DIPLOMATIC DISPUTE: U.S. Relations with Iran, Japan, and Mexico by Robert L.; Eul Y. Park & Donald L. Wyman--Eds. Paarlberg

DIPLOMATIC DISPUTE: U.S. Relations with Iran, Japan, and Mexico

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Social scientists sometimes get carried away with their categories in the hope that new categories directed at old problems will yield new insights. Paarlberg (Political Science, Wellesley), Eul.Y. Park (Seoul-based), and Donald L. Wyman (History, Harvard) have turned to the relations between strong and weak nations with the concepts generated by Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Jr. in their Power and Independence. In their study, Keohane and Nye looked at U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Australia relations and discovered a pattern of conflicts--a ""conflict agenda formation""--that included multiple issues (as opposed to a few or a single recurrent issue), the absence of military force, and a broad spectrum of cultural and other contacts. Within this pattern, which they called ""complex interdependence,"" Keohane and Nye noted that conflicts were often resolved in favor of the weaker nation. (The U.S. would give way on minor issues.) Paarlberg et al. have decided to see if this conclusion would result from a study of relations between the U.S. and nations that did not obviously fit the mold of Australia or Canada. What they discovered is that it does not, and no one should be surprised at that. Paarlberg's chapter on Iran confidently asserts that that country has developed into a regional power, and that the mutual gains for both the U.S. and Iran are threatened by the growing predominance of a single issue--oil. Of course, Paarlberg wrote this before the recent Iranian revolution, so the whole chapter is virtually wasted. Mexico, Wyman concludes, doesn't fit the ""complex interdependence"" schema either, since U.S. Mexico relations have been formed by a dependency status for Mexico (a finding, however, somewhat outdated too). Japan comes closest to fitting the model, but the lack of American direct investment in Japan, the predominance of the security issue, and the cultural differences between the nations means that it doesn't work there either. The conclusion is that, yes, weaker nations can sometimes get a favorable outcome in conflicts with stronger nations, but the Nye-Keohane model won't explain why every time. These are good individual summaries of mutual relations, but it all adds up to very little.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1979
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Center for International Affairs, (1737 Cambridge St., Cambridge, Mass. 02138)