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Realism in International Relations

Realism is a school of thought in the study and practice of international relations. Realists understand international politics as a struggle among sovereign states for power, measured in terms of military forces, wealth, natural resources, population, and territory. Sovereign states exist in an anarchic system in which rules and agreements, including formal treaties, are easily broken. No super-sovereign world government exists to punish states that violate treaties and international law, so states must rely on themselves to ensure their survival in a competitive, dangerous world. Survival is the sine qua non of foreign policy; governments that interpret the national interest in alternative ways do so at their peril. To survive, states must arm themselves—or secure wellarmed allies—to deter potential aggressors and to defend their territories, ...

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