Sorry states : apologies in international politics
Author(s)Lind, Jennifer M., 1969-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Barry R. Posen.
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Are apologies and other acts of contrition necessary to reduce threat and build trust between former adversaries? This has become an accepted conventional wisdom, despite the fact that the effects of contrition have not yet been tested. This dissertation outlines and tests an "apology theory" of international politics, thus contributing to debates within international relations theory about the role of intentions in threat perception between states, as well as to policy debates about the role of contrition in peace building. The apology theory posits that a state's "policies of remembrance" affect perception of its intentions in the eyes of other states, and thus influence the degree to which others see it as threatening. According to the theory, apologies foster perception of benign intentions and thus reduce threat perception. I test the apology theory in two empirical case studies: South Korean threat perception of Japan and French threat perception of Germany, both since World War II. To determine whether my findings appear valid in other cases, I conduct three "mini-cases": Chinese and Australian perceptions of Japan, and British perceptions of Germany. The study has three principal findings. First, the Japan case shows that denial of past violence (unapologetic remembrance) is pernicious for bilateral relations; it fuels distrust and increases threat perception between states. Acknowledgement of past violence is vital for former adversaries to establish productive and friendly relations. Second, the European case shows that moving beyond acknowledgement of past violence--undertaking extensive policies of contrition--yields little benefit. When the French discuss their perceptions of(cont.) Germany, they emphasize factors other than remembrance. Third, moving beyond a basic acknowledgement of past violence to policies of contrition may actually be harmful for relations. The case of Japan suggests that policies of contrition can trigger domestic backlash, which in turn alarms observers. The potential backlash effect from contrition is an important finding for academic and activist literatures on post-conflict peace-building, which often recommend policies of contrition, but have neglected to consider its potential negative effects.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2004.Includes bibliographical references (p. 419-436).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology