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Neo-Realism and Neo-Liberalism

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Courtney Thomas

on 13 November 2017

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Transcript of Neo-Realism and Neo-Liberalism

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
World Politics Lecture 9
Kenneth Waltz’s Theory of International Politics
Structural approach to international relations
Based upon the notion of polarity, balance of power, and polar powers
Closely related to Great Powers and Super Powers
Identifies even more agents, structures, and dynamics as “irrelevant” than Classical Realism
Power defined as the combined capabilities of a state
Power determines policy

Polarity in the International System
Structure defined by polar powers
Often called Great Powers
Military, economic, political, and social power
Structures change only when polar powers are added or eliminated—very rare
Structures change slowly and infrequently

Post-Cold War
Is Russia still a Super Power?
Is neo-realism applicale to the post-Cold War world?
Many Great Powers AND at least two Super Powers?

Problem with Waltz
Even more reductionist than Classical Realism
Waltz was a student of history and he generalized from what he saw to what was possible in the international system
Example: Five Polar System: Stable because of 2-2-1 split
BUT would a five pole system ALWAYS split that way?

Neo-liberalism is about open trade—completely open, unregulated international trade—and the use of global institutions to prevent national policies designed to interfere in the operations of open markets
Fuels critical perspectives on globalization and especially the roles of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO

Problems with Neo-Liberalism
Multipolarity in The Age of Metternich
The most stable multipolar system has five Great Powers
France, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, and Austria
Opportunities for defection, secret alliances, instability are limited
Maintained by 2-2-1 split; conflict arises when 3-2 alliance emerges

From 1648 to the Cold War the world was multipolar
Numerous polar powers
Frequent changes in the structure of the system
Relatively unstable
Two polar or Super Powers
A Super Power had the military capacity to COMPLETELY annihilate its enemy
Cold War: US and USSR
Most stable structural system
Deterrence and MAD
Decreased likelihood of structural change—the emergence or disappearance of polar powers
Powers work together to deter structural change
Most dangerous and unstable structural system
Two weaker powers ally against the stronger
The stronger engages in a preemptory strike
Age of Metternich?
Was the Age of Metternich about polarity or about Britain’s role as hegemon and its economic interests in international peace and stability?
If a 5 pole system emerged again would one power necessarily choose to act as the balancer against the other two or would the system be fundamentally unstable like a tripolar system with shifting alliances and preemptory attacks?
Cold War?
Just becuase the US and the USSR DIDN'T blow each other to hell and back and destroy the world in the process doesn't mean that we didn't come very, very close
Waltz attributes to inevitability what is better understood as contingency
Neo-liberalism advocates complete removal of government economic intervention BOTH in terms of trade AND national economic affairs
Open Trade
Embraced and implemented by the IMF and World Bank
This perspective is HIGHLY criticized in terms of global justice and sovereignty
Full transcript