Thucydides
 Often called father of realism
 5th century B.C.
 Historian seeking to understand the nature of war and
why it continually recurs
 Argued that war between Sparta and Athens
(Peloponnesian War) war inevitable
 Emphasis on “power” and “competing alliances”
 “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athens’
power and the fear which this caused in Sparta”
Machiavelli
 1469-1527
 Analyzed interstate relations in the Italian system of




the 16th century; famous work “The Prince”
Emphasis on power, formation of alliances, causes of
conflict between different city-states
National security-survival of the state-was paramount
Politics must be separated from morality
Stressed “how the world is” (empirical approach)
rather than how the world should be (normative
approach)
Hobbes
 1588-1679
 Wrote the Leviathan in the 17th century
 Focus was domestic politics yet Hobbes contributed to the
concept of “anarchy” in the international system of states
 His objective was to make the strongest case possible for a
powerful, centralized political authority
 “men” are solitary beasts and egotistical
 Man’s primary motivation is survival (self-preservation)
which results in a war of all against all in the state of nature
(parallel to the international system of anarchy)
Hugo Grotius
 Often cited as father of international law
 A contemporary of Hobbes (Grotius 1583-1645)
 Grotius recognized the essential anarchy of
international relations by calling for the establishment
and recognition of laws or rules by states as binding
 Stressed values and norms—particularly when
recognized as international law or rules by states—as
vehicle in maintaining order under anarchy
 To Grotians, order in the international system is a
combination of power and collective values
(international law)
De Jure Belli ac Pacis (1625)
 Grotius wrote the book “One the Law of War and
Peace”
 Places international law on a secular basis and made
the daring assertion that law between states was based
on reason (not theology)
Listed 4 Causes that made war “just”
1. self-defense
2. To enforce rights
3. To seek reparation for injury
4. To punish a wrong-doer
Carl von Clausewitz
 Prussian general, war theorists and historian 1780-1831
 “War is the continuation of politics by other means.”
 Legitimacy of war: war is diplomacy by other means; it must always





serve a political purpose
Aim of war always the same: to destroy or substantially weaken an
enemies warfighting/warmaking capabilities
importance of "moral forces" (more than simply "morale") as opposed
to quantifiable physical elements
E=C x W (E=battlefield effectiveness; C=military capabilities; W=moral
factor (will to use capability to its fullest)
War is inherently “foggy” and “unpredictable”
The West's modern perception of war is based on the Clausewitzian
principles taught in On War. Its military doctrine, organization, and
norms are all based on Clausewitzian premises, even to this day.
Diplomatic History
 Dominant in early development of international
relations as a systematic field of study
 Late 19th, early 20th centuries
 Questions Pondered
a. Who did what to whom
b. Issues of time and place
c. Approach largely descriptive rather than analytical
Strategic and Geopolitical Analysis
 Geopolitics: approach to international relations which seeks to
explain and predict the political behavior of states primarily in terms of
geographic variables.
Central focus: a state’s absolute and relative distribution of political
and military power
Questions pondered: What are the consequences for a state’s national
interest?
Relative power?
Absolute power?
 Geo-economics: approach to international relations which seeks to
explain and predict the political behavior of states primarily in terms of
its geographic and economic characteristics (such as levels and location
of production, trade, distribution, consumption of goods and services).
Central focus: a state’s absolute and relative distribution of wealth
Mahan and Mackinder
Alfred Mahan (US admiral):
 1890 “Naval power was central toward a state’s economic and
political power”
 World’s oceans are its highways; control of these highways is
instrumental in controlling the course of international relations
Halford Mackinder (1919):
 emphasized intimate relationship between geography and
technology
 20th century gave land power the dominant position
 Eurasia: whichever country dominated the Eurasian landmass
would inevitably dominate world politics
 Heartland versus Rimland
Socioeconomic Theories of IR
 Marxist-Leninist: conflict is not the result of anarchy and




the security dilemma, but rather the result of capitalist
states competing economically against one another
Lenin (1912): Imperialism—The Highest Stage of
Capitalism
World War I result of capitalism and colonialism
Imperialism: refers to the relationship of a hegemonic state
to subordinate states, nations, and people under its control
Colonialism: variety of imperialism; involves the settlement
of foreign territories; maintenance of rule over a
subordinate population

Key Figures in the History of Realism