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Michael Williams
Global Issues - Political Science 125

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Global Issues - Handout 1

LEVELS OF ANALYSIS – This refers to the fundamental level of concentration for studying a topic. In World Politics or International Relations, we concentrate on a level of analysis in order to organize our thoughts around what is perceived to be the most important characterization of the field for study.
1. THE INDIVIDUAL – Individuals are the most important actors in world politics. What happens is most affected by the nature of individual behavior.
2. THE STATE – The state is the most important actor in world politics. A ‘state” is an independent, territorially defined community controlled by a sovereign government. A sovereign government is one that has control of all legal processes within its territory, controlling the general behavior of a clearly defined population, the resources within the territory and the use of legitimate violence. The government is usually organized around some clearly defined constitutional process. It may or may not be democratic in nature.
3. THE GLOBAL SYSTEM – The world system must be studied as a cohesive whole. Individuals and states are just part of the system. We must study how the various components interact. Individuals, states, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and the physical and social environments of the entire globe affect the issues that arise in the world.
1. REALISM – 10 Propositions
a. People are driven by self interest.
b. The dominant characteristic of human beings is a lust for power.
c. The lust for power cannot be eliminated from the human character.
d. World politics is the struggle for power.
e. The primary obligation of any state is national self interest. The “raison d’etat!” 
f. The global system is an anarchy requiring states to acquire sufficient military power to protect their interests.
g. Economics is not the primary factor but only one of many factors subservient to the primary goal of the state.
h. Alliances exist for the short term benefit of each state.
i. International institutions do not exist for the benefit of all states.