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Why theory
   “A theory must be more than a
    hypothesis; it can’t be obvious; it
    involves complex relations of a
    systematic kind among a number of
    factors; and it is not easily confirmed or
    disproved.” (Culler)
Why theory
   Theory is one of those words which conjures up both fear and
    boredom. Fear because it sounds like something abstract and
    incomprehensible like -- Einstein's theory of relativity. Boredom
    because who wants to learn about theory -- reality is far more
    interesting and theories don't really reflect reality!
   But the problem is that we can't understand all of "the facts," we aren't
    even sure which facts are relevant.
   When studying international relations should we concentrate on
        countries?
        on leaders?
        on war?
        on the international economy?
        ON WHAT?
   Theories are ways we organize the facts and tell coherent, empirically
    driven and testable stories about how the world works. Whether we
    like it or not -- all knowledge is driven by theories.
What are we trying to do
   first to challenge you to think about theory and then
    to present you with a range of theories which will
    aid our understanding of the world we live in. From
    this knowledge base you will be asked to analyze,
    evaluate and criticize the theories presented. We will
    be emphasizing the connections between
    international relations theory and reality of
    international affairs in a globalizing world
   At the end of this semester you will be able to think
    critically about International Affairs, and to analyze
    issues in world politics with greater depth and
Realism - background
Looking at international affairs we can
  identify 4 periods
Pre World War 1
1918 – 1945
1945 – 1970
70s -
   Up to 1914
       There was no discipline of ‘international
       The focus was on events
       No pattern was sought as to what shaped
        relationships and why there were certain
        outcomes and not others
1918 - 1945
   At the heart of ‘thinking’ was a wish
    that war wouldn’t happen again.
   This is described as ‘Idealism’, based on
    19th century Liberalism,
   It wanted to base itself on International
    Law, the League of Nations
   There was no impact from Marxist ideas
    at this point
1945 - 1970
   Idealism had failed; war had not been
    avoided; collective security had failed
   Disillusion with the League of Nations
   A sense now of needing to be ‘in touch with
    the real world’
   Realism as a theory for world politics
       Influenced by ‘power politics’ and the emergence
        of nuclear power
1970 -
   Consensus on what theory best explains international
    relations is gone
   Two main strands of writing emerge
       Economic which focuses on interdependence
       Reversion to national concerns
   These fit into 3 different perspectives, reflecting
    different ideological underpinnings, different starting
       Realism
       Interdependence
       Dependency
An approach
   Who are the actors in the international
   What are the characteristics of the
    global political process
   Outcomes – how is the nature of the
    world system expressed through this
   Its main concern is with ‘power politics’; the
    nature of the state is to get as much ‘power’
    as possible
   The advantages to this view:
       Willingness on the part of the state to threaten
       Legitimises the pursuit of national interest
       Intellectually well established tradition; its key
        proponents, Morgenthau, Carr, Kissinger
Realism: who are the actors
   For realists, the states are the actors;
    they see society as being divided into
    states and they are the central political
    units; the state is seen as a single unit,
    it makes rational choices; no other actor
    can create war/peace since the decline
    of the Papacy; other actors (
    bureaucrats in organisations) these are
    seen as agents of the state
Realism… the actors
   They see society as being distinguished
       State Sovereignty ( territorially defined)
       The state has a monopoly on the legitimate
        use of power
       The primary purpose of the state is to
        defend the ‘national interest’
Characteristics of the global
political process
   For Realists, military and security goals are
    always predominant
   Instrument of state policy: military force
   Agenda: this is set by shifts in the balance of
    power and by security threats arising
   Linkage of issues:
   Role of international organisations: are minor
    and limited; states do not see them as being
Realism: what are the
Limited order as society is ‘anarchic, i.e.
 the absence of overarching
The world is made up of sovereign states;
 they have the capacity to make war so
 there is a security dilemma where
 resources are not divided out equally
Realism… outcomes…
   Key questions: how to control states in
    the international system
   The central concept: the nature of
   Holsti: ‘the general capacity of a state
    to control the behaviour of others
   Morgenthau: all states are concerned
    with power, either increasing power (
    imperialism) or demonstrating power (
    the politics of prestige
Power …
 Taylor
He identifies certain propositions about power
       All states must attempt to maximise power
       Power is seen as an end in itself
       States seek to use power in relation with other
       Military strength is seen as most important source
        of state power
       The nature of military might and how it is
        distributed is seen as a determinant of how the
        international system works
Advantages of realism
   Governments do act like this some of
    the time
   It allows you to come to grip with the
    reality of force
   It is a starting point for the
    development of other theories

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