The Power of Power Politics: From Classical Realism to Neotraditionalism

The Power of Power Politics: From Classical Realism to Neotraditionalism

The Power of Power Politics: From Classical Realism to Neotraditionalism

The Power of Power Politics: From Classical Realism to Neotraditionalism

Synopsis

In this much-expanded 1999 edition of his classic study, John Vasquez examines the power of the power politics perspective to dominate inquiry, and evaluates its ability to provide accurate explanations of the fundamental forces underlying world politics. Part I of the book reprints the original 1983 text of The Power of Power Politics. It examines classical realism and quantitative international politics, providing an intellectual history of the discipline and an evaluation of statistical research guided by the realist paradigm. The second part provides six new chapters covering neorealism, post-modernism, the neotraditional research program on balancing, Mearsheimer's analysis of multipolarity and institutionalism, the debate on the end of the Cold War, and neoliberalism. Through the use of comparative case studies these chapters analyse the extent to which the realist paradigm has been progressive (or degenerating), empirically accurate, and remains a relevant and explanatorily powerful theoretical approach for our current era.

Excerpt

This is an unusual book in that it is not simply a revised or updated edition of a work that in certain quarters has become well known; it is really two books in one. The first part contains the original text of The Power of Power Politics: A Critique. This provides a theoretical intellectual history of international relations inquiry, applying and testing several propositions about scientific disciplines initially presented by Thomas Kuhn (1962). Its argument is that realism, specifically the work of Hans J. Morgenthau, has provided a paradigm for the field that guides theory and research. It then goes on to review systematically the statistical findings in the field to show that the paradigm has not been very successful in passing such tests and concludes that this evidence along with well-known conceptual flaws indicates that the realist paradigm is a fundamentally flawed and empirically inaccurate view of the world.

Since the original text has acquired a life of its own, I have not sought to revise it so as to make the views of someone who was starting out in the profession accord with someone who is now in his mid-career. It is published as it was in its first printing except for the deletion of a few minor citations and about eighty pages from chapter 4 – pages which provided a detailed review of international relations theory in the 1950s and 1960s but which is less relevant now. This slight abridgement actually makes the text closer to the dissertation that gave rise to it in that the main revisions were in chapter 4 and the addition of chapter 8, which provided a new conclusion.

Nor was it ever my intention to truly update the text. Done properly that would involve new data analyses that would essentially replicate chapters 4-7. That would require an immense effort and is certainly worth doing, but it is not clear that this sort of additional evidence . . .

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