Back to the Drawing Board: A Critique of Offensive Realism

Arash Heydarian Pashakhanlou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (SciVal)


Offensive realism argues that states committed to survive are nevertheless condemned to participate in a relentless struggle for power, and it holds the structure of the international system as the cause of this tragic outcome. This article subjects the logic behind this tragic worldview and the explanatory power of offensive realism to a careful and comprehensive scrutiny. This in-depth analysis of offensive realism amounts to a substantial critique of the theory as it fails to logically generate the brutish world it presupposes and is plagued by significant shortcomings in its explanatory model. These findings suggest that offensive realism cannot provide useful theoretical lenses for explaining and understanding international politics, even when it is assessed on its own terms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-225
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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