realism is a theory of international relations that was developed in the
post-world war 2 period that seeks to define international politics as a result
of human nature. As there
are different methods to realism such as neorealism, structural and classical realism.
This post will be focusing on classical realism. Thinkers such as Thucydides, Hans Morgenthau, Machiavelli and Hobbes who are indeed classical realists
share the view of power politics. For them international politics is an arena
of rivalry, conflict and war between states. Theorist Hans Morgenthau argued that politics was a
“never-ending struggle for power” (Cozette 2008, p. 668) and believed that war
was “rooted in human nature” (Donnelly 2013, p. 33). The cold war which was caused by the rise of Soviet power and the
fear this caused in the west is an example of power politics and classical realism.
The cold war which
was between two nations the United States and the Soviet Union fought together as allies against the Axis
powers (cold war history, 2018). However, the relationship between the two nations was a tense one as they both
felt the need to protect their own national interests and security as
they feared that one of the
two countries would try to establish dominance over the other with nuclear
force. Even though
the US and USSR never actually went in war, realists believe that conflict was unavoidable. Thus, both sides knew their best interests
were to grow their armaments and be strong in the face of real or potential
conflict, to essentially avoid it (Steans et al. 2013, p. 54). As classical Realism views human nature as self-seeking, conflictual
and competitive and consider that states are inherently violent, thus realists view the Cold War as a display of power
politics, where each party were concerned about security and imposing threats,
organisation of society in the realm of anarchy and a competition of tactical
influences and nuclear dominance (Bisley 2007, p. 282).