A central concept in international politics is that of “determination”. It is the theory that if both sides in a conflict are aware of the other’s motivational levels, the less determined side will often back down, even if it is materially more powerful. Napoleon himself suggested that it was three times more important than material power.
It can be used to explain why great powers often fare poorly in asymmetric conflicts – why the United States could never push the North Vietnamese to their borders, why Britain capitulated during the Irish War of Independence, and more recently the relative successes of both Ukraine and why the EU has long considered cutting itself off from Russian gas supplies.
Our poll today shows a lack of resolve on the part of the Irish public regarding the current major conflicts, with only a weak majority believing Nancy Pelosi was right to visit Taiwan and a majority believing immediate negotiation and a ceasefire on the Russian invasion advocates of Ukraine.
Of course, there are good reasons for such positions, most notably the prospect of an immediate cessation of hostilities, but with a reconfiguration of the world power system in view of the decline of the West.
Resolve is also a useful tool for understanding our internal policies.
As this column has previously highlighted, the biggest threat to government stability is the competing policy goals of tackling the cost-of-living crisis and tackling the climate crisis — particularly where achieving the latter requires raising carbon taxes. The Greens come into conflict with their coalition partners.
Despite holding a small minority of government seats, she has shown determination. The party has overcome its material disadvantage of having a relatively small number of government seats. Because of the clarity of their governmental purpose, the Greens have exerted an outsized influence on politics.
This is evident in budgets 2020/21 and beyond when we observe the gap between public opinion and public policy on the 25% CO2 reduction required for agriculture.
The fact that the Greens came into government with a very clear vision of what they want to achieve in terms of climate protection has benefited the party immensely.
His power base matches that. As our poll shows, 100 percent of Green Party supporters are either concerned or very concerned about the issue. Only supporters of other left parties, Social Democrats, Labour, Solidarity PBP share this concern and are the only threat to the party’s grassroots.
In contrast, just 36 percent of Fianna Fáil’s supporters are concerned or very concerned about the climate, and they are outstripped by independents and others whose supporters tend to be the least concerned (only 17 percent are concerned or very concerned).
Here are lessons for parties who want to participate in government. The power attributed to a government is certainly weakened when you don’t know what you intend to do there. Anyone who has worked in government will say that aligning the many strands of public service and public agencies toward a common goal is incredibly difficult. It doesn’t work without a clear mandate.
There are also lessons for those in government. Coming to power, while difficult in itself, is often not enough if public support for your initiatives is lacking.
Current support for action on climate change is nowhere near where it should be if we are to believe the science on the subject. For the Greens and climate activists to achieve their goals, far more work is needed outside of parliaments than inside.
The Greens will need their resolve in the near future. As this month demonstrates, the two issues that have continued to rise in prominence over the past year are climate change – which was registered as a top 2 issue by 14 percent of voters – and of course the cost of living crisis, which keeps it in position as most important topic and puts all the others in the shade.
The forthcoming budget will, of course, be the great test of that determination. Knowing when to leave government and allowing its coalition partners to know where that red line is will ensure the Green Party is in a position to show greater determination when it comes to public policy.
This also applies to international relations, and particularly to the concept of reputation, where even before a conflict begins, countries try to show resolve through threats. The nuclear deterrent is an example. However, threats are only effective if the threatening state has a reputation for seeing through previous threats.
From this perspective, the exchange of threats and demonstrations of determination between the US and China in recent days is perhaps some of the most serious we have seen since the end of the Cold War.
Kevin Cunningham is Managing Director of Ireland Thinks and Lecturer in Politics at TU Dublin
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/our-resolve-is-being-tested-to-the-limit-with-the-cost-of-living-crisis-and-climate-change-fears-41894893.html Our resolve is being tested in the face of the cost of living crisis and fears of climate change