NATION

PASSWORD

International Relations: How You're Doing It Wrong (PLS 201)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
User avatar
Kaukolastan
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 372
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

International Relations: How You're Doing It Wrong (PLS 201)

Postby Kaukolastan » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:44 am

The Sovereign Nation-State, and How You're Doing It Wrong.

Across these boards, in any given moment, dozens of nations are acting upon the chaotic game-field; they make war, make peace, forge empires and lose them, enter alliances and dissolve unions. They collide like billiard balls, ricocheting as they slam into each other, or pushing together towards a new goal.

Pandemonium. Anarchy. Yet, within a certain structure, rational, and productive.

Issues arise when nations do not share a vocabulary, and engage in arguments over terminology, because of a lack of common language. Worse still, is when nations act in ways that are bizarrely counter-productive to a simulation of nation-states, and then grow incensed when their bizzaro-verse is questioned.

International relations has rules. It has structures. It has definitions. It has facts.

It is a science.

There are rules.

These rules can be violated, as this is fiction, but they should be understood before they are discarded. This guide will serve a quick trip through International Relations terminology, as most commonly seen/referenced inside the bounds of the International Incidents board. As the “billiards balls” dog-whistle above may have indicated, I will be using Realist language to frame these definitions, for two reasons:

  • The chaos of II, with the complete lack of “long-game”, due to the shifting nature of who even exists, makes many schools irrelevant aside from in-character viewpoints, and makes liberalism a howling joke, to a degree that would set Woodrow Wilson into sobbing fits.
  • Realism is the quickest shorthand to express the mechanisms of International Relations to neophytes.

Now, some of you may object to the things I am about to discuss, and to the metric by which I am measuring them. If you wish to object on material grounds, I hold you to this standard: state for me the definitions of classical realism, liberalism, neorealism (structural realism), neoliberalism, describe the role of game theory in international relations, and explain where, inside the confines of international relations, as a field of political science, where I have gone wrong. Those of you that understand what I just listed: I am using realism as the best logical shorthand for these boards. Those of you that have no idea what those things are? I speak holy truth. Accept my words as doctrine.

If you chose to object, but do not understand those terms: you are wrong. You do not argue chemistry without knowledge of stoichiometry. You do not argue physics without understanding classical mechanics. Likewise, you do not argue international relations without understanding basic definitions, theories, and mechanisms. Now, on to the meat of it!





The Big Terms:

To understand why you, and every other player in this game, is important, you need to understand four points. To be a relevant actor on the top tier, you need to be a sovereign nation-state. What is that? Well, stick around, cause here come some definitions!


Sovereignty – This is the grandfather of everything else. This is the gods-holy-truth of International Relations. The actors that matter are all sovereign. This means, to quote the wiki, “Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory.” That means, that to a sovereign entity, it answers to no higher power. Your city is not sovereign. Your nation-state is. If an actor (state) is not sovereign, then it does not matter, since it is merely a component of another, larger, actor. No one on the world stage wonders, “Oh, shit, how will this treaty play in Liverpool?” They wonder, “How will this play with the United Kingdom?” Only inside the UK would the concerns of Liverpudlians be truly relevant.

By default (de facto and de jure), your nation is sovereign. Your nation does not answer to any higher power than itself (you), unless you deliberately construct a giant puppet-show (empire – and poor form). While no nation has true OOC sovereignty (they are controlled by players, and by Max, and by his mods), for purposes of RP, they are sovereign. If a nation gives up its sovereignty, it no longer matters. This is a Bad ThingTM.

Think of losing sovereignty as being forum banned. You still might exist, but you really don't matter. Someone else speaks for you.

Nation – A nation is, to quote the wiki, “a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, or history”.

State – Again, quoting the wiki, “an organized community living under a unified political system”. To quote Max Weber (one of the three founders of modern sociology), “a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain territory.” That little phrase, “monopoly of legitimate use of force”, is a real doozy. That is why it is okay for the police to carry weapons, use them when necessary, for the criminal justice system to place a person into custody for extended periods of time, whereas if you, random schmuck number forty-three, attempted to “carry out law and order” on your neighbors, you would have to answer to the aforementioned criminal justice system. (War extends from this, as well. Legitimate states can legitimately kill the piss out of each other, and it's not held up as forty-thousand counts of murder on their governments. Legitimate use of force.)

