Is Realism an Obsolete Theory, or Is It More Relevant Than Ever? Essay

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Realism, as a way of interpreting international relations has often been conceived to be closely tied to the Cold War. Realism, rooted in the experience of World War II and the Cold War, is said to be undergoing a crisis of confidence largely because the lessons adduced do not convincingly apply directly to the new realities of international relations in the twenty-first century (Clinton 2007:1) Worse still, if policymakers steadfastly adhere to realist precepts, they will have to navigate “the unchartered seas of the post-Cold War disorder with a Cold War cartography, and blind devotion to realism could compromise their ability to prescribe paths to a more orderly and just system.” (Kegley 1993:141). This paper will demonstrate that …show more content…
This realist concept of national interest and the concept of a moral, liberal, façade can easily be put into the context of contemporary international relations. Take the US hegemon in post-Cold War international relations, for example. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi went as far as to call them an “irreplaceable bulwark” for ‘all things good’ – democracy, freedom, and the preservation of human rights (Rhem 2001). If all these attributes are truly righteous cannot be discussed now, but these qualities have come to be accepted as the international moral norm. Because of its ‘flagship’ status within the international community, it may give it a legitimate right, to use these values as a pretext for advancing its own national interests. Take the US’ foreign policy, for instance – a goal and the ‘moral duty’ as the global hegemon is to create and preserve stability within the region of the Middle East. But in this pursuit of this stability, critics suggest that there is indeed an ulterior motive, such as the preservation of the flow of cheap Gulf oil to the US (Hassassian 1997).
Moreover, in regards to the events of September 11, the continued centrality of military strength and the persistence of conflict, even in this age of global economic interdependence, does not surprise realists (Snyder 2004). The theory's most obvious success is its ability to explain the US' forceful military response to terrorist