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Huntington and Waltz in International Relations Theories

Comparative Analysis in Search of an Adequate Model

Hausarbeit 2012 6 Seiten

Politik - Internationale Politik - Allgemeines und Theorien



A variety of theories were set forth to explain the way international politics works and give reasons why it does so. Among the contributors are Waltz and Huntington. However, both seem to have emphasized different factors as the decisive ones shaping politics and relations among nations. Hence, the question arises which view is more in line with reality with regard to contemporary politics.

In this paper I will consider the question of whether Waltz' or Huntington's explanation is more adequate when examining contemporary international politics. Since the publication of their theories date, relatively speaking, a long way back, this paper would examine the applicability in time of their explanatory power. For this purpose, I will proceed as follows: First, I will briefly summarize the main ideas of Waltz and Huntington. Second, by comparing them I will point out their similarities and differences, respectively. Third, I will give reasons why Huntington is more in accordance with current politics. Lastly, I will briefly summarize the findings and point to further research.


According to Waltz, the violence latent in the structures of international politics is the reason why nations are reluctant to cooperate with each other. (Waltz, 1986: 99-115) In particular, it creates a constant uncertainty towards specialization and trade keeping the states trapped within a self-help system. Further, the "tyranny of small decisions" (Waltz, 1986: 105) prevents the states of having results collectively beneficial. Since this behavior is encouraged by conditions of anarchy, unless these conditions are altered, states will remain single units pursuing exclusively their own interests. A world government as a solution is considered by Waltz as unpractical due to internal struggles for control resulting in a "world civil war". (Waltz, 1986: 109)

For Huntington, states create cultural spheres of identity, of which the broadest level is defined as civilization. (Huntington, 2003: 411-425) While economic relations among and support for members within civilizations grow, externally they compete for relative military and economic power, and promote their own values. The increase in civilization rallying consolidates the differences, or fault lines. Furthermore, these differences in power, military and economic wealth, on the one hand, and in values, cultures and beliefs, on the other, are responsible for the conflicts being likely to occur along the fault lines. (2003) Huntington argues that to the West's predominance other civilizations will oppose and start taking on a role of "movers and shapers of history". (Huntington, 2003: 412)



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
454 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH – School of Humanities and Social Sciences
huntington waltz international relations theories comparative analysis search adequate model




Titel: Huntington and Waltz in International Relations Theories