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Stephen Krasner

For the sports writer and author of children's books, see Stephen Krasner.

Stephen Krasner (born 15 February 1942, New York) is an international relations professor at Stanford University and is the former Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State, a position he held from 2005 until April 2007 while on leave from Stanford. He is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.


Krasner received his bachelor's degree from the Department of History at Cornell University in 1963, where he was a member of the Quill and Dagger society. He then earned his master's degree from Columbia University, and his PhD from Harvard University. Krasner is the author of six books and over ninety articles. He has taught courses on international relations, international political economy, international relations theory, policy making, and state-building at Stanford University. He received a dean’s award for excellence in teaching in 1991.

One of his most famous accomplishments in the realm of political science was defining "international regimes" as, "implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations," in a special issue of the journal International Organization in 1982. He has also written extensively about statehood and sovereignty.

Weak state stabilization

Stephen Krasner is what political scientists define as a neorealist. He writes about the United States as being threatened by weakened nations in the increasingly interconnected international system in his article, Addressing State Failure (2005). Krasner believes in conflict prevention, in which he believes the United States and NGOs (non governmental organizations) should make it clear that stabilizing weak states in the world is high on the policy agenda. Krasner lays out three steps to what he believes are the main goals in managing weak post conflict states successfully: (for example the United States rebuilding of Iraq)

  1. Stabilization
  2. The root causes being addressed
  3. The creation of laws and institutions of a market democracy

Executive power

Stephen Krasner also argues that bureaucratic procedures and bureaucratic politics are not what shape American foreign policy. Instead, he states that the undisputed power of the President is what ultimately leads to the foreign policy decisions Are Bureaucracies Important? (1972). He also states that bureaucratic politics are dangerous and misleading, “because it undermines the assumptions of democratic politics by relieving high-ranking officials of responsibility” (1972). Bureaucratic theorists see the collective decisions of smaller actors in the bureaucratic procedure as what influences the foreign policy, not the decisions of the high-ranking executive officials. Yet, Krasner argues that it is a dangerous theory because it gives leaders excuses for their foreign policy failures, and it gives the public a skewed view of the ultimate power that the President possesses. He defines states political objectives as a direct reflection of the President’s national interest goals and beliefs of what he thinks society should be.

State sovereignty

Stephen Krasner was made famous in the political science world for his extensive contributions on the topic of states sovereignty, in his influential book, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (1999). In this book Krasner describes his views on the long disputed topic. His ideas brought up in his book define states sovereignty as clearly drawn out rules in the international system. In international law, the rule states that: a state has the exclusive right to have control over and area of governance, people, and that a state has a legitimate exercise of power and the interpretation of international law. In his book however, he talks about the rules of sovereignty continually being broken. In Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (1999), he defines four ways in which people refer to sovereignty in international relations:

  1. Legal sovereignty, which Krasner defines as states recognizing one another as independent territories.
  2. Interdependence sovereignty, which is an eroding mechanism of sovereignty. Krasner sees globalization (capital flows, migration, and ideas) as a way in which the power of sovereignty in states is being increasingly lessened.
  3. Domestic sovereignty is seen as the standard, this definition refers to state authority structures and their effectiveness of control within the state.
  4. Westphalian sovereignty, which Krasner declares is the concept that states have the right to separately determine their own domestic authority structures.

Krasner also describes the four situations in which the international community deems the rules of sovereignty invalid, and subject to outside intervention:

  1. Religious toleration
  2. Minority rights
  3. Human rights
  4. International stability


  • Are Bureaucracies Important? (1972)
  • Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials Investment and American Foreign Policy (1978)
  • Structural Conflict: The Third World Against Global Liberalism (1985)
  • Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (1999)
  • Addressing State Failure (2005)
  • Power, the state, and sovereignty : essays on international relations (2009)

Edited works

  • International Regimes (1983)
  • Exploration and Contestation in the Study of World Politics (co-editor, 1999)
  • Problematic Sovereignty: Contested Rules and Political Possibilities (2001)

External links

  • State Department Biography
  • Stanford University Homepage
  • Beyond Intractability: International Regimes

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