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Chapter

Cover Foreign Policy

2. Realism and foreign policy  

William C. Wohlforth

This chapter considers how familiarity with realist theory improves foreign policy analysis (FPA), focusing on two features of realism that are often in tension with each other: its firm grounding in centuries of real foreign policy practice, and its aspiration to create powerful general theories that help to simplify and explain the international setting in which foreign policy takes place. The chapter begins with a discussion of the main theoretical schools within realism, namely, classical realism, defensive realism, offensive realism, and neoclassical realism, as well as theories within realism: balance of power theory, balance of threat theory, hegemonic stability theory, and power transition theory. It also examines how realism is applied to the analysis and practice of foreign policy and highlights the main pitfalls in applying realist theories to FPA. Finally, it evaluates some guidelines for avoiding those pitfalls and using realist insights to sharpen the analysis of foreign policy.

Chapter

Cover Foreign Policy

22. What kind of power? European Union enlargement and beyond  

Lisbeth Aggestam

This chapter examines the complexity of the European Union as a foreign policy actor by focusing on its so-called Big Bang enlargement. Three of the largest EU members — Britain, France, and Germany — differed in their beliefs about the implications of enlargement for their own national interests, shifts to the existing balance of power within the EU, the impact on the functioning of EU institutions, and the future of the integration process. The chapter first provides an overview of EU foreign policy before discussing the historic decision to enlarge the EU in 2004 and 2007. In particular, it analyses the significance of European norms in reshaping member states’ interests and the supranational role of the European Commission in framing and implementing the decision to enlarge the EU. It also considers the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) as an alternative when the powerful instrument of the EU enlargement is no longer available.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Theories

3. Structural Realism  

John J. Mearsheimer

This chapter examines why states pursue power from the perspective of structural realism. It considers a body of realist theories that argue that states have deep concern for the balance of power and compete among themselves either to gain power at the expense of others, or at least to make sure they do not lose power. This competition for power makes for a dangerous world where states sometimes fight each other. There are, however, important differences among structural realists. The chapter first explains why states want power and how much power they want before discussing the causes of war. These theoretical issues are illuminated with a case study that assesses whether China can rise peacefully according to offensive realism vs. defensive realism. Along the way, concepts such as the security dilemma, offence–defence balance, central war, buck-passing, unipolarity, bipolarity, and multipolarity, and deterrence are analysed.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Since 1945

3. Empire, Cold War, and Decolonization, 1945–53  

This chapter examines decolonization and the changes that took place within the European empires during the early years of the Cold War. Decolonization constituted a crucial element of the new international order after the Second World War and formed part of the broader shift in the global balance of power. The war marked the end of the European-dominated system of nation states and was followed by the decline of the major European powers, with international dominance lying for a quarter of a century with the United States, challenged only by the Soviet Union. The chapter considers the challenges to colonial rule that were evident in both Africa and Asia during the inter-war years. It also discusses the imperialism and the struggles against it that have formed part of a post-war landscape in the Middle East.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

Introduction: US foreign policy—past, present, and future  

Michael Cox and Doug Stokes

This edition provides an account of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. There are at least five broad themes that inform the text. The first is the importance of the past for understanding the present. The second concerns the complex relationship between foreign policy and America’s longer-term goals and interests. Policy makers have assumed that the international order that would best advance American interests would be composed primarily of democratic states, open markets, and self-determining nations. The third theme is the importance of the ‘domestic’ in shaping U.S. foreign policy choices, including factors such as interest groups, the role of institutions, and the power of ideas. The fourth theme relates to the issue of perspective or ‘balance’, and the fifth and final theme refers to the fact that whatever one might think of the United States past, present, or future, it is simply too important to be ignored.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Theories

2. Classical Realism  

Richard Ned Lebow

This chapter examines the central assumptions of classical realism by analysing the texts of ancient and modern writers and contrasting their ideas with neorealism and other variants of modern realism. Classical realism represents an approach to international relations that dates back to Thucydides and his account of the Peloponnesian War. According to classical realists, power plays a major role in politics, but they also acknowledge its limitations and the ways it can be self-defeating. The chapter begins with a discussion of the position of classical realists regarding order and stability, focusing on the views of Thucydides and Hans J. Morgenthau with respect to the concepts of community, balance of power, and interest and justice. It then considers what classical realists think about change and transformation as well as the nature and purpose of theory. It concludes by commenting on the Iraq war in the context of classical realism.

Chapter

Cover International Relations of the Middle East

5. Oil and Political Economy in the International Relations of the Middle East  

Giacomo Luciani

This chapter looks at the role of oil in the political economy and the international relations of the Middle East. Oil is commonly considered a political commodity. Because of its pivotal importance as a primary source of energy, governments are concerned with its continued availability and seek to minimize import dependence. Historically, interest in oil — especially in the United Kingdom and the United States — strongly influenced attitudes towards the Middle East and the formation of the state system in the region, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Oil also affects the power balance within the region. The polarization in the region between oil-rich and oil-poor states is thus an essential tool of analysis. The parallel distinction between rentier and non-rentier states helps to explain how oil affects the domestic political development of the oil-rich states and influences their regional relations.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

3. Realism  

This chapter examines the realist tradition in international relations (IR), which is best seen as a research programme with several approaches using a common starting point. It highlights an important dichotomy in realist thought between classical realism and contemporary realism, including strategic and structural approaches. After describing the elements of realism, the chapter discusses the international thought of three outstanding classical realists of the past: Thucydides, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes. It then analyses the classical realist thought of Hans J. Morgenthau, along with strategic realism, neorealism, and neoclassical realism. Special attention is devoted to the defensive realism of Kenneth Waltz and the offensive realism of John Mearsheimer. Furthermore, the chapter looks at the recent theoretical debate among realist IR scholars concerning the relevance of the balance of power concept and it shows that realists often disagree among themselves. The chapter concludes with an overview of how the different realist theories treat international and domestic factors.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

11. Major Issues in IR: Climate Change, Terrorism, Religion, Power and Hegemony  

This chapter examines four of the most important issues in international relations (IR): climate change, international terrorism, religion, and balance and hegemony in world history. It also considers the different ways in which these issues are analysed by the various theories presented in this book. The chapter begins with a discussion of what the issue is about in empirical terms, the problems raised and why they are claimed to be important, and the relative significance of the issue on the agenda of IR. It then explores the nature of the theoretical challenge that the issues present to IR and how classical and contemporary theories handle the analysis of these issues. The chapter addresses how climate change has become a first order challenge of international relations and IR theories, Samuel Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis, the influence of religion on politics, and how throughout history different state systems have come to equilibrate on either balance of power or hegemony.