This week in international relations discusses the enterprise of international relations theory and the realist model of international relations. When reading the book International Relations Theory, the area that I took particular interest in was the excerpt by Robert Gilpin and his book War and Change in World Politics(Viotti and Koppi, pg145-153).
Disputing that the essential nature of international relations has not altered over the millennia; in this excerpt, Gilpin uses history, sociology, and economic theory to recognize the forces generating transformation in the order of the world.
The discussion focuses on the differential growth of power in the international system and the result of this unevenness. A shift in the balance of power - economic or military - weakens the foundations of the existing system, because those gaining power see the increasing benefits and the decreasing cost of changing the system.
The result, maintains Gilpin, is that actors seek to alter the system through territorial, political, or economic expansion until the marginal costs of continuing change are greater than the marginal benefits. When states develop the power to change the system according to their interests they will strive to do so- either by increasing economic efficiency and maximizing mutual gain, or by redistributing wealth and power in their own favor. It is interesting to me that on page 152 Gilpin makes note that, " the principal mechanism of change throughout history has been war, or what we shall call hegemonic war." Here I believe that Gilpin develops a theory of hegemonic war.It is based on the idea that behaviours be analysed according.
to marginal utility: a state will seek expansion as long as the expected costs.
are lower than the expected benefits.
In some regards it is quite Conventional. From analyzing this page I can only assume that Gilpin's thinks that theory of war recognizes that realism needs some assumptions about human motivation and that international politics is not only systemically determined.