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The Theories of International Politics

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Essay title: The Theories of International Politics

Several theoretical approaches have been developed as an attempt to explain the workings of International Politics. These different perspectives which use different methods and assumptions can be helpful in studying and predicting the actions and interactions of the actors they concentrate on and include, realism, liberalism and feminism. No single approach however succeeds in taking into consideration all factors and outcomes in world politics and each of them has distinct benefits as well as certain limitations. The realist point of view, for example, considers the nation-state as the basic unit of analysis and explains its decisions within an anarchical world system. There is no central force or power that can regulate the rules among the states, as no form of a single viable international government is present, therefore the role of the state is to maximize its power independently. Unlike domestic societies, this anarchist system constructs a self help security system as no state can depend on the help of another. Another point of view, structuralism, also known as neo-realism, builds upon realism but develops its considerations further. As explained by Goldstein, author of International Relations, it represents an attempt to make the realist approach much simpler more formal and more comprehensive. In using the international political structure within which the various states operate as the basic unit of analysis, it provides the necessary tools useful in explaining why states behave the way they do especially in relation to each other. However, as beneficial as it may be in explaining some phenomena, there are some limitations to such an approach that should be examined as well.

In order to show how structuralism, the systemic approach to international politics, is beneficial, it is first important to clearly define it in comparison to realism. Realism as an important approach to international relations explains states’ interaction strictly in terms of self help and power in guaranteeing security. This view is shared by many thinkers from the very start of organized political states until the present day from Thucydides’ account written in 404 B.C to Morgenthau’s modern explanations of national interest in terms of power. It explains the anarchist nature of the global society without a form of international government possibly existing. If no government is present, then the chaos and disorder is inevitable as every state carries unstoppable search for power at the same time. This explains how states behave and interact with one another. Hobbes defines this incessant search for power as being inherent to our very human nature. The only role of each state is therefore to maximize that power by any means necessary. A good example showing this claim can be found in Machiavelli’s work The Prince. Throughout several parts of his book, he clearly refers to several manipulative tactics to show how one can use political calculations to gain power. He also explains how for example, a prince, the leader of the state, should know how to do wrong to be respected and secure his power. According to Machiavelli, all methods should be taken in consideration, either just or unjust, to gain and protect the power. Futhermore, nothing is more important to realism than security. The objective of each state is to build a strong army, a good nuclear program, and defensive measures to protect or attack against other states. Every state uses their power to either improve their power status or protect themselves from more powerful states. The Melian Dialogue, an account by Thucydides, can also help in understanding the relationship between the powerful states and the dominated states. To be more specific, Thucydides explains how the powerful states can do what their power allows them to do, however the weak states can only accept what the powerful states do and nothing else. In this account, the Melians, the weak and dominated state, do not have any choice but to give in to the powerful Athenians, which simply refers to the law of the survival of the fittest.

Structuralism shares the idea of the paramount importance of security but differs from realism in relation to its basic unit of analysis, which makes it such that it could be considered as a relatively more beneficial approach to international politics. As explained earlier, the basic unit of analysis of realism is the nation state and how it seeks to maximize power, however, the basic unit of analysis of structuralism is not the nation state but the structure of the world’s international political system and how the states interact within that structure. Kenneth N. Waltz is the main source to study to understand structuralism. He clearly explains in his documents that the structural approach to international politics should represent a view of politics at global system level. To be more specific, he believes that international

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