Offensive Realism and Foreign Policy example

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Offensive Realism and Foreign Policy

The position of a state within the international system is determined by its geopolitical and geostrategic strengths and vulnerabilities. For this reason, state behavior is heavily influenced by the need to maximize its power as well as leverage its strategic weaknesses. Nonetheless, pure military strength does not usually equate to a favorable geostrategic position within the international system, and there is thus need to leverage diplomatic power with astute foreign policy goals so as to ensure that the vital interests of the nation-state are protected. Offensive realism conceptualizes the international system as inherently anarchic, and for this reason, it postulates that a nation must act aggressively so as to protect its vital interests (Elman & Jensen, 2014). Thus, a foreign policy strategy informed by offensive realism would be aggressive, but such a strategy also risks upsetting international peace and order.

This thus raises the pertinent question regarding the appropriateness of offensive realism as a foreign policy strategy for the 21st century. This essay argues that offensive realism is an appropriate foreign policy strategy for the 21st century, though the extent of its influence on foreign policy should be limited to only those aspects of foreign policy that relate to international politics, international diplomacy, international security, and strategic affairs. This essay thus explores the concept of offensive realism, and its utility and relevance as a foreign policy stratagem, and its impact on international security. Offensive realism is closely related to defensive realism with the main difference being that offensive realism incorporates the philosophy of positivism in its theoretical framework, while defensive realism does not. Defensive realism also conceptualizes that the vital interests of a nation-state would be best protected if the nation-state accumulates power. Nevertheless, defensive realism will not be further discussed in the paper.

Offensive Realism

The theory of offensive realism was conceived by John Mearsheimer as a neorealist structural theory to explain the aggressive behavior of nation-states. The theory postulates that the international system is intrinsically anarchic in nature, and that this fact has forced nation-states to adopt an aggressive stance when dealing with international politics so as to ensure that their security and viability as sovereign nation-states are not only preserved, but are also protected (Elman & Jensen, 2014). The theory has evolved into different variants as different scholars interpreted and refined it. These variants have been applied as foreign policy strategies for the 21st century with varying efficacies (Johnson & Bradley, 2012).Even so, the predominant variant is the one conceived by John Mearsheimer as conceptualized in his original thesis: The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (Johnson & Bradley, 2012).

The thesis integrates several concepts from classical realism and the distinct philosophy of science known as positivism to build a system-centric approach to understanding of state behavior in relation to the dynamics of the international system and its attendant international politics (Mearsheimer, 2001). This variant has had a great impact on formulation of foreign …

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