Core Assumptions for - 1. States, rational actors and they are the primary actors.
Classical Realism: Rationale=states do what is in their own best interest
(first international - 2. Their preference is states seek to have more power always (logical,
relations theory) ethical, natural). They always need more power. At all times. b/c it
believes that if it doesn’t, someone else will.
- 3. Balance of power is key determinant (key outcome) of international
for classical realists, POWER is a means AND an END.
realists buy into something called the security dilemma: says that states
are always seeking power, always needing it, which is fine except that
when a state requires more power for its own security, another state
begins to question why that state has more power and they feel
threatened. That state thinks some of their power has been taken, so they
become insecure. By constantly seeking/taking power, it continues &
creates a worst situation—arms races or spiral effect.
They look to something called selfhelp: you can’t rely on others. And
there’s no world govt to order others to help them. (anarchy)
Power is a fixed amount. It is zero sum, meaning the gain of one state is
a loss for another state. The pie doesn’t get bigger in realist perspective
therefore we should always seek a balance of power. Never lose power,
always gain or maintain the status quo
Realists see biggest problem in international politics as uncertainty. You
can predict what states will do, but you can never know for sure. You
have to always be aware of possibilities and to fend off those possibilities,
you have to maintain power. As a result, the point is to seek a relative
balance. NEVER LOSE POWER. Try to maintain status quo
+++++++this is what realism looked like from the 40s to the 70s.
and the only perspective of international relations at the time. & there was
nothing intellectually to challenge it at the time +++++++
Machiavelli: first realist
- It’s all about power for realism (all types) - They still believe the state has some meaning, but the most important
component of the state is the measurable assets (guns, bombs, cash)
- There are some imperfections in realism:
Neorealism - Kenneth waltz wrote “theory of international politics” 1979. The bible
- He said states are primary actors, but they are simply measures of
power. The only thing that matters is a given system and the structure of
that given system. The state can cause nothing. the individual can cause
- Neorealism: often referred to as structural realism—systems theory.
It’s a rank order of power. The most powerful state has the most power,
the least powerful state has the least power. One gets more of what they