International Relations Essay

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The study of international relations takes a wide range of theoretical approaches. Some emerge from within the discipline itself others have been imported, in whole or in part, from disciplines such as economics or sociology. Indeed, few social scientific theories have not been applied to the study of relations amongst nations. Many theories of international relations are internally and externally contested, and few scholars believe only in one or another. In spite of this diversity, several major schools of thought are discernable, differentiated principally by the variables they emphasize on military power, material interests, or ideological beliefs. International Relations thinking have evolved in stages that are marked by specific debates between groups of scholars. The first major debate is between utopian liberalism and realism, the second debate is on method, between traditional approaches and behavioralism. The third debate is between neorealism/neoliberalism and neo-Marxism, and an emerging fourth debate is between established traditions and post-positivist alternatives (Jackson, 2007). The balance of power is closer with first great debate. The realists also diverge on some issues. So-called offensive Realists maintain that, in order to ensure survival, States will seek to maximize their power relative to others (Mearsheimer 2001). If rival countries possess enough power to threaten a State, it can never be safe. The hegemony is thus the best strategy for a country to pursue, if it can. Defensive Realists, in contrast, believe that domination is an unwise strategy for State survival. They note that seeking hegemony may bring a State into dangerous conflicts with its peers. Instead, defensive Realists emphasize the stabi... ... middle of paper ... BOP in policy, status, symbol or system. The BOP is intellectually closely related to the idea of raison d’état (Staatsräson), an idea that belongs to the intellectual heritage of a Machiavelli, Hobbes or Friedrich Meinecke. Statesmen assumed the existence of objective power relationships in the international system out of which they could derive their ideal strategy to promote the individual national interest of their own state. This means they had to strategically anticipate the decisions of their enemies concerning armaments, alliance policies, and preventive military actions and so on. Statesmen thought in a systemic way. Their decisions, classical BOP theory assumes, are influenced by external developments more than by internal processes. (Representatives of Neoclassical Realism (NCR) and liberal approaches to IR disagree in this respect to various degrees).

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the balance of power is one of the most influential theoretical ideas in international relations, but it has not yet been tested systematically in other international systems.
  • Explains that there are many theories and concepts about balance of power (bop) and the link between international stability contexts.
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