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Theory of International Politics [Paperback]

by Kenneth N. Waltz
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 5, 2010 1577666704 978-1577666707 1
The seminal text on neorealist analysis! From Theory of International Politics: National politics is the realm of authority, of administration, and of law. International politics is the realm of power, of struggle, and of accommodation. . . . States, like people, are insecure in proportion to the extent of their freedom. If freedom is wanted, insecurity must be accepted. Organizations that establish relations of authority and control may increase security as they decrease freedom. If might does not make right, whether among people or states, then some institution or agency has intervened to lift them out of nature s realm. The more influential the agency, the stronger the desire to control it becomes. In contrast, units in an anarchic order act for their own sakes and not for the sake of preserving an organization and furthering their fortunes within it. Force is used for one s own interest. In the absence of organization, people or states are free to leave one another alone. Even when they do not do so, they are better able, in the absence of the politics of the organization, to concentrate on the politics of the problem and to aim for a minimum agreement that will permit their separate existence rather than a maximum agreement for the sake of maintaining unity. If might decides, then bloody struggles over right can more easily be avoided.

TABLE OF CONTENTS: 1. Laws and Theories 2. Reductionist Theories 3. Systemic Approaches and Theories 4. Reductionist and Systemic Theories 5. Political Structures 6. Anarchic Orders and Balances of Power 7. Structural Causes and Economic Effects 8. Structural Causes and Military Effects 9. The Management of International Affairs


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Theory of International Politics + Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis + Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge Studies in International Relations)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The late Kenneth Waltz was a towering figure in the academic study of the field of international relations. Waltz's theoretical insights and his seminal contribution to neorealism will remain an enduring part of our understanding of how the world works in years to come. There are few books that can match the rigor and theoretical depth of Waltz's Theory of International Politics." --Nader Entessar, University of South Alabama

From the Back Cover

"This is one of the seminal texts in international relations. I'm thrilled to see it in print again. Thank you so much for committing to it!" -- Christopher Moore, Bethel University

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Waveland Pr Inc; 1 edition (February 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577666704
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577666707
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The worst book on IR theory, except for all the others October 3, 2000
Format:Paperback
Theory of International Politics is truly a five-star book when it comes to academic impact; I give it four stars only because the writing can be obtuse. Nonetheless, and despite criticism from other Amazon reviewers, Waltz's book lays the foundation of the theoretical paradigm that is dominant among international relations scholars. Anyone wishing to understand the current academic debates among international relations scholars should read at least excerpts of Theory of International Politics.
The reason Waltz's book carries such weight, despite flaws, is that Waltz lays out a simple, theoretically "testable" version of a much broader and older theory (Political Realism). Political Realism, as perhaps best laid out by (the German-turned-American) scholar Hans Morganthau, views nations as the unitary actors in international affairs (in much the same way as Marx viewed economic classes as unitary actors in the political sphere): states have "interests" that they will act on, regardless of the interests, ideologies, cultures, religions, etc. of individual state leaders or even of the individuals who make up a state. This interest is "power," understood as control over one's own destiny and (perhaps incidentally) the destiny of others. It is a very broad idea has a certain gut appeal. After all, the Athenians of Thucydides were Realists when they replied to the Melians' "international law" arguments by saying, "The strong do what they will, the weak do what they must."
Despite this appeal, Morganthau's argument has serious theoretical and historical problems. First, power is so broadly defined that the theory is "untestable." Was Hitler power-hungry?
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waltz' Realism: Politics without Policy January 10, 2008
Format:Paperback
1. Waltz or `Politics without Policy'

