Posted at 05.10.2018
As discussed in the last section the Waltzian style of realism has had profound results on international relations theory. However, even fellow realists have found problems and inconsistencies with Waltz's structural realism. John Mearsheimer is one of these theorists. He uses and adapts on Waltz's theory to color a more pessimistic and entirely darker picture of International relationships theory. He expands on Waltz's idea of structure causing behaviour, but he rejects the 'position quo bias in Waltz's theory. ' (Mearsheimer, 2001, p. 20) Instead he favours a more competitive form of status interaction compelled by anarchic systems which lead expresses to be hegemonies.
Mearsheimer still refers to himself as a structural realist because his assumptions are based on states acting within an anarchic system. While he uses Waltz's theory of framework he has serious reservations about protective realism's theoretical effectiveness:
'Realist ideas are invariably simple or parsimonious, which has an upside and a downside. Any simple theory, as we all know, can only explain a lot about the world, because by description it omits a variety of factors from its explanatory apparatus, and sometimes those factors matter a great deal. ' (Mearsheimer, Booth, Wheeler, & Williams, 2006, p. 107)
He should go further to describe why this is a problem for Waltz's theory:
'My main problem with protective realism is the fact that it generally does not execute a good job of explaining the way the world actually works. It might be a good normative theory but it isn't a good descriptive theory. ' (ibid. , p. 111)
Mearsheimer has attempted to rectify this issue by creating a new theory, or even more accurately, amending the pre-existing theory. To do this he state the five key assumptions realism is based upon. The bulk of this section will try to critique his amendments to Waltz's structural realism and will attempt to show how also, they are logically dubious. As mentioned in the last section Waltz erred on the side of parsimony alternatively than providing a descriptive theory. (Sёrensen, 2011, p. 112)
Mearsheimer starts his book along with his five key assumptions, which he restates throughout his work. While he never explicitly ranks them, it is reasonable to say, predicated on his theory, that the following order is most important to least important.
'States will be the key stars in World Politics and they operate in an anarchic system.
Great capabilities invariably involve some offensive military ability.
States can't ever be sure whether other claims have hostile intentions towards them.
Great capabilities place a high premium on survival.
States are rational celebrities who are fairly effective at developing strategies that maximise their likelihood of survival. ' (ibid. , pp. 362-363)
Mearsheimer appears to add an addendum to his own work, that maximising chances for survival necessarily dictates that states are power-hungry. That they will attempt to gain vitality and try to achieve regional as well as perhaps global hegemony. He creates a couple of mutually exclusive conditions tries to make them operate in concert to describe state behavior. He cases in his publication 'The Tragedy of Great Vitality Politics' that 'the structure of the international system, not this characteristics of individual powers, triggers them to think and take action offensively and to seek hegemony. ' (ibid. , p. 53) He argues that Waltz's self-help behavior, created by security dilemmas within the international system, had not been taken far enough. 'In anarchy. . . the desire to make it through encourages says to react aggressively. ' (ibid. , p. 54) He assumes that such behavior does not accurately explain states principal motivation and that whenever given the chance that state governments will act to build superiority or hegemony. He makes very little effort to describe just why an anarchic system makes these actions. He assumes that through a series of, arguably flawed, function studies that his audience encourage his assumption as an epistemological truth. That is counterintuitive when his first assumption of world politics says that states respond in anarchy. Mearsheimer points out that anarchy means that says have 'no higher specialist above them. ' (2005, p. 2005) Hegemony is defined by Mearsheimer as 'a state that is so powerful which it dominates all the other states in the system. ' (2001, p. 40) This might then prioritize the hegemon and it would act as a higher specialist in the international system. This could conceivably create a hierarchic international system.
