Statism: is the centre of realism. This involves two claims: first for the theorists, the state is the pre-
eminent actor and the other actors in world actors in world politics are of lesser significance. Second,
state ‘sovereignty’ signifies the existence of an independent political community, one which has juridical
authority over its territory.
Survival: The key objective of all states is survival. This is the supreme national interests to which all
political leaders must adhere.
Self-Help: No other state or institutions can be relied upon to can your survival.
Security Dilemma: According to Wheeler & Booth, security dilemma exists when the military
preparations of one state, creates a irresolvable uncertainty in the mind of another as to whether those
preparations are for defensive purposes only (to enhance its security and a uncertain world) or whether
they are for offensive purposes (to change the status quo to its advantage).
This scenario suggests that one states quest for security is often another states source of
insecurity – power is than relative.
Balance of power: the most common definition holds “that if the survival of a state or a number of
weaker states is threatened by a hegemonic state or coalition of stronger states, they should join forces,
establish a formal alliance, and seek to preserve their own independence by checking the power of the
The balance of power seeks to ensure equilibrium of power in which case no one state or
coalition of states is a position to dominate all the others.
The ‘B of P’ exists because there is a lack of trust; seeks to maintain peace.
Classical Realism (Human Nature):
Thucydides (The Pelo Wars): International politics is driven by an endless struggle for power, which has
its roots in human nature. Justice, law, and society, have either no place, or are circumscribed.
Machiavelli (The Prince): Political realism recognizes that principles are subordinated to policies; the
ultimate skill of the state leader is to accept, and adapt to, the changing power, political configurations,
and world politics.
Morgenthau (Politics among nations): Politics is governed by laws that are created by human nature.
The mechanism we use to understand international politics is through the concept of interest, defined in
terms of power.
Structural Realism (International Realism):
Rousseau (The state of war): It is not human nature, but the anarchical system which fosters fear,
jealousy, suspicion, and insecurity.
Waltz (The Theory of International Politics): Anarchy leads to logic of self-help in which states seek to
maximize their security. The most stable distribution of power in the system, bi-polarity.
Mearsheimer (Tradegy...): The anarchical self-help system, compel states to maximize their relative
Zachariah (From wealth to power): the systemic account of world politics provided by structural realism
is incomplete. It needs to be supplemented by better accounts of unit level variables such as, how
power is perceived, and how leadership is exercised.
Anarchy: system operating in the absence of any central government. Does not imply chaos, by in the
realist theory, the absence of political authority.
Relative Gains: One of the factors the realists argue, constrain the willingness of state to cooperate.
State are less concerned about whether or not everyone benefits (absolute gains) and more concerned
about whether someone may benefit more than someone else.
Offensive Realism: A structural theory of realism that view states as security maximizers. It blames
security conflict on the anarchy of the international system, not on human nature or particular
characteristics of individual great powers (try to achieve hegemony for security).
Defensive Realism: A structural theory of realism that view states as security maximizers. Defensive
realism predicts that anarchy on the world stage causes states to become obsessed with security
(content with balance of power and status quo).
Hegemony: A system regulated by dominant leader or political (and/or economic) domination of region,
usually by a superpower. In Realist theory, the influence a great power is able to establish on other
states in the system; extent of influence ranges from leadership to dominance. It is also power and
control exercised by a leading state over other states.
Absolute gains: all states seek to gain more power and influence in the system to secure their national
interests. This is absolute gain. Offensive neo-realists are also concerned with increasing power relative
to other states. One must have enough power than any other state in the system- friend or foe.