IntroductionRealism is a view of international politics that uses power to implementits principles on society. It’s the result of long historical and philosophicaltraditions. Realism confirms the roles and functions of nation-state andsuggests that all nation-states are motivated by national interests. Realism asa set of related theories of international relations is one of the mostoutstanding theories which have great impact on both politicians and academicthinkers over many generations. Political realism focuses on principal actorswhich are concerned with won interests, own security, and struggle of power.
One of the disadvantage points of the realist’s emphasis on power andself-interest is their uncertainty and doubts regarding connection of ethicalnorms to relations among states. This essay gives an over view on Realism and its principles. It alsoexplains how this concept has changed over time. Since the World War II, Realism has controlled the academic study ofinternational relations where it suggests providing most accurate studies andexplanations of state behavior and set of policy impositions. Realism contemplates view of individuals for power seeking where most ofthe time states act as individuals and unitary way to implement its ownnational interest by using power.
Power in return, is the main source forharming and coercing other states. In another words theses states are living ina chaotic international system where it says that single state is powerfulenough to conquer all other states. Under this condition of anarchy realistsclaim that any state in international system can only rely on its self. Theirmost important aim is to increase their own relative power by two main logicalapproaches. First is by war (and conquest), and second is balance (eitherdividing the power of real or potential rivals by means of alliance politics oreconomic sanctions or multiplying their own power by raising armies,manufacturing fearsome weaponry).
(Mingst & Arregui?n-Toft, 2017)The most important signpost that helps the political realism to find itsway through the landscape of international politics it he concept of interestdefined in terms of power. This concept provides the link between reason tryingto understand international politics and the facts to be understood. it setspolitics as an autonomous sphere of action and understanding a part from otherspheres, such as economics, ethics, aesthetics, or religion. Without such aconcept a theory of politics, international or domestic would be altogetherimpossible. For without it we could not distinguish between political andnonpolitical facts, nor could we bring at least measure of systematic order tothe political sphere. Political realism denies identifyingthe ethical ambitions of a particular nation with the moral laws that governthe universe. It separates between truth and opinion, so it distinguishesbetween truth and idolatry.
All nations are tempted and few have been able toresist the temptation for long-to clothe their own particular aspiration andactions in the moral purposes of the universe. To understand that societies aresubject to ethical law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certaintywhat is good and evil in the relations among nation is quite another. There isa world of difference between the belief that all nations stand under the judgmentof God, inscrutable to the human mind, and the blasphemous conviction that Godis always on one’s side and that what one wills oneself cannot fail to bewilled by God also. In Thucydides the History of the Peloponnesian War3, four of themain principles of realism have been discussed.
1. State (Athens and Sparta) is theprincipal actor in war and in politics in general just like today’s realistsposition. However, other actors such as international institutions may havesome impact on the system which is peripheral. 2. The state is assumed to be unitary actor which means treating states as singleentity that tries to increase national interest. Thucydides claims that if astates decided to go to war, or capitulate it speaks and acts as one voice. Noother actors can impact on government’s decision or change the state’sinterests.
3. Rational actors can only make decision in the state which was mostlyeducated Greeks. Thucydides believed that individuals are essentially rationalbeings who make decisions based on the strength and weaknesses of the differentoptions against the goals to be achieved. 4. Thucydides, like modern realists was concerned with security problems thatstate needs to protect its self from enemies whether local or foreign. A statecan increasing its security by increasing its domestic capacities,strengthening its economic prowess, and creating alliances with other statesbased on similar interests.
(Mingst & Arregui?n-Toft, 2017) Generally classicalrealism of twentieth-century is dated from 1939 and the publication of EdwardHallett Carr’s The 20 Year’s Crisis.Classical realists are usually categorized as responding to the then-dominantapproaches to international politics (Donnelly 1995:179) although some scholars(Kahler 1997:24) doesn’t agree on how widespread liberalism was during theinterwar years. In addition to Carr, work by Shuman (1933), Nicolson(1939), Niebuhr (1940), Schwarzenberger (1941),Wight (1946), Morgenthau (1948),Kennan (1951), and Butterfield (1953) formedpart of the realist canon. It was, however,Morgenthau’s Politics Among Nations: TheStruggle for Power and Peace, which became the undisputed standard bearerfor political realism, going through six editions between 1948 and 1985. (Martin Griffiths, 2007) The core of both classical andneorealist theory is the balance of power which seeks to explain allianceformation. as a result of neorealist idea of anarchism which is the outcome ofinternational system, states must ensure their survival through maintaining orraising the event of an attack by a hegemon, states try to prohibit a potentialhegemon from arising by balancing against it. According to Kenneth Waltz,founder of neorealism, balance of power political dominate wherever two andonly two requirements are met which are first the order be anarchic and that itbe populated by units wishing to survive which can be done either throughinternal balancing, where a state uses internal efforts such as moving toimprove economic capability, developing clever strategies and increasingmilitary strength. Second by external balancing, this occurs when states takeexternal measures to improve security by forming allies.
States happy withtheir place in the system known as “status quo” states, while thoseseeking to alter the balance of power in their favor are generally referred torevisionist states and aspire for hegemony , thus repairing the balance. (Burchil , 2009). Political realists are often described as moralists which by any means mustbe used to support the national interest, but a poignant criticism is that themeaning of morality is being entangled to suggest that acting in one’s own orone’s nation’s interests is immoral or amoral at best.
This is considered to beunfair claim against serving one’s national interest, just as saying that anyself-serving action is necessarily immoral on the personal level. Thediscussion mentions the ethics of impartiality, those who believe in auniversal code of ethics argue that a self-serving action that cannot be universalizedis immoral. However, universalism is not the only standard of ethical actions.also it can be claimed , should play a role in ethical decisions, partialitydeem to absurd that state officials should not give their own nation greater moralweight over other nations. (Berki, 1981)Tostart with, many parts related to the on-going conflict in Syria can be shownthrough looking at Realist theory. The centrepiece of this perspective is theconcept of ‘statism’, which means that “the state is the pre-eminent actor andall other actors in world politics are of lesser significance” (Dunne &Schmidt, 2008: 103). Realists consider that states have the highest authorityin the international system, given the condition of anarchy (Steans &Pettiford, 2005: 49).
States form the bodies of other actors, such asInternational Organizations, thus they have influence on the actions of thelatter. For instance, Russia, along with China, as permanent members of theSecurity Council, vetoed three UN resolutions that aimed to sanction the Syrianregime and cease violence. Accordingly, these states had the influence to blockUnited Nations support of foreign military intervention in Syria. The Russianpolitical class places great importance on sovereignty and it illustrates thisview by supporting Damascus. Through its decisions, “the Kremlin is telling theworld that neither the UN, nor any other body or group of countries has theright to decide who should or should not govern a sovereign state” (BBC News,2012). To conclude, many students of International Politics stopped believingin realism when, toward the end of the last century, a number came to thinkthat they could believe in anything. as an outcome, theoreticalpluralism-something surely to be welcomed, in order to keep us all honest wasgained at the expense, oft-times, of scholarly engagement with both theestablished great thinkers in our discipline and the great issues of peace and war beingplayed out in the arena of world politics: the daily and historic drama of whogets what, when, and how across the globe.