Essay Sample on Neo-Classical Realist Approach in Accounting for Contemporary EU Security Politics

Published: 2021-06-30
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University of Richmond
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EU foreign and security policy have developed gradually over many years. The foreign and security speaks and acts as one in world affairs. The EU foreign and security policy seeks to promote international relations, develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law and preserve peace and strengthen international security. Neorealism explains the outcomes of the state's interactions as it has the theory of international politics. Moreover, neorealism also includes some general assumptions about the motivations of the individual states but does not give in to details the behavior of the different individual states (Adrian Hyde-Price, 2013). Therefore, with the lack of the theory taking a keen interest in the daily stuff of international relations they are left accounted for by the theories of foreign policy. Moreover, neoclassical realism belongs to the realist tradition in the international relations theory which has over the years tried to make sense of the international reality with the focus on the state's power and conflictual relations among deferent states. Neoclassical realism has notably evolved to becoming both a "theory of foreign policy" and "theory of international politics." The theory notes that the cope and the ambition of a country's foreign policy is first driven by their place in the international system and specifically with the country relative material power capabilities (Trine Flockhart, 2013). Thus, the theory aims at explaining of foreign policies by referring to both national and international levels.

There has been a general feel that there has been relative decline in the systemic incentives or European security cooperation. However, despite the claim being broadly accepted by many neo-realists, there is some factor that makes the relationship between relative decline and European security cooperation complicated. First, European calculations on relative decline bear both a global and a regional component. Illustrated with the need to not only ensure there is cooperation in the state, but also there is the willingness and the ability to the state to ensure their strengths and weaknesses and ensure they can maximize their strengths (K. Jorgensen, 2013). However, many European member states have declined to accompany cooperation with relative decline and their results to unnecessary competition with each other. Secondly, when the European countries are thinking of their relative power, there is a great differentiation in the manner countries are willing to share power. A particular European country many accept to incur losses in some issue and expect to gain on another issue, this ideally affects how intra-European considerations. With some counties willingness to make losses in their security so as to gain economically, affect Europe main powers seek and it directly impact on the cooperation in the European Union (EU) framework.

Neoclassical realism as an approach concept emanates from the analysis of different foreign policy. The brain child of this concept is Gideon Rose who manufactured the theory during the World Politics in 1998 during the review of different political articles. It combines two theoretical concepts that is neo-realist and classical realist respectively, thus the name "Neoclassical Realism." The European Union depends on the Neoclassical Theory to for their security system. This is because it relates to the balancing of power and creating limited room for hegemonic states in the security field (STEN RYNNING, 2011). The balancing of power, security within the Nation States happens in cases where a given state correctly translates the counterpart state's intention and balances appropriately.

On the other hand, the cause of imbalance in the use of additional resources as a result of incorrect translation of a country's intention as threatening rather than peaceful which creates overbalancing. The other balances concept that proves useful to the contemporary EU security makeup is under balancing and not -balancing which occur due to failure to balance or avoiding state balancing respectively. Therefore, neoclassical realism approach is relevant in the accounting for contemporary EU security politics in the balancing because it helps the EU states to perceive the intention of other Nation States and hence apply appropriate security measures (STEN RYNNING, 2011). Another useful concept of Neoclassical Realism explains that the variables in the international system can be dictated by what states do in the system, for example, power distribution among states, including other variables such as domestic which involves the internal affairs of a given state like institutions, technocrats and the small groups within a society. Additionally, neoclassical realism demonstrates the trust issues among states that hinder them from accurately judging the intentions of the opponent states (CHRISTOPH O. MEYER, 2011).

The two theoretical analysis of Lorenzo Cladi and Andrea Locatelli and that of Benjamin Pohl that talks about the Liberal provide inadequate evidence to the understanding of the of a complex system of European security and defense cooperation (A. Aarstad, 2013). Both the writings on the theories provide articles provide some degree of relevant insights that translates the complexity in an international system with an outcome like the EU security system. However, the attributes can neither balance nor are simple as far as the political referencing is concerned. The theoretical approach is in the best position to deliberate of the debate between the realism, and the liberalism approaches, for example, one that deals with the reductionism and the level of system and the other that deal with the domestic issue (Morgenthau, 1993).

