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Levels of analysis and the stu

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Levels of analysis and the stu

Three levels of analysis, each with its own distinct strength, reveals three different ways of understanding international relations. The first states that all nation-states behave similarly, the second emphasizes the unique internal factors of a nation-state, while the third level of analysis focuses on the individual deciding a state's course of action. Each level of analysis is useful in the study of international relations. Indeed, used all together, it is not long before arriving at a point where a vast number of explanations for the actions of a country are brought to light. However, to best understand international relations, one level of analysis is more useful than the rest, because it provides the most comprehensive investigation into the conditions which influence a nation's actions. This, most involved level, is the third level of analysis: it takes into account the not simply the individual who ultimately makes the decision, but the individuals who influence the decision-making individual, as well as what might influence those who exert their influence. Because the third level of analysis is so in-depth, it can discover the deeper reasons behind an action taken by a nation, even possibly finding fault in a conclusion made by the first or second level of analysis. More so, what makes this level the best means to understand international relations is that because the third level of analysis considers what influences might effect the decision-making individual, and therefore it can be seen upon a closer examination that the inferences found in first and second levels of analysis can furthermore be found within the third level of analysis. So then, the third level of analysis is the best level at which to approach the study of international relations.

As previously stated, the third level of analysis encompasses all the possible influences upon the decision making individual. Unlike level one and level two, the third level of analysis can go beyond the assumption of a monolithic state. In addition, it can do so without losing the ability to consider the state as such. Depending on the model used, the level three analysis can either probe into a deeper dimension to seek out the reasons for a state's behavior by looking at different groups that influence the decision maker (as in the organizational and bureaucratic models); or, it can maintain the more uncomplicated viewpoint of a monolithic state that can be found in the other levels of analysis by focusing primarily on the decision maker (as in the rational actor model). The third level of analysis also has the ability to, within the models that can view the state as non-monolithic, presume that the different groups have similar interests and share the same hierarchy of goals by use of the organizational model; or, it can explore the presumption that the different groups have different interests by use of the bureaucratic model. Furthermore, because the focus of level three analysis is on the participants in the decision making process, the psychological aspects that influence the actions of the groups and individuals who influence the actions that the state are considered as well. These psychological aspects can include the perceptions of an individual that are shaped by their past experiences, stereotypes formed through those experiences and their own personal values. The third level of analysis, because of all that it takes into consideration, has a completeness in understanding international relations than cannot be matched by the first and second levels of analysis.

Examples of how the third level of analysis is more useful in better understanding international relations can be seen in examining the Cuban Missile Crisis. A conclusion that would be drawn from a level two analysis is that the US chose the blockade to deal with the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba, because by the nature of the democratic state, it is peaceful and not inclined to be aggressive. However, by use of the third level of analysis it is discovered that the first instinct and most favored option was the most aggressive and most likely to lead to war. In regards to the level one analysis, it would be concluded that the US was reacting to protect the balance of power, yet, the Soviets had not disrupted the balance of power, but had in fact made it more of a true balance. The goal of the balance of power is to keep one country from a ?preponderance? of power, and because the US had that distinct advantage, only the USSR's actions would fall within this model. Thus, the conclusion made by the level one analysis through the balance of power model of the US action when compared to the facts is not logical. As Haas stated, 'the notion of a ?balance? ...

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