IRessay1 - Faehn 1 Defensive Neo-Realism vs. Offensive...

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Faehn 1 Defensive Neo-Realism vs. Offensive Neo-Realism Neo-realism, or the theory of international relations trying to explain the system, is a systemic self help theory that explains that the anarchic nature of system that leads to conflict because relational gains outweigh absolute gains. Neo-realism refers to states as billiard balls and that the only thing that sets them apart is power. Two approaches to this theory are defensive and offensive neo-realism. These approaches hold that it is the states interest to maximize power, but differ in how much power is enough power and how to get that power. In International Relations, defensive neo-realism is a more specific approach that branches from neo-realism with the idea that great powers should be content with existing balance of power and not try to change it, for the good of the international system. Defensive neo-realism, founded by Waltz, suggests that human nature generates competition between two or more states, not the system itself that causes the conflict. According to Hans Morgenthau, “armed strength as a threat or a potentially is the most important material factor making for political power of a nation” ( Morgenthau 59). For a state to be powerful, it must be able to defend itself by taking security measures, like armed strength. Waltz, the founder of neo-realism, argues that because the international system is anarchic, states must help themselves especially in terms of security. When a state tries to gain more power or security, whether it be economically or militarily, other states view that state as if they are trying to be aggressive. This creates a security dilemma, or a “situation in which actions states take to ensure their own security threaten the security of other states” (Goldstein, Pevehouse 43). In reaction to this dilemma, instead of expansion, defensive neo-realism suggests that it is more appropriate that states
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Faehn 2 maintain enough power to defend, but not have too much power. This will ease the security dilemma so other actors don’t feel threatened. By one state having too much power, it drives other states to rise up and compete for that power. Defensive neo-realism holds the thought that threatened states will balance against aggressive states because. In contrast with defensive neo-realism, Mearsheimer found another
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IRessay1 - Faehn 1 Defensive Neo-Realism vs. Offensive...

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