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Types of Realism in International Relations Theory


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Classical realism
Morgenthau - man strives for power
Structural/defensive realism
the structure of the system is the cause
Offensive realism
Mearscheimer - states maneuver, wanting what others have.
Concept of power in neorealist theory
Power is a MEANS, with states running risks if they have either too much or too little of it. Sensible statesmen try to have an appropriate amount
Mutual fears of other states
The basis of alliances in neorealism
Dangers of multipolarity in neorealism
In a bipolar system, the state can make decisions based primarily on its own interests and to cope with its main adversary rather than dealing with desires of its allies. In a multipolar system, dan…
Crisis in neorealism
Produced by a state that is determined to resist change that another state proposes to make.
Miscalculation in neorealism
Is more dangerous than overreacting in a bipolar system because overreaction under bipolarity only causes the cost of arming and limited wars.
Reason for post WWII peace under neorealism
The dissolution of the multipolar world and the emergence of a bipolar one
The rule of the game in an anarchic system
SELF-HELP. If states can achieve their end without actively using force, then the chance of peace increases.
Nuclear arms in neorealism
In order for deterrence to work, there must be uncertainty as to what the opponent will do, because as Clausewitz says, if war becomes absolute then it becomes imperative not to take the first …
Neorealist shortcomings
Cannot be applied to domestic politics; cannot serve to develop policies of states concerning international or domestic affairs; simply explains why overall picture is unlikely to change
Anarchy
Neorealist ordering principle of the international system
Insecurity and unequal gains
Neorealist reasons for why the system limits cooperation
Neorealist predictive shortcomings
Waltz wrote in 1979 that the bipolar system was stable and would persist, but fall of Berlin Wall and dissintegration of USSR proved otherwise.
Keohane's expansion on neorealism
states are self-interested but by employing game theory shows that states can widen the perception of their self interest through economic cooperation and involvement in International institutions.
Gilpin and hegemonic war - basic principle
Caused by broad changes in political, economic and strategic affairs - it threatens and transforms structure of the system.
Originator of offensive realism
Mearsheimer - The Tragedy of Power Politics
Offensive realism driving factor
Great powers are rarely satisfied with the status quo and instead seek hegemony
Offensive realism and power
It is imperative to gain more power to enhance the state's prospects for survival. States consistently capitalize on opportunities to increase their power and this dynamic explains much of great-power behavior.
Why do leading nations aspire only to regional hegemony under offensive realism?
The stopping power of water - gives strategic advantage to land powers - the proper role of the U.S. is an "offshore balancer" preventing the rise of a Eurasian hegemon and only going to war as a last resort.
Problems with Mearsheimer's "offshore balancing"
Japan was not deterred from trying to dominate Korea, China, and Manchuria, and invaded Russia in 1918. Mearsheimer only says that Japan's targets were weaker powers and that the Soviet Union cared more about Europe.
Unbalanced multipolarity under offensive realism
Multipolar systems with a clear imbalance of power are more prone to war than those with a rough equilibrium
Democracies according to offensive realism
It doesn't matter whether a state is a democracy because democracies care about security as much as non-democracies do.
Status quo powers under offensive realism
They don't exist. All great powers are perpetually on the offensive, even if obstacles may arise to prevent them from expanding their territory or influence.
Buck-passing under offensive realism
Whenever a new great power comes on the scene, one or more states will end up checking it. But every state will initially try to get someone else to do the checking.
World War II according to offensive realism
The UK, France, and USSR all buck-passed, trying to get each other to bear the brunt of Hitler's onslaught. The US asks Japan and India to build up militaries to balance against China, bu…
Why is the notion that expansion is inherently misguided rejected by offensive realists?
Because it implies that all great powers over the past 350 years have failed to comprehend how the international system works.
What is the problem with the notion that moderation is good, according to offensive realists?
There have been many successful hegemons including the Roman Empire, the Mughal Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty and almost Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhem II, and Adolf Hitler.
What is the current state of affairs according to Mearsheimer?
The great power rivalry is not over. Dangerous security competition lurks. Predicted that post Cold War peace would end, without a peer, the US will retract security commitments and great power security competition will return.
Differences between offensive and defensive realism
Defensive realism posits that states seek security rather than power, making the international system less predatory and less prone to conflict. Mearsheimer says the disposition to aggression is the product of the constant search…
What historic events does Mearsheimer not adequately explain?
Fear of an overbearing Germany prompted France, Britain, and Russia to form the Triple Entente in 1907, but none of them teamed up before 1939 to oppose Germany after Hitler stormed through Czechoslovakia. Mearsheimer …
What other international dynamics does Mearsheimer fail to explain?
NATO - under offensive realism, the weaker nations should have balanced against the United States. Mearsheimer says it is because Russia had a larger land army, but other explanations "inside the black box" have be…
What does Mearsheimer miss about Germany prior to World War I?
Domestic pressures are arguably essential to explaining why Germany build a world-class battle fleet, alienating Great Britain, triggering the Triple Entente, and distracting resources from land forces it needed to cope with France and Russia.
Which author treats states like black boxes or billiard balls?
Mearsheimer. It did not matter who led Germany in 1905 - what matters is how much relative power Germany possessed at the time.
Why does Mearsheimer see liberalism as more likely to spill American blood?
Offensive realism seeks the avoidance of war through maintaining the balance of power.
What is Mearsheimer's view of the two Gulf wars?
Iraq had positioned itself as a potential hegemon in the Persian Gulf by invading Kuwait, justifying US military action. Mearsheimer asserted that the US could easily defeat Iraq. The second was NOT justified because …
According to Jervis, what do states do to protect their possessions?
They seek to control resources or land outside their own territory. They must assure that necessary supplies will continue to flow in war time.
What would convince states not to acquire additional territories to secure what they already have, according to Jervis?
If there was an international authority that could guarantee access. Even a state that would prefer the status quo in the absence of such an authority might increase its are of control.
When will states interfere in the domestic policies of others?
When there are believed to be tight linkages between domestic and foreign policy or between the domestic policies of two states.
What is the problem with states establishing buffer zones to protect from attack, according to Jervis?
It can alarm others who have stakes in those regions and who fear undesirable precedents will be set.
What is the difference between the Stag Hunt and the prisoner's dilemma?
In the prisoner's dilemma, the only rational response is to defect if the game is to be played only once, but if it is repeated indefinitely, that no longer holds true.
What is in the interest of each actor in the Prisoner's Dilemma?
To have others deprived of the power to defect; each would be willing to sacrifice this ability if others were similarly restrained. But if others are not, then it is in the actor's interes…
In the prisoner's dilemma, what increases the chances that players will cooperate?
Anything that increases incentives to cooperate by increasing the gains of mutual cooperation…
The fear of being exploited
What most strongly drives the security dilemma, according to Jervis?
What about large states facilitates cooperation?
Defensible borders, large size, and protection against sudden attack.
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