The final exam will be distributed on Monday, 14 May at 5:30 PM. It will be due (via Measure) by 10:00 PM on Friday, 18 May. In total, the exam should not take more than a few hours to complete.

The questions on this exam will be based on the readings, lectures, and the reading questions for each week. (Indeed, one of the exam questions may even be precisely the same as the reading questions.) The best method of exam preparation will thus be to diligently develop responses to the reading questions while preparing for the discussions, to take good notes during lecture and discussion, and to expand and revise one’s notes after the discussions. Suffice it to say, those students who have kept up throughout the term will not find many surprises. Those who have not may find themselves working more during the exam period than they would like.

Policies and Procedures

All of the standard rules–word counts, tardiness penalties, and formatting guidelines–apply for this exam. You can review those policies here. (This, among other things, means that you should include a bibliography with this exam.) Additionally, please note the following for this final exam:
  • This is an exam, and I remind you to treat it as such. While I encouraged you to help one another with the essay assignments, I would like you to complete this exam entirely on your own. Please remember that the honor code applies here, as always.
  • I will happily answer clarification questions; but I would like you to develop the substance of your responses on your own.
  • Please include individual word counts for each answer. Each question has its own word limit and will be scored separately.

Exam Deadline

Lastly, please do not wait until the last minute to submit the exam. I have obliged myself to continue being strict in enforcing the tardiness penalties. I will do so with the exam as well. Remember that the closer you come to that deadline, the smaller the margin of error–and the window for redressing such errors!–becomes. If you submit the exam more than 24 hours in advance, you may contact me to confirm that I have received it in due order. If you have any problems and/or doubts, send me a separate email (without attachments) to make inquiries and try to call me (802.458.0633).

Final Exam Creation & Submission
  • Create your essay according to the instructions detailed here.
  • Combine all three of your responses into a single file.
  • Name your file according to the following rubric: Surname, First Name - IP1011 - Exam (e.g. Morrison, James - IP1011 - Exam)
  • Submit your essay via Measure.


Exam Questions

Respond to the three following prompts within the prescribed word limits. Each prompt will be graded separately, and the three grades will be averaged together (with equal weight given to each response). The Bonus Question will not affect your exam grade. (But answering it will be the most fun you’ll have this week.)

PROMPT ONE: Answer either (a) or (b) in 400 (or fewer) words. When responding to this prompt, be sure to answer all of the questions raised by either (a) or (b). (Do not ignore any of the questions/raised within the prompts!) This is slightly different from writing an essay in which you enjoy great latitude in your choice of authors and issues. Here, your primary purpose is to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding by answering pitched questions on specific topics.

(a) What was “the cult of the offensive”? What role does Van Evera suggest it played in causing WWI? What role does Sagan suggest it played?

(b) As the Second World War drew to a close, international regimes were created to manage international trade (the GATT/WTO) and the international financial system (the IMF); but there has never been a regime to manage migration. What is the significance of this “gap” in the IPE regimes? How do we explain this gap? If a new regime were to be created, what do you think would be its main features and why?

PROMPT TWO: Respond to the following polemic in 650 (or fewer) words. Be sure to be precise in your development of theory and your use of evidence. Here, you do not need to cover every issue raised in the polemic. As with your two essays, your response will be assessed based on the value it provides to your reader. Once again, you may assume that your reader is another student in this course.

Thomas Hobbes suggested that the principal causes of war are competition, diffidence, and glory. Thankfully, few civilizations today find much "glory" in laying waste to foreigners. Of the two remaining, virtually every theory of international politics in the last forty years is organized around "diffidence"--in modern terms “distrust” and the so-called security dilemma. Both the international regimes theorists and the constructivists, however, show that the sources of distrust can be overcome by "regimes," both formal and informal.

But there is no overcoming scarcity. As Malthus might put it, “pestilence, plague, and famine" are not socially constructed. The Earth has a limited carrying capacity; and, while technology might push out this frontier, human populations will always compete over the distribution of the available resources. From the Israelites' warpath through Canaan, to the United States' "settlement" of the West, to the Nazis' holocaust, the pursuit of the promised land, manifest destiny, and lebensraum are all variations on the same theme: “we” eliminate "them" to leave more for "us."

