When does political violence result in stability and order? Does realist IR theory help us understand war and peace? Will the international arena remain unipolar for long? Join us for our latest conversation on the Governance Podcast between Samuel DeCanio (King’s College London) and Nuno Monteiro, Director of International Security Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

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The Guest

Nuno P. Monteiro is Director of International Security Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Dr. Monteiro’s research focuses on International Relations theory and security studies. He is the author of Theory of Unipolar Politics and Nuclear Politics: The Strategic Causes of Proliferation (with Alexandre Debs), published by Cambridge University Press in 2014 and 2017, respectively. His work has been printed in the Annual Review of Political ScienceCritical Review, International OrganizationInternational SecurityInternational Theory, and Perspectives on Politics; and his commentary has appeared in numerous outlets including the GuardianForeign Affairs, the National Interest, and Project Syndicate. At Yale, Dr. Monteiro is also a research fellow at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies and a fellow of Branford College. He is originally from Portugal and earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 2009.

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00:52: How did you become interested in international politics?

01:42: Who influenced your thinking during your PhD at the University of Chicago?

03:28: John Mearsheimer falls under the general category of realism, and you identify to some degree with this label as well.

04:38: Are there themes in the classical realist tradition that you identify with? How do you place yourself in the umbrella of different realist IR approaches?

09:34: Your first book, Theory of Unipolar Politics, examines this concept of unipolarity. Can you give us an overview of the central argument?

15:25: I guess the elephant in the room for this argument would be the rise of China as both an economic and military power… how would you respond to someone who pointed to the rise of China as a counterpoint to your view?

21:01: I suppose the question that’s immediately posed by that is, if China isn’t trying to acquire a global power projection capability, why is it now investing resources in developing aircraft carriers?

27:04: That was your initial book project. You wrote on nuclear proliferation with Alex Debbs. Can you tell us a little bit about your current project?

35:10: In one sense I can see how this idea might have been influenced by the US’s counterinsurgency experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. But somebody might ask whether that limits the explanatory power of the argument because it’s not applicable to war between states. But it sounds like you’re offering a general framework that can incorporate both small scale insurgencies and war between states.

36:50: It almost seems as though it’s an account that would tell a more hopeful story about the possibilities for peace following wars between states.

37:52: I guess you’re suggesting that Waltz’s second level of analysis—the organizational level—matters in a way that perhaps a structural realist who’s emphasizing the role of anarchy in conflict between states might not necessarily take into account.

39:27: It does sound like you have some of the realist’s pessimism in that you’re suggesting that even if conflict among states becomes less frequent due to technological developments… insurgencies that exist don’t have simple tactical or strategic solutions, which I suppose is an accurate depiction of the world we’re currently in.

41:02: Couldn’t somebody say that what you’re suggesting is that we try to influence the organizational structure of insurgencies?