This paper focuses on ”Do liberals or 3 realists better explain the establishment and development of peace in Europe in the post 1945 period.”
”Do liberals or 3 realists better explain the establishment and development of peace in Europe in the post 1945 period”
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Realism, Liberalism and the Possibilities of Peace
Realism is most often depicted as a tradition or perspective on international relations explaining war and military conflict. This is not without reason as realists have focused on war as a major. Or even the primary mechanism of change in international relations. Thucydides, in The History of the Peloponnesian War, written in the fifth century BC, and a standard reference in textbook accounts of the realist tradition, found that ‘[t]he growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon, made war inevitable’ (Thucydides 431 BC, 1.23). This position is an echo in realism up until today.
This does not mean that realists are unconcerned with peace. Acting as policy advisors or foreign policy commentators, realists have often been among the most vocal critics of war. Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz, arguably the two most prominent realists in the latter half of the twentieth century. They were both highly critical of US military intervention in Vietnam.
More recently, ‘almost all realists in the United States:
– except for Henry Kissinger
– opposed the war against Iraq’ in 2003 (Mearsheimer 2005),
– realists have been highly critical of the US military interventions during the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017 (Walt 2016).
However, despite this concern with peace, war remains the primary mechanism for change in realist theory, and realists have been surprisingly reluctant to explore the potential for peaceful change.