Discuss the Concept of Power in International Relations from a Realist Perspective

1279 Words Nov 13th, 2013 6 Pages
Realism is considered to be the dominant theory of International Relations because it explains the power struggle among states in the international system very well. From the realist point of view, the rule in this system is cruel, or we should say there is no rule in the operation of international relations because the only thing can be relied on is nations’ own power. Power is an important issue in realism. As Thucydides put it thousands years ago, “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”. The power they discuss here is not absolute power but relative power. It’s a concept that should be compared with other states. The interesting thing is that nothing seems to have been changed now. The international environment, …show more content…
Power, at this point, is essential to compete with other states.
Realists hold a pessimistic view of human nature: men are born to be selfish and with desire to conquer others. They argue that there should be two different moral standards: one is for individual who follows it in life within the state and the other is for the state in the international system because either of the standards is not appropriate if one conducts it in the other environment. The moral standard for the state allows it to do something that would not be acceptable for an individual. For that reason, no state is trustworthy in the international relation. Basically, a state would want to know if there is any threat from other states that would affect their power. However, it is already hard to know the intentions of other states, and it is almost impossible to predict their future steps. When the state’s interests and the international obligations come into conflict, even the treaties between states can be set aside, let alone other agreements, conventions, customs, rules, law, etc.( Jackson, & Sørensen, 2003, p.69) Even the deal decided today can be broken tomorrow. To deal with the worst situation, the best solution is to strengthen the state itself.
The most concern of realists is national security and state survival. As I have mentioned before, states represent “the collective will of people”. The state has the

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