Dr. Tabakian’s Political Science 7
Modern World Governments – Spring/Fall 2014
Supplemental Power Point Material #4
LECTURE HIGHLIGHTS (1)
Nation-State’s Primary Goal: Survival
Power Theory As Natural Motivator
Balance Of Power
Assumptions Of Realism & Idealism
LECTURE HIGHLIGHTS (2)
The International System
Anarchy & Sovereignty
Balance Of Power
Great Powers & middle Powers
The Great Power System, 1500-2000
LECTURE HIGHLIGHTS (3)
Alliances & Purposes Of Alliances
NATO & NATO Expansion
American Response To Terrorism
SURVIVAL IS THE GOAL
Robert L. Pfaltzgraff defines the national interest as, “…ultimately
the prudent use of power to safeguard those interests most vital to
the survival of the nation-state.” Through a study of history, realists
by studying history, realists are able to produce a generalization
about what certain preconditions have to exist for a nation-state to
pursue policies of aggression to secure their nation-interest. Nationstates pursue their individual national-interests on a never-ending
basis, which in turn leads to a stable international system.
Defenders of a competitive security system suggest that states are
forever striving to increase their security in relation to that of other
states. This would entail ego’s gain as alter’s loss and as a result is
prone to security dilemmas. In a cooperative security system, states
equate the security of each as a contribution to the collective good.
National interests are seen to bolster international interests.
There is no legitimate authority above the state. This results in
the world being anarchical rather than hierarchical as what is
commonly observed within individual states. Hedley Bull
describes the interstate system as an anarchical society, which
is another way of describing the chaotic system of interstate
relations that currently exists. Realism was the dominant theory
during the Cold War that saw international relations as states
constantly vying for power among other self-interested states. It
is generally pessimistic about the international system leaving
this state of anarchy for in their view conflict and war will always
remain a factor in world affairs. Realism explained alliances,
imperialism and the resistance to cooperation through the lens
of power theory. A fundamental example that realists cite is the
constant competitive struggle of the American-Soviet rivalry
during the Cold War.
REALIST CONCEPTION OF
E. H. Carr argues that there exist two opposite poles of utopian
feelings of right and realist conceptions of force. There is a need
for a combination of both utopia and reality so that society can
come to a favorable compromise between power and morality.
Politics and law is viewed as a ‘meeting place’ for ethics and
power where both can come together in order to facilitate
continued progress towards a utopian society. Classical realists
like Thomas Hobbes, Reinhold Niebuhr and Hans Morgenthau
argued that egoism and power politics stemmed from human
nature. Structural realists or neo-realists stressed anarchy instead
of human nature. Kenneth Walt stated that anarchy allows conflict
to brew as “wars occur because there is nothing to prevent them”.
He goes on to infer that it is the actions of predator states whose
behavior is fostered from human nature or its domestic politics
that forces other states to respond in kind if they are to survive.
OFFENSE / DEFENSE THEORY
Offense-defense theory was (1) by Robert Jervis, George
Quester and Stephen Van Ever. The theory stresses that wars
come about more frequently when states see others as being
too weak to defend against attack. Better defenses served to
preserve the peace as it became more costly to attack another
state for the benefits that would be derived would not outpace
the costs associated with an offensive strike. These defensive
realists saw states as merely wanting to survive in an anarchic
world where if need be great states could be depended upon to
guarantee the security of weaker states through the construction
of security guarantees. Defensive military postures were further
strengthened with the acclimation of nuclear forces that were
utilized to deter offensive attacks for the cost of doing so would
OFFENSE / DEFENSE THEORY
Kenneth Waltz’s assertion that the United States benefited from
possessing a robust nuclear deterrent fits into the offensedefense theory assertion that a super strong defense protects a
nation from offensive threats. This has led realism to strive
forward optimistically away from Morgenthau’s seemingly dark
assertions of human nature. If it were truly human nature to
engage in conflict solely for the purpose of acquiring power then
nuclear weapons would not serve as such a strong deterrent as
the Cold War has demonstrated. Defensive realists like Van
Evera claim that war is today seen by the great powers as rarely
profitable. Evera further states that war is brought forth from
militarism, hypernationalism, or other domestic factors that over
exaggerate potential threats or exaggerate their military capacity.
