As described by the realists, there are three main assumptions that determine the nature of the world condition: the only stakeholders that matter in international relations are states, the main responsibility of a policy maker is to create and retain national power under all costs, and the state is above any other central authority. Alternatively, man’s egoistic nature has ensured political rule within states, eliminating any possibility of an international government. This is the main reason of conflict-based model of international relations, where security and power are the main issues of concerning and little space for morality. Consequently, the realist tradition is defined by a set of premises comprising: state actors, security, egoism, anarchy, power and morality.
In international relations, human nature is the origin of realism because of being innately egoistic and self-centered to the extent that self-interest triumphs over moral principles such as respect for others and peace. Additionally, realists, particularly today’s neorealists, cite anarchy or absence of the government, as the major determinant of international political upshots (Nye, 2011). The absence of common rule-creating and implementing authority implies that the international community is fundamentally a self-help structure. Every state is answerable for its own survival and at liberty to define its own concerns and to pursue power. Anarchy therefore presents a situation where power has the overruling role in determining interstate relations. Indeed, in the absence of any common power than can impose order, the sovereign states cannot survive if they are not powerful (Nye, 2011).
As much as they picture the world of states as lawless or anarchic, they point out that security is the central issue. To achieve security, they attempt to amplify their power and involve in power-balancing with the main aim of putting off possible aggressors. Wars are there to stop competing states from attaining militarily stronger.
Lastly realists are normally unconvinced about the significance of morality in international politics. In essence, they mean that morality has no place in international relations or that there is strain between the needs of morality and the necessities of flourishing political action. Generally, morality, if any, is just used as an instrument to justify conducts of the states. The absence of a higher authority creates, and international anarchy and the only “moral deed” is the continued dominance of the stronger against the weaker. This is especially true from the words of Hobbes, “the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Nye & David, 2011). His sentiments capture the fundamental nature of political realist theory and the world’s image in the eyes of a traditionalist. There is a grade of cooperation on the state level, but according to realists, this is a way of equivocation in the aggressive natural state. To sum up, the traditionalist theory explicates the world as a miserable, harsh and vicious arena of aggressive competitiveness for people’s survival and proliferation.
Basing on the above analysis of the image of the world, concerning prospects for world peace and security over the next ten years, realist would say that it will be a dangerous place to live. This is because of vulnerability of the states to competitive attack amongst themselves. The lack of separation and individual self-interest for among nations in 2012 and the later years challenges realist theory severely. Currently, there is the modernist and the anti- competitive policy governing international relations, a fact that realists would criticize greatly. When analyzing the issue of modern peace, there are many issues that portray this challenge more than others hence worth discussing. A realist would say that most outstanding issues facing world peace and security in modern times are nuclear war and terrorism (Nye & David, 2011). The nuclear war is arguably the most aggressive, competitive and dangerous one of the two, concerning world peace and security. The number of states with nuclear weapons and the magnitude of these weapons is worrying issue for traditionalists. In a “Hobbesian” state of this kind, such as today’s world, the damaging nature of nuclear weapons offers power to the state with the most and best weapons.
There are nine confirmed states with nuclear weapons, key among them, Russia, USA, China, France and the United Kingdom. On the other hand, there are still other nations with this potential. Since there are nine confirmed cases, realists argue that there are essentially eight threats to people's survival as a competitor. The U.S.A as a country is tremendously threatened by states like North Korea and China whose weapons can without doubt reach its territory. From a realist point of view, there is no room for logical or ideological reasoning as a way of cooperation between opponents when there is a lot at stake as it is happening currently. Most importantly, it should be noted that realism emphasizes national interests and security over moral and ideology constructs.
Additionally, realists would view prospects of world peace as under threat because of the struggle for power as defined under the traditionalist traits of state power. A realist evaluates state power by qualitatively and quantitatively examining its sovereignty, territory, natural resources, population and government. A possible threat from this point of view is the extremely big and ever growing population of China. This is a potential threat when it comes to military numbers in a prospective war between China and the U.S.A. In spite of the relationship China and us, this is a possible threat from a traditionalist opinion because of completion. Even though, the quality of life in China is below stellar, their immense population is a threat to realists. What we observe here is the brutal and harsh insight of the world entrenched in a realist theory.
Realists would be particularly critical of the degree of sovereignty that countries have in present times, and this level is heading. They suppose that states are unrestrained by any senior authority within the Hobbesian state of nature. Currently, international law and cooperation are key issues that parties are assertively working on. Realists cannot picture a possibility of having at least some “world war” in modern times. The concept of world brutally challenges the traditionalist theory to a large extent. Additionally, they believe that international ties restrict the sovereignty of states. At this point, we look at the divergent principles of modernism and realism as political philosophies.
As evident from the above analysis, traditionalism is an extreme of human survival and their objectivity in the natural state. Life comprises of competitive antagonism as a way of survival and procreation. There is another form of realism, referred to as offensive realism, where the thoughts are expanded upon to some extent. It argues that states are contented with a certain amount of power, forcing them to look for hegemony in the international structure. Survival and security are achieved by making best use of state’s portion of power.
