This website, InternationalRelations.net, contains an archive of material from Prof. Joshua S. Goldstein’s blog site at InternationalRelations.com, which is now inactive.
This website, InternationalRelations.net, contains an archive of material from Prof. Joshua S. Goldstein’s blog site at InternationalRelations.com, which is now inactive.
The most important issue in IR today, climate change, is receiving little scholarly attention in our discipline. To help address this gap, I am hereby winding down much of my work on war, retiring from my IR textbook, and will make climate change my main area of work. Thirty years ago I set out to understand war because it was the overriding moral issue of our time and the greatest threat to humanity. Today that issue is climate change.
Climate matters not only for practical reasons but because it cuts to the heart of IR as a field. IR is all about the governance of an “anarchic” system with weak central authority, in which power resides primarily in sovereign states whose individually rational decisions lead to bad outcomes for all. We call it the collective goods problem (public goods, collective actions, Prisoners’ Dilemma, etc.). It’s the central, pervasive theme of my IR textbook, shaping subfields from war to trade to international development. But the biggest example, the most difficult dilemma, and the case with the greatest impact is climate change.
Each actor’s economy benefits from burning fossil fuels, no single actor can affect the overall outcome alone, yet all will suffer catastrophic consequences as a result. The global governance mechanisms have proven very weak – the Kyoto treaty basically failed, targets are not being met, some leading economies are backsliding, and nobody has a workable plan for how to change our trajectory. Year by year, for our global institutions it’s “talk, baby, talk” while in the real world it’s “drill, baby, drill” from the melting Arctic to the American shale fields to the Persian Gulf.
The basic structural challenges to reaching agreement are amplified by several additional problems. Today’s generation would have to pay costs for the benefit of future generations – a hard sell whether in a democracy or an autocracy. Rich country would have to pay for the benefit of poor countries. And specific constituencies and regions will feel different costs and impacts: multinational oil companies versus farmers in Bangladesh, for example. On top of it all, there is widespread public confusion about the issue, notably in its categorization as an “environmental” problem as though it will impact cute animals not cities.
This then is a prime area for IR scholarship in general and IR theory in particular. The guru of IR theory, Robert Keohane, thinks so. But he writes, “In view of the magnitude of climate change, it is distressing to observe the slow response from political science as a discipline.” That’s an understatement. Consider the current issues of our leading IR journals. Let’s count the number of climate change articles and the total number of articles:
Across these six journals, we have 2 climate-related articles out of 57. Both of those are about possible effects of shifting weather patterns on something we do study – armed conflicts. Not a single article deals with the challenge of an international system trying to come to terms with a massive collective goods problem that threatens civilization. This in a year when the world will gather in Paris to try for a new global agreement to grapple with the problem. Debra Javeline calls climate change “the most important topic political scientists are not studying.”
Climate change is not an environmental issue. It’s an existential issue – the slow-motion equivalent of an asteroid heading for earth. We have no effective global mechanism to develop and launch a mission to knock that asteroid off its trajectory. Yet every day it gets closer and harder to shift off its course. How would the world respond to that scenario? Would a hegemon take the reins and implement a solution? The G20? The United Nations? Would all countries have to contribute to an expensive solution? Would competing programs by different states step on each other’s toes? Would private companies abandon the profit motive to develop technologies to save us? These are the kinds of questions we should be asking about climate change in IR. Now would be a good time to start. The asteroid is not waiting.
[Photo credit: COP 12 MAV by agenciaandes. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
The following guest post from International Relations Online, a free online resource for those interested in careers in International Relations, may interest many current students. Elsewhere I’ve posted “Careers in IR” boxes from my textbook International Relations, covering jobs in government, business, NGOs, and education.
Become a Foreign Service Officer
Foreign Service offers challenging and rewarding career opportunities for those who are passionate about public service on behalf of the United States government. Foreign Service Officers support U.S. embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions around the world. They experience the cultures and customs of different nations while promoting peace, advancing U.S. interests, and protecting U.S. citizens abroad.
Is Foreign Service Right for You?
