CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1International relations (IR) in France has an unusual historiography. The few studies available would suggest that French IR has enjoyed splendid isolation from the discipline as it is practiced in the United States. The community of French internationalists seem to have “remained on the sidelines of the debates stirred up by their Anglo-Saxon colleagues” and managed to give it “a peculiarly French complexion”. [2] As the discipline began to blossom in the United States after 1945, it remained “largely self-sufficient” in France. [3] This particularity, it is claimed, is reflected most notably by the domination of history and law, the lack of independence in a field without its own methodology, and the prevalence of a sociological perspective to the detriment of “theory”. [4] It is said to be the result of a “historic bifurcation” between France and the American and British contexts, where the institutionalization of the discipline took place much earlier. [5] In the image of the Gaullist France in which it was created, IR supposedly affirmed its independence from any American control from the outset. Because this interpretation has been repeated so many times, it is now viewed as the official truth of the discipline and thus even found a place in Dario Battistella’s weighty textbook.

2A closer look, however, reveals that it is this disciplinary history that seems to operate self-sufficiently, cut off from the many historical works on realism and the English School that have emerged over the past fifteen years, much more than the discipline it takes as its subject. And one of its paradoxes (certainly not the only one) is that it is unable to reproduce the international logic at play in the discipline’s development. This is the result, no doubt, of a largely native reconstruction of the discipline’s history, dependent on what its protagonists say about it and often cut off from its archives. A history thus unaware that all of the traits that apparently mark the distinctiveness of the discipline in France (the importance of the sociological approach, its late institutionalization, the lack of methodology) can also be found in the United States.

3By adopting an ancillary history in this way, the discipline is better able to produce its own truth, given that peculiarity quickly becomes a way to guarantee autonomy and originality, which eventually become attached to the main figures working in the discipline. In this way, Raymond Aron—whose magnum opus on the topic was often content to summarize the Anglophone literature in order to differentiate itself on the margins—suddenly found himself under the French magnifying glass, presented as an original thinker who set himself apart from the American realists with his consideration for the ethical tension in political action (with his counterparts across the Atlantic reduced to representatives of a Teutonic tradition of Machtpolitik inspired by Treitschke) and with his sociological approach. [6] It was the same for Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, seen to demonstrate the importance of history in the French approach to IR, in contrast to an empty positivism designated, without any discussion, as an American “theory” that never caught on in France.

4We might be tempted to oppose this historiographical chauvinism by highlighting the dependence the field had on the American context. It would be sufficient to emphasize the amount of funding received from the Rockefeller and Ford foundations to underscore the effects of the signposting that led to the consolidation of a “realist” trend on both sides of the Atlantic and which strengthened the position of its French representatives through the effects of accreditation. These considerations might furthermore draw on the note of caution expressed by contemporaries: Stanley Hoffmann, for example, saw the discipline as an “American social science”, while Alfred Grosser spoke of an “American specialty”. [7] There would probably be little difficulty in showing that IR theory was imported, allowing certain actors to compensate for their academic marginality by mobilizing (by means of an international detour) the social, symbolic, or institutional “capital” they lacked locally. Is this not the case for someone like Duroselle or even initially Aron, who were for a long time distanced from the Sorbonne? It would then only be necessary to select the historical and sociological data required to illustrate, a posteriori, an exemplary case of the unilateral “international circulation of ideas”, or even of “symbolic imperialism” organized by hired smugglers in the service of a hegemonic strategy of cultural Atlanticism. [8]

5Splendid isolation on the one hand, structural domination on the other: aside from the fact they are opposites, these two ways of viewing the situation result from the same type of analysis, which interprets the discipline solely through the lens of a strictly national framework, as if only this level of analysis were able to explain its origin. However, the fact is that this field was already internationalized from the inter-war period: in France, the Centre d’études de politique étrangère [Center for the Study of Foreign Policy] (CEPE), created in 1935, was explicitly modeled on the Royal Institute of International Affairs, with which it had very close relations, and worked in coordination with the International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations (LON) while also taking part in the International Studies Conference, at the forefront of a scientific internationalism in the service of peace. While this internationalism faced a crisis after 1945, there was no reconstruction of the field on a nationalist basis. Instead, there was a change that reflected the increased prominence of a “realist” approach led by groups in competition with preceding ones, but which were just as internationalized.

6While French IR cannot be seen as having been formed in an idiosyncratic way, apparently avoiding all foreign influence in the views of its authorized historians, it is also not possible to view it as an original field “imported” from the United States. The international matrix of the discipline cannot be reduced to a simple process of “circulation” that mobilized international models to bring them into competition, as was the case, for example, with the development of “European political science”. [9] American philanthropic foundations did of course play an important role in the development of the discipline. But it would be wrong to subscribe to the vulgar functionalism of money, especially since the amounts initially committed were negligible, [10] and since in the United States, the discipline took shape as part of a critical relationship with national intellectual traditions. It took aim at liberalism as well as the behaviorist social science project, which was in part a self-defensive reaction to a criticism of modernity issuing largely from European intellectual sources. [11] Far from being an imported product, French IR took shape within a movement that was international from the outset, one that preceded and supported the institutionalization of international relations theory in various national university contexts. We would be misguided in seeking to ascribe any national origin to this “theory” born of the ideological upheavals in the early twentieth century—but if absolutely necessary, we would need to look to German historicism and Meinecke’s disciples.

7To understand this process of the simultaneous institutionalization of IR in both France and the United States during the 1950s, we need to begin with the “developing” circulations to arrive at the “developed” discipline. IR was not a finished product that was “imported”, but a discipline produced by an assembly line that was internationalized from the outset, where elements from various sources were assembled through organized, limited, or spontaneous circulation. It tended not to impose a unique—American—vision of international relations (by universalizing it), but to instead reflect the local variations of an intellectual matrix whose “conditions of production” were directly international. If the configuration of the “international circulation of ideas” and “import-export” was only partly a factor, it is also because intellectual life was not only, as Pierre Bourdieu suggests, “like all other social spaces, […] a home to nationalism and imperialism”, but also the space of true internationalisms, willed or forced cosmopolitanisms, and translations that could not be reduced to contradictions. [12] To be specific, the realism that served as a basis for IR was forged in the tension between uprooted German political thought and intellectual contexts marked by strong political rationalism, involving both American social sciences and the Durkheimian tradition in France. It was not by chance that the study of IR owes so much to defectors whose lives had been upended by the crisis of the 1930s. In fact, émigrés often played a decisive role in the formation of the discipline, which was built on a whole series of intellectual and ideological Verfremdungseffekte. [13] In any event, the rationales that led to the formation of IR are related to complex circulations—of concepts, persons, discourses—that largely went beyond the various national frameworks of which the disciplines were a part. IR took shape in a vast multilingual buzz of activity.

8While it is perfectly legitimate to take French IR as a subject—while properly marking out its limits—this does not necessarily mean that its “conditions of production” were subject to the same socio-geographic breakdown. The notion of discipline refers most often to a social space marked out by national institutions and thus lends itself particularly well to an analysis in terms of scientific “field” and positional space, especially since methods function in order to “initiat[e] into a group” and to maintain a “relation to a social force”. [14] But it does not, however, correspond to the space of knowledge more generally, a background from which it separates itself and produces a selective codification, oriented by social reproduction aims. [15] This background generally tends to disappear, covered over by an official history that is developed retrospectively for the purpose of consolidating the field. The study of the process of a discipline’s creation—and all the more of a discipline as international as IR—is a reminder that the referential space based on which we can understand this creation neither is determined ahead of time, nor can be superimposed a priori on the national aspects of the discipline that is formed. The context of relevance and the scale of analysis remain open empirical questions that must be addressed afresh each time.

9Approaching the development of IR in France thus involves viewing the discipline from a transatlantic perspective: not to see it as the surrogate for a foreign original, but to understand it as the local crystallization of a movement that included and went beyond it. By ignoring the initially transnational nature of this intellectual project, we condemn ourselves to studying it based on national contexts that appear isolated, but which in reality are local variations and dialects of the same intellectual phrase. International circulation must thus be seen as a principle in the production of international relations theory. Far from claiming to be exhaustive, the following pages offer a few elements of analysis concerning the genesis of IR in France by restoring certain characteristics of the international fabric from which this discipline developed.

