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Analyze the international theory of realism. What are the tenants of classical and neorealism? How is realism different from other international theories such as liberalism, constructivism, and Marxism? What are some of the criticisms of realism? How do other theories criticize realism? Are these criticisms valid or not? Are the claims of realism supported or undermined by the record of important events in the history of international politics (Give specific examples)? Does any other theory explain the world better than realism? Why or why not? Discuss.

  • Your essay should be 5 full pages in length Times New Roman Size 12 Font Double-Spaced MLA Format (not including work cited).
  • You should use at least 2 outside sources
  • Include a Work cited page.
  • The textbook should be cited at least once in your essay. It is caled International Relations by Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. W. Pevehouse 11th edition
  • Here is the link to the book 🙂
  • I have also attached my professor’s ppt for chapter 2 😀



Theories of International Relations – Realism Lecture 2 Theories of International Relations 1. 2. 3. 4. Realism Liberalism Constructivism Marxism / Radicalism Realism • An approach to international relations guided by the belief that all nation states are motivated by self interest Realism • Prioritizes national defense and security • Believes in deterrence – using strength and power to discourage and prevent the aggression of other states Realism • International relations is characterized by relentless security competition between states • States have the right to survive and defend themselves Realism • 911 problem – there is no one to call when international law is violated • Self help – states can only truly rely on themselves for security and thus need to build up their strength in order to deter aggression Realism • Realists believe that states should focus on pursuing security interests and not moral values • Realpolitik – politics based on reactions to given circumstances and factors instead of morals or ethics • Often referred to as pragmatism Balancing • Realists adhere to the belief that balancing against other powers can prevent conflict • One one state becomes too powerful, other less powerful states band together to counterbalance against that state. • In theory, a level balance of power can prevent conflict Realism • There is no sovereign ruler over all nations • States are not subject to any international law Realism • Anarchy causes states to fear other states • States cannot know the intentions of other states and thus seek security and survival by amassing power Classical Realism • Seeks to explain international relations as a result of human nature Classical Realists Thinkers • Thucydides • Machiavelli • Hobbes • Morgenthau Thucydides (460 BC- 395 BC) “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” – History of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides • Writes in the context of Greek city states • Power inequalities between states are natural and inevitable Thucydides • All states must must realize that the balance of power is unequal and act accordingly • This will ensure their survival Thucydides • There is a difference between private morality and the principle of justice • Justice in international relations is unique • It is not about equal treatment but rather recognizing your relative strength and weakness and knowing your place Thucydides The Melian Dialogue • Thucydides details a conversation between Melos and Athens • Athens wants a strategic stronghold in Melos in their war against Sparta • Melos wants to remain neutral in the war The Melian Dialogue • The Melian Dialogue • Athens demands surrender or destruction, stating that they are much more powerful • Melos refuses to surrender The Melian Dialogue • The Melians argue that it would be shameful and cowardly of them to submit without a fight. • The Athenians counter that it is only shameful to submit to an opponent whom one has a reasonable chance of defeating. There is no shame in submitting to an overwhelmingly superior opponent like Athens. The Melian Dialogue • The Athenians express their shock at the Melians’ lack of realism. They say that there is no shame in submitting to a stronger enemy, especially one who is offering reasonable terms • They argue that it is sensible to submit to one’s superiors, stand firm against one’s equals, and be moderate to one’s inferiors • Athens invades the city, kills every man and sell all women and children into slavery Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) “The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.” – The Prince Machiavelli • The world is a dangerous place • If a state hopes to survive it must be aware of dangers and take precautions against them Machiavelli • Independence is the single most important goal of a state • The main responsibility of a ruler is to defend the interests of their state and thereby ensure its survival • Rulers, therefore, must be both cunning and strong Machiavelli • A successful leader will exploit opportunities to better his or her state • This will entail the leader to be ruthless at times • A leader must not act in accordance to Christian principles • Love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, do not lie Machiavelli • Morality is foolishness • Act moral to fool your enemies into a sense of comfort and then exploit them Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1679) “Life is nasty, brutish, and short” – Leviathan (1651) What would happen if all governments ceased to exist? Thomas Hobbes – Anarchy Aleppo, Syria Thomas Hobbes • Nature is anarchy • Human Beings are cruel, mean, and brutish in the state of nature Thomas Hobbes • Reason can remove man from nature • It is reasonable to transfer rights to a higher power in order to escape nature Thomas Hobbes 2 laws of nature 1. We all want peace 2. We are rational enough to recognize that if we sacrifice some rights to a higher power, there can be peace Thomas Hobbes • Governments remove us from the state of nature and protect us in exchange for the sacrifice of some of our rights • Government, therefore, is a contract between the rulers and the ruled Thomas Hobbes • Importantly, this changes government from a pre-ordained ruler to a consenting contract • Concept of contract is later seen in the Declaration of Independence Thomas Hobbes • Realists apply Thomas Hobbes idea of anarchy to the international sphere • There is no international order and states that wish to survive must act accordingly Hans Morgenthau (1904-1980) “The struggle for power is universal in time and space and is an undeniable fact of experience” Morgenthau • Humans are self centered and