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Morality is Alien to Political Realism

Some realists reject assigning morality to war arguing that any attempt to impose a moral solution is tragic. It is important to note here that this skepticism of realists towards morality goes beyond war to cover the whole international relations spectrum. Indeed the classical works by both Hans Morgenthau (1948) and Kenneth Waltz (1979) confirm the realist’s skepticism to morality. The major problem with morality for realists partly stems from their reservation about political “utopinianism.”

Realism claims to be placing its emphasis on the acceptance of facts and on the analysis of their causes and consequences. This is a theory, which dwells so much on power struggle to the extent that it is referred to as the ‘power theory.’ Realists argue that the world system is anarchic, where the “winner takes it all,” and that in such a system none is safe since every political actor is a potential enemy. This theory is based on the deterministic human behavior, a school of thought that believes in inertness of the aggressive nature of man. The realists further, argue that there is need for the accumulation of power in order to ensure world peace. The justification is that when an actor becomes militarily powerful it will deter others from attacking it and if all are perceived to be as powerful then no one attacks the other hence peace. This filament of thought is discernible throughout the history of nations, especially so during the so called arms race of the Cold War era.

From such a background, we see that realism paints the world as an actual battlefield, a jungle where laws, morality and liberal principles have no place. International peace for realists can only be assured through the balance of power. What matters is the successful defense of oneself against the aggressor. This defense, to the realists, must be done through preponderance of power.  There is no trace of morality at the heart of political realism.  
Morality is Alien to Political Realism Morality is Alien to Political Realism Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on March 14, 2017 Rating: 5

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