The Tragedy of Great Power Politics

The Tragedy of Great Power Politics A decade after the cold war ended policy makers and academics foresaw a new era of peace and prosperity an era in which democracy and open trade would herald the end of history The terrorist attacks

  • Title: The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
  • Author: John J. Mearsheimer
  • ISBN: 9780393323962
  • Page: 468
  • Format: Paperback
  • A decade after the cold war ended, policy makers and academics foresaw a new era of peace and prosperity, an era in which democracy and open trade would herald the end of history The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, sadly shattered these idyllic illusions, and John Mearsheimer s masterful new book explains why these harmonious visions remain utopian To MearsheiA decade after the cold war ended, policy makers and academics foresaw a new era of peace and prosperity, an era in which democracy and open trade would herald the end of history The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, sadly shattered these idyllic illusions, and John Mearsheimer s masterful new book explains why these harmonious visions remain utopian To Mearsheimer, great power politics are tragic because the anarchy of the international system requires states to seek dominance at one another s expense, dooming even peaceful nations to a relentless power struggle Mearsheimer illuminates his theory of offensive realism through a sweeping survey of modern great power struggles and reflects on the bleak prospects for peace in Europe and northeast Asia, arguing that the United States s security competition with a rising China will intensify regardless of engagement policies This is the definitive work on offensive realism Choice

    One thought on “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics”

    1. Mearsheimer is the recent practitioner of a tradition of IR 'realism' which is related to the theoreticians E. H. Carr, Henry Morgenthau, and Kenneth Waltz, though he differs from all of these. His view is called 'offensive realism', which says that the anarchic state system leads to aggressive behavior in international politics. Other states are forced to adopt this set of aggressive behaviors in order to survive.In Mearsheimer's view, Power is the only thing that matters. This largely means mi [...]

    2. Well, Eloquent as the narrative is , a large proportion of Mr John. Mearsheimer's aggressive realism theory cannot be applied to the 21st century. Personally I am not inclined to subject to his theory which reminds me of the Dark Forests laws involved in a si-fi book Three Body Problems in which a rather bleak prospect will be presented for everyone. Just cannot imagine such things shall occur. Will detail the reasons and analysis about the book soon.Mr Mearsheimer wants to validate his theory b [...]

    3. A long, heavily theoretical (social science) modelling of powers and great powers. Mearsheimer, who is quite brilliant, is a Realist, and argues for offensive realism as opposed to defensive realism. In offensive realism, nations of necessity seek to maximize their power at any cost, and must seek hegemony -- and thus war is always inevitable. In defensive realism, country simply seek to survive, and will seek a balance. Though I admire Mearsheimer's intelligence, I find a theoretical-modelling [...]

    4. As a part of my International Relations course last semester, I did an assignment on John Mearsheimer’s contribution to the discipline. I read his book “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” and I was thoroughly impressed by his arguments. He calls his theory “offensive realism”, in opposition to Kenneth Waltz’s “defensive realism”, although both belong to the school of “structural realism”. Mearsheimer gives the basic assumptions of the realist theory -The international syste [...]

    5. A very interesting book about great power politics and how governments either cooperate or confront each other to keep the balance of power. The book discusses different strategies of confrontation, containment or cooperation. Many good historical examples of buck-passing, bloodletting, and containment are given with concentration on WWI and WWII. The theory of the balance of power from an offensive realist point of view is discussed and many examples are given starting from the 17th century sta [...]

    6. I read this book side by side with Buzan and Waever's Regions and Powers. The books is a good one and stands on its own, but comes up short in comparison to Buzan and Waever's work. The oddest feature of Mearsheimer’s book is that he speaks about geopolitics as if it was the 1930s, the nineteenth, or even the eighteenth century. In essence what Mearsheimer calls offensive realism is nothing more than continental realism or the realism born in 18th century Europe. Just like Buzan and Waever's w [...]

    7. I was old enough to remember the apocalyptic prognostications of WWIII with Mad Max and Terminator movies. After fall of the Berlin Wall fell and collapse of the Soviet Union, I bought into the "End of History" euphoria. I thought that democracies have triumphed and authoritarians' days were numbered. Realism seemed too cynical and pessimistic at the time. My main of objection to realism was that it didn't give enough weight to the internal traits of a state in determining its behavior. Democrat [...]

    8. As much as I liked this book, it was a flashback to my master’s studies. It was a challenging read (audiobook in my case) because you had to stop and think, process, and analyze everything every step of the way.

    9. We tend to be enthusiastic about books which offer ideas you already hold, books which reinforce your way of thinking. So it's no surprise that I liked John Mearsheimer's The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. He articulates what I have for years thought is the true nature of international relations. The book is a long argument for Mearsheimer's theory about what drives the relations between nations. He calls it offensive realism, his theory that the collection of the world's great powers is an an [...]

    10. WHY IS THE GLASS so half-empty? Because, Mearsheimer tells us, structure of the world makes it so. There is no hierarchy (no world sheriff), states can hurt each-other, and cannot be certain of one another's intentions, current or future. So to survive, for a rational actor, is to become more powerful; powerful enough that no other state can challenge them. But here is the thing: by acquiring relative power, states unbalance the international system. Unbalanced system is not stable; someone need [...]

    11. Brilliant. It's a pity so much specious vitriol has been directed at Mearsheimer in the wake of the Israel Lobby book, as it's doubtless swayed some away from this -- as clearheaded an assessment of our present position as I've recently read. Highly recommended.

