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PS101Z: Introduction to International Relations | Michael Tomz

Week 1: Introduction to Political Science 


Course Announcements 

  • Write a response paper early. Remember, you have to write one of your response papers before the midterm. This means that if you didn't write a response paper this week, you must do so in the next three weeks. It might be useful to submit your response paper earlier so that you can get feedback on your writing before the data analysis paper is due. 

Section Objectives 

  1. Introduction to Section. Let's get to know each other and what we should expect for section. What are the import policies you should know about section? What does good participation look like? 

  2. Reading and Writing for Political Science. What should you be doing when you are reading the assignments for this class? What should your response papers look like? 

  3. Democratic Peace. Historically, democratic states have rarely gone to war with one another, but there are many instances of autocratic states fighting each other and democracies and autocracies fighting each other. What are the two main classes of theories to explain this phenomenon, and do they make logical sense? 

Week 1: Intro to Political Science

Key Terms and Concepts

  • Independent Variable

  • Dependent Variable

  • Hypothesis

  • Connecting Logic

  • Validity

  • Reliability

  • Sample Composition

  • Democratic Peace

  • Normative vs. Structural Explanations of the Democratic Peace

  • "Empowers Voters" Mechanism

  • Rally Effect

  • Diversionary War

  • "Delays Mobilization" Mechanism

  • Veto Players

  • "Conveying Information"

  • Tranparency

  • Credibility

  • Conditional vs. Unconditional 
    Norm Externalization

  • Democratic Crusade

Important Section Policies & Assignments 

Make sure to read the course and section syllabi. If you have a questions about class policies, first check the syllabi to see if the information you need is there. 

Here are some bullet points on the most important things you need to know about section: 

  • Attendance: Attendance is mandatory! Failure to attend section can seriously arm your grade. If you know you are going to be absent, please let me know ahead of time. If the absence is excused (e.g. illness), you can write a 1-page commentary on the readings for that section and submit it to me via email by 4:30pm on the Monday following the section you missed. This assignment will count towards your participation for the week, but it will not count as one of the two response papers you must write during the quarter. 

  • Section Participation: Contributing to class discussion is an important part of section participation, but remember that it's the quality, not the quantity of contributions that matter. You should not feel pressured to say whatever comes to mind just to "get your participation in." 

    I also recognize that some of you are less comfortable talking that others. I still encourage you to participate in class discussion, but you can also gain participation credit by sending me a short paragraph raising a question or an interesting point about the readings for the week. If you would like to do this, please send me your short paragraph by 8pm on Wednesday before section. Please note that this short paragraph cannot be part of your reading response paper. 

  • Response Papers: You are required to write 2 response papers during the quarter, with at least one of them being before the midterm. These papers should be no longer than 2 pages, double-spaced and are also due by 8pm on Wednesday before section

Reading and Writing for Political Science 

I've made three handouts to help you learn how to read and write for political science (available below). I highly recommend reading over these if this is your first time taking a college level political science course.


I do want to take time to talk a little about writing response papers, since many of you have asked questions about this assignment. Here are the main things you need to know: 

  • You should advance an argument, summarized in a clear thesis statement. 

  • You have to address at least one of the readings of the week. Since it's a short assignment, I'd advise against trying to incorporate more than two or three readings.

  • You should not summarize the readings. An essay that primarily summarizes the reading will not receive full credit. 

  • You should avoid making unsubstantiated claims. 

  • You should avoid informal language, and you should make sure to edit and revise your essay. 

We will post study questions on Canvas each week to help you think about what you want to write for your response paper, but you certainly aren't limited to responding to these questions. Here are some other general ideas for a response paper: 

  1. Critique one or more of the readings. Refer to the handout on "reading political science" for different ways to critique a reading's logic, research design, or evidence. 

  2. Propose an alternative explanation. Is there a different explanation that is consistent with the author's primary findings? If so, explain this alternative argument and provide evidence that your alternative argument is more convincing. You should also brainstorm ways to arbitrate between your explanation and the one in the reading. 

  3. Arbitrate between different arguments. Do two (or more) of the readings this week present conflicting claims? If so, which one do you find more convincing and why? 

  4. Apply an author's argument to a current event or historical case you are interested in. Should the author's argument apply to this case? If so, how does the evidence for this case stack up? What does this reveal about the author's theory? 

  5. Extend the author's argument. Can you use the logic the author uses to advance his/her theory to explain other important and related phenomenon. 

  6. Identify an interesting puzzle that the readings raise. Do the author's arguments or evidence raise an interesting puzzle about international politics? If so, what is it? Try thinking through what the readings and class material might be able to say about this puzzle.

Normative and Structural Arguments for the Democratic Peace (Russett 1993)

Research Question: Broadly, Russett’s question is “Why are some countries more likely to go to war with each other than others?”. But, we can actually be a bit more specific since he lays out a puzzle at the beginning of the reading which motivates the rest of it: historically, democracies have rarely gone to war with other democracies, but democracies seem to fight autocracies just as often as autocracies fight other autocracies. So, he’s specifically trying to explain why that is.

Why does Russett think the fact that democracies go to war autocracies fairly frequently is puzzling? Think about some of the explanations that we went over in class for the democratic peace. For instance, consider the “Empowers Voters” mechanism. In this view, democracies are less likely to go to war because leaders are responsive to the citizens and citizens want to avoid to the costs of war. But if it is citizens’ aversion to the cost of war is driving democratic leader’s decisions, why would democracies only be less likely to go to war with other democracies? Do the citizens only want to avoid the costs of war with other democracies?

Russett's Explanations: Russett explains that the fact that democracies seem to be pacific only in their relations with other democracies creates problems with explanations that only emphasize the features of one state’s political system—like the sensitivity to the cost of war—are problematic. These kinds of explanations suggest that democracies should be less war prone overall, NOT just in their relations with other democracies. So, Russett argues that we need to develop an explanation that emphasizes the interaction of states with different kinds of government. He emphasizes presents two arguments of this nature: a normative one and a structural one, presented below. 

Week 2: Evaluating Evidence and the Bargaining Model


Course Announcements 

  • Data Analysis Paper. The data analysis assignment is up on Canvas! Be sure to read the instructions closely, as well as the pamphlet Professor Tomz has provided on the margin of error. Remember, you are supposed to fill out the worksheet identifying your independent variable, dependent variable, and connecting logic before you look at the data. If you want me to look at your worksheet, feel free to bring it to office hours next week or to schedule an appointment with me. 

Section Objectives 

  1. Major Themes Recap. Even though we only had two lectures this week, we have covered a lot of material. Our section quiz will be a little longer this week to make sure everyone understands the core takeaways for the week. 

  2. Intro to the Bargaining Range. The bargaining model of war is one of the most difficult theories to grasp in international relations. Let's familiarize ourselves with the bargaining range. By the end of class, you should be able to explain what the bargaining range is and how it changes with the balance of power and the costs of war. 

  3. Examining the Causes of the 2003 Iraq War. In class, we learned about three reasons why states might not be able to reach an agreement in the bargaining range and end up at war. Following Lake (2010), let's apply these concepts to the 2003 Iraq War. How well can the bargaining model explain the outbreak of war? Where does it come up short? 

Key Terms and Concepts

Week 2: Evaluating Evidence & the Bargaining Model
  • Sampling Error

  • Margin of Error

  • Non-Sampling Error

  • Chi Squared Test

  • Spurious Relationship

  • Russett (1993) vs. Farber & Gowa (1995)

  • Puzzle of War

  • Bargaining Range

  • Issue Indivisibility

  • Information Problems

  • Commitment Problems

  • Preventive War

  • Preemptive War 

  • First Strike Advantage

  • Lake (2010/11) Critiques of the Bargaining Model

  • 2003 Iraq War

Section Quiz

Evaluating Evidence 

  1.  What is the margin of error? How does it change with sample size? 

    The margin of error expresses the amount of random sampling error in a survey's result. When collecting a random sample of respondents, there is some chance that the sample you collect will not be representative of the population you are trying to study. The larger the sample you collect, the smaller the margin of error becomes.

  2. True or False. Non-sampling error includes bias that is introduced if a survey does not include certain segments of the population by design. 

    True. Non-sampling error includes the above bias, plus bias that is introduced, for instance, if a question is not worded correctly.

  3. Which of the following would be considered evidence in support of the following causal hypothesis: "Women are more likely to support the use of force." 

    • A) ​​​26% of women supported going to war with Iraq, while 43% of men supported going to war.

    • B) 75% of women supported the NATO bombing of Kosovo in 1999.

    • C) 17% of women opposed sending troops to Afghanistan. 8% of men opposed sending troops. 

    • D) None of the above. 

