Published on December 30, 2007
To what extent does realism naturalise war?: To what extent does realism naturalise war? 8th October 2007 Seminar Two Contents: Contents What is Realism ? Statism Self-help Survival The Anarchic System To What Extent does Realism Naturalise War? Classical Realism Structural Realism Conclusion Realism and Peace Anarchy without equality National security and statu quo The end of “Crusades” Conclusion Bibliography What is Realism?: What is Realism? Realism is one of the key theories within the field of international relations. Realism portrays war as one of the main features of the international system. War is considered to be an output of the struggle for a balance of power within the state system. There are three key elements to realism as accepted by a variety of the different schools of thought. Statism: Statism The state is seen to be the main actor in the international system. The state is the sovereign body with “the monopoly of legitimate use of physical force in a given territory.” (Max Weber)1 1. Tim Dunne and Brian C. Schmidt, ‘Realism,’ in J. Baylis and S. Smith (eds), The Globalization of World Politics An introduction to international relations, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 141-161, p. 150. What is Realism? Survival: Survival States must survive to ensure they reach all other goals. These may include conquest or independence. What is Realism? Self Help: Self Help Each state actor must ensure their own survival. Security must be gathered through own means. A state cannot be dependant on others. What is Realism? The Anarchic System: The Anarchic System Realists believe that as the international system is one of anarchy. States each consider themselves to be the highest authority and do not recognise any higher power. What is Realism? To What Extent does Realism Naturalise War?: To What Extent does Realism Naturalise War? Realism Naturalising War Realism and War: Realism and War Classical Realism Structural Realism Defensive Realism Offensive Realism Classical Realism : Classical Realism The balance of power Creates an equilibrium between states.2 A lack of this balance creates a vacuum in which states try to take the power against other states. E.g. The Cold War “All politics is a struggle for power that is ‘inseparable from social life itself’” – Morgenthau.3 2. Tim Dunne and Brian C. Schmidt, ‘Realism,’ in J. Baylis and S. Smith (eds), The Globalization of World Politics An introduction to international relations, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 141-161, p. 144. 3. Richard Ned Lebow, ‘Classical Realism,’ in T. Dunne et al (eds), International Relations Theories Discipline and Diversity, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 52-70, p. 55. Realism and War Structural Realism Defensive Realism: Structural Realism Defensive Realism This argues that states are constantly concerned about the state of the balance of power. States therefore compete amongst themselves to gain power and ensure that they do not loose what power they have. This is due to the state of the international system. States compete for several reasons: Main actors in anarchic system Differing military capabilities States can never be sure of other states intentions Assume a desire for survival in the international system. Assume states are rational actors. John J. Mearsheimer, ‘Structural Realism’ in T. Dunne et al (eds), International Relations Theories Discipline and Diversity, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 71-88, p. 71-74. Realism and War Structural Realism Offensive Realism: Structural Realism Offensive Realism Argues that states are encouraged to fight with each other in the pursuit of hegemony. This intensifies competition between states as to who is in an overall position of power. States should try to gain as much power as possible. John J. Mearsheimer, ‘Structural Realism’ in T. Dunne et al (eds), International Relations Theories Discipline and Diversity, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 71-88, p. 73-74. Realism and War Concluding remarks on realism as naturalising war: Concluding remarks on realism as naturalising war Realism naturalises war to a certain extent, mostly through its theories on the balance of power and what happens when this balance is upset. Theories on state power and sovereignty encourage competition between states, with the possibility of emerging conflicts making war seem a natural course. War is seen as a way to gain power, something that it is natural for states to want. Realism and War To What Extent does Realism Naturalise War?: To What Extent does Realism Naturalise War? Realism Preventing War Realism and Peace: Realism and Peace Anarchy without equality National security and statu quo The end of « Crusades » Loosely based on Hobbes' Leviathan and Anatol Rapoport's 'Introduction' to Carl Von Clausewitz's On war (Penguin Classics) Anarchy without equality: Anarchy without equality Changing levels of power throughout History have led to present day imbalances, which do not allow a Hobbesian analysis. Thus, while the International System is characterized by anarchy, a de facto hierarchy can be observed on a local scale, leading States to cooperate either against or with the leading power. In both cases, this tends to create at least temporary stability on a local scale. Realism and Peace National security and statu quo: National security and statu quo When a balance of power is achieved, each aggressive military operation becomes a threat to the attacker's own national security, as he is left weakened against both his main opponent and a third party. An aggressive behaviour would also be seen as a threat by surrounding countries that might cooperate to retaliate in order to ensure their mutual survival. Realism and Peace The end of “Crusades”: The end of “Crusades” The anarchic structure of the International System prevents any actor from getting approval from any higher source of legitimacy, thus avoiding “Crusades” or “Rightful wars”. Coalitions thus only exist because of converging interests, and will only exist as long as these interests do. Would Mussolini's Italy and imperialist Japan have followed the Third Reich until the end? Realism and Peace Conclusion: Conclusion The very essence of Realism is a struggle for coercive military power to ensure both survival and conservation of national interests. This affects international relations, as seen in terms of balance (or lack thereof) of power. This promotes war as the most basic and natural interstate interaction. However, many real-life situations are such that war-waging is dangerous on both short and long terms to national interest, thus enabling some kind of uneasy peace. Bibliography: Bibliography Baylis, J. and S. Smith (eds), The Globalization of World Politics An introduction to international relations, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001). Dunne, T., et al (eds), International Relations Theories Discipline and Diversity, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007). Grieco, J., ‘Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation,’ in David A. Baldwin, Neorealism and Neoliberalism: The Contemporary Debate, (New York, Columbia University Press, 1993), pp. 116-42. Hobbes, T., Leviathan Linklater, A., ‘Rationalism,’ in S. Burchill et al. (eds), Theories of International Relations, (Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2001), pp. 103-128. Rapoport, A., 'Introduction' in Von Clausewitz, C. On war (Penguin Classics).