Nation-State – Somehow, that term seems familiar on this page. I wonder where I've seen it? Anywho, from the wiki, “The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity. The term "nation state" implies that the two geographically coincide.” Well, that was a mouth-full.

It's important to understand that this term comes from the fusion of the two terms inside it, and has become the dominant form of sovereign actor in the modern world. It's also the default setting for your “nation-state” (holy crap, word in the definition!) in this game. If I have to explain why, you should probably go back to playing Farmville.

Basically, a nation-state is a unified government that is comprised of a unified people. Sometimes, this can be traced to a common ancestry and/or history, such as France (Franks). Other times, it can be forged from a submission to a common world-view (USA – all hail the Constitution). Most of the time, it is a hybrid.

Some of you crazy “nations” out there might not be nation-states, but it is important to understand the concept, since it is the default political setting, and, in International Relations, the most important.




Secondary Actors:

Not everything is a sovereign nation-state, though. There are important (but not as important) actors that don't quite qualify for the top tier. Most common are IGOs, NGOs, and “task groups”. Now, here, the classical realists start to bitch, but they can sit right back down, because a little structural theory just stepped up in “dis hizzy”.


Intergovernmental Organizations – This is the biggest of the second tier. An IGO is, to quote the wiki, “an organization composed primarily of sovereign states”. These are formed by a treaty or charter that spells out their objectives, rules, and obligations. They can be short or long term, bilateral (two states) or multilateral (many states), broad or specific. Examples of IGOs are the WHO, the World Bank, NATO, or the UN itself.

Now, just because you have a treaty, doesn't mean you have an IGO. Some treaties can form structures, but not an organization, instead relying on the member states to carry out their functions.

Further, IGOs serve the member states. That is, they are composed of member states, but are not governments unto themselves. If at any point, the UN told a member of the P5 – digression: the permanent five members of the Security Council, who wield veto power, aka, the nations who actually matter – that it had to cough up some money, that nation would instruct the UN to go drown itself, and that would be the end of that.

Again, sovereignty. It's cool like that. The nations are sovereign, the IGO is not.

Non-Governmental Organizations – The next most important actors are NGOs. These include multinational corporations, international charitable organizations, possibly the Catholic Church (not the Papal State itself), and a whole slew of special clubs that are not comprised of nation-states or acting in the name of a nation-state.

NGOs have a lot of power, but even the biggest of them can shake a stick at a sovereign nation-state. If Syria decides that Google doesn't get to be in Syria, Google gets the hell out of dodge before Bashar Assad locates the nearest can of cyclosarin.

Some of you enterprising future-tech nations (or past-tech: here's looking at you, East India Company) may have cooked up a pseudo-sovereign NGO-state. The rules of the game still apply, even if you exist in limbo between the pages. If you were clever enough to cook up the structure of the pseudo-state, then you should be more than clever enough to figure out where you fall in this.

The rest of you? The International Red Cross / Red Crescent is not the equal of the Russian Federation. Sorry, guys.

Task Groups – These are the workhorses of the second stringers. Task Groups are organizations constructed to solve specific problems. The “Quartet on the Middle East” is one of these. They are not full fledged IGOs, as they possess no true structure or overhead, and exist only to solve a single problem or fulfill a single purpose, often temporary in nature. (The Quartet, obviously, has been spectacularly successful.)




The Obligatory “I'm a Unique Snowflake” Section

“Oh, but wait!” You say. “What about supranational unions?”

Well, first off, in the most classical of terms, go stuff yourself. Second, since you had to go an show off in front of the class, here are the outliers.


Empire – Quoting from my favorite wiki, an empire is “a geographically extensive group of states and peoples (ethnic groups) united and ruled either by a monarch (emperor, empress) or an oligarchy.” That is, it is a group of nations bound under one state. The empire, as a whole, is one sovereign state, since nothing inside it is sovereign, at least at the moment. Just wait a century or two, then check again, but for now, it can be dealt with as one sovereign whole.

Supranational Union – Pay attention, mathletes, this is the bonus round. A superstate (or supranational union) is a “type of multi-national confederation or federation where negotiated power is delegated to an authority by governments of member states”. (Thanks, wikipedia!) When many of you speak of “alliances”, you are using the language of IGOs, but thinking of these monsters.

