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'The Only Refuge?' Friends and Enemies in Inter-State Relations

'The Only Refuge?' Friends and Enemies in Inter-State Relations

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Jack Whiteley. Originally submitted for Theories of Friendship, Solidarity and Peace at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Dr Gabriella Slomp in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Jack Whiteley. Originally submitted for Theories of Friendship, Solidarity and Peace at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Dr Gabriella Slomp in the category of International Relations & Politics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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12/04/2014

 
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‘The Only Refuge’?
 
Friends and Enemies in Inter-State Relations
 Abstract 
Dominant international relations discourses tend to discount the classicalfriendship tradition as an epistemic basis for assessing state behaviour. Thissubmission argues that such neglect of friendship theory ignores the valuableinsights that it has to offer about war, peace and international negotiation.Evaluating the friendship approaches of Aristotle, Cicero and Immanuel Kant,I suggest a new typology for understanding friendship in contemporary international relations. To this end, I adopt a broadly constructivist approach tothe creation and perpetuation of friendship relationships between states andsub-state collectives, and the people who lead them.
Keywords 
: friendship, nationalism, utility, conflict, peaceMaterial resources only acquire meaning for human action through thestructure of shared knowledge in which they are embedded. For example, fivehundred British nuclear weapons are less threatening to the United States thanfive North Korean nuclear weapons because the British are friends of theUnited States and the North Koreans are not, and amity or enmity is a functionof shared understandings. Alexander Wendt
1
 
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“Constructing International Politics”, 1995: p. 73
 
 
2
Dominant international relations discourses often occupy themselves withpolitical, economic, psychological and social theory. Reborn in the great powerpolitics of the Cold War, when policymakers encouraged theorists to focus onimproving national securities and strategies, these broad methodological trendscontinue to focus on decision-making, systems analysis, rational actor theory andmilitary power. After the Soviet Union collapsed, new economic theories using similar logical approaches were advanced to explain a unipolar, interdependent world. As globalization has since become a source of optimism and concern, criticalperspectives emphasize ideological hegemony, discursive power politics, and theincreased possibilities of neo-imperialism. Both dominant and critical theory haveusually agreed, however, in relegating the classical friendship tradition to somewhereoutside the remit of international relations. Although revivals of the philosophy of friendship over the past thirty years may be starting to shift this relegation in some contexts,
2
classical moral and politicalphilosophy is still rarely applied to studies of world politics. Where the analysis of classical historians like Thucydides has greatly influenced international relationstheorists,
3
friendship theory refers to individuals, not states, and is often consideredproblematic as a system of analysis for collective behaviour. Some of the questions
2
See, for example,
Derrida, “The Politics of Friendship”, 1988; and
Gadamer,
“Friendship and Solidarity
(1999)
”,
2009
3
For some post-Cold War
examples, see Tellis, “Reconstructing Political Realism”, 1995; Rose, “NeoclassicalRealism and Theories of Foreign Policy”, 1998; Mearsheimer,
The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
, 2001; Lebow,
The Tragic Vision of Politics,
2003
 
3
friendship theory might pose for global politics are complex. Can there be friendshipamong nations? Are states capable of treating others without thought of immediateprofit? Or, in the logic of anarchy, are they forever consign
ed to Plato’s g 
ang of thieves, bonding for transitory material interest and little else? And if friendship of any sort can exist between states, what is its relationship to peace? Though rarely phrased in the terms of philosophers on friendship, similar questions have occupiedinternational relations discourse throughout modern history. Where others havedelineated the history of friendship in international politics through its use as a tool topromote political projects,
4
this essay seeks to directly apply friendship theory tocontemporary academic views on state relations.In deciding whether or not there can be friendships between states, it is firstnecessary to derive a typology of friendship in high relief. Theories of friendshipfocus on relationships between individuals, often within the confines of the socio-political structures of the state. Further, writers in the modern era have tended todiscount the linguistic dichotomies of classical philosophers, and areas of significantdisagreement can be found throughout the literature. Nonetheless, there aresimilarities between theorists, and it is worth comparing different philosophicalaccounts here to locate some points of agreement about friendship.Consider three influential perspectives.
4
See, for example, Roshchin,
Friendship in International Relations
, 2009

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