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Basically, what I am is a structural realist. I'm a person who believes that it's the structure
of the international system, it's the architecture
of the international system, that explains in large
part how states behave. Another way to say that is, I do not believe that domestic politics,
I do not believe that the composition or the make-up
of individual states matters very much for how those states behave on a day-to-day basis, in international politics.
And to be a bit more specific about this,
I believe the fact that states live in what we call an
anarchic system - that's a system where there's no higher authority that those states can
turn to if they get into trouble - that fact, coupled
with the fact that states can never be certain that
they won't end up living next door to a really powerful state that has malign intentions,
All of that causes states to do everything they can
to be as powerful as possible. And again, the
reason that you want to be very powerful, that you want to pursue power, that you want
to dominate your region of the world, is because
in that situation, there is no other state that is
capable of hurting you. If you're small and you're weak in the international
system, that means you're vulnerable. If you don't have a lot of power, what happens
is that the big, the powerful state is in a position
where they can take advantage of you. And again, because the system is anarchic, because
there's no higher authority that sits above states, there's nobody that you can turn to.
There's no night watchman that you can call on the
telephone to come and help you. So you're in a
very vulnerable situation, and the way to avoid that is to be very powerful.
And to give you a good example that really highlights this, think about the United States
of America in the Western hemisphere.
The United States is by far the most powerful country in
the Western hemisphere. It has the Canadians on its northern border. It has the Mexicans
on its southern border. It has fish on its eastern
border and fish on its western border. No American ever goes to bed at night worrying
about another country attacking it, and the reason is because the United States is so
powerful. So the ideal situation for any state in the
international system, is to be as powerful as possible.
Because that's the best way to survive in a system where there's no higher authority,
no night watchman, and where you can never be certain
that you won't end up living next door to another country that has malign intentions
and a lot of military power. In the world of realism, there are basically
two sets of theories. What one might call the
human nature realist theories and the structural realist theories. The human nature realists
and Hans Morgenthau, of course, would be the most
prominent example of this school of thought,
believe that human beings are hardwired with what Morgenthau called an animus dominandi.
To put this is slightly different terms, Morgenthau was saying that all human beings are born
with a Type A personality, and when they get into power, what they want to do is pursue
power as an end in itself. So in that story, it's human nature, it's the way human beings
are born that causes all this conflict in the
international system. That's a very different way of thinking about
the world than the structural realist argument. Structural realists like me and like Ken Waltz
believe that it is the structure of the international system, it is the architecture of the system,
not human nature, that causes states to behave aggressively. That's what causes states to
engage in security competition. It's the fact that
there's no higher authority above states, and that states can never be certain that
another state won't come after them militarily somewhere
down the road that drives these states to engage in security competition.
So although both realist schools of thought lead to the same form of behaviour, which
is a rather aggressive kind of competition, the
root causes are different in the two stories.
Again, on one side, you have the human nature realists who focus on the way human beings are
hardwired, and on the other side, you have the structural realists, who focus on the
basic way that the system is organised
My view is that the most important questions in international politics are what a theory
should be concerned with, and there are really only
a few big questions out there that matter. And
these questions largely involve war and peace. And I think one of the great advantages of
realism is that it has a lot to say. It doesn't provide perfect answers, but it has a lot
to say about the big questions in international politics.
And one of the attractions of realism is that it is a parsimonious theory, which is a
sophisticated way of saying it's a simple theory. Realism is easy to understand. A handful
of factors are said to describe why the world,
or to explain why the world works in particular ways, why you get these very important events
like World War I and World War II. And I think that that's the most important thing that
a theory can do, is to provide simple explanations for
very important events. This is not to say that we shouldn't have
theories that explain minor actions or minor considerations or peripheral situations in
the international system. But the most important theories, by definition, are going to be those
theories that deal with the big questions. And the
theories that are going to matter the most - and I believe this is why structural realism
matters so much - are those theories that are nice
and simple, that are parsimonious. I believe that if China continues to rise
economically, that it will translate that economic might
into military might, and that it will try to dominate Asia the way the United States
dominates the Western hemisphere. I think that China,
for good realist reasons, will try to become a
hegemon in Asia, because I believe the Chinese understand now and will certainly
understand in the future that the best way to survive in the international system is
to be really powerful.
The Chinese understand full well what happened to them between 1850 and 1950 when they
were very weak. They understand what the European great powers, the United States and
the Japanese did to them, and they want to make sure in the future that they're going
to be very powerful. So I think they'll try to dominate
Asia. The United States, on the other hand, does
not tolerate what we sometimes call peer competitors. The United States does not want
China to dominate Asia, and the United States will go to enormous lengths to prevent China
from dominating Asia. And of course China's neighbours. This includes Japan, South Korea,
Singapore, Vietnam, India and Russia - will not want China to dominate Asia. So they will
join with the United States to try to contain China much the way our European and Asian
allies joined together with us during the Cold War
to contain the Soviet Union. The same thing, I believe, will happen with China.
So you will have this intense security competition between China, which is trying to dominate
Asia, and the United States and China's neighbours, which are trying to prevent China from
dominating Asia. So with regard to this question that lots of people are talking about today,
can China rise peacefully? My answer is no, and my answer is based on my theory, because
there's no way you can predict the future without a theory.
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Structural Realism - International Relations (1/7)

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孫宜君 2019 年 11 月 26 日 に公開
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