Clarification of Lectures till Sept16. 06/09/2012 6:24:00 AM
The realists versus the Idealists
o was built on the public revulsion from the carnage of WW1 to dominate
the field of international relations, but a rival set of views was already in
the background, and within 20 years a great debate arose.
Why are laws
The Core Assumptions of Classical Idealism:
o Human behaviour can be perfected.
o There exists a harmony of interests between people and between nations.
o Therefore, war is never an appropriate way to solve disputes; instead, the
underlying harmony of interests should be uncovered and emphasized.
o If the correct laws and institutions guide behavior, the good in humans
can be evoked (thereby illuminating the harmony of interests between
people and between states).
o One World, Rival Theories Ghazal Naimi
`Sept 6 th2012, Jack Snyder
“The intelligence community faces radical restructuring; the military has
made a sharp pivot to face a new enemy; and a vast new federal agency has
blossomed to coordinate homeland security.”
…But did September 11 signal a failure of theory on par with the failures of
intelligence and policy?
Does international relations theory still have something to tell policymakers?
Stephen M. Walt‟s “One World, Many Theories” sketched out the three
dominant approaches: realism, liberalism and an updated form of idealism
Walt argued that these theories shape both political discourse and
Realism focuses on the shifting distribution of power among the states
Liberalism highlights the rising number of transitions.
Idealism illuminates the changing norms of society, human rights, and
international justice, as well as the increased potency of religious ideas in
- Stresses that a consensus on values must underpin any stable
- Also recognizes that forging such a consensus often requires an
ideological struggle with the potential of conflict.
REALISM: main instruments of international relations are wielded
by states and comprised of military power and state diplomacy.
LIBERALISM: states come together in international institutions
and global commerce in order to advance towards a common good. It also highlights the cooperative potential of mature
democracies, especially when working together through
It also notes democracies‟ tendency to crusade against
tyrannies and the propensity of emerging democracies to
collapse into violent ethnic turmoil.
For example: President George W. Bush promises to fight terror by
spreading liberal democracy to the Middle East and claims that skeptics “who
call themselves „realists‟…have lost contact with a fundamental reality” that
“America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.”
Condoleezza Rice explains that the new Bush doctrine is an amalgam of
pragmatic realism and Wilsonian liberal theory…
Senator John Kerry sounded similar when he said “Our foreign policy has
achieved greatness, only when it has combined realism and idealism.”
Senator Kerry is the most senior United States Senator and chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Fukuyama claimed that Krauthammer‟s faith in the use of force and
feasibility of democratic change in Iraq „blinds him to the war‟s lack of
legitimacy,‟ a failing that “hurts both the realist part of our agenda by
diminishing our actual power, and the idealist portion of it, by undercutting
appeal as embodiment of certain ideas and values.”
When realism, liberalism and idealism enter the policymaking arena and
public debate, they become an intellectual window dressing for simplistic
Meaning their policy implications are subtle and multifaceted.
Each theory provides a filter for looking at a complicated picture.
They help explain the assumptions behind political rhetoric about
foreign policy. They also reveal the weaknesses in arguments that can lead to
The Millennium Challenge program allocates part of U.S. foreign aid
according to how well countries improve their performance on several
measures of democratization and the rule of law.
--The White House‟s support for promoting democracy in the Middle East ---
even with turmoil in Iraq and rising anti-Americanism in the Arab world—
demonstrates liberalism‟s emotional and rhetorical power.
NOTES FROM INTERNET!!
Snyder on realism, liberalism, and idealism: “each theory offers a filter for
looking at a complicated picture” • Look at the tables on pages 5 & 9 for a
good overview of the three schools and their thinkers
◦ most realist thinkers are deeply pessimistic about human nature, but this
doesn't make them amoral...why not?
Realist thought is rooted in the works of Thucydides, Machiavelli, and
Why is realism “the theory that everyone loves to hate...in liberal
What are some challenges to the state-centric view of traditional realism?
• Why hasn't the rest of the world teamed up to balance American power?
(Or have they? How?)
◦ How does liberalism part ways with realism? If realism focuses on the
centrality of the nation-state and military power, what does liberalism focus
on? (The core = self-determination. What else?)
Liberal thought is rooted in the works of Immanuel Kant and Woodrow
Wilson, among others
What is the 'democratic peace theorem' (rooted in Kant's Towards Perpetual
Peace)? • The problem of liberalism and the Wilsonian “war to end war” (revived, and
modified, in the Bush Doctrine) what are some problems with this idea of
◦ On idealism and constructivism – if realists care about power and
liberals care about democracy, what do constructivists care about?
would transnational activist networks (INGOs, etc.) play a more central role
to constructivists than to realists or, to a lesser degree, liberals?
• “The most prudent course is to use the insights of each of the three
theoretical traditions as a check on the irrational exuberance of the others.”
_________________________________________ Does Order Exist in World Politics? Ghazal Naimi
By: Hedley Bull page 105—Essential readings in World Politics
Throughout history of modern states system only 3 competing
The Hobbesian or realist tradition—which views international politics as a
state of war
The Kantian or universalist tradition—which sees at work in international
politics a potential community of mankind
The Grotian or internationalist tradition—which views international politics