Realist Approaches To Security Essay

2532 words - 10 pages

Security is not so much the study of security but instead it is the study of insecurity, and more importantly, how to prevent it. A state may become insecure for many reasons: geographic location, poor economy, natural disaster, declining population etcetera. But what does these examples entail in concrete terms? Realists argue that all these areas of insecurity are in effect weaknesses in power. Power stands at the pivotal point between the nations with a high level of security and those that are struggling to keep their heads above water. According to realists, security can be measured in terms of power, specifically military power. In the following essay I will discuss the aspects of realism that apply to security and the counter arguments that challenge realism as well.The foundation of the realist approach to security stems from a study of history. When certain constants could be ascertained that were not subject to particular circumstances or situations they made up the basis for realist security theories. Realist theories focus on the importance of power and human naturefs unrelenting hunger for it. Realists describe the international system as anarchic as there is no supranational structure to govern over the individual sovereign units of the world. States are essentially able to act as they wish, as there is no absolute sovereign power to restrict them. The nation-state represents the individual unit in the international system. States are only constrained by the effects of the actions of other states. There is no decided process by which to resolve international conflicts and states reserve the capacity to use force, if they are so endowed, to further their own interest. The result of this is that states are constantly at risk from forceful advances by other states. Therefore in order to maintain a decent level of security a state must constantly be prepared to retaliate with force in order to protect its national interests.National interest being central to the realist argument it follows that a nations self- interest is not always in the best interest of others. In fact, realists argue that most often what is one nationfs gain is anotherfs loss. States are primarily devoted to gself-helph. Agreements and treaties are bound to be broken because states will always put national interests first when the going gets tough. The international system is made up of selfish strangers that cannot be trusted and when it comes down to it one can only rely on onefs self. Vulnerability and a nationfs ability to protect itself from its neighbors is often heavily influenced by factors such as geographic location, demographics, and other geopolitical issues. These factors can strengthen a nation or leave it susceptible to attack. A countryfs geographic location determines its strategic positioning, not to mention its natural resources.Hans Morgenthau maintains that an important point to take into consideration when considering the realist perspective is...

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