A career as a Foreign Service Officer can be exciting and glamorous, providing high levels of responsibility as well as opportunities to work with important and interesting people. As employees of the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officers receive competitive salaries, government-paid housing, and additional benefits including health insurance, paid vacations, and retirement funding.
Despite the many benefits offered by Foreign Service, the lifestyle that comes with the career is not for everyone. Some foreign posts are in dangerous settings or in remote locations that lack amenities that many U.S. citizens have come to expect. Families are encouraged to accompany Foreign Service Officers to their posts, except in cases where there is imminent danger or civil unrest. Depending on the post, life abroad may be either enriching or difficult for family members.
Before choosing Foreign Service as a career path, you should assess both the rewards and the downsides and decide if you are willing to adapt your life to the job. The U.S. Department of State provides an online quiz that can help you decide if the positive aspects of a Foreign Service career outweigh the negatives. Candidates should also become familiar with the Foreign Service Officer Qualifications List, which describes 13 character dimensions that are deemed essential to Foreign Service work.
Choosing a Career Track
In addition to looking at the pros and cons of the Foreign Service lifestyle, it is important to learn about the different career tracks. Your preparation for the career track you choose will affect whether or not you are selected for a position with the Foreign Service. Choose carefully, because once a Foreign Service candidate has specified a track during registration for the Foreign Service Officer Test, it is difficult to switch to a different track.
These are the five Foreign Service career tracks:
Consular Officers protect Americans living, working, and traveling in foreign countries.
Economic Officers work with U.S. government agencies and foreign governments in the areas of trade, science, technology, energy, the economy, and the environment.
Management Officers are leaders who handle a wide range of challenges while overseeing embassy operations.
Political Officers analyze political events in foreign and negotiate with foreign officials.
Public Diplomacy Officers are experts in cross-cultural relations who promote U.S. values, policies, and interests abroad.
A detailed description of each track can be found in the State Department’s Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process.
Acing the FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test)
The Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) measures a Foreign Service candidate’s knowledge, skill, and abilities. The three-hour test is administered three times per year in test centers located in the U.S. and abroad. The test consists of four components: a job knowledge test, an English expression test, biographic questionnaire, and a written essay. A sample of the type of questions included on the FSOT is provided at the end of the Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process.
Ordering the official FSOT Study Guide is the best way to ensure a passing score on the test. In addition, it is important to have strong foundational knowledge of world affairs. To this end, the U.S. State Department provides a resource list of books, journals, and websites to help candidates prepare for the Foreign Service selection process.
Candidates who pass the FSOT move to the final assessment steps. First, they are asked to answer a series of Personal Narrative questions. These questions are centered on six precepts: intellectual skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, management skills, leadership, and substantive knowledge. The next step is the Foreign Service Oral Assessment, which is designed to determine how candidates put the 13 Foreign Service character dimensions into practice. Administered over the course of a single day, it includes a team exercise, a structured interview and a case management exercise.
Candidates who successfully complete all Foreign Service tests and assessments are asked to obtain medical and security clearances and complete the Final Review Panel. Only those who pass the review will be considered for positions as Foreign Service Officers.
For 2013-14, as in the past year, I plan to blog only sporadically while posting material useful to students using my textbook International Relations. The most recent is a Portuguese and Spanish glossary translating the book’s key terms (i.e. the major key terms in IR). Thanks to Emile Phaneuf for contributing this resource. Other resource now available on this site are:
Global Challenges in 2030 — Essays by IR scholars Joseph S. Nye Jr., Beth A. Simmons, Shibley Telhami, John Gerard Ruggie, Charli Carpenter, Andrew Moravcsik, Daniel W. Drezner, and Michael W. Doyle. [Navigate forward through posts from the intro page.]
Careers in IR — “How will this class help me land a job?”
And of course past blog posts relating current affairs to IR themes will remain on the site as well. By the way, I’m always happy to hear from students anywhere in the world who are using the book. (Contact info.)
Here’s part four or four, for those of you whose New Year’s resolution is to get a job in International Relations… This is the “Careers in IR” section from my textbook (Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse, International Relations, 10th ed. 2012-2013 Update).