      The answer is “D: None of the above.” In the case of options “A” and “C,” more men supported the use of force than women did, which is not consistent with the hypothesis. Answer “B” is also not supportive of the hypothesis because it does not provide any information about how men viewed the use of force. It doesn’t matter if the majority of women supported the use of force, because hypotheses are statements about the relationship between two variables, not the point distribution of a characteristic in a population. So, in this case, we don’t know what percentage of men supported the NATO bombing of Kosovo. It could be 65%, which would be support for the hypothesis, or it could be 85%, which would not be consistent. Similarly, if 35% of women supported the use of force, but only 10% of men supported it, we would consider it to be support for the hypothesis even though the majority of women opposed the use of force.

The Democratic Peace and its Critics 

  1. Which normative argument for the democratic peace does Russett (1993) make in the book chapter assigned last week? 

    • A) Unconditional Norm Externalization​

    • B) Conditional Norm Externalization

    • C) Democratic Crusade

      The answer is “B. Conditional Norm Externalization.” Russett argues that democracies will uphold their norm of non-violent dispute resolution in dealings with other democracies, but will abandon this norm in dealings with autocracies since they do not trust autocracies to be committed to non-violent dispute resolution.

  2. Explain what Farber and Gowa (1995) mean when they claim that the relationship between joint democracy and peace is spurious. What evidence do they provide for this claim. 

    Farber and Gowa (1995) argue that there is not a causal relationship between joint democracy and peace. While there is a correlation between these two variables in the post-1945 period, they suggest that the reason there was peace is due to the shared interests Western democracies happened to have in balancing against the Soviet Union. To support this claim, they examine the relationship between joint democracy and war prior to 1914, and they find that democracies were no less likely to go to war with each other than other dyads.

Introduction to the Bargaining Model

  1. Imagine that Country A and Country B are fighting over a territory that we’ve normalized its value to $100. Suppose that Country A has a 70% chance of winning the war and Country B only has a 30% chance of winning. Both countries would pay a cost of $10 if they go to war. Please draw the Bargaining Range. Explain in words what the Bargaining range represents.

    The bargaining range represents the set of deals that both states would prefer to going to war. 

  2. How does the bargaining range change with the cost of war? How does the bargaining range change with the balance of power (or, in other words, the probability that one side wins)?

    The bargaining range grows larger with the costs of war because higher costs shrink what both sides think that they can get by fighting. Therefore, there will be more possible divisions of the good that both will prefer to fighting.

    The balance of power shifts the bargaining range towards the left or the right, but it does not change the size of the bargaining range or make it disappear. When one side is much stronger than the other (say, it has a 90% chance of winning), the weaker side should be willing to give into more of the demands of the stronger side since it can’t expect to win much through fighting.

    See below more of a discussion of how to draw the bargaining range and examples illustrating how it changes with these parameters.


  3. Which assumption of the bargaining model does Lake (2010) NOT critique in his article explaining the outbreak of the 2003 Iraq War?

    • A) States are unitary actors. ​

    • B) Bargaining is modeled as a two-player game.

    • C) Issues are perfectly divisible.

    • D) Bargaining theory does not include the costs of enforcing a settlement.

    • E) States are rational actors. 

      The answer is “C. Issues are perfectly divisible.” In his analysis, Lake illustrates that each of the other assumptions described above misses a key dynamic in the war. For example, while the bargaining model assumes that states are unitary actors, Lake illustrates that members of the war industry – like Halliburton – stood to earn profits from the Iraq War (even though Lake ultimately claims that on its own this could not have caused the war to happen). He also shows how Hussein’s concerns about Kurdish uprisings and the threat posed by Iran caused Hussein to not want to reveal that he did not have a WMD program. Further, Lake says that the single largest failure of the United States in the Iraq War was underestimating the costs of the war after removing Hussein from power. Lake claims that behavioral biases also contributed to these miscalculations and failure to update beliefs about the war during crisis bargaining.

The Bargaining Range 

The bargaining range is the set of deals that both parties prefer to war. It’s a lot easier to wrap your head around the bargaining range if you visualize it. So, let’s imagine that there are two countries fighting—Country A and Country B—over some territory. For the rest of this exercise, let’s assume that the value of this territory is “100” utils (Note: Utils are an imaginary unit with no inherent value. In economics and political science, we simply use utils to denote how a single actor values some good, where monetary value may not be the best or most obvious measure. There are a lot more details about using utils as a unity, but it is really not important for this class). For this example, let’s assume that both countries have a 50% chance of winning the war, and that their cost of fighting is “20” utils each. So, how do we visualize the bargaining range for this example?

Step 1: Draw a number line, from 0 to 100, representing the amount going to Country A, and locate Country A’s and Country B’s “ideal points” on this line.

A country’s “ideal point” is the division of the “100” that they would most prefer. Unsurprisingly, Country A would prefer if all 100 would go to it.

Country B would also prefer if it received all 100, but where is that located on this line? Well, for Country B to receive 100, it must be the case that Country A receives 0. So, Country B’s ideal point on this line is at “0.”


Step 2: Calculate Country A’s and Country B’s war value. A country’s war value is the amount the country can expect to get by going to war. Here’s the general formula for determining a country’s war value:

War Value = [Prob. of winning] x [Value of what is being fought over] – [costs of war]

So, with our example, what is country A’s and country B’s war value?

A’s War Value is (0.5 x 100) – 20 = 30. B’s War Value is (0.5 x 100) – 20 = 30.

Step 3: Locate Country A & Country B’s war value on the number line.

We want to figure out all the possible divisions of 100 that Country A will prefer to war. So, since country A can expect “30” by going to war, it should prefer any division of the 100 that gives it at least 30. Let’s put that one the line.


Now, Country B can also expect at least “30” by going to war, but again, how do we visualize this on the line? Well, for a division of the 100 to give Country B 30, it must give Country A 70. So, Country B will prefer any division of the 100 that gives Country A 70 or less. Let’s add these values to the line.

Step 4: Determine the set of agreements both countries prefer to war.

You’ve found the bargaining range! Visually, where the two arrows overlap on the line is the set of agreements both countries prefer to war. So, let’s label the bargaining range.

How the Bargaining Range Changes with Key Parameters


So, how does the bargaining range change with the costs of war or the balance of power? To summarize, the bargaining range becomes larger as the costs of war increase, while changing the balance of power (i.e. the probability one side wins a war) shifts the bargaining range.

The Costs of War

Let’s start with our example we used above. Imagine that State A and State B are bargaining over some issue that they value at 100 utils. For now, let’s say that both have a 50% chance of winning the war, and both have a 20 util cost of war. Let’s depict the bargaining range below:

Here, States A and B prefer deals that give between 30 and 70 utils to State A.


But how does the bargaining range change with the cost of war? Assume everything remains the same, except now the cost of war for both players is 40. Let’s depict the new bargaining range:

The bargaining range is now larger! State A and State B both prefer any division that gives State A between 10 and 90 utils. Thus, the size of the bargaining range increases with the cost of war. It will also decrease as the cost of war decrease.


The Balance of Power

We can think of the “balance of power” as the probability State A wins the war. When both State A and State B are equally strong, they both would have a 50% chance of winning. By contrast, if we said that State A had a 80% chance of winning the war, that would mean that there is an imbalance of power between the two states. In particular, State A is quite strong while State B is quite weak.

So, how does the bargaining range change with the probability that State A wins the war?


Let’s go back to our original example. State A and State B are bargaining over some issue that they value at 100 utils, there’s a 50% chance that State A will win a war, and both states face a 20 util cost of war. This was our bargaining range:

Now, let’s imagine that State A has an 80% chance of winning the war. The new bargaining range is:

Do you see how the new bargaining range has changed? It’s shifted towards the right. State A and B now both prefer deals that give State A between 60 and 100 utils. You should also notice that the bargaining range here does not shrink: the range is still spans 40 utils. It has just shifted to the right. Thus, changes in the probability of one side winning (or an imbalance of power) does not necessarily shrink the bargaining range. Instead, it simply shifts the range to the right and to the left.

Applying Bargaining Theory to 2003 Iraq War

Motivation: Because war is costly, there should be a bargain that both sides in a dispute would prefer to war. But states are sometimes unable to agree to this mutually preferable bargain, like the United States and Iraq failed to do in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq War. Let’s take primary rationalist explanations for war and apply them to the 2003 Iraq War!

Background Information: 2003 Iraq War

Following the Gulf War, which the United States won within 100 hours of launching its ground campaign, the United States enacted a policy of containment. This containment policy sought to limit Saddam Hussein’s ability to threaten regional stability (in particular, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia). It relied heavily on economic sanctions, no-fly zones to protect the Kurds, and the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia. It also required UNSCOM inspectors to make sure Iraq was dismantling its weapons program. Throughout the 90s and into the new millennia, this policy of containment continued to fray.

