International Politics

Saturday, December 4, 2010
International Politics Essay 1 2010
Name: Chan Jing Hui Student ID: 367109

International Politics
Essay Topic: ‘Now that the Cold War has ended, realism can no longer explain international
politics’. Critically analyse this statement.
Realism should not be understood as a single stream of ideas but a theory with continuity with room for growth and adaptation as the world evolves. However, all forms of realism share the common platform of statism and sovereignty, self-help and the survival of states. Realism was highly successful in explaining the events that occurred during the Cold War. The Cold War begun with the power vacuum in the international system left by World War 2, where the basis of powers of Germany, Britain, France and Italy were destroyed and replaced by a strong US and a militarily hardened Soviet Union (Bisley 2007). The existence of these two superpowers created a bipolar power structure in world politics and hence, the breakdown of their alliance coupled with the increased tensions over Western Europe. Classical realism accurately explained the event in Western Europe where the propagation of power and domination triggered a perpetual great power competition. However, realists failed to predict the sudden demise of the Soviet Union and the unipolar international structure that emerged. As liberalism took center stage in international politics, many viewed it as the end of realism (Dunne & Schmidt 2008). Even so, it will be shown that realism is still relevant today in international politics as the world faces challenges in the form of the fading relevance of multilateralism, emergence of a powerful China, and the threat from rogue states in Iraq and North Korea.
First and foremost, multilateralism today is under challenge once again bringing realism back into the picture. John Gerard Ruggie defined multilateralism as: ‘the generic institutional form in international relations that coordinates relations among...