Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory


"Matthew Specter"

Titel: Realism after Ukraine: A Critique of Geopolitical Reason from Monroe to Mearsheimer
Autor: Matthew Specter
Seite: 243-267

This article seeks to historicize both the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the debate on realism occasioned by Russian aggression in Ukraine since 2014. Using the research of Gerard Toal on Russia’s construction of its security interests in the post-Soviet spaces that include Ukraine, the article argues that neorealist geopolitical explanations fail to do justice to the roles of contingency and culture in setting Russia’s so-called ‘red lines.’ It also identifies an agency problem in realism: realists not only fail to do justice to the agency of small states like Ukraine in this conflict but elide the moral and practical agency of decisionmakers like Russian President Vladmir Putin. The article also suggests that the current realism debate is the tip of an iceberg: realism has long had a problem specifying the relation of its theory to its practice. The article concludes by discussing the long shadow of 19th century imperial history over contemporary discussions of spheres of influence and great power status.

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Focus: Ukraine and Political Realism
2022 (44) Heft 2

It is an issue of debate as to which side did more to breathe new life into political realism within the menu of international relations theories: whether or not Putin’s war has been effective against Ukraine, or John Mearsheimer’s accusation that, since 2014 at the latest, ‘the West’ would be responsible for a war. Certainly, the Russian invasion in terms of its style, propaganda and accompanying drama looks as though its initiators tried to enact the most straightforward, brutal and si...

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