Tag Archives: Realism

What Happens When the Hegemon Abdicates?

There’s a lot of speculation about what the incoming Trump administration will or won’t do in the realm of international relations and foreign policy. My friend Steve Saideman had an interesting piece on his blog recently suggesting – as most experts in the field are at this point – that if trajectories are left unaltered, things won’t go well.

Part of the discussion of any new Presidency is, of course, an analysis of the broader situation itĀ finds itself in. While the newspapers are focused on the micro, we should remind ourselves as IR scholars that our work ranges from micro to macro levels, and that we should probably step back to look at the bigger picture. Structural realists have argued that individual leaders don’t matter very much; this is a good opportunity to test that hypothesis. So what kind of world isĀ President Trump faced with?
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The Realists are Right – in American Politics? Power Matters

When I was in graduate school, one thing we learned to do was critique. In fact, we spent so much time learning the art of criticism, particularly against whatever the “reigning paradigm” was, that we sometimes referred to it as “piranha school”.

At the time, the dominant paradigm in the study of international politics was Realism. Yes, there were nuances and debates among Realists (more, I think, than we really appreciated at the time). But on the whole, Hans Morgenthau was the Godfather and Ken Waltz the reigning king, with up-and-coming princes like Steve Walt, John Mearsheimer, and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita carrying the banners of the empire. Since we all grew up in the era of Star Wars (both Lucas’ and Reagan’s), we knew an Evil Empire when we saw one. Continue reading