Enforcement of the no-fly zones required constant patrolling and led to frequent clashes. U.S. troop presence in Saudi Arabia created political grievances for radical militants like Usama bin Laden. The economic sanctions the United States and allies imposed placed enormous costs on the Iraqi people, but not Hussein’s regime itself. The UNSCOM inspectors were continually harassed and unable to confirm disarmament. Finally, overall support in the United Nations Security Council for this containment policy was weakening.


The Clinton Administration had considered pursuing forcible regime change in Iraq. However, it ultimately decided against it because the Department of Defense believed that regime change would undermine regional stability by creating fragmentations among religious and ethnic lines, causing chaos by their competition for power.


However, following 9/11, the Bush Administration decided in favor of forcible regime change with many suggesting that the war would not be that costly. The reasons that the Bush Administration gave several reasons for this decision. First, they argued that Saddam Hussein was supporting Al Qaeda, and they also alleged that Hussein was trying to develop nuclear weapons. The Bush administration also claimed that Hussein was likely to launch a chemical or biological weapons attack. In fact, President Bush was publicly vaccinated for small pox to illustrate how seriously the administration was taking this possibility. Finally, it’s also plausible that the Bush administration sought to secure oil supplies from the Middle East, and the administration’s neoconservative ideology suggested that installing a democratic regime in the Middle East would decrease conflict in the region.

Evaluating Explanations of the Iraq War

  1. Considering that one of the demands the United States made was that Saddam Hussein step down from power, do you think there was a bargain that both sides would have preferred to war? Why or why not? 

    There are two potential reasons why you might think there should have been a bargain that both sides would prefer to war, even if this demand is included. Although we might think that the regime that is in power in another country seems to be a case of issue indivisibility (i.e. it seems unreasonable to think that there could have been an agreement where Hussein and a democratic government alternated power according to a set schedule), many IR scholars would suggest that either the US or Iraq could have compensated the other side on a different issue that they cared about.

    Moreover, given that Saddam Hussein was captured and killed as a result of the war, we might think that stepping down from power and going on exile in a different country would still have been preferable to what he got during the war.


  2. Do you think that private information contributed to the outbreak of the Iraq War? If so, what was the private information? Do you think there was a high degree of uncertainty over which side would win the war? Why or why not?

    Yes, private information did play a role in the outbreak of the war, but it is unlikely that the two sides disagreed over who would win the war, given that the United States had easily won the 1993 Gulf War against Iraq. The other major type of private information that states are concerned about during war is resolve, i.e. the willingness of one side to incur costs for the issue for which it is fighting. In this case, Saddam Hussein did not know whether the United States was really resolved to go to war. After all, the United States was already involved in one war and it had failed to get UNSC authorization for military action.

  3. According to the bargaining model, why weren't the participants able to credibly reveal that information?

    The bargaining models suggests that the main reasons for the above kind of information failure is that states have an incentive to bluff. Even if the United States wasn’t actually willing to go to war, Hussein knew that the U.S. government would have an incentive to say that it was willing to follow through in order to get what it wanted. Thus, even when states are “honest” about their level of resolve, the other side will have reasons to doubt the information.

  4. What other factors does Lake (2010) identify as contributing to the informational failure that led to war?

    As Lake (2010) discusses, the primary way states can reveal information about their resolve is to take actions that incurs costs that an unresolved states would not be willing to pay. Lake (2010) argues that the United States did engage in this kind of “costly signaling,” which should have lead Hussein to update his beliefs about U.S. level of resolve. After all, President Bush had gotten a Congressional resolution to fight and had taken the case to the UN. If Bush had backed down, he would have likely been punished by domestic audiences for undermining the reputation of the United States. So, since Bush took these actions and would have wanted to avoid those costs, Hussein should have believed that United States was likely to follow through on its threats.

    Lake explains that this failure to update beliefs is inconsistent with the bargaining model. In additional to pre-existing biases, one reason Hussein would not have updated is that Hussein surrounded himself with “Yes men,” who refused to tell him anything he did not want to hear. So, even when the United States sent credible signals about its resolve, Saddam Hussein did not update his beliefs since his advisors continued to tell him that the United States was unlikely to follow through on its military threats. This kind of motivated reasoning made it more difficult for the United States and Iraq to find a mutually preferable deal.

    Whether or not Saddam Hussein was actually pursuing a nuclear program was also “private” information in the war. Lake explains that Hussein did not want to reveal that to the United States (even though it would have lowered U.S. resolve to remove him from power) because he was afraid that admitting he did not have nuclear weapons could cause Iran to try to take advantage of it or to lead the Kurdish areas of Iraq to rebel. The fact that Hussein did not reveal this information had less to do with the potential bargaining advantages from bluffing and rather these other kinds of constraints.

    Similarly, the inability of the United States to correctly estimate the cost of the war, greatly contributed to the outbreak of the war.


  5. Do you think that a commitment problem contributed to the outbreak of the Iraq War? Explain why or why not. 

    The United States has preventive motivations to go to war. If Saddam Hussein had developed nuclear weapons, it would have represented a very unfavorable shift in the balance of power. Because Hussein would not have been able to commit to using its increased bargaining power to negotiate less favorable deals to the United States, the United States faced an incentive to go to war at the present to prevent the power shift offered by nuclear proliferation.


Week 3: Israel-Palestine, the Obsolescence of War, and Civil War


Course Announcements 

  • Response Papers. If you have not already turned in a response paper, next week will be your last chance to turn your first one in. Also, for those of you who turned in response papers this week, I'll get you my feedback on them tomorrow or on Saturday. 

  • Additional Office Hours. Since the data analysis paper is due on Monday and most people did not have a chance to think about the paper before my office hours this week, I’ll be having additional office hours tomorrow (7/13) from 4:00-5:30pm. Please email me if you plan to come, and note that it is also fine if you want to come in groups!

  • Midterm Approaching. The midterm will be on Wednesday. In class on Tuesday, we will be leading a review session. Please bring questions that you have about the class material to the review session.

Section Objectives 

  1. Data Analysis Paper. Your data analysis paper is due on Monday. In section today, we'll go over some (fun) examples of public opinion analysis to help you prepare for this assignment. 

  2. Rise of China Debate. In lecture this week, we learned about different theories about what has caused the apparent decline in interstate war. What do these theories have to say about the likelihood of conflict between the United States and China in the future? Do you think war is likely? Why or why not? 

Key Terms and Concepts

Week 3: Israel-Palestine, the Obsolescence of War, and Civil War
  • Green Line

  • 1967 Six Day War

  • Israeli Settlements

  • Jerusalem

  • Veto Players

  • Decline of Interstate War

  • Nuclear Weapons

  • Deterrence

  • Mutually Assured Destruction

  • Economic Interdependence 

  • Opportunity Cost of War

  • International Organizations

  • Spread of Democracy 

  • Civil War

  • Insurgency 

  • Ancient Hatreds

  • Conditions that favor insurgency 

  • Prevalence of Civil War

  • How Civil Wars End 

  • Critical Barrier to Civil War

  • Third-Party Enforcement in Civil

  • Peacekeeping

  • Effectiveness of Peace Keeping

  • Selection Effect

Section Quiz

  1.  Provide a definition of the civil war and explain why this concept is important to the study of international relations. Cite the readings if possible. 

    A civil war is a violent conflict between domestic organized, armed groups fighting over political power. These groups are often fighting for control over the state (“Center-seeking conflicts”) or for political autonomy (“Separatist Conflicts”). Modern civil wars overwhelmingly involve insurgency, which is a method of conflict used by small, lightly armed groups that practice guerilla tactics. In an insurgency, groups are often not uniformed, are highly mobile, and rely on hit-and-run attacks. Because civil wars overwhelmingly involve insurgency, Fearon & Laitin (2003) argue that we can better predict where civil wars occur by looking at the conditions that favor insurgency – that is, factors that enable groups to better evade government forces. Indeed, Fearon & Laitin (2003) that weak governance, rough terrain, etc. are better predictors of civil war than grievances that might motivate people to rebel – like ethnic and religious fractionalization (“ancient hatreds”).

    This concept is important for the study of IR because civil conflicts tend to be more violent and deadly than interstate wars, and unlike interstate wars, the number of ongoing civil conflicts has generally increased since the end of WWII. Importantly, the increased prevalence of civil war is not the result of conflicts breaking out more frequently. Rather, the increased prevalence is due to an accumulation of ongoing civil conflicts because the rate of civil war outbreak is greater than the rate of civil wars ending. One reason why civil wars take so long to end is because it is very difficult for them to end in a negotiated settlement, meaning the sides must continue to fight until one militarily defeats their opponent. Walter (1997) explains that the reason why civil wars often do not end with negotiated settlements is that each side faces a commitment problem. Specifically, because a peace deal requires one side to demobilize and lay down their arms, the other side cannot credibly commit to uphold the terms of the peace settlement and not destroy their opponents.


