Sunday, July 06, 2008

Violent Globalisms by Cornelia Beyer

A useful international relations work examining US foreign policy and its relation to terrorism (and the reverberations of aggression).

“[T]he United States acts the way it does because it embraces a Realist understanding of the conflict itself. Terrorism is not understood as a crime (as for example the EU understands it), but as war. This refers to a general understanding of the setting as one of anarchy. In anarchy there can be no crime that could be legally punished and thus dealt with within a structured framework. Within anarchy any aggression is war and the defence against it can only be the same.”
(p. 108)

Beyer also provides a brief and useful analysis of game theory’s prisoner dilemma as it relates to two countries trying to choose between violence or cooperation. Once one country chooses violence, successful strategies (tit-for-tat) indicate you should respond in kind, and thus there is counter-violence. The following is quoted but edited for understanding: Under purely rational conditions, this counter-violence would be answered with cooperation from the initial aggressor to get back to the most efficient way of interaction: cooperation (as cooperation is the most successful strategy for both parties). However, if the actor who has started to use violence, interprets the violent response as an action and not as a response, then he will in turn react with violence and the circle of violence is started. Endless repetitions of violent interaction follow. The only logical end to this circle of violence would be that the actor who has started violence would abstain from responding to counter-violence.

The last line is key, both because of its logic and its practical unattainability.


Post a Comment

<< Home