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POLISCI 121 Reading Notes - Polisci121 WorldPolitics...

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Polisci 121 World Politics Reading Notes Political Realism Realism- an approach to the study and practice of international politics Emphasizes the role of the nation-state Makes a broad assumption that all nation-states are motivated by national interests (even disguised as moral concerns) National interest’s generic definition: all states seek to preserve their political autonomy and their territorial integrity Once these interests are secured, national interests may take different forms, i.e.- securing resources, expanding political/economic systems into other areas, or just wanting to be left alone National interest must be defined in terms of power, which can be defined in terms of military, economic, political, diplomatic, or cultural resources For a realist, power is a relative term- does one state have the ability to coerce a change in another state’s policies? Emphasis on relative power (not absolute) is derived from the realist’s conception of the international system, which, according to realists, is an anarchical environment All states have to rely upon their own resources to secure interests, enforce agreements with other states, or maintain a domestic and international order No authority exists over the nation-state, nor should there be, according to realists Political realists fear centralized authority, unless it is derived from the power of his or he own state Decentralization of the international system permits greater diversity, and since it is natural for states to want to increase their power, the preservation of a decentralized system much be kept with force Force is regulated by a balance of power The balance of power only works if the major powers agree that the preservation of state autonomy is an important objective Agreement within the powers will lead to smaller wars among them, but disagreement with as little as one power leads to much larger and more open-ended wars Six Principles of Political Realism- Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace 1. Political realism believes that politics is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature Also believes in the possibility of developing a rational theory that reflects these objective laws, and the possibility of distinguishing in politics between truth and opinion- between what is true objectively and rationally Human nature has not changed since the classical philosophies of China, India, and Greece endeavored to discover these laws. Theory consists in ascertaining facts and giving them meaning through reason Foreign policy can be ascertained only though the examination of the political acts performed and of the foreseeable consequences of these acts.
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The testing of a rational hypothesis against the actual facts and their consequences that gives theoretical meaning to the facts of international politics 2.
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