Offensive realists like John J. Mearsheimer believe that great
powers are forced into competitive actions for anarchy is reality.
REALISM – BALANCE OF POWER
Realists affirm that power can serve to deter threats, but too much
power can force other actors to respond harshly, sparking a
‘security dilemma’, which is a situation when actors begin
pursuing more power, resulting in an environment that is less
safe. Realists, especially classical realists are assumed to be warmongering theorists that are only concerned with acquiring more
power. This is not the case at all as most of the school are
actually cautious, humble, favoring alliances and multilateralism.
Hans Morgenthau states that, “Political realism refuses to identify
the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws
that govern the universe.” This assumes that realists do not think
in terms of righting wrongs, but only in terms of power in all its
forms including is acquisition, preservation and maintaining the
balance of power. Realism promotes the balancing of state power.
REALISM – RELATIVE GAINS
Realism does not discount the possibility of cooperation between
states. Two concerns are listed as inhibiting cooperation: relativegains consideration and concerns about cheating. As states are
concerned with balances of power, they are more likely to be
motivated by relative gains when presented with opportunities to
cooperate with other actors. Joseph Grieco and Stephen Krasner
argue that the anarchical system forces states to favor relative
instead of absolute gains. States are always focused on acquiring
more power than other actors. Relative gains assures a given state
that acquired gains are at the expense of other actors, thus allowing
them to be more powerful. This produces short-term gains that
forego any greater long-term potential for the international system.
Absolute gains serves to “lift all boats”, or in other words produce
greater long-term gains for all participant actors.
REALISM – MUTUAL
Both the US and the Soviets have acted irrationally at the same
time, threatening to use nuclear weapons, while at the same
time assuming that the other side would remain rational and not
provoke the situation. This actually happened during the Berlin
crises, including other successive events, yet there has never
been a nuclear strike launched between the two superpowers.
Deterrence has worked because neither side really knew what
the other side was thinking. A problem with deterrence is that
the more times bluffs are made it may lead to a time when
someone is going to make the call. At this point there are only
three alternatives: resort to nuclear war, retreat, resort to
conventional war. Realists argue that the struggle for power
remains constant in the international system. The only variable
is the makeup of the balance of power. This may be bipolar, or
multipolar, which in turn determines whether war or peace.
NEO-REALISM / REALISM (1)
Classical realism focuses on human nature, whereas
neorealism has taken this assumption and applied it the existing
anarchic realm of “self-interested, competitive, mutually
suspicious and antagonistic states.” Neo-realism sees the
international political system as one unit with interconnecting
linkages existing between structural and units. In contrast to old
realism’s contention that human nature is the drive for selfinterest, neo-realists looks at the entire system to understand
how single actors, or states, base their actions. States are seen
as individual units that pursue their self-interests with the most
important one being their survival. Kenneth Waltz suggests that
neo-realism’s definition of the international system being the
structure of study represents its break with classical realism.
Neorealists also state that states want to enhance their security
and not power as argued by realists.
NEO-REALISM / REALISM (2)
Kenneth Waltz contends that neo-realism is markedly different from
traditional realism in four customs:
1. Neo-realism accepts the international system as being the
determining factor guiding state action;
2. Neo-realism can alter causal relations;
3. Neo-realism defines power differently; and
4. Neo-realism handles units in another fashion.
Realists see the world as that of interacting states, whereas neorealists can only study interacting states by first differentiating
structural-unit level causes and effects. Realists may think of
causes going in one direction, from the interacting states to the
outcome produced. Neo-realists in turn look at the entire structure
that serves as a conduit shuttling gives and takes between states.
Outcomes can affect how a state bases its policies for instance.
