Article Review: Theory of International Politics, Free Paper Sample

Published: 2022-03-29
Article Review: Theory of International Politics, Free Paper Sample
Type of paper:  Article review
Categories:  Politics International relations Foreign policy
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 910 words
8 min read

Keneth Waltz's works titled "Theory of International Politics" details interesting ideologies on international politics more so in chapters 2-4. In chapter 2, focus is given to the reductionist theory. Here, a disclaimer is given that theories of international politics can be explained by the causes of war, they define the conditions of peace or according to whatever they are reductionist or systemic (Waltz, 1979). An explanation of the application of the reductionist theory is given in the text. For instance, it is noted that the "whole is understood by knowing the attributes and the interactions of its parts" (Waltz, 1979).

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In the text, the connection between the reductionist theory and international politics has been explained with the author giving examples indicating the connection. For instance, the author indicates that in international politics there is a distinct trend to want to reduce the weak which is an aspect highly associated with the reductionist theory. A clearer explanation is given detailing that classical reductionism was applied in the study of organisms. In this example, the study indicates that the organisms were better understood when their disassembled parts were studies. As such, reductionism at its best.

Notably, from the context, the difference between the reductionist theory and the systemic theory is expressed. Waltz gives a distinct differentiation between these two theories basing the difference on international politics. For instance, it is noted in the text that those applying the theory of international politics concentrate the cause on the individual or even the national level. This form of application is reductionist in nature. On the other hand, Waltz details that those that conceive the specific causes that are determined to be concentrating at the national and individual level are preferably classified as systemic in nature.

Overall, Waltz indicates that the reductionist approach is the effort taken to explain the behavior of a group. This is achieved through the psychological analysis and understanding of the members of the group. On the same noted, national bureaucrats and bureaucracies are also put into consideration. The ideology behind this theory as noted by Waltz is that the whole shall be known through the study of its parts and more so through the study of how the parts interact with each other as a whole.

Waltz also offers a criticism of the reductionist theory and more so, he focuses on what the theory does not bring forth. For instance, it is noted that the theory focuses on the parts and does not consider the overall aspect of the case in point. In other words, the theory concentrates on the parts to a great extent and ignores the whole. The reductionist theory, most importantly, fails to explain the difference between the structure on the one hand and processes and units on the other hand. This is detailed in a distinct way in the reductionist theories.

In his text, Waltz describes political structure as the infrastructure that outlines and describes the conditions which outlay the acts of state as well as the outcomes of these acts. More so, the structure is noted to be divided into a systems level where there are results and a subsystems level where there are causes (Waltz, 1979). Waltz's definition of the term political structure is in the context of Rosecrance's approach which is noted to be mainly reductionist and not considered to be systemic. Nonetheless, there is representation of the systems approach in the context of international politics (Waltz, 1979).

Waltz also discusses anarchy in the text with specific interest in its relation to the global system. Waltz is of the opinion that from anarchy it is possible to infer broad expectations about the quality of international political life" (Waltz, 1979). More so, it is indicated in the text that the distinguishing of the different anarchic structures facilitates a narrower approach towards the definition of the expected outcomes. Waltz also discusses the balance-of-power theory whereby he notes that it is part of Kaplan's six systems (Waltz, 1979). Waltz discusses the rules pertaining to the balance of power system. These rules are six in number and are detailed in the text. The characteristics of these rules are also discussed in the text. Interestingly, Waltz is of the opinion that the balance-of-power system is subsystem dominant.

The structural causes and effects of the systems approach are discussed in the text. In this context, the success of the systems approach is determined by the openness of the system. The importance of a structure is noted to have specific impact on the outcomes. Emphasis is also given that variables are also critical in this context. The relationship between the variables and the political system in the context of the structure is discussed in the text as well. The military is discussed in the text with specific focus on how it was applied in the state to solidify the structure. Bipolarity is also discussed and it is determined that it is best balancing since it describes the alignment of states.

Multipolar systems are also discussed in the context of how power is distributed in systems. More so, he looks into how these structures affect the composition and structure of states. Notably, a multipolar world with two blocs is not the same as a bipolar system. Overall, the concept of power in politics is discussed in the text and worth noting is the description that states that power is a means and not an end by itself.


Waltz, K. N. (1979). Theory of International Politics. Chapter 2-4

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