Why Is Power Central to Realist Perspectives of International Relations?

Why Is Power Central to Realist Perspectives of International Relations?

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Historically, realism has been the dominant theory of International Relations which explains the fundamental features of international politics, inevitably associated with conflict and war (Chiaruzzi, 2012, pp. 36). Basically, there are two approaches of realism; classical realism and neorealism. Classical realists strongly emphasize on historical reality and takes its principles, orientations and practice from the account of history (Chiaruzzi, 2012, pp. 37). In contrast, neorealism is based on a scientific method by examining economic theory and philosophy of science rather than historical reflection (Chiaruzzi, 2012, pp. 41). In addition, power is central to realist perspectives of International Relations because it is crucial for the understanding of two principal issues: who can be expected to win a conflict? And, related to this, who governs international politics? (Guzzini, 2013, pp. 47). According to Morgenthau, power was the consequence of the drive for domination, the immediate aim of all political action, and the essence of international politics (Guzzini, 2013, pp. 47).
Realists vigorously contend that conflict is inevitable, even essential in international politics (Chiaruzzi, 2012, pp. 36). Force and ultimately, war is a significant means of settling matters when arguments cannot be resolved at peace (Chiaruzzi, 2012, pp. 36). “Insofar as order exists in international relations, it is the precarious product of the balance of power or hegemony (Chiaruzzi, 2012, pp. 36).” Therefore, the idea of a balance of power and interest is justifiably recognized as a central theme in realism (Williams, 2004, pp. 649). This essay seeks to examine the different variants of realism and identify the role played by pow...

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...the differenes of two main approaches of realism, however, classical realism and neorealism share key concepts and doctrines in which power is central to realist perspectives.

Chiaruzzi, M. 2012. Realism. In: Devetak, R., Burke, A. and George, J. eds. 2012. An Introduction to International Relations. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, pp. 35-47.
Donnelly, J. 2000. Realism and international relations. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press.
Guzzini, S. 2013. Power, Realism and Constructivism. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
Morgenthau, H. J. 1972. Six principles of political realism. Politics Among Nations, pp. 88-95.
Williams, M. C. 2004. Why ideas matter in international relations: Hans Morgenthau, classical realism, and the moral construction of power politics. International Organization, pp. 633-665.

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