Mearsheimer rejects this, and contradicts the rational expansion of his theoretical assumptions in the process, when describing the present international system; 'we are not moving towards a hierarchic international system, which would effectively signify some type of world government. In fact, anarchy appears like it will be with us for a long time. ' (2001, p. 365) Mearsheimer appears to be recommending throughout his work that the hegemon wouldn't normally be an authority above the states but more of a primus inter pares. His reasoning for hegemonic growth is situated in the security dilemma international relations presents. The ultimate goal being survival says will try to gain enough relative power that they can not be threatened. (Wang, 2004, pp. 176-177) Nevertheless, there is still no compelling debate given to show how anarchy pertains to hegemonic steadiness theory.
This apparent contradiction between theoretical assumptions warrants further thought. To provide a critique that is both succinct and effective it is realistic to use a few important shortcuts in the next examination. The to begin these is that this critique will presume that Mearsheimer's underlying theoretical assumptions are correct (within the gets to of his own theory). In particular his first assumption that the framework of world politics is anarchical and the underlying premise of his work that claims seek power to enhance security which hegemony is the best goal will be the two theoretical assumptions that'll be focused on. The second is to believe that he is accurate when he labeling America as a regional hegemony. It is important to note that neither of the conditions are as clear trim or simple as Mearsheimer would appear to trust, indeed the first will be challenged throughout this section. The critique will be examining the relationship involving the EU and America. It will question if the primus inter pares romantic relationship described above is real or if hegemonic stability theory is anathema to anarchic constructions.
To begin it should be noted that it's very hard to make the case that European countries is one homogenous entity at the mercy of the same guidelines and responsibilities of circumstances. This argument is basically given birth to as a hypothetical situation. The next situation has been used to demonstrate a reasonable inconsistency and contradiction within Mearsheimer's theory. I plan to question Mearsheimer's conception of condition activities and anarchy. Without considering other influencing factors (considering that virtually all realists expect that areas are the primary actors) the key actor that will be discussed is Germany. The problem use Mearsheimer's own quarrels regarding potential hegemonies and the activities existing hegemonies try prevent their go up. Mearsheimer argues that financial and politics interdependence would not be enough to secure the rise of Germany within Europe. (1994-1995, pp. 6-8) America is the deciding factor as it pertains to preventing conflict in Europe. (ibid. 6-8, 47-49) This is actually the action of a hegemonic entity he argues.
'States that achieve regional Hegemony seek to avoid great forces in other parts from duplicating their feat. . . . Thus the United States, for example, played a key role in preventing imperial Japan, Wilhelmine Germany, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union from attaining regional supremacy. ' (Mearsheimer J. J. , 2001, p. 41)
He continues on to explain how this is pertinent to the example:
'If a potential hegemon emerges among them, the other great powers in that region might be able to contain it independently, allowing the distant hegemon to stay safely and securely on the sidelines. Obviously, if the neighborhood great powers were unable to do the job, the faraway hegemon would take the appropriate actions. ' (ibid. , p. 41)
Mearsheimer states that this form of status (it is advantageous to indicate a hegemon is significantly dissimilar to a state this point will be expanded upon later in the section) behaviour is more about balancing power and preventing a potential menace becoming a genuine threat. This is broadly in keeping with realist assumptions of point out action. However, if the word balancing is substituted with policing, which is similarly applicable, the action becomes difficult if the system is meant to stay anarchic. He does in simple fact explicitly state that 'the peacefulness in Europe today, is the result of the American pacifier, not the establishment of an security community. ' (Mearsheimer, Booth, Wheeler, & Williams, 2006, p. 116) This is not the role of your hegemonic balancing act. It's the imposition of order by the hegemon on other expresses. There is an argument to be produced that it does balance a perceived future threat, that discussion is, however, unconvincing. The security problem does not stipulate a state react to an implied threat, the one response warranted is when there's a de facto threat. The amount of economical integration and interdependence in Europe necessarily precludes Germany from seeking electric power as it could lead to negative gain. Mearsheimer oddly moves further than this when talking about this issue 'I think you have tranquility in western Europe because there is a higher authority that maintains order. There's a 911 to call: america. ' (2006, p. 121) The contradiction becomes obvious; anarchy is the lack of a higher power, hegemony is the imposition from it. There may be little doubt that Mearsheimer would disagree with this interpretation of hegemony as he'd regard America operating as a worldwide policeman (absent the need to balance an aggressively growing potential hegemon) as sick advised and contrary to the main assumptions of his theory. (2001, pp. 50-51)
The reason this example is so baffled is also delivered out of the contradiction implicit within Mearsheimer's work. Germany could never be a potential hegemon, irrespective of historical imperatives. The reasons for this are visible in Mearsheimer's own work the logical acting professional assumption would appear to stop a state from taking an action where in fact the costs outweigh the actual profits. (ibid. p. 37) This means, largely due to the level of economical interdependence that Germany is not likely to become an expansionistic electricity. The contradiction that comes out is that while the buffer that America provides (which Mearsheimer disagrees with profoundly (2006, pp. 118-121)) is not really a respond to a potential hegemon it's the imposition of hegemonic power. However, this contradiction will not detract from the situation of hegemonic dominance automatically translating the anarchic system into a hierarchical one.
