Realism in the 20th Century Analytical Essay by scribbler

Realism in the 20th Century
An overview of the theory of realism in international politics post World War II.
# 152802 | 2,191 words | 22 sources | APA | 2013 | US

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


The paper discusses how as a distinct school of thought that has dominated the field of international relations since the end of WWII, realism places its emphasis on the state as the primary actor in world politics. The paper explains how realists generally have a pessimistic view of human nature, and a conviction that international relations are necessarily conflictual and that international conflicts are ultimately resolved by war. The paper identifies the key assumptions made by the realist, based upon the views of Carr and Morgenthau, and then looks at Waltz's theory of neo-realism and the theory of critical security theorists. The paper considers which approach best explains the elements of international security and discusses how realism may be the most prominent paradigm in historical international relations, but it does little to address the general "realities" of the 21st century. The paper relates that war is expensive, it destroys lives and infrastructures, and while sometimes it jolts a lagging economy and improves some technologies, the benefits to a lasting peace using a balance approach to critical security seems the most reasonable option for the early 21st century.

From the Paper:

"With the end of the Cold War and bipolar global order, an "international community," as portrayed by increased transnational cooperation and globalization has evolved. However, the integrity of this community depends on the actions of each individual member. Prior to 1989, the two great powers of the world, the United States and Soviet Union, countered each other creating a balance of power. This, in turn, polarized other states that fell under each respective power's umbrella of security and economic stability. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, the power of the United States led to hegemonic stability. During the Cold War, the United States used "national security" as justification for its actions in the international arena. National security was used by internationalists to advocate increased American involvement in international affairs. National security was also, however, the reason isolationists promoted self-reliance and separation from global issues. If there are no restrictions on states' military capabilities, the state with military superiority will dominate all facets of global affairs; both political and economic. The economic stage is a zero-sum game, and without cooperative regulation the disadvantaged developing world would suffer at the hands of developed nations (Viotti and Kauppi 2006)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Baldwin, D. 1993, Neorealism and Neoliberalism. Columbia University Press.
  • Bell, D 2002, 'Anarchy, Power and Death: Contemporary Political Realism as Ideology',Journal of Political Ideologies, vol 7, no. 2, pp. 221-39.
  • Bridge, M. and R. Stevens 2001. Cross Border Security and Insolvency. Oxford University Press.
  • Carr, E.H. 2001, The Twenty Years' Crisis 1919-1939, An Introduction to the Study Of International Relations. Palgrave-McMillan.
  • Collins, A. ed., 2007. Contemporary Security Studies. Oxford University Press.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Realism in the 20th Century (2013, April 30) Retrieved December 09, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Realism in the 20th Century" 30 April 2013. Web. 09 December. 2023. <>