BENEFITS AND COSTS
People follow various paths to an interest in teaching and researching in the field of international relations. Your own professor or instructor is likely to have a unique story about how he or she became interested in international affairs.
One advantage of an academic and research career, whether at a teaching-oriented institution or a large research university, is intellectual freedom. One can spend a career approaching a variety of topics that are interesting and constantly evolving, that may involve travel abroad for fieldwork, and that may let you network with hundreds of colleagues interested in similar topics.
Most research positions (e.g., in think tanks) are different in two respects. First, these jobs often give more direction to an individual in terms of the research to be performed. Second, there is little or no teaching involved. Still, for those interested in IR research, such jobs can result in a wider dissemination of one’s work to a broader audience that often includes policy makers.
To teach IR at an advanced level or to perform research for think tanks and government agencies usually requires an advanced degree—nearly always a masters degree, often a doctorate (Ph.D.). Masters degree programs often take between one and two years, while a Ph.D. in international relations usually takes a minimum of five years. Often, students take time off between their undergraduate and graduate educations to travel internationally or get work experience to hone their interests. Of course, many students never return to extend their education if they find a job that allows them to achieve their personal and career goals.
Finally, in completing most advanced degrees, a large amount of self-direction is necessary. Coursework is only one part of masters or Ph.D. programs: a thesis is also required. Writing a thesis requires you to work on your own time schedule, balancing other duties (such as work as a teaching or research assistant) that can easily crowd out your own work. Many who complete the coursework for an advanced degree do not finish their thesis or take many years to do so.
SKILLS TO HONE
Whether one wants to pursue an advanced degree for the purposes of teaching in an academic setting or engaging in applied research, there are important skill sets to develop. First and foremost is critical thinking. Scholars and researchers must consider many alternatives as answers to questions, while being able to evaluate the validity or importance of those alternatives. Second is writing. Before, during, and after producing a thesis, writing is a key skill for academics and researchers. Finally, think about developing a set of applied skills to use as a toolbox while analyzing questions. The contents of this toolbox might include other languages to facilitate fieldwork abroad. It could include statistics and data skills to facilitate quantitative analysis. Or it could include mathematics to use game theoretic models. No matter which tools you emphasize, specialized skills will help you answer research questions, whether as part of the academy or in a private or governmental research organization.
Part three for those of you whose New Year’s resolution is to get a job in International Relations… I’m posting the “Careers in IR” section from my textbook (Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse, International Relations, 10th ed. 2012-2013 Update). This is the third of four parts: Government and Diplomacy; International Business; Nongovernmental Organizations; and Education and Research.
BENEFITS AND COSTS
Nearly 30,000 NGOs exist, and that number grows daily. Thousands of individuals are interested in working in these organizations. Although all NGOs are different, many perform multiple functions: working in developing countries regarding a variety of issues; public outreach at home and abroad; lobbying governments to change their policies; designing projects to solve problems and attempting to find funding for their implementation.
Working for an NGO has many benefits. Workers often find themselves surrounded by others concerned about the same issues: improving the environment, protecting human rights, advancing economic development, or promoting better health care. The spirit of camaraderie can be exhilarating and rewarding.
While working for an NGO can be extremely rewarding personally, it is rarely rewarding financially. Most NGOs are nonprofit operations that pay workers meagerly for long hours. Moreover, many smaller NGOs engage in a constant fight for funding from governments, think tanks, private foundations, or individuals. The process of fundraising can be quite time consuming.
Despite the large number of NGOs, relatively low pay, and long hours, finding a job with an NGO can be difficult. One key is to be specific. Try to narrow down your interests in terms of substantive areas (e.g., human rights, environment) and/or geographic region. Also think about whether you want to work in your own country or abroad. Positions abroad may be more rewarding but are in lower supply and higher demand.
SKILLS TO HONE
NGOs are looking for selfstarters. Most have little time and few resources for training. Basic office skills (e.g., computer expertise) are essential, but employees also need to cover a range of duties every day. Anything and everything is in your job description. Writing and communication skills are key, especially when fundraising is part of the job. Foreign language skills also matter since many NGOs maintain or work with field offices abroad.