  2. What do Israeli settlements have to do with the persistence of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict? 

    Settlements are communities of Jews that have been moving into the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Often, the Israeli government subsidizes these settlements. These settlements are important because they create “new facts on the ground.” In other words, they change the de facto division of the territory, which makes their bargaining position in negotiations with the Palestinians stronger. In fact, Israel has an incentive to prolong negotiations in order to keep expanding settlements for this reason. Overall, Israeli settlements illustrate how issue indivisibility (one reason why states might not be able to make an agreement in the bargaining range) operates in practice. So, even though territory is in theory divisible, the facts on the ground can make it much more difficult to divide in practice.

  3. Which of the following authors argues that the apparent decline in interstate war is driven improvements in medical care in conflict zones and not by a real decline in violent conflicts? 

    • A) Pinker (2011)​

    • B) Mueller (2009)

    • C) Fazal (2014)

    • D) None of the above. 

      The answer is "C. Fazal (2014)." 

  4. Why might peacekeeping resolve the commitment problem facing warring sides in a civil war? Why does Fortna (2004) argue other studies haven't found evidence that peacekeeping can be effective? 

    Peacekeeping can help overcome the commitment problem facing warring sides in three different ways. First, through monitoring, peacekeeping missions can identify when the rules of the peace deal are being broken and impose reputational costs on sides for cheating. Second, by managing or administering certain aspects of the agreement, peacekeeping can reduce the opportunity for sides to cheat – for instance, by administering elections or overseeing the disarmament of both sides. Finally, in enforcement missions (but not consent-based missions), peacekeepers may threaten the use of force to punish defectors, thereby raising the costs of cheating.

    Fortna (2004) argues that the reason why others could not find evidence for the effectiveness of peacekeeping is due to a selection effect. Specifically, countries and the UN tend to send peacekeepers to the hardest cases, where the cessation of violence was not caused by one side decisively defeating their opponents. She finds that once you control for this selection effect, the presence of peacekeepers improves the durability of peace.

A Closer Look at the Data Analysis Paper

What do you need to do for your data analysis paper? What should the end product “look like”?

First things first, you should carefully read the instructions Professor Tomz posted on Canvas. The instructions are long, but he gives you a very detailed description of what it is that he wants you to do in the paper. In fact, if you read the instructions carefully, you’ll see that he has basically given you an outline for the paper.

But we can think about the data analysis paper as consisting of two primary parts: (1) a discussion of your hypothesis, variables, and connecting logic, and (2) your data analysis and discussion of its strengths and weaknesses.

Discussion of Hypothesis, Variables, and Connecting Logic

  • Clearly state your hypothesis at the outset.

  • Identify your independent and dependent variables

  • Developing and explain your connecting logic.

  • Identify and justify the assumption you are making.

  • Indicate what patterns you would expect to see in the data if the hypothesis is correct and what you would expect to see if it were incorrect.

Data Analysis and Discussion of Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Indicate the extent to which the data conforms to they hypothesis. (It’s okay if you don’t find support for your hypothesis! You aren’t graded on whether or not you are correct).

  • Acknowledge the weaknesses of your evidence. For instance, is there another explanation that is consistent with your results?

  • Discuss sources of sampling and non-sampling error. Here it may be helpful to use our margin of error calculators we gave you, and think about ways PS101 students different from the U.S. population. How does sample size and sample composition affect your results or your confidence in them?

You will also be graded on your organization, clarity of expression, and so forth. Remember, I have additional office hours tomorrow if you have any questions!

Data Analysis Example: Cards Against Humanity Polls

Now that we talked about what you need to include for a good data analysis paper, let’s test our data analysis skills with some public opinion data I pulled online. Apparently, Cards Against Humanity has been conducting monthly public opinion polls since September 2017, and they asked questions on a *wide* range of topics. In the powerpoint below, we make a few predictions about public opinion and analyze the results. Download Powerpoint

Rise of China and the Threat of War 

Many analysts are worried about US-China relations because they believe there is potential for a preventive war between the two countries as China continues to rise. The bargaining model of war explains preventive war as a commitment problem that prevents states from making an agreement that both would prefer to war. In the case of a preventive war, the declining state (in this case, the US) would like a commitment from the rising state (here, China) not to use its increased bargaining power in the future (once it grows stronger) to revise the terms of an agreement that they make today (that would be on more favorable terms to the US). However, while China may agree to this today, there would be nothing in the future that would prevent them from reneging on this promise.

What can we say about the likelihood of conflict between the United States and China, given the theories we have learned about the obsolescence of war? Here is a backgrounder guide relating to the rise of China. Download Background.

One useful thing to do would be to question what would need to be true for the United States and China to engage in a preventive war. In particular, we would want to know:

  1. Is China’s rapid economic and political rise inevitable?

  2. Will the China and the United States have such strong conflicting interests
    that they would ever be willing to incur the costs of war?

Is China’s rapid rise inevitable?​

Preventive wars typically require dramatic shifts in the balance of power between two countries. If the shift in the balance of power is relatively minor, then we wouldn’t expect the declining power to be too concerned about the rising power using its (relatively small) increased bargaining power in the future to extract more concessions. When considering China’s rise, it’s useful to question whether China will continue its rapid economic growth far into the future. There are certainly analysts that project China’s economy will very quickly and dramatically outsize the economy of the Untied States. Further, it is also certainly true that China has used its economic growth to enlarge its military.

However, it is difficult for any country to maintain the rate of economic growth that China has experienced over the past two and a half decades. In fact, there is already evidence that China’s economy has begun to slow. Although it’s average growth rate from 1994 until 2016 was about 9-10%, its growth rate for the past two years has leveled off to about 6-7%. That’s only 2-3% more than the growth rate of the United States. It is important to remember that analysts overestimated Japan’s rise during the 1980s as well, and a lot of the concerns about China sound eerily similar to those people voiced about Japan in the past. If China does not maintain its impressive economic growth, the United States probably won’t have an incentive to launch a preventive war to thwart China’s rise.

Will the U.S. and China have such strong conflicting preferences?​

Remember, according to the bargaining model, states will only prefer to go to war if they believe that they can get more from fighting than from a potential agreement. But for states to prefer war to any agreement, the value they place on what they are fighting over must exceed the costs of war. Otherwise, their utility for war would always be negative, so any agreement should be preferable.

This week we learned that one of the major ways that new developments in international politics may have lead to a decline of war is that these new developments increase the costs of fighting. If the costs of fighting are really large, then the stronger conflicting preferences China and the United States would need to have for war to be a possibility. Here are a few things that likely increase the costs of war between the United States and China:

  1. Both the United States and China are nuclear armed states. For the United States to really delay or prevent China’s economic growth, it would need a pretty stunning victory in the war. However, how likely do it seem that the United States would be willing to risk China using nuclear weapons do deliver such a defeat?

  2. The United States and China trade with each other, a lot. China is the United States’ largest trading partner, and the United States is China’s largest trading partner. If the two countries go to war with each other, these trade flows will stop. That’s a huge opportunity cost to pay in order to go to war with each other, especially given that one of the major ways that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) legitimates its authoritarian rule is by its economic growth.

How might international organizations and democracy affect the likelihood of war between the United States and China? We learned in class that IOs can help settle contentious issues that might lead states to want to fight in the first place, in addition to raising the costs of war, enforcing commitments, and reducing uncertainty. Since China is not a democracy, however, we might think that its leaders are not as sensitized to the political costs of war as democratic leaders are.


Week 5: International Environmental Cooperation


Course Announcements 

  • Handout on Policy Memo Writing. I've created a handout with helpful tips for writing your policy memo. We'll have a bit more time next week to talk about the specifics, but this will give you an idea of what your final product will look like. Download Handout. 

  • Policy Memo Deadline. By noon on Monday, you should have decided who your partner for your policy memo assignment is and send this information to your TA. 

Section Objectives 

  1. Graded Midterms and Data Analysis Papers. This week, we returned your midterms and your data analysis papers back to you. We will take some time to go over any general questions that you have and to talk about common mistakes we found while grading. 

  2. Paris Climate Agreement Policy Simulation. In the lecture this week, we learned about the tragedy of the commons, potential solutions to the tragedy of the commons, and the ethics of environmental cooperation. Let's apply what we've learned to make clear policy recommendations for climate change! In particular, we'll advise the president on how to proceed with the Paris Climate Agreement and climate change more broadly. 

