06-23-2013 | Sunday Sermon

"I -- China -- want to be the Godzilla of Asia, because that’s the only way for me to survive! I don’t want the Japanese violating my sovereignty the way they did in the 20th century. I can’t trust the United States, since states can never be certain about other states’ intentions. And as good realists, we -- the Chinese -- want to dominate Asia the way the Americans have dominated the Western Hemisphere.” John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, races on in a mild Brooklyn accent, banging his chalk against the blackboard and erasing with his bare hand, before two dozen graduate students in a three-hour seminar titled “Foundations of Realism.”

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.”

I hate to link to The Atlantic, but this was a good read: Why John J. Mearsheimer is Right - Robert Kaplan

Wiki Bio - The Jimmy Wales Project

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