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Realism , also known as political realism, in the context of international relations, encompasses a variety of theories and approaches, all of which share a belief that states are primarily motivated by the desire for military and economic power or security, rather than ideals or ethics. This term is often synonymous with power politics.

The term realism can, instead of referring to the broad family of realist theories, refer specifically to classical realism, the common ancestor and original form of realism.

Realist theories share the following key assumptions:

In summary, realists believe that mankind is not inherently benevolent but rather self-centered and competitive. This Hobbesian perspective contrasts with the approach of liberalism to international relations which views human nature as selfish and conflictual unless given appropriate conditions under which to cooperate. Further, they believe that states are inherently aggressive (offensive realism) and/or obsessed with security (defensive realism); and that territorial expansion is only constrained by opposing power(s). This aggressive build-up, however, leads to a security dilemma where increasing one's own security can bring along greater instability as the opponent(s) builds up its own arms. Thus, security is a zero-sum game where only relative gains can be made.

While Realism as a formal discipline in international relations did not arrive until World War II, its primary assumptions have been expressed in earlier writings:

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Political Realism".




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