Key Terms and Concepts

Week 5: International Environmental Cooperation
  • Tragedy of the Commons

  • Negative Externalities

  • Assumptions of the Tragedy of
    the Commons

    • Self Interest​

    • Full Benefit

    • Partial Costs 

  • Commitment Problem 

  • Prisoner's Dilemma

  • Dominant Strategy

  • Nash Equilibrium

  • Individually Rational 

  • CFCs 

  • Ozone Layer

  • Montreal Protocol

  • Differentiated Responsibilities

  • Precautionary Principle

  • Technological Developments

  • Coercion by a Third Party

  • Strategies of Reciprocity

  • How Institutions Foster Reciprocity

    • Setting Clear Expectations​

    • Monitoring Behavior

    • Coordinating Punishments

  • Mobilize Domestic Opposition

  • Climate Change 

  • Kyoto Protocol

  • Paris Climate Agreement

  • Utilitarian Case for Fighting Climate Change 

    • Scientific Uncertainty​

    • Discount Rate

    • Contingency 

  • Corrective/Compensatory Justice

  • Egalitarian Justice

  • Shared Responsibilities 

Section Quiz

  1. True or False. The outcome of the prisoner's dilemma depends on uncertainty, lack of communication, and lack of mutual concern. 

    False. The prisoner’s dilemma DOES depend on a lack of mutual concern, but it DOES NOT depend on uncertainty or a lack of communication. Even if the players in a prisoner’s dilemma could talk, each would individually have an incentive to defect, regardless of what the other would do (i.e. defecting is a dominant strategy), so talking should not change the game. Similarly, even if you were not sure what the other player would do, it would still be in your best interest to defect because it is your dominant strategy.

  2. True or False. If a person applies a high discount rate to the benefits of environmental cooperation, then they value the benefits accrued to future generations more heavily than someone who applies low discount rate. 

    False. The discount rate tells you how heavily a person minimizes future payments relative to the future. So, if a person has a high discount rate, it means they heavily “discount” future payments. In other words, they do not value those benefits as much.

  3. Write a short summary of the following author's arguments, and match them to the ethical framework they are advocating and/or critiquing. 

    • Shue (1999)​ -- Advances the corrective/compensatory justice argument for environmental cooperation. Because industrialized countries contributed in large part to global warming, industrialized countries should pay a greater share of the burden for combating climate change. 

    • Goodin (1990) -- Argues that states have a shared responsibility for combating climate change. This system "does not let an agent off the hook until he has actually accomplished the prescribed means." This means that states not only have a duty not to pollute, but has an obligation to pick up the slack of others and to compel others what to do what is morally right.

    • Broome (2008) -- Discusses different discount rates that could be applied to climate change cooperation, which is important for both the prioritarian and the utilitarian case for climate change cooperation. Prioritarians argue that the benefit that comes to a rich person should be assigned less social value than if the same benefit had come to a poor person, while utilitarians suggest that a benefit has the same value no matter who receives it. Prioritarians call for a high discount rate since future generations will be richer, while utilitarianism would call for a lower discount rate. 

    • Posner (2016) -- Critiques the corrective/compensatory justice argument for environmental cooperation. One critique is that the real losers from climate change are future generations, so the money from rich countries paying “climate reparations” would not go to those that have been hurt by global warming. Another critique is that even though current generations of those in the US are benefiting from past wrongdoings, current generations in poor countries are also benefiting from those wrongdoings as well.

  4. True or False. Bechtel and Scheve (2013) find that: 

    • Support for a climate agreement decreases as the costs of compliance increase. True. 

    • Support for a climate agreement decreases if rich countries pay more than poor countries. False

    • Support for a climate agreement increases as the number of participating countries increase. True

    • Support for a climate agreement decreases as the emissions cut for the agreement increases. False. 

    • Support for a climate agreement increases if there is a low punishment for cheating, but decreases if there is a medium or high punishment for cheating. True. 

    • Support for a climate agreement increases if your government monitors compliance with an agreement relative to if an independent commission for the United Nations monitors. ​False. 

  5. Sprinz and Vaahtoranta provide an explanation for why countries support or oppose certain international environmental agreements. Fill in the 2x2 below with which countries will be pushers, draggers, bystanders, and intermediaries. 

The United States and the Paris Climate Agreement

Motivation: In lecture this week, we learned about the tragedy of the commons, potential solutions to the tragedy of the commons, and the ethics of environmental cooperation. Let’s apply what we’ve learned about environmental cooperation to make clear policy recommendations regarding climate change! In particular, we’ll advise President Trump on how to proceed with the Paris Climate Agreement and climate change more generally.

Background: Scientists predict the world will suffer dramatic consequences of climate change in the future if global temperatures continue to rise at their current rate. These consequences include sea level rise, ocean acidification, and more frequent, extreme weather conditions, like droughts and flash flooding. However, scientists estimate that if we can prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, we will be able to avoid most of these consequences.


The international community devised the Paris Climate Agreement to reach this goal, after its predecessor – the Kyoto Protocol – failed to slow global temperature rise. Under the Paris Agreement, all countries agree to submit their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and each country will monitor and report on their emissions and progress. Over time, each country will review and try to ratchet up their INDCs. There is also a commitment from rich countries to give aid to developing countries to help them adapt to the effects of climate change and to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.


One June 1st, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, but he also said that the United States would be open to renegotiating different terms in agreement. Under the rules of the agreement the United States signed on to under former President Obama, the earliest any country can leave the agreement is Nov. 4, 2020. So, the United States will officially remain part of the agreement until then.

Assignment: Your job is to serve as a policy advisor to President Trump on how to proceed forward on climate change. You and your classmates will form two teams—each of which will discuss a different aspect of the Paris Agreement. Your goal will be to present a clear policy recommendation for President Trump regarding the aspect of climate policy your team discussed. You will present your proposal and report your discussions to the class before the end of section.

Team 1: Compliance with the Paris Agreement

You must advise President Trump on whether the United States should stay on with the Paris Agreement and comply with its terms. As mentioned above, the United States cannot officially withdraw until 2020, and President Trump is open to revising his stance if you have good reasons for the United States to stay on board.

For your discussion, you should set aside questions about how INDCs are determined and who should bear the costs for cooperation. Your primary concern is whether the United States should cooperate on climate change with other countries under the framework laid out by the Paris Agreement.

In your discussion, you should address:

  • Whether it is likely that other countries will comply with the agreement.

  • Whether the agreement is likely to succeed in preventing global temperatures from rising too much before 2100. 

  • Whether the United States has an ethical obligation to fight or not fight climate change. 

When you report your proposal to the class, you should: 

  1. State up front whether the United States should stay on with the Paris Agreement and comply with its terms. 

  2. Make an ethical case for your position. You should anticipate and counter possible critiques to your argument. In making your case for your policy proposal, you may likely find it helpful to address the practical questions listed above as well.

Team 2: Renegotiating terms of the Paris Agreement 

Your job is to review different aspects of the Paris Climate agreement and determine if they should be renegotiated. In particular, you will advise on (1) how each countries' greenhouse gas reductions should be determined and (2) how the costs of climate change cooperation should be distributed among different countries. 

For your discussion, you should set aside questions about whether the United States should be working to prevent climate change. your primary focus is revising the current terms of the Paris Agreement. As a reminder, under the Paris Agreement, states set their own greenhouse gas emission reductions, and there is a commitment by rich countries to help developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

in your discussion, you should address: 

  • Whether each country should have a right to an equal amount of greenhouse gas emissions or whether rights to greenhouse gas emissions should be determined in some other way. In other words, should countries be able to set their own greenhouse gas emission reductions? Should countries be required to reduce their emissions so that each country is emitting the same amount of emissions? 

  • Whether countries should pay for climate change (i) equally, (ii) proportional to current emissions, (iii) proportional to historical emissions, or (iv) proportional to their wealth.

  • Whether the United States has any additional ethical obligations to fight climate change beyond what is covered in the Paris Climate Agreement. Does the United States have an ethical obligation to ratchet up its own INDCs if other states are not going to cooperate? 

When you report your proposal to the class, you should: 

  1. State up front whether the Paris Climate Agreement should be renegotiated and if so, which parts. Should it be expanded to include additional terms or obligations?

  2. Make an ethical case for your position. You should anticipate and counter possible critiques to your argument.  


Week 6: International Trade and its Consequences


Course Announcements 

  • Policy Memo Topic. You need to send me your topic and potential solution by Friday so I can sign off on it. Even if you plan to address a topic in Unit 3 or 4, you need to send me your problem and solution for approval tomorrow. You might decide to change your solution once you've learned more about the topic, but you want to get started researching everything soon. You shouldn't underestimate how long it would take to coordinate with your partner. 

