Realism in IR (Wikipedia)

Realism in IR (Wikipedia) - Realism, also known as...

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Realism, also known as political realism, in the context of international relations, encompasses a variety of theories and approaches, all of which share a belief that states are primarily motivated by the desire for military and economic power or security, rather than ideals or ethics. This term is often synonymous with power politics. The term realism can, instead of referring to the broad family of realist theories, refer specifically to classical realism, the common ancestor and original form of realism. Realist theories share the following key assumptions: * The international system is anarchic. There is no authority above states capable of regulating their interactions; states must arrive at relations with other states on their own, rather than it being dictated to them by some higher controlling entity (that is, no true authoritative world government exists). * Sovereign states are the principal actors in the international system. International institutions, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations and other sub-state or trans-state actors are viewed as having little independent influence. * States are rational unitary actors each moving towards their own national interest. There is a general distrust of long-term cooperation or alliance. * The overriding 'national interest' of each state is its national security and survival. * In pursuit of national security, states strive to amass resources. * Relations between states are determined by their comparative level of power derived primarily from their military and economic capabilities. In summary, realists believe that mankind is not inherently benevolent but rather self-centered and competitive. This Hobbesian perspective contrasts with the approach of liberalism to international relations which views human nature as selfish and conflictual unless given appropriate conditions under which to cooperate. Further, they believe that states are inherently aggressive (offensive realism) and/or obsessed with security (defensive realism); and that territorial expansion is only constrained by opposing power(s). This aggressive build-up, however, leads to a security dilemma where increasing one's own security can bring along greater instability as the opponent(s) builds up its own arms. Thus, security is a zero-sum game where
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This note was uploaded on 08/24/2010 for the course POL 208 taught by Professor Wong during the Winter '08 term at University of Toronto.

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Realism in IR (Wikipedia) - Realism, also known as...

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