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POS 304 04/20/2010. Course Status: Paper Assignment 3 due 4/22/2010. Course Agenda: Presentations. Mearsheimer. Large body of opinion in the West holds that a fundamental transformation occurred with the end of the Cold War. Movement from cooperation not security competition.

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pos 304 04 20 2010

POS 304 04/20/2010

Course Status:

Paper Assignment 3 due 4/22/2010.

Course Agenda:



Large body of opinion in the West holds that a fundamental transformation occurred with the end of the Cold War.

Movement from cooperation not security competition.

Realism no longer a valid theory for this new age.

Clinton articulated this perspective throughout the 1990s.

For Mearsheimer contention that security competition among the great powers is no longer is wrong.

All states still care deeply about the balance of power destined to compete for power among themselves for the foreseeable future.

International anarchy did not change with the end of the Cold War.

Potential for great power conflict is low key but US still keeps troops stationed in Europe and Northeast Asia to keep regions at peace.


Relatively peaceful circumstances are largely the result of of benign distributions of power in each region.

Europe remains bipolar (United States and Russia).

Northeast Asia is multipolar (China, Russia, and the United States).

No potential hegemon in Northeast Asia.

Persistent Anarchy.

Five assumptions.

1) States are key actors in world politics operating in anarchy.

2) Great powers have some offensive military capability.

3) States can never be certain whether other states have hostile intentions towards them.

4) Great powers have a high premium on survival.

5) States are rational actors who are reasonable effective at designing strategies that maximize their chances of survival.

Anarchy continues into the 21st century no overarching institution such as the United Nations.


Challenges to Assumptions of Realism.

Sovereignty at Bay.

International institutions are growing in number and in their ability to pus states to cooperate with each other.

These institutions can dampen security competition.

Institutions have an independent effect on state behavior that at least mitigates and possibly might put an end to anarchy.

United Nations only candidate for this institutional position but influence is not great and likely to wane with expansion of Security Council.

No institution with real power in Asia.

Institutions in Europe such as NATO and the European Union but little evidence that they can compel member states to act against their interests.

States sometimes operate through institutions such as United States operating through the United Nations.

Others argue globalization is undermining sovereignty.


Great powers are said to be incapable of dealing with the forces unleashed by globalization.

Mearsheimer counters that contemporary states are no exception in historical ability of state to adjust to global economic forces.

No plausible alternative to the state is on the horizon.

Even if the state disappeared no reason to assume that new political units would not live in anarchy.

Good reasons to think that the state has a bright future.

Nationalism is probably the most powerful political ideology in the world which glorifies the state.

Rejoinder to this perspective is the European Union, but nationalism still remains a force in Europe.

The Futility of Offense.

Offensive war is no longer a useful element of statecraft.

Nuclear weapons make it almost impossible for great powers to attach each other.


Certain Intentions.

Democratic peace theory is built on the premises that democracies can be more certain of each other’s intentions and those intentions are generally benign; thus they do not fight among themselves.

If all great powers were democracies possibility of great power conflict would be greatly reduced.

Assumptions of democratic peace theory do not hold up to inspection.

Studies have shown instances when democracies go to war with one another.

Outcome of these conflicts were largely determined by balance of power considerations.

Another problem is backsliding, democracies could become an authoritarian state.

Social constructivists provide another perspective on how to create a world of states with benign intentions.

States behave toward each other not due to structure of material world (anarchy) but how individuals think and talk about international politics.


Key for constructivists is to create a more peaceful world than realism.

Counter to this argument is that realism is the dominant discourse because it is an accurate theory of great power politics.

Social constructivists argue that the end of the Cold War represents a significant for their perspective and evidence of a more promising future.

Gorbachev’s actions were not rooted in realism.

Mearsheimer counters that Gorbachev’s actions can be explained by realism.

Soviet Union was suffering economic and political crisis at home that made the costs of empire prohibitive and created powerful incentives to cooperate with the West to gain access to technology.

Post-Collapse of Soviet Union return to great power politics in Europe.

Survival in the Global Commons.

Proponents of globalizations sat that states today are more concerned with prosperity that survival.

Problem with this perspective – arrival of a serious economic crisis.


One or more state might not prosper and have incentive for starting war, e.g. Iraq invasion of Kuwait.

Other reasons to doubt interdependence.

States usually go to war against a single rival and aim to win a quick and decisive victory.

Seek to discourage other states from joining with the other side in the fight.

Important historical case refutes interdependence.

