Introduction

Realism is a view of international politics that uses power to implement
its principles on society. It’s the result of long historical and philosophical
traditions. Realism confirms the roles and functions of nation-state and
suggests that all nation-states are motivated by national interests. Realism as
a set of related theories of international relations is one of the most
outstanding theories which have great impact on both politicians and academic
thinkers over many generations. Political realism focuses on principal actors
which are concerned with won interests, own security, and struggle of power.
One of the disadvantage points of the realist’s emphasis on power and
self-interest is their uncertainty and doubts regarding connection of ethical
norms to relations among states.

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This essay gives an over view on Realism and its principles. It also
explains how this concept has changed over time.

 

 

 

 

 

Since the World War II, Realism has controlled the academic study of
international relations where it suggests providing most accurate studies and
explanations of state behavior and set of policy impositions.

Realism contemplates view of individuals for power seeking where most of
the time states act as individuals and unitary way to implement its own
national interest by using power. Power in return, is the main source for
harming and coercing other states. In another words theses states are living in
a chaotic international system where it says that single state is powerful
enough to conquer all other states. Under this condition of anarchy realists
claim that any state in international system can only rely on its self. Their
most important aim is to increase their own relative power by two main logical
approaches. First is by war (and conquest), and second is balance (either
dividing the power of real or potential rivals by means of alliance politics or
economic 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 its
way through the landscape of international politics it he concept of interest
defined in terms of power. This concept provides the link between reason trying
to understand international politics and the facts to be understood. it sets
politics as an autonomous sphere of action and understanding a part from other
spheres, such as economics, ethics, aesthetics, or religion. Without such a
concept a theory of politics, international or domestic would be altogether
impossible. For without it we could not distinguish between political and
nonpolitical facts, nor could we bring at least measure of systematic order to
the political sphere.

 

 

 Political realism denies identifying
the ethical ambitions of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern
the universe. It separates between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes
between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted and few have been able to
resist the temptation for long-to clothe their own particular aspiration and
actions in the moral purposes of the universe. To understand that societies are
subject to ethical law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty
what is good and evil in the relations among nation is quite another. There is
a world of difference between the belief that all nations stand under the judgment
of God, inscrutable to the human mind, and the blasphemous conviction that God
is always on one’s side and that what one wills oneself cannot fail to be
willed by God also.  

In Thucydides the History of the Peloponnesian War3, four of the
main principles of realism have been discussed.

1.       State (Athens and Sparta) is the
principal actor in war and in politics in general just like today’s realists
position. However, other actors such as international institutions may have
some impact on the system which is peripheral.

2.      The state is assumed to be unitary actor which means treating states as single
entity that tries to increase national interest. Thucydides claims that if a
states decided to go to war, or capitulate it speaks and acts as one voice. No
other actors can impact on government’s decision or change the state’s
interests.

3.      Rational actors can only make decision in the state which was mostly
educated Greeks. Thucydides believed that individuals are essentially rational
beings who make decisions based on the strength and weaknesses of the different
options against the goals to be achieved.

4.      Thucydides, like modern realists was concerned with security problems that
state needs to protect its self from enemies whether local or foreign. A state
can increasing its security by increasing its domestic capacities,
strengthening its economic prowess, and creating alliances with other states
based on similar interests. (Mingst & Arregui?n-Toft, 2017)

 

Generally classical
realism of twentieth-century is dated from 1939 and the publication of Edward
Hallett Carr’s  The 20 Year’s Crisis.
Classical realists are usually categorized as responding to the then-dominant
approaches to international politics (Donnelly 1995:179) although some scholars
(Kahler 1997:24) doesn’t agree on how widespread liberalism was during the
interwar years. In addition to Carr, work by Shuman (1933), Nicolson

(1939), Niebuhr (1940), Schwarzenberger (1941),
Wight (1946), Morgenthau (1948),

Kennan (1951), and Butterfield (1953) formed
part of the realist canon. It was, however,

Morgenthau’s Politics Among Nations: The
Struggle for Power and Peace

, which became the undisputed standard bearer
for political realism, going through six editions between 1948 and 1985. (Martin Griffiths, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

   The core of both classical and
neorealist theory is the balance of power which seeks to explain alliance
formation. as a result of neorealist idea of anarchism which is the outcome of
international system, states must ensure their survival through maintaining or
raising the event of an attack by a hegemon, states try to prohibit a potential
hegemon from arising by balancing against it. According to Kenneth Waltz,
founder of neorealism, balance of power political dominate wherever two and
only two requirements are met which are first the order be anarchic and that it
be populated by units wishing to survive which can be done either through
internal balancing, where a state uses internal efforts such as moving to
improve economic capability, developing clever strategies and increasing
military strength. Second by external balancing, this occurs when states take
external measures to improve security by forming allies. States happy with
their place in the system known as “status quo” states, while those
seeking to alter the balance of power in their favor are generally referred to
revisionist states and aspire for hegemony , thus repairing the balance. (
Burchil , 2009).

Political realists are often described as moralists which by any means must
be used to support the national interest, but a poignant criticism is that the
meaning of morality is being entangled to suggest that acting in one’s own or
one’s nation’s interests is immoral or amoral at best. This is considered to be
unfair claim against serving one’s national interest, just as saying that any
self-serving action is necessarily immoral on the personal level. The
discussion mentions the ethics of impartiality, those who believe in a
universal code of ethics argue that a self-serving action that cannot be universalized
is immoral. However, universalism is not the only standard of ethical actions.
also it can be claimed , should play a role in ethical decisions, partiality
deem to absurd that state officials should not give their own nation greater moral
weight over other nations. (Berki, 1981)

To
start with, many parts related to the on-going conflict in Syria can be shown
through looking at Realist theory. The centrepiece of this perspective is the
concept of ‘statism’, which means that “the state is the pre-eminent actor and
all other actors in world politics are of lesser significance” (Dunne &
Schmidt, 2008: 103). Realists consider that states have the highest authority
in the international system, given the condition of anarchy (Steans &
Pettiford, 2005: 49). States form the bodies of other actors, such as
International Organizations, thus they have influence on the actions of the
latter. For instance, Russia, along with China, as permanent members of the
Security Council, vetoed three UN resolutions that aimed to sanction the Syrian
regime and cease violence. Accordingly, these states had the influence to block
United Nations support of foreign military intervention in Syria. The Russian
political class places great importance on sovereignty and it illustrates this
view by supporting Damascus. Through its decisions, “the Kremlin is telling the
world that neither the UN, nor any other body or group of countries has the
right to decide who should or should not govern a sovereign state” (BBC News,
2012).

 

To conclude, many students of International Politics stopped believing
in realism when, toward the end of the last century, a number came to think
that they could believe in anything. as an outcome, theoretical
pluralism-something surely to be welcomed, in order to keep us all honest was
gained at the expense, oft-times, of scholarly engagement with both the
established great thinkers in our discipline and the great issues of peace and war being
played out in the arena of world politics: the daily and historic drama of who
gets what, when, and how across the globe.

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