Quite aside from that particular theoretical inconsistency, there is a problem with Mearsheimer's ability lust vs. balancing theory. He has three conditions that control this form of point out action:
'Great powers make an effort to expand only once opportunities occur.
They accomplish that when the benefits clearly exceed the risks and costs.
They will desist from expansion when blocked and wait for a far more propitious moment' (Snyder, 2002, p. 153)
The causal root of this competitive balancing is deeply rooted in the composition (roughly we live lead to trust) anarchy causes each status to assume a security dilemma. This is argument is never really pursued in his work, it is assumed that the self-help aspect that Ken Waltz places forward which security problem is the driver for the state of hawaii action. When evaluated this description of state action is totally unsatisfactory. Richard Rosecrance explains the problem of this form of status action.
'At the turn of the century, the United States ''exceeded'' Great Britain without warfare. In economic conditions, Japan moved prior to the Soviet Union in 1983 but neither country was lured to fight in the change. The German surge vis-a-vis Britain by the end of the nineteenth century wouldn't normally have been a challenge possessed it not been that the Kaiser decided to create a great navy and obstacle Britain both at home and overseas. If Germany got remained a land electric power - as it opted to do under Bismarck - it would not have triggered British opposition or provoked an biceps and triceps race. ' (2006, p. 32)
Britain, from the mid 19th century to the beginning of the First World Conflict was the local hegemony. It acquired almost complete control of the sea and an enormous empire to support itself. Both America and Wilhelmine Germany were potential regional hegemonies. Britain did not in any way try to issue their growth. Similarly the Soviet Union didn't balance the growing hegemony of Japan. This appears to ignore both rational acting professional model and hegemonic stability theory, both which are fundamental parts Mearsheimers theory.
Mearsheimer's work on unpleasant realism is riddled with mutual exclusions and contradictions. It can still remain a fascinating theory; it attempts to include broader explanatory assumptions to a set of normative principles. The web that the idea makes an attempt to do too much. It attempts to explain status motivations and actions as well as the final results produced. It, however, uses very slim ontological assumptions to provide description. We are presented with the theory that claims have a will to electric power driven with a security menace which is subsequently motivated by the anarchical system. Mearsheimer will not explain coherently just why an anarchic structure pushes states into this hostile competition, he acts it up as an epistemological simple fact and an eternal real truth. With these problems at heart, additionally it is important to keep in mind that Mearsheimer theory does cover some areas of international relationships. The addition of the logical actor model is likely a positive change in realist perspective, with the caveat that state governments can respond irrationally at times.
This section has provided a critique of Mearsheimer's work using his own theories and examples. I've tried to remain as continuous to Mearsheimer's own theoretical assumptions as possible. While by no means conclusive it can serve to demonstrate some severe issues with the theory that require to be rectified. The validity of his primary assumptions aren't what I've questioned, it's the root addition to these assumptions of hegemonic steadiness theory i firmly disagree with. While Mearsheimer does indeed give empirical data to aid his promises, the validity of this evidence is up for question.