Now, how common are superstates? Well, the only realized (and partially) example in our world would be the EU. The United States (and modern Germany) may once have qualified as these sorts of confederations, but have since transcended (blended) into unified federated states. That is, while people will still speak about France, and the EU, as linked but unique entities, no one is tempted to get Ohio to split with the US Federal Government.

Supranational unions exist at a unique balancing point, where they share sovereignty with a superstate governing body. This is a delicate state to roleplay, since any decision would have to be balanced against the other members of the superstate, and any “breakaway” would dissolve the superstate back into a mere IGO, whereas successful blending leads them into a federated union.

Attempting to stitch a meaningful supranational union out of the chaos of II would be, to put it gently, “trippin' balls”. If you have a large enough nation-state, it could be cool to roleplay as a superstate. Similarly, I am in a very large supranational union with several real life friends. This only functions on these boards because we operate in an OOC-cooperative manner, with all cards played openly. To attempt to carve out a superstate in game... well, that would be interesting (and doomed to failure – II is simply too transient).

Truth be told, most alliances-cum-superstates are really just empires, masquerading as confederacies. And remember, kiddos, in an empire, only one state is sovereign.

And that, if you remember, is a very Bad ThingTM for you to give away.




So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
I hope this was useful, informative, and helpful. There's plenty more where that came from, and if there's sufficient interest, I might cook up another run of IR pointers. Maybe Prisoner's Dilemma?

Thanks to all of you, for a rich gaming world, and to Professor Belanich, all those years ago, and to the founders of wikipedia for letting me be lazy and let all my old Poli-Sci books rot in the closet while I whore about with the internet's loose data.

Peace,

K-stan
Last edited by Kaukolastan on Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
The Kessler Initiative [Intergovernmental Organization; Open for Participation]
N. Enartio, Justifying his Nuclear Powered, "EMP Laser" Shooting, Nazi Flying Saucer wrote:It isn't bad, i used science.

User avatar
Kaukolastan
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 372
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Postby Kaukolastan » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:04 am

(Don't post essays at 2am.)
The Kessler Initiative [Intergovernmental Organization; Open for Participation]
N. Enartio, Justifying his Nuclear Powered, "EMP Laser" Shooting, Nazi Flying Saucer wrote:It isn't bad, i used science.

User avatar
Lubyak
N&I RP Mentor
 
Posts: 9336
Founded: Oct 01, 2010
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Lubyak » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:37 pm

Reading through this, I have to applaud you. You've managed to boil down into a single post what the University of St Andrews School of International Relations managed to dally nearly two years of schooling on (granted they spent a good amount of time talking about all the other theories, but I digress). I'd vote to put this in the stickies, just so these definitions can be made easily available to NSers.

I do disagree with some portions of your initial decisions though. While you are correct in that realist ideas are the simplest to understand for people new to the discipline and that that for the average II poster the constantly changing map of who is a power and who isn't--combined with the fact that NS has no way to actually quantify hard power--makes it so that realism is really the only theory that continues to function.

However, I can't help but feel that such things don't apply to the more permanant RP organizations on NS. Within more established RP regions, where it is relatively unlikely for established players to just pack up their things and leave without notice, I think it is completely possible to approach NS RP with a more liberal mindset. While the standard II players disdain for such considerations as 'trade' and what not, more settled regions and players would no doubt be able to set up long term ISOs that can help regulate international relations in a manner more consistent with liberal theory.

But overall, great post, and I'm looking forward to the next of these you put up!

User avatar
Dubria
Lobbyist
 
Posts: 14
Founded: Nov 30, 2012
Ex-Nation

Postby Dubria » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:58 pm

Upvote, if that's even possible. I can think of at least five people right off the bat who need these definitions, including myself.

Never having taken International Relations, and never having been to university, I think that this information is very important, the format is nice, and overall, it's interesting to read. If sticky-fying this will make others read it as well, I recommend that we do so.

Now, I have a specific question about sovereignty: in high-school law, we're taught that sovereignty only occurs when a state has authority and control over a territory. Now, if something were to happen to that authority and control - say, a massive riot or a government's inability to govern its farthest territories - would that mean that that government has ceded sovereignty over that territory, and that other states could potentially assert their own sovereignty? I'm assuming this is also how terra nullius works.

