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BY: Awais Khan

1. Classical Realism (Hans J. Morgenthaus Realism)


Classical Realism derives from the thought of Thucydides, Niccol Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes,
Sun Tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, Edward H. Carr, Nicolas Spykman, Hans J. Morgenthau, Henry
Kissinger, Z. Brzezinski, S. Huntington.
Key assumptions:

1. The international system is anarchic, no true authoritative world government exists.


2. Sovereign states are the principal actors in the international system.
3. International institutions, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations and
other sub-state or trans-state actors are viewed as having little and mostly not independent
influence.
4. International Law reflects the current balance of power.
5. States are rational unitary actors each moving towards their own national interest. They move
on a cost- gain axis trying to maximize their gains
6. Because of the anarchy of the international system there is a general distrust of long-term
cooperation or alliance.
7. The overriding 'national interest' of each state is its national security and survival.
8. In pursuit of national security, states strive to amass resources.
9. States resolve to war on order to achieve high levels of security.
10. Relations between states are determined by their comparative level of power derived primarily
from their military and economic capabilities.
Both Classical Realism and Structural Realism agree on the key assumption that the states are
rational actors moving towards their own national interests. The difference between these two
theories is that Structural Realism emphasizes on the function and the role of the international
system and the way that states interact in it.

KEY CONCEPTS:
1. BALANCE OF POWER: The balance of power theory in international relations suggests
that national security is enhanced when military capability is distributed so that no one state
is strong enough to dominate all others. If one state becomes much stronger than others,
the theory predicts that it will take advantage of its strength and attack weaker neighbors,
thereby providing an incentive for those threatened to unite in a defensive coalition. Some
realists maintain that this would be more stable as aggression would appear unattractive
and would be averted if there was equilibrium of power between the rival coalitions.
2. ANARCHY: In international relations theory, anarchy is the idea that the world lacks any
supreme authority or sovereign. In an anarchic state, there is no hierarchically superior,
coercive power that can resolve disputes, enforce law, or order the system of international
politics. In international relations (IR), anarchy is widely accepted as the starting point for
international relations theory.
2. Neo-Realism Or Structural Realism (Kenneth Waltzs Realism):

The Premises of Structural Realism


Structural Realism usually begins with the following assumptions:

that the international system is anarchic; that is, there is no credible power above the states
that compromise the system.
that states cannot be certain of the intentions of other states
that at least some states have offensive capabilities
that states have preferences which they seek to realize, and that survival is a prerequisite for
realizing such a preference

From these premises, Structural Realism concludes the following: because states require survival
in order to seek their preferences, they seek to survive. Because they cannot be certain of the
intentions of other states, which may have offensive capabilities, and because there is no higher
authority which can protect them from those other states, it is rational for states to seek some
optimal level of power relative to all other states in the system. Relative power can then be used
as a means to survival, and therefore a means to the state's true preferences.
The result is an international system in which each state competes with every other state for relative
power. While power is an unlimited resource, the competition is, in effect, zero sum, because what
is important is how powerful a state is relative to all other states. An increase in absolute power
for one state and no change in absolute power for all other states will mean a decrease in relative
power for all other states.
Note that, in Structural Realism, states must seek power before being able to realize their
preferences. Therefore, the structural imperative to seek power will, in Structural Realism, tend to
override any contrary preferences that the state has, at least for a rational state. In this way,
Structural Realism posits that the driving factor behind a rational state's foreign policy is not
internal politics or preferences, but an externally-determined set of structural imperatives. For this
reason, Structural Realists can be very dismissive of a state's domestic politics.
Structural Realists can be further divided into Offensive and Defensive Realists, based on how
much power they believe is optimal. Defense Realists posit that there is some ideal level of power
which a state should seek; below that level, it cannot be guaranteed of its own security, but above
that level, other states will begin to see it as a threat and counter-balance it. Offensive Realists hold
that states should maximize their power, since the collective action problem will impede counter-
balancing.

What determines the ways in which the states behave in the international arena?
Kenneth Waltz published his book Theory of International Politics in 1979 to propose a scientific
vision of International Relations. In a discipline once dominated by the disputes over the nature of
man, he changed the terms of the debate. Waltz focused on numbers, game theory and rational
calculation. He believed that states cannot know one anothers motives. And because there is no
authority above states to keep the peace they fear one another (because any state could attack
another at any time). For Waltz all states share one goal survival. Waltz believed that state of
affairs was the product of anarchy - in the formal sense meaning absence of government. He also
thought anarchy results in a power balancing determined solely by relative military power.
Culture, religion, government theyre all irrelevant to Waltz theory and communist,
authoritarian and democratic regimes will all behave in the same way because all want in a
condition of anarchy? Imagine a billiard table. It represents the international system. Now, add
some billiard balls to the table. These represent individual states. A player takes a shot And the
balls bounce off each other, each affected equally by its contact with others. This is a multipolar
system, so-called because the mass in the system is equally distributed amongst many balls. Now
imagine a new game representing a bipolar system. As well as the equally sized balls, there are
now also two huge ones on our table top. They represent super-powers and its these balls that
dominate the whole system. If a player shoots a smaller ball at one of these larger ones, it will
bounce off it without having much effect. But if a larger ball is shot, many of the balls on the table
have to move. For Waltz, states are like billiard balls. There is no communist ball, no capitalist
ball, no moral or immoral ball. Just billiard balls and their relative size, reflecting military power.
On our multipolar table, the balls all affect one another - everyone has influence. But in our bipolar
system, the mere fact that the bigger balls exist affects what is possible for all the other balls.
Players could try to avoid them, play around them, but they cannot ignore them. And they can only
be sifted if they are simultaneously struck by many of the smaller balls. Waltzs theory helps us to
understand why conflict rather than co-operation is such a constant feature of international politics.

3. Modern Realism or Modified Structural Realism:


Modified Structural Realism is the result of an effort by Robert O. Keohane to improve the theories
of Classical and Structural Realism adding some basic assumptions from Idealist theories.
Key assumptions:

Sovereign states are the principal actors in the international system.


Emphasis is given to the role of non-governmental organizations and international/
multinational organizations.
States are rational unitary actors each moving towards their own national interest.
States always try to maximize their military power but they are also interested in maximizing
other forms of power such as "soft power".
The definition of national interests is affected by the structure of the international system and
also by internal factors such as public opinion. However, internal characteristics do not shape
state behavior in the international system; the anarchic structure of the international system
itself does.
Modified Structural Realism cures some of the weaknesses of the theories stated above especially
concerning the effective use of the state's power and the role and function of the international
regimes.