Realism: the Most Effective and Pragmatic Approach to International Relations

Topics: United States, World War II, Niccolò Machiavelli Pages: 11 (4266 words) Published: March 5, 2013
Lahore School of Economics

International Relations Research Paper

Submitted to: Amnah Mustafa

The cycle continues for the generations to come and Realism itself shall remain as one of the most effective and pragmatic approaches to International Relations.

Group Members:

Gohar Hayat Hiraj

Ayesha Aqeel

Maham Akbar Chaudhary



“This can be said about the generality of men: that they are ungrateful, fickle, dissembling, anxious to flee danger, and covetous of gain.” (Niccolo Machiavelli)

The above mentioned quotation summarizes what, to realists, the human nature is. Man was born with an inborn sense to rule and seek personal gains above everything else. He was driven by lust, desire for power and a deep yearning to be in control of his life. He was, as described by Machiavelli in a poem, „insatiable, arrogant, crafty and shifting, and above all else malignant, iniquitous, violent, and savage‟ (Jack Donelly). His thirst could only by satisfied by grave's earth.

If not so, the temptation always existed in his nature and can well be traced to the start of humanity with Adam eating the forsaken fruit and being banished from the Heavens. „The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.‟ (Oscar Wilde). Realists base their theories on this principle and consider it a fact that man would, if given the opportunity, go to the extremes in order to calm his violent desires.

“(In politics)it needs to be taken for granted that all men are wicked and that they will always give vent to the malignity that is in their minds when opportunity offers” (Niccolo Machiavelli)

Early in the search for his destiny, man realized that he was not the only one in pursuit of such grandeur and that co-existence was a mere illusion. Confucius said, "True goodness springs from a man's own heart. All men are born good." But as man began to experience the harshness of life his ideals began to change. There were too many outside influences in the Utopian world philosophers like Confucius advocated. Man never had that freedom to express love and believe in the concept of a peaceful world, which the poets and philosophers believed so dearly in.

“The desire to reconcile experience of freedom with the determined environment is the lament of poetry and the dilemma of philosophy.” (Henry Kissinger)

No matter what the human nature, circumstances had a vital role to play in shaping his perception. „That same human nature which in happy conditions is frail, seems to me to be in other conditions capable of becoming hideous‟ (Butterfield). Many realists believe that the sole inborn desire of seeking power is not the only motivation behind a man's actions. Man had responsibility when it came to protecting himself and all that gave him a sense of belonging (his love, family, home, country etc). He armed himself with every possible tactic to outwit his opponents and overcome all sorts of hurdles, for it was a necessity rather than an option.

“Even the good must know how to enter into evil, when forced by necessity.” (Niccolo Machiavelli)

The individual analysis of a man's nature has a far wider scope in „Classical, Biological and Neo traditional Realism‟ and the study of International Relations. The factors which influenced man's everyday decisions in the micro analysis go on to very much influence those on the macro scale. Man's responsibility to protect his family and home becomes his responsibility to protect his State and people. His behavior and preferences in dealing with people reflect his foreign policy regarding states. “As a professor, I tended to think of history as run by impersonal forces. But when you see it in practice, you see the difference personalities make.” (Kissinger in a background talk with reporters on his plane after his first Middle East shuttle, January 1974.) Man's overall environment is subjected to the individual role each player in it plays. Morgenthau contended...
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