John Schroeder's Offensive Realism

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It is important to first define realism the context of the argument, as the theory that seeks to explain or account for conflict. Schroeder’s assertion that realism is a good theory for explaining war, but not peace, can certainly be applied in the context of this question. John Mearsheimer’s “offensive realism” describes an international system that offers Great Powers little choice other than to seek the subversion of other powers (even those which pose no direct threat) “if they want to maximise their own odds of survival”. He argues that the construction of the international system forces powers to act offensively towards other states from a position of fear. With that said, traditional realists, such as Cold War American policy advisor…show more content…
The reason why realism can only really be used as an explanation for war is that the growth of another state’s power can only be perceived as threatening, even if it is done so defensively. States in this international system bound by the constructs of realism are unable to take a passive approach towards the balance of power, and are therefore encouraged to seize opportunistically what they can when the opportunity arises. Moreover, in the climate of the Cold War this system created powerful incentives for aggression . In 1951 Morgenthau stated that the United States and Russia were at a point where they “Can advance and meet in what is likely to be combat, or they can retreat and allow the other side to advance into what to them is precious ground.” Indeed this is what happened in Europe during the Cold War, deadlock and a status quo maintained a peace whereby war was avoided at all costs. However in the Middle East wars between the US and Soviet Union were fought by proxy and influence was to be gained via alliances. Realism thus would indicate that the Great Powers were so preoccupied with military threats and fear of territorial losses that they failed to acknowledge alternatives to regional conflicts other than providing military
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