The Three Founding Principles of a New Discipline

10IR did not gain the relative independence characterizing a scientific discipline until the 1950s, when specialized university institutions were created that laid claim to (this was the new element) a specific methodology for that field, with, for example, relations between states supposedly subject to a “theory” that was distinct not only from legal doctrines, but also from the methods of the unified social sciences. [16] Before then, the study of IR had been an interdisciplinary undertaking, largely dominated by international law, diplomatic history, and colonial administration. This process of empowerment was reflected first in the creation of new institutions that were less linked to practitioners and based within universities: in Great Britain, the British Royal Institute of International Affairs produced, in 1959, a British Committee on the Theory of International Politics located in Cambridge; [17] in Germany, the Institut für Auswärtige Politik and the Deutsche Hochschule für Politik were placed under the control of the Nazi regime, but many academics found refuge in the United States, where they played a major role in the development of international relations theory; [18] and finally in France, the Centre d’Études de Politique Étrangère (CEPE), created in 1935, went into a long decline from the 1950s, and was eclipsed by the Centre d’Études des Relations Internationales [Center for the Study of International Relations] (CERI) established at the same time by the Fondation National des Sciences Politiques [National Foundation for Political Sciences] (FNSP). [19]

11By shifting IR to the field of university research, these institutions aimed above all to define a world of legitimate subjects and impose a specific method to pull IR out of the methodological eclecticism that had predominated until then. Previously, the study of international issues had been a highly heteronomous field that was defined less by its methods than by the institutional project it served. The analysis of major issues by experts from many areas was thought to strengthen a culture of international arbitration that saw law as a social technique for preventing conflict. It was also meant to encourage understanding among nations through institutional instruments such as the continuous conference and intellectual and scientific cooperation. It was thus the modalities involved in the social organization of scientific work that counted, rather than the results. The goal was to “facilitate the amicable adjustment of national differences” and to promote “continuous conference” among nations. [20] The CEPE, for example, was extremely close to the LON’s International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation, and promoted a view of scientific cooperation that involved “placing the social sciences in the service of peace” and “bringing minds together beyond borders”. [21]

12Refocusing IR within research institutions in the aftermath of World War II represented something new. Under the cover of dragging IR out of its pre-scientific stage, an entire social and ideological architecture was in fact envisaged: the “theory” being developed at the time was first a weapon of war that served a “realist” approach seeking to restrict the hold of practitioners on international organizations and to oppose any perspective founded on international law. This turning point took place in a context in which internationalist liberalism was in crisis. Even before the end of World War II, the foundations that had tried to invent a “science of peace” had proceeded to take a critical inventory of their initiatives in this area and sought to identify alternative approaches. The development of IR theory would be prompted by three series of factors.

13First, the new approach sanctioned the defeat of the legal reading of inter-state relationships. International law could not serve as an instrument of reform or as a principle for comprehending IR because it was merely a form derived from the power relations in operation. The principle for understanding this order was not found in its legal aspect but in the social forces that determined the strategic goals of the use of law. This shift was reflected in the turn made by IR toward sociological issues. An incisive critique of legal formalism developed particularly among the Weimar legal experts who had emigrated to the United States and England from 1933. In the eyes of someone like Hans Morgenthau, Georg Schwarzenberger, or even John Herz (who was nonetheless a follower of Hans Kelsen), the weakness of positivism was that it did not see that the principles of the law’s determination were extrinsic to the law and thus overlooked the specifically political element underlying legal relations. [22] Georg Schwarzenberger summarized the new approach when he wrote that “the study of international relations is a special branch of sociology which is concerned with those phenomena which essentially affect international society as such”. This link to sociology is one of the markers of the creation of realism and was far from being uniquely French, since it can also be found in the work of Kenneth W. Thompson, Hans Morgenthau, and John Herz, as well as Raymond Aron. [23] These trends quickly redefined the study of IR, especially thanks to the support it received from the Rockefeller Foundation. The program revision undertaken by the Foundation from 1945 onward played a major role in challenging the legal perspective and diplomatic history. Where interdisciplinarity was still presented during the 1930s as a model for the integration of the social sciences, this methodological eclecticism now seemed to be an obstacle. [24] At the beginning of the 1950s, the Rockefeller Foundation gradually turned toward the idea of the field’s “scientific development” and to activities aiming to support the emergence of a “theory of international politics” that would be distinct from vague desires for reform and diplomatic history. [25]

14The new program that took shape in 1952-53 thus ratified the rejection of legal formalism and moved toward a sociological understanding of law and its politicization in power relations. This new orientation was particularly striking as the program director, Kenneth W. Thompson, was a follower and former colleague of Hans Morgenthau, and was, according to the words of his mentor, “the best student that [he] ever had”. [26] In the mid-1950s, the internationalist and liberal phase of IR centering on diplomatic activity and cooperation was definitively over. International law had now “fallen from its pedestal” and the Foundation chose “a vigorous sociological approach” for which “the rule of law must be considered in relation to a given social reality”. [27]

15Second, while the project to formulate an IR “theory” seems to have been in line with the more general development of the social sciences at the time, this scientism was a pure façade. It was solely related to a strategy that aimed to establish academic legitimacy for political “realism”, and the early international relations theorists were perfectly aware of this: “No political thinker can expect to be heard who would not, at least in his terminology, pay tribute to the spirit of science”, wrote Morgenthau at the time. [28] But for its promoters, IR theory was defined above all by its opposition to any idea of a science of politics. In their eyes, politics was an existential, pre-rational dimension constitutive of the human condition, where the primordial distinctions between friend and enemy played out, and which consequently could not be adequately understood based on categories of scientific understanding that sought to be neutral: “A science of politics thus deals with a subject that is existentially alien to it”, affirmed Morgenthau. [29] Published in 1946, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics was seen as an ideological manifesto of this opposition and ensured Morgenthau’s status as the leading architect of IR. From its beginnings, IR “theory” was thus at odds with the very idea of a social science. The positions expressed in Scientific Man vs. Power Politics shaped much of the thinking about the topic in the late 1940s. In 1947, the major report that Bryce Wood, consultant for the Social Science Research Council, submitted to the Rockefeller Foundation perfectly reflected the spirit of the new approach when he wrote that it was founded on “the possibility of resorting to force, rather than social science, to resolve disputes”. [30] The failure of attempts to express the positive content of this IR “theory” should not hide its true success: IR “theory” was above all a defensive wall raised in order to free the study of politics from the hold of the behaviorist social sciences. [31]

16Third, IR theory emerged from a specific space of cultural struggle in the 1940s and ’50s, marked especially by the renaissance of Christian political thought. [32] Most notably, this anchoring explains the suspicion with which the partisans of this new discipline viewed the notion of progress as well as their generally providentialist view of history. It was in fact the critique of philosophies of history and of any claim to mastering historical progress that represented the basis of their opposition to the modern social sciences, as well as to Marxism and liberalism. This theme can be found in the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, which clearly illustrates the neo-orthodox response to the crisis of the progressive Social Gospel at the beginning of the century, but also in the work of conservative Methodists such as George Kennan or Herbert Butterfield, and in particular Kenneth W. Thompson, who provided support from the Rockefeller Foundation to the early IR theorists. This “Christian realism” provided a cross-cutting language that contributed to cementing the various intellectual components of the network that was coalescing around the Rockefeller Foundation’s IR program. Although they came from a different background, many émigrés, including Morgenthau and Herz, entered into dialogue with this tradition through a Schmittian-based political theology they knew well and a critique of secularization. [33] And in their own way, as we will see, Jean-Baptiste Duroselle and Raymond Aron were more or less directly working within this trend.

17Based on a consensus that was essentially negative, reactive, and even in some respects reactionary, in the academic context of the post-war period IR theory gave a viable form to an ideological trend constructed against internationalism and progressivism: a kind of intellectual counter-Reformation that opposed Burke and Saint Augustine to the Enlightenment, providence to progress, the art of politics to political science, and sovereign decision-making to rational calculation.

The Role of the FNSP and the Birth of CERI

18These three principles allow for a better understanding of the shape that would distinguish the discipline in France, as well as the division of scientific work that was implemented between the sixth section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) and the FNSP after the war. These two institutions were closely involved in several programs set up by the Rockefeller Foundation, which contributed to bringing them together. They also played a political role, in that they initially provided a counterweight to the intellectual trends close to Marxism. [34] It was as part of a general discussion on French-American scientific cooperation that CERI was mentioned for the first time. In 1946, Roger Seydoux, administrator of the FNSP and director of the Institut d’Études Politiques [Institute for Political Studies] (IEP), shared with Joseph Willits the plan to create “a Centre d’Études des Relations Internationales [Center for Research in International Relations], intended to develop our students’ understanding of the issues being debated in the world and of the way they are viewed by the various major powers, especially the United States”. [35] In reality, this involved formalizing a series of conferences given by American professors in France on international issues, by inviting them as part of an established program rather than in an ad hoc way. The Rockefeller Foundation was asked to play an intermediary role by helping the FNSP to identify potential invited speakers and by putting them in contact with the institution: “Concerning the Centre d’Études des Relations Internationales”, wrote Seydoux, “we will particularly need intellectual assistance”. [36] This request was accompanied by considerations about the needs of the IEP Documentation Department regarding international information (more specifically, on “the American view of international issues”). These discussions, beginning the following year, led to an initial subsidy of 2,500 dollars (in order to facilitate conferences and purchase American books), which was renewed in 1950 and then in 1951 as “the FNSP international relations program”. [37] Initially, the CERI project thus appeared to be the grouping together of a small number of scientific cooperation activities on international issues. In early 1953, CERI still had an entirely virtual existence, as historian Frederick Lane, then consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation, learned during a conversation with Jean Meynaud. Meynaud explained to him in fact that “there [was] no formally organized ‘Center’, but that the term was a nickname used to designate the FNSP’s activities in this area, namely: a) in the library, the room dedicated to IR; b) as part of the teaching at the Institute, one section, that is, a series of courses; c) three research activities for which ‘credits’ were granted by government offices”. [38]

19The creation of CERI and the development of IR were thus part of a gradual process that took place over fifteen years (1946-62) and did not immediately take a coherent shape. For the Rockefeller Foundation, supporting the creation of CERI was part of a strategy to develop IR outside the social sciences. Thompson’s interest in the FNSP was due to the fact that, rightly or wrongly, he saw the institution as a way of practicing and teaching social sciences “that sought to distance itself from the formalist and legalist interpretation of social realities”, analogous to the approach he wanted to promote in the United States. [39] The affinities were especially strong given that the study of IR at the FNSP was represented by Raymond Aron, Jean Gottman, and Jean-Baptiste Duroselle. The first two had been closely related to the activities of the Rockefeller Foundation for many years, while the third would become the leading architect of the discipline in France.

