Kenneth Waltz's Three Levels Of War

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Kenneth Waltz in his book Man, the State, and War distinguishes three levels of causation of war, which he calls “images”: the individual; the state; and the international system. In order to determine which things happen in the world of politics, one has to first determine the reasons why people such as leaders make the decisions they do by assessing what happens in the state and the interactions between actors. This essay will firstly discuss Waltz’s three images or levels of analysis. Secondly this essay will apply these images to a 20th century conflict namely World War II. In conclusion this essay will discuss whether or not these images can be combined.
2.1 The Individual Level
According to Waltz
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According to Monten (2006:7) the third image argues that the international system is the source of state behaviour because the international system is one that is characterised by anarchy encouraging states that have similar domestic conditions to behave differently when external conditions vary, and states with differing domestic properties will behave in similar ways when external conditions are held constant. He lists three assumptions realist theories have about the nature of international-political life. These assumptions are: firstly, that the international system is regarded as anarchic because there is no policing body that commands monopoly on the legitimate use of force however anarchy in itself acts as an ordering principle and not necessarily as a description of the quality of life as chaotic; secondly that states are the main actors in international politics and can be viewed as unitary, purposive actors; thirdly, states are rationally self-interested and generally seek survival as independent political entities (Monten…show more content…
In 1938 he began to take back land which had been taken away from Germany and as a result marched into Austria and after the Austrian leader asked Italy, France and Britain for help, Hitler promised that the union of Austria and Germany was the end of his expansionist agenda and since the other countries did not wish to risk war, they did not interfere (Smart 2000:41). After only six months, Hitler demanded that a region of Czechoslovakia called Sudetenland be given to Germany leading to the Munich Agreement that allowed Hitler to have Sudetenland as long as he does not invade the rest of Czechoslovakia (Smart 2000:40-41). However in 1939 Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia and still France and Britain would not take any action and instead decided to wait until Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. Hitler’s actions from the time of his rise to power and through WW2 shows how his individual human nature may be used to explain the cause of the war. It can be argued that he was not satisfied with the power he had and hence he sought to increase his power by invading other countries. Waltz would argue that it was Hitler’s ego and selfishness as an individual that led to
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