and empirically valid, complete, explanatory, explain an important phenomenon, be useful in its recommendations, and be stated clearly

How Theory can Aid Policy
- Bad IR policies can lead policy makers astray and good IR theory can make good policy
- policy problems can also bring innovation in IR as happened with the advent of nuclear weapons
*4 ways theory can help:
            - Diagnosis (coopt or contain, relevance of information)
            - Prediction (anticipate events, behaviors, preferences) however, policy-makers    can also affect event outcomes themselves
            - Prescription (show how to affect a desired outcome, don’t bomb civilian pop,    just military targets)
            - Evaluation (did we achieve the desired results)

So realists believe China is out to get US?  This seems to be the prevailing view among military leadershipare military leaders more prone to realism?

Different Agendas
- Policy makers can be less interested in figuring out a tendency than how to overcome it
- Even the best theory does not often help policy makers with their large hurdle of implementation

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