Constructivism Argumentative Analysis

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Alexander Wendt’s insightful observation that “500 British nuclear weapons are less threatening to the United States than 5 North Korean nuclear weapons” goes to the heart of constructivism. As he goes on to say, “the British are friends and the North Koreans are not.” This of course alludes to the ideational categories of friend and enemy, and it is that allusion that characterizes much of constructivist thought in international relations; not, to be precise, the specific categories of “friend” and “enemy,” but rather the emphasis on the social and the relational. In other words, constructivism is premised upon the assumption that how individuals and nations understand the world they inhabit affects how they think and act. What takes place in the world, a constructivist would undoubtedly argue, is constructed by social activities and interactions as opposed to, for example, material objects. A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon, but a nuclear weapon in North Korea’s possession means something profoundly different to the United States than a nuclear weapon in Great Britain’s possession.…show more content…
The animosity between North Korea and the United States has been more or less fixed in recent time, but has not always been so. Ideas and practices vary, and patterns that once appeared predictable may change. The idea of sovereignty best illustrates this point. It is not unusual in the contemporary world anymore for a state to be on the receiving end of an intervention should it commit crimes against its population, whereas during the pre-war era the opposite would have been the case. In other words, sovereignty rests on the intersubjective ideas that defines it. Legro summarizes the constructivist take on ideas well: “ideas are not so much mental as symbolic and organizational; they are embedded not only in human brains but also in … government procedures and the rhetoric of

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