NEO-REALISM / REALISM (3)
Neo-realists like Kenneth Waltz dismissed human nature as a
catalyst for state action. He focused instead on the international
system and argued that the anarchic situation was a byproduct of
competing states seeking to preserve their national interests, which
was primarily survival. This led states to accept self-help as its
primary method for protecting its primary national interest. There is
no legitimate authority above the state. This has caused weaker
states to join together in order to serve as an effective balance
against stronger states. Waltz argued that weaker states might be
tempted to bandwagon, or join with more powerful states if after a
cost-benefit analysis that it served their best interest. Contrary to
Morgenthau, he claimed that bipolarity would preserve international
stability more so than multipolarity. Realists are prone to equate the
power of a state according to its military capacity. Neo-realists are
prone to take into consideration all of the capabilities in possession of
Utopian theories of the interwar period were discredited primarily
because of its normative bias towards international law, organization
and collective security as a means to construct a balance of power
that would forever maintain equilibrium of peaceful relations between
nation-states. Woodrow Wilson accepted the fate of his utopian
dream as it was fully discredited by political scientists following the
failure of the United States to fully participate in the League of
Nations. Diplomacy has its limits. Without the threat of force,
diplomacy collapses. Robert L. Pfaltzgraff details why normative
theory by itself has failed to adequately explain why countries or its
leaders tend to result to conflict or using force to solve problems that
a moralist would rather deal with diplomatically. Ken Booth presents
utopian realism as more of an “…attitude of mind than a ‘theory’ with
powers of explanation and prediction. But it is based upon both
normative (‘utopian’) and empirical (‘realist’) theories.”
Based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or
ethical objectives, foreign policy maintains the advancement of the
national interest as its sole principle. Realpolitik, an extreme
variation of realism makes no excuses for its disallowance of
morality as a factor in determining foreign policy. Such foreign
policy is based solely on calculations of power and the national
interest foremost, avoiding armament races and war if only the
major players of an international system are free to adjust their
relations in accordance to changing circumstances or are
restrained by a system of shared values or both. Hegemony
accords the international community with stability, thus avoiding
anarchy through its willingness to supersede its interests for those
of a hegemonic power. Thus, it remains a given that a Hegemon’s
foreign policy be conditioned in a high level of foresight, restraint
and maturity to quell any likelihood of international instability by
maintaining its power hold.
BALANCE OF POWER
Theorists of the school of International Relations see the
international system as consisting of a balance of power structure.
This has preserved the existence of the modern state system for
over 400 years following the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ War in
1648. States understand that conflict or cooperation is an integral
part of the state of nature in the international system. The number
of actors within the system and the distribution of power among
participants affects this balance of power.
Three traditions reign prominently in international affairs:
1. Realism focuses on the anarchic situation facing states and
that conflict will always remain a distinct possibility.
2. Liberalism serves to identify ways that these conflictive
tendencies may be reduced or eliminated.
3. The radical tradition serves to propose methods to transform
the entire world that may not coincide with conventional
Hegemony is the net result of an absence of counterbalancing
actors in relation to that of a superpower. However, it remains
to be determined what future outcomes may be brought about
with respect to a previous counterbalancing superpower state
seeking respectability as a counterbalance to a Hegemon.
Hegemony accords the international community with stability,
thus avoiding anarchy through its willingness to supersede its
interests for those of a hegemonic power. Thus, it remains a
given that a Hegemon’s foreign policy be conditioned in a high
level of foresight, restraint and maturity to quell any likelihood of
international instability by maintaining its power hold. The
United States is a hegemonic power that currently enjoys
majority power over its peers in the international community.
POWER THEORY (1)
To exert power one must first possess adequate reserves to draw
upon. This is defined simply as “capacity of power”. Achieving higher
positions is dependent on various factors that may include: education;
wealth; profession; charisma and other talents either developed or
engrained from birth. This “capacity of power” is not determined
according to a single resource, ability or possession. It is instead a
combination of different variables that serve to make up the individual.
This is just like a battery consisting of energy resources drawn upon
when it comes time to draw power in order to achieve a set objective.
Just like a battery powering a flashlight so does one’s individual
“capacity of power” serve to assist one in achieving a set goal or in
this case influencing or affecting political behavior to maintain, expand
or protect one’s standing in order to survive in society.
