Realism
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Realism. Assumptions. States: unitary, rational actors -Treaty of Westphalia (1648) Anarchy: no central government Survival: primary objective Pursuit of power . Implications for State Behavior . Security top concern Security dilemma Maximize absolute and relative power

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Assumptions
Assumptions

  • States: unitary, rational actors

    -Treaty of Westphalia (1648)

  • Anarchy: no central government

  • Survival: primary objective

  • Pursuit of power


Implications for state behavior
Implications for State Behavior

  • Security top concern

    • Security dilemma

  • Maximize absolute and relative power

  • Balance rather than bandwagon

  • Cooperation rare


Balancing power
Balancing Power

  • Internally

    • Increase relative capabilities

  • Externally

    • Enter into alliances


System dynamics
System Dynamics

  • Focus on great powers

  • Balance of power: stability

  • Change in resources -> turbulence in the system

  • Rules made by and for strong states


Classical realism
Classical Realism

  • Aristotle: The Peloponnesian War

    Hans Morgenthau: Politics Among Nations (1948)

  • Assumptions based on analogy with human nature

    • Humans inherently seek power and domination

  • “First image” theory


Structural realism
Structural Realism

  • Kenneth Waltz: Man, State and War (1954)

    Theory of International Politics (1979)

    John Mearsheimer “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001)

  • Assumptions follow from the structure of the international system

  • Third image theory


Policy implications of realism
Policy Implications of Realism

  • Domestic politics irrelevant

  • Universal rights and norms not applicable to the international realm

  • “High” vs. “Low” politics

    • Get involved in low politics only in ways that advance high politics


Analytical advantages
Analytical Advantages

  • Parsimonious: explains a lot with little

  • Captures key characteristics of the international system

  • Persistence of conflict vindicates theory

  • Emphasizes continuity


Analytical weakness
Analytical Weakness

  • Accounts for continuity, but not very well for change

  • Better able to explain than predict

  • Cannot account for persistence of cooperation

  • Domestic politics matter increasingly

  • Self-fulfilling circular prophesy about the inevitability of great power war?



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