In an article on U.S. strategy,Farrell has outlined two specific aspects casualty aversion and its legal pragmatism in its approach to international law.A constructivist approach applied to these aspects helps to bring clarity to an understanding of U.S. strategy, since it highlights the "inter-subjective knowledge which constitutes identities and interests."1 In terms of casualty aversion, the impact of negative public opinion has shaped U.S. war strategy differently in Somalia as compared to Iraq, while the legal pragmatism of the U.S. is shaping a threat to its hegemony through changing inter-subjective knowledge between states and shaping a different set of identities and interests.Walt states that Constructivism is one of the three standard ways of analyzing international politics3 and emphasizes ideas, discourse and identify in the construction of social reality. In assessing State action in terms of war and military action, Walt offers the view that it is the balance of threats rather than the balance of power which would spur action, and the balance of threats is socially constructed4. Applying this in the case of U.S. strategy towards the Somalian threat as opposed to the Iraqi threat, the relative lack of importance of Somalia as contrasted with the volatile area in the Middle East where a higher level of threat is perceived, explains why the United States is more willing to expend greater resources and war effort in Iraq as opposed to Somalia. Another aspect identified by Farrell is the legal pragmatism of the United States in its approach to international law....
As a result, a higher level of combat death is being sustained, despite the need to tackle existing threat and maintain oil interests of the United States in the Middle East without losing the support of favorable public opinion through a high level of casualties. This approach also supports Wendt's argument that state to state relationships in a state of anarchy must also consider more than merely the relative power of the States involved, i.e, Somalia and Iraq5. Hence the differential perceptions in U.S. strategy towards the states of Iraq and Somalia are a reflection of the differential construction of social reality in regard to these two world regions.
Another aspect identified by Farrell is the legal pragmatism of the United States in its approach to international law6. He points out U.S. strategy has been redefining the parameters of international law to expand the notion of anticipatory self defense to include the pre-emptive use of force. Additionally, he also points the dangers inherent in this approach, since the United States is being increasingly criticized for its disregard of international law, especially in its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol and other international agreements, which are an attempt to reinforce the hegemony of the United States at the expense of undermining existing legal institutions.
Farrell's arguments about inherent dangers to U.S. hegemony arising out of its pragmatic approach to international law, appear to be well supported by the constructionist framework. As Wendt observes, the distribution of power may affect the calculations of States, however the extent to which it does depends on the