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Major Theories of International Relations

The nature of things is, I admit, a sturdy adversary.


Edmund Burke, Select Works of Edmund Burke: The Letters on a Regicide Peace

The secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible.
Bertrand Russell

Maybe we should always assume the worst.


Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.


Jack Welch

We need realism to deal with reality.


Slick Rick

Realism or political realism has been the dominant theory of international relations since the conception of the discipline.

REALISM
Early realism can be characterized as a reaction against interwar idealist thinking.

Realism makes several key assumptions. Secondly, it assumes


It assumes that nation-states are unitary, geographically-based actors in an anarchic internati onal system with no authority above capable of regulating interactions between states as no true authoritative world government exists.

that sovereign states, rather than IGOs, or NGOs, are the primary actors in international affairs.

Realism holds that in pursuit of their interests, states will attempt to amass resources, and that relations between states are determined by their relative levels of power.

A D V O C A T E S

George Bellows

Robert Henri

Style and philosophy


Classical Realism is a state level theory that argues that all states seek power.

A D V O C A T E S

Hans Morgenthau

Carl Von Clausewitz

NEOCLASSICAL REALISM
It is a combination of classical realist and neorealist particularly defensive realist theories.

Neoclassical realism holds that the actions of a state in the international system can be explained by systemic variables such as the distribution of power capabilities among states as well as cognitive variables such as the perception and misperception of systemic pressures, other states' intentions, or threats and domestic variables such as state institutions, elites, and societal actors within society affecting the power and freedom of action of the decisionmakers in foreign policy.

Appropriate balancing occurs when a state correctly perceives another state's intentions and balances accordingly.

Inappropriate balancing or overbalancing occurs when a state incorrectly perceives another state as threatening, and uses too many resources than it needs to in order to balance. This causes an imbalance.
Nonbalancing occurs when a state avoids balancing through buck passing, bandwagoning, or other escapes. A state may choose to do this for a number of reasons, including an inability to balance.

Underbalancing occurs when a state fails to balance, out of either inefficiency or incorrectly perceiving a state as less of threat than it actually is. This causes an imbalance.

A D V O C A T E S

William Wohlforth

Thomas J. Christensen

STRATEGIC REALISM
Focuses centrally on foreign policy decisionmaking.

There are two types of games:


Zero-sum game/situation can be identified as the game of pure conflict. There is no cooperation at all. A gain by another party is seen as a loss by the opponent.

Mixed motive games/situations use psychological criteria. In these games, the assumption is pure conflict is dropped and the players face outcomes where they can both lose or both win if they coordinate and cooperate. A classical mixed motive game is known as the Prisoners Dilemma and another one is called the Chicken game.

A D V O C A T E S

Thomas Schelling

Niccolo Machiavelli

Stability Theory
Hegemonic stability theory is a subset of realism.

A hegemon is a country that is much more powerful than all of the nations in the international system. When a hegemon exists, the balance of power is said to be unipolar .

Only hegemons can afford to create international organizations because only they can finance them.

There are four distinct phases during its leadership:


Global War- Global war does not have to be a war in the traditional sense--it could also be a trade war large enough to significantly change the world's economy. World Leadership- In this phase, the winner of the war establishes international organizations Deligitimation- During this phase, the hegemon begins to lose power and rising states challenge its authority to lead. Establishes international organizations. Deconcentration- The world leader uses force to maintain its domination.

NEOREALISM
Largely within the American political science tradition, seeks to reformulate the classical realist tra dition .

is a theory of international relations.

Shuns classical realism's use of often essentialist concepts such as "human nature" to explain international politics.

Holds that the international structure is defined by its ordering principle, which is anarchy, and by the distribution of capabilities, measured by the number of great powers within the international system.

A D V O C A T E S

Robert J. Art

Joseph Grieco

A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.

Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.

Liberalism can only be defined negatively. It is a mere critique, not a living idea.

Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved.

LIBERALISM
is one of the main schools of international relations theory.

Its roots lie in the broader liberal thought originating in the Enlightenment.

The central issues that it seeks to address are the problems of achieving lasting peace and cooperation in international relations, and the various methods that could contribute to their achievement.

ADVOCATE
John Locke

SOCIOLOGICAL LIBERALISM

is an international relations theory.

It is critical of realist theory which it sees as too state-centric.

Sociological liberals see international relations in terms of relationships between people, groups and organizations in different countries.

A D V O C A T E S

John Bordley Rawls

Guido De Ruggiero

INSTITUTIONAL LIBERALISM
is modern theory of international relations which claims that international institutions such as the United Nations, NATO and the European Union can increase and aid cooperation between states.

The theory can be compared to idealism, the international relations theory which emerged after the First World War when the League of Nations was founded.

REPUBLICAN LIBERALISM
is an international relations theory which claims that liberal democracies are more peaceful than other states.

This is explained as a result of the existence of similar domestic political cultures, common moral values, economic cooperation and interdependence.

A D V O C A T E S

Richard Rosecrance

Colin Powell

REPUBLICAN LIBERALISM

is an international relations theory which claims that liberal democracies are more peaceful than other states.

This is explained as a result of the existence of similar domestic political cultures, common moral values, economic cooperation and interdependence.

ADVOCATE
Marcus Tullius Cicero

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