The primary goal of Kenneth Waltz in developing a structural theory was its desire to make realism `scientific'. The classical realists had argued that the ultimate cause of war had to with man's evil, power-seeking nature: states formed by men inherently tend to seek power and this entails conflict among them (Morgenthau 1964, 4). However, for Waltz, this was a subjective (unfalsifiable) and thus unscientific argument to account for international politics. Like the classical realists, Waltz start by assuming that states are the major actors in international politics: "non-state actors must "rival" the states to be taken into account (1979, 88-9). He then focuses on the structure of the international system and emphasizes the difference between international and domestic systems. Unlike the domestic systems, the international system does not have an authority above the nation states to enforce the rule of law. Therefore, contrary to the `order' in domestic systems, it is "anarchy" that reigns in the international system (111). And it is this anarchic nature of the system that induces states to be always concerned about security and that leads them to seek power to ensure their survival (85). At a minimum, states seek their own preservation and, at a maximum they drive for universal domination (116). Hence, in Waltz's realism, `prudence' takes the place of `human nature' as the source of power-seeking behavior that which eventually results in conflict. "Anarchy" is therefore the key concept in Waltz's structural realism because all his following arguments derive from the assumption that the international system is anarchic.
Like the classical realists, Waltz assumes that states are rational entities as well (106).
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is the groundbreaking book that defined the Neorealist concept of International Relations.Some of the propositions set forth by Waltz are indisuputable: The results of anarchy on state behavior and how it limits interstate competition; How the system forces states to behave in certain ways, making the unit-level factors much less important. Also included is why security considerations always outweigh economic ones, and the benefits of internal balancing versus external balancing. Some of his precepts are more subject to critisicm: The benefits of bipolarity of multipolarity. N Nonetheless, this is the book that made the field of IR a real social science rather than a history-like humanities study. Any real student of International Relations needs to start here to understand both the academic discipline, and the real world of interstate relation.
Eric Gartman
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars easy to understand May 27, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a must-read book in international politics. It's easy to understand and convincingly. I recommend students of international relations to read this book as a key text.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read February 18, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
We used this book in a couple of my classes while studying for my MA in International Relations. Waltz was a leading thinker and theorist and I am glad that I studied his material and ideas.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this classical work, because I was interested in the structural realism and its main theoretical tenets. Although the book was written in the late 1970s, I still find the volume very relevant if one is interested – like me – to better understand the structural realist thought. (One could of course criticize Waltz for not discussing unipolarity at a greater length (instead we find a rather long discussion on multipolarity and bipolarity), but the book still has many interesting insights relevant for the modern world.) Waltz is very clear about that he is not providing a theory of foreign policy; he is interested in the workings of international politics and his explicit aim is to provide a general theory of international politics. One does not have to agree with Waltz’s arguments, but one surely can agree that it is an accessible, eloquent and persuasive work on the role of structure in the international politics. In my opinion it is a must-read volume for anyone who is interested in the international politics.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A noble effort
There are many problems with Kenneth Waltz's 'Theory of International Politics,' which theorists continue to tackle. Nonetheless, this is, without a doubt, a groundbreaking work. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Cornelius
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY USEFUL
This is a very great book, and very useful for my Master Thesis.
I highly recommend it to anyone interested.
Published on July 18, 2011 by Erica O.
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book!
Only Waltz and other writers he refers to in his book as being the theoretical base to his approach, had made any scientifically meaningful progress , up to our days , in an... Read more
Published on August 3, 2008 by Doron Finegold
5.0 out of 5 stars this is a perfect book
The only thing you can complain about this book is its PRICE!!
Published on September 25, 2006 by Pingkuei Chen
3.0 out of 5 stars Can Waltz Adequately Explain Alliance Formation?
To illuminate the puzzle of why states form alliances with other states, if they (according to his theory) are necessarily "selfish", Waltz first makes the necessary... Read more
Published on December 5, 2003 by ChairmanLuedtke
5.0 out of 5 stars What part of "THEORY" did you not get?
This is the book that sucked me into IR; it was a transformative addition to my toolkit for understanding the world. Theory is a tool, not an explanation. Read more
Published on November 8, 2002 by Brian in CA
3.0 out of 5 stars Structuralism pretending to be both scientific and systemic.
This book is important, but it's not nearly all it's cracked up to be. First, it's very poorly written... Read more
Published on November 8, 2001 by Reticuli
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed and misunderstood
As the reviews of Theory of International Politics (TIP) clearly demonstrate, Waltz's work inspires strong emotions: from hostility to great praise. Read more
Published on June 28, 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars Politics, not "politics"
TIP is the standard target or starting point -- depending upon your own theoretical bent -- for almost all current IR theory. That being said, TIP does have problems. Read more
Published on January 12, 2001
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