The absence of a central authority with the ability to make and enforce laws that bind all actors.
Central to the realist conception of the self-help system.
Hobbes, “Life is brutish and short,” as a result of anarchy.
Balance of Power
A situation in which military capabilities of two states or groups of states are roughly equal.
States pursue this balance through balancing behavior; when one state becomes too powerful,
other states will form alliances to counter this relative gain in power.
Can exhibit balancing behavior through the formation of alliances.
Central to neo-realism.
Related to Mearsheimer and the use of calculated aggression by advantaged states.
E.g. Europe in the 1600s-1900s.
Juxtaposed with hegemonic stability theory, aligned with bipolarity or multi-polarity.
Takes international politics to be a reflection of human naturedabbles in moral philosophy.
Largely associated with the search for explanations for WWI and WWII
Assumed people to be inherently selfish and power hungryexplanation for war.
Human nature no longer considered a valid explanation of international relations.
Hobbes, Clausewitz and Morgenthau would all be considered classical realists.
Basis for the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”:
Two prisoners faced with the choice to “cooperate” (not tell on their partner) or
“defect” (talk to the police). If both cooperate, they both get their 2/4 outcome. If one
cooperates and one defects, the cooperator gets 4/4 while the defector gets ¼. If both
defect, they both get ¾. Rationally, each prisoner has incentive to defect in order to
pursue their ¼ outcome; analogous with international relations.
Basis for the less relevant “Stag Hunt”:
Two hunters are pursuing a stag when a rabbit comes by. If both “cooperate”
(continue to pursue the stag), they both get their ¼ outcome. If one defects and one
cooperates, the defector gets 2/4 while the cooperator gets 4/4. If both defect, they
both get ¾. No incentive to defect unless there is distrust; analogous with
international coordination problems.
Basis for “Chicken” obvious
An aspect of neo-realism.
Led to by game theory and the prisoner’s dilemma.
The concept that an increase in the security of one state leads to the decrease in the security of
another state; security is zero-sum and relative.
Is exaggerated by the offensive capabilities of a state as it gives them incentive to attack.
Is mitigated by defensive capabilities of a state
The ability to distinguish between offensive and defensive capabilities mitigates the
Offensive capabilities increase, while defensive capabilities decrease (when each has
the respective advantage).
E.g. Cold War arms racewhen one side armed itself “in defense”, the other side
became less secure.
Institutions that help their members cooperate militarily in the event of war. Form when states have common interests that can lead to cooperation.
Most successful when states have a strong interest in aiding their allies and have the means of
communicating this interest clearly.
Ties in to the concept of balance of power.
May be the result of bandwagoning (when a state joins the strong side of a conflict).
Alliances can establish credibility through hand-tying strategies that make it costly to defect.
However, alliances are rarely ironclad.
Current successful example: NATO.
Subject to free-riding and chain-ganging (hardened alliances used to pull larger powers into
Alliances are often formed to maintain the status quo.
“Anarchy and the Struggle for Power”
Assumes that the international system is anarchic, that states have offensive capabilities, that
they are rational actors, that they have a primary goal of survival and that they can never be
sure of the intentions of other states.
Leads states to pursue hegemony, and hegemons (though regional) to continue to pursue
Fear, self-help and power maximization drive IR security dilemma.
Great powers with an advantage will use calculated aggression.
Relative gains and concerns about cheating inhibit cooperation.
Scenarios in which the gains from one side perfectly match the losses on the other. Tied to the
security dilemma, in which one state’s increase in security corresponds with another state’s
decrease in security.
The game is played only once- future actions (iteration) are excluded.
A theory which argues that the existence of a single very powerful nation facilitates the solution
of collective action and free riding; the hegemonic power is large enough to be both willing
and able to solve these problems for the world as a whole.
Connected to the notion that small numbers of actors make cooperative interactions easier.
Expand: What type of polarity makes for the most international stability?
Hegemons are required to prop up international institutions.
The hegemon benefits the most from these institutions.
E.g. USA and Bretton Woods, GATT.
See Keohane reading ???
Which type of polarity is most conducive to peace?
Structures/the system (not human nature) provides interests for actors.
