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Hierarchy in International Relations


The models we use to understand international relations and security can either enhance understanding of a given situation, or obscure important information and lead to poor policy choices.  For example, much of the realist literature in international relations assumes the system is characterized by anarchy, which leads to a set of implications for how states should provide for their own security.  But, what if this model is wrong?  The author builds a case that argues hierarchy is more common that we recognize, only because we are looking for the wrong indicators and typically misunderstand how sovereignty actually works.  Further, how these arrangements are created and sustained should shape US economic and security policy.

Central Argument:


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About the author: David A. Lake is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. He has published widely in international relations theory and international political economy. At UCSD, Lake has served as Research Director for International Relations at the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (1992-1996 and 2000-2001), chair of the Political Science department (2000-2004), Associate Dean of Social Sciences (2006-2015), Acting Dean of Social Sciences (2011-12), and Director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research (2013-2015). The recipient of UCSD Chancellor’s Associates Awards for Excellence in Graduate Education (2005) and Excellence in Research in Humanities and Social Sciences (2013), he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006 and a was fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 2008-2009. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1984 and taught at UCLA from 1983-1992.