Ismoyo – G1800486ENumber of Words : 2487 Words
Compare and contrast the Waltzian (“The Anarchic Structure of World Politics”; “The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory”) and Gilpinian (“The Theory of Hegemonic War” and Kang, “Hierarchy and Hegemony in International Politics”) variants of neorealist theory, in terms of their basic assumptions, propositions, and supporting evidence.
Beginning with the history of the study of International Relations that emerged between World War I and II, realism emerged as a mainstream approach to international relations due to the imperfection of the idealist approach, especially the discussion of war. Realism which Thucydides brought a long time ago was adopted as a concept that gave birth to various variants of theory, in the dynamics of International Relations, indeed not free from causality. Historical approaches that are implicitly full of war and cruelty are the dominant factors in exploring the beginnings of the emergence of realism. Realist perspectives come to the fore as a mainstream theory in the science of international relations has passed its originators, in this case, the initiators of the ideas of realism or classical realism figures.
This realism thinking has been started since the time of Thucydides (The Melian Dialogue 460-406 BC) which is called classic-realism. Classical realism is the theory of international relations which explains the desire to gain greater power derived from human nature itself, the state is continuously used as a tool to fight for its capabilities. Humans are creatures who are never satisfied. When a need is met, he still wants to get it to its full potential. So, even if he is successful in his target, in fact, there are still many targets that are higher waiting. Thucydides saw that war was a rational and reasonable step to achieve security and the survival of the country because the state had no choice but to political power they had to carry out in anarchic conditions. Thucydides’s basic assumption is based on human nature that is always seeking power and wealth at the instigation of interests, pride and fear.
Gilpin explained that according to Thucydides, peace was created when there was only one dominant power of hegemony in the international system. Gilpin added that the war would occur when the comparison of the strength of the two countries was relatively small and almost equal to the hegemony states which have been eroding the power of the hegemonic, so they attacked. David C. Kang supported this hegemony system. According to Kang, international relations in East Asia lead to Hierarchy rather than Anarchy. The Westphalian culture in western countries that considers all nations or countries to be equal is very different from the East Asian culture that is guided by respect. One force that becomes hegemony here, the other forces will adjust while respecting the power of the hegemony, so that in East Asia there are fewer wars than western countries.
In 1979, Kenneth N. Waltz tried to formulate Realism in a new and distinctive way. While classical realists see international politics regarding country characteristics and their interactions with one another, Waltz focuses more on the anarchic nature of the international system and the distribution of power of the major countries that make up international structures. The power distribution forms systems known as bipolar and multipolar. According to Waltz, the overall condition of the system influences the behaviour of the state, not just the actors or state factors.
From the explanation above, we know that there are some differences between Gilpin’s theory and neorealism theory according to Waltz. These differences begin with the basic assumption of this approach where Gilpin refers more to the human/actor while in neorealism is the structural system that composes international relations. Therefore, it will be discussed more deeply about the basic assumptions of Gilpin’s theory and Waltz theory, its propositions and their application in international relations.
Gilpin explained about Thucydides’s statement that the basic mechanism of big war or hegemonic war is that humans always pursue wealth and power that are driven by interests, pride and fear. Humans are always selfish in overcoming moral principles. The advancement of knowledge that occurs today will not change human behaviour even though humans actually understand it, precisely with this matter will further increase human desire to gain strength, wealth, and technology so as to increase conflict and even war between social groups. According to him, a war like a disease that will always repeat along with the existing conditions.
Peace will only be created if there is only one dominant hegemon or state. This dominant state existence is what is called a stable system according to Thucydides where there is a rigid and dominant hierarchy of power or hegemon which has nothing to interfere with the vital interests of the dominant countries. If this stable system is disrupted where economic, technological and other changes erode the international hierarchy and undermine the position of the hegemonic country to be a country that is almost as powerful, causing a hegemonic state to be threatened with vital interests so that a diplomatic crisis can trigger a hegemonic war between countries in that system.
Unlike Gilpin, Waltz saw that the international relations system was already in an anarchic state. The primary focus of international relations was no longer on the actor, but on the system in which the actors interacted, where relations between countries were dictated by the anarchic nature of the international system, in other words, there is no higher authority than the state. With no higher authority governing international relations, countries are motivated to encourage survival, this is the cause of state behaviour from within. Thus, Waltz’s main focus in neorealism is the structure of the system and the distribution of power.
By focusing on the nature of the system-level structure, Waltz is against Gilpin where he avoids the need to make assumptions about human nature, morality, strengths and interests to survive. Thus Waltz saw power from a different perspective from classical realists. According to classical Realists, state behaviour aims only to gather the highest strength, while the Neorealist assumes that the interests of the state are security in running the system so that collecting self-help is a means to ensure their survival. To be able to survive this security pressure becomes a trigger for the arms race because every country feels threatened with the strength of other countries and competing to get even greater power to create a balance of power. This arms race causes security dilemma where the steps taken by a state to improve their security is a threat to other countries. The overreaction in buying unnecessary arms to improve their deterrent power to each other in order to prepare for war could be a benefit to the states because there will be no war, and the worst result was only limited war.
In an effort to ensure security in an anarchy environment, Waltz sees the bipolar system as the main focus for peace, the assumption of Waltz that security for peace will only be achieved when their competition becomes sharp, by maintaining the system as they maintain themselves. Thus, the bipolar system is more stable and guarantees more security than the Multipolar systems because the competition is only internal to the two countries, there are no additional major powers that can be used to form alliances. Multipolar systems make a large country be a small force because compared to a combination of countries, and will only create uncertainty in the alliance because it cannot distinguish between friends and opponents.
