Event Title

Realism Gone Awry: Analyzing the Corruption of Democracy in Russia

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Michael Lipscomb

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

Honors Thesis Committee

Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; Stephen Smith, Ph.D.; Christopher Van Aller, Ph.D.

Location

West Center,Room 217

Start Date

22-4-2016 2:15 PM

End Date

22-4-2016 2:30 PM

Description

A brief survey of realist political thought within the context of international relations finds that realism posits that the ultimate mandate of a state’s foreign policy objectives is the protection of its own sovereignty and national interests. However, research reveals that there exists a fault in this logic, due to the failure of realist theorists to define the phrase “national interest” in concrete terms. The lack of explicit parameters to this phrase provides a nearly limitless roster of potential “interests” for a state to pursue, without any guidelines as to what concerns best serve a state’s welfare. This paper finds that this open-ended aspect of realist theory provides for the ultimate failure of democracy within the Russian Federation, due to a lack of international support for domestic liberalization efforts through Mikhail Gorbachev’s plans for perestroika. In exploring this theory, I first provide empirical evidence attesting to the lack of democratic efficacy in the Russian state; then, I present the conflicts present between various interpretations of realist thought, and finally, I examine the historical context via a case study of three interactions between Mikhail Gorbachev and the G7, in which the United States and other members failed to provide for financial assistance. In determining that the failure of domestic reform by the U.S.S.R. proved favorable to assisting in efforts of market liberalization, I find that the strategic interest of rejecting assistance to a state with conflicting interests historically diminished long-term global interests by providing framework that yielded to autocratic Russia.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southern Regional Honors Council Conference, Orlando, Florida, March 2016

Course Assignment

Senior Capstone in Political Science, PLSC 490H, Michael Lipscomb and Stephen Smith

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Apr 22nd, 2:15 PM Apr 22nd, 2:30 PM

Realism Gone Awry: Analyzing the Corruption of Democracy in Russia

West Center,Room 217

A brief survey of realist political thought within the context of international relations finds that realism posits that the ultimate mandate of a state’s foreign policy objectives is the protection of its own sovereignty and national interests. However, research reveals that there exists a fault in this logic, due to the failure of realist theorists to define the phrase “national interest” in concrete terms. The lack of explicit parameters to this phrase provides a nearly limitless roster of potential “interests” for a state to pursue, without any guidelines as to what concerns best serve a state’s welfare. This paper finds that this open-ended aspect of realist theory provides for the ultimate failure of democracy within the Russian Federation, due to a lack of international support for domestic liberalization efforts through Mikhail Gorbachev’s plans for perestroika. In exploring this theory, I first provide empirical evidence attesting to the lack of democratic efficacy in the Russian state; then, I present the conflicts present between various interpretations of realist thought, and finally, I examine the historical context via a case study of three interactions between Mikhail Gorbachev and the G7, in which the United States and other members failed to provide for financial assistance. In determining that the failure of domestic reform by the U.S.S.R. proved favorable to assisting in efforts of market liberalization, I find that the strategic interest of rejecting assistance to a state with conflicting interests historically diminished long-term global interests by providing framework that yielded to autocratic Russia.