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Despots, Democrats, and the Determinants of International Conflict download epub

by Martin Sherman


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Throughout the book, Martin Sherman aims at constructing a 'model'

Throughout the book, Martin Sherman aims at constructing a 'model'. This attempt for model building can, and must, be criticized in terms of both the way in which it is constructed and its assumptions. First of all, the author not only employs hypothetical elements of the microeconomic theory (consumer choice, market structure et., but also he develops his study under strict ceteris paribus conditions. Moreover, as can be understood from the title -'Despots, Democrats and the Determinants of International Conflict'-, the author confines the focus of the study to conflictual situations in which there is a clash of interests.

The model's validity is illustrated across a broad range of historical examples, while its policy-oriented implications, are shown to have far-reaching consequences for conventional perceptions of democratic deterrence posture and the security dilemma.

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Martin Sherman lectures at Tel Aviv University and is the author of Despots, Democrats and the Determinants of International Conflict (St. Martin's, 1998). Israel's two most recent prime ministers have each endorsed a very different concept as to how the Middle East might one day attain peace


Comments: (3)

Anayaron
Martin Sherman, Despots, Democrats and the Determinants of International Conflict (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998, 230pp., ...
Recognized that, in the 20th century alone, the world witnessed at least three ideological clashes between (liberal) democracy and despotism -namely, national socialism, Soviet bolshevism and religious fundamentalism-, the question 'whether the internal regime of a state is the determinant factor in its external behaviour becomes very significant. This book tries to answer this question by investigeting the relationship between the structural features of a state's internal regime on the one hand, and its external behaviour in the international system on the other.
After an impressive foreword by Shabtai Shavit, the former head of Israel's 'Mossad'; there comes an introduction part which clearly outlines the book's contents and objectives. The book consists of three main parts. Part I involves a theoretical effort of model-building, in which the author constructs two models: 'an ideal democracy' and 'an ideal dictatorship', based on the some virtually universally accepted assumptions regarding the features of these regime types. Part II is devoted to the design of an empirical test in order to evaluate the validity of the theory, when applied to the real world. The author employs two ways to investigate the empirical validity of the theoretical predictions: 'justification' (finding evidences confirming the predictions) and 'falsification' (subjecting the theory to efforts to repudiate it). In Part III, M. Sherman tries to combine the theoretical and empirical elements of the first two parts in order to use the findings of the book not only as a guideline for the formulation of future policy decisions, but also as a medium for the evaluation of past.
Throughout the book, Martin Sherman aims at constructing a 'model'. This attempt for model building can, and must, be criticized in terms of both the way in which it is constructed and its assumptions. First of all, the author not only employs hypothetical elements of the microeconomic theory (consumer choice, market structure etc.), but also he develops his study under strict ceteris paribus conditions. Moreover, while examining the significance of the findings for policy formulation, the author uses 'rational model of decision making', which is chiefly based on the use of the hypothetical notion of 'utility' (an imaginary concept!) and its derivatives. Since it is a matter of debate whether both the microeconomic theory and rational model can be employed to describe, or explain, the full complexity of actual decision-making conditions, or not; the validity of a theory based on these two is questionable. The second shortcoming of the model may be its assumptions. The author's model assumes the international system as an anarchical structure in which each state has an objective function of increasing, or at least preserving, their relative power vis-à-vis other states in the system. He writes: 'it will be assumed throughout that all the states in the international system are post-imperialist nation states, ...' (p.29, emphasis in original). Also, he assumes the existence of a 'social contract', which means a reciprocity of obligation between ruler and the ruled. Moreover, as can be understood from the title -'Despots, Democrats and the Determinants of International Conflict'-, the author confines the focus of the study to conflictual situations in which there is a clash of interests. In addition to all these, only political factors are taken into account in the study. However, when we think of the existence of the international regulatory organizations, the dictators who do not care about his citizens, the cooperative situations in which the interests of states coincide and, especially, such non-political factors as those related with economics, sociology and culture; all these assumptions may seem less promising.
The author's writing style is quite clear; however, there are lots of such non-English terms as 'bona fide' (p.132), 'ex-ante' (p.114), 'modus operandi' (p.125), 'quid pro quo' (p.127), and so on. Another deficit in the writing style is the use of microeconomic concepts. Although, throughout the book, the author very often employs microeconomic concepts (eg. decision-maker utility curve, convexity, maximax etc.), he does not explain what they mean. He writes: 'I shall assume that the reader is familiar with these details.' (p.152). Both the non-English terms and the use of microeconomic concepts make the understanding of some parts difficult, if not impossible.
Martin Sherman concludes the book with a short review. Sherman emphasizes " ... rather than a 'security dilemma' ... the existence of a 'security paradox', whereby international stability is best preserved by 'status quo' states developing the means to violate it." (p.194, emphasis in original). Though the author's assumptions limit the scope (or, even, the validity) of the model, it may be a good read for those who want to learn the general characteristics of democracies and dictatorships, and at the same time, who are familiar with concepts of the microeconomic theory.
Erkan ERDOGDU
Uriel
The author is highly aknowleged in academic cyrcles for his uncompromised views which usually do not "fit" into Israely political scientists' mainstream. Nevertheless, his views are always based on a solid systematic logical structure - a property not so widely existant in academy as one might suppose. This book is highly awaited among author's students and collegues.It is the conclusion of various studies by the author in the political science field. I shall not ruin the reading experience by uncovering the books' main thesis. Enjoy !
Briciraz
A futile attempt to transport micro-economic models to political decision making and international relations. No one single case in history can be even approximately applicable to Sherman's fantasies. A pure example of a pseudo-science, hiding behind heavy jargons. It is a shame for a publisher that acceptead such a book to publication.
Despots, Democrats, and the Determinants of International Conflict download epub
Author: Martin Sherman
ISBN: 0333699599
Category: Other
Language: English
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (June 1998)
Pages: 230 pages