Often, NGOs ask potential employees to volunteer for a period while they train, before being hired. Increasingly, some companies place workers in an NGO or volunteer opportunity for a price. By paying to work, you can gain a probationary period to develop your skills and familiarize yourself with the operation so as to become efficient before going on the payroll.
Finally, in cities where NGOs cluster (e.g., Washington, D.C.), personal networks play an important role in finding good opportunities. Workers often move from one organization to another. For this reason, many volunteer or accept jobs with NGOs not in their immediate area of interest to gain experience and contacts, which can help future career advancement.
For those of you whose New Year’s resolution is to get a job in International Relations, I’m posting the “Careers in IR” section from my textbook (Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse, International Relations, 10th ed. 2012-2013 Update). This is the second of four parts: Government and Diplomacy; International Business; Nongovernmental Organizations; and Education and Research.
BENEFITS AND COSTS
As the pace and scope of globalization have accelerated, opportunities to work in international business have blossomed. For many large companies, the domestic/global distinction has ceased to exist. This new context provides opportunities and challenges for potential employees.
Careers in international business offer many advantages. Business jobs can pay substantially more than those in governments or NGOs and can open opportunities to travel extensively and network globally. Foreign-based jobs mean relocation to another country to work and immerse oneself in another culture.
However, such a career choice also has potential costs. Many jobs require extensive hours, grueling travel, and frequent relocation. As with any job, promotion and advancement may fall victim to external circumstances such as global business cycles. And these jobs can be especially hard on families.
International opportunities arise in many business sectors. Banking, marketing (public relations), sales, and computing/telecommunications have seen tremendous growth in recent years. These jobs fall into three broad categories: (1) those located domestically, yet involving significant interactions with firms abroad; (2) domestic jobs working for foreign-based companies; and (3) those based abroad, for foreign or domestic firms.
SKILLS TO HONE
One key to landing in the international business world is to develop two families of skills: those related to international relations and those related to business operations. Traditional MBA (Masters in Business Administration) and business school programs will be helpful for all three types of jobs, yet for jobs based abroad, employers often also look for a broader set of skills taught in economics, political science, and communications. Thus, not only traditional business skills, but language and cultural skills, are essential. Employers look for those who have knowledge of a country’s human and economic geography as well as culture. Experience with study abroad, especially including working abroad, can help show an ability to adapt and function well in other cultures. Strong analytical and especially writing abilities also matter greatly to employers.
Research also helps in landing a job. Employers often look for knowledge of a particular industry or company, in order to make best use of an employee’s language and cultural skills. Of course, while experience in non-international business never hurts, be mindful that the practices, customs, and models of business in one country may not apply well abroad. Crosscultural skills combined with substantive business knowledge in order to translate the operational needs of companies from the business world to the global realm are highly valued.
For those of you whose New Year’s resolution is to get a job in International Relations, I’m posting the “Careers in IR” section from my textbook (Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse, International Relations, 10th ed. 2012-2013 Update). This is the first of four parts: Government and Diplomacy; International Business; Nongovernmental Organizations; and Education and Research.
BENEFITS AND COSTS
Both governments and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) play key roles in international relations and employ millions of people with interests and training in IR. Despite differences between careers in IGOs and governments, there are numerous similarities. Both are hierarchical organizations, with competitive and highly regulated working environments. Whether in the U.S. State Department or the UN, entrance into and promotion in these organizations is regulated by exams, performance evaluations, and tenure with the organization. Another similarity lies in the challenges of being pulled in many directions concerning policies. Governments face competing pressures of public opinion, constituencies, and interests groups—each with distinct policy opinions. IGOs also deal with interest groups (such as NGOs), but an IGO’s constituents are states, which in many cases disagree among themselves. Many employees of IGOs or governments thrive on making decisions that influence policies. Both work environments also attract coworkers with deep interests in international affairs, and the resulting networks of contracts can bring professional and intellectual rewards. Finally, jobs in governments or IGOs may involve travel or living abroad, which many enjoy. However, promotion can be slow and frustrating. Usually, only individuals with advanced degrees or technical specializations achieve non–entry level positions. It can take years to climb within the organization and the process may involve working in departments far from your original interests. In addition, both IGOs and governments are bureaucracies with formal rules and procedures, requiring great patience. Employees often express frustration that initiative and “thinking outside the box” are not rewarded.
