Stephen D. Krasner

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Stephen David Krasner (born 15 February 1942, New York) is an international relations professor at Stanford University and is a 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'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 stabilizationEdit

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 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) 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).

  • Stabilization
  • The root causes being addressed
  • The creation of laws and institutions of a market democracy

Executive powerEdit

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 U.S. 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. But 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 sovereigntyEdit

Stephen Krasner was made famous in the political science world for his extensive contributions on the topic of state sovereignty, in his influential book, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (1999), in which he defines state sovereignty as clearly drawn out rules in the international system. In international law, the rule is that a state has the exclusive right to have control over an area of governance, people, and that a state has a legitimate exercise of power and the interpretation of international law. Krasner, however, focuses on the rules of sovereignty continually being broken and specifies four conceptions of sovereignty in international relations:

  • Legal sovereignty – states recognizing one another as independent territories
  • Interdependence sovereigntyglobalization (e.g., international flows of capital, people, and information) erodes state sovereignty
  • Domestic sovereignty – the standard definition, which refers to state authority structures and their effectiveness of control within the state
  • Westphalian sovereignty – states have the right to separately determine their own domestic authority

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

  • Religious toleration
  • Minority rights
  • Human rights
  • International stability


  • Are Bureaucracies Important? (1972)
  • State Power and the Structure of International Trade" (1976)
  • Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials Investment and American Foreign Policy (1978)
  • Structural Conflict: The Third World Against Global Liberalism (1985)
  • Compromising Westphalia (1996)
  • Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (1999)
  • Addressing State Failure (2005)
  • Building Democracy After Conflict: The Case For Shared Sovereignty (2005)
  • Power, the State, and Sovereignty: Essays on International Relations (2009)

Edited worksEdit

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

Selected articlesEdit

  • "Think Again: Sovereignty". Foreign Policy. November 20, 2009.

External linksEdit