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Plan for Today: Understanding Classical Realism and Neorealism. Introducing history and distinctive concepts of classical realism. Introducing neorealist principles. Classical or Traditional Realism. Ancient roots – Thucydides . Realist Athenians vs. utopian Melians.

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plan for today understanding classical realism and neorealism

Plan for Today:Understanding Classical Realism and Neorealism

Introducing history and distinctive concepts of classical realism.

Introducing neorealist principles.

classical or traditional realism
Classical or Traditional Realism
  • Ancient roots – Thucydides.
    • Realist Athenians vs. utopian Melians.
    • Strong always win over the weak.
    • Lesson: tragedy befalls those who rely on hope, justice, and supposed friends.
classical or traditional realism3
Classical or Traditional Realism
  • Classical realism (20th Century).
    • E.H. Carr – The Twenty Years’ Crisis.
      • Critique of liberal “utopianism” dominant after WWI.
      • Response to failure of League of Nations and collective security.
      • Creators of League: if you believe in something enough, it will come true.
classical or traditional realism4
Classical or Traditional Realism
  • E.H. Carr – The Twenty Years’ Crisis (continued).
    • In reality, nations’ selfish concerns dominate.
    • Aggressive actions by states are fully rational and natural.
classical or traditional realism5
Classical or Traditional Realism
  • E.H. Carr – The Twenty Years’ Crisis (continued).
    • Need to analyze politics objectively as it is, not as it should be.
    • Clash among national interests inevitable.
      • Only way to minimize war is balance of power among states.
classical or traditional realism6
Classical or Traditional Realism
  • Hans Morgenthau – Politics Among Nations(1948).
    • First attempt at realist textbook.
    • Trying to create “science” of international politics.
    • Level of analysis: More emphasis on human nature than structure of system itself.
classical or traditional realism7
Classical or Traditional Realism

Morgenthau’s 6 principles of political realism:

  • Politics governed by objective laws with roots in human nature.
  • Interest defined as power.
  • Forms of state power will vary with time and place, but interest defined as power will remain constant.
classical or traditional realism8
Classical or Traditional Realism

Morgenthau’s 6 principles of political realism:

  • Political action has moral consequences, but morality cannot guide action.
  • There is no universally agreed set of moral principles.
  • Political sphere is autonomous from legal, moral, or economic spheres. Politics deals with power.
conclusion what principles do classical realists share
Conclusion: What principles do classical realists share?
  • Must look at world as it is, not as it ought to be.
  • Interest of states and leaders is power.
  • Ambition for power comes more from human nature than structure of system.
  • Moral claims or arguments about justice have no place in foreign policy.
  • These principles are permanent aspects of international politics.
neorealism waltz theory of international politics 1979
Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979)

Principles of neorealism:

  • To explain international system, must create system-level theory.
    • Units of system (states) functionally similar.
    • International politics different from domestic politics.
neorealism waltz theory of international politics 197911
Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979)

Principles of neorealism:

  • Anarchy central defining aspect of system. Consequences:
    • Self-help – cannot rely on others.
    • Uncertainty – attack always possible.
    • Anarchic system drive for power to attain security.
neorealism waltz theory of international politics 197912
Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979)

Principles of neorealism:

  • Consequences of anarchy lead to:
    • Drive for power to attain security.
      • No assumptions about human nature necessary.
    • States behaving similarly under similar constraints.
neorealism waltz theory of international politics 197913
Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979)

Principles of neorealism:

  • Search for power has limits – states really seek security.
    • Excessive power grab can prompt security dilemma.
neorealism waltz theory of international politics 197914
Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979)

Principles of neorealism:

  • Alliance behaviour:
    • States will always balance rather than bandwagon in alliances.
    • Bipolar systems more stable than multipolar systems.