SKILLS TO HONE The key to working in IGOs or government is to get your foot in the door. Be flexible and willing to take entry positions that are not exactly in your area of interest. For example, the State Department is only one of many parts of the U.S. government that deal with IR. Do not assume that to work in foreign affairs, one must be a diplomat. Foreign language training is also important, especially for work in large IGOs with many field offices. The ability to work well in groups and to network within and across organizations is an important asset. People who can strengthen lines of communication can gain support from many places in an organization. Finally, strong analytical and writing abilities are extremely important. Both IGOs and governments deal with massive amounts of information daily. The ability to analyze information (even including mathematical or computational analysis) and to write clear, concise interpretations will make one invaluable.
Shawn Dorman. Inside a U.S. Embassy: How the Foreign Service Works for America. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: American Foreign Service Assoc., 2003.
Linda Fasulo. An Insider’s Guide to the UN. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.
[By Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Part of the series “Global Challenges in 2030” (Goldstein & Pevehouse), January 2010.]
The American National Intelligence Council projects that American dominance will be “much diminished,” by 2025. Many foreign leaders also suggest that American power has passed its mid-day. How would you know if these predictions are correct or not?
First, beware of misleading metaphors of organic decline. Nations are not like humans, with predictable life spans. For example, after Britain lost its American colonies at the end of the 18th century, Horace Walpole lamented Britain’s reduction to “as insignificant a country as Denmark or Sardinia.” He failed to foresee that the Industrial Revolution would give Britain a second century of even greater ascendency. Rome remained dominant for more than three centuries after the apogee of Roman power. Even then, Rome did not succumb to the rise of another state, but died a death of a thousand cuts inflicted by various barbarian tribes. Indeed for all the fashionable predictions of China, India, or Brazil surpassing the United States in the next decades, the greater threats to all states may come from modern barbarians and non-state actors. The classical transition of power among great states may be less of a problem than the rise of non-state actors. In an information-based world of cyberinsecurity, power diffusion may be a greater threat than power transition.
At an even more basic level, what resources will produce power in the next two decades? In the 16th century, control of colonies and gold bullion gave Spain
the edge; 17th-century Netherlands profited from trade and finance; 18th-century France gained from its larger population and armies; while 19th-century British power rested on its primacy in the Industrial Revolution and its navy. Conventional wisdom has always held
that the state with the largest military prevails, but in an information age it may be that the state (or nonstate) with the best story will win. Soft or attractive
power becomes as important as hard military or economic power. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, “We must use what has been called ‘smart power,’ the full range of tools at our disposal.” Smart power means the combination of the hard power of command and the soft power of attraction.
In today’s world, power resources are distributed in a pattern that resembles a complex, three-dimensional chess game. On the top chessboard, military power is largely unipolar and the United States is likely to remain the only superpower for some time. But on the middle chessboard, economic power has already been multipolar for more than a decade, with the United States, Europe, Japan, and China as the major players, and others gaining in importance.
The bottom chessboard is the realm of transnational relations that cross borders outside of government control, and it includes non-state actors as diverse as bankers electronically transferring sums larger than most national budgets at one extreme, and terrorists transferring weapons or hackers threatening cyber-security at the other. It also includes new challenges like pandemics and climate change. On this bottom board, power is widely dispersed, and it makes no sense to speak of unipolarity, multipolarity, hegemony. The soft power to attract and organize cooperation will be essential for dealing with transnational issues.
The problem for American power in the 21st century is that there are more and more things outside the control of even the most powerful state. Although
the United States does well on military measures, there is increasingly more going on in the world that those measures fail to capture. For example, international financial stability is vital to the prosperity of Americans, but the United States needs the cooperation of others to ensure it. Global climate change too will affect the quality of life, but the United States cannot manage the problem alone. And in a world where borders are becoming more porous than ever to everything from drugs to infectious diseases to terrorism, America must help build international coalitions and build institutions to address shared threats and challenges. In this sense, power becomes a positive sum game. It is not enough to think in terms of power over others. One must also think in terms of power to accomplish goals. On many transnational issues, empowering others can help us to accomplish our own goals. In this world, networks and connectedness become an important source of relevant power. The problem of American power is less one of decline, than realizing that even the largest country cannot achieve its aims without the help of others.
