IR faculty, a survey finds, say the U.S. should wind down in Afghanistan, focus on China, and deal with climate change.
Turn on the TV news, and you'll be bombarded by pundits offering their 30-second take on global affairs. But how do professional scholars of international relations see things?
The College of William and Mary recently completed its Teaching, Research, and International Policy survey of almost 3,500 international relations (IR) faculty around the world.
Some of the results are probably of greater interest to specialists in the field (for example, if you want to know what percentage of professors use dialectical research or hermeneutics, turn to page 36) than to most people.
But the section on policy issues gives a good sense of how professors see the world. Here are some key findings about the views of IR scholars based in the United States.
- Go East, Young Man! The area of greatest strategic importance to the United States today is East Asia, they say, rather than the Middle East and North Africa.
- Beijing Consensus: Over the next decade, the dominant issue will be the rise of China -- together with global climate change.
- Clubs for the Rich: Trade organizations such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization have been good for the United States but not necessarily for developing countries.
- Beyond Afghanistan: The three great issues facing the United States are the Arab Spring, a rising China, and the global debt crisis (the war in Afghanistan is far down the list).
- Ivory Tower Hawks and Doves: Most scholars supported the U.S. war against Libya in 2011. But large majorities oppose using force if there is war between North and South Sudan, if Iran produces a nuclear bomb, if extremists are about to take over Pakistan, or to support democratic change in Syria or Yemen.
- The Cup is Half Full: IR scholars seem pretty optimistic. The world, they say, has become less dangerous for the U.S. since the end of the Cold War. The Arab Spring is good for the Middle East and for the United States. And war between the United States and China is very unlikely over the next 30 years.