The Unstoppable Rise of Jean-Baptiste Duroselle

20How did the study of IR in France become so closely tied to a single individual? The question is especially pertinent given that nothing, upon first glance, seemed to destine Jean-Baptiste Duroselle to becoming the strong man of the new discipline. In the early 1950s, he found himself on the margins of the Parisian institutions: he was teaching mainly at the Saarland University, led one seminar and one course on US foreign policy at the IEP as a part-time lecturer, and was a visiting professor at the Bologna Center at Johns Hopkins University, where he taught courses on diplomatic history, requiring him to spend two nights a week on sleeper trains. [40] Other more established individuals with privileged connections to philanthropic foundations could have claimed to be the French representative of this trend, including the geographer Jean Gottman and Raymond Aron. It seems that even Duroselle did not consider himself to be a pioneer, as evidenced in a letter addressed in 1956 to Shepard Stone, who was then in charge of the Ford Foundation’s European program: “The study of international relations has only just begun. The leader in this field is Raymond Aron, who is essentially a sociologist. Alfred Grosser came to the study of international relations from the field of German studies; as for me, I began by studying contemporary history”. [41] Why then was it that the new discipline took shape around this historian of French social Catholicism, who had just recently moved to diplomatic history?

21To answer this question, I propose two elements of explanation. First, a structural element related to the configuration of the discipline after 1945. The spatial coordinates of IR theory were in fact determined by an entire system of oppositions: a break from diplomatic history in the name of a certain scientificity, and an opposition to the social sciences in the name of a certain historicity of political reason. This double break met the need to remove the study of politics from a historical-legal positivism that had fallen into disuse, without it coming under the disciplinary control of the social sciences. This configuration, also found in the United States and England, led, in the French case, to a logical equation with a limited number of solutions, with the main one being Jean-Baptiste Duroselle. In many ways, the conservative reaction to the Annales school was the equivalent of the counter-reform led by American realists against the social sciences. To these structural elements, we must add a chance encounter, the success of which owed nothing to chance. The close ties between Kenneth W. Thompson and Jean-Baptiste Duroselle would enable the latter to occupy a strategic position in the transatlantic networks by becoming one of the main representatives of the Rockefeller Foundation at the FNSP, and the key contact for all initiatives related to IR and political theory. Let us consider these two elements one at a time.

22Although he might appear an outsider compared to Aron, who very quickly established himself within the networks of American cultural diplomacy in Europe, Jean-Baptiste Duroselle was not entirely devoid of assets qualifying him to play a strategic role in the institutional and scientific transformations of the post-war period. In 1951, and then in 1953, he spent time at the University of Notre-Dame, where he was welcomed by Waldemar Gurian, who, among other initiatives, led the Committee on International Relations. A German-naturalized Russian émigré, Gurian is a key, albeit little known, figure in the history of post-war political theory. [42] A Jew converted to Catholicism, he was a protégé of Carl Schmitt before emigrating to the United States and distancing himself from his mentor in 1939 by founding the Review of Politics. This journal called for a renewal of political thought on traditionalist bases and became an important intellectual instrument of the anti-positivist reaction, often close to the views of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago (founded in 1941), where neo-Thomists and Straussians dominated. This periodical, for which Duroselle would become a regular contributor, was also one of the sources for the spread of realism in IR. While very few traces of the contents of these visits remain, it is evident that Duroselle and Gurian shared areas of interest: French social Catholicism, the USSR, and IR theory. It was probably on this occasion (in 1951) that Duroselle became familiar with the American debate on the methodological and disciplinary status of IR, which the Review often echoed and of which he would become a part as it developed. [43] Furthermore, like Aron, he was publishing in the journals of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (including Preuves and Der Monat). The context of these position statements, the journals in which he published, the intellectual circles to which he belonged, his ties to Gurian, and his Catholicism: all of these elements made Duroselle “visible”, in a way, to the American scientific entrepreneurs involved in debates on the future of IR, and contributed to situating him in the natural orbit of the network that was forming around the Rockefeller Foundation.

23But this visibility was not solely due to Duroselle’s connections to the United States. The positions he took in France were also “visible” through the lens of the constraints that weighed on the institutionalization of IR theory in the American context. Duroselle’s approach provides a structural equivalent in the French context. Firstly, he set himself apart from traditional diplomatic history, as well as from his mentor Pierre Renouvin, in two ways. Primarily, because Renouvin excluded contemporary issues, which he believed were too current for a historian to study dispassionately. [44] But also, adds Duroselle, because “it would be wrong to believe that the difference between history and the science of international relations is chronological [.. . ], the difference, on the contrary, is logic,” with history being interested in the singular and contingent event, while the science of IR seeks to generalize. [45] This intellectual differentiation corresponded moreover to a peripheral position, distanced from the Sorbonne, which was to some degree solidified by the failure of his application to become chair of history in 1956 (had this been successful, as Duroselle later explained to Thompson, it “would have drawn me too much toward the study of the nineteenth century, while [.. . ] my ambition was to develop the study of recent history and especially international relations in France” [46]). In fact, he placed himself on the side of the new institutions where the social science disciplines were concentrated, a position he claimed was in opposition to the Faculties of Arts and Law. [47] But within this institutional conglomeration, Duroselle very clearly distinguished himself from the trend toward the integration of the social sciences represented by Lucien Febvre, Charles Morazé, and Fernand Braudel in the sixth section of the EPHE, which he constantly criticized. As part of this strategy, the legacy of Renouvin again came into play. While he explained retrospectively that he was “resolutely uninvolved with (not hostile to) the ‘École des Annales’, with Lucien Febvre writing an article about [his] Professor Pouthas that seemed to [him] mean and unjust”, [48] the words he expressed to his correspondents at the Rockefeller Foundation reveal, on the contrary, a constant and emphatic animosity that was particularly sharp with regard to Braudel. Thompson thus notes that Duroselle seemed “extremely critical of the High Command of the Sixth Section”. He denounced the strategic use of the Annales journal which, according to him, reinforced the positions of Morazé and Braudel. Duroselle considered the latter to be “highly overrated” and engaged in “the worst kind of personal journalism”; that he had “produced nothing of importance” aside from his book on the Mediterranean, which was furthermore “riddled with errors”; and that, finally, “Braudel [did] not have the greatness of mind found in a true great scholar such as Renouvin”. [49] Expressed in a more or less diplomatic tone, the denunciation of Braudel’s “imperialism” was a constant among those involved in the formation of IR in France, especially with Gottman and Aron. Aside from personal enmity, it was related to intellectual as well as institutional differences. The refusal to completely fold the study of politics into the social sciences was a strategy to maintain the independence of the FNSP and empower CERI, which figured very clearly in Duroselle’s skepticism concerning the project—encouraged by American philanthropic institutions since the 1930s—to establish a school or central institute for the social sciences in France, which would have brought together institutions from the post-war period. [50] This institutional hedging was also reflected in Duroselle’s methodological writings during the same period, when the scientific claim establishing the break with history was very often tempered by a criticism of scientific naturalism, echoing the criticism expressed at the same time by its American representatives. Contrary to the “science of international relations”, of course, history “is not a science” [51]; however, while suggesting the initial possibility for a scientific study of IR, Duroselle hastened to add that IR theory was not a “pure science” whose task it would be to formulate laws. [52] In any event, Duroselle’s intellectual stance in the early 1950s immediately made sense to all of those who, in connection with the Rockefeller Foundation, were considering the institutionalization of a new approach to IR, insofar as it was almost the mirror-image of the positions they were taking in the United States and England.

24Yet the realization of the numerous potentialities predisposing Duroselle to becoming the embodiment of IR in France also required a catalyst. This element was the meeting with Kenneth W. Thompson, after which CERI would take on a more specific institutional shape and develop a working agenda that largely reflected Duroselle’s interests and strategy, perfectly matching those of his American counterparts. During a stay in Paris in July-August 1954, Thompson met several members of the IEP, including Duroselle, and asked him to send him a memo concerning CERI’s activities. The meeting was followed by an exchange of letters inaugurating what would become, over the years, a lively correspondence. Aside from chance, the success and importance of this decisive meeting was due to the fact that the two men shared a certain number of characteristics that predisposed them to working together. They were first of all contemporaries: Thompson was born in 1921, Duroselle in 1917. Both came to IR through history: Thompson wrote his dissertation in 1950 on Arnold Toynbee’s philosophy of history, Duroselle published his in 1951 on the history of social Catholicism in France. [53] They were also “followers” more than innovators, greatly influenced by their mentors, from whom they garnered a kind of prestige by proxy. They also willingly promoted this influence: Duroselle made the intellectual debt he owed Renouvin very clear, while Thompson made himself known through his collaboration with Morgenthau. [54] Both were fundamentally skeptical about the possibility of making IR a true social science. Finally, and most importantly, these intellectual affinities reflected similar ideological positions in the post-war culture wars: as a Catholic historian of Catholicism, Duroselle could not help but find echoes of his thinking in an American Christian realist. This special relationship with the architect of the Rockefeller Foundation’s international relations program—who preferred him to other key figures (he saw Duroselle as someone “more mature and more balanced than Alfred Grosser” [55])—is one of the factors explaining Duroselle’s central position in the new discipline.

