The 's Argument Of The International System Essay

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Mearsheimer’s argument states that great powers are always in competition with each other to become a hegemon. There are five assumptions about the international system from which this statement comes from: that the international system is anarchic (there is no higher authority above the states), that great powers inherently possess some offensive military capability (they are potential threats to each other), that states can never be sure about other states’ intentions, that survival is the primary goal of great powers, and that great powers are rational actors (Krieger, 50-51). Individually, these five assumptions do not make one believe that great powers should act aggressively toward each other, but together, they give great powers strong incentives to do so. They also result in three behaviours: fear, self-help, and power maximization (Krieger, 51). Great powers do not trust each other and this creates fear amongst them that another state could attack at any moment. Due to this fear, states emphasize self-help. The cannot trust or depend on other states and must therefore always be prepared to help and lookout for themselves. States learn that the best way to survive is to be the strongest state, ideally a hegemon. This creates a strong deterrence in weaker states from attacking the stronger states. Mearsheimer’s claim is that it is the structure of the international system and not characteristics of states and their leaders that causes states to act aggressively

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