Neo Realism In International Relations

2012 Words9 Pages
ABSTRACT This essay reviews the paradigm of neo-realism (also known as structural realism), a sub-sect of realism and one of the most influential theories in the study and analysis of international relations. Firstly, the essay will list and analyze the key elements of the neo-realist school of thought, as well as its variants. Then, the application of this paradigm will be examined in the case of the balance of power in Southeast Asia, focusing on the relationships among the key players in the area – namely China, Vietnam and the United States. KEY ELEMENTS Neo-realism is a reformulation of the classical realist school of thought, first introduced by Kenneth Waltz in “Theory of International Politics”, to fit with the new happenings of the…show more content…
Every actor in the system takes actions to ensure their survival, whether it is through increasing their capabilities or forging alliances with other states. Survival serves as the prerequisite to the state’s other domestic and foreign goals. Therefore, the rise in power of one particular state is considered a threat to the other state actors in the international political system where security is not assured. Waltz also states that world structures are formed by the action of their units - states. Whether these units live, prosper, or die depends on their own efforts – resulting in a principle of self-help forming the basis of these units’ actions. [2] One last aspect of neo-realism is the assumption that states are unitary and rational actors in a complex system. They can cooperate for mutual benefits while they make strategic economic, diplomatic and military efforts. At times they can miscalculate and make severe errors, but they retain the ability to remain impartial, attack other states, or negotiate and…show more content…
can coexist semi-peacefully through effective balancing; however offensive realists such as Mearsheimer see possibilities for future conflicts among actors in this region – perceiving the acts of China and the U.S. as a competition for hegemony in the region. They argue that China’s rise will lead to an escalating strategic competition between it and the U.S. “A wealthy China would not be a status quo power but an aggressive state determined to achieve regional hegemony.” [3] As such the U.S. will attempt to form a balancing coalition with other countries in the region to counteract China’s domination of Southeast Asia. This has been seen in its partial support of Vietnam in the South China Sea dispute, giving it the necessary military capabilities to confront Chinese

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