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Realism in the 21st Century

by: Kerrigan Unter

Realism in the 21st Century PSC 1003

Kerrigan Unter
GPA 3.0
Introduction to International Politics
Olson, L

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Introduction to International Politics
Olson, L
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kerrigan Unter on Monday October 19, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PSC 1003 at George Washington University taught by Olson, L in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 19 views. For similar materials see Introduction to International Politics in Political Science at George Washington University.

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Date Created: 10/19/15
PSC 1003 Realism in the 21St Century Realism General Approaches Realists like John Mearsheimer were not convinced that the end of the Cold War represented a new era in international cooperation Rather states would continue to be the primary actors and continue to compete for power The US and Russia would continue to compete for power in Europe which explains the US push to incorporate former Eastern European satellite states into NATO o This represents the US taking advantage of Russian weakness and gaining relative to Russia 0 It is also seen correctly by Russia as an aggressive action by the US In Asia a multipolar system would emerge with the US Russia China and India competing for in uence over the secondary powers in the region International institutions like the UN will continue to be used by powerful states to advance their own interests 0 Effective action by the UN will be predicated on US involvement 0 The First Gulf War which used the UN was successful because a vital US national security interest was involved 0 The ineffectiveness of the UN response to crises like Somalia Yugoslavia and Rwanda is due to the fact that the US did not see a national security interest involved and either didn t act or obstructed action 0 In this situation the US serves as a constraint on the UN not the other way around Neoconservatism combines elements of realism with the identity perspective from the realist side neoconservative generally accept the powertransition school of realist thought on the identity side they employed an ideological anticommunism and during the war on terror advocated the spread of liberal democracy Power Transition Theory a branch of realism that argues that any given point in history a hegemonic power enforces stability on the international system When the hegemon is at the height of its power stability exists but when the power of the hegemon declines challenger states emerge increasing the likelihood con ict 0 In the 19th century Britain was the hegemonic power 0 World War I was the result of the first German challenge 0 World War II represented the 2nd German challenge 0 During the Cold War the US was the hegemonic state while the Soviet Union was the challenger Neoconservative and Power Transition Based on the idea that international stability exists when a hegemon is at the height of its power neoconservatives argue that the US should seek to maintain the unipolarity of the system 0 In 1992 while Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney advocated a policy of preemption where the US would act to prevent the emergence of any challenger state in order to maintain its hegemonic status also emphasizes hard power and statecentric approach to international security Neoconservatism and Terrorism for neoconservatives adopting a realist approach terrorism is viewed as a military problem rather than a problem of international law enforcement This view in uences the Global War on Terror approach after 911 0 Hard power is used to target both terrorist groups and more importantly state sponsors of terrorism under the assumption that attacking states that support terrorists will deny terrorist group resources needed to operate Afghanistan when ruled by the Taliban harbored alQaeda making them a logical target after 9 1 1 the invasion of Iraq can be justi ed based on Iraqi possession of WMD s which could potentially be given to terrorist organizations Alliances for neoconservatives alliances are viewed as generally unreliable 0 Generally seen as a way for weaker states to constrain hegemon o Explains why NATO was not initially used in the invasion of Afghanistan based on this logic the US should take a unilateral approach 0 If the hegemon seeks to maintain its status in a selfhelp system it cannot rely on other states Power Balancing Realists argued that unipolarity was a temporary and generally unstable phenomenon the competition between traditional powers like Russia and rising powers like China would push the system back towards equilibrium for power balancing realists instability is caused by movements away from equilibrium Power Balancing and Foreign Policy power balancing was advocated by George HW Bush and Colin Powell argued that the US should side with stability in general and seek to accommodate other powers in the system 0 Led Bush for example to speak against revolutions in Ukraine and Yugoslavia Major competition occurred between power balancing realists and neoconservatives The Bush Administration while neoconservatives argue the Bush administration acted effectively power balancing realists opposed many of these policies for these realists the Bush administration s approach deliberately provoked other powers by expanding American power and pulling the system away from equilibrium


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