Practice Questions on Reading Comprehension
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Common Information

The classical realist theory of international relations has long dominated both academic institutions and the American government. Even at the birth of the nation, early political thinkers, such as Alexander Hamilton, promoted a realist view of international relations and sought to influence the actions of the government based on this perspective. While the classical realist school of international relations is not entirely homogeneous in nature, there are certain premises that all classical realists share. 

The primary principle underlying classical realism is a concern with issues of war and peace. Specifically, classical realists ask, what are the causes of war and what are the conditions of peace? The members of the classical realist school mainly attribute war and conflict to what is termed the security dilemma. In the absence of any prevailing global authority, each nation is required to address its own security needs. However, each nation’s quest for security—through military buildups, alliances, or territorial defenses—necessarily unsettles other nations. These nations react to feelings of insecurity by engaging in their own aggressive actions, which leads other nations to react similarly, perpetuating the cycle.

It is important to note that for realists, unlike idealists or liberal internationalists, international conflict is a necessary consequence of the structural anarchy that nations find themselves in. Whereas other schools may see international conflict as the result of evil dictators, historical chance, flawed socio political systems, or ignorance of world affairs, classical realists see war as the logical result of a system that by its nature lacks a true central authority.

Hand in hand with this view of conflict as an inevitable condition of the global power structure is the realists’ view of the nation as a unitary actor. Because classical realists see international relations as a continuing struggle for dominance, the nation can not be viewed as a collection of individuals with disparate wants, goals, and ideologies. The realist view requires the formulation of a national interest, which in its simplest terms refers to the nation’s ability to survive, maintain its security, and achieve some level of power relative to its competitors.

Realism is not without its critics, many of whom challenge the premise that war is the natural condition of international relations or that there can be a truly national interest. However, the realist school of international relations continues to shape foreign policy because of the successes it has had in describing real world interactions between nations.

Easy Reading Comprehension Question - 16

Q16.

Common Information Question: 3/4

According to the passage, the formation of a national interest serves what function in the classical realist theory of war and peace?

A.

It is a convenience used by theorists to describe national interests where none exist.

B.

It provides the necessary justification for the classical realist view of a continuous global power struggle.

C.

It is less important to the theory than is the idea of the nation as a unitary actor.

D.

It is a description of the policies used by world leaders to convince their citizens that war is necessary.

E.

It is the part of the theory that receives the most criticism from opponents.

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Easy Reading Comprehension Question - 17

Q17.

Common Information Question: 4/4

The author most likely regards the classical realist theory of international relations with

A.

general apathy

B.

skeptical dismissal

C.

veiled disapproval

D.

glowing approval

E.

qualified acceptance

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Common Information

After the end of World War II, a pervasive, but unfortunately fallacious, economic perspective took hold. Based on the United States’ successful emergence from the Depression, the idea that war was good for an economy became fashionable. However, linking the United States economic recovery with its entry into World War II is a prime example of flawed economic thinking.

Supporters of the war benefits economy theory hold that a country at war is a country with a booming economy. Industry must produce weapons, supplies, food, and clothing for the troops. The increased production necessitates the hiring of more people, reducing unemployment.

More employment means more money in the pockets of citizens, who are then likely to go out and spend that money, helping the retail sector of the economy. Retail shops experience an increase in business and may need to hire more workers, further reducing unemployment and adding to the economic momentum. While this scenario sounds good in theory, it does not accurately represent what truly happens in a war time economy.

In reality, the government can fund a war in a combination of three ways. It can raise taxes, cut spending on other areas, or increase the national debt. Each of these strategies has a negative impact on the economy. An increase in taxes takes money out of an individual’s hands, leading to a reduction in consumer spending. Clearly, there is no net benefit to the economy in that case. Cutting spending in other areas has its costs as well, even if they are not as obvious.

Any reduction in government spending means the imposition of a greater burden on the benefactors of that government spending. Cutbacks in a particular program mean that the people who normally depend on that program now must spend more of their money to make up for the government cuts. This also takes money out of consumers’ hands and leaves the economy depressed. Of course, a government could go into debt during the war, but such a strategy simply means that at some point in the future, taxes must be increased or spending decreased. Plus, the interest on the debt must be paid as well.

Easy Reading Comprehension Question - 18

Q18.

Common Information Question: 1/4

The "pervasive…economic perspective" mentioned in line 1 took hold because:

A.

observers took the appearance of one phenomenon with another to indicate that one caused the other

B.

the U.S. would not have emerged from the Depression had it not entered World War II

C.

the booming economy during wartime created thousands of jobs in the U.S.

D.

most people are not trained to think in economic terms

E.

economists confused an event that was necessary for an outcome to occur with one that is merely sufficient to bring about that outcome

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Easy Reading Comprehension Question - 19

Q19.

Common Information Question: 2/4

Which of the following situations best mirrors the effect that cutting spending in government programs has, as detailed in the passage?

A.

Government cutbacks on public works maintenance lead to a deterioration of roads, which creates more work for private construction firms.

B.

A decrease in the federal education budget causes certain schools to close, which forces families to send their children to schools that are farther away.

C.

A federal decrease in unemployment payments causes some individuals who would otherwise remain on unemployment to seek jobs.

D.

Government cuts in housing subsidies results in fewer houses being built.

E.

A reduction in the federal spending on food safety inspections leads to a rash of illnesses and an increase in the amount of money spent on medicine.

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Easy Reading Comprehension Question - 20

Q20.

Common Information Question: 3/4

The passage implies which of the following about a government that funds a war by increasing the national debt?

A.

It is no worse off than it would be funding a war by cutting spending or increasing taxes.

B.

The initial costs it incurs are less than with the other two methods, but the future costs are greater.

C.

It must increase taxes in order to pay off the interest on the debt.

D.

If the government does not increase taxes or decrease spending, its economy will not recover.

E.

It receives a net benefit to the economy greater than it would achieve with either of the other two methods.

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