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Unveiling Realism in International Relations

Realism represents a venerable tradition of thought in IR theory. Provide an overview of this tradition beginning with an outline of its key ideas before discussing Kenneth Waltz’s theory of structural realism. Do you find the realist vision of international politics compelling? Discuss why or why not.

There are several theories that seek to explain how the states behave. Debates on the versions of dichotomy of engagement against the containment strategies have been ongoing thereby giving a distinction between the realists and the liberals. However, these are complex issues that are sophisticated and need a clear understanding and a broad view of issues in order to comprehend them. This paper will look into the realism and seek to understand its main ideas as well as the structural realism. It will also seek explanations on what influences the behaviors of the state hence gaining an in-depth knowledge and explanations of the states behaviors.


Realism is composed of several variants which tend to have common key characteristics thereby making to crucial to understand the distinct attributes and the major contours of realism. Realism is distinguishable from the other approaches to world politics like Marxism and liberalism since the realists view people as actors who have political instincts and they tend to be in organized groups that are conflictual and discriminatory (Kirshner, 2010). To add, the realists view the states that pursue their interests as anarchic and there is a higher possibility of getting into war which needs the accounting of the annihilation or subjugation prospects.

Additionally, the realists view the state as autonomous which pursues a common interest. To add, they do not presume the ubiquity or the imminence of war rather, they believe that the states should be ready for the possibility of war and for the catastrophe that would follow is they were defeated at war (Grant, 2017). This prepares the states to be ready for the eventuality of war and also that they should be ready for the outcome since in any war, there is always the winner and the loser. To add, the realists assume that the states are responsible for providing security to their citizens (De Landa. and Harman, 2017). The realists also believe that there is lack of guarantee that the states will be pillaged, conquered, overran or invaded and thus all the states should remain alert in case of such eventualities. As opposed to the Marxism and the liberalism that perceive that the urge to for people to maximize their personal wealth is what motivates them the realist perspective on the nature of human beings is distinctive. They believe that the expectations of human behavior are due to the social, anthropology and political interactions. However, it is not opposed to the significance of ambitions and incentives on human behavior, but the two are believed to influence the people’s fear and their desires.

Generally, most of the realists believe that fear influences an individual’s behavior while the security is an urgent desire as well as a principle to the people (Grant, 2017). However, in the setting where the physical security seems to be good, the expectations of the realists vary and they may have different desires that are mostly the luxuries and the material wealth, but they are not motivated by the desire to maximize their wealth, but rather by the domination, primacy, prestige and the security in themselves.

On the other hand, there was a need to shape the realism idea hence the influence of the structural realism. The structural realism seeks to clarify most of the realistic scholars by studying the world politics. Neorealism has insisted on the need of structural analysis which has shown the realism might not be applicable. The structural realists believe that it is the structure of the international systems determines the behavior of states (Grimm et al., 2020). They do not believe that the human behavior may affect the behavior of the states. States are not certain when they might be faced by war. Therefore, there is need for them to remain prepared in case other states gets into war with them so that they are able to defend their people.

Also, the structural realism does not believe that the make up or constitution of the individual states or the domestic politics affect their behavior, rather, the structures of their systems architect their behaviors. The structural realism also believes that there are anarchy systems and states would not predict if their neighbors would be more powerful than them (Mearsheimer, 2007). The more powerful nations tend to dominate the weaker and the less powerful states. This explains why states are very aggressive in terms of their security. All the states seeks to be the most powerful so that they can dominate the other states. To add, some neighboring states could be having malicious intentions hence all the states seek to be as powerful as possible hence influencing their behavior is search for anything that can give them power.

According to the structural realists, power and dominance makes the states to be contented since no any other state is capable of harming them. The states that are powerful seeks to retain the power so that they can remain dominant while those states that are weak seek to gain the power so that they can escape the domination and oppression from the powerful states. There is no authority that is above the states therefore the human nature cannot influence the states behavior, rather the structure of the international system does (Mearsheimer, 2007). States also compete in terms of their military since no state is certain the there is no other state that would want to go after them. The structural realism explains why some events takes for instance why a country would go into war with another.

To conclude, I find the realist vision of international politics compelling. It is clearly not certain if a state would want to go into war with another or not. Therefore, it is important for all the states to keep watch to try to gain as much power as possible in order to protect themselves from any external attack. Also, there is no authority that is higher than the states so they are not answerable to anybody in terms of their actions. Hence all the states ought to be aggressive and find any means possible to gain power so that they are not dominated by the other states.


De Landa, M. and Harman, G., 2017. The rise of realism (p. 240- p.248). Cambridge: Polity.

Grant, D., 2017. Realism (Vol. 8). Taylor & Francis.

Grimm, V., Railsback, S.F., Vincenot, C.E., Berger, U., Gallagher, C., DeAngelis, D.L., Edmonds, B., Ge, J., Giske, J., Groeneveld, J. and Johnston, A.S., 2020. The ODD protocol for describing agent-based and other simulation models: A second update to improve clarity, replication, and structural realism. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 23(2).

Kirshner, J., 2010. The tragedy of offensive realism.

Mearsheimer, J.J., 2007. Structural realism. International relations theories: Discipline and diversity, 83, pp.77-94. 2021. Before you continue to YouTube. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 April 2021].

2.Global health is increasingly becoming an important issue in international politics. Provide an overview of the World Health Organization’s role in governing global health. What role do epistemic communities and counter-epistemic communities play in shaping national responses to global health crisis? Does Covid-19 have a counter-epistemic community?

