Realism, Military Power, And The Conflict Between Essay

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Realism, Military Power, and the Conflict Between Israel and Hamas “First, there needs to be some preconception of which facts are significant and which are not. The facts are myriad and do not speak for themselves. For anyone, academic or not, there are needs to be criteria of significance.” (Halliday, 1994, p. 25) The Realist paradigm of International Relations (IR) takes power to be its conceptual focus, and one of the main determinants in explaining world politics. In this essay, I investigate whether the Realist emphasis on military power adequately explains world politics. Although there is no single tradition of Realism[1], the majority of Realists conceive of power in military-strategic terms and as some form of material resource that states accumulate out of necessity (Schmidt, 2007). I contend that the power accumulating behaviour Realists ascribe to states could be the result of an alternative and distinctly domestic logic and more fundamentally, the Realist conception of power as if it some form of resource critically misrepresents how power operates. I do this with reference to the 2008-9 conflict between Israel and Hamas[2]. Ever since its mythological[3] ‘victory’ over idealism in the first ‘great debate’, Realism has become the dominant paradigm within IR and in doing so has maintained the analysis of inter-state war as the central research project making IR intellectually distinctive. The disciplinary ‘foundational myth’ is a story of IR emerging as a response to the carnage of the First World War with the goal of solving the ‘problem’ of inter-state war, which for its Western founders was clearly the most important phenomenon of international relations (Burchill & Linklater, 2005; Smith, 2000). As Cox notes, there is an ontological presupposition inherent in the term ‘International Relations’, it seems to “equate nation with state and to define
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