POWER THEORY (2)
Our example of “capacity of power” is applicable to
individual capacity of power and all associations up to
the nation state as all combined units consist of
individuals pursuing their set of priorities or self-interest
that is in turn based on survival. Drawing upon these
reserves allows one to pursue agendas of self-interest.
Power is the ultimate pursuit, as the ultimate goal of
humanity is survival. Individual participants in pursuit of
these goals join together in common pursuits under the
umbrella of common interest. These resulting “spheres
of interest” in turn join under broader umbrellas that
also offer another distinct set of common goals that in
turn competes with respective peers.
POWER THEORY (3)
Power equals resources (capacity of power) times compliance
squared, divided by force. Every accounting of power theory is
taken into consideration in the construction of this formula. We
have explored the contention that the pursuit of self-interest
encourages man to engage in political behavior. This serves as
the foundation for rational choice theory, which in turn has led us
to power theory. One may argue that the pursuit of power
maintains the never ending cycle of political: conflict; compromise;
alliances; and wars.
POWER THEORY (4)
Many have countered this argument with a direct assault on the
statement that “there is no morality in politics”. These critics are
both right and wrong. It is true that morality has no direct
correlation with political science if the pursuit of self-interests and
power resources maintains utmost priority. On the other hand
they may be correct if one party sells their pursuit as a moral
cause in order to achieve their agenda. For example, one may
argue that good may come from conflict even if it leads to the
destruction of a nation-state and the slaughtering of thousands or
millions of people if the seed of democracy is planted and
nurtured to maturity.
THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM
• States interact within a set of longestablished “rules of the game” governing
what is considered a state and how states
treat each other.
ANARCHY & SOVEREIGNTY (1)
• Realists believe the international system exists
in a state of anarchy.
– Term implies the lack of a central government
that can enforce rules.
– World government as a solution?
– Others suggest international organizations
• Despite anarchy, the international system is far
– Great majority of state interactions closely
adhere to norms of behavior.
ANARCHY & SOVEREIGNTY (2)
• Sovereignty: A government has the right, in
principle, to do whatever it wants in its own
• Lack of a “world police” to punish states if they
break an agreement makes enforcement of
international agreements difficult.
• In practice, most states have a harder and
harder time warding off interference in their
ANARCHY & SOVEREIGNTY (3)
• Respect for the territorial integrity of all states, within
recognized borders, is an important principle of IR.
– Impact of information revolution/information
economies and the territorial state system.
• States and norms of diplomacy.
• Security dilemma.
– A situation in which states’ actions taken to
ensure their own security threaten the security of
• Arms race.
• Negative consequence of anarchy in the
BALANCE OF POWER (1)
• Refers to the general concept of one or more
states’ power being used to balance that of
another state or group of states.
• Balance of power can refer to:
– Any ratio of power capabilities between states
– Or it can mean only a relatively equal ratio.
– Alternatively, it can refer to the process by
which counterbalancing coalitions have
repeatedly formed in history to prevent one
state from conquering an entire region.
BALANCE OF POWER (2)
• Theory of balance of power:
– Counterbalancing occurs regularly and maintains
stability of the international system.
– Does not imply peace, but rather a stability
maintained by means of recurring wars that
adjust power relations
– Alliances are key:
• Quicker, cheaper, and more effective than
building one’s own capabilities.
– States do not always balance against the
GREAT POWERS & MIDDLE
• The most powerful states in the system
exert most of the influence on international
events and therefore get the most
attention from IR scholars.
– Handful of states possess the majority of the
world’s power resources.
GREAT POWERS & MIDDLE
• Great powers are generally considered the half-dozen or
so most powerful states.
– Until the past century, the club was exclusively
– Defined generally as states that can be defeated
militarily only by another great power.
– Generally have the world’s strongest military forces
and the strongest economies.
• U.S., China, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, and
• U.S. the world’s only superpower.
• China the world’s largest population, rapid
economic growth and a large military, with a
credible nuclear arsenal.
GREAT POWERS & MIDDLE
• Middle Powers:
– Rank somewhat below the great powers.
– Some are large but not highly industrialized.
– Others may be small with specialized capabilities.