self interested • Politics is rooted in our selfish natural state • We naturally crave for power Morgenthau • Ultimate goal of a state is survival • Security beyond the boarders of the nation state is impossible Morgenthau • Human nature inevitably brings people into conflict with one another • This creates what Morgenthau calls “power politics” – politics is a struggle for power over men • If you wish to enjoy the freedom of autonomy, you will have to use power for that purpose Morgenthau • A state must organize itself to be able to protect itself • The anarchical system and mans natural desire for power invites conflict and war Morgenthau • There is one morality for the private sphere and one for the public • Politics allow for behavior that would not be tolerated by private morality Morgenthau • It is actually amoral to use private morality in the international sphere • As a ruler it is your job to protect the welfare of your citizens sometimes this means lying, cheating, stealing or even “evil action” • If you are not willing to do this you are putting your peoples lives at risk Morgenthau • Sometimes it may even be necessary to trample on human rights for the sake of national interests • The ends can justify the means • “ The statesman must think in terms of the national interest, conceived as power among other powers. The popular mind, unaware of the fine distinctions of the statesman’s thinking, reasons more often than not in the simple moralistic and legalistic terms of absolute good and evil. “ – Hans Morgenthau Neorealism • Assumes that the international system is anarchic • Where classical realism focuses the actors in the international system, neoliberalism focuses on the structure of the system itself • The structure of the system compels actors to behave in certain ways (deterministic) Neorealism • Classical realism sees states rising or falling on the merit of their international decision making • Neorealism maintains that states simply react to changes in the international system Kenneth Waltz (1924 – 2013) “External pressure seems to produce internal unity” Waltz • The “founder” of neorealism • States balance against threats of power • Change in the system occurs when power shifts • Balance of power is possible, but war is sometimes inevitable Waltz • There is no overarching international power • States cannot be certain of the intentions of other states Waltz • Peace more likely in a bipolar system because two powers are working too maintain the system • Conflict occurs when there is change in the system, change occurs when nations gain or lose power John Mearsheimer (1947- ) ”In an ideal world, where there are only good states, power would be largely irrelevant” John Mearsheimer • Similar beliefs to Waltz except he warns of the problems of excessive power because it provokes lesser states to balance against a powerful state • Regional hegemons are possible, but not global hegemons • A powerful state should seek to prevent further regional hegemonies that might challenge its power • He calls this offensive hegemony Criticisms of Realism 1. If states balance against more powerful states, why do other countries not balance against the United States? • We have not seen a coalition of states against the U.S., rather most countries are eager to trade and make security alliances with America Criticisms of Realism 2. Realism ignores the influence of individuals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and multi-national corporations • Realism only focuses on the nation state • Do other actors influence the international system? Criticisms of Realism 3. Has an extremely pessimistic world view • Does not believe that things can be worked out between nations cooperatively • Encourages stronger countries to do what they please regardless of wrong or right • May encourage conflict Criticisms of Realism 4. Does not offer a solution to anarchy • Claims that the international system is anarchic, but offers no solution on how to overcome this • In this way is not so much a theory, but a description Game Theory • The study of interaction between rational decision making actors • Attempts to understand behavior by creating a mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational actors The Prisoner’s Dilemma • A game made to show why 2 rational actors may not cooperate despite it being in both of their interests to do so The Prisoner’s Dilemma • Anthony and Brittany are both arrested for a crime and taken to separate interrogation rooms • If both Anthony and Brittany betray the other, each of them serves 5 years in prison • If Anthony betrays Brittany but Brittany remains silent, Anthony will be set free and Brittany will serve 10 years in prison (and vice versa) • If Anthony and Brittany both remain silent, both of them will serve one year Prisoners Dilemma explained 2:20 • html?videoId=5802760893001 The Prisoner’s Dilemma • To the realist, both Anthony and Brittany will chose to betray the other • This gives them the potential for the best possible outcome The Prisoner’s Dilemma • All purely rational self-interested prisoners would betray the other, and so the only possible outcome for two purely rational prisoners is for them to betray each other Zero Sum Game Theory • A game in which in order for one actor to win, the other must lose • One actors gains are directly proportional to another losses Zero Sum Game • Realists see the international system as a zero sum game • One states power can only rise if another’s falls • The international sphere is a constant power struggle Questions • Does realism encourage war? • Is international Relation a zero sum game? Is life a zero sum game? Surname 1 A classical neorealist views the international system as independent of individual human nature. The interdependency of the international system is the key reason why there is an establishment of an anarchical structure within it. In classical neorealism, human nature is significant in defining the constant struggle for power exhibited by states in their various regions and the international system (Goldstein & Pevehouse 38). Still, it disqualifies it as the key reason behind the behavior of states in the international system. Classical realism separates individual human nature from states’ behavior by focusing on the relative gains towards certain state undertakings. Hans Morgenthau’s observation of the situations where states trample on crucial human rights for the states’ interests is a fundamental statement in the disqualification of human nature as a factor in the international system (Antunes & Camisao 2). According to the theory, the established anarchical structure of the international system drives various states to seek relative gains without fear of squashing crucial human rights. In classical