Neo-Realism was the most appropriate political theory to explain events during the Cold War.
This paper will explore the rise to prominence of Neo-Realism and its assimilation to the praxis of the Cold War. The main scholar I will be concerned with is Kenneth Waltz (considered father of Neo-Realism). Before I begin my analysis, I would like to note that this paper excludes the breakdown of offensive and defensive Neo-Realism as specific strands, I mainly focus on the theory at large. The period I will be looking at here is explicitly the Cold War.
Neo-realisms main scholars are John Mearsheimer, Hans Morgenthau, and the aforementioned Kenneth Waltz. The latter has developed the theory, which ignores humans as a causal factor and argues that it is the anarchic system of the international arena, and the lack of central authority to safeguard states from each other, which brings them to the main concern: security. That motivates them to pursue more power and distrust one another. It states that a bipolar world with two great powers and smaller alliances is easier to manage. (Waltz, 1988)
The emergence of the theory dates back to the start of the Cold War. (Walt, 1998) The rise of the communist USSR and US, in a battle of ideology and power led scholars back to the drawing boards. A situation like the Cold War, had never been witnessed before, and therefore it gave a new meaning to power politics. Nuclear concerns and the then recent acknowledgement of their devastating consequences, where the main basis to the idea of what would later become the idea of balance of power and nuclear parity. These are the main elements which led to the development of Neo-Realism.
The primary Neo-realism assump...
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... analysis carried out by him in order to explain the situation at the time gives Neo-realism the most credibility when it comes to contrasting theory with actual events.
Brown, C., & Ainley, K. (2005). Understanding International Relations. (3rd ed., p. 34). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Donnelly, J. (2000). Realism and International Relations. (1st ed., p. 9).
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Walt, S. (1998). International relations: One world, Many Theories. Foreign
Policy, (110), 29-32 34-46. Retrieved from http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0015-7228(199821)
Waltz, K. (1981). Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Be Better. London: International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Waltz, K. (1988). The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory. Journal of
Interdisciplinary History, 18(4), 615-628. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/204817
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