The Realist Approach to International Relations

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Realism is one of the important perspectives on global politics, it is a notion about the conservative society and political philosophy (Heywood 2011: 54; Shimko 2013: 36). Besides, Gilpin (1996) claims that “realism…, it is not a scientific theory that is subject to the test of falsifiability, therefore, cannot be proved and disproved.” (Frankel 1996: xiii). The components of the realist approach to international relations will be discussed. Firstly, the state is an important component in the concept of realism. An independent state can be defined as a clear cut territory, under the jurisdiction of supreme government with sovereignty and a permanent population (Jackson, Sorensen 2013: 4). Hobbes claims that, states are the major actors in global, it seeks self-interest and survival; it operates in anarchy, so they emphasize self-help (Heywood 2011: 14). The reason that the states seek self-interest is because the pessimistic view of human nature (Heywood 2011: 54). According to Morgenthau (1985), he claims that human beings lust for power (Jackson, Sorensen 2013: 66). Besides, Hobbes (1651) claims that humans are affected by many appetites, especially power (Heywood 2011: 55). As human beings are selfish and competing for power, conflicts can happen amongst them (Heywood 2011: 57). A state is composed of the selfish people, therefore, human egoism leads to many conflicts in international relations, ‘state egoism’ – different states may be opposed (Heywood 2011: 57). But Waltz argues that wars happened because of the anarchical system (Jackson, Sorensen 2013: 80). The reason that the states seek survival is because if the states are not exist, they can’t seek any other interests. Waltz introduces that bipolar systems provide a be... ... middle of paper ... ...39). Therefore, states should consider increasing power without making others less secure and get fewer power – the zero-sum concept. The security dilemma literatures suggest that cooperation with the other states could be a best solution to deal with the dilemma, and the states should decide when they need to enforce some strategies, such as enforce arms control and one sided defensive strategy to arms racing (Brown, Lynn-Jones, Miller 1995: 380). To conclude, there are four main components of the realist approach to international relations, they are: state which includes egoism as the states are composed by the selfish people, self-help which includes balance of power as power is used to enhance the survival rate, survival which includes hegemony in order to maintain its position and anarchical system which related to lust for power and led to security dilemma.
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