The climate change crisis is only the latest manifestation of this timeless source of human conflict. And, just as in every previous epoch, violence will erupt over which populations will shoulder the brunt of Malthus' positive check. Using florescent lightbulbs will not help. A global carbon tax will not help. Even major breakthroughs in alternative energy will not help. None of this will help because making "the pie" bigger does not reduce humans' propensity to fight--and kill--over how that pie is sliced.

Thus, the greatest threat to our civilization stems from the competition generated by scarcity. The major solutions to conflict developed by theorists of international politics will prove worthless when dealing with these challenges precisely because virtually all of these theories have been designed to mitigate diffidence. Instead, we should look to the example set by Joshua, Andrew Jackson, and Reinhard Heydrich. These leaders recognized the absurdity of leaving lands of plenty to primeval civilizations just because they happened to be there first. Justice and expediency dictate that resources be allocated to those civilizations that use them most efficiently--to those that are the most fruitful and can sustain their multiplication. Those backward peoples willing to embrace modernity should be given the chance. But those who resist can join the Melians.

PROMPT THREE: Answer (a) or (b) in 650 (or fewer) words. Be sure to be precise in your development of theory and your use of evidence. Here, you do not need to cover every issue raised in the polemic. As with your two essays, your response will be assessed based on the value it provides to your reader. Once again, you may assume that your reader is another student in this course.

OPTION (A). It is not surprising that the so-called "Waltzian paradigm" was formulated at the height of the Cold War. When Waltz drafted his Theory of International Politics, it made sense to think of systemic-level pressures, like the distribution of power, shaping the interactions between autonomous states. Such states were the only actors of any real relevance throughout the Cold War.

Times, however, have changed. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the sudden integration of markets into a single global economy has changed the logic of international politics. The distribution of military power matters much less given our commercial interdependence. Similarly, the ascent of non-state actors--like terrorist groups and multinational enterprises--has transformed the composition of the international system. With great power conflict increasingly unthinkable, our greatest threats come from these new non-state actors.

We are in uncharted territory here. We need to formulate a new "theory of international politics" to explain these new patterns of relations--patterns that the world has never seen before. To do so, we will have to throw out all of the old baggage and begin anew.

(In your response, be sure to describe the major features of whatever "theory of international politics" you think will prove most valuable in understanding international politics in the days to come.)

OPTION (B). The United States got lucky with Bin Laden. We weren't lucky in the sense that we finally got him. After all, it did take this pompous prat and his beleaguered band of bozos more than a few attempts to perpetrate their unoriginal--although still tragic--murderous enterprise. It was only a question of time before American special forces brought justice to him. Indeed, it was rather unlucky that it took as long as it did.

No. The US was lucky that Osama Bin Laden was not Gavrillo Princip. The US was lucky that none of our ultimatums became a July Ultimatum. The US was lucky that Afghanistan was not Serbia and that Pakistan was not Russia. The US was lucky that China does not embrace the cult of the offensive.

The US was playing with fire. Catching Bin Laden had little practical upside: the old fool had little operational involvement; and his death will goad Al Qaeda just as much as did his symbolic leadership. The pin pricks will still come. We must simply brace ourselves to weather them. The downside of our ruthless pursuit of Bin Laden, however, was potentially catastrophic. In a world of declining US hegemony, entangled political and economic interconnections, and overconfidence bred by decades of peace, any number of contingencies could have plunged us into another World War.

Thus, the US must radically alter its foreign policy. It must use this symbolic achievement to declare victory in the War on Terror and cease all attempts to track, kill, and capture these Al Qaeda asses. It must stop hemorrhaging blood and treasure on its worthless foreign occupations. It must cease its meddling in the domestic politics of foreign states--even if it means allowing dictators to remain in power. Instead, it must reinvigorate respect for state sovereignty, it must nurture its alliances abroad, and it must prepare itself for the inevitable great power conflict that looms.


If you could reverse any single decision that we have studied this term, which would you reverse and why?