    12. John Mearsheimer’s The Tragedy of Great Power Politics offers a rebuttal to Francis Fukuyama’s theory about the “end of history”, offering a theory of “offensive realism.” Instead of viewing the collapse of the Soviet Union as ushering in an unprecedented era of peace, Mearsheimer suggests we should be cautious: multipolar worlds are more likely to descend into violence and war than other arrangements of international systems. Furthermore the actions of states and driven primarily by [...]

    13. John Mearshieimer presents an excellent theory in the form of offensive realism that stands up to close scrutiny in his book the Tragedy of Great Power Politics. By clearly laying out his definitions of what state goals are and how he measures power he makes a compelling case for regional hegemony and the stopping power of water. By utilizing several case studies to prove his theory the points are well made. His analysis of military power is very interesting and well done.It is hard to find good [...]

    14. This is a restatement and working out of the Realist school of international relations, which dictates that military power and security competition dictates all relations between states, and that power logic determines everything. It's a good explanation of both the theory itself and the consequences thereof, though the historical examples are a little tiresome in places. It is not however a good defense of the basic assumptions of realism; they're taken as given, and rely on the last 200 years [...]

    15. outstanding theory on how to view the interactions of great powers/countriesrough this theory no confusion will remain as to what the hell is going on in international politicske why do we make this trade deal with so-and-so country when they hate us?why do we support this civil war and not that one?why did we sign this treaty and not that one?why are we at war with this country and not that one?why did the cold war happen?why does italy suck so much?he comes in like a wrecking ball on conspirac [...]

    16. Brilliant! This book is a useful historical analysis of great power politics. Written in 2001, Mearsheimer explains the mechanics that govern the international system and predicts the developments of the past decade with astonishing accuracy.

    17. The theory itself may still have many flaws, but overall it's a good overview of international relationship over the last three century. Quite easy to read and those who love history would definitely find this book interesting.

    18. A must read for those that want a realist perspective on the lessons of history that can be appropriated to IR theory.

    19. This is a sobering analysis, based on extensive research of the history of great powers between 1792 and 2000, of what drives "great powers" (i.e countries like the U.S Russia, and China at the present time, and countries like the U.K France, Germany, Italy and Austro-Hungary in times past). The author's premise is that "offensive realism" is the driving force and the theory that determines how countries will behave. Offensive realism, according to the author, paints a gloomy picture: while crea [...]

    20. This has been one of the most difficult books I’ve read in a long time. That is not to say that the writing is bad at all. The writing and organization are slightly dry and academic, but overall the Mearsheimer accomplished his stated goal of writing so as to be able to communicate with and inform a broad spectrum of the public. Nor are his arguments poorly written. He makes a pretty compelling case for his paradigm: that states are compelled by their central motive of security in an inherentl [...]

    21. I could swear I bought this book in the summer of '01 in Cambridge. Maybe I'm romanticizing it. Well, it's sat on my self until the summer of '17, so, you might well ask, what the hell happened to the romance? In truth, this was very much a book of its time. By its time, I'm referring to the pre- 9/11 world. The world and age after communism fell. A new zeitgeist offered itself which prophesied that governments were soon to be moribund, or next to pointless; that corporations would be society's [...]

    22. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics by John J Mearsheimer is a book of extremes. It is the logical conclusion of five presumptions on how to view international relations: 1. International system is anarchic, no one to govern governments.2. States have inherent offensive capability.3. States cannot know another states intentions.4. Survival is the primary goal of nations.5. Great powers are rational actors. This in turn creates a pattern of behavior that nations undertake in order to best positio [...]

    23. This book should come with one of those warnings that accompany pharmaceutical commercials showing smiling, happy people while the little voice in the background says things like "Stop taking if you have suicidal thoughts" or "side effects sometimes include strange dreams". Some readers will certainly become depressed by this book, in fact, some of the disclaimers Professor Mearsheimer includes suggest that writing the book depressed him. The depressing part of the book is its central thesis tha [...]

    24. I finished reading this masterpiece.“The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” is a shocking and offensive realism on world politics authored by John J. Mearsheimer. It is an invaluable work of Mearsheimer and he maintains at the very beginning of the book that it offers a realist theory of international relations that challenge the prevailing optimism about relations among the great powers. As an optimistic dude, I prefer to mingle with the pessimistic account as well though Tragedy may not be o [...]

    25. [Disclaimer: This is a snapshot of my thoughts on this book after just reading it. This is not meant to serve as a summary of main/supporting points or a critique – only as some words on how I engaged with this book for the purposes of building a theoretical framework on strategy.]Mearsheimer, clearly a student of history, presents what I view as a Jominian theory of international politics. He distinguishes his “offensive realism” as a more applicable theory than Waltz’s structural reali [...]

    26. There is no one in charge, states are responsible for their own safety and it is beneficial to spend time and treasure to gain more or to prevent your neighbor for gaining more. That's Mearsheimer's argument in a sentence. The rest of the book are facts and historical summaries to back up his thesis. Why I started this book: I love nonfiction audio books. It's like taking a college course without having to write a final paper. And bonus, this book's on my Professional Reading list.Why I finished [...]

    27. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics is a treatise by John J. Mearsheimer on a major branch of realist theory of international relations that he calls offensive realism. Realism has several main postulates: that states are the main actors in international relations (more specifically, "great powers" are the main actors in an anarchic international system), all states have some offensive military capabilities, states can never be sure about each other's intentions or offensive capabilities, and st [...]

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