– Examples: midsized countries such as Canada,
Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine,
South Korea, and Australia, or larger or influential
countries in the global South such as India,
Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria, South
Africa, Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan.
POWER DISTRIBUTION (1)
• The concept of the distribution of power among
states in the international system.
– Can apply to all the states in the world or to just one
• Neorealism, or structural realism
– 1990s adaptation of realism.
– Explains patterns of international events in terms of
the system structure (distribution of power) rather
than the internal makeup of individual states.
– Neoclassical realists.
POWER DISTRIBUTION (2)
• Polarity refers to the number of independent power
centers in the system.
– Multipolar system: Has five or six centers of
power, which are not grouped into alliances.
– Tripolar system: With three great centers of
– Unipolar system: Has a single center of power
around which all others revolve (hegemony).
• Power transition theory:
– Holds that the largest wars result from challenges
to the top position in the status hierarchy, when a
rising power is surpassing or threatening to
surpass the most powerful state.
• Is the holding of one state of most of the
power in the international system.
• Can dominate the rules and arrangements
by which international political and
economic relations are conducted.
• This type of state is a hegemon.
• Hegemonic stability theory:
– Holds that hegemony provides some order similar
to a central government in the international
system: reducing anarchy, deterring aggression;
promoting free trade, and providing a hard
currency that can be used as a world standard.
– After WWII – U.S. hegemony.
– Hegemons have an inherent interest in the
promotion of integrated world markets.
• U.S. ambivalence
– Internationalist versus isolationist moods.
– Unilateralism versus multilateralism.
THE GREAT-POWER SYSTEM, 15002000 (1)
• Treaty of Westphalia, 1648:
– Rules of state relations.
– Originated in Europe in the 16th century.
– Key to this system was the ability of one
state, or a coalition, to balance the power
of another state so it could not gobble up
smaller units and create a universal
THE GREAT-POWER SYSTEM, 15002000 (2)
• Most powerful states in 16th-century Europe were
Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, and Spain.
– Ottoman Empire
– Impact of industrialization
– Napoleonic Wars
– Congress of Vienna (1815)
– Concert of Europe
– UN Security Council
– WW I
– WW II and after
• A coalition of states that coordinate their
actions to accomplish some end.
– Most are formalized in written treaties.
– Concern a common threat and related
issues of international security.
– Endure across a range of issues and a
period of time.
PURPOSES OF ALLIANCES
• Augmenting their members’ power:
– By pooling capabilities, two or more states can exert
greater leverage in their bargaining with other states.
– For smaller states, alliances can be their most important
– But alliances can change quickly and decisively.
– Most form in response to a perceived threat.
• Alliance cohesion:
– The ease with which the members hold together an
– Tends to be high when national interests converge and
when cooperation within the alliance becomes
institutionalized and habitual.
• Burden sharing:
– Who bears the cost of the alliance
• One of the most important formal alliances.
• North Atlantic Treaty Organization:
– Encompasses Western Europe and North America.
– Founded in 1949 to oppose and deter Soviet power in
– Countered by the Warsaw Pact (1955); disbanded in 1991.
– First use of force by NATO was in Bosnia in 1994 in
support of the UN mission there.
• European Union formed its own rapid deployment force,
• Biggest issue for NATO is its recent and eastward expansion,
beyond the East-West Cold War dividing line.
– Russian opposition.
• U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty:
– U.S. maintains nearly 50,000 troops in Japan.
– Japan pays the U.S. several billion dollars
annually to offset about half the cost of
maintaining these troops.
– Created in 1951 against the potential Soviet
threat to Japan.
– Asymmetrical in nature
• U.S. has alliances with other states: South Korea
• De facto allies of the U.S.: those with whom we
collaborate closely – Israel.
• Commonwealth Of Independent States (CIS).
REGIONAL ALIGNMENTS (1)
• In the global South, many states joined a
nonaligned movement during the Cold War.
– Stood apart from the U.S.-Soviet rivalry.
– Led by India and Yugoslavia.
• Undermined by the membership of Cuba
• Organization of African Unity.