Results in findings similar to classical realism in terms of anarchy, security dilemma, etc.
See Mearsheimer, Jervis.
The ability of Actor A to get Actor B to do something that B would otherwise not do; the ability to
get the other side to make concessions and to avoid having to make concessions oneself.
Realists would see power largely in terms of offensive capability.
Liberals would likely consider economic influence to be a form of power in addition to the
Status Quo vs. Revisionist Powers
Status quo powers are states that have an interest in maintaining/enforcing the status quo.
Alliances are formed to maintain the status quo.
Revisionist powers are states that have an interest in undermining/disrupting the status quo.
Anarchy can yield non-military competition, which can lead to cooperation.
Material interests are considered alongside security interests, which furthers the likelihood of
cooperation, especially through economic interdependence.
International institutions are considered to be actors alongside states.
These institutions facilitate cooperation.
Neo-liberals: respond to neo-realists. Different from regular/classical liberals in that they put
slightly less emphasis on domestic considerations and more on the notion of aligned long-term
goals between states.
As opposed to the use of alliances.
Provided by collective security organizations: Broad-based institutions that promote peace and
security among their members. Examples include the League of Nations and the United
A form of cooperation deemed possible by liberalism, collective security is the manifestation of
the common interest of security and peace between states.
See Kant’s perpetual peace.
How would you bring about the conditions for collective security?
Liberal theorist, “Liberalism and World Politics”
Explores Machiavelli’s liberal imperialism and Schumpeter’s liberal internationalism, but
essentially coincides with Kant’s liberal pacifism*** check these titles with paper.
Sets of rules, known and shared by the community, that structure political interactions in
Note: not physical, but ideas. A stoplight is an institution insofar as it represents the idea that
we must obey traffic laws and stop, not in the sense that it is a large metal stick.
Regimes are manifestations of institutions.
Doyle on Kant
Kant’s perpetual peace:
People want peace.
Republican (democratic) states have less wars- the people who bear the cost of war
are the people who decide whether or not to fight.
States are sovereign, imperialism isn’t cool.
Only wars of a just, liberal cause should be deemed acceptable.
Republican [liberal] states will form a pacific union.
Shared understanding of meaningthe basis for institutions.
Plays into constructivism and how certain things are considered to be legitimate.
An interaction in which two or more actors adopt policies that makes at least one actor better off
relative to the status quo without making others worse off.
Deemed internationally possible by liberalism.
Made more likely by international institutions, Intersubjectivity, and economic
In terms of economics, is when states are dependent on each other for economic well-being.
Facilitates cooperation by providing incentive for states to cooperate in the hopes of iteration.
To the liberal, anarchy is not simply defined in terms of the security dilemma; the security
dilemma exists but is not as acute as implied by realists.
Security can be found collectively.
International regimes aid this process and, in effect, mitigate the impact of anarchy on states. Anarchy does NOT preclude cooperation.
The use or threatened use of violence “against noncombatant targets” by individuals or non-
state groups for political ends.
Some argue that much of today’s terrorism is anti-globalization backlash.
Terrorist networks are weak relative to their targets, making illegitimate means necessary in
order for them to meet their goals.
White Book lists 4 strategies of terrorism:
Coercion: The target is uncertain about the terrorists’ capabilities/resolve. Terrorist
attacks make its demands credible. Attack is a form of costly signaling. Eg: Sunni
and Shiite attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.
Provocation: Home population is uncertain about the interests of the target and
terrorist. Terrorist attacks target to provoke a response. Since it cannot identify
terrorist precisely, target imposes collateral damage on home population. Home
population updates its beliefs about target’s interests and concludes that target is
greater than terrorist. Eg: Palestinian attacks on Israel.
Used to destabilize trustworthiness in home population.
Spoiling: Target in uncertain about home’s ability or desire to honor agreement and
restrain extremists. Terrorists attack targetand target updates beliefs that home
cannot control terrorist. Target is more likely to reject agreements as not credible. Eg:
Hamas attacks prior to Israeli elections in 1996 and 2001.
Used to disprove trustworthiness to target.
Outbidding: Home is uncertain about terrorist’s interests and capabilities. Terrorist