Idealism vs. Realism in International Politics Custom Essay

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Most theorists of international politics, on the other hand, have focused on the nature of the international system and ignored what goes on behind state doors, treating it as the province of comparative politics, a different sub-field of political ~cience.~ Jack Snyder tries to bridge this gap between domestic and international affairs in his ambitious new book, Myths of Empire,6 constructing a domestic politics model that he claims stays within the realist tradition.

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Essay on realism and international politics

To what extent does realism differ from liberalism in the assumptions it makes about international politics? Which theoretical approach makes the most reasonable assumptions about the post-Cold War world?
Liberalist and realist thinking are two competing ideas of international relations that make fundamentally different assumptions about both human nature and the nature of the arena of international politics. Each theory has its roots in a different state of international conflict or cooperation and in judging which theory makes the most reasonable assumptions about the post-Cold War world, it is necessary to judge which theory's assumptions can better be generalised outside of the time and state of the world in which they were first proposed. Realism, as an approach to international politics, can be viewed as a response to the utopian thought that prevailed in the inter-War period. The 'idealists' studied war with the aim of finding a way of practicing international politics that reduced the need for war as a method for solving disputes, but the outbreak of the Second World War at the time seemed to show that some of the founding principles of idealism; the possibility of peaceful cooperation between countries based on mutual moral interests and the rationality of humankind, were not generalised principles and could not exist outside the timeframe in which they were conceived. With the mainstream collapse of the idealist theory of the inter-War years, realism came to be dominant, as theorists returned to a theory put forward previously by such thinkers as Machiavelli and Rousseau. Although it is important to note that realism is not one theory but an umbrella for a number of similar explanations for the way in which international politics is conducted, there are two main assumptions that are made by all realists about the nature of international politics. Firstly, within realism, the state is seen to be the primary actor within the international system and it is assumed that the over-riding aim of all states is survival by any and all means. This is at odds with the liberal view of international politics which suggests that there are universal values of tolerance and justice, amongst others, that all states should aim to adhere to. 'It is the duty of the statesperson to calculate rationally the most appropriate steps that should be taken so as to perpetuate the life of the state'1 and the survival of the state overrides any other aim. Whilst it is possible to have security within a state, as there is a national authority, in the international arena, a lack of a single international authority over all states means that states are forced to rely only on themselves for their survival. Realism has often been subjected to the criticism that it is an unethical system as it suggests that any action can be taken to protect the security of the state. However, whilst it is correct to say that having the state as a unitary authority aiming to survive on its own could lead to unethical acts on behalf of the state as the state has to 'adopt an ethical code which judges actions according to the outcome rather than in terms of a judgement about whether the individual act is right or wrong'2 to protect its sovereignty, this could be argued to be an ethical decision as the state is protecting the ability of its citizens to lead a moral life within the state.

The Real and the Ideal: Essays on International

Among these numerous theories, the two theories that are considered as mainstream are liberalism and realism because the most actors in stage of international relations are favouring either theories as a framework and these theories explains why the most actors are taking such actions regarding foreign politics....

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