The Realist Theory is a paradigm that bases on the premise that politics of the world is unchangeably and essentially a struggle among states with self-interest for position and power under anarchy, with each of the competing states pursuing their own national interests. The classical theory of realism manifests that during the time when men lived without a common center of power to keep all of them in awe, they were in a condition known as war where every man was against every man. During this war when men were against each other it consequently showed that, nothing could be unjust. There was no place for a wrong and a right, or an act of injustice and justice. The two cardinal virtues of war were fraud and force. This theory of realism embraced a more pessimistic view of the politics of the world, perpetual peace possibility, and state relations. Thus, realism is a theoretical perspective that helps understand the international relations with emphasis that the states are the most important actors of global politics.
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It also emphasized the anarchical nature of international systems, and the way states pursue power in order to secure their interests. The competitive and unrelenting pursuit by states for power in an effort of securing interests of the state is the driver of the realists view on international relations. Military capability is the most important among the realists, source of power. The acquisition and use of military capability makes the world of the realists prone to warfare and violence. This is because of an absence of world governments contrary to the way the world with domestic politics functions. The lack of laws, rules and enforcement mechanism fuels conflicts to turn into wars. Realists argue that those in world politics live in a “state of nature”, or a world with perpetual conflict. Therefore, chaos, death, violence and destruction accompanying world politics reflects the “war of all against all”, what international anarchy implies directly. They assume that countries and states are the central players who determine whatever happens in the world.
The interests of the state are the reasons behind every action of the state, rather than ideological preferences or human rights. The maximization of power that is the core interest of the states is all in their desire to safeguard, maintain, or increase the state’s power in relation to other states. The state sovereignty and anarchy world has no high authority that imposes order, neither is there an international 911 number for these sates to call when they receive a threat to their interests. The states therefore have to provide for their own protection and defense, in what they refer to as self-help in defending their own interests by acquiring by joining alliances or military capacity. The implication of realism views is that it is inevitable for wars to occur. There is no possibility of change or cooperation in limited proportions. Good and evil is not the primary objective of world politics, power trumps justice, the road leading to order lies through balance of power.
The liberal theory is an idealist theory and embraces a view that is more optimistic concerning state relations, the possibility of perpetual peace, and world politics. Liberalism paradigm predicts on hope that an application of universal ethics and reason to international relations may lead to a world that is more just, cooperative and orderly. It also suggests that the policing of war and international anarchy can be through institutional reforms, which empower international laws and organizations. This is a theoretical perspective that emphasizes the interdependence between substates and states actors as the major characteristic in the international system. One of the major intellectual challenges of the realist paradigm is idealism. Idealists question most of realism’s basic tenets; suggest the possibility of transforming the world’s power seeking, and war into one that cooperation and peace among states prevails.
As a contrast to realism, idealism suggests a utopian well-intentioned perspective, which the realists believe it is out of touch with the operations of the real world. Liberals believe in possibility of significant global competition. Therefore, power politics can move from the heart of realist paradigm. Cooperation and peace among states produces absolute gains for all stakeholders. This is the key assumption of liberals. For as long as a state benefited from its cooperation from other states, the other states’ gains would not matter. These realists’ main concern was the relative gains. Establishment of perpetual peace was through creating a loose federation made up of Free states with members committed to maintenance of international security and order, and through the spirit of commerce. This spirit is incompatible with war and gains an upper hand eventually in each state.
Furthermore, creation of republican governments with an independent legislature to check on the executive power also promoted perpetual peace. According to the liberals, the explanation from realists on self-help and anarchy are wrong because they missed the real nature of the modern world’s politics. Complex interdependence is the dominant feature found in global politics. This refers to the multiple channels actors of diverse variety in international politics. Liberals see a world with a variety of non-state actors who share the stage of the world with countries, i.e. intergovernmental organizations, multi-national corporations, and government organizations. They argued that multiple issues, and not specifically military security, were vital for the achievement of the global agenda.