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POLS*2200 International Relations Realism

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2200
Ian Spears

REALISM States are the most important actors in an anarchical world lacking central legitimate governanceRepresent key units of analysis Study the relationship among these units especially major powers because they shape world politics and engage in the costliest warsSystem refers to the international system of statesNonstate actors like the UN aspire only cant do more than their member states directState as a unitary actorencapsulated by a black boxdont need to look inside state speaks with one voice 1 policy to 1 issueState as a reational actor weights costs and benefits Assumption not a description of real life Helps develop theoriesNational security top priorityfocus on actualpotential conflicts use of force Uses of powermaterialisticcapabilities concerned with the balance of power among states security implicationsInternational politics is the struggle for powerClassical realist Emphasize the impact of historyStructural realist Basis for a theory of IR has to have at its core an understanding of the distribution of capabilities across states Focuses on material structure the distribution of power capabilitiesComes from the last 5 centuriesInfluences o Thucydidesst 1 writer founding father of IR disciplineHistory of the Peloponesian War Account of the era human traits are exhibited in wars throughout the agesPast is the guide for the future wanted to draw historical lessons for future statesmenReal cause of war was the fear associated with a shift in the balance of power systems level explanation This is echoed through out historyA world without a central authority to impose order on all states means power is emphasized strong do what the will weak do what they must Fear may lead to war but power and capabilities determine the outcomeShifiting power among states and domestic level politicalcultural factors change slowly while the propsenity for war and peace can change quicklyAppreciated the importance of various factors at different levels of analysis to explain war o Machiavelli Italian political philosopherPolitical instability among Italian citystates during French and Spanish interventionsConcerned about national security survival of the state is paramountThe Prince is a manual on how to gain maintain expand power Dedicated to the ruler of Florence
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