Section Objectives 

  1. Puzzle of Protectionism. Economists almost universally agree that free trade makes society as a whole better off, but almost every country in the world has some degree of protectionist policies in place. Before we get into answering why protectionism persists, let's review the basics of trade theory and the primary arguments against protectionism. 

  2. Developing Countries & Protectionism. Many of the authors this week made powerful arguments for free trade, but others were much more skeptical--particularly on whether or not perfectly free trade or economic integration was right for developing countries. Why might protectionism make sense for developing countries? Are these arguments convincing? 

  3. Who Wins and Who Loses from Free Trade? McDonald (2012) and others have acknowledged that free trade benefits society as a whole but not every individual or firm. This week we learned about two different theories (Stolper Samuelson and Ricardo-Viner model) that make different predictions about who will win and who will lose from free trade. by the end of class, you should be able to clearly explain the predictions of each model and their logic. 

Key Terms and Concepts

Week 6: Internatonal Trade and is Consequences
  • Free Trade

  • Protectionism

  • Autarky

  • Absolute Advantage

  • Comparative Advantage

  • Economies of Scale

  • Effects of Competition

  • Access to Technology

  • Ad Valorem Tariff

  • Specific Tariff

  • Non-tariff Barriers

  • Quotas

  • Product Standards

  • Subsidies

  • Currency Manipulation

  • National Defense

  • Infant Industries

  • Strategic Trade Policy & Market Power

  • LDCs and Industrialization

  • Engel's Law

  • Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI)

  • Factors of Production

  • Stolper-Samuelson Theory

  • Ricardo-Viner Theory 

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance 

  • Tax Reform

  • Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930

  • Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA) of 1934

  • Fast Track (Trade Promotion Authority)

Trade Basics Worksheet

The Puzzle of Protectionism

  1. What is protectionism? What are some examples of protectionist policies? 

    Protectionism is any form of economic policy aimed at restricting the level of trade between two countries. Prominent forms of protectionism include tariffs, quotas, subsidies, product standards, and currency manipulation. 

  2. Why, from a traditional economic standpoint, is protectionism puzzling?

    Protectionism is inefficient. If countries specialize in the production of goods in which they have comparative advantage, more goods can be produced world-wide and at lower costs. Thus, if countries can trade without serious transaction costs, each country can get more units of goods than they could get under autarky, i.e. economic isolationism.

  3. What is comparative advantage? How does it differ from absolute advantage?

    A country has a comparative advantage in a good if it has a lower opportunity cost of producing it relative to another country. A country has an absolute advantage in a good if it can produce more of it and/or at lower costs than other countries.

  4. Aside from the classical argument for free trade, what other major arguments against protectionism exist?

    • Economies of Scale: Economies of scale exist when the per-unit cost of production decreases as output increases. So, in other words, it's cheaper for a firm to make two of the same good than it would be for two different firms to each make one unit of the same good. Economies of scale make free trade more efficient because the benefits ultimately lead to lower prices for consumers and more output for exporting firms. 

    • Competition: The idea here is that free trade promotes competition among firms, which encourage them to make better goods for a lower price. If an economy protected its domestic industry by imposing protectionist policies, those industries might not have an incentive to innovate or try to cut costs on their own. 

    • Access to Technology: Without trade, some countries might not have access to the most cutting edge technology, but with this technology, they will be able to produce their products more efficiently and at a lower cost. For example, think of the job of a secretary, and imagine if he only had access to a type writer. It would take longer for him to type letters and announcements than it would take for him if he had a computer. Thus, with trade and new access to a computer, he is much more efficient.

Free Trade and Developing Countries 

  1. Why might protectionism make more sense for developing countries than highly developed ones?

    • Infant Industries: If there are some industries in a country that are relatively new, then international competition from larger, more advanced firms could cause them to go under -- even if the infant industry has the potential to be just as competitive in the future. Therefore, protectionism could serve as a way to shield these firms from foreign competition until they can succeed on their own. Since developing countries are still developing, they are more likely to have infant industries that may deserve protection more than wealthy nations.

    • IndustrializationWe tend to think that many developing countries have a comparative advantage in producing primary commodities , such as agricultural goods and raw materials, but there are good reasons for a country to want to have comparative advantage in industrial production. For one, prices of primary goods tend to be more volatile due to business cycles in wealthier countries or due to unpredictable weather. But the Prebisch-Singer Hypothesis also suggests that the price of primary commodities declines relative to the price of manufactured goods over the long run. This is closely related to Engel’s Law , which says that people will spend a higher percentage of their income on non-food items and a lower percentage on food as their income rises (which, of course predicts that prices of food will rise more slowly than prices of manufactured goods). Thus, a developing country that wants to increase its economic growth will want to develop domestic industries in manufacturing in order to switch its comparative advantage.

      Here, much like the infant industry argument, states can use protectionism to foster industrialization. Protectionism for this purpose is often referred to as “Import Substitution Industrialization” (ISI) as emerging markets seek to decrease their dependence on developed countries for goods they would not produce under completely free trade. The idea here is that states will “substitute” the goods they are “importing” for ones made domestically in hopes of fostering “industrialization.”


  2. Determine if the following statements are true or false and explain why: 

    • Rodrick (2001) argues that economic integration is the best path for countries to develop. ​

      False. Rodrick argues that economic integration is the result of economic and political development, not the cause. His general point is that the “good development policy” that the WTO recommends emphasizes free trade and economic integration at the expense of other more important components of a sound development policy, like investment in education and public health. Although it is true that countries that developed successfully shed their barriers to trade, Rodrick points out that they only did so after they had experienced much economic growth.

    • Panagariya (2003) argues that all developing countries would be better off if high-income countries slashed their protectionism on agricultural goods. 

      False. If high-income countries quit subsidizing their agricultural industries, the world price for these goods would increase. So, those developing countries that export agricultural products would benefit, but many LDCs import these goods. Thus, LDCs that import agricultural goods would be made worse off because they would be facing a higher price on the world market.

Winners and Losers of Free Trade

  1. McDonald (2012) explains that even though societies as a whole gain from free trade, not every individual company or person is better off. So, who is harmed by free trade? Determine if the following statements are true or false and explain why. 

    • Protectionism hurts consumers. ​

      TRUE. Consumers would be better under free trade because they would be able to purchase cheaper, foreign goods (from countries with a comparative advantage in those goods). 

    • Protectionism in other countries hurts export-oriented firms. 

      TRUE. Protectionism in other countries hurts exporters because it raises the price of their goods in those countries, thus reducing foreign demand for their goods. 

    • Protectionism hurts import-competing firms. 

      FALSE. Protectionism benefits import-competing firms. Because protectionism raises the price of foreign goods, it also inflates the demand for domestic goods since domestically produced goods are relatively more competitive than what they would be under fair trade. 

    • Protectionism hurts firms that rely on intra-industry trade. 

      TRUE. Firms that rely on intra-industry trade import inputs for their products from other countries. Therefore, since protectionism raises the prices of foreign goods, firms that rely on intra-industry trade must pay more for the inputs of their goods. 

  2. Many in the United States claim that China is a currency manipulator and that it artificially deflates the value of the RMB to the U.S. dollar. If true, why would it be considered a form of protectionism? Who benefits from an undervalued RMB? Who loses? 

    Deflating the value of the RMB essentially makes China’s goods go on sale in other countries. To illustrate, if China deflates the value of the RMB, the U.S. dollar is worth relatively more. That means the U.S. dollars has more purchasing power in China, meaning U.S. consumers will pay even less for Chinese goods. Moreover, not only does deflating the value of the RMB encourage other countries to import more Chinese goods, it also discourages exports to China. Because the RMB is worth relatively less, foreign goods become more expensive and less competitive in Chinese markets.

    Let’s reason this out a bit to figure out who wins and who loses from deflating the value of the RMB in the context of the United States and China. U.S. consumers win because consumers can buy even cheaper goods, and Chinese exporters are able to sell more than they otherwise would have. However, Chinese consumers are worse off because they have to pay relatively more for foreign goods, and U.S. exporters are worse off because their goods have become less competitive in China. Moreover, U.S. industries that compete with Chinese exports are worse off because they are facing steeper competition (Chinese goods less expensive in the United States).


  3. One recurring complaint about free trade is that it causes peoples' wages to drop or to lose their jobs entirely. But others have seen their wages increase as a result of free trade. Who does the Stolper-Samuelson theory predict will win and will lose from free trade? The Ricardo-Viner model? Partner with another student and explain why the different models reach different predictions about the winners and losers of free trade. 

Discussion Questions 

  1. Protectionism can impose pretty high costs on society as a whole, even if it does prevent people from losing employment in certain industries. Do you think protectionism is justified, given these high costs? Why or why not? 

