Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Basically, what I am is a structural realist. I'm a person who believes that it's the structure

  • of the international system, it's the architecture

  • of the international system, that explains in large

  • part how states behave. Another way to say that is, I do not believe that domestic politics,

  • I do not believe that the composition or the make-up

  • of individual states matters very much for how those states behave on a day-to-day basis, in international politics.

  • And to be a bit more specific about this,

  • I believe the fact that states live in what we call an

  • anarchic system - that's a system where there's no higher authority that those states can

  • turn to if they get into trouble - that fact, coupled

  • with the fact that states can never be certain that

  • they won't end up living next door to a really powerful state that has malign intentions,

  • All of that causes states to do everything they can

  • to be as powerful as possible. And again, the

  • reason that you want to be very powerful, that you want to pursue power, that you want

  • to dominate your region of the world, is because

  • in that situation, there is no other state that is

  • capable of hurting you. If you're small and you're weak in the international

  • system, that means you're vulnerable. If you don't have a lot of power, what happens

  • is that the big, the powerful state is in a position

  • where they can take advantage of you. And again, because the system is anarchic, because

  • there's no higher authority that sits above states, there's nobody that you can turn to.

  • There's no night watchman that you can call on the

  • telephone to come and help you. So you're in a

  • very vulnerable situation, and the way to avoid that is to be very powerful.

  • And to give you a good example that really highlights this, think about the United States

  • of America in the Western hemisphere.

  • The United States is by far the most powerful country in

  • the Western hemisphere. It has the Canadians on its northern border. It has the Mexicans

  • on its southern border. It has fish on its eastern

  • border and fish on its western border. No American ever goes to bed at night worrying

  • about another country attacking it, and the reason is because the United States is so

  • powerful. So the ideal situation for any state in the

  • international system, is to be as powerful as possible.

  • Because that's the best way to survive in a system where there's no higher authority,

  • no night watchman, and where you can never be certain

  • that you won't end up living next door to another country that has malign intentions

  • and a lot of military power. In the world of realism, there are basically

  • two sets of theories. What one might call the

  • human nature realist theories and the structural realist theories. The human nature realists

  • and Hans Morgenthau, of course, would be the most

  • prominent example of this school of thought,

  • believe that human beings are hardwired with what Morgenthau called an animus dominandi.

  • To put this is slightly different terms, Morgenthau was saying that all human beings are born

  • with a Type A personality, and when they get into power, what they want to do is pursue

  • power as an end in itself. So in that story, it's human nature, it's the way human beings

  • are born that causes all this conflict in the

  • international system. That's a very different way of thinking about

  • the world than the structural realist argument. Structural realists like me and like Ken Waltz

  • believe that it is the structure of the international system, it is the architecture of the system,

  • not human nature, that causes states to behave aggressively. That's what causes states to

  • engage in security competition. It's the fact that

  • there's no higher authority above states, and that states can never be certain that

  • another state won't come after them militarily somewhere

  • down the road that drives these states to engage in security competition.

  • So although both realist schools of thought lead to the same form of behaviour, which

  • is a rather aggressive kind of competition, the

  • root causes are different in the two stories.

  • Again, on one side, you have the human nature realists who focus on the way human beings are

  • hardwired, and on the other side, you have the structural realists, who focus on the

  • basic way that the system is organised

  • My view is that the most important questions in international politics are what a theory

  • should be concerned with, and there are really only

  • a few big questions out there that matter. And

  • these questions largely involve war and peace. And I think one of the great advantages of

  • realism is that it has a lot to say. It doesn't provide perfect answers, but it has a lot

  • to say about the big questions in international politics.

  • And one of the attractions of realism is that it is a parsimonious theory, which is a

  • sophisticated way of saying it's a simple theory. Realism is easy to understand. A handful

  • of factors are said to describe why the world,

  • or to explain why the world works in particular ways, why you get these very important events

  • like World War I and World War II. And I think that that's the most important thing that

  • a theory can do, is to provide simple explanations for

  • very important events. This is not to say that we shouldn't have

  • theories that explain minor actions or minor considerations or peripheral situations in

  • the international system. But the most important theories, by definition, are going to be those

  • theories that deal with the big questions. And the

  • theories that are going to matter the most - and I believe this is why structural realism

  • matters so much - are those theories that are nice

  • and simple, that are parsimonious. I believe that if China continues to rise

  • economically, that it will translate that economic might

  • into military might, and that it will try to dominate Asia the way the United States

  • dominates the Western hemisphere. I think that China,

  • for good realist reasons, will try to become a

  • hegemon in Asia, because I believe the Chinese understand now and will certainly

  • understand in the future that the best way to survive in the international system is

  • to be really powerful.

  • The Chinese understand full well what happened to them between 1850 and 1950 when they

  • were very weak. They understand what the European great powers, the United States and

  • the Japanese did to them, and they want to make sure in the future that they're going

  • to be very powerful. So I think they'll try to dominate

  • Asia. The United States, on the other hand, does

  • not tolerate what we sometimes call peer competitors. The United States does not want

  • China to dominate Asia, and the United States will go to enormous lengths to prevent China

  • from dominating Asia. And of course China's neighbours. This includes Japan, South Korea,

  • Singapore, Vietnam, India and Russia - will not want China to dominate Asia. So they will

  • join with the United States to try to contain China much the way our European and Asian

  • allies joined together with us during the Cold War

  • to contain the Soviet Union. The same thing, I believe, will happen with China.

  • So you will have this intense security competition between China, which is trying to dominate

  • Asia, and the United States and China's neighbours, which are trying to prevent China from

  • dominating Asia. So with regard to this question that lots of people are talking about today,

  • can China rise peacefully? My answer is no, and my answer is based on my theory, because

  • there's no way you can predict the future without a theory.

Basically, what I am is a structural realist. I'm a person who believes that it's the structure

Subtitles and vocabulary

A2 BEG US system china international realist powerful dominate

Structural Realism - International Relations (1/7)

  • 143 0
    孫宜君   posted on 2019/11/26
Video vocabulary

Go back to previous version