Rational choice theory and international politics
Understanding international conflict and co-operation
This course provides an introduction to the strategic approach to international politics. It uses the annexation of Crimea, the US-China trade war, Brexit, or the Covid-19 crisis as case studies to illustrate the concepts introduced thoughout the course. It starts by laying the foundations, introducing students to different ways to think about the national interest, and showing them how to use the strategic perspective to better understand what happens in all aspects of international politics. Also covered is a basic, intuitive introduction to game theory and other evidence- and logic-based tools for analyzing international relations. A second topic analyses war, and provides a more thorough evaluation of how domestic political incentives and domestic institutions of governance shape choices about conflict initiation, escalation, and termination. A third topic focuses on peace, and builds on the logic of collective action to help students see why it is so difficult to get national governments to do what is right even when they can agree on what is right. It covers the effectiveness of international organizations and international law, including an evaluation of environmental issues, human rights enforcement, and the domestic and the international political economy of trade. Finally, a fourth topic discusses world order, emphasising efforts to promote the spread of democracy, alleviate poverty, and fight terrorism, examining which strategies work, which do not, and why.
1. The scientific method: evaluating arguments about international politics. 2. Rational choice theory: when foreign policy collides with domestic politics. 3. Tools for analyzing international affairs. 4. An introduction to game theory. 5. Why war: the big picture. 6. Domestic theories of war. 7. How international organizations work, or don’t work. 8. Global warming: designing a solution. 9. Human rights, international law and norms. 10. Free trade or fair: the domestic politics of tariffs. 11. Globalization: international winners and losers. 12. Foreign aid, poverty and revolution. 13. Can terrorism be rational? 14. A democratic world order: peace without democratization.
Bueno de Mesquita, B. (2013). Principles of international politics (5th edition). CQ Press. Getmansky, A. & Quiroz Flores, A. (2013). Applying the strategic perspective: problems and models (5th edition). CQ Press.