Hegemony is a concept that been historically moped upon in the international relations under the realism and other various philosophies. Since the founding of Westphalian in 1648, the principal global concern among nations has been the balance of powers. The concept of balance of power requires that no single state overlooks the rest. Conversely, hegemony is believed to collapse the international system. It is quite exciting the contemporary balance of power because it is highly debatable that the U.S.A is a hegemonic country. Why has the rest of the world permitted the U.S.A to be tremendously dominant if an international balance of power is paramount for political maintenance? According to offensive realists, the nation is doing the right thing to guarantee procreation and survival. Conversely, realists would argue that another superior nation or group of nation balance the U.S.A to acquire a fair international system.
Edward Vose Goulich in his book “Europe’s Classical Balance of Power” candidly outlines a system that can be used to analyze a political system and to determine its balance of power which can be used at any time historical due to its timelessness (Gulick, 1995). In analyzing the balance of power in a modern setting, Goulich proposes examining of the overall structure of politics at the international level. This is because as opposed to Europe in 18th century international relations between states are close and pronounced in terms of events therefore; these relations can be compared to a large cast of actors who influence others from different parts of the globe. Next, Goulich examines both the minor and considerable powers that influence how the rest of the world relates in order to understand whether the power is balanced or not and how that is achieved. Such major powers as at 2010 consist of the U.S, UK, Russia, Brazil, China and Brazil while minor powers are Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico and countries from the Middle East region. This stage is crucial in order to analyze the similarities in positive characteristics; this is known as relative homogeneity, which helps in understanding how consistence the system as a whole is. Although many believe that no states are trying to revolutionize the international system hence interrupting the objectives of the international system, it is believed that US is as a matter of fact doing this.
Politically, democracy is the preferred form of government in many states except in China while economically different countries have diverse forms of economies systems; while capitalism is common in Asia, socialism is more popular in Europe. This therefore means that the relative homogeneity now is low.
The next step involves calculating the power which a state has because it is susceptible to change this assists in the analysis of homogeneity of the globe. Because of technological advancement power can be assessed through testing the state's technology and military capabilities which also shifts the balance of power.
Lastly, determining how flexible or rigid is crucial. A highly flexible system can cause conflict and inter country wars while a highly rigid one causes tension and clash among countries. The current system is perceived to be rigid, therefore, limiting the power and interests of the state.
Analysis by assessing the current and past systems; the similarities and differences in order to facilitate appropriate projections of events in the future based on this theory. By comparing the current systems with the concert of period which ranges from 1815 to 1871 during which there was minimal conflicts since all European countries had one objective; to protect their continent from the dominance by Napoleon. Just as the current system in this period countries were cooperative and depended on each other and their common objective to ensure a power balance ensured that they signed agreement and contracts that protected their similar interest just as currently states do the same.
For further comparative evaluation, analyzing a divergent time period to the present one can give insight for future prospects for peace and international security in this country. Due to the fact that America's present balance of power system entails global interdependence as a result of restrictions on state objectives, it is apparent that the present time is not similar to the Westphalia period. The Westphalia era was typified by surfacing of nations prior to the end of 30 decades of conflict in Europe. In 1648, states such as Australia, England, Russia, France and Prussia emerged as commanding with the aims of challenging one another for power and sovereignty. The following 100 years witnessed war between these nations due to competition. During this period, realists would suggest that man intrinsically exists. This period is remarkably different from the modern one for clear reasons (Gulick, 1995). Once more, traditionalists have assisted the discovery of a significantly opposing idea between the two eras at stake.
Based on the comparative analysis from the above cases, it is rational to offer an assessment of the prospects for international security for the U.S.A within the coming decade. Initially, The Concert of Europe stopped in 1854 and was trailed by an era that had minor conflicts and wars with a moderately stable balance of power. Nevertheless, it did not take long for after 1484, the issues of pre-WWI started to manifest. Given that history is likely to recur, it is coherent to foresee a balanced and stable power structure in the next few years. Additionally, is apparent that the Westphalian Era was succeeded by an era of unbalanced power and low stability with Napoleon holding power over France and the rest of Europe. This fact supports the above projection, and since the present international structure is least identical to an era that was succeeded by unbalanced power, it is sound to say that the near future will be characterized by a balanced and stable balance of power.
Even though, historical experiences can aid predict future happenings, some issues may occur and change the outcome of modern times. While we moderately forecast the coming years will entail balanced power and stability, many policies and events may happen and actually dispute that projection. As opposed to this prediction, the current tension between Israel and Iran could lead to war. It could lead to devastating effects because each side has supporters hence; it could involve many groups and nations. This disruption of peace between Israel and Iran may practically generate instability in future.
According to Nye (2011), “Most people would agree that the state is the most influential actor in the international system, although realists and liberals would disagree about the relative importance of other actors” (p.34). In his sentiments, Nye is emphasizing the fact that traditionalists fail to appreciate the nonstate aspects that can determine international relations. Because of this trait of realism/traditionalism, the projections deliberated are now even more doubtful. The probability of instability caused by nonstate issues such as a financial crisis, terrorism, ailments or natural calamities is enormously possible. Such factors are highly potential danger to the stability of power at the global level.
Contrary to the negative arguments, questioning the balance of power in the near future, there some occurrences that indicate optimism. For instance, the approval and accomplishment of international organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Criminal Court (ICC), and the United Nations (UN) among others indicate a strong probability of international political stability and corporation. These bodies show strong evidence that global relations can entail harmonious corporation as a way of stable balance of power. In the same way with ant future projections, there is always a chance for occurrences and policies that may change the results and possibly challenge predictions.