(talk accessed via: http://www.theory-talks.org/2008/07/theory-talk-12.html)
Political Scientist Robert Jervis offers interesting perspectives in the area of International Relations. In particular he talks about the nature of American dominance, the potential threats to its superpower status, the success and failure of the Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, etc. Professor Jervis presents his views from a Realist point of view – a framework that takes a pragmatic account of geo-political situations as against idealistic or fundamentalist ones. This is evident in Realists’ (including Jervis) open opposition to the war in Iraq. Even on the question of a possible intervention in Iran Jervis advices caution and suggests that Iran’s declaration of being a nuclear-enabled state could be no more than a strategic bluff. Jervis sees both advantages and disadvantages in European economic integration. On the positive side, he believes that a consolidated Europe would check American hegemony. At the same time he believes that without American military presence in Europe the region may witness cross-national and cross-ethnic strives.
I am impressed by the depth and scope of Professor Jervis’ analysis. I especially find important his desire for greater American diplomatic intervention in Africa, for the continent has become a cesspool for breeding terrorists of late. Jervis’ thoughts on nuclear proliferation are very balanced and prudent. He sees no point in a spiralling arms race that would lead to annihilation of the planet. It is in light of this fact that he sees merit and relevance in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty today. What I found disappointing in Mr. Jervis’ interview is his implicit acceptance of American hegemony. It seemed to me that he sees American imperialism as inevitable and its continuation need not be challenged. I find this stance a little parochial and biased. It makes Mr. Jervis sound like an Establishment intellectual who comes up with sophisticated arguments for justifying state actions. The fact that Mr. Jervis’ previously worked very closely with the CIA perhaps colors his views on international affairs.