Offensive Realism



In international relations, offensive realism is a variant of realism. Like realism, offensive realism regards states as the primary actors in international relations. However, offensive realism adds several additional assumptions to the framework of structural realism. John Mearsheimer is considered the chief proponent of this theory. Assumptions include:



Offensive realism is a structural theory which, unlike the classical realism of Morgenthau, blames security conflict on the anarchy of the international system, not on human nature or particular characteristics of individual great powers. In contrast to other structural realist theories, offensive realism believes that states are not satisfied with a given amount of power, but seek hegemony (maximization of their share of world power) for security and survival.


John Mearsheimer summed this view up in his book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics: "Given the difficulty of determining how much power is enough for today and tomorrow, great powers recognize that the best way to ensure their security is to achieve hegemony now, thus eliminating any possibility of a challenge by another great power. Only a misguided state would pass up an opportunity to become hegemon in the system because it thought it already had sufficient power to survive."


This behavior is known as "power maximization." In this world there is no such thing as a status quo power, since according to Mearsheimer, "a great power that has a marked power advantage over its rivals is likely to behave more aggressively because it has the capability as well as the incentive to do so."


States also fear each other, assuming that the other state intentions are not benevolent. The states may have other goals than survival, but survival will always takes precedence. The state may engage in cooperation and initiatives to create world order, but such initatives are always unsuccessful or short-lived, as desire for power, security and survival creates tensions which lead to their failure.


Offensive realism also dismisses democratic peace theory, which claims that democracies—specifically, liberal democracies—never or rarely go to war with one another.


This article is licensed under the e GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Offensive realism".