In his 1988 Republican National Convention acceptance speech former U.S. President George H.W. Bush proclaimed that, “Weakness and ambivalence lead to war.”. For better or worse a state's ability to influence world politics is primarily based on much power they have. In purely academic terms, power is the ability of Actor A to get Actor B to do something that B would otherwise not do; the ability to get the other side to make concessions and to avoid having to make concessions oneself (Frieden P. A-6). Power is usually represented by the capability of a state to preserve or tip the balance of power towards their own national interests. Balance of power refers to a situation in which the military capabilities of two states or groups of states are roughly equal. Within the realist paradigm of world politics the balance of power among states is always subject to change at a moments notice. As such, those states who are at the top of the international pecking order have to remain vigilant of the potential threats to their power. With the end of the Cold War, the United States has been the unquestioned hegemonic authority in the international world. As a result, the U.S. has a vested interest to use its power to preserve the current balance of power. Recognizing this fact we can explain how “power”, in the form of diplomacy through bargaining and influence of domestic interests, accounts for the U.S. ongoing war in Iraq from its onset during former President George W. Bush's administration to the present policies in place because of President Barack Obama's administration.
When analyzing causes of wars, realists focus on the systems level of analysis. To realists, the state and individual level are not contributing factors to wars, and they are not significant when analyzing causes. Defensive realists focus more on the use of aggression for security purposes, whereas offensive realism argues that states deal with anarchy and their own insecurities by being the strongest state. I argue that defensive realism relates more to World War I and II because it appears as though the states created alliances and utilized balance-of-power politics in order to stop certain states from growing too large and too powerful rather than to become more powerful than other states. The realism research paradigm also believes in the type of power known as relative power. Although realism focuses primarily on power, it does not mean that liberals do not. They simply look at power differently than realists do. Relative power is a type of power where states wants to have more power than those states that surround them. Liberals do not think that relative power is the way that states compete for
Many political scientists symbolically consider the Balance-of-Power concept central to a firm understanding of classical realism. As T. V. Paul (2004) explains, the Balance of Power’s common form appears as a system of alliances in which the stronger nations deter their weaker counter-parts from acting belligerently (Paul, 2004). This symbiotic concept of balancing power, nevertheless, is not an inherent thought and specifically appeared in the modern era. Its entrance into the world of international politics represented a fundamental paradigm shift in which it became necessary to reevaluate our systematic understanding of the social and political world Wendt (2006). Questions centered on the underlying concepts that drove the system ever forward such as: by whom was the system made, how does such a system function, what brought about such political organizations, and how could a state theoretically enter into the system. Hume, an ancient and respected theorist, largely analyzed the relationship between states and the idea of the Balance-of-Power theory. Similar to Hume, International-Relations thinkers, such as Spykman, Wolfers, and Morgenthau, became paramount to the concept’s realization. For brevity’s sake, thinkers spent a vast amount of time pondering the theory’s many forms insofar as they produced a semi-coherent discourse upon which its modern form operates.
In conclusion, we must fully respect the necessity for a nation not only to have power but to wield it in pursuit of its self interests. Any nation who cannot or will not use its resources to dominate other nations stands to be dominated by nations who will. The dangers of ignoring the use of power are grave. Global politics are a zero sum game, and must be approached as such. The lives and livelihoods of every person on the planet can be affected by the ability (and sometimes inability) of world leaders to make the best decisions possible.
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).
When discussing whether or not a nation-state should enter a war and when to do so, three beliefs on foreign policy and war exist. The three different diplomatic stances are that of pacifism, just war theory, and political realism. Political realism, or realpolitik as it is often referred to, is the belief war should only occur when it is in the national interest of the particular nation-state. Henry Kissinger, a political realist, in his book Diplomacy argues that realism is the only logical answer. Just war theorists, along with pacifists, on the other hand oppose these arguments and therefore critique of this form of diplomatic action. To construct a valid understanding of the realist perspective the arguments Kissinger puts forth in his book Diplomacy will be examined, and then a critique of those arguments will be offered through a just war theorist perspective.
In order for countries to cohesively overcome international barriers, frameworks of ideal political standards must be established. Two of these frameworks constantly discussed in international relations are the theories of Neo-realism and Liberalism; two theories with their own outlook at the way politicians should govern their country as well as how they should deal with others. Neo-realism lies on the structural level, emphasizing on anarchy and the balance of power as a dominant factor in order to maintain hierarchy in international affairs. In contrast, Liberalism's beliefs are more permissive, focusing on the establishments of international organizations, democracy, and trade as links to strengthen the chain of peace amongst countries. Liberalism provides a theory that predominantly explains how states can collaborate in order to promote global peace; however, as wars have been analyzed, for example World War II, the causes of them are better explained by Neo-realist beliefs on the balance of power and states acting as unitary actors. Thus, looking out for their own self interest and security.
Realism can be described as a theoretical approach used to analyze all international relations as the relation of states engaged in power (Baylis, Owens, Smith, 100). Although realism cannot accommodate non-state actors within its analysis. There are three types of realism which include classical (human
Realism is not only the pervasive approach in international relations literature but is accurate in describing and anticipating state actions. Constructivists need a genuine response to realism and, in order to do that, norms need to enter into the process of rational decision-making. This could take several forms including increasing costs of norm violation, introducing hegemonic power into the system, or redefining interests in terms other than material. Discussions in the literature analyze the impact of norms, regimes, ideas, or principles on international relations, but do not often take a critical enough look at what is at stake. Realist politics hinder progressive, humanitarian initiatives because of its marriage to power and material capabilitie...
Classical realism focuses on the balance of power whereas the neorealist’s theory examines the balance of power as it relates to the structure of an overall system. Realists examine “human nature at the individual level, aggressive states at the domestic level, leaders pursuing domestic and international power at the foreign policy level, and the balance of power at the systemic level” (Nau, 2012, p. 10); and, further argues that polarity between powers...