Precautionary Principle in International Relations: Constructing Foreign and Defense Policy in an Age of Uncertainty

Author: Patterson, Alan
Year:2012
Pages:216
ISBN:0-7734-2940-9
978-0-7734-2940-6
Price:179.95
Written in response to the Bush Administration’s aggressive rhetoric previous to and during the Iraq War, this book addresses the key issues relating to Precautionary Principles on defense policies regarding pre-emptive war. Policymakers in the West seem prone to use these tactics when they feel there is certainly an outside threat to national security, and even when the threat is miniscule, after 9/11 American leaders in particular seem to err on the side of caution. Knowing the difference between a certain threat, a risky pre-emptive attack, and uncertainty could have informed public debate in significant ways. This theory is necessary now more than ever because our world system faces new and unknown threats that must be mediated by an international order.

Reviews

“Mclean and Patterson provide complex analysis of the causes of conflict between states and the conditions under which conflict situations form.”

-Prof. Anoush Ehteshami,
Durham University


“The book provides a needed analysis of risk-management in international relations.”

-Prof. Donald H. Wallace,
University of Central Missouri

“It consists of high scholarly work, both conceptually and in how precautionary principle has been interpreted and endorsed by governments.”

-Prof. Daniel Silander,
Linnaeus University

Table of Contents

Commendatory Foreword by Anoush Ehteshmani

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Precautionary Principle

Managing risk in international relations
- Scope and limitations of this work
- Why states might go to war
- Military action based on “hegemony”
- Military action based on “ethics” – just war theory
- Military action based on “authority” – the case of human rights
- Military action based on “intervention” – short (pre-emption) and long term (prevention)
- Intervention in a post-9/11 world
- Layout of the book

Chapter 2: Debating the Precautionary Principle: a literature review

- Science-based approaches to risk regulation
- Precautionary approaches to risk regulation
- The Precautionary Principle: coping with uncertainty
- The sustainability debate
- Democratising expertise
- The virtues of sound science
- The problem with anti-precautionary arguments
- The Precautionary Principle in International Relations
- Conclusions

Chapter 3: The management of risk in International Relations: the case for the Precautionary Principle

- Risk, Hazard and the Precautionary Principle
- Towards an operational model of the Precautionary Principle
- Acceptance of the limits of current knowledge on a given issue
- Openness to alternative solutions
- Proportionality of response
- Reversing the burden of proof
- Risk and Hazard in International Relations
- Risk and governmentality in International Relations
- Precaution, humanitarian intervention and Just War
- Differences between the Precautionary Principle and existing ideas: prevention and pre-emption
- The Precautionary Principle and the Challenge of International Authority: Invading Iraq
- The Precautionary Principle and the Challenge of Authority: the role of non-governmental authorities
- Conclusions

Chapter 4: The limits of knowledge: coping with uncertainty and ignorance

- Uncertainty, ignorance and indeterminacy
- Intelligence gathering
- Epistemological considerations – what countries “know”
- The changing Westphalian system
- Foreign policy issues
- The limits of knowledge – coping with uncertainty and ignorance
- The perception of the potential enemy’s intentions
- The status of intelligence
- The public nature of knowledge
- Conclusions
Chapter 5: The process of seeking alternative solutions

- The need to avoid groupthink
- Alternative solutions and the Iraq War
- Engagement
- Sanctions
- Deterrence
- Conclusions

Chapter 6: Proportionality of response: dealing with the threat

- The problem of proportionality
- Proportionality and past conflicts
- The costs of war
- Precaution or paranoia
- Conclusions

Chapter 7: The burden of proof and decisions on war

- The Iraq War of 2003 and the burden of proof
- The burden of proof in the environmental arena
- The burden of proof on whom?
- The burden of proof on the victim
- The burden of proof on the aggressor
- Conclusions: The burden of proof in decisions on war

Chapter 8: Conclusions: towards a changing foreign and defence policy?

- The Precautionary Principle and International Relations: early thoughts
- The Precautionary Principle and International Relations: the difficulties
- The search for a suitable definition of the Precautionary Principle
- Theme 1 – The limits of knowledge: coping with uncertainty and ignorance
- Theme 2 – The process of seeking alternative solutions
- Theme 3 – Proportionality of response: dealing with the threat
- Theme 4 – The burden of proof and decisions on war
- Conclusions: a changing foreign policy?
Bibliography
Index