Realist Theories.docx

Realist Theories.docx - Realist Theories Realisms...

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Realist Theories Realism’s foundation is the principle of dominance. School of thought that explains international relations in terms of power. The exercise of power by states toward each other is sometimes called realpolitik , or just power politics. Realism developed in reaction to a liberal tradition that realists called idealism. Idealism emphasizes international law, morality, and international organizations, rather than power alone, as key influences on international events. Belief that human nature is basically good. Particularly active between WWI and WWII League of Nations » Structure proved helpless to stop German, Italian, and Japanese aggression. Since WWII, realists have blamed idealists for looking too much at how the world ought to be rather than how it really is . Realist Tradition Sun Tzu Thucydides Hobbes Morgenthau Realists tend to treat political power as separate from, and predominant over: morality, ideology, and other social and economic aspects of life. States pursue their own interests in an international system of sovereign states without a central authority. Power Power is a central concept in international relations. It is the central concept for realists. Difficult to measure. Defining Power Often defined as the ability to get another actor to do what it would not otherwise have done (or vice versa). If actors get their way a lot, they must be powerful. Power is not influence itself, but the ability or potential to influence others. Based on specific (tangible and intangible) characteristics or possessions of states Sizes, levels of income, and armed forces Capability: Easier to measure than influence and less circular in logic The single indicator of a state’s power may be its total GDP (gross domestic product) Combines overall size, technological level, and wealth At best, a rough indicator A state’s tangible capabilities (including military forces) represent material
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power. Power also depends on nonmaterial elements. National will, diplomatic skill, popular support for government (legitimacy), and so forth Power can only explain so much. Real-world IR depends on many other elements, including accidents or luck. Relational concept: Relative power is the ratio of the power that two states can bring to bear against each other. Estimating Power The logic of power suggests: The more powerful state will generally prevail. Estimates of the power of two antagonists should help explain the outcome. U.S. and Iraq Implications of the outcome -- GDP does not always predict who will win the war Elements of Power State power is a mix of many ingredients.
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