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The Theoretical Foundations of Global Governance - Realism


Definition 1. The attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly. 2. The view that the subject matter of politics is political power, not matters of principle. Realism Realism theory is based on the assumption that: 1. Individuals are generally power-hungry, and 2. They act in a rational way to protect their own interests.

Realists Concept of State 1. States are primary actors; 2. States act in a unitary way (state is the unit in IR); and

3. States protect their own interest generally defined in terms of maximizing power and security; 4. States co-exist in an anarchic international system (no authoritative hierarchy); 5. States must rely primarily on themselves to protect themselves; (7th Fleet / China will not come!); 6. States do so through balance of power (treaties) and deterrence and (conventional and nuclear). Realists and Morality 1. Realists believe that no rules or norms that restrain a state; 2. Hans Morgenthau said in Politics Among Nations, normative systems keep aspirations for power within socially tolerable bounds morality mores and law intervene in order to protect society against disruption and the individual against enslavement and extinction. (Hindutva) 3. John Mearsheimer has argued, The most powerful states in the system create and shape institutions so that they can maintain their share of world power, or even increase it. (IMF) 4. Realists do not acknowledge the importance or strength of nonstate actors such as NGOs and MNCs. Neorealism or Structural Realism 1. The core difference between the traditional realists and neorealists lies in the emphasis placed on the structure of the international system. 2. The neorealists do not accept any overarching authority. They would rather have anarchy than an order or an international system based on a principle.

3. They do believe in distribution of power among states under fixed concepts. There would either be a balance of power (12:12) or a hierarchy of relations between states of unequal power (12:6:3:2:1 etc.). 4. What matters are states material capabilities (instruments of war and means of delivering a large dose of lethal power L. B. Johnson). 5. The order does not emerge from state actions or from international institutions (UN) but from the system structure. 6. The possibilities of international cooperation are therefore slim in this atmosphere of counting relative gains. Unlike the neoliberals, the neorelists do not say actors with common interests will maximize their gains. Basic question seems to be, Who will gain more? (Pak-India trade) 7. These relative gains are more critical in security matters than in economic issues. While a neorelist may be liberal with dollars, he would punish a non-compliance from an ally in security matters severely. 8. Neorelists believe that the importance of international institutions has been grossly exaggerated. John T. Mearsheimer had said in 1994 that American reliance on such institutions was apt to lead to more failures. 9. Since anarchy fuels insecurity, states are wary of becoming too dependent on others, preferring greater control and increased capabilities. (Pakistans independent approach to war on terror in Afghanistan-Pakistan in an environment of heightened insecurity). Criticism of Neorealism

1. Neorealism does not explain system change. If system was rigid and immune to state interaction, then how did it get influenced and changed? 2. Neorelism does not take into account variables other than the structure of international system. Strategic or Rational Choice Theory 1. This theory assumes that preferences are deduced from objective and material conditions of the state. 2. In case of incomplete information or too high transaction cost, international institutions and organizations may play a role. 3. States fear being left behind. They want to join the bandwagon even when it is not directly in their best interest (Gruber 2000). 4. State actions are based on calculations based on estimates of others capabilities and likely intentions. 5. States use international institutions to further their national goals. States design international institutions accordingly. Membership rules, scope of issues covered, rules for controlling an institution, and flexibility of arrangements are therefore products of rational design considerations. 6. States see international designs (of the institutions) as rational, negotiated responses to the problems. Hence they conform to the decisions of international institutions. (NAFATA when raised, conformed to the rules of GATT). (States accept inspections demanded by NPT). 7. Unlike some other theories, power is not a central consideration in Rational Choice Theory. Hegemonic

Presentation 29 Sep 2011 1. Ameer Abdullah 2. Mr Azam 3. Shiraz