Realism is one of the most standard theories of international relations. Its significance lies in the fact that it predicts how states will pursue foreign policy, and provides a rationale for these decisions. It also helps explain how decisions are affected by and affect domestic politics and economics.
Realism relies on some basic assumptions. Realists assume that states are organized in under an anarchic system . These implies that all states are sovereign and all their political and economical actions are meant to secure its sovereignty. The most important implication of this is that all states' most important goal is national security. In the pursuit to achieve national security, states strive to obtain as many resources as possible in order to build a strong military to defend itself from other countries.
The premises of realism can be summarized as follows:
- Sovereign states are the primary actors
- States exist in an anarchic world
- States strive to attain as many resources as possible
- States act egoistically, constantly striving towards their own self-interest
- National security is a state's primary goal
Additionally, international institutions are seen as having a low degree of influence.
Since security is the main goal of all states, any act of any state to achieve security is seen as a threat for other states. For instance, during the years previous to the First World War Germany expanded its navy power which was seen as a threat by Great Britain who at the time controlled the seas. It is in situations like this when countries have to commit into discussion in order to resolve the matter in a diplomatic manner.
- Grieco, Joseph M., and G. John Ikenberry. State Power and World Markets: The International Political Economy. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2003