The wellbeing and the health of a population is primarily the responsibility of the states. The governments owe their citizens a comprehensive package of quality health care as well as protect and respect their rights to health (Garrett, 2007). However, there has been an increasing need to ensure that the global health is being looked into by in the international politics. Due to the globalization, the likelihood of spreading diseases across the world is very high. Each country should ensure that the world is healthy and safe and especially pay attention to the poorest people who may not be able to access or afford health care, thereby making health a global responsibility (Farzanegan, Feizi, and Gholipour, 2021). Reducing the health inequalities and improving health is an issue of global justice as well as an international obligation as defined by the human rights to health. This paper will look at the role of the world health organization in governing the global health, the role that the counter epistemic communities and the epistemic communities play in shaping the states responses to global health crisis and the Covid 19 pandemic.

Globalization offers challenges as well as opportunities in the well-being of the global health. It has accelerated the spread of diseases that are infectious like the Covid 19 (Farzanegan, Feizi, and Gholipour, 2021). However, it has enhanced the distribution of the public health as well as the medical technology and information from one state to another hence boosting the global health. The world health organization is a global organization whose roles are defined in its constitution. The mandates of the world health organization can be divided into three categories. The first is the technical cooperation as well as the research function (Cueto, Brown, and Fee, 2019). The WHO is mandated to conduct research on matters pertaining the global health as well as technical cooperation functions in emergencies and in the eradication of diseases. Second, it directs and coordinates functions including that for essential medicine, poverty and health and that of particular disease programs. Lastly, it is mandated to conduct normative functions like giving recommendations on certain issues and conveying global agreements and conventions (Cueto, Brown, and Fee, 2019).

Additionally, the world health organization has been tasked at conducting the surveillance of diseases (Coyne, 2019). Classifying the diseases and identifying the causes of deaths is another role of the WHO. To add, it establishes the international nomenclatures, controls and eradicates communicable diseases, as well as provides statistical and epidemiological services. Also, the WHO plays a crucial role in the making sure that the states develop their own health information system and take care of their health needs. Most of the states look up to the WHO for reliable and valid health statistics, integrated health information systems and the standardized methods. In the Covid 19 pandemic, the WHO has been instrumental in giving the guidelines that are to be followed in order to reduce the rate of spread and eventually to end this health crisis (World Health Organization, 2020).

The complexities and the uncertainties of problems that face the international policy coordination has increasingly become difficult hence the need to have a multidisciplinary approach. The epistemic communities involve the combined efforts by experts that are knowledgeable in the particular area in collaboration with the decision makers in order to define the problems that face them and come up with possible solutions and they finally make an assessment of the outcomes (Kitchin et al., 2017). In shaping the nation responses to global health crisis, the epistemic communities influence on the policy making and facilitates consensus on the norms and belies and also helps in conflict resolutions.

Additionally, the epistemic communities have frameworks that examine the dynamics of power from technical matters and from the experts and they also look at how the big organizations create their policies, hence the relevance of the epistemic communities in the world public health policy making (Kitchin et al., 2017). On the other hand, the counter epistemic community consists of a team of experts that translate the identity and history into policy outcomes. Therefore, the counter epistemic community relies on the past to evaluate the present or to predict the future. The communities ensure that there is harmony when it comes to decision making and better solutions would be found as opposed to working alone. The counter epistemic communities are important in evaluating the outcomes of the recommendations that had been made in the past.

The counter epistemic communities take into consideration the history for instance of a particular pandemic. This means that there must have been a similar incidence before. Therefore, the Covid 19 does not have a counter epistemic community since it is a new virus that has never been there before. Hence, there is no history that can be retrieved pertaining the Covid 19. However, it has the epistemic community which consists of a team of experts that seeks to identify the root cause of the disease and the come up with measures that would help to solve the crisis. Also, the epistemic community will help to guide the states on the Covid 19 crisis, thereby impacting on their responses.

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To conclude, global health is increasingly impacting on the international politics. It is primarily the responsibility of governments to ensure that the well-being and the health of their people is well taken care of. To add, globalization is a major contributing factor to the need for global health. One of the impacts the globalization has on the global health is the spread of highly infectious diseases like the Covid 19. This spread impacts on the social as well as the economic and political well-being of the people thereby playing a crucial in the global politics. On the other hand, both the epistemic and the counter epistemic communities have played a key role in shaping how nations respond to global health crisis. To add, the influence the policy making and also the decision making in the health crisis Covid 19 is of a global interest since it has spread throughout the world and it is affecting the politics and the economies of countries. The world health organization is doing the surveillance as well as coming up with measures that would see the end the Covid 19 global crisis. There is therefore a need to view health as a global concern.


Coyne, P.E., 2019. The World Health Organization Prequalification Programme—playing an essential role in assuring quality medical products.

Cueto, M., Brown, T.M. and Fee, E., 2019. The World Health Organization: A History. Cambridge University Press.

Farzanegan, M.R., Feizi, M. and Gholipour, H.F., 2021. Globalization and the Outbreak of COVID-19: An Empirical Analysis. Journal of Risk and Financial Management, 14(3), p.105.

Garrett, L., 2007. The challenge of global health. Foreign affairs, pp.14-38.

Kitchin, R., Coletta, C., Evans, L., Heaphy, L. and MacDonncha, D., 2017. Smart cities, epistemic communities, advocacy coalitions and thelast mile'problem. It-Information Technology, 59(6), pp.275-284.

World Health Organization, 2020. Coronavirus disease (‎ COVID-19)‎ outbreak: rights, roles and responsibilities of health workers, including key considerations for occupational safety and health: interim guidance, 19 March 2020 (No. WHO/2019-nCov/HCW_advice/2020.2). World Health Organization.

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