Look at the following statements*:
- “India and Pakistan can agree on one thing: neither wants the other one around.”
- “The Americans don’t really want to fight for the South Koreans, but nor can they afford to be seen to be giving up on a friend.”
- “What is now the EU was set up so that France and Germany could hug each other so tightly in a loving embrace that neither would be able to get an arm free with which to punch the other.”
I don't want to argue whether these statements are true or not. What's bugging me is that they all contain an implicit assumption that a state acts as an intelligent agent at least and as a rational agent at most**.
Is this assumption true?
A state is a complex system which comprise civilians, military, businesses and different government branches. These parts may have different and even opposite goals and values and they can constrain each other. Will interactions between those parts lead to a (more or less) rational behavior of a whole?
Do you know a good book or article which reflects on this issue?
* Quotes from "Prisoners of Geography" by Tim Marshall
** I guess many people assume that states are human-like rational
Yep. To expand a little - they don't consider nations as agents and say that many mistakes in the field of international relations came from that misconception. In their model a nation is made up of a bunch of agents separated into several different groups/roles, and the interactions between them, based on various incentives, is what creates the apparent behavior of the nation. as crl said, my post explains it more in depth.