“I am working hand in glove with the Rockefeller Foundation“

25This encounter also came at a decisive moment: it followed a meeting that the Rockefeller Foundation had held behind closed doors in May 1954, entirely dedicated to defining the content of IR “theory” and the modalities for its institutional development. [56] It was in a letter from 14 November to Jean Touchard, who had just replaced Jean Meynaud in the position of secretary general of the FNSP, that Duroselle sketched out a plan for CERI revealing the new possibilities opened up through his meeting with Thompson. [57] This first involved providing the Center with an “organic structure” that would make it possible to rationalize its funding and activities: “The resources come from various sources. There is no single management team, no funding committee, not even a common goal”. To remedy this, Duroselle sought to establish a directorship, shared between an “administrator” and an “intellectual director”, a position he proposed to occupy. The center’s structure would be composed of “research groups” bringing together researchers and “research assistants” (“ghost writers” that Duroselle planned to recruit from among the students) around a research director.


In my opinion, the number of groups cannot be set in advance. The majority will focus on area studies, such as Germany, the USSR, the Saar, etc. But we also have to plan for the creation of groups studying problems that go beyond geographical frameworks: for example, the problem of the role of public opinion in the matter of foreign policy, or the problem of the research method for international relations.

27In this same letter, Duroselle also expressed a desire to ensure greater coordination between CERI and “various parallel, similar, neighboring enterprises, that may or may not depend on Sciences Po”. These primarily included the CEPE and the Sorbonne’s Institut d’Histoire des Relations Internationales [Institute of the History of International Relations] led by Renouvin, as well as a potential “committee for the coordination of international relations studies” at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique [National Center for Scientific Research] (CNRS) that Duroselle wanted to establish and which would allow him to direct resources to the three institutes mentioned. It also involved forming ties with the Association Française de Science Politique [French Association of Political Science] (AFSP) and its journal, Revue française de science politique [French Review of Political Science] (RFSP). Finally, Duroselle wanted to work together with “foreign, especially American, groups that are coming to work in Europe”.


I personally undertook such a collaboration with the group from Johns Hopkins University (Prof. Grove Haynes) and with the Rockefeller Foundation (Prof. Kenneth Thompson). Clearly, my authority will increase tenfold in such discussions if, instead of speaking in my own name, I were speaking on behalf of the Center—subject naturally to the Foundation’s opinion.

29A final point in the letter concerns funding sources. Although existing sources, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Commission in Bonn (which funded the research group on Germany) were to be retained, Duroselle also planned to seek out new sponsors.


There remain the American funds. I am working hand in glove with the Rockefeller Foundation, and spoke to you about it, as well to Chapsal, Henry-Gréard, and Meyriat. Soon, I will write the note intended for Kenneth Thompson, which I will send to you for any amendments before sending it to him. It seems to me that we can ask for money from the Rockefeller—for area studies concerning regions where it does not involve a pro-American policy position: Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, underdeveloped countries in general, the British Empire—for the purchase of equipment—for the creation of groups studying certain problems (for example, the method of international relations).

31This first draft shows the degree to which the institution was above all the work of a single man, who planned to be its architect, administrator, and intellectual leader. Furthermore, it is clear that Duroselle sought to make CERI the leading institute in IR by developing collaborations at the national and international level. But this proposal also reveals the main difficulty facing this project: like many new institutions at the time, the Center was a “loose” structure that did not have its own resources and was instead more like a network, since all the research staff upon which it relied were invariably employed by other organizations. The first obstacle to overcome thus involved providing CERI with permanent members who were paid for their research activities. It was in this capacity that the Rockefeller Foundation would play a decisive role, by subsidizing Saarland University in order to cover Duroselle’s “research costs” and lightening his workload, allowing him to dedicate himself to leading CERI. [58] This initial support allowed him to set up two permanent working groups under his direction, which dealt with the United States’ foreign policy—especially French-American relations—and IR theory. While it was not initially possible to provide full-time assistants and researchers, this assistance nonetheless made it possible to establish the CERI’s core focus on themes shared at the transatlantic level. It also affirmed the merger between the man and the institution, and sanctioned Duroselle’s position as a “broker” in scientific French-American relations—a position in which he would not disappoint, and would be rewarded by his appointment to the head of the Fulbright Commission in 1965. Not only was Duroselle’s intellectual project in line with the cross-Atlantic discussion on the discipline (“I would first scrupulously study the methods used in the United States for the study of international relations”, he wrote to Thompson in February 1955 [59]), but also he appears to have been fully aware of the role CERI might play in cultural diplomacy, as suggested by the conclusion of his project:


It seems to us that, as a supplement to the propaganda efforts led by politicians, there should also be an effort made by universities in the area of information and knowledge. [60]

33One of the particular aspects of IR in France was that this field of research placed a great deal of emphasis on the study of transatlantic relations (of which it was in reality an expression). CERI would hold a monopoly on this topic by becoming the main source of analyses concerning French perceptions of the United States. [61]

IR Between Political Theory and Area Studies

34The year 1956 marked a real turning point in the structural development of the Center. On 10 November, Duroselle invited a small number of academics and administrators to Paris for a day of discussion on IR theory. The goal was to “delimit [.. . ] the theoretical problems and practices that are, to the best of our current knowledge, faced by European specialists in the study of international relations”. [62] In practice, the discussion sought to confirm Duroselle’s plans (he described this same meeting more prosaically to Thompson as “an important meeting aiming to discuss my project” [63]). It was also a matter of establishing close collaboration with other European institutes, especially Jacques Freymond’s Institut des Hautes Études Internationales [Institute for Higher International Studies] in Geneva. In England and Germany, where IR did not enjoy the same level of autonomy and remained generally a matter for historians, Duroselle turned toward those who, like him, were seeking to write a history of the present, for example at Nuffield College (Max Beloff) or the Institut für Zeitgeschichte (Paul Kluke). [64] These collaborations with other institutions receiving funding from American foundations contributed to the emergence of a relatively coherent European intellectual network around CERI, which would provide a fertile environment for the development of European studies. But the meeting was also important because it signaled an increased level of empowerment for IR. By concluding that “political theory offers the most promising approach for international relations”, [65] it sanctioned, if not an intellectual break, then at least a definitive distancing from the social sciences. The notion of political theory—a concept that had not been used before then and appeared here for the first time on the French landscape—then became the accepted designation for CERI seminars. This semantic shift led to the definitive focus of the topic on an intellectual field that primarily operated as a conservatively-minded critique of scientific rationalism. [66] It also perhaps testified to the opportunism of Duroselle, who knew that the Rockefeller Foundation had made IR a branch of its “political and legal philosophy” program. This tension ran through IR, which was located precisely at the border between political theory and the social sciences, and was therefore caught between opposing forces. Most importantly, this shift confirmed the FNSP’s grip on political studies, by appearing to create a rational basis for the opposition between the FNSP and the sixth section. As Duroselle explained to his correspondents, “We practically have a monopoly on Political Theory, Comparative Politics, International Relations [.. . ], Political Thought”. [67]

35The other major event in 1956 came in October with the creation of a postgraduate degree in political studies at the IEP (accompanied by a political studies diploma), which contributed to significantly broadening Duroselle’s audience and placing IR at the heart of the FNSP by strengthening the connection between research and teaching. [68] By allowing an audience of students to take seminars within CERI, the graduate-level courses most importantly gave Duroselle’s activities a long-term basis and paved the way for future succession, a necessary condition for the discipline’s continuity. The creation of graduate-level courses also enabled Duroselle and Grosser to be promoted to the level of tenured directors of studies, thereby strengthening Duroselle’s control over the institution. Raymond Aron, who joined the Sorbonne in 1955, led a seminar with Duroselle that “proposed to seek to define a theory of International Relations”, while Alfred Grosser’s seminar dealt with “Interactions between state domestic policy and foreign policy”.

36By organizing CERI’s activities around “political theory” and geographic regions, Duroselle implemented a model that proved to be extremely attractive for its two sponsors, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. The project that took shape in 1956 thus envisioned the creation—alongside the Aron-Duroselle seminar on IR theory—of a “group of advanced studies in political theory” that would bring together European students and professors, on the condition of being able to finance part of their salary and hire research assistants. [69] Duroselle also planned to create a third seminar in October 1957, led by René Rémond and Jean Touchard, that would focus on “major political ideologies”. A division of labor was thus established, and two projects were submitted. The first, developed by Duroselle, Aron, and Jacques Chapsal, presented an outline of a “European program of political theory, whose center would be in Paris” and requested funding to provide the seminar directors with assistants and make it possible to open up CERI to foreign professors. [70] The second project, submitted to the Ford Foundation, requested assistance to hire “three or four full-time junior professors (P. Gerbet, R. Girardet, J. Devisse, and possibly S. Hoffmann)” as well as five assistants assigned to the regional studies groups. [71]

37The real launch of CERI, in 1957-58, was largely made possible by the favorable reception these projects received: on 30 April 1957, the Rockefeller Foundation approved a subsidy of more than 27 million francs (or more than 500,000 euros in today’s money) for a period of five years that aimed to develop “research and teaching related to political theory and the theoretical aspects of international politics”. [72] On 6 February 1958, the Ford Foundation followed suit and approved a subsidy of 250,000 dollars (or 1,500,000 euros in today’s money) for a period of five years. [73] These donations contributed to making permanent what was still only an essentially personal and relatively informal initiative, and to consolidating an IR research model built on the hierarchical articulation between political theory and a particular version of area studies that seemed somewhat distinct from the analysis of “cultural areas” [“aires culturelles”] as it was practiced in the sixth section of the EPHE, which took a “problems” approach (although some of the CERI working groups, including those researching China and the USSR, did collaborate with their colleagues at the EPHE). While Braudel’s cultural area took the social-geographic unit as a space for the integration of various social science disciplines, the CERI “area” was limited to providing empirical data for a political analysis of the international relations to which it was subordinate. In fact, such research corresponded only in a very small measure to area studies as it was taught on American campuses. As Arnold Wolfers notes in an assessment of Duroselle’s project, which he sent to Shepard Stone, “the emphasis is both on the development of general knowledge, which the French call international relations theory, as well as on the applied field of foreign policy, designated incorrectly as ‘area studies’”. [74]

