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Realist Theories

CHAPTER TWO
International Relations 10/e
Goldstein and Pevehouse Pearson Education, Inc. 2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Realism
Theoretical framework that has held a central position in the study of IR Based on the principle of dominance
- International relations is best understood in terms of power. The exercise of power by states toward each other is sometimes called realpolitik, or just power politics.

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The Realist Tradition

o Sun Tzu
o Thucydides o Machiavelli o Hobbes o Morgenthau

Modern realism has extensive historical roots. Realists tend to treat political power as separate from, and predominant over:
- Morality - Ideology - Social, economic parts of life

States pursue their own interests in an international system of sovereign states without a central authority (known as structural anarchy).
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Realism
Modern 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 - Flourished between WWI and WWII Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations Failed to stop Italian, Japanese, and German aggression

Since WWII, realists have blamed idealists for looking too much at how the world ought to be rather than how it really is.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Realism
Realism and U.S. foreign policy
- Opposition to nation building or morality-based interventions - Hans Morgenthau and Vietnam: A communist Vietnam would not harm U.S. national interests. - In 2002, 33 IR scholars signed a New York Times advertisement warning that war with Iraq is not in Americas national interest.

Recently, realist influence has increased as problems in Iraq have cast doubt on the merits of the neoconservative approach.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Power
Power is an important concept in international relations, and for realism in particular. It is notoriously difficult to define and measure.

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Defining Power
Often defined as the ability to get another actor to do what it would not otherwise have done or to affect others more than others affect you One approach distinguishes power as influence from power as capability. There are some problems with measuring influence.
- How do we know what a second actor would have done in the absence of the first powers influence? - Circular logic: power is defined as influence, and influence measures power.

Capability is not influence itself, but the ability or potential to influence others.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Defining Power
Capabilities can be based on material elements.
- Economic development, populations size, armed forces, territory, natural resources, other tangible capabilities

The best single indicator of a states material power may be its gross domestic product (GDP). - Combines overall size, technological level, and wealth Capabilities can also be thought of in nonmaterial terms.
- The power of ideas (soft power) - National will, diplomatic skill, popular support for government (legitimacy), and so forth
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Estimating Power
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. The logic of power suggests:
- The more powerful state will generally prevail. - Estimates of the power of two antagonists should help explain the outcome. But there are exceptions: U.S. and Vietnam, U.S.S.R and Afghanistan, U.S. and Iraq.
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Elements of Power
The relationship between capabilities and power is complex. Simple indicators do not always predict who will win the war. State power is a mix of many ingredients.
- Natural resources, industrial capacity, moral legitimacy, military preparedness, and popular support of government

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Elements of Power
Long-term elements of power
- Total GDP, population, territory, geography, and natural resources - Less tangible long-term elements of power include political culture, patriotism, education of the population, and strength of the scientific and technological base. - Credibility of its commitments (reputation for keeping word) - Ability of one states culture and values to consistently shape the thinking of other states (power of ideas)
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Elements of Power
Some capabilities allow actors to exercise influence in the short term:
- Military forces and military-industrial complex - Quality of the states bureaucracy - Less tangible: Support and legitimacy that an actor commands in the short term from constituents and allies - Loyalty of a nations army and politicians to its leader

Trade-offs among possible capabilities always exist. Realists tend to see military force as the most important element of national power in the short term.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Elements of Power
Geopolitical power: location, location, location - States increase their power to the extent that they can
use geography to enhance their military capabilities. - Two-front problem: Germany and Russia - Insular: Britain and United States - In general, power declines as a function of distance from a home state.

Is moral authority a source of power? - States have long clothed their actions, however

aggressive, in rhetoric about their peaceful and defensive intentions. This can generate domestic and international support.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

The International System


States interact within a set of long-established rules of the game governing what is considered a state and how states treat each other. Together these rules shape the international system.

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Anarchy and Sovereignty


Realists believe that there is a fundamental difference between domestic and international systems.
- Within states, both democratic and autocratic governments enforce rules on societies and have a monopoly on the use of force. - Internationally, there is no central government that has similar abilities. The international system is characterized by anarchy. - States are sovereign actors in an anarchic system: each government has the right, in principle, to do whatever it wants in its own territory.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Anarchy and Sovereignty


Is world government the only solution? Despite anarchy, the international system is far from chaotic.
- International organizations and agreements do exist. - The great majority of state interactions closely adhere to norms of behavior.

