Offensive realism, the US and the strategic positioning of Pakistan
The Tragedy of Great Power Politics is a book published by John. J. Mearsheimer in 2001 a pre-eminent IR theorist of the world. It is often called the bible of international politics. This book contains the contours and details of the golden principles of the political theory of offensive realism under the broad category of political realism. Under this broad category defensive realism, classical realism, neo-classical realism and offensive realism comes. There is another broad category under which realism is divided for understanding that is structural realism and classical realism.
The theory of offensive realism is essentially realist in nature in the words of John. Mearsheimer. In the words of Mearsheimer “it falls thus in the tradition of realist thinkers such as E. H. Carr Hans Morgenthau, and Kenneth Waltz.” The ultimate test of a theory is proven against philosophy of science standards and historical records. Kenneth Waltz developed his theory of international politics building on the standards of philosophy of science while Mearsheimer has tested his theory against history. Theories of international relations are built upon the big actors in the international system rather small actors in international relations. Here the big or super actor is the United States of America and the small actor is the republic of Pakistan.
In the coming lines it will be laid out that how offensive realism works for great powers or superpowers like the US and its implications for small actors like Pakistan. How offensive realism or aggressive realism fit or clash with the national interests of the US and Pakistan. The recommendation of Mearsheimer – main political scientist to develop the theory of offensive realism – can account for the recent or future behaviour of the United States toward Pakistan or not.
As social science theories are abstraction of social world, their prescription for social world can be measured upon the strength and power of a theory. How powerful the theoretical narrative is the powerful explanation might be. The journey of political realism from classical realism to structural realism shows that it is well-received by the academia and the practitioners of international relations heavily rely on these theories implicitly or explicitly. The main functions of a theory are to describe, explain and predict the phenomenon. In a short-length article the purpose of description and explanation would be done with care while the prediction in words of Professor Mearsheimer is foolhardy.
According to the assumption of offensive realism the international system strongly shapes the behaviour of state. International system is formed by the great powers of the world. In which the United States occupies the central place as a superpower. Pakistan’s unique geographic position forces all the great powers of the world including China, Russia and the US to make ties with Pakistan or to use Pakistan in their national interest.
Though Pakistan with the alliance of the US and the key members of Islamic world defeated the USSR and changed the international system. If Pakistan wants to survive in this international system then Pakistan should invest to increase their national power. The elements of national power including tangible and intangible elements like population, industry, national character, military power and economic power. In these days Pakistan is struggling to make better its economy by lending money or paying back the loans. Today, Pakistan wants to survive from economic bankruptcy. In this condition the United States can be helpful to persuade other partners in international system to help Pakistan to get out of this situation.
As a school of political realism, offensive realism does not consider any moral or ethical issues in the study or conduct of international politics/relations. So, Pakistan has to channelize its diplomacy and offer military shields to allies to convince the international system in their favour. All the theories of international relations or international politics generally account for the patterns of behaviour of great powers or super powers. But when we take a look at the great power actors in international relations like France and the Great Britain. We can infer a result that Pakistan in geography is more important than these two veto and great powers but lack a strong economy.
By developing economy of Pakistan, it seems to be appeared that Pakistan can be prominent in the international system. Because other elements of national power are complete in the case of Pakistan only the weak economy and the changing strategic scenarios of the world has double repercussions for Pakistan. Firstly, is in the benefit Pakistan’s young population, potential for growth, increasing quality education, strong military and the unique and important strategic geography can collectively add to national strength and power. Secondly, the worst economic situations especially the loans have made Pakistan a weak country who is at the verge of bankruptcy.
From the theory of offensive realism, we can solve our problem, some of them are listed above and some are listed here. As in the words of Mearsheimer theory helps to take intelligent decisions. Our policy makers should take this fresh insight to real world politics from the America’s pre-eminent theorist of IR and how to improve our relations with the US the king of the international system for a century approximately.