Realism vs. Liberalism

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Realism Vs. Liberalism

The concern about possession of weapons goes back to the period between the world wars and has been a continuous concern since the early 1950s. After World War II The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was negotiated. “The NPT prohibited additional states who did not have already nuclear weapons from acquiring them and required current possessors from aiding in the in the spread…made them promise to reduce and eliminate their own.” (Snow, 2008:189) Throughout history, some states have felt the need to possess weapons for protecting themselves while others seek to show their power, for example the U.S.A and the USSR during the Cold War. For decades, power and security have been the major issues, but through time, the economy has become increasingly important in the agenda of states. The aim of this paper is to explain two major international relations theories, realism and liberalism, and how these theories try to argue for the need and possession of nuclear weapons in the contemporary era. Realists have four main arguments: the main actors, in the international system, are sovereign states; the international system is in a state of anarchy; states must be concerned with their own security; and states are rational unified actors. (Viotti, 1999:188) Realism based its arguments on the Cold War, during this time, security and power were the most important concerns for the states, mainly for the United States and the USSR. Due to the history of this theory, it is not a surprise that some realists support the idea of the states possessing nuclear weapons to balance power and protect themselves, in case they feel threatened. The realist Kenneth Waltz, states that “we should expect war to become less likely when weaponry exist to make conquest more difficult, to discourage preemptive and preventive war, and to make coercive threat less credible…nuclear deterrence and nuclear defense improve the prospects for peace” (Waltz, 2008:260)...
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