JOSEPH S. NYE, JR. is University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard and former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of The Powers to Lead and Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.
For the 2010 edition of our textbook International Relations, Jon Pevehouse and I asked eight prominent IR scholars to write short essays on “Global Challenges in 2030.” As of this fall, these essays no longer appear in the print edition of the textbook, but instead will appear here on InternationalRelations.com. Each week I will post another of these excellent analyses and invite comments.
JOSEPH S. NYE, JR. — Diversifying American Power
BETH A. SIMMONS — Institutionalizing Human Rights
SHIBLEY TELHAMI — Understanding Attitudes on Middle East Peace
JOHN GERARD RUGGIE — Governing Transnational Corporations
CHARLI CARPENTER — Securing the Seas
ANDREW MORAVCSIK — Affirming Democracy in International Organizations
DANIEL W. DREZNER — Regulating Global Complexity
MICHAEL W. DOYLE — Democratizing World Politics
Every generation of students and practitioners of international relations confronts new challenges. Some of these issues, such as the challenges of globalization or human rights, arise from long-standing trends of which we are aware, but still struggle to confront for one reason or another. Other issues take us by surprise, coming onto our collective “radar screen” with little or no warning. Prior to 2008, for example, piracy had not been a particularly salient issue to students or policymakers, yet now we are well aware of the dangers posed by nonstate actors on the high seas.
This set of essays is an attempt to place (or re-emphasize) issues on our collective “radar screen.” We asked eight prominent scholars of international relations to imagine the challenges facing your generation as you evolve from students of international relations to more active practitioners. Looking forward to your future, we asked these professors to envision global challenges
in 2030. These scholars are all considered key figures in their areas of study, but in addition, they all have also engaged with policy communities throughout
their careers. Thus, they are not simply presenting you with academic problems, but with real-world problems that, as our textbook indicates, are the practical concerns of the field of international relations.
The answers we received from these scholars are quite varied, ranging from the challenge of creating new democracies to respect for human rights to Middle East peace. All of the writers point out challenges facing the international system for the next (and often the current) generation, while noting that none have easy answers.
We begin with Professor Joseph Nye outlining the challenges to the future of American power. Professor Beth Simmons then discusses a key challenge
in the area of global governance: the promotion and protection of human rights through international law. Shifting to the Middle East, Professor Shibley Telhami highlights trends in public opinion in the Middle East that will shape the prospects for peace in that region for years to come. Returning to the issue of global governance and human rights, Professor John Ruggie discusses the potential tensions between transnational businesses and human rights in the context of international anarchy— the lack of a central system of international governance.
Professor Charli Carpenter then highlights the challenges of an issue currently garnering significant global attention—piracy on the high seas. Professor Andrew Moravcsik then delves into the debate over whether the growing number of international organizations presents a challenge to democratic rule in the very member states that form these institutions. Professor Daniel Drezner reflects on the global implications of the 2008 recession noting that new ideas may be needed to understand how to prevent such events in the future. Finally, Professor Michael Doyle turns to the issue of domestic governance, suggesting the challenges inherent in attempts to further the spread of democracy around the globe.
Following each essay are references to sections of the textbook that discuss the issue raised in the essay. As you work your way through the book, recall these authors’ contributions and think about how what you have learned can help shed light on the causes of these problems or, perhaps more importantly, on the solutions that can address them.
We hope that these guest essays will not only educate you about challenges that will confront your generation, but will also inspire you to use the knowledge you gain in your course to begin to tackle these nettlesome issues. Indeed, while the steps needed to address these problems may be many, we hope that you will take the first one through your studies of international relations.
JOSHUA S. GOLDSTEIN AND JON C. PEVEHOUSE