Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 May 2009
Three of the more important international developments of the last half century are the “long peace” between the superpowers, the Soviet Union's renunciation of its empire and leading role as a superpower, and the post-cold war transformation of the international system. Realist theories at the international level address the first and third of these developments, and realist theories at the unit level have made an ex post facto attempt to account for the second. The conceptual and empirical weaknesses of these explanations raise serious problems for existing realist theories. Realists contend that the anarchy of the international system shapes interstate behavior. Postwar international relations indicates that international structure is not determining. Fear of anarchy and its consequences encouraged key international actors to modify their behavior with the avowed goal of changing that structure. The pluralist security community that has developed among the democratic industrial powers is in part the result of this process. This community and the end of the cold war provide evidence that states can escape from the security dilemma.
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