Still, the absence of a world police force to punish states if they break an agreement makes enforcement of international agreements difficult. - North Korea and its nuclear facilities
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Anarchy and Sovereignty


Respect for the territorial integrity of all states, within recognized borders, is an important principle of IR. In practice, most states have a harder and harder time warding off interference in their affairs.
- Human rights abuses - Election monitoring

Impact of information revolution and globalization is challenging the existing territorial system/information economies Diplomatic norms govern the manner in which states interact with one another (e.g., embassies, spying).
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

The Security Dilemma


Anarchy produces uncertainty about other states and their intentions. This can produce a security dilemma between states. - Actions taken to ensure the first actors security
threaten the security of one or more other actors. - Arms races, conflict spirals - Negative consequence of anarchy in the international system

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Balance of Power
Refers to the general concept of one or more states power being used to balance that of another state or group of states Balance of power can refer to: - Any ratio of power capabilities between states or
alliances - Only a relatively equal ratio of power - Alternatively, it can refer to the process by which counterbalancing coalitions have repeatedly formed in history to prevent one state from conquering an entire region.
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Balance of Power
Theory of balance of power - Counterbalancing occurs regularly and maintains
stability of the international system. - Stability does not necessarily imply peace but, rather, the basic maintenance of the international system by means of recurring wars that adjust power relations.

Alliance building is a key form of balancing. - Quicker, cheaper, and more effective than building
ones own capabilities

States sometimes bandwagon instead of balance.


- West Europe and Japan side with the U.S. post-WWII.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Figure 2.1

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Great Powers and Middle Powers


The most powerful states in the system exert most of the influence on international events and therefore get the most attention from IR scholars. - Handful of states possess the majority of the worlds
power resources. - Typically, there are about a half-dozen great powers in the international system at any point in time. - Until the 1900s, the great power club was almost exclusively European.

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Great Powers and Middle Powers


What is a great power? - Defined generally as states that can be defeated
militarily only by another great power - Great powers also tend to share a global outlook based on national interests far from their home territories. - Generally have the worlds strongest military forces and the strongest economies
Today: U.S., China, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, and Britain U.S. is the most powerful state among this group and may be considered the worlds only superpower. China is challenging the U.S. however; it has the worlds largest population, rapid economic growth, and a large military, with a credible nuclear arsenal.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Great Powers and Middle Powers


Middle powers
- Rank somewhat below the great powers - Some are large but not highly industrialized. - Others may be small with specialized capabilities. - May have aspirations for regional dominance - Examples: midsized countries such as Canada, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, South Korea, and Australia, or larger or influential countries in the global South such as India, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan
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Power Distribution
For many realists, the most important characteristic of the international system is the distribution of power among states. Neorealism, or structural realism emerged in 1990s
- Explains patterns of international events in terms of the system structure (distribution of power) rather than the internal makeup of individual states - Approach is more scientific, but loses richness of classical realism (geography, political will, diplomacy) - Recently, neoclassical realists have sought to restore some complexity to the neorealist approach.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Power Distribution
Polarity refers to the number of independent power centers in the system. - Multipolar system: Has five or six centers of power,
which are not grouped into alliances (e.g., late-19th century Europe) - Tripolar system: Has three centers of power (e.g., China, the U.S., and U.S.S.R. in 1970s) - Bipolar system: Has two centers of power (e.g., U.S. and U.S.S.R. for most of Cold War) - Unipolar system: Has a single center of power around which all others revolve (hegemony) (e.g., U.S. in 1990s)
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Power Transition Theory


Power transition theory - Holds that the largest wars result from challenges to
the top position in the status hierarchy, when a rising power is surpassing or threatening to surpass the most powerful state - Challengers that feel locked out by the old rules may try to change them. - If a challenger does not start a war to displace the top power, the latter may provoke a preventive war to stop the rise of the challenger before it becomes too great a threat.

Are the U.S. and China headed toward a power transition?


2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Hegemony
Hegemony is one states holding a preponderance of power in the international system. This allows it to single-handedly dominate the rules and arrangements by which international political and economic relations are conducted. Hegemonic stability theory - Holds that hegemony provides some order similar to a
central government in the international system: reducing anarchy, deterring aggression, promoting free trade, and providing a hard currency that can be used as a world standard. - Isolationist tendencies at home, resentment abroad
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

U.S. hegemony: A complex phenomenon

The Great-Power System: 1500-2000


Treaty of Westphalia, 1648
- Symbolizes birth of modern international system - Set rules of state relations - Rules originated in Europe in the 16th century, prior to Treaty of Westphalia. - Key to this system was the ability of one state, or a coalition, to balance the power of another state so it could not gobble up smaller units and create a universal empire.

