Mearschiemer's Tragedy of Great Powers

Topics: World War II, International relations, United States Pages: 2 (646 words) Published: March 20, 2013
Mearsheimer Paper
In reading “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” by John J. Mearsheimer, he soundly explains the theory of “Offensive Realism” in International Relations. Mearsheimer describes the theory of Offensive Realism as an anarchic international system that pressures countries to an aggressive state when dealing with international politics. He tries to identify the conditions that create conflict, the reasons of behavior, and the outcome it can produce. All in all, Mearsheimer believes that all great powers seek opportunities to advance power over other states, and ultimately become a hegemon.

In identifying the conditions that create conflict, Mearsheimer starts by explaining fear as a condition of conflict, and how it leads to strategic aggression to produce security amongst other great powers. He breaks down the causes for fear into three things. First he recognizes the absence of a central authority to provide checks and balances to all states. Secondly he explains how states will always have some type of offensive military capabilities. Thirdly he explains that states can never be certain about other state’s intentions. These three premises are what drive fear and cause conflict amongst other states. Another condition that causes conflict is “security dilemma”. This is when a state increases its own security but decreases the security of another.

In identity the behavior, Mearsheimer explains the notion of “Power” and how it is divided into two types. First type is “latent power”, which is the combination of population and wealth to create military power. The second type is “military power” which is armed forces with the support of naval and air force. Mearsheimer also states that with the “dominance of land power” a state should largely invest in formidable armies to achieve power projection against other states. Another characteristic a state should have is wealth. Wealth is important for a state to obtain because it is the economic basis...
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