Presentation on theme: "Neo-Realism: a structural theory of IR"— Presentation transcript:
1 Neo-Realism: a structural theory of IR Kenneth Waltz: Theory of International Politics, 1979.Connection with real life: a critique of Carter’s foreign policy and an intellectual platform for Reagan’s foreign policy.
2 Key AssumptionsWaltz shares key assumptions with classical realism: sovereignty, statism and self-help.Innovation: international politics works like the market. This means that ‘human nature’ based explanations should be dismissed. Also, explanations based on the nature of states should be dismissed.
3 The International System The interactions of states generates systemic pressures that then states have to contend with. Structural theory.It is these constraints that explain the behaviour of states.
4 Key Aspects of Neo-Realism The notion of systemic anarchy.The position of the state in the system determines external behaviour.The position is the product of ‘power’: you can rank states in order of power.The state is a rational and unitary actor.The notion of national interest.Absence of morality.
5 PolarityHow many power centres exist in the system? This determines polarity.Polarity is important because it can help explain how a peaceful stability can be achieved.Mechanism for peace: balance of power. Imbalances are dangerous in a competitive environment.
6 Practical implications Interest-driven policies. Foreign policy becomes a game where countries compete to stay ahead or get ahead.Emphasis is therefore on benefits not morality.Change can only occur through a war which redistributes power around.
7 CriticismThere are two categories of criticism: theoretical and political.Theory-based criticism: anarchy is not an immutable condition, states are not the only relevant actors in the system, notion of sovereignty is questionable.Politics-based criticism: if the principles of world politics are immutable, it legitimises inequality and war. Conservatism as the natural state.