The differences in the styles of theories in
IR has been a topic of interest in this field of IR. Many debates have happened
but the core focus of these debates is that they negate the idea of the other
without actually winning ground in being the best type of theory in the
International System. The differences are more than just miscommunication as
they all vary in ideas and theory. The mere example of how realism is from
liberalism is comparable to extremes. The study analyzes the commonality amongst
all the discussed theories in the class. Its goal is to increase the amount of
knowledge regarding the effectiveness of prevailing theory in the international

Currently the most effective form of
international governments are those that are regional organizations (i.e.
ASEAN, EU, AU, etc.). What has really drawn flack because of its infectivity is
the UN. Infectivity in terms of having member states to act accordingly when
needed. As time goes by the UN seems to be losing control of its members and is
also losing funding (Lynch C. 2017) primarily because of the UN’s number one
donor the US seems to be reverting back to a realist ideology because of the
new president. The US accounts to 22% of the UN’s financial donor which amounts
to a staggering $2.5 billion

Review of

A Realist world

A good rubrics cube for International
Relations Students: Why is a distinguished and well-known approach to foreign
policy confined to the margins of public discourse, especially in the pages of
our leading newspapers, when its recent track record is arguably superior to
the main alternatives?

I refer, of course, to realism. It’s
not imperative that realism and realists are completely marginalized these days
after all, you’re reading a realist right now but the public visibility and policy
influence of the realist perspective is relatively weak when compared either to
Liberal Democrats or conservative Republican.

As the years progress it is quite astonishing
insofar as realism is a well-established tradition in the study of foreign
affairs, and realists like Kenneth Waltz, Hans Morgenthau, Chris Brown, Ken
Booth, and many more who have given input about U.S. foreign policy in the
past. Realism has remained a foundation in academic study of international
affairs for a good reason. One would think this sophisticated body of thought
would have a prominent place in debates on foreign policy and that
card-carrying realists would be a visible force inside the world of punditry.

Furthermore, realism’s predictions over the
past 25 years have proven to be much better that that of the liberals that has
dominated U.S. foreign policymaking since the beginning of the Cold War ended.
Time and time again, presidents have pushed the liberal agenda and ignored the
counsels of realism. At the fall of the wall in berlin, the United States was
in amiable with all the superpowers in the world there was calm, Bin Laden was
a speck of dust, a Israel has come into terms in the Middle East, and America
was enjoying its moment on the top of the world. At this point a lot of people
argued that power politics was no more and that people will be getting rich in
a globalized world where concerns about prosperity, democracy, and human rights
would increasingly dominate the international political agenda. Liberal values
were destined to spread to every corner of the globe, and if that process
didn’t move fast enough, American power would help push it along.


But in today’s modern narrative, a very tense
relation is visible between the U.S. old friend Russia and the rising power
that is China. Since the botched imposed democracy in Libya and Iraq, democracy
is in shambles in Eastern Europe and Turkey. While the whole Middle East narrative
is experiencing a bipolar system in the character of Iran and Saudi while the
rest are out for grabs. Since the Iraq war, the U.S. has not been able to win a
single war. The Liberal Hegemony of the U.S. has left them spending billions in
taxpayer’s money and the war in Afghanistan is still as it is from day one. 20
years of U.S. strong man mediation in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict are
slowly collapsing. Even the EU is in shambles (Gutteridge N. 2017) with the
Brexit and the Catalonian Exit from Spain. Perhaps the modern world has
provided tantamount of struggle for the Liberal Ideology.


As we all know, the world is a harsh and
dangerous place. The only certainty in the world is power. A powerful state
will always be able to outdo—and outlast—weaker competitors. The most important
and reliable form of power is military power (Waltz K. 2011).

A state’s primary interest is
self-preservation. Therefore, the state must seek power and must always protect
itself (Mearshimer J. 2011). There is no overarching power that can enforce
global rules or punish bad behavior. Moral behavior is very risky because it
can undermine a state’s ability to protect itself. The international system
itself drives states to use military force and to war. Leaders may be moral,
but they must not let moral concerns guide foreign policy. International
organizations and law have no power or force; they exist only as long as states
accept them.

