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Brendon Bowdridge

on 5 February 2014

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Transcript of Realism

Criticisms and Rebuttals
-The Changing face of Realism
-Democratic Peace Theory
-The Cold War
-The 21st Century
P1. Types of Realism
CLASSICAL - Up to the 20th Century
Realism: A perspective theory of International Relations
The Outline
Part 1: Types of Realism
Part 2: Analysis & Criticisms

Realism is most definitely still relevant in the modern world. It continues to evolve with the changes in the international sphere; Realism's ability to evolve has been the reason it has been the dominant theory for so long, and most likely will continue to be so in the future.
Balance of Power:
a situation of confusion and wild behavior in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., are not controlled by rules or laws*
one possessing or held to possess supreme political power or sovereignty*
the ability or right to control people or things*
an equilibrium of power sufficient to discourage or prevent one nation or party from imposing its will on or interfering with the interests of another*
* denotes Merriam Webster
The 3 S's:
"In an insane world, it was the sanest choice."
What is REALISM?
Common Assumptions
Realist Manual
Thomas Hobbes &
3 types of Realism...
Is Realism, as a theory of international relations, still relevant in the contemporary world?
Classical Realism
Human Nature & A struggle for belonging
Often violent
Thucydides &
The Melian Dialogue
Machiavelli -
The Prince
Hans Morgenthau -
Politics Among Nations
Structural Realism
Lack of an over-arching authority in the international system
Waltz &
Defensive Realism
Mearsheimer &
Offensive Realism
Neoclassical Realism
Adds addition factors to the domestic & individual level to explain international politics
Rational Realist?
The importance of international institutions
Contrary to Mearsheimer
Structural & Neorealism - 1979 and on
The Rational Realist?
"It is from the nature of man that the essential features of international politics, such as competition, fear and war can be explained." - DUNNE, Tim
Dunne, Tim, and Brian C. Schmidt. "Realism." The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations. By John Baylis and Steve Smith. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001. N. pag. Print.
Kegley, C.W. "Controversies in international relations theory: Realism and the neoliberal challenge." New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995
Korab-Karpowicz, W. Julian, "Political Realism in International Relations", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),
Lebow, Richard Ned. "The long peace, the end of the cold war, and the failure of realism." International Organization 48.2 (1994): 249-277.
Legro, Jeffrey W., and Andrew Moravcsik. "Is anybody still a realist?." International Security 24.2 (1999): 5-55.
Slaughter, Anne-Marie. "International Relations, Principle Theories." Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law. 2011. Print.
• State-centric theory central to realism that disregards non-state actors in preference for nation states because States are sovereign.
• Organize power domestically (sovereignty) to create security for citizens and then accumulate power internationally.

: How do we define power?
Power can be thought of as possessing the amount of physical resources necessary to win wars and coerce other states into behaving the way you wish them to
-Power can also be defined as a goal, as a control, as a status and as a method of influence
-Waltz tries to solve this by changing "power" to "capabilities"
Anarchy rules, leading to the struggle for power, and therefore survival.
Nothing can be achieved (economic, social, political) when security is threatened
Argument that the ultimate concern of states is for security and survival.
Are states power maximizers or security maximizers?
Are there limits to actions states will take in name of responsibility?
-Machiavelli believed that the primary responsibility of the power holder is to keep the security of the state regardless of the morality of the means

Domestically, the State provides protection but in the international system, protection can only come through self-help, a State must be able to take care of its own interests.
Security can only be achieved through self-help
But securing your own security will fuel the insecurity of other states…
Which leads to the Security Dilemma:
The security dilemma is the idea that tactics used by a state to heighten their own security will cause other states to respond in a similar manner leading to potential conflicts even if conflict is undesired by all involved parties.

Prevents benefits of collective action
Historically some states have preferred collective security systems in preference to self help

Democratic Peace
-The idea that Democracies dont go to war with each other for reasons including:
Economics, public culpability for leaders, low likelihood of similarly governed states having hostile relations and the preference for diplomatic solutions.
: Realists believe that it is not democracy that causes peace but that other conditions cause democracy and peace
-Waltz states that even if all states became Democratic the structure of international politics would remain anarchic.
The Cold War
The 21st Century: The Rational Choice Realist
-Growing relevance of non-state actors
-New era in International Relations that emphasizes cooperation instead of violent conflict--the formation of an International Community that looks out for each other
-ex) EU, UN

-The fact that Realism did not anticipate the end of the Cold War led to several powerful critiques of Realism.
-Spurned a new interest in institutions and non state actors
- “The great virtue of realism is that it can explain almost any foreign policy event, its great defect is that it tends to do this after the fact, rather than before” -John Vasquez
The Changing Face of Realism
• Different strands of realism are more relevant to certain situations and problems, no single theory is the “master explanation"
• Realism is not a single theory but a family of theories, and the reason it is unifiable is because they share the four common assumptions.
• Realism becomes an explanation for almost everything.
Are States Power Maximizers or Security Maximizers?
Security Maximizers
are states who normally prioritize power above all else but in crucial situations are concerned with security over power

Power Maximizers
are states who always prioritize power which can lead to the Security Dilemma
Where do power and security come from?
: Mearsheimer says that in his view, inter-state conflict is bound to remain an aspect of international relations. Therefore, the practices of realism will inevitably maintain a central position in the way states conduct international relations.
Realism has been considered outdated in the past but it is resilient because of its ability to adapt with the times as well as it's central claim is it embodies laws of IR that remain true accross history and geopolitics.
While different theories may strive to explain different areas of the international political arena, the foundations of realism never change, it is from this that it draws its strength
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