Realism and International Relations (Themes in International by Jack Donnelly

By Jack Donnelly

Realism and diplomacy deals scholars a severe but sympathetic overview of political realism, the idea that for the earlier half-century has ruled overseas stories. interpreting realist thinkers from Thucydides, via Machiavelli to Kenneth Waltz, Donnelly demanding situations usual realist claims and argues that realism is an insightful but one-sided idea. Containing chapter-by-chapter courses to additional interpreting and dialogue questions for college students, this booklet bargains an available and full of life survey of the dominant idea in diplomacy.

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At best it is a dramatic simplification of a much more complex reality. Should we allow realists pre-emptively to disparage alternative accounts as in some important sense “unrealistic”? Even if we grant that realism is profoundly insightful, can it also be characterized as “unrealistic” in an ordinary sense of that term? Suggestions for further reading As noted in the Introduction, each chapter is followed by a short bibliographic essay that suggests further reading. The present essay, which is considerably longer than the others, focuses on the six paradigms that provide the heart of this chapter – Hobbes, Morgenthau, Waltz, the Prisoners’ Dilemma, Thucydides and Machiavelli – plus some of the more important “secondary” figures.

The preference ordering T>R>P>S is a good example of realist egoism and amoralism. International anarchy, it is often argued, precludes enforceable agreements to cooperate. Therefore, international relations are often marked by insecurity, competition, and conflict even where there are strong incentives to cooperate. ” Glenn Snyder’s recent restatement of the logic is especially clear. Given the irreducible uncertainty about the intentions of others, security measures taken by one actor are perceived by others as threatening; the others take steps to protect themselves; these steps are then interpreted by the first actor as confirming its initial hypothesis that the others are dangerous; and so on in a spiral of illusory fears and “unnecessary” defenses (1997: 17).

For a strong but generally balanced realist argument against morality in foreign policy, there is perhaps no better short introduction than Kennan’s “Morality and Foreign Policy” (1985/86). For an application of his perspective to post-Cold War issues of intervention, see Kennan (1995). Smith (1986: ch. 7) provides an excellent overview of Kennan’s realism. Stephanson (1989) is highly critical of the coherence of Kennan’s work. Rosenthal (1991) argues for a deep coherence, both within Kennan and within other major American realists of his generation.

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