REGIONAL ALIGNMENTS (2)
• China loosely aligned with Pakistan in opposition to India
(which was aligned with the Soviet Union).
– Relationships with India warmed after the Cold War ended.
• Middle East: General anti-Israel alignment of the Arab
countries for decades.
– Broke down in 1978 as Egypt and Jordan made peace
– Israel and war with Hezbollah and Hamas.
– Israel and Turkey formed a close military alliance.
– Israel largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.
– Bush administration: emphasis on spreading democracy.
STRATEGY: STATECRAFT (1)
• The art of managing state affairs and
effectively maneuvering in a world of power
politics among sovereign states.
• Key aspect of strategy: What kinds of
capabilities to develop, given limited
resources, in order to maximize international
– Example of China
STRATEGY: STATECRAFT (2)
– Uses a threat to punish another actor if it
takes a certain negative action.
– Refers to the use of force to make another
actor take some action (rather than refrain
from taking an action).
• Arms race:
– A reciprocal process in which two (or more)
states build up military capabilities in
response to each other.
• Most realists assume that those who wiled power
while engaging in statecraft behave as rational
• Two implications for IR:
– Implies that states and other international actors
can identify their interests and put priorities on
• National interest.
– Implies that actors are able to perform a costbenefit analysis – calculating the costs incurred
by a possible action and the benefits it is likely to
There is no legitimate authority above that of a nationstate. Survival is the ultimate goal. Nations are known
to pursue policies of necessity, though it may cause
international concern. Engaging in defensive weapon
capabilities may be seen as offensive by another
nation-state. In March of 1983 President Reagan
proposed that the United States develop an antiballistic missile defense system. The system, often
derisively described as Reagan’s “Star Wars” plan,
was an ambitious attempt to create a large-scale
shield against nuclear missile attacks.
The proposal was very controversial
as it depended on untried technology,
would be very expensive, and might
be viewed by the Soviet Union as an
effort to protect the United States so
that it could launch an initial strike
against the Soviet Union without fear
of massive retaliation. This footage
consists of two parts. First, we have
Reagan’s proposal. The second part
consists of a series of excerpts from
an NBC News report on Reagan’s
speech and the controversy it
It is the responsibility of every
national leader to pursue policies
that are in their national interest.
Survival is the ultimate pursuit of
man (and woman). One can only
depend on oneself in a world
“wrought with anarchy”. America’s
enemies also engage national
defense policies that threaten our
national security. Do nations like Iran
have the right to develop nuclear
weapons and the means to deliver a
warhead? Enjoy this video example.
THE PRISONER’S DILEMMA
• Game theory
– Zero-sum games
• One player’s gain is by definition equal to the
– Non-zero-sum games
• It is possible for both players to gain (or lose)
• Prisoner’s Dilemma
– Rational players chose moves that produce an
outcome in which all players are worse off than
under a different set of moves.
– They all could do better, but as individual rational
actors they are unable to achieve this outcome.
– Applications to the study of International Relations.
911 introduced the world to
“Asymmetrical Warfare” - Using
the resources of a nation state to
attack its institutions. This is a
September 11, 2001. What caused
the nation to come together? How
international support? Did we
overspend the goodwill bestowed
by our international peers?
On September 14, 2001, President
George W. Bush visit rescue workers
where New York World Trade Center once
stood. He remarked, "I'm shocked at the
size of the devastation, It's hard to
describe what it's like to see the gnarled
steel and broken glass and twisted
buildings silhouetted against the smoke. I
said that this was the first act of war on
America in the 21st century, and I was
right, particularly having seen the scene.“
911 forever changed American Foreign
Policy and introduced the concept of
“preemption”. This is the policy of striking
another nation-state or other entity before
them initiate their attack.
“Asymmetrical Warfare” - Using the
resources of a nation state to attack its
institutions. A sudden outpouring of
community, even from nation-states
originally hostile to the United States
was the norm. This showing of support
was before the United States began to
implement its new policy of preemption.
The author of this video is anonymous. It
is titled “Global Compassion”. Does the
United States still maintain the degree of
heartfelt international support today?
Why or why not?