A hierarchy of needs in international relations
Hayden, Casey P.
Johnson, Thomas H.
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Characterizing U.S.-Russian relations as a new Cold War is nostalgic for many, but it does not accurately describe Russian motivation behind its current behavior. Abraham Maslow, a prominent behavioral psychologist, investigated motivation behind human behavior and concluded that human motivation centers on satisfying five basic "needs." It is plausible to modify his hierarchy of basic human needs and develop a similar hierarchy of basic state needs. A single case study examining Soviet regression from a strong state identity and the Russian Federation's attempts to reestablish it demonstrates the utility of the hierarchy. Understanding where a state falls in its pursuit of a strong state identity gives intelligence analysts providing assessments to U.S. policy makers a framework to assess, categorize, and predict general trends in state behavior. Consequently, it becomes more accurate to describe current Russian behavior as attempts to satisfy its prepotent needs for external security while also attempting to satisfy to a lesser extent its needs for prestige and domestic security. This comprehensive explanation of motivation behind Russian behavior allows U.S. policy makers to craft policy which either helps or impedes Russia in its pursuit of a strong state identity.
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