Politicians have practiced realism as long as
states have existed. Most scholars and politicians during the Cold War viewed
international relations through a realist lens. Neither the United States nor
the Soviet Union trusted the other, and each sought allies to protect itself
and increase its political and military influence abroad. Realism has also
featured prominently in the administration of George W. Bush. One of the most
known realist is the Italian Niccolo Machiavelli. In his book The
Prince (1513), he urged rulers to use deceit and violence as tools
against other states. Moral goals are so dangerous, he wrote, that to act
morally will bring about disaster. He also gave advice about how to deal with
conflicts among neighboring states and how to defend one’s homeland.
Machiavelli’s name has been synonymous with what has been the original realist.

But then again the argument now is that, it’s
already 2017. So to speak the world hasn’t blown up yet nor has the super
powers of the modern time took over one another. True that bipolar world still
exists but these bipolar states are battling their own narratives at various
fronts. True that the US vs Russia narrative is still there. But now it’s US vs
China (Tikhonova P. 2017) narrative that’s gaining ground. One will also
have the realist North Korea vs US. In the Middle East a different bipolar
narrative is happening. Iran vs Saudi in the proxy wars of Yemen (Hamasaeed S.
2017). You also have Saudi vs Israel (Novak J. 2017) where Saudi wishes to play
as the hegemon in the Middle East.

One cannot help but ask the role of the last
three (3) presidents had played a pivotal role in the shifting of the world
today. The U.S. imposed this responsibility on them in wanting to be superpower
(Adelman J 2017). Would the world be in a better shape if the U.S. remained as
a hegemon? My answer is Yes.

Just a quick recap, Realism is about having “power”
(Waltz K. 2011) as the centerpiece of its political life and deems the state as
primarily concerned with ensuring the security of a world where there is no
world government or no night watchmen. I realists heavily clings on the fact
that military power is crucial in defending a state’s independence and autonomy
and yet have the decency to acknowledge that this is a crass form of tool that
leads to irreconcilable outcomes.

Realism is fueled by a strong belief of
nationalism and local identities in the level of the individual and state. It
is common knowledge that realists states are inherently selfish, unselfishness
is a diamond in a haystack, and that trust isn’t something that comes by so
often and as we all know, Norms like the R2P so rarely have impact of what
strong states do in their international policy. It was Tom Hiddleston from
Avengers (2012) who told Nick fury that “an ant has no quarrel with a boot”.
Which in all realms of reality is true. Never did an ant filed a complaint when
their rights are “Stepped” on so to speak. And we’ve seen that narrative. When
the U.S. and its coalition invaded Iraq in 2003. No one in the world had the
urged to oppose the U.S. and the U.K. in ridding of Saddam just cause they
believed in the two arches theory where no two countries with a McDonalds in it
goes to war (Friedman T. 1999)

So if the predecessors of Trump had followed a
realist playbook. Would we be seeing a different world today? In retrospect yes.
First things first, had W. Bush listened to Collin Powell and other known
realists and be open minded with the fact that there are no weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq we wouldn’t be having ISIS today. His administration would
solely focus on hunting down al qaeda instead of getting stuck in a quagmire
that is Iraq. Millions of lives wouldn’t have been wasted for a few barrels of
oil and ISIS won’t be using the oil rigs they used at first.

Second would be, had Clinton not had pushed
for the NATO expansion during his term, or would have cut the boundaries
somewhere in Poland, you wouldn’t be having this tense atmosphere with the
Kremlin. Realism acknowledges the fact that great powers (Russia) do not like
to be confined in a small box in the deepest and coldest part of the world. It
was George Kennan who warned NATO that doing these would leave a lasting
impression with Russia (Freidman T. 2015) I mean looking back, the addition of
new member states in the NATO did not strengthen the alliance at all. It just
committed the U.S. to defend a cluster of weaker states from a polar bear that’s
a stone’s throw away. This may sound like a Trump propaganda but these are
facts. NATO wasn’t able to stabilize the region hence Crimea happened and got
annexed to Russia. And the pipeline? That fuels most of Eastern Europe to give
them a warm light for the cold night? It’s controlled by Russia. It’s the
idealistic and false promise of having international organization or a liberal
mindset that lead the weaker eastern European countries to believe in NATO
(Mearshimer J. 1995)

A better narrative was the original “Partnership
for Peace,” which was aimed to build close security ties with former Warsaw
Pact members, including Russia. But lo and behold, this sensible approach was
abandoned in the idealistic rush to expand NATO, a decision reflecting liberal
hopes that the security guarantees entailed by membership would never have to
be honored.