Robert Gilpin has put forward three propositions embedded in the explanation of his views. The first is that hegemonic warfare which influences by the changes in political, strategic and economic affairs are different from other war categories. The second is that the state behaviour is determined in large part by their strategic interaction which can be understood as a system. The third is that the participants in the conflict initially realized that the hegemonic war threatens and changes the structure of the international system, what was at stake was the hierarchy of power and relations between countries in the system. There will be no war if the changes in state behaviour at economic, technological and strategic aspects are still within the limits of the international hierarchy. The state of hegemony will be a threat if its vital interests are threatened by other countries in the system that can change its position in the hegemony system. However, in order to reduce the level of threat of hegemonic countries, the smaller countries below must have a strategy to anticipate if a threat occurs. In this case, the most important role in limiting hegemonic expansion is the strength of natural barriers and the loss of the power of gradients, economics and technological limits for optimal size, and domestic institutions. Meanwhile the balance of power which Waltz claim as an effective way to create peace, if applied in the hegemonic system, become the threat itself instead. Therefore, the balance of power is at the level below and is used only to be an alternative way if the hegemonic respect system fails.
The balance of power stated by Waltz explains that bipolar system is more stable in power distribution system than multipolar. The bipolar system gives more measured correction between two states, which mean that a miscalculation cannot be employed otherwise they will get the sanction. Nevertheless, in the bipolar system, it appears that this system only sees the political interests of the state as an actor in the system of international relations. This system does not think about how the welfare of citizens must also be fulfilled, how the social conditions that will occur in the future when decisions or foreign policy issued in the end is a battle for world peace. This bipolar system is very vulnerable because if the two great powers carry out a power struggle, then there will no longer be a single authority (unipolar) which will eventually lead to a single world dictatorship.
According to Gilpin and Kang, the hegemonic theory emphasizes how the system in a regime can work with the help of hegemonic states in it to maintain the stability of the world system. The act of domination of a country is needed to maintain the continuity of an open and stable economic system. To create hegemonic stability, demand a world order that is united in one Unitarian, namely in the concept of unipolar which indicates the existence of a single superpower, which serves as an international system stabilizer. A hegemonic country or dominant ruler must have the capability to implement a regulatory system, a strong desire to become a hegemon, and a commitment to a system that is considered to provide mutual benefits. While this capability is determined by the level of economic stability, dominance in the technology or economy, and political power backed up by military forces. The dominant state maintains the system of hegemony that he created and then utilizes the regime to obtain maximum profit for himself.
The conditions described in the hegemony theory as Gilpin and Kang explained are represented by the United States as a hegemonic country in the structure of the international economic and security regime. Until now realists have struggled to explain the absence of a balancing force against the United States or Chinese hegemony in East Asia that implements a “respect system” that emphasizes formal inequalities between countries and a clear hierarchy, and it is marked by centuries of stability among the participants. In this region, there were only two wars between China, Korea, Vietnam and Japan, namely the Chinese Invasion of Vietnam (1407-1428) and the Japanese invasion of Korea (1592-1598). This could happen because the smaller countries in the region imitate Chinese practices and accept Chinese centrality as a normative social order that also contains commitments. The commitment itself respected by each member so they will not exploit one another. Cultural, diplomatic and economic relations between countries in the region are broad and intensive and Korean, Vietnamese and even Japanese elites consciously apply the institutional practices. This proves that this inequality or hierarchy can actually explain the achievement of a stable international relations system with one hegemonic state in it. In contrast to the principle in the west that embraces Westphalia, which means equal status between countries, there are more conflicts. This evidence explains that the hegemony system is more successful in creating stability than the anarchy system.
The difference between Gilpin’s theory and neorealism theory according to Waltz can be seen from the basic assumptions that created this theory in which Gilpin focused more on the anarchic nature of humans while Waltz looked more at systems that built international relations. Human nature creates conflict that will continue to be repeated, while an anarchic international relations system encourages the state to do self-help in order to survive by building strength through the balance of power so that it is not attacked or war occurs. Based on its proposition, Gilpin sees the level of the role of balance of power under natural strength while Waltz with its bipolar balance of power theory does not see the social impact of war on its citizens. Evidence of Gilpin and Kang’s realism theory justification was in hegemony in East Asia where Chinese hegemony was able to create hierarchies that lowered the possibility of war through a system of respect.
Brooks, Stephen and William Wohlforth, “American Primacy in Perspective,” Foreign Affairs, 81: 4 (New York: July/August 2002), 20-33
Gilpin, Robert, “The Theory of Hegemonic War,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18: 4 (Spring 1988), 591-613.
Kang, David, “Hierarchy and Hegemony in International Politics,” in Robert Art and Robert Jervis, 12th eds., International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, England : Pearson, 2015, pp. 131-134.
Thucydides, “The Melian Dialogue,” in Robert Art and Robert Jervis, 12th eds., International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, England : Pearson, 2015, pp. 21-26.
Tickner, J. Ann, “A Critique of Hans Morgenthau’s Principles of Political Realism,” in Robert Art and Robert Jervis, 12th eds., International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, England : Pearson, 2015, pp. 39-40
Waltz, Kenneth N., “The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18, No. 4 (Spring 1988), pp. 615-628.
Waltz, Kenneth N., “The Anarchic Structure of World Politics,” in Robert Art and Robert Jervis, 12th eds., International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, England : Pearson, 2015, pp. 47-65.
Wendt, Alexander, “Anarchy Is What States Make of It”, in Robert Art and Robert Jervis, 12th eds., International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, England : Pearson, 2015, pp. 73-80.