Levels Of Analysis And The Study Of International Relations Essay

Levels Of Analysis And The Study Of International Relations Term paper

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Three levels of analysis, each with its own distinct strength, reveals three different ways of understanding international relations. The first states that all nation-states behave similarly, the second emphasizes the unique internal factors of a nation-state, while the third level of analysis focuses on the individual deciding a state s course of action. Each level of analysis is useful in the study of international relations. Indeed, used all together, it is not long before arriving at a point where a vast number of explanations for the actions of a country are brought to light. However, to best understand international relations, one level of analysis is more useful than the rest, because it provides the most comprehensive investigation into the conditions which influence a nation s actions. This, most involved level, is the third level of analysis: it takes into account the not simply the individual who ultimately makes the decision, but the individuals who influence the decision-making individual, as well as what might influence those who exert their influence. Because the third level of analysis is so in-depth, it can discover the deeper reasons behind an action taken by a nation, even possibly finding fault in a conclusion made by the first or second level of analysis. More so, what makes this level the best means to understand international relations is that because the third level of analysis considers what influences might effect the decision-making individual, and therefore it can be seen upon a closer examination that the inferences found in first and second levels of analysis can furthermore be found within the third level of analysis. So then, the third level of analysis is the best level at which to approach the study of international relations. As previously stated, the third level of analysis encompasses all the possible influences upon the decision making individual. Unlike level one and level two, the third level of analysis can go beyond the assumption of a monolithic state. In addition, it can do so without losing the ability to consider the state as such. Depending on the model used, the level three analysis can either probe into a deeper dimension to seek out the reasons for a state s behavior by looking at different groups that influence the decision maker (as in the organizational and bureaucratic models) ;or, it can maintain the more uncomplicated viewpoint of a monolithic state that can be found in the other levels of analysis by focusing primarily on the decision maker (as in the rational actor model). The third level of analysis also has the ability to, within the models that can view the state as non-monolithic, presume that the different groups have similar interests and share the same hierarchy of goals by use of the organizational model ;or, it can explore the presumption that the different groups have different interests by use of the bureaucratic model. Furthermore, because the focus of level three analysis is on the participants in the decision making process, the psychological aspects that influence the actions of the groups and individuals who influence the actions that the state are considered as well. These psychological aspects can include the perceptions of an individual that are shaped by their past experiences, stereotypes formed through those experiences and their own personal values. The third level of analysis, because of all that it takes into consideration, has a completeness in understanding international relations than cannot be matched by the first and second levels of analysis. Examples of how the third level of analysis is more useful in better understanding international relations can be seen in examining the Cuban Missile Crisis. A conclusion that would be drawn from a level two analysis is that the US chose the blockade to deal with the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba, because by the nature of the democratic state, it is peaceful and not inclined to be aggressive. However, by use of the third level of analysis it is discovered that the first instinct and most favored option was the most aggressive and most likely to lead to war. In regards to the level one analysis, it would be concluded that the US was reacting to protect the balance of power, yet, the Soviets had not disrupted the balance of power, but had in fact made it more of a true balance. The goal of the balance of power is to keep one country from a preponderance of power, and because the US had that distinct advantage, only the USSR s actions would fall within this model. Thus, the conclusion made by the level one analysis through the balance of power model of the US action when compared to the facts is not logical. As Haas stated, the notion of a balance is a superfluous terminological complication that pretends to give theoretical sophistication to a wholly legitimate descriptive attempt. Yet, by use of the third model of analysis, many conclusions about the US action are not simply deduced, but supported by fact. Taken into account through the level three analysis would be the fact that the President was haunted by the failure of the Bay of Pigs and thus needed to prevent a similar ignominy that would be created if the Soviets were permitted to get away with such an affront to US power. It was impossible for the President to ignore the USSR s act because it had challenged his warning, and had broken the promise not to place offensive missiles in Cuba. From the perception of the President, Soviet actions were not just a challenge to the US, but a challenge to him as well. When compared to the level one and level two analysis, level three analysis provides a more thorough analysis and draws conclusions from the existing facts ;and further still, it adds the psychological aspect of perceptions to arrive at a more complete conclusion. This aspect of the importance of the perceptions an individual found only in the third level of analysis is key in understanding how it is possible to find elements of the first and second levels of analysis in the third. The first level of analysis can mainly serve as a guideline as to how countries react ;the second level can be looked at as an insight into the nature of a country ;and, both levels of analysis come together under the third level of analysis. Level three analysis is centered around the individual and what influences the individual ;thus, this argument is significant because the individual no doubt carries with him perceptions that have been influenced by the first and second levels of analysis. The logical conclusion is that the individual would draw his own conclusions using the first and second levels of analysis. A demonstration of this concept,referring once more to the Cuban Missile Crisis, would be that the level one analysis can be used to explain the Soviet s need to place missiles in Cuba ;then, using the rational actor model found in the third level of analysis, it would be possible to find that the decision maker s goal list placed an importance on the balance of power. Another example, drawn from a level two analysis about the Cold War, is the conclusion that the clash of ideologies created the policy of containment because the very nature of communism was anti-capitalist and the US therefore needed a policy to counter the threat of the Soviet ideology ;continuing once more to the third level of analysis and using the case of Roosevelt versus Truman, it can be observed that it was their different perceptions of the nature of the Soviet Union that shaped their differences in action and in policy. From the third level of analysis it can be seen that different individuals have different perceptions, and that those different perceptions can originate in their own different conclusions regarding the first and second levels of analysis. In both examples, it is clear that a level three analysis is so complete that traces of the other two levels of analysis can be found. The first and second levels of analysis can be used to draw many conclusions about how and why a county may react ;yet, to fully understand what drives these actions it is necessary to take a level three approach. It probes into the depths of the decision making process and exposes the limitless possibilities created by influences and perceptions. And it does this without losing its capacity for a simple approach ;thus, giving it a distinct advantage over the other two levels of analysis. Using the chess game analogy, it can focus on each of the individual pieces used in the game, or simply the person playing it. In addition, another advantage of the level three analysis is that it encompasses all the basic elements of the first and second levels because of its capacity to examine the perceptions of the individual originating from their individual applications of the first and second levels of analysis. The level three analysis cuts to the core of the decision making process, and afterall, countries take the course of action that their leaders decide. It is only at this level that a full and completely comprehensive understanding can be reached ;and therefore, the third level of analysis is the best approach to the study of international relations.

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