The understanding of the Liberal theories is described best as the conflict mitigation, the assumption of the world system that can be manipulated by the world superpowers. The European security takes numerous diversities and presents itself in some forms and shapes that make the whole system strong. Some perspectives in the theoretical makeups especially during the first decade of the cold war presented an opportunity for the nation state such as European states to revision their strategies in the security system. According to Ikenberry and Moravcsik, 2001, theoretical setup of idea national, republican and commercial theories tend to lean on the state preferences such as peace inform of a security that is capability of defending the state from both internal and external conflicts.

The fundamental benefits that pull Europe towards the concept of realism is the fact that the understanding of realism is based on assumptions of anarchy which maintains the under-development of non- systematic factors. In addition, Europe deploys all the International Theories which include the liberal, realism, and constructivism do not employ a complete elaborate objective oriented result as far as settling of disputes, solving of crisis is concerned. Despite the fact that the theories explain the crisis aspects of life, they are not, unless used in a combination, act as the best agents of change to provide complete peace and security among nation states. The understanding of Europe in the development of security and defense remedies takes a narrative format and a high level of using agents as a media for providing security to different Nation states (Paul, 2005).

According to Stanley Hoffmann's (1966) the domestic deference explains the reason why Europe maintain its sovereign status over other nation states. This is because of the economic deference, technological know that is supreme for other nation state. He adds that, the divergent foreign policies that favor the democratic setup of Europe gives the state an upper hand in the international face, and the fragments that tend to lack in the international system acts to the advantage of the European Union. Not ignoring the strategic location of the state provide it with a stable background to support its security system.

Critical analysis suggests that the historical makeup of Europe that offer a sense of unity to the citizens and as such, they form a strong nationality that is very relevant for the growth and development of the both the economic, social and political setup. According to the classical realist thinking, glory, survival and power overtakes the scientific knowledge. The term power is fundamental in the international system, relational among states and the diplomatic setup since it defined the capability of a state in the system. A nation state with power over the surrounding states enjoys the hegemonic freedom (Taliaferro, J.W. 2000). However, power works hand in hand with the economic system, that is to say, according to classical realist theory; power can only be sustained when the economic background of a state is strong enough.

The theory of Classical Realism is a more convincing framework for understanding the concept of power and power struggles in the international systems, pulling most nation states with the capability to engage in the business of power politics. It is a concept that combines objectivity, analysis the power struggles, and addresses the distribution of power to avoid imbalances that can lead to the outbreak of World War II. With the historical events that happened around Europe, it can neither take the form of states created by people nor can it move towards a people created the state. Europe as a nation state thrived through threats against other states to take its current form, for example, to build its institution, both political and economic, it had to use a threatened model of nation-states (Posen, B. 2004). It is, therefore, an open dynamics in understanding the European Union.

Neo-classical realist approach is critical in ensuring contemporary European Union security politics because of its ability to address the significant factors affecting the nations under European Union. This is envisaged in the fundamental principles of the operations of the union and how it protects, guide and defend its members against any form of exploitation from other unions globally. This is critical because it authenticates the country's sovereignty in the global sphere. It's also imperative to point out that neoclassical realism belongs to the realist tradition in the international relations theory which has over the years tried to make sense of the international reality with the focus on the state's power and conflictual relations among deferent states.


Adrian Hyde-Price, Pages 397-408 | published online: 29 Jul 2013. Neither Realism nor Liberalism: New Directions in Theorizing EU Security Policy

CHRISTOPH O. MEYER AND EVA STRICKMAN, 2011. Solidifying Constructivism: How Material and Ideational Factors Interact in European Defencejcms_2129 61.82

G. John Ikenberry and Andrew Moravcsik. Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).

Hyde-Price (2013) The Rout ledge Handbook of European Security, Set reading: A. Realism: a dissident voice in the study of the CSDP' pp18-27

K. Jorgensen and A. Aarstad (2013) The Rout ledge Handbook of European Security, Set reading: Liberal, constructivist and critical studies of European security' pp28-37

Morgenthau, H. (1993) Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill).

Paul, T.V. (2005) Soft Balancing in the Age of US Primacy.' International Security, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 4671.

Posen, B. (2004) ESDP and the Structure of World Power.' The International Spectator, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 5...

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