Why John Mearsheimer Is Right

Why John Mearsheimer Is Right

Mearsheimer writes ANARCHY on the board, explaining that the word does not refer to chaos or disorder. “It simply means that there is no centralized authority, no night watchman or ultimate arbiter, that stands above states and protects them.” (The opposite of anarchy, he notes, borrowing from Columbia University’s Kenneth Waltz, is hierarchy, which is the ordering principle of domestic politics.) Then he writes THE UNCERTAINTY OF INTENTIONS and explains: the leaders of one great power in this anarchic jungle of a world can never know what the leaders of a rival great power are thinking. Fear is dominant. “This is the tragic essence of international politics,” he thunders. “It provides the basis for realism, and people hate people like me, who point this out!” Not finished, he adds: “The uncertainty of intentions is my Sunday punch in defense of realism, whenever realism is attacked.”

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