Global Security

A Reply to Mearsheimer

Δημιουργηθηκε στις Τετάρτη, 06 Αυγούστου 2014 14:57 Ημερομηνία Δημοσίευσης
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By Anna Cornelia Beyer, Strategy International.

Realism is divided into defensive and offensive Realism. Defensive Realists, such as Kenneth Waltz, claim that states pursue only as much power as the other states around them have. They don’t want to dominate the international system, they want merely to be able to survive. Offensive Realism, by John Mearsheimer, challenges this perspective and states that states want to dominate the international system. States want to acquire domination of the international realm. They want to be at least a regional hegemon. Because, if they dominate, they will be secure from threats as no other state will dare to challenge the hegemon. Defensive Realists will caution against this, and state that hegemony gives rise to formidable counterpower. Other states will do all they can to hold the hegemon in check. Power creates counterpower. The international system strives for equilibrium. I don’t want to challenge this point of Mearsheimer’s claims, but I will take some of his other assumptions, and discuss them. In the following order, I will discuss:

That states pursue absolute gains first, then relative gains.

Relative gains seeking is pursued under threat, not generally.

For acquiring latent power, states will need to cooperate. So, cooperation is inherently necessary, even for defensive Realists.

Balancing does take place, and I argue even that balancing takes place not only between the main powers, but also at other levels of analysis, or other areas of international affairs.

However, and this combines with point 2), balancing will be mitigated by good relations. When relations are good, balancing does not need to occur.

I will go through these points in the order that they are presented here.

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Resetting the Reset

Δημιουργηθηκε στις Σάββατο, 08 Μαρτίου 2014 13:08 Ημερομηνία Δημοσίευσης
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By Michael Haltzel*

This article was first published on Huffington Post.


Russian President Putin's military aggression against Ukraine sounds the death knell for the Obama administration's policy of reset with Russia. Contrary to critics' assertions, the reset did yield tangible results such as the Northern Distribution Network, which has facilitated the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Russian votes at the United Nations with the U.S. on Iran and North Korea. Recently the reset had frayed badly, and Putin's Anschluss of Crimea and possibly eastern Ukraine now not only buries it, but also profoundly alters the entire post- Cold War European political landscape. Putin has already totally disregarded President Obama's call for withdrawal of Russian forces. How should the U.S. react?

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Inequality causes violence. An interview with Anna Cornelia Beyer

Δημιουργηθηκε στις Παρασκευή, 24 Ιανουαρίου 2014 12:11 Ημερομηνία Δημοσίευσης
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Anna Cornelia Beyer, University of Hull, is the author of "Inequality and Violence: A Reappraisal or Man, the State and War," (Ashgate: Forthcoming).[1]


What is your evidence?

For the book, I have reviewed numerous studies on inequality with various foci. I looked at how inequality is connected to violence at the individual level, for example. Braithwaite published a prominent study argueing that inequality is connected to crime, including violent crime here. Also, of course, Wilkinson and Picketts prominent publication The Spirit Level is of importance here as it shows that inequality is connected to violence in societies, more unequal countries have more cases of murders and deaths from violence, for example. Secondly, I looked at the evidence for other forms of violence at the state level. Here we have to think in particular about revolutions, civil wars and terrorism. All of these three forms of violence have been connected in the literature to inequality in their causation. The connection between inequality and revolutions is the most established one, the arguments for inequality causing revolutions goes back to Tocqueville and Marx. And empirical research has found support for the claim that inequality precedes revolutions. For civil wars, prominently Kofi Annan, the former General Secretary of the United Nations, has pointed out a connection. Here it seems, that inequality between groups, in particular ethnic groups, seems to be an important factor. This has also been confirmed by an independent study conducted by a researcher from Norway. For terrorism, the connection between inequality and terrorism is disputed, but again some studies point towards the argument that it is connected to this form of violence also. For example, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka have been analysed in a prominent book by Tore Bjorgo and evidence was found that longstanding inequalities contributed to their struggle. Similar arguments have been made for cases in Turkey and India. Finally, I looked at the international level. Interestingly, the argument that inequality causes violence or prevents it seems not solved here. Some claim, more inequality is better and when we live under a very unequal system, such as today under US hegemony, we have more protection. Others, such as Kenneth Waltz, claim that more equality is better for peace. The evidence points towards the conclusion that the most stable system is bipolarity, when we have two superpowers such as in the Cold War. However, this constellation has probably not been too common in the analysed periods, so the data might be misleading. Another interesting fact is that multipolarity, which is often relatively equal, is not showing a high frequency of war, but the worst wars. The two world wars have been started in a system of multipolarity, when we have many more or less equal powers. Now, the highest frequency of war, so the literature, even if not the worst wars, are to be found when we have a very unequal system, such as hegemony. In fact, the more unequal the system, the more wars, so the analysts.

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