38It is precisely this discrepancy that partly explains the success that Duroselle’s project had with the Ford Foundation. At the time, the Foundation was interested in area studies insofar as this represented an approach integrated with IR, making it possible to study current political issues in a system that favored political science. CERI’s version was, from this perspective, more promising than the “cultural areas” in the version proposed by Fernand Braudel and Clemens Heller, and the institution offered to some degree a more integrated version than the one that predominated in American “area programs”, which were more independent from political science departments. Most notably, the Ford Foundation was fully aware that Duroselle was deliberately positioning himself in an isomorphic relationship with the American centers: supporting CERI was thus entirely in keeping with a strategy that involved moving training institutions toward certifying a specific model and strengthening ties with the United States. It was thus a matter of integrating researchers across the Atlantic community through shared research topics, and in so doing, approving specific forms of intellectual reproduction at the international level. [75] In the late 1950s, the support from the Ford Foundation was explicitly in line with pursuing its objectives: the decision of February 1958 was thus justified due to the imperative “to create and extend within the Atlantic Community the body of young, dynamic experts in international relations who will play a growing role in formulating the foreign policy of their respective countries, as well as in the international organizations that affect the entirety of the Community”. [76]

39By bringing together a whole host of heteronomous scholarly practices—the study of geographic areas, foreign policies, regimes, international issues, and even European integration—the content of which found order and meaning only as part of a broader reflection on the field of politics as a category, the study of international relations as it was taking shape at CERI sanctioned an original model for organizing political studies and inaugurated the emergence of a new intellectual field, “political theory”. This was distinguished by two particular traits and, especially, by the lack of a distinction between IR theory and political theory: the two fields were closely intertwined, almost combined, within the same intellectual network. While in the United States political theory would gradually free itself from the social sciences, at the cost of an almost total disconnection from political science, the situation evolved differently in France, where there was a very strong continuity between the two fields. The Rockefeller Foundation’s subsidy was thus reflected in a series of multipurpose initiatives that suggested that this lack of distinction was cultivated by CERI: the publication of the Histoire des idées politiques edited by Jean Touchard in 1959; the establishment of René Rémond, Raoul Girardet, and Jean Touchard’s seminar on political ideologies in 1958; the extension of the seminar led by Jean-Baptiste Duroselle and Raymond Aron, then with Jean Meyriat, on IR theory; Stanley Hoffmann’s 1960-61 seminar on the same subject; the recruitment of numerous assistants and foreign associates, including Pierre Hassner; the publication of a special issue of the RFSP edited by Aron and dedicated to political theory; [77] and the 1962 publication of Peace and War, which was in line with both fields. [78]

40The fact that IR and political theory represented an open space in which it was very easy to move about can be clearly illustrated by the two projects Pierre Hassner submitted to the Rockefeller Foundation between 1956 and 1962. As a student of Raymond Aron, who was supervising his dissertation on Kant, in 1956-57, Hassner received an initial scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation that allowed him to visit the University of Chicago, where he took courses with Leo Strauss. In 1962, then a research assistant at CERI, as part of a second funding application, he presented a project focused on the emerging trends of the international system due to the interactions of the new decolonized states and especially the impact of decolonization on East-West relations. [79] While Hassner initially envisioned conducting studies in the field (he mentioned Nigeria and Ghana, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, and India and Pakistan), this was quickly overtaken by the project of going to the United States to possibly meet delegates from these countries at the United Nations, and especially to speak with scholars at Harvard, Washington, and researchers at the Rand Corporation. [80] During its development, the project moved unnoticed from area studies to a theoretical analysis of the international system separate from any empirical work.

41A history of political theory in France, which still remains to be written, must therefore begin with the original matrix made up of the field of IR and its transatlantic ramifications. It must identify the successive shifts that led to the progressive differentiation between what were initially merely two versions (largely dependent on the structure of the American philanthropic programs) of the same questions concerning the relations between science and politics. As the very nature of what is referred to as “power politics” remains incommensurable with reason and is such that its relations remain open, political theory immediately presented itself as questioning its own potential as well as the limits of science. In the beginning, such ideas were entirely in line with the work of Raymond Aron.

A Euphemized Decisionism: Raymond Aron and IR

42If Jean-Baptiste Duroselle was the scientific entrepreneur leading the development of IR around CERI, Raymond Aron was the true theoretician in the field. As a comprehensive survey of current debates and a major effort to provide a general theory, Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations today remains a major work in France. But we would misread its status by analyzing it solely within the scope of France. In fact, the little success its translation received in the United States—where the book fell flat (with the exception of Stanley Hoffmann’s enthusiastic reception, which confounded his colleagues, and praise from Kissinger [81])—is quite revealing. Read from the point of view of American political scientists and German political thought, the book appears to be a critical summary that adds nothing to the primary sources except for a measure of casuistic agility (which in a letter Hoffmann called “seemingly infinite distinctions” [82]) and a critical view that deciphered a secularized version of German Machtpolitik in the work of Morgenthau. [83] In spite of its attempt to reconcile the historical-philosophical approaches of the early “realists” with formalist methodologies, Peace and War had neither the originality of the former nor the functional ambition of the latter.

43Like Duroselle, Raymond Aron had a number of characteristics that predisposed him to playing a primary role in the development of IR. When he joined Duroselle at CERI, he was already a seasoned veteran of the American philanthropic circuits. Between his time at Célestin Bouglé’s Centre de Documentation Social [Center for Social Documentation] (1932-34) and his election to the Sorbonne in 1955, in parallel with his political engagement and activities as a journalist at Le Figaro, Aron was in close contact with the social science institutions supported by the foundations, where new disciplines (including sociology and economic research) were developing outside the universities. He participated in the activities of the Congress for Cultural Freedom from its creation (1950), and published in its journals. [84] In particular, he was close to the realists: he knew Gurian well, who defended him during the “Gilson affair” in 1950; [85] he had regular contact with Wolfers; he met Kennan in 1950 and regularly visited him “as part of the Congress [for Cultural Freedom]”; [86] he was invited by Kenneth W. Thompson to the meeting in May 1954 that aimed to define the outline of IR theory; and he knew Morgenthau, Niebuhr, and Toynbee. Raymond Aron was in fact a high-level player in the project that was developing internationally in the early 1950s.

44These affinities can also be explained by Aron’s intellectual trajectory, which was similar to that of German émigrés to the United States, where they promoted a theory of politics in direct contradiction to the depoliticizing rationalization of the social sciences. In his own way, Aron also experienced the 1920s crisis of rationalism and pacifism during his stay in Germany from March 1930 to the summer of 1933. We can only agree with Nicolas Baverez when he writes that “Raymond Aron was converted in Germany to politics and realism”, a conversion that marked a clear break with Alain’s pacifism and Durkheim’s sociology, and the enthusiastic discovery, through Max Weber, of German historical sociology. [87] This experience led above all to big questions during a period that was dealing with an intellectual and political crisis: faced with the stalemate of historicism, how is it possible to reconstruct a rational point of view concerning the whole of society, a position of truth? How can an objective but nonetheless immanent meaning be drawn out from the present historical condition? This question, which fascinated Aron in Karl Mannheim’s work (Ideology and Utopia examined most notably the conditions for the possibility of political science [88]), formed the basis of his first dissertation, published in 1938 with the title Introduction to the Philosophy of History. Aron fully recognized the crisis of political rationalism.

45In his Memoirs, he presents his search for an historical sociology and political realism in tune with the practical situation related to the opposition to Nazism. [89] While everything seems to indicate that the spectacle of the NSDAP’s rise to power pushed the “spectator” toward “engagement”, the linking of sociological realism with anti-totalitarianism is due to a retrospective reconstruction. The anti-totalitarian reading of realism is seen to be a product of the post-war period, which further represents one of the major genealogical fictions of international relations theory. In reality, the realist perspective was itself a product of the crisis in the 1930s. The break from neo-Kantian rationalism and sociological positivism in favor of a sociological realism was not ideologically unequivocal and did not belong to either trend. This break ran through the intellectual and political spectrum of the period and was deployed differently depending on whether it was used for historical sociology or the thinking of the law and the state. It thus shared several themes with reactionary thought, such as the critique of technology, material progress, economism, or parliamentarism, which was still at the heart of work by those such as Morgenthau during the 1940s. [90] Moreover, Aron recognized later that the ideological front lines of the period, while entirely recognizable, were replete with sometimes surprising interconnections. [91]

46While Aron did indeed convert to realism, it was a conversion with an ambiguous way of thinking. In this regard, Introduction to the Philosophy of History was a key text. It prefigures the view of politics that would define IR theory and that can be found in Peace and War. The general argument of the book is, in the words of Aron himself, “anti-scientistic or anti-positivist”. [92] He presents less a defense of rationality than an exploration of its limits, inherent to its historical condition: “In place of a search for the foundations, we substitute a search for the limits.” By asking what the cognitive claims of a fully historical reason may be, Aron opens up a movement that rejects positivism but which does not fall into absolute historicism. If reason cannot identify a “law” of historical development for use as a model, what authority determines action? The answer provided by Aron in the final chapters of the book is unequivocal. The only form of rationalization possible is the decision (seen as a complete commitment) in favor of a form of concrete historical existence, a “decisive act according to which I commit myself and establish the social milieu that I would recognize as my own”. Following the critique of the claims made by abstract rationalism, existential decision-making remains the last refuge for a historical reason that is now merged with sovereign and unconditional acts.