Third, had a president followed a realist
playbook, he would not have embraced the strategy of “dual containment” in the
Persian Gulf. Instead of pledging to contain Iran and Iraq simultaneously, a
realist would have taken advantage of their mutual rivalry and used each to
balance the other (Jackson R, Sørensen G, 2015). Dual containment got the U.S.
in a tight corner to opposing two countries that were bitter rivals, and it
forced Washington to keep large ground and air forces in Saudi Arabia and the
Gulf. Osama bin Laden took advantage of this indefinite long term presence in
the Middle East which was why he was able to gain traction in gaining
supporters that lead to September 11. A realist approach to Persian Gulf
politics would have made that attack less likely, but not know the psyche
of an Osama Bin Laden this of course was not impossible as well.

Fifth would be for a realists playbook, the
nuclear deal with Iran shows what the United States can accomplish when it
engages in tough-minded but flexible diplomacy. But Washington might have
gotten an even better deal had the U.S. took the realists experts advice and
conducted serious diplomacy back when Iran’s nuclear infrastructure was much
smaller and not when Ahmadinejad
was rallying nationalism with the Iranians. Realists repeatedly warned that
Iran would never agree to give up its entire enrichment capacity and that
threatening Tehran with military force would only increase its desire for a
latent weapons capability. Had the United States shown more flexibility earlier
— as realists advised — it might have halted Iran’s nuclear development at a much
lower level. More so had a U.S. realist diplomacy might even have forestalled
the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 and moved the two countries toward
a more constructive relationship instead of having to approach Iran immediately
as the enemy in the narrative.

Sixth, realists of various stripes have been
crucial when it comes to America’s “special relationship” with Israel and there
are serious repercussions in the long run for both states. In contrast to what
smears that are directed at them by some of Israel’s more ardent defenders,
this position did not root from an intrinsic hostility to Israel’s existence nor
to the idea that the United States and Israel should cooperate when their interests
align. Rather, it came about from this belief that the unconditional U.S.
support for Israel was undermining America’s image in the world, which was
turning the war on terror for worse, and allowing Tel Aviv to continue its
self-destructive effort to create a “greater Israel” at the expense of the
Palestinians. A realist’s playbook would have argued that the best way to
approach the crisis is to have a two state solution between Palestine and
Israel in which both should be pressured by the U.S. to enact changes that are beneficial
to both and not to have the U.S. act as a lawyer for Israel at this point,
could you seriously question the accuracy of this view, given the facts of repeated
failures of alternative approaches?

Finally, if Obama only heeded to his more realistic
advisors, he wouldn’t have found himself in the middle of the mess that is
Libya. He created a vacuum of power in the region that lead to the death of one
of his ambassadors and created a failed state that is much like Iraq (didn’t
learn from W). True that Qaddafi was a despicable ruler, no qualms there, but humanitarian
intervention from International Organizations exaggerated the risk of
“genocide” and did not foresee the disorder and violence that would follow the
collapse of Qaddafi’s theocracy.

In summation, had a playbook of realism been played
by the commander in chief of U.S. foreign policy over the past 2 decades, it is
likely that the world would have less pockets of turmoil than what we are
experiencing today and some important points would have been realized. One
might question some of these claims, but on the whole realists have a much
better track record than those who keep insisting the United States has the
right and responsibility to manage virtually every important global issue, was
left in the hands of an intern who doesn’t even know how to run his company
that filed for bankruptcy and had to be bailed out multiple times is left to
decide what would be best for the world just cause he predecessor had an
Idealistic view.

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