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Is A Realist Understanding Of International Relations Still Applicable In The Early Twenty First Century?

1541 words - 6 pages

Essay 1Respond to any one title in no more than 1,500 words.Chosen Title:Is a realist understanding of international relations still applicable in the early twenty first century?In Politics we must act "as if all men are wicked and that they will always give rent to the malignity that is in their hands when opportunity offers" (Machiavelli: 1970 Book 1, Chapter 3) purporting that each state will do what it needs to do in order to survive. This is at the heart of Realism as a theory in that we are selfish beings and each state is always looking out for its people.Regardless of emerging theories in International Relations and variations on existing Theories, Realism remains at the core of understanding International Relations. It symbolizes a traditional path, which highlights the centrality of the state within the world. The theory also embraces the pursuit of national self-interest above all else. Thomas Hobbes and Hans Morgenthau as writers in the field regarded states much like they did people: selfish by nature, reluctant to change and violent. Realism hence tends to be viewed as pessimistic: especially in that conflict is inevitable and it's every state for itself - putting it's own needs ahead of others.Within the latter half of the 20th Century realists have been criticized as being outdated in its explanation of the world that we live in. It appears there are some loops in explaining the world stage through realism and other theories appear to be more accurate and reliable, such as say liberalism, which takes more factors into account. Current theorists are also starting to point towards a liberal school of thought and believe it is now the more dominant player in international relations theory. One example of Realism's critique is that due to the Democratic Peace Theory, Realism is almost left afloat lacking validity.Combining Realism and another theory however, might appear to be more suitable in explaining the world stage (such as with neorealism) backing its credibility and being at the core of understanding international relations.Looking at some of the more core beliefs in Realism, I shall take a look at some of the main principles and their relevance to the world stage today. Within a Realist "state of mind" the state is the only actor that truly matters.The Realist school of thought fits comfortably within international relations in regard to some of the wars we saw in the 20th century. This includes powerful nations possessing a great punch in military force taking aim at another in the name of "making the world a safer place" for us all.The Cold War for example was a great example in this period with two super powers almost brining the world to its knees in a bid to prove more superior to the other. Each nation being as stubborn as the other and not willing to compromise - almost launching missiles at each other to prove their superiority, or perhaps more a feeling of wanting to be safe. The Cold War saw power being used...

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