Europe 1900-1914 prosperous yet war broke out.

Another challenge to realist perspective is non-traditional threats such as AIDS, environmental degradation, unbounded population growth and global warming.

Problems with perspective.

Dangers do not threaten survival of a great power.

No reason to assume that great powers would cooperate on these issues.


Great Power Behavior in the 1990s.

Threat of armed conflict from regions without great powers.

1)South Asian subcontinent India and Pakistan.

2)Persian Gulf.

3) Africa including Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Great power wars against minor powers (US vs. Iraq).

Security competition among the great powers in Europe and Northeast Asia subdued during the 1990s.

There have been previous periods of peace amongst great powers.

Security Competition in Northeast Asia.



China as great power rival of United States in Northeast Asia.

China views United States and Japan as potential enemies.

China has take aggressive military actions.


Another security competition in Northeast Asia region’s burgeoning arms race in missile technology.

North Korea missiles and US and Japan countermeasures.

United States troops stationed in region critical for stability.

Security Competition in Europe.

Security competition remains a possibility in Europe.

Wars in the Balkans.

Evolution of Russian foreign policy.

Evidence that realism still has a lot to say about inter-state relations in Europe.

NATO’s actions in the Balkans and expansion eastward have angered and scared the Russians.

US maintenance of bases in Europe sign of security competition.

Structure and peace in the 1990s.

No question that the presence of US troops in Europe and Northeast Asia has played important role in moderating security competition.


Europe is stable in the 1990s because it is still largely bipolar.

Northeast Asia on the other hand is a balanced multipolar system.

Multipolar system with no hegemon and the presence of nuclear missiles.

International System is not unipolar.

US is hegemonic in Western Hemisphere but faces security competition and great power rivals in Northeast Asia and Europe.

No evidence that the United States is about to take a stab at establishing global hegemony.

US allies do not count as great powers because reliant on US for portions of defense.

Good deal of evidence that indicates that power politics has not been stamped out of Europe and Northeast Asia.

Trouble Ahead.

Difficult to predict:

1)reckoning the power levels of main actors located in each region.


Trouble Ahead continued.

Difficulty predicting.

2) Assessing the likelihood the United States will remain militarily engaged in those regions which depends largely on whether there is a potential hegemon among the great powers that can be contained only with American help.

Possible to make informed judgments about the architectures that will emerge.

Conservative assumption that relative wealth and political fortunes of states will experience no fundamental change.

Alternative assumption that there is significant change in state capabilities.

Mearsheimer believes existing power relations not sustainable.

Scenario 1: United States withdraws troops changing structure power and making conflict more likely.

Scenario 2: If potential hegemon emerges US troops likely to remain or return.


Relations between great powers are less likely to be peaceful in the 1990s.

The Future of the American Pacifier.

Future of US military commitments to Europe and Northeast Asia hinge on whether there is a potential hegemon in either region that can be contained only with US help.

America the Peacekeeper.

US has deep seated interest in preserving peace in Europe and Northeast Asia.

Economic interdependence makes US vulnerable to great power war.

US likely to get drawn into great power conflict.

Mearsheimer argues that US can avoid major economic impact.

Mearsheimer also argues that United States can avoid getting involved in great power war.

Historical evidence US power not deployed to maintain peace but to prevent rise of potential hegemons in regions.


Too early to tell what new security architecture will be in either Europe or Northeast Asia.

Lag time in withdrawing US troops.

America’s Cold War allies have started to act less like dependents of the US and more like sovereign states because they fear the offshore balancer might prove to be unreliable in a future crisis.

Structure and Conflict in Tomorrow’s Europe.

Five European states have sufficient wealth to be great powers: United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Russia.

Germany might have the capability to be a potential hegemon.

Germany likely could be constrained by the other regional great powers.

Another scenario is that Russia could become hegemon again likely to be constrained by regional great powers.

Structure and Conflict in Northeast Asia.

No potential hegemon China has potential to become regional hegemon.


Japan could replace United States as third great power in Northeast Asia making conflict slightly more likely – absence of nuclear deterrence.

China could become regional hegemon and United States would either remain in Northeast Asia or return.

Likely scenarios:

US leaves Europe – Germany becomes hegemon – unbalanced multipolarity.

Northeast Asia

1) US pulls out Japan becomes formidable power – balanced multipolar.

2) China emerges as potential hegemon – unbalanced.


China’s prospects of becoming a potential hegemon greatest threat to United States.

United States must slow the rise of China.

Abandon constructive engagement.