George, Alexander L. “Knowledge for statecraft: the challenge for political science and history.” International Security 22, no. 1 (1997): 44-52.
The author’s primary purpose of writing the article was to give an insight into how political scientists and historians ought to learn from each other when it comes to the study of international relations. In this regard, the author offers several suggestions for blending history and political science perspective that would lead to the production of more and better knowledge for statecraft. The author also suggests the need for concern on repeated generic problems when it comes to the conduct of foreign policy. Furthermore, he suggests a method of structured and focused comparison to serve as a bridge between political science and history. What the author hopes to achieve in the long run is to ensure that political science and history are both integrated in the understanding of international relations. Usually, political scientists have their own view and understanding of international relations that differs from that of historians. In understanding international relations, the author’s focus is on three key questions including how and why policymakers make the decisions they do in conducting relations with other states, how a person can explain the outcomes of foreign policy interactions between states of either a cooperative or conflictful character, and how the lessons of history can correctly be drawn and cumulated into policy-relevant theory.
The author’s argument on the above takes a simple approach. He explores the study of statecraft; theory, practice, and foreign policy; diplomatic history and international relations theory; case studies and historical research; types of knowledge for policy; the relationship between theory and practice; and implications for research in foreign policy. The author’s argument on why the need for political scientists and historians need to learn from each other is supported by various past cases and historical events. For instance, he refers to three past cases of coercive diplomacy that include the Egyptian crisis (1838-41), U.S. policy toward Japan (1938-41), Arab oil diplomacy (1973-74). The author also gets ideas to support his argument from famous presidential addresses such as that of Gordon Craig. In the end, the author states that based on his studies and those of others, there is strong support to the observation that leading policymakers hardly operate with conceptual and generic knowledge of the problems they encounter. The author further concludes that top policy makers do not have a conceptual and generic knowledge of the strategies they employ when it comes to conducting foreign policy. At the end, the author also mentions that many foreign policies linked to top policymakers are an inaccurate image of other actors that they seek to influence. Thus, it is important for political scientists and historians to works together and scholarship the need to develop better conceptualization as well as knowledge of the several generic problems that foreign policy specialists encounter on a day-to-day basis.
I agree with the author’s argument that policymakers around the world usually have inadequate or little conceptual and generic knowledge of the problems they encounter as well as of the strategies they employ in conducting foreign policy. In the world today, these inadequacies in foreign policy making are the reasons for the strained relationships among states and endless conflicts around the world. It is true that addressing these inadequacies requires political scientists to work together as they stand a better chance of developing better conceptualization and knowledge of the several generic problems encountered by foreign policy specialists on a daily basis.