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15th Lecture - International Relations with Prof. Donald Emmerson

Date: Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Time: 09.00 - 10.30 GMT+7

Platform: Zoom Meetings & Youtube Livestream

Speaker: Prof. Donald Emmerson, Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Shorenstein APARC, Stanford University

Moderator: Dr. Nadzri Noor, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Seven-Step Model for Studying a Foreign Policy

Apart from being a specialty among analysts who work in the intellectual world of scholarship and policy advice, of course, IR is an activity among countries that live in the real world of conflict and cooperation among countries. Those two aspects are linked.

The specialty of IR is about the activity in IR sustains

the specialty. For example, I will try to illustrate in a seven step interaction between these two aspects of IR, engaged not as a diplomat, who implements a policy, but as a specialist, who studies the policy from its inception to its implementation. Investigation, description, explanation, interpretation, prediction, prescription, and reconsideration.

It Is 100 Seconds to Midnight

IR should concentrate, first and foremost, on ensuring that one might even say ordinary, conventional, incremental patterns of hostility between countries do not worsen to the point of causing irreparable damage whether nuclear or not. The cheap purposes of IR would then cover all sectors - socioeconomic and political, as well as just military meant to ensure the absence of escalation. So, escalation would be the focus. To put it brutally, in short, should justice be sacrificed for the sake of peace while the Doomsday Clock ticks? A vast and complex range of opportunities, costs, and dilemmas pitting principles against pragmatism remain to be resolved and that, too, is the business of IR as both an analytic specialty and a real world activity.

IR Theories and Practice

The question here is what about theory? Theory is a fascination of academics. There’s the drive of academic intelligence which simply wants knowledge for its own sake. If I understand why it works and I can develop a theory about why it works, maybe I can apply that theory to other cases and develop things that work in those other cases as well. I do not think we can just throw theory out of the window. Amitav Acharya’s charge and the charge of others as well that theory has been dominated by non-Western scholarship is definitely worth taking seriously.


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