  2. Do you think there are other reasons why these costs would be justified other than "saving peoples' jobs"?

  3. Why might protectionism be a less than ideal way to redistribute income?

  4. We know that free trade is more efficient overall and better for society at large, but we started this unit by pointing out that most people want some kind of protectionism. Should the government listen to the people? What other options are available to a government that wants to engage in free trade? 


Week 7: International Trade Organizations and Ethics 


Course Announcements 

  • Second Response Paper. For those of you who haven’t wrote your second response paper, we are rapidly approaching the end of our class. Next week is your last opportunity to write one!

  • Final Exam. Our final exam is on Saturday, August 18th from 7-10pm, which is outlined in the course syllabus. I know this time is not the most convenient for everyone, but the bursar’s office sets the time for final exams, not the teaching staff. Unless you have extenuating circumstances, we can’t really let you take the exam at a different time.

Section Objectives 

  1. Trade Policy Recommendations. In lecture this week and last week, we learned about the classical argument for free trade, different explanations for protectionism, and the ethics of trade cooperation. Let’s apply what we’ve learned about trade cooperation to make clear policy recommendations for President Trump regarding the future of the TPP and U.S. trade positions more generally.

Key Terms and Concepts

Week 7: International Trade Organiztions and Ethics
  • Optimal Tariff

  • Terms of Trade

  • Assumptions behind Optimal Tariff

    • Large Country​

    • Moderate Tariff

    • No Retaliation

  • Prisoner's Dilemma

  • Strategies of Reciprocity

  • Grim Trigger

  • Tit-for-Tat

  • Shadow of the Future

  • Echo Effect

  • How International Agreements Facilitate Reciprocity

    • Monitor Compliance​

    • Adjudicate Disputes 

    • Punish Violators 

  • GATT

  • Nondiscrimination

  • Most Favored Nation (MFN)

  • National Treatment 

  • Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs)

  • Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)

  • Tariff Bindings 

  • Escape Clauses

  • Trade Policy Review Mechanism

  • World Trade Organization (WTO)

  • WTO Dispute Process

    • Automatic Panel​

    • Appellate body can review panel decisions

    • Automatic adoption of panel findings, unless all WTO members agree to block

  • Utilitarianism

  • Sweatshop Labor

  • Rawlsian Theory

  • Original Position

  • Maxmin Rule

  • Veil of Ignorance

  • Libertarianism

Section Quiz

  1.  Why does the Stolper-Samuelson theory predict cleavages in support for free trade across classes? Use the example of the computer versus mining industries in the United States to explain your answer.

    The United states is a capital abundant country, so it would have a comparative advantage in computers.Free trade would expand the market for computers because consumers in foreign countries would increase demand for U.S. computers. This demand creates a shortage of capital, which causes the value of capital to increase.

    At the same time, the demand for U.S. mining goods decreases since U.S. consumers will purchase raw materials from foreign countries. So, the mining industry contracts. Because there’s a high demand for capital in the computer market, the capital in the mining industry will switch to the computer industry. However, labor in the mining market are not needed very much in the computer market, meaning that there is a surplus of labor. Therefore wages for labor decreases overall.


  2. Match the following authors to the ethical schools their arguments fall into: 

    • McGee (1999)​ [Libertarian]

    • Krugman (1997) [Utilitarian]

    • Kapstein (2001) [Rawlsian] 

    • Kristoff & WuDunn (2000) [Utilitarian] 

  3. What is the "Veil of Ignorance"? 

    The veil of ignorance is a crucial part of Rawls' thought experiment, which sought to develop standards for justice. In this thought experiment, Rawls asks people to imagine themselves in an “original position” where they are asked to make rules for society. These people are placed behind a “veil of ignorance”—that is, they are unaware of their talents or circumstances that they are born with. Rawls argues that behind this veil of ignorance, people would come up with the difference principle – that is social and economic inequalities would be arranged so they are to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged.

  4. Does the classical argument for free trade suggest that trade cooperation can be represented as a Prisoner's Dilemma? Why or why not? 

    The classical argument for free trade would suggest that trade cooperation should NOT be characterized by a prisoner’s dilemma. Remember, under a prisoner’s dilemma, a state’s dominant strategy is to always defect, which in this context would mean to impose protectionism. But the classical argument for free trade says that states should not impose protectionist barriers, regardless of what other countries are doing. Therefore, the classical argument for free trade does not fit the structure of the prisoner’s dilemma.

    We did learn about one economic argument this week where trade cooperation could be modeled as a prisoner’s dilemma -- the case of the optimal tariff. For large countries, tariffs can improve your terms of trade, which in turn increases your buying power in world markets. Make sure you review the logic of this argument in Professor Tomz’s lecture slides from Monday!

The United States and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Motivation: In lecture this week and last week, we learned about the classical argument for free trade, different explanations for protectionism, and the ethics of trade cooperation. Let’s apply what we’ve learned about trade cooperation to make clear policy recommendations for President Trump regarding the future of the TPP and U.S. trade positions more generally.

Background: The TPP was a regional trade agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, including Japan, Australia, Vietnam, and Chile and Peru. It was expected to reduce trade barriers on a wide-range of goods, including trucks, rice and textiles.

There were major concerns about how this deal could affect the U.S. economy. In particular, many estimated that the TPP would lead to a loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States, encouraging large companies to outsource jobs to labor-abundant countries where people are willing to work for lower pay. These manufacturing jobs in the United States are considered solidly middle class jobs for workers without higher educational degrees. Workers worry that they will not be able to transition to other labor markets without serious losses to their wages and benefits. It is important to note, however, that economists also estimated that the TPP would create new high-skilled labor jobs in tech, finance, education, engineering, and legal services and likely wages increases in these industries as well.

Another contentious issue in the TPP was the labor standards the agreement included. The Obama administration touted the TPP as the “most progressive trade agreement in history” in this regards. This is because the agreement included provisions to end child labor, to ensure that workers in other countries had the right to bargain collectively, and to protect workplace safety standards. Yet, critics say that the agreement lacked meaningful enforcement mechanisms and relied too much on U.S. action to punish violations.

President Trump withdrew from the TPP shortly after his inauguration, fulfilling a key campaign promise. He has, however, indicated a willingness to pursue new trade agreements that offer the United States a better deal.

Assignment: Your job is to serve as a policy advisor to President Trump on how to proceed forward on U.S. trade relations with countries in the Pacific Rim. You and your classmates will form two teams—each of which will discuss a different aspect of U.S. trade relations. Your goal will be to present a clear policy recommendation for the President regarding the aspect of trade policy your team discussed. You will present your proposal and report your discussions to the class before the end of the section.

Team 1: Should the U.S. Reduce Trade Barriers? 

You must advice President Trump on whether the United States should continue to push for reducing trade barriers with developing countries in the Pacific Rim. For your discussion, you should set aside questions how free trade may affect labor standards in these countries. Your focus is whether it is in American’s interests to continue to reduce trade barriers with these countries, even if it means reducing our own barriers to trade as well.


In your discussion, you should address:

  • Whether free trade is harmful or beneficial to the U.S. economy. 

  • Whether it is morally right or wrong to restrict free trade. 

  • Whether the United States has an obligation to help workers that suffer from free trade, and if so, how. What is the best way for the government to compensate those who lose from free trade?

When you report your proposal to the class, you should: 

  1. State up front whether the United States should continue to push for reducing trade barriers with developing countries, even if it means reducing our own barriers to trade as well. 

  2. Explain the likely consequences for the U.S. economy for reducing trade barriers. What are the drawbacks from reducing barriers?

  3. Clearly state whether the U.S. government should compensate those who may stand to lose from free trade, and if so how. 

  4. Make an ethical case for your position on free trade. You should anticipate and counter possible critiques to your argument. 

Team 2: Labor Standards in Developing Countries 

Your job is to make recommendations for how the United States should approach labor standards in developing countries. In particular, you will advise on whether the United States should include strong labor standards in its future trade agreements.

In your discussion, you should address:

  • Whether including labor standards will help or hurt workers in developing countries. 

  • How labor standards may affect the U.S. economy.

  • Whether the United States has a moral obligation to help improve working conditions in other countries and how best that might be achieved. 

  • If you think requiring string labor standards in trade agreements will make it more difficult to reduce free trade barriers. 

When you report your proposal to the class, you should: 

  1. State up front whether the United States should or should not include labor standards in free trade agreements. 

  2. Explain how you think that including labor standards will improve workers' lives and why. 

  3. Discuss whether you think that the inclusion of strict labor standards will affect the U.S. economy and why. 

  4. Make an ethical case for your position. You should anticipate and counter possible critiques to your argument. 


Week 8: Poverty and Foreign Aid  


Course Announcements 

  • The Final Exam. Our final exam will be on Saturday in our regular classroom, from 7-9pm. It will consist of 40 True/False questions, a choice of 6 out of 8 IDs, and one essay question. 