Thus only the individual can overcome the relativity of history by the absolute of the decision. [93]

48This response is so ambiguous, it is worth considering for a moment. A political decision, indicates Aron, is a decision of life and death: “If political choice risks leading to the choice of certain death, it is because it always signifies the choice of a certain existence”. By opting for one form of historical existence over another, and against another, this decision stands out against a backdrop of absolute antagonism. The existential nature of a decision is hidden by the circumstances that prevail during normal times, but “once extreme situations such as war or revolution occur, wisdom becomes impotent and the fundamental contradiction again emerges: for a historical task, man has to assume the risk that, for him, carries the day”. [94] This passage shows to what extent in Aron’s work decisions represent a way of thinking about exceptions, which in fact refer to a “philosophy of concrete life”, whose principal representative at the time was Carl Schmitt. [95]

49If a reconstruction of the origins of IR would be incomplete without a discussion of the relationship between Schmitt and Aron, it is because dialogue with the German jurist was one of the constants found in the work of a number of realists from the 1950s including Morgenthau, Herz, Wolfers, Gurian, and Aron, and because in its early days, IR theory was full of Schmittian ideas. [96] We know that Aron discovered Schmitt during his time in Germany, through reading the article “Das Begriff des Politischen” published in 1927 in the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, and that after the war, he read Nomos der Erde which “profited him greatly”, as he indicated in a letter to Schmitt. [97] The correspondence they maintained from January 1954 until 1979, which included an encounter in Tübingen, as well as the relations that connected them through their common follower, Julien Freund, constituted the framework for an ongoing dialogue. Raymond Aron provided the major themes even as he tried to minimize the symbolic impact. [98] It would be necessary to retrace each step of the development of this relationship, together with that of their works, in order to show the degree to which Jan-Werner Müller is correct in saying that “[m]any of Aron’s central observations and judgements were ostensibly similar to what Schmitt had to say on international law and politics”. [99] As it was developed at CERI under the intellectual leadership of Raymond Aron, the teaching of IR in France did not break with this continuity. Peace and War covered ground cleared earlier by Schmitt, which would be worth analyzing in detail: the critique of the absolutizing trends of idealism and of wars conducted in the name of peace and humanity; the distinction between political adversary and absolute enemy, or the “elementary friend-enemy duality”; the critique of political religions—the central theme in the critique of liberalism inherited from a critique of secularization, which is also found in The Great Schism and The Opium of the Intellectuals; the critique of international law reduced to a quarrel with Kelsen; and the equation between European stability and the homogeneity of civilization. Even attempts to consider IR from the abstract concept of a “system” are reformulated into the existential vocabulary of decisionism: the international system “is organized by virtue of conflict, and exists most powerfully on the day when it is lacerated by recourse to arms”. [100] Schmitt, who is only cited once in the entire book in a minor passing reference to the notion of a “sense of space” (Raumsinn), in fact appears to have had a much greater influence than Aron suggests.

50Such an analysis, which I am unable to present adequately within the confines of this article, is worthy of an entire volume to itself. I will limit myself here to explaining its significance. It is not that Aron subscribed to Schmitt’s arguments, although it is clear he found that the German lawyer had similar preoccupations and a conceptualization of politics to which he could in part subscribe (although he also criticized some of its aspects). It is instead a matter of indicating the ramifications of a conceptual language that, once rid of the reference to its controversial grammarian, would make it possible to articulate the main alternative to scientific positivism and form the basis upon which IR theory could be founded after 1945. This language functioned as a factor in international socialization by facilitating the cohesion of transatlantic networks. Even more than Duroselle, Aron found his place in the international realist camp of the postwar period due to an intellectual trajectory that brought him close to individuals such as Morgenthau and Herz. He contributed to adapting certain trends from German thought in a context in which its effects were corrosive, most notably because it adopted specific institutional structures. The pairing of Duroselle and Aron, in this sense, worked in a similar way to that of Thompson and Morgenthau, and sanctioned the successful empowerment of a disciplinary space that was specifically dedicated to political issues, but which avoided the validity tests instituted in social science disciplines.

51* * *

52The 1960s saw a thaw in the initially tense relations with Braudel and the Annales school. Peace and War was generally well received by the Annales team. In the review he edited in 1963, Braudel suggested that the book proposed that historians “reintegrate, as part of scientific research, diplomatic and political history [.. . ] For this is the major problem this book proposes in good faith [.. . ] is there, or is there not, a scientific politicology [sic]? If so, the Annales would celebrate this as a victory, and would revise, with regard to diplomatic history, their position which until now has not been particularly enthusiastic”. [101] Although criticism continued—especially concerning a metaphysics of the residual state, expressed by François Châtelet—the favorable reception received by the book from the official representatives of the social sciences was emblematic of the change that took place at the beginning of the 1960s. Once the disciplinary independence of IR was won, its opposition to the social sciences, which had been the basis for this strategy of differentiation, was no longer of any use. This was the same in the United States, where the field had been split since the end of the 1950s between advocates of traditional realism and newcomers who were recasting the original problems based on models of strategic behavior or systems theory. [102] The second group won the day, not least because the methods they imposed—large-scale data collection, mathematical formalization, statistical verification, working in teams, etc.—offered IR the format that was being implemented at the same time throughout the social sciences, and allowed it to benefit from the outpouring of philanthropic and government funding during the Cold War. The material benefits that went with allegiance to the scientific model explain the predetermined result of this methodological quarrel. In France, the situation was somewhat different. Far from opposing distinct groups of researchers, political theory and formal methodologies remained internal to the same group, when they were not subject to attempts to combine them, as with Aron. In this way, strategic studies (balance of weapons, nuclear strategy, etc.) were not opposed to the traditional or philosophical approach. At CERI, Duroselle, Aron, and Hassner were thus responsible for reviewing the literature in the field and for training specialists to work in education and administration, as part of a “strategic studies section”. [103]

53The evolution of the discipline during this period would require an entire study of its own. Within the scope of this article, the key point is that by the beginning of the 1960s, the strategy of empowering the “realist” approach to political issues, which had been sought since the late 1940s, had borne fruit. The creation of CERI thus reflected a broader process of transatlantic accreditation of a new organization of knowledge focused on “international” issues. This organization was characterized by its positioning outside the social sciences, in the name of a “theory” whose positive content was never truly formulated, but whose critical functions regarding the very project of a science of the social sphere and politics effectively served a true disciplinary irredentism. [104] Far from calling the discipline’s independence into question, the rapid penetration of formal methodologies during the 1960s (most notably of game theory) simply caused the anti-scientific premises that initially served as the foundation for this independence to be forgotten.

54This unique positioning also shaped the discipline’s particular relationship with institutions and political powers. By postulating that political phenomena cannot be reduced to science and foregrounding the primacy of the actual situation and the power relations used in that situation, the realism that founded the discipline immediately placed it in an analogous relationship with political practice—which was reflected by the important role played by its practitioners—and in proximity to the institutions of power. The intellectual stance that established IR positioned the field on the side of exercising “judgment” and prudence, thus reinforcing its freedom from methodological disciplinary constraints. The platitudes concerning politics as the “art of the possible” point to this initial separation of politics and scientific reason which was judged as being utopian by definition. This posture also opened IR theory to a certain educational ideal—one privileging sound judgment, an element that must itself be judged as such by those authorized to do so—and to a model of elite selection in contrast to mastery of a certified technique based on impersonal criteria, which instead privileged socially validated subjective properties. In the case of France, this configuration explains in particular why IR found a “natural” anchor point at the IEP, where the discipline tied directly into the institution’s secular mission of elite selection.