By no means do I want to turn this to a Q&A thread for poli-sci university students, but I'd still very much appreciate an answer. Thanks!

User avatar
Kaukolastan
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 372
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Postby Kaukolastan » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:37 am

Lubyak wrote:Within more established RP regions, where it is relatively unlikely for established players to just pack up their things and leave without notice, I think it is completely possible to approach NS RP with a more liberal mindset. While the standard II players disdain for such considerations as 'trade' and what not, more settled regions and players would no doubt be able to set up long term ISOs that can help regulate international relations in a manner more consistent with liberal theory.


I agree. There's almost something poetic, that nations who react to the pandemonium of II by choosing philosophies that rejected realism's harsh views. You know, I might just do a quick splash on the -isms, for both OOC and IC purposes!

Lubyak wrote:But overall, great post, and I'm looking forward to the next of these you put up!


Glad to hear it, and glad to work on it!

Dubria wrote:Upvote, if that's even possible. I can think of at least five people right off the bat who need these definitions, including myself.


That's what it's here for! Glad to be of service!

Dubria wrote:Now, I have a specific question about sovereignty: in high-school law, we're taught that sovereignty only occurs when a state has authority and control over a territory. Now, if something were to happen to that authority and control - say, a massive riot or a government's inability to govern its farthest territories - would that mean that that government has ceded sovereignty over that territory, and that other states could potentially assert their own sovereignty? I'm assuming this is also how terra nullius works.

By no means do I want to turn this to a Q&A thread for poli-sci university students, but I'd still very much appreciate an answer. Thanks!


Well, props, you opened with a pretty insightful question, to which most any answer I can give, without grounding it in multiple semesters of IR, would be incomplete. Please understand that my answers in this thread are shorthand, and optimized for entertainment, not academic accuracy. With those caveats, let me address your question:

Yes, sort-of.

There are a couple of factors at play here. Terra nullius addresses unclaimed land (under no sovereign), so if a territory is agreed to be terra nullius - say, a slice of Antarctica outside national claims - then it can be claimed, or claim itself, according to international process. What those are in NS? Fuck if I know. The pure pandemonium on these boards would lead to the best solution being "claim it in RP, deal with it how you would".

Next, is Right of Conquest. In the real world, this "right" of nations - basically, if you can hold it, it's yours - has been made illegal by the Nuremberg Principles (basically, after WWII, everyone got together and agreed, "Well, that was fucked, let's all agree not to let that happen any more"). In NS, no such proscription exists, and right of conquest is still terrifying valid. That means, if a recognized (can of worms on that term) sovereign state has claimed the territory, and can enforce its will upon it, then by the status quo, it holds sovereignty over it. Yes, that's a very fancy way of saying "might is right". There's a reason we got away from these shenanigans after the World Wars.

Also in place is self determination. This is a term with more power in the real world than in the chaos of II. In the real world, this is the core piece of international law, that according to the wiki, "states that nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or interference". Basically, the P5 members of the Security Council set down and agreed that "there had to be a better way than right of conquest", and chose instead, self-determinism. In your scenario, that would mean that, if properly recognized, there may be grounds for that territory to become its own sovereignty. However, even in real life, status quo matters, and sovereign states rarely cede territory easily.

For examples, look at the breakup of Yugoslavia - hell, the whole damn USSR, the splitting of Sudan (Darfur), the French loss of Algeria, and the current pseudo-state status of Kurdistan.

Even in our "civilized" world, right sometimes is predicated by might, and the status quo is a powerful thing.

In general purpose II usage, I'd say that right of conquest would be your best bet. He who holds the land, controls the land. Inside of Lubyak's aforementioned RP-regions/alliances, more structured approaches might manifest, but those approaches themselves are only valid so long as those who hold the philosophy (the region/alliance) have the force and desire to project their vision.

Realism. It can be a cold bitch.
The Kessler Initiative [Intergovernmental Organization; Open for Participation]
N. Enartio, Justifying his Nuclear Powered, "EMP Laser" Shooting, Nazi Flying Saucer wrote:It isn't bad, i used science.

User avatar
Transnapastain
Retired Moderator
 
Posts: 12225
Founded: Antiquity
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Transnapastain » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:17 pm

Very well written, but I expect nothing less form you.

