Introduction to International Relations Prof. Jaechun Kim Comment Papers Febryanty Putry

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Introduction to International Relations

Prof. Jaechun Kim

Comment Papers

Febryanty Putry


“The Level-of-Analysis Problem in International Relations”

by J. David Singer

  1. How useful is the concept of ‘Level-of-Analysis’ in analyzing a host issues in international relations?

Each study requires instruments that help answer the research problem. The research instrument is useful to capture the fact that there is to be analyzed. One of the instruments of social research is the Level of Analysis. Level of analysis can be used to study aimed to analyze the foreign policy of a country and useful for identifying the problem being studied. Without the Level of Analysis, it was difficult for a person to observe the phenomenon of international relations. The level of analysis required in order to simplify the observations but does not mean to make something simple. With the implementation of level analysis a person who is reviewing and researching international events will easily show which variables are important among the various variables that can be affordable for review.

Thus the selection of the appropriate level of analysis to the events at hand it will provide greater meaning in a comprehensive analysis. In addition, the depth of analysis can be maintained because of the consistency of the level of analysis that is applied in a study. Without applying an assessment level of analysis may not be able to show the factors or significant in relation to international events

  1. In your opinion, which ‘Level’ is the most important factor that we should take into consideration when we analyze international affairs? Please use at least one real world examples to support your arguments.

International Systems-Level Analysis: a worldview that takes a top-down approach to analyzing global politics. This level theorizes that the world’s social-economic-political structure and pattern of interaction (the international system) strongly influence the policies of states and other international actors. Therefore, understanding the structure and pattern of the international system will lead to understanding how international politics operates.

International affairs can best be explained and understood at the International System. At this high level of analysis, describing, explaining and predicting events in IR is most effective because of:

(1) The wide scope that is used to view broad issues,

(2) The disregard for cultural/individual factors that could contentiously play into the system, and

(3) The attention paid to identifying the dominant forces in the field and, consequently, finding patterns in the larger picture.

The Case: US - Iraq

The Confrontation between US and Iraq led to the third Gulf War. US President George W. Bush claimed to enforce the destruction of weapons of mass destruction, but Iraq rejected to cooperate with the inspectors of UNMOVIC and IAEA. The US-led operation “Iraq Freedom” started with air raids on Baghdad on 20 March 2003 and ended on 9 April after coalition tanks rolled into Baghdad.

Due to its position to provide an international legitimacy for military actions against Iraq, the United Nations had functioned more or less as a mediator at least until March 2003. The UNMOVIC and IAEA had been in charge of verification for Iraq’s deposits of BNC weapons and provided substantial information influencing the decision making process of the UN members. The tension between the USA and Iraq can be assed as critical, since the USA still perceived the Iraq as a threat to international security.

The United States Government, supported by 30 states which formed the “coalition of the willing”, appears to be (aggressor in) the initiator of the third Gulf War, arguing that Iraq’s possible use of weapons of mass destruction necessitates “pre-emptive action”. In September 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush raised the issue of Iraq’s disarmament in front of the UN General Assembly, declaring that should the UN Security Council not enforce the process, the United States would consider unilateral strategies of disarmament. There are a variety of interests of the U.S. Government in the conflict including the “war on terrorism” proclaimed in consequence of 9-11, internal legitimacy, as well as geo-strategic and economic aspects concerning e.g. the deposits of oil in the region. However as the respond of US claimed of Iraq Nuclear Weapon, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said he had been “pretty convinced” that Iraq had not resumed its nuclear weapons program, which the IAEA dismantled in 1997.

The debate on the strategy to deal with Iraq divided not only the UN Security Council but Europe as well. Whilst the leaders of Great Britain, Denmark, Italy, Portugal and Spain together with most of the then EU candidates supported of the U.S. policy towards Iraq, Germany and France opposed unilateral military action against it. The United Kingdom, due to the important role it played in the history of modern Iraq, can be described as the traditional and most important partner in the US-led “coalition of the willing” concerning US-Iraq-policy. In spite of backing the US position in the course of Gulf War III in official statements very early, the decision to participate in military action even without an UN Resolution had been made only after the USA had already given Sadam Hussain the ultimatum.

Based on the Realist /Neorealist view, the international system has the anarchic nature which can lead to dysfunctional behaviors such as security dilemma. The determination process of foreign policy can not be separated from the situation that occurred in other countries

US Invasion to Iraq could be seen in many factor as written in “Understanding the 2003 United States-Iraq Invasion: A Study of Level Analysis” by Nofia Fitri such us :

  1. World Hegemony Power

Hegemony is s the political, economic, ideological or cultural power exerted by a dominant group over other groups, regardless of the explicit consent of the latter.

Chomky said after the invasion of Iraq was declared a success, it was publicly recognized that one motive for the goal of the imperial grand strategy according to Chomsky is to prevent any challenge to the power, position, and prestige of the US.

According to Ikenberry “a grand strategy begins with a fundamental commitment to maintaining a unipolar world in which the US has no peer competitors”.

  1. Strategic Position in Middle East

By build a military basis in Iraq would pressure the US beneficial position in Middle East, even central Asia. The invasion of Iraq was seen as an alternative to balancing and a key to a military version of hegemony in the middle east that would dispense with one based on accommodation of Arab Interest.

  1. Exploitation of Oil

Iraq is one of the five biggest countries in the world with abundant oil sources. Oil is a strategic commodity that every country needs, because this natural source would be useful for military power besides economic needed. While the US oil vulnerability was on the rise, US knew that Iraq might be the solutions for US.



  • Global Politics: How to Use and Apply Theories of International Relations by Segbers/,Dyllick-Brenzinger,Hoffmann,Mauersberger. 2006

  • Understanding the 2003 United States-Iraq Invasion: A Study of Level Analysis” by Nofia Fitri

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