  • TA Evaluations. Course and TA evaluations are open on Axess. If you complete your  course evaluations early, you will be able to see your grade for the class as soon as Professor Tomz submits it. However, if you do not complete your course evaluation, you will have to wait longer. Please take some time to complete these evaluations. They are really important for the program here, and I value your feedback.

Section Objectives 

  1. Advice for Final Exam. Your final exam is quickly approaching! Let’s walk through some tips for how to study for the final and how to write good IDs and essays. I’ll also take any general questions that you have about course material. 

  2. Brainstorming: How to Make Foreign Aid More Effective. We learned in class this week that foreign aid hasn't lived up to its all it's promises. As a class, we'll discuss the primary barriers to the effectiveness of foreign aid and potential solutions.

Key Terms and Concepts

  • Official Development Assistance (ODA)

  • Marshall Plan

  • Truman's Point 4

  • Bilateral vs. Multilateral Aid 

  • Tied vs. Untied Aid

  • Altruistic Motives to give aid 

  • Egoistic Motives to give aid

  • Patterns in U.S. Aid Donations 

  • Norm Externalization in Foreign Aid 

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)

  • Role of IMF before/after Collapse of Bretton Woods 

  • Gold Standard 

  • Bretton Woods

  • Poverty Trap

  • Why aid might fail 

  • Washington Consensus

  • Principal-Agent Problem

  • Can citizens and/or donors hold governments accountable?

  • Utilitarian Arguments for and against giving aid 

  • Level of Marginal Utility

  • Lifeboat Ethics

  • Malthusian Dilemma

  • Libertarian Perspective on Aid

  • Rawlsian Perspective on Aid

  • International Difference Principle

Section Quiz

  1. True or False. Vreeland (2007) explains that IMF loans always go to the countries with the most economic need. 

    False. Vreeland (2007) shows that because the United States is the most economically powerful member of the IMF, it sometimes exerts influence over the IMF to give loans (and on more favorable terms) to countries that are its strategic allies or to abstain from giving loans to countries that are unfriendly to the United States. For instance, the IMF frequently gave loans to Zaire, a U.S. Cold War ally, while its neighbor – Angola – which leaned towards the Soviet Union did not receive one until the Cold War was essentially over. Importantly, however, Vreeland’s argument is not that only political factors matter in determining where the IMF gives loans. The IMF does have some independence to make its own decisions, and the IMF does still give loans to countries that are also in need.

  2. According to Lumsdaine (1993), why do countries give foreign aid? What evidence does he provide for his argument? What is some evidence against his argument? For discussion, which argument for why states give foreign aid -- the altruistic or the egoistic -- do you find more convincing and why? 

    Lumsdaine argues that countries often give aid for humanitarian reasons. In particular, he argues that countries externalize their domestic norms about welfare to the international system. So, if countries do a lot of social spending at home to help those less well off, they will give more foreign aid to help those less well-off abroad. He shows that there is a positive correlation between domestic welfare spending and foreign aid budgets. Countries with high domestic welfare programs also tend to give more foreign aid, and those with low domestic welfare spending spend less on foreign aid.

    He includes additional evidence for humanitarian motives, like aid generally going to needy countries, aid going through multilateral organizations, and being untied with no conditions to buy from the donor. However, there is evidence for the egoist argument, that countries give to further their strategic or economic interests. The Investor’s Business Daily (1998) article shows that political ties are a big predictor of bilateral trade flows: Not only are countries more likely to give foreign aid to former colonies, countries who vote with rich countries in the UN are more likely to receive foreign aid.


  3. What are Sachs' (2005) and Easterly's (2005) arguments for why aid has not been effective? How do their arguments differ? 
    Sachs argues that foreign aid can lift those in poverty out of the “poverty trap,” but Western countries have not been giving enough aid to do that. Most countries, including the United States, are giving less than 0.7% of their budgets to foreign aid, and most of the foreign aid that is given is emergency aid, which is not suited for helping impoverished countries develop their economies.

    While Easterly agrees that foreign aid can be effective in theory, but he does not believe that increasing the amount of foreign aid that we give will necessarily make conditions in impoverished countries better. He points out several reasons why foreign aid isn’t as effective as others would suggest. For one, foreign aid packages have so many different goals that it weakens the accountability and probability of a country meeting any one goal. He also argues that planners from rich countries simply don’t know what, when, or where to give to poor people at the global bottom. Foreign aid projects that have been successful included piecemeal, gradual reforms. Finally, impoverished countries are often plagued with corrupt politicians and civil servants, who aren’t accountable to their citizens.


  4. For each of the following authors, determine which ethical school their argument adheres to (utilitarian, libertarian, or Rawlsian) and whether or not they believe people have a moral obligation to give foreign aid. 

    • Beitz [as described by Armstrong (2012)] - Rawlsian, Moral obligation to give foreign aid because social and economic inequalities should be arranged internationally so they are to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged. In other words, policies should be designed to benefit those that are naturally disadvantaged and redistribute the "winnings" from being naturally advantaged. 

    • Singer (1972) - Utilitarian, Moral obligation to give foreign aid if we can help those in poverty at a low moral cost. Singer also advances stronger argument that people should give until we "reach the level or marginal utility". 

    • Hardin (1974) - Utilitarian, Should not give foreign aid because we are exhausting the Earth's carrying capacity, which will cause more people to die in the future. 

Advice for Final Exam 

As a reminder, the final exam will consist of 20 T/F questions, a choice of 6 out of 8 IDs, and one exam question. Most of the T/F and ID questions will likely draw from material covered in Units 2, 3, and 4, but you should expect some from Unit 1 as well. The essay question will ask you to address course themes that appeared in all four units.

Here are my tips for how to succeed on the exam:

  • How to Study for the Exam. Different studying methods work for different people. So, while I do not think there is an objective “best way” to study for the final, here’s the method that worked for me in undergrad.

    • Step 1: Go through lecture slides. Identify and make a list key terms. Then, review my section website and your own notes to fill in any other terms you think might be important.

    • Step 2: Go back through lecture slides, section notes, and your own notes to add bullet points explaining each term and putting it in context. Remember, you need to be able to explain what the term is, how it is related to material in the class, identify authors associated with the term (if applicable), and explain why the term is important for the study of international relations.

    • Step 3: Create a list of authors/reading assignments from this course. For each reading assignment, write a 2-3 sentence summary.

    • Step 4: Make sure to reflect on course themes. Try to identify theories, like the prisoner’s dilemma or different ethical schools, that appear across units. What were the big questions we addressed in the class?

  • How to Write a Good ID. Honestly, the best way to write an ID is to write as much as you can that is relevant to the ID, given the time constraints. Your objectives are to: 1) provide a definition for the ID, 2) contextualize it in the course material (i.e. Are there different arguments about the ID? Different connecting logics? What’s the evidence for or against this ID? How does this ID relate to other theories/topics we’ve learned about in class?), and 3) explain why it is important for the study of international relations. You should also include references to readings where possible.

    For your IDs, you do not have to worry about organization, whether you vary your sentence structure, etc. You want to be clear, yes, but your main objective is to communicate what you know about the ID.

  • How to Write a Strong Essay. I’d recommend taking 5 minutes to outline your answer to your essay before you get started. We will not be grading you on the style of your writing per se, but you need to provide a clear argument/answer to the question. Therefore, you won’t want to jump around from point to point and circle back to previous ones because it will make it more difficult for us to follow what your main arguments are. Keep in mind that you should be trying to make one main point per paragraph, and you should communicate that point in the first sentence of the paragraph. Then you should explain your reasoning for your claim, provide evidence, and explain the “so what” that ties your points together and relates back to the prompt.

    That being said, we do have different expectations for an exam essay than one that you have had a chance to write at home. While you should definitely have a clear thesis statement, you do not need to write four sentences before your thesis to “frame the question” like you would do in the introductory paragraph of a normal essay. Maybe write one or two sentences to frame, but you should not spend a lot of time worrying about having a “hook” that catches the attention of your reader. The same is true for your conclusion. It’s totally fine if your conclusion is about two sentences long. We are also not going to worry about things like whether or not you use passive voice, as long as you communicate your ideas clearly.

Debate: Should the United States give More Foreign Aid?

Resolved: The United States should increase its aid to developing countries to help eradicate poverty. 

  • In preparing your arguments, make sure to consider: 

    • Should the United States give aid for egoistic purposes? 

    • Does the United States have a moral obligation to give aid?

    • Can foreign aid be effective? If so, what can the United States do to make aid more effective? 

Week 8: Poverty and Foreign Aid
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