realism, states have no power over the established anarchical structure. However, they have to react accordingly to prevent other states, powerful or not, from achieving relative gains. Realism emphasizes the anarchical condition established within the international system. In realist theory, states craft foreign policies and ways to pursue their material interests. Thus, realism dwells on states’ actions and their influence in the international system driven by relative state materialistic gains using a competitive mindset. Contrarily, liberalism offers a sense of peace in the competitive interests pursued by states within the international system. It strives to establish economic interdependence even as states strive to become powerful economically. Liberalism views global dominion using an economic lens. Surname 2 Establishing how realism differs from constructivism demands a closer look at the two theories’ approach to the international system. Realism disregards the ideological approach on issues like politics and economies. Realists see state endeavors as driven by their national interests in economic security and material possessions. Contrarily, constructivism focuses on developing ideas that focus on shaping the economies and states’ political systems, while Constructivists choose ideas in solving international conflicts over wars. Marxism is an international theory derived from Carl Marx’s description of the issues behind capitalism in the global economy and international system (Goldstein & Pevehouse 87). Realism focuses on the insatiable characteristic of human beings in describing nations’ struggle for global dominion in the anarchical structure of the international system. However, Marx’s Marxism categorizes the survival nature faced by other nations due to a well-engineered capitalistic idea. Nations with a capitalistic mindset concentrate on capital accumulation at the expense of others which deteriorates international relations. Like any other ideology, realism has faced several criticisms from international relations analysts. Realists perceive that realism focuses on the establishment of state balance against more powerful states. However, no states have joined against the U.S. Contrarily, several countries continue to trade and make security alliances with the U.S. Realism has also faced criticism on its assumption of the influences of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multinational corporations. Multinational corporations and NGOs have a significant impact on the international system since they influence the global economy. Notwithstanding, the theory ignores individual citizens’ contributions, which substantially impacts NGOs’ political affairs, corporations, and operations within their states and regions. Surname 3 Global relations analysts brand realism as a theory that spreads a pessimistic view of the world. According to the idea, people see it as a facilitator of a divided world. If powerful countries concentrated on the principles flagged by the theory, state conflicts would emerge that can inspire global warfare. The theory disqualifies itself as a theory by offering no solution to the anarchical structure existing within the international system. Liberalism, constructivism, and Marxism are the leading international theories that have critiqued realism. These theories have identified several shortcomings of realism as a theoretical approach to viewing and offering global issues. Liberalism is the primary international theory with a significant critique of realism (classical realism and neorealism). Liberalists argue that realism offers no possibilities for peace which is paramount in an effective and reliable international relations theory. Liberalists point to Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz’s concentration on the global system as established in anarchy, which encourages nations to seek and demonstrate the power to pursue national interests at their different economic capacities. The theory of Marxism concentrated less on the anarchical structure of the international system put by the realists. Marxists focused on offering critiques to realism through an alienation lens. Marxism recognizes the presence of individuals and multinational organizations in influencing international relations. According to Marxists, a state functions to protect the bourgeoisie by establishing politically influenced strategies that maintain the status quo of exploiting the wage-earners (proletariat). Thus, Marxism criticized the realism idea that a state acts on its collective interest and may do so inconsiderate of the state’s citizens. The state’s action to engage in wars is for the bourgeoisie’s interests covered to showcase a common good for the nation. Surname 4 Constructionists’ critique of realism differs from the other international theories since it emphasizes creating peace which realism excludes in its description. Constructivism considers the anarchical ideology spread by realists as an architect of distrust in state relations, promoting an aggressive competitive atmosphere. The critique stresses that when a country has lost its morality and trust in other countries, there is a likelihood that it will use the existing anarchical structure of the international system to initiate an offensive. All the criticisms directed towards the international relations theory of realism are valid, especially the weighty critique by Marxism. Marxists could be offering a tangible critique of realists’ belief that politicians think in terms of national interests. Marxists observe that a state has two main social classes that the statesmen recognize. On several occasions, these statesmen use their capitalistic mindset and drive countries into political warfare that leads to displacement of several common citizens, which stimulates suffering among the proletariat. The bourgeoisie makes the majority of the decision-making panels with their interests at heart when formulating policies and creating laws that govern the states. Similarly, the critiques provided by liberalists and constructivists against realism are valid to some extent. Liberalists’ argument that realism offers no peaceful remedy to any international relations issue is valid based on the principles underlining its core values. Realists view the international system structure as anarchical. In that view, every state can independently act based on their perceived national interests, which might provoke other countries to initiate aggressive competitions with the state. Constructivists view the core values held by realists as the leading cause of conflicts worldwide. Ideally, the critique is valid since most nations have minimal or no trust in other states since …
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