The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
Introduction Of Author
John J. Mearsheimer (born December 1947) is an American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is an International relations theorist. Known for his 2001 book on offensive realism, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, Mearsheimer became better known for co-authoring with Stephen Walt the New York Times Best Seller The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007). His 2011 book Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics is described as cataloging "the kinds of lies nations tell each other." According to an interview with Mearsheimer in The Boston Globe, the lesson of the book is: "Lie selectively, lie well, and ultimately be good at what you do.
Introduction To The Book:
John Mearsheimer is the leading proponent of offensive realism. It is a structural theory which, unlike the classical realism of Hans Morgenthau, blames security competition among great powers on the anarchy of the international system, not on human nature. In contrast to another structural realist theory, the defensive realism of Kenneth Waltz, offensive realism maintains that states are not satisfied with a given amount of power, but seek hegemony for security because the anarchic makeup of the international system creates strong incentives for states to seek opportunities to gain power at the expense of competitors. Mearsheimer summed this view up in his 2001 book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics: Given the difficulty of determining how much power is enough for today and tomorrow, great powers recognize that the best way to ensure their security is to achieve hegemony now, thus eliminating any possibility of a challenge by another great power. Only a misguided state would pass up an opportunity to be the hegemon in the system because it thought it already had sufficient power to survive. Mearsheimer does not believe it is possible for a state to become a global hegemon because there is too much landmass and too many oceans which he posits have effective stopping power and act as giant moats. Instead he believes that states can only achieve regional hegemony. Furthermore, he argues that states attempt to prevent other states from becoming regional hegemons, since peer competitors could interfere in a state's affairs. States which have achieved regional hegemony, such as the U.S., will act as offshore balancers, interfering in other regions only when the great powers in those regions are not able to prevent the rise of a hegemon. In a 2004 speech, Mearsheimer praised the British historian E. H. Carr for his 1939 book The Twenty Years’ Crisis and argued that Carr was correct when he claimed that international relations was a struggle of all against all with states always placing their own interests first. Mearsheimer maintained that Carr’s points were still as relevant for 2004 as for 1939, and went on to deplore what he claimed was the dominance of “idealist” thinking about international relations among British academic life. This book begins as a response to those Idealists Who believe that the fall of the USSR marked the end of history? This can not be the case because the nature of the international system makes it such that states continually have to search for their own survival through offensive realism. Power, its Pursuits:
The book is organized around six questions:
1—why do great powers want power?
2—how much power?
3—what is power?
4—how do they go after power?
5—what are the causes of war?
6—when do threatened powers balance and when do they band-wagon/buck-pass?
Offensive Realism: ‘The Tragedy of Great Power Politics’ by John Mearsheimer, outlines his theory of “Offensive...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document