I'll see about having this information stickied.
Married to Gallade, the last "surviving" F7 marriage Euro haz returned!
[21:02] <Trans|Work> suckle
[21:02] <Trans|Work> all of you
[21:02] <Trans|Work> SUCKLE

TGs are welcome from everyone but Grat
[22:52] <Lanos> now I can't get into the Mangina

User avatar
The State of Monavia
N&I RP Mentor
 
Posts: 1474
Founded: Jun 27, 2006
Moralistic Democracy

Postby The State of Monavia » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:30 pm

I agree with the suggestion to have this topic pinned to the top of the board. Be that as it may, I also recommend making some emendations and edits to your essay, which I will enumerate as follows:

1. Could you take your answers to the questions regarding terra nullis, right of conquest, and self-determination, and incorporate them into the essay in the opening post? These additions alone would not be overly time-consuming and they are frankly things that a lot of folks need to know more about.

2. Can you add something to the essay that addresses what it means for one state to recognize another and what it means when a state tries to "withdraw recognition" for political reasons?

3. How would you address (in OOC terms) the way in which fictitious states go about making IC justifications for circumventing sovereignty or creating IC declarations revoking it? For example, take this IC post. Obviously the thing being expressed is an IC opinion, yet it did not emerge in a vacuum. A lot of NS ideas originate in RL or are inspired by something real that is used as a basis, so this type of post begs the question: "What happens when somebody's characters disagree with an objective dictionary definition of sovereignty and refuse to admit that they could possibly be wrong?"

4. You have addressed the sovereign state adequately but I did not see as much of the "how you're doing it wrong" portion as I would have liked.

Thank you again for putting this guide together. The community needs it.
——✠ ✠——THE IMPERIAL FEDERATION OF THE MONAVIAN EMPIRE——✠ ✠——
♔ MONAVIA EST NOVUS ORDO MUNDI
Encyclopedic Compendium of the Monavian Empire Diplomatic Exchange Program
I am an N&I roleplay mentor. Please telegram me if you have questions or issues you want to discuss.
Twelve Year Veteran of NationStates ∙ Proud Novan
Member of the NS Writing Project and the Roleplayer’s Union
I am a classical monarchist Orthodox Christian from Arizona.


.⚜.
(⁰‿⁰)
ˋ✚ˊ

User avatar
Transnapastain
Retired Moderator
 
Posts: 12225
Founded: Antiquity
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Transnapastain » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:50 pm

A sticky, I could not make

Placed in this guide index, this thread has been.
Married to Gallade, the last "surviving" F7 marriage Euro haz returned!
[21:02] <Trans|Work> suckle
[21:02] <Trans|Work> all of you
[21:02] <Trans|Work> SUCKLE

TGs are welcome from everyone but Grat
[22:52] <Lanos> now I can't get into the Mangina

User avatar
Licana
Post Marshal
 
Posts: 15813
Founded: Jul 26, 2010
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Licana » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:06 am

wat is this stuff.

pls 201

wtf is this doing on my computer screen? I'm an engineering major ffs, I don't have time for you political "science."

brb gotta build ALL THE THINGS and then do ALL THE STRUCTURAL TESTS. results due next hour b/c fuck you.

But yeah, in all seriousness, this is something that I think I will be directing a few people to. It's a good reference, and definitely (in my opinion) deserving of a sticky.
Last edited by Licana on Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:11 am, edited 3 times in total.
OH SAY CAN YOU SEE
[19:21] <Lubyak> I want to go and wank all over him.
Puzikas wrote:Gulf War One was like Slapstick: The War. Except, you know, up to 40,000 people died.

Vitaphone Racing wrote:Never in all my years have I seen someone actually quote the dictionary and still get the definition wrong.

Husseinarti wrote:
Vitaphone Racing wrote:Do lets. I really want to hear another explanation about dirty vaginas keeping women out of combat, despite the vagina being a self-cleaning organ.

So was the M-16.

Senestrum wrote:How are KEPs cowardly? Surely the "real man" would in fact be the one firing giant rods of nuclear waste at speeds best described as "hilarious".


Advertisement

Remove ads

Return to International Incidents

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bylugaria, Krospovia, Zipangese Star Empire

Advertisement

Remove ads