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Realism. The Art of War.

A look at the basics, history and critique of political Realism.

James I. Rogers

on 10 October 2011

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Transcript of Realism. The Art of War.

The Art of War.

Realism at a crossroads.
The History of Realism
A look at the basics, history and critiques of political realism.
Classical Realism
The History of the Peloponnesian War.

Scientific approach.

God not an actor.

Between the Peloponnesian League (led by Sparta) and the Delian League (led by Athens).

Highlights the key points of realism.
Melian Dialogue.

In the Melian Dialogues many core realist assumptions can be found.

Human Nature - Selfishness, greed, power.

"The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceeded the violence of parties once engaged in contention. " Thuc. 3.82.8

The Security Dilemma.

Athens and Sparta were caught up in a classical security dilemma.

450 BC
Thomas Hobbes
Leviathan and Anarchy.
The Security Dilemma.
Offensive Realism
John Mearsheimer.

“Given the difficulty of determining how much power is enough for today and tomorrow, great powers recognize that the best way to ensure their security is to achieve hegemony now, thus eliminating any possibility of a challenge by another great power. Only a misguided state would pass up an opportunity to be the hegemon in the system because it thought it already had sufficient power to survive."
Power maximisation!
No Status-Quo
Defensive Realism
Defensive realism predicts greater variation in internationally driven expansion and suggests that states ought to generally pursue moderate strategies as the best route to security.

Under most circumstances, the stronger states in the international system should pursue:
and foreign economic policies.
Kenneth Waltz
Mearsheimer. J, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
"Figuring out who won a nuclear war was like trying to figure out who won the San Francisco earthquake."
Waltz. K, Man, The State and War.
Communicate restraint.
The U.S 7th Fleet.
Kilcullen Video.
Key themes of The Security Dilemma.
The absence of authority,

“No court of natural justice...”

“god reigneth...” and he does not directly interfere with human affairs.

States must provide for their own security and in doing so create amongst themselves a security dilemma with other states.
USSR collapse in December 1991.

Predictable bi-polar international system.

Changed into a multi-polar / uni-polar international system.

New theories more suitable to explain international politics.
Realism explains very little of what happens in international relations.

Waltz - “Realism tells us a small number of big important things.”

There is no reason why it should be restricted to such a narrow scope.

Anarchy, Human Nature and the Security Dillemma cannot explain everything thats going on in our world.

Space has been left for alternative and arguably more relevant theories.
Mearsheimer believes that “...institutions matter only on the margins.’’

They have “...no independent effect on state behaviour.”

A controversial claim rooted in a typical realist analysis of anarchy.

Regime theory: 'The international system is not—in practice—anarchic, but that it has an implicit or explicit structure which determines how states will act within the system.'
States are not the sole actors within international relations.

Somali pirates are influencing and affecting the economies and foreign polices of many nation states.

Kenyan tourism industry came to a standstill, in turn affecting the nation’s economic security.

The Royal Navy justify their relevance by patrolling and disrupting pirate activity.
Realism is not forgotten, it is still relevant today.

Work by Reinhold Niebuhr a Christian and Moral realist used today.

“...there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief that we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction”.

However, due to its narrow scope many other theories are also relevent.

Thus, realism is not an all encompassing theory on IR, no matter what die hard realist say.
Krasner, S. (1982) 'Structural Causes and Regime Consequences: Regimes as Intervening Variables'.
'Nation A' builds up its defences.
'Nation B' sees this and anticipates an attack, so also builds up its defences.
'Nation A' then does the same to protect itself.
Arms race
An so on...
Zero Sum Game
Zero Sum Game
Only relative gains can be made.
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