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Essay on International Relations

On the World Stage, the main discussion is how we see the world ourselves, and that perspective determines the context in which behaviour between and among people and states is regarded. Every individual has its own perspective and even adherents of the same theory or ideology will show slight to large differences. When reading articles co-written by Mearsheimer and Walt, one will notice the difference between their perception of Realism Theory. Both theorists are neorealist thinkers, using themes such as anarchy, balance of power, a lack of trust (known as `the security dilemma) and interest in terms of power. The difference between Mearsheimer and Walt is their focus on power. Being an offensive realist, Mearsheimer views states as hegemonic `power maximizers, while Walt, a defensive realist, views states as `security maximizers. Even though power maximizers aim at the security of their state, they are described as `hegemonic aggressors. Ultimate hegemony will ensure a states survival. If words such as `rationality are used, note that the purpose is to explain strategic matters (of foreign policy). It doesnt describe the global system or human behaviour itself as being `rational. States act would rational to realise their target(s).

The apparently reckless aggressor is a rational one in the pursuit of his survival In their article, `An Unnecessary War, Mearsheimer and Walt claim that there is no necessity for the United States to start a war against Iraq (2003). This paper will argue that Mearsheimer and Walt are Realists. This will be explained with reference to the following arguments. First, Realists assume that war is often the outcome of a cost-benefit analysis in order to secure national self-interest, such as survival of the state (Heywood, 2011 : 244). A statement is made on the tactics of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, regarding his foreign policy towards Iran and Kuwait. According to Mearsheimer and Walt, the former policy of Saddam Hussein might have been rather rational than reckless. Iraq has dealt with and will still have to deal with a vulnerable position on the international stage (Mearsheimer and Walt, 2003 : 54). Its neighbor country Iran has always been more powerful and Kuwait has weakened the position of Iraq by exceeding international oil quotas. Threatening with, or actually starting a war against Iran and Kuwait, is a means of ensuring the survival of the state. This strategy is explained as a cost-benefit analysis. Second, Realists assume that the pursuit of national interest is concerned with a struggle for power (Heywood, 2001 : 57). Saddam Hussein is suspected of pursuing hegemonic dominance over the Persian Gulf. It is stated that warfare is in fact a rational strategy to secure national interest, in this case the survival of the state. The target of warfare against Iran and Kuwait is to reduce their powerful position. Hence, Iraq would strengthen and secure its own international position, essentially its position in the Persian Gulf. This can be explained as interest in terms of power (Walt, 1998 : 31).

Third, it is assumed that the phenomenon of a balance of power (Heywood, 2011 : 8) arises where both Iraq and the United States would be in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The article makes clear that the United States regards Saddam Hussein as acting too aggressive to possess WMD. The United States opposes a preemptive war against Iraq, in order to keep Saddam Hussein from the acquiring and future use of WMD. Moreover, the United States tries to prevent hegemonic dominance of Iraq in the Persian Gulf. A policy of containment and deterrence by the U.S., proved to be succesful in the past. This kind of policy is not yet tried to keep Iraq from using WMD against other states ( Mearsheimer and Walt, 2003 : 54). If Saddam Hussein would use WMD in order to blackmail certain states, it would also trigger other states to use violence against Iraq. A balance of power would be the result.

References Heywood, A. (2011) Global Politics (Palgrave Macmillan). Mearsheimer, J.J. & Walt, S.M. (2003) `` An Unnecessary War Foreign Policy 134(1): 51-59 Walt, Stephen M. (1998) ``International Relations: One World, Many Theories Foreign Policy 110(1): 32-46