Free Offensive Neorealism Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Theory, Power, World, China, International System, System, United States, America

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/10

Central Idea

Offensive neorealism is a very critical theory that can be built on by other realist theories; it bases its assumptions on the structure of international systems rather than the human nature that causes states want to pursue power. States are differentiated mainly by the relative power they hold with those with relative more power considered to have the highest chance of becoming hegemons. It is believed that states are distrustful and fearful of others because in this theory even closest allies have the capacity to become enemies. International systems are characterized to be anarchic, and powers that have domineered are in the form of states, these states for instance America work round the clock to try and maximize their power. In this theory, military power is believed to be the source of all other powers. Political power is equated with military power, and this power bears economic strength. The main aim of great powers in the world is to gain dominance in a particular region what is referred to as hegemony in the theory. This theory too explains both the international relationships and tries to predict how the world would look like in the future. This theory is strong because it is a dimensional analysis, sufficient in explaining the international relationships, merges both historical and recent happenings in the world and finally fills up the gaps left by other theories in their effort to explain international powers and their conquest for dominance. The theory has several weaknesses as it is subjective fails to distinguish the difference between political and military powers among other aspects.

Strengths of offensive neorealism

This theory points to the fact that states cannot trust each other as far as intentions are concerned. The theory affects the international system when a country acts as an ally when in the real sense it seeks to be a powerhouse. For instance, the case of America during the Second World War joined forces with other European countries to try countering USSR not because they wanted to help the other nations, but only because USSR was a threat to America’s dominance in the world. This theory recognizes that the international system and the quest for dominance will always cause security breaches in the world as such the theory means to say that at no one time will the world be at peace. In this case, we have the China case study where the rise of power of China is believed to cause unrest, especially for America, who will feel threatened by the China’s rise. As a result, this theory affects the international system when America aligns with China’s neighbors or Asian countries to try and counter China. Offensive neorealist explain in their theory that potential hegemons will certainly fall apart with existing hegemons from other parts, in this case, strong coalitions are likely to fall apart when such issues arise. The rise in power of China will cause it to fall apart with USA.
This theory also recognizes the hitch in trying to determine the amount of power that is enough. Political powers and military power are equated, and it is difficult to tell which is sufficient. The two powers according to this theory lead to the rise of economic power. Offensive realism theories have an easy time accounting for international wars through history by shedding light on theoretical or empirical uncertainties. Offensive realism can be used to predict potential international conflicts and can foretell the likelihood of the formation of the alliance. Anarchic ideals push states to look for more power, for instance when Italy became a powerhouse after being made a state in 1861 it tried to maximize its power by trying to conquer other parts of the world such Africa. Another notable strength of this theory is its blending of both internal structures and international structures. The theory states that once a state stabilizes internally it tries to establish its power at an international level. For instance, the theory affects the international system when Germany grew fast as a European powerhouse after being united by Bismarckian Prussia and, as such attempted to dominate over Europe. The result was two world wars, which led to the partitioning of Germany after they were defeated. Germany in this case after stabilizing internally were pushed by this internal power to try and extend its power across Europe, this theory, in this case, is applicable in explaining why Germany behaved so.

Weaknesses of offensive neorealism

This theory is not in support of international corporations as it regards every state as a potential threat. It is in contrary to what we witness in the contemporary world. Hence, the theory affects the international system when international corporations are the order of the day and others have existed for long periods without the allies falling apart or betraying each other or turning against each other. Power in this theory is referred to as using only terms used in the armed forces. Other powers within a state that are used to assess that state's strength are, therefore, ignored. There are other powers that this theory fails to touch on what classical realists call soft powers. These two types of powers; material powers and soft powers have to be merged in the contemporary world in order for a balance to be a stroke. Balancing of the powers requires states to be honest to each other and try their best to avoid conflicts and wars. At the current age, there is a clear differentiation between the super world countries and developing ones, hence making the balancing of powers successful. International organizations are related to the balance of power since they play a role of determining the economic strength of a country. When the economy is thriving, the balancing of power is stable while when the economy is weak, the balance of power is negatively affected. For instance, when international organizations are performing poorly; this situation will create instability among people and the government, thus resulting to imbalance of power. The international system operates due to relations states have globally, and offensive neutralism theory fails to unite these countries destroying the international cooperation.
In addition to this there are constant changes in the contemporary world which this theory does not account for. For instance, the theory affects the international system when it fails to explain why America has grown to be a superpower over the years and maintains that America is only a regional hegemon, which is not the case. This theory furthermore concentrates on structures to explain international powers, and as such it fails to account for some events in history. For instance, the case of Japan pushing to be a hegemon cannot be accounted for by this theory. This situation affects the international system since Japan is trying to become the world’s strong hold, hence resulting to power struggle. The rise of China and its will to dominate Asia is characterized by its dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands found in the Pacific Ocean. Another case is the self-assurance of China over Diaoyu in the same Pacific waters. China on its rise will coexist peacefully with her neighbors; this will be in mind with the military ability of her neighbors and their ability to resist dominance over them. Also, in the case of China, this situation affects the international system negatively because of power struggle, which results to China’s neighboring countries fighting back to protect their territory. It cannot be easily understood how external powers would have been a cause for its urge to become a hegemon since it is an island surrounded by water. The theory further fails to elaborate why Britain managed to extend its states besides being separated by water bodies; thus, affecting the international system.


The offensive realism theory makes key contributions to explaining events that relate to power and dominance internationally. The theory has unity and consistency and lacks open loopholes thus giving support to the concept aggressive behavior of states as far as gaining territories is concerned. Merging the two theories will ensure that the concept of interstate conflicts is explained, especially in the defense realism theory, which finds difficulties in explaining the existence of rows among internationally. However, the theory has shortcomings since scholars in this field are subjective when it comes to choosing case studies. They choose those case studies that support their theory and tend to ignore those that disapprove them. Additionally, this theory fails to distinguish between regional and systematic levels of analysis. The theory is insufficient in shedding light between the two concepts; thus it is implicit, this makes the theory have anomalies and may be considered half-baked. As much as this theory has its shortcomings, it is the one to go by as far as explaining power dimensions and international relationships. It explains why certain things happened in the history of nations and predicts what might happen and thus enabling people to be able to foretell what might happen as far as international relationships, and the urge for supremacy is concerned.

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