  • [1]
    This title is in reference to an article by Gene Lyons (not by Gene Hackman): “Expanding the Study of International Relations: The French Connection”, World Politics, 35(1), 1982, 135-49.
  • [2]
    Jörg Friedrichs, “International Relations Theory”, Journal of International Relations and Development, 4(2), 2001, 118-37. Cf. Marie-Claude Smouts, “The Study of International Relations in France”, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 16(2), 1987, 281-6, here 283.
  • [3]
    A. John R. Groom, “Les relations internationales en France: un regard d’outre-Manche”, Revue internationale et stratégique, 47, 2002, 108-17, here 109.
  • [4]
    François Constantin, “Les relations internationales dans le champ scientifique français ou les pesanteurs d’une lourde hérédité”, Revue internationale et stratégique, 47, 2002, 90-9; Matthieu Chillaud, “International Relations in France: The ‘Usual Suspects’ in a French Scientific Field of Study?”, European Political Science, 8, 2009, 239-53; Dario Battistella, Théories des relations internationales, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2012, 689.
  • [5]
    Nadège Ragaru, “L’état des relations internationales en France”, Revue internationale et stratégique, 47, 2002, 77-81, here 78, who does not mention the Centre d’études de politique étrangère, created in 1935. Online
  • [6]
    Cf. Murielle Cozette, “Realistic Realism? American Political Realism, Clausewitz and Raymond Aron on the Problem of Means and Ends in International Politics”, Journal of Strategic Studies, 27(3), 2004, 428-53; Gwendal Châton, “Pour un ‘machiavélisme postkantien’: Raymond Aron, théoricien réaliste hétérodoxe”, Études internationales, 43(3), 2012, 389-403. These interpretations tend to reproduce Aron’s reading of Morgenthau, generally determined by a strategy of concurrent positioning. Cf. Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, “Hans J. Morgenthau vs. Raymond Aron: dalla teologia politica alla ragione politica”, Rivista di politica, 1, 2015, 47-61.
  • [7]
    Stanley Hoffmann, “An American Social Science: International Relations”, Daedalus: Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 106, Summer 1977, 41-60; Alfred Grosser, “L’étude des relations internationales, spécialité américaine?”, Revue française de science politique, 6(3), June 1956, 634-51.
  • [8]
    Pierre Bourdieu, “The Social Conditions of the International Circulation of Ideas” in Richard Shusterman (ed.), Bourdieu: A Critical Reader, pp. 220-8, here p. 221.
  • [9]
    Thibaud Boncourt, “L’internationalisation de la science politique: une comparaison franco-britannique (1945-2010)”, Ph.D. diss., 2011, Université de Bordeaux/Sciences Po Bordeaux.
  • [10]
    Cf. my estimations in “Author’s Response”, online at, accessed 22 March 2018.
  • [11]
    John G. Gunnell, The Descent of Political Theory: The Genealogy of an American Vocation, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1993, and “Relativism: The Return of the Repressed”, Political Theory, 21(4), 1993, 563-84; Alfons Söllner, “German Conservatism in America: Morgenthau’s Political Realism”, Telos, 72, 1987, 161-72.
  • [12]
    Bourdieu, “Social Conditions”, 221. For a different perspective, cf. Benedict Anderson, Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination, London, Verso, 2005; Malachi Hacohen, “The Limits of the National Paradigm in the Study of Political Thought: The Case of Karl Popper and Central European Cosmopolitanism” in Dario Castiglione and Iain Hampsher-Monk (eds), The History of Political Thought in National Context, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp. 247-79.
  • [13]
    Alfons Söllner, “Vom Völkerrecht zur Science of International Relations: vier typische Vertreter der politik- wissenschaftlichen Emigration” in Ilja Srubar (ed.), Exil, Wissenschaft, Identität. Die Emigration deutscher Sozialwissenschaftler, 1933-1945, Frankfurt-am-Main, Suhrkamp, 1988, pp. 164-80. In France, we have to point out the role of Pierre Hassner (Romania) and Stanley Hoffmann (Austria), as well as that of geographer Jean Gottmann (Ukraine), who played an important role as interpreter of the French university scene for the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • [14]
    Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History, trans. Tom Conley, New York, Columbia University Press, 1988, pp. 64-5.
  • [15]
    Jean-Louis Fabiani, “À quoi sert la notion de discipline?” in Jean Boutier, Jean-Claude Passeron, and Jacques Revel (eds), Qu’est-ce qu’une discipline?, Paris, Éditions de l’EHESS, 2006, pp. 11-34.
  • [16]
    I refer the reader to Nicolas Guilhot, After the Enlightenment: Political Realism and International Relations in the Mid-20th Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017.
  • [17]
    Tim Dunne, Inventing International Society: A History of the English School, London, Macmillan, 1998; Brunello Vigezzi, “Il ‘British Committee on the Theory of International Politics’ (1958-1985): un libro e la stora della società internazionale” in Hedley Bull and Adam Watson (eds), L’espansione della società internazionale. L’Europa e il mondo dalla fine del medioevo ai tempi nostri, Milan, Jaca Book, 1993, pp. XI-XCV.
  • [18]
    Martti Koskenniemi, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law, 1870-1960, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002; Katharina Rietzler, “Philanthropy, Peace Research and Revisionist Politics: Rockefeller and Carnegie Support for the Study of International Relations in Weimar Germany”, German Historical Society Bulletin Supplement, 5, 2008, 61-79.
  • [19]
    The history of the CEPE, which in 1979 was reborn under the name Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI), remains to be written. Cf. the analysis of Ludovic Tournès, “La Fondation Rockefeller et la construction d’une politique des sciences sociales en France”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 63(6), 2008, 1371-402; Brigitte Mazon, Aux origines de l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales. Le rôle du mécénat américain (1920-1960), Paris, Éditions du Cerf, 1988.
  • [20]
    Rockefeller Foundation, “Annual Report”, New York, 1930, 227; 1932, 278.
  • [21]
    Raymond Aron et al. (eds), Les sciences sociales en France. Enseignement et recherche, Paris, Paul Hartmann, 1937, 6-7.
  • [22]
    Cf. especially Hans J. Morgenthau, “Positivism, Functionalism, and International Law”, The American Journal of International Law, 34(2), 1940, 260-84, especially 273 ff, and La notion du “politique” et la théorie des différends internationaux, Paris, Sirey, 1933; Stephanie Steinle, “‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’: Georg Schwarzenberger’s Power Politics”, Journal of the History of International Law, 5(2), 2003, 387-402.
  • [23]
    Georg Schwarzenberger, Power Politics: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations and Post-War Planning, London, Jonathan Cape, 1941, 25; Kenneth W. Thompson, “Toward a Theory of International Politics”, American Political Science Review, 49(3), 1955, 733-46; Raymond Aron, “Qu’est-ce qu’une théorie des relations internationales?”, Revue française de science politique, 17(5), October 1967, 837-61.
  • [24]
    Such as the influential report by Grayson Kirk, The Study of International Relations in American Colleges and Universities, New York, Council on Foreign Relations, 1947.
  • [25]
    Cf. in particular Kenneth W. Thompson, “Theory of International Politics”, 28 December 1953, folder 61, box 7, series 910, RG3, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), Tarrytown, N. Y.
  • [26]
    JHW (Joseph H. Willits), Diary excerpt, interview with Hans J. Morgenthau, 14 September 1953, reel 1, RG 12.1-12.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [27]
    Kenneth W. Thompson, “International Law as a Target in RF’s International Relations Program”, 17 January 1955, folder 67, box 8, series 910, RG 3.1, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC. This approach would be extended with the creation of the “Law & Society” program in 1964. Cf. Bryant G. Garth, “James Willard Hurst as Entrepreneur for the Field of Law and Social Science”, Law and History Review, 18(1), 2000, 37-58.
  • [28]
    Hans J. Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1946, 31.
  • [29]
    Hans J. Morgenthau, Science: Servant or Master?, New York, New American Library, 1972, 34.
  • [30]
    Bryce Wood, “The Program of the Division of the Social Sciences in the Field of International Relations”, Rockefeller Foundation, 1947, 24, p. 24, folder 67, box 8, series 910, RG 3, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC. Our emphasis. [Back-translated from the French.]
  • [31]
    Nicolas Guilhot (ed.), The Invention of International Relations: The Rockefeller Foundation, Realism, and the Making of IR Theory, New York, Columbia University Press, 2011.
  • [32]
    Roger Epp, “The ‘Augustinian Moment’ in International Politics: Niebuhr, Butterfield, Wight and the Reclaiming of a Tradition” in International Politics Research Papers, Aberystwyth, Department of International Politics, University College of Wales, 1991, and “The Ironies of Christian Realism: The End of an Augustinian Tradition in International Politics” in Eric Patterson (ed.), The Christian Realists: Reassessing the Contributions of Niebuhr and his Contemporaries, Lanham, University Press of America, 2003, pp. 199-232.
  • [33]
    Nicolas Guilhot, “American Katechon: International Relations as Secularized Political Theology”, Constellations: A Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, 17(2), 2010, 224-53.
  • [34]
    They embodied a “truly scientific sphere of influence led by moderates”, who avoided the polarization of the intellectual field of the time (Gottmann to Willits, 18 August 1948, p. 1, 4, folder 212, box 21, series 500S, RG 1.1, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC) [back-translated from the French].
  • [35]
    Seydoux to Willits, 30 October 1946, folder 228, box 23, series 500S, RG 1.1, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [36]
    Seydoux to Willits, 21 December 1946, folder 228, box 23, series 500S, RG 1.1, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [37]
    National Foundation of Political Sciences, Paris, 1937, 1945-1949, folder 228, box 223, series 500S, RG 1.1, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French]. The sum was equivalent to approximately 26,000 dollars in 2012.
  • [38]
    Frederick C. Lane officer’s diary, 22 January 1953, box 35-36, RG 12.1, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [39]
    KWT (Kenneth W. Thompson), Diary excerpt, interview with René Henry Gréard, 1 August 1954, folder 230, box 23, series 5001, RG 1.1, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [40]
    KWT (Kenneth W. Thompson), Diary excerpt, interview with JBD, 29 April 1955, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [41]
    J.-B. Duroselle to Stone, 20 March 1956, p. 3, folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [42]
    On Gurian, cf. Hannah Arendt, “The Personality of Waldemar Gurian”, and John U. Nef, “The Significance of The Review of Politics”, The Review of Politics, 17(1), 1955, 33-42 and 24-32. See also Udi Greenberg, The Weimar Century: German Émigrés and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2014, 120-68.
  • [43]
    Cf. Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, “L’étude des relations internationales: objet, méthode, perspectives”, Revue française de science politique, 2(4), October-December 1952, 676-701.
  • [44]
