Beyond the Ivory Tower: International Relations Theory by Joseph Lepgold

By Joseph Lepgold

The space among teachers and practitioners in diplomacy has widened lately, in line with the authors of this booklet. Many diplomacy students now not try and achieve past the ivory tower and lots of policymakers disdain diplomacy scholarship as arcane and beside the point. Joseph Lepgold and Miroslav Nincic exhibit how stable diplomacy conception can tell coverage offerings. Globalization, ethnic clash, and ecological threats have created a brand new set of matters that problem policymakers, and state of the art scholarship can give a contribution very much to the prognosis and dealing with of probably explosive occasions.

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Not surprisingly, these sound a lot like the worst products of the contemporary academic incentive system. They have little use for research that does not address important, real-world problems. 50 They dislike excessive jargon, especially when it seems employed in the service of trite findings. 51 These sentiments reflect the fact that foreign-policymakers come to such work from a variety of backgrounds and lack a common professional language. Unlike, for example, lawyers, economists, or political scientists, they share neither a specific professional vocabulary nor any specific type of methodological training.

We now understand reasonably well how cooperative and more coercive strategies can be used to maximize the likelihood of cooperation, when deterrence is likeliest to fail, the conditions under which economic sanctions seem to work, and the causes and effects of nuclear proliferation. If it were presented in digestible forms, such research might be more useful to policymakers than it now seems to be. Another such contribution consists of “models of strategy”48—propositions that link various tools of statecraft to foreign policy objectives.

The budget outlays associated with military preparedness or foreign assistance are obvious examples. But not all direct costs are paid in tangible resources: a leader who twists an ally’s arm for a particular concession may be using up goodwill that will then be unavailable later for other purposes. Most policy choices also entail indirect, or secondary, costs: these result from the policy, though they are not linked to that instrument. One important kind of indirect cost is the opportunities foregone by some choice.

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