Realism is a very powerful theory in the study of international relations. The theory claims that states pursue their own interests in the international system.
The international system dictates the foreign policy of a state implying that changes in the international system would probably affect the foreign policies of a state. The theory states that the international system is anarchical since it lacks the central authority.
The main role of the central authority should be to resolve issues in the international system. Therefore, each state is concerned with its own affairs. The main interest of states is to maintain national security.
A state would only intervene in the international system if its national security is threatened. For instance, the theory argues that states form military alliances to strengthen their military power.
This means states are never concerned with resolving the security problems in the international system. States rarely cooperate because of mistrust and suspicion (Art and Jervis 67).
Scholars have come out strongly to support or critic realism theory. Ann Ticker’s criticism is mainly on the role of gender in the formulation of foreign policies. Unlike the realist theorists, she argues that human beings are not fixed.
Human behavior changes according to the environmental context. Therefore, she observes that even though states strive to achieve their national interests, they are forced to give in to the demands of other actors in the international system. This happens only if conditions demand for adjustment.
On his part, Alexander Wendt came up with a theory referred to as social theory. The theory rivals the realist approach as regards to foreign policy formulation. The scholar concurs with the fact that states pursue national interests.
However, he notes that culture is another aspect that influences the decision making process. He termed cultural rivalry as “cultures of anarchy”, which means some shared beliefs influence the formulation of foreign policies. He notes that the culture of various states change with time.
Therefore, there is no permanent enemy or friend in the international system. He also notes that human nature is dynamic, unlike the postulations of realist scholars who believe that the international system rarely changes.
Francis Beer and Robert Hariman conducted an analysis to determine the validity of realism. They note that there are other powerful units in the international system, which influence the state’s behavior. For instance, the emergence of powerful MNCs undermines the sovereignty of states.
In the US for example, public opinion is an aspect that can no longer be neglected when it comes to the making of foreign policy. The two scholars note that the relationships among states are complex.
Immanuel Wallerstein came up with the world-system theory, which states that resources influence the decision making process among states. He notes that the core controls the affairs of the world while the periphery is always oppressed.
From the views of the above scholars, it can be noted that states exist according to the Hobbestian state of nature where life is brutal, anarchic, quarrelsome, and short-lived.
However, individuals agreed to form a common government that would end the brutal life in the state of nature. In the international system, the scholars differ on whether a leviathan exists. Tickner disagrees that a leviathan exists.
She notes that the weak state will always be oppressed while the rich will always have its way. The same view is held by Immanuel Wallerstein who notes that the core controls all major economic activities in the world.
Alexander Wendt notes that war in the international system has been commercialized. This prevents the aggressors from attacking the innocent states.
Francis Beer and Robert Hariman oppose the idea that the state is the only important unit in the international system.
Art, Robert, and R. Jervis. International politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issue. Boston: Longman, 2011. Print.