    Cf. René Girault, “Pierre Renouvin, la BDIC et l’historiographie française des relations internationales”, Matériaux pour l’histoire de notre temps, 49-50, 1998, 7-9.
  • [45]
    Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, “Note préliminaire à la discussion sur les relations internationales”, p. 2, folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [46]
    J.-B. Duroselle to Thompson, 10 August 1956, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [47]
    Duroselle to Stone, 20 March 1956, folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [48]
    Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, Itinéraires. Idées, hommes et nations d’Occident, Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 1992, 9.
  • [49]
    KWT (Kenneth W. Thompson), Diary excerpt, interview with Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, 21 October 1955, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [50]
    J.-B. Duroselle thought that if one of the “rival factions [.. . ] were to become prominent today, it would have disastrous effects on the general development of the social sciences in France” (EFD [Edward d’Arms], Diary excerpt, interview with Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, 6 March 1956, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French]).
  • [51]
    Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, “Note préliminaire à la discussion sur les relations internationales”, 2-3, folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [52]
    Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, “German-Franco Relations since 1945”, The Review of Politics, 14(4), 1952, 501-19.
  • [53]
    Kenneth W. Thompson, Toynbee’s Philosophy of World History and Politics, Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1985; Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, Les débuts du catholicisme social en France (1822-1870), Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1951.
  • [54]
    Cf. most notably Kenneth W. Thompson and Hans J. Morgenthau (eds), Principles and Problems of International Politics: Selected Readings, New York, Knopf, 1950.
  • [55]
    KWT (Kenneth W. Thompson), Diary excerpt, interview with Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, 21 October 1955, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [56]
    Cf. Guilhot (ed.), The Invention of International Relations.
  • [57]
    Jean-Baptiste Duroselle to Jean Touchard, 14 November 1954, 2 SP 34, Archives de la FNSP, Paris. I would like to thank Antonin Cohen for having sent me the substance of this document.
  • [58]
    Grant GQ SS 5552 (2,800,000 francs), granted in July 1955 by the Rockefeller Foundation to Saarland University. Cf. Paine to Angelloz, 7 July 1955, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.1, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [59]
    Duroselle to Thompson, 4 February 1955, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [60]
    Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, “Project for the Organisation of Two Study Groups in the Field of International Relations”, 12 July 1955, folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [61]
    Cf. Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, La France et les États-Unis des origines à nos jours, Paris, Seuil, 1976; Denis Lacorne, Jacques Rupnik, and Marie-France Toinet, L’Amérique dans les têtes. Un siècle de fascinations et d’aversions, Paris, Hachette littérature, 1986; René Rémond, Les États-Unis devant l’opinion française, 1815-1852, Paris, Armand Colin, 1962.
  • [62]
    Duroselle, “Note préliminaire”, p. 1.
  • [63]
    Duroselle to Thompson, 10 August 1956, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [64]
    Duroselle to Stone, July 15, 1956, microfilm, PA#58-116, reel 544, Ford Foundation Archives, Ford Foundation, New York; Duroselle to Thompson, 10 August 1956, folder 141, box 15, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [65]
    KWT (Kenneth W. Thompson), Diary excerpt, interviews, 10 November 1956, folder 467B, box 71, series 700S, RG 2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [66]
    Cf. Emily Hauptmann, “From Opposition to Accommodation: How Rockefeller Foundation Grants Redefined Relations between Political Theory and Social Science in the 1950s”, American Political Science Review, 100(4), 2006, 643-9.
  • [67]
    Duroselle to Stone, 25 December 1956, PA 58-116, reel 544, Ford Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [68]
    Jean Stoetzel et al., “Enseignement et recherche dans les instituts d’études politiques”, Revue française de science politique, 7(1), March 1957, 144-54, here 146.
  • [69]
    Duroselle to Thompson, 21 November 1956, folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [70]
    “Note sur l’enseignement de la théorie politique à la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques de Paris et sur ses possibilités de développement”, no date (probably January 1954), folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [71]
    Duroselle to Sutton, 8 February 1957, PA #58-116, reel 544, Ford Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [72]
    Resolution RF57078, folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [73]
    Recommended Action, 6 February 1958, PA #58-116, reel 544, Ford Foundation Archives, RAC. For comparison, CERI received during the same period a little more than 60,000 dollars from the national Ministry of Education.
  • [74]
    Wolfers to Stone, 9 January 1958, PA #58-116, reel 544, Ford Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [75]
    Giuliana Gemelli, Fernand Braudel e l’Europa universale, Venice, Marsilio, 1990, 339.
  • [76]
    Recommended Action, 6 February 1958, PA #58-116, reel 544, Ford Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [77]
    “La théorie politique”, Revue française de science politique, 11(2), June 1961.
  • [78]
    “Use of the Grant Made to the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques by the Rockefeller Foundation”, folder 167, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [79]
    Hassner to Freund, 30 October 1962, “France. National Foundation of Political Science, Paris. Hassner, Pierre, 1962-1965, 1967”, folder 164, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [80]
    Hassner to Freund, 3 January 1963, folder 164, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [81]
    Bryan-Paul Frost, “Raymond Aron’s Peace and War, Thirty Years Later”, International Journal, 15(2), 1996, 339-61.
  • [82]
    Hoffmann to Freund, 14 November 1962, folder 164, box 18, series 500S, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC [back-translated from the French].
  • [83]
    On this topic, cf. Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, “Why Did Raymond Aron Write that Carl Schmitt Was Not a Nazi? An Alternative Genealogy of French Liberalism”, Modern Intellectual History, 11(3), 2014, 549-74, and Steinmetz-Jenkins, “Hans J. Morgenthau vs. Raymond Aron”.
  • [84]
    Pierre Grémion, Intelligence de l’anticommunisme: le Congrès pour la liberté de la culture à Paris (1950-1975), Paris, Fayard, 1995.
  • [85]
    During a visit to North America, Étienne Gilson accused Aron in private of siding with the Americans. It seems that W. Gurian used this fact to publicly attack É. Gilson and, through him, the Catholic trends of the pacifist Left. Cf. Raymond Aron, Memoirs: Fifty Years of Political Reflection, New York, Holmes and Meier, 1990, 186.
  • [86]
    Nicolas Baverez, Raymond Aron, Paris, Perrin, 2006, 112 and 239.
  • [87]
    Aron, Memoirs, 46; Baverez, Raymond Aron, 81-112.
  • [88]
    Aron, Memoirs, 43.
  • [89]
    Aron, Memoirs, 48.
  • [90]
    Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics. Concerned about distinguishing himself from his contemporaries, Aron wrote in his Memoirs that the critique of the technification of the world is a theme that “belongs to Saint-Simon and Marx as well as to Spengler and Heidegger” (Aron, Memoirs, 205).
  • [91]
    Cf. especially Baverez, Raymond Aron, 13.
  • [92]
    Baverez, Raymond Aron, 165.
  • [93]
    Raymond Aron, Paix et guerre entre les nations, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 2004, 10, 416, and 421. Our translation. [Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations, London, Routledge, 2003].
  • [94]
    Aron, Paix et guerre, 418 and 420. Our translation.
  • [95]
    Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, translated by George Schwab, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2005, 15.
  • [96]
    On this point cf. especially Koskenniemi, The Gentle Civilizer; William Scheuerman, “Carl Schmitt and Hans Morgenthau: Realism and Beyond” in Michael C. Williams (ed.), Realism Reconsidered: The Legacy of Hans J. Morgenthau in International Relations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 62-92.
  • [97]
    Jan-Werner Müller, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2003; Piet Tommissen, “Raymond Aron face à Carl Schmitt”, Schmittiana. Beiträge zu Leben und Werk Carl Schmitts, 7, 1990, 111-29.
  • [98]
    On this topic, cf. the discussion in Steinmetz-Jenkins, “Why Did Raymond Aron”.
  • [99]
    Müller, A Dangerous Mind, 99.
  • [100]
    Aron, Peace and War, 34 and 94.
  • [101]
    Fernand Braudel et al., “Pour ou contre une politicologie scientifique”, Annales. Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations, 18(1), 1963, 119-32, here 119.
  • [102]
    Cf. Nicolas Guilhot, “Cyborg Pantocrator: International Relations Theory from Decisionism to Rational Choice”, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 47(3), available online at
  • [103]
    Gerald Freund, Diary excerpt, interview with Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, 27 September 1962, microform, reel 42, General Correspondence 1962, series 500, RG 1.2, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC. Cf. also Duroselle to Stone, 4 January 1963, PA 58-116, reel 544, Ford Foundation Archives, RAC.
  • [104]
    Nicolas Guilhot, “One Discipline, Many Histories” in Nicolas Guilhot (ed.), Inventing International Relations: Realism and the Making of IR Theory after 1945, New York, Columbia University Press, 2011, pp. 1-32.

This article develops some hypotheses about the emergence of the discipline of International Relations in France. Rather than considering it the result of national idiosyncrasies or a product imported from the United States, it seeks to situate the development of the discipline within the framework of transatlantic circulations. It places the emphasis on the intellectual and ideological similarities between the French and the American trajectories of the discipline, due in particular to the displacement of German political thought and its impact in both contexts.


  • international relations
  • political realism
  • FNSP
  • philanthropic foundations
  • political science
  • intellectual migration
  • decisionism
Nicolas Guilhot
Nicolas Guilhot is research director at the CNRS and a guest researcher at New York University. His publications include: The Invention of International Relations Theory: Realism, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the 1954 Conference on Theory, New York, Columbia University Press, 2011; and After the Enlightenment: Political Realism and International Thought in the Mid-20th Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017. His work is situated at the intersection of political theory, the history of political thought, and international relations (CIRHUS, NYU-CNRS, 4 Washington Square North, New York, NY 10003, USA, <>).
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