Is Isaiah a Social Constructivist?
The underlying assumption of this chapter is that conflict and war are products of culture, social norms, and common understandings. They are, in fact, as Louis Kriesberg put it, “a kind of social invention.’1 This assumption is quite alien to most theories of international relations seeking to explain war- For years, political realists saw conflict and war solely in terms of material power as products of human nature, neglecting the importance of values in state action. Neorealists analyzed international relations in structural terms without taking into consideration the identity of states, nature of leaders, or common international norms. They saw the material system itself as the causal variable. Wars, they maintained, happen as a result of the system’s anarchical character. The absence of superior authority and reliance on self-help leave the material distribution of power as the trigger of a security dilemma and potential interstate conflict.2
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