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

The Great-Power System, 1500-2000


Key events in evolution of the international system:
- The early influence of Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, and Spain - Rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire - The Hapsburg Dynasty - Impact of industrialization on economic and military development - Napoleonic Wars - The Congress of Vienna (1815) and Concert of Europe - Rise of Germany, WWI and WWII - Post-war rise of U.S., U.S.S.R., and the Cold War - Global governance: UN Security Council
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Alliances
An alliance is a coalition of states that coordinate their actions to accomplish some end. - Most are formalized in written treaties.
- Concern a common threat and related issues of international security - Endure across a range of issues and a period of time

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Purposes of Alliances
Augmenting their members power - By pooling capabilities, two or more states can exert
greater leverage in their bargaining with other states. - For smaller states, alliances can be their most important power element. - Most form in response to a perceived threat.

Burden sharing between alliance members Alliance cohesion - The ease with which the members hold together an
alliance. Tends to be high when national interests converge and when cooperation within the alliance becomes institutionalized and habitual.
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NATO
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- 28 members; encompasses Western Europe and North America - Founded in 1949 to oppose and deter Soviet power in Europe - Countered by the Warsaw Pact (1955), which disbanded in 1991 - Article V, considered the heart of NATO, asks members to come to the defense of a fellow member under attack. - First use of force by NATO was in Bosnia in 1994 in support of the UN mission there. - Article V enacted after September 11, 2001, attacks.
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

NATO
Recent challenges for NATO
- European Union formed its own rapid deployment force, outside NATO. - Eastward expansion, beyond the East-West Cold War dividing line, has met fierce Russian opposition. - Ongoing role in Afghanistan

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Figure 2.5

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Other Alliances
U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty - U.S. maintains nearly 50,000 troops in Japan.
- Japan pays the U.S. several billion dollars annually to offset about half the cost of maintaining these troops. - Created in 1951 against the potential Soviet threat to Japan

U.S. has alliances with other states, including South Korea and Australia. De facto allies of U.S. - Best example is Israel Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
- Former Soviet Republics, minus Baltics, Georgia (2008)
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Regional Alignments
In the global South, many states joined a nonaligned movement during the Cold War. - Stood apart from the U.S.-Soviet rivalry
- Led by India and Yugoslavia - Undermined by the membership of Cuba

Organization of African Unity


NGO that reformed as the African Union (AU) Stronger organization with a continent-wide parliament, central bank, and court
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Regional Alignments
China loosely aligned with Pakistan in opposition to India (which was aligned with the Soviet Union). - Relationships with India warmed after end of Cold War. Anti-Israel alignment of the Arab countries? - Broke down in 1978 as Egypt and Jordan made peace
with Israel - But reignited during Israel war(s) with Hezbollah and Hamas - Israel and Turkey formed a close military alliance. - Role of Iran
2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Figure 2.6

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Strategy and Statecraft


Statecraft: The art of managing state affairs and effectively maneuvering in a world of power politics among sovereign states. Strategy: What kinds of capabilities to develop, given limited resources, in order to maximize international influence? - Example: Chinas diplomatic and military strategy of
preventing Taiwanese independence

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Strategy and Statecraft


There are several strategies available to states. Deterrence - Uses a threat to punish another actor if it takes a
certain negative action

Compellence - Refers to the use of force to make another actor take


some action (rather than refrain from taking an action)

Escalation and arms races - A reciprocal process in which two (or more) states build
up military capabilities in response to each other
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Rationality
Most realists assume that those who wield power while engaging in statecraft behave as rational actors in their efforts to influence others. This assumption implies that:
- States and other international actors can identify their interests and put priorities on various interests. - Actors are able to perform a cost-benefit analysis: calculating the costs incurred by a possible action and the benefits it is likely to bring.

Is this assumption problematic? How does one:


- Determine the interests of a complex state? - Tally the value of intangible costs and benefits?
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The Prisoners Dilemma


Game theory - Branch of mathematics concerned with predicting
bargaining outcomes - Game is a setting in which two or more players choose among alternative moves, once or repeatedly. - Each combination of moves (by all players) results in a set of payoffs (utility) to each player. - Game theory aims to deduce likely outcomes given the players preferences and the possible moves open to them.

Game theory first used in IR in 1950s and 1960s


- Focused on modeling U.S. Soviet relations
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The Prisoners Dilemma


Prisoners Dilemma (PD)
Captures collective-goods problem common to IR All players make choices that in the end make them all worse off than under a different set of moves. They could all do better, but as individual rational actors they are unable to achieve this outcome. Bank robber story IR example: India and Pakistan

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse

Other Games in IR
Zero-sum games and non-zero-sum games
- In a zero-sum game there is no point in communication or cooperation between the players because their interests are diametrically opposed. But in a non-zerosum game, coordination of moves can maximize the total payoff to the players, although each may still maneuver to gain a greater share of that total payoff.

The Game of Chicken - In the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy, won by seeming
ready to risk nuclear war if Soviet Premier Khrushchev did not back down and remove Soviet missiles from Cuba. 2012 Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse