Kenneth Neal Waltz
|Died||May 12, 2013 (aged 88)|
|International security, nuclear security, anarchy|
|Structural realism, defensive realism|
Kenneth Neal Waltz (//; June 8, 1924 – May 12, 2013) was an American political scientist who was a member of the faculty at both the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University and one of the most prominent scholars in the field of international relations. He was a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War.
Waltz was one of the original founders of neorealism, or structural realism, in international relations theory and later became associated with the school of defensive neorealism. Waltz's theories have been extensively debated within the field of international relations. His 1979 book Theory of International Politics is the most assigned book in International Relations graduate training at U.S. universities.
Leslie H. Gelb has considered Waltz one of the "giants" who helped define the field of international relations as an academic discipline. Columbia University colleague Robert Jervis has said of Waltz, "Almost everything he has written challenges the consensus that prevailed at the time" and "Even when you disagree, he moves your thinking ahead."
Waltz was born on June 8, 1924, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He grew up and attended high school there. He then attended Oberlin College, where he started out majoring in mathematics. That was interrupted to serve in the Army of the United States from 1944–46 during World War II, when he rose in rank from private to first lieutenant. He graduated from Oberlin with an A.B. degree in 1948, having switched his major to economics. He was a Phi Beta Kappa and also named an Amos Miller Scholar.
In 1949, he married Helen Elizabeth Lindsley, known as "Huddie". They had three children together. After attending Columbia University to obtain an upper graduate degree in economics, he switched to political science because political philosophy was more interesting to him. He received his M.A. degree from there in 1950. He was an instructor at Oberlin for a while in 1950. A member of the US Army Reserve, he was called upon to serve again during the Korean War, which he did during 1951–52 as a first lieutenant. Returning to Columbia, he obtained his Ph.D. under William T. R. Fox in 1954.
Waltz became a lecturer, then assistant professor, at Columbia during 1953 to 1957. He became one of the early group of scholars at Columbia's Institute of War and Peace Studies, acting as a research assistant from 1952 to 1954 and a research associate beginning in 1954. Later saying that he and his wife had been unsettled by the prospect of raising small children in New York City, Waltz left Columbia for Swarthmore College, where he was an assistant professor and then a professor, from 1957 to 1966. He then moved on to Brandeis University for a stint from 1966 to 1971, the last four years of which he held the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics chair.
In 1971, Waltz switched coasts and joined University of California, Berkeley, where he was appointed the Ford Professor of Political Science and stayed for over two decades.
During this time, Waltz held a number of additional research positions. He was affiliated with the Institute of War and Peace Studies until 1964. He was a fellow of Columbia University in Political Theory and International Relations from 1959 to 1960 in London. He was a research associate at Center for International Affairs at Harvard University in 1963 to 1964, 1968, 1969, and 1972. He held a National Science Foundation grant from 1968 to 1971 to develop a theory of international politics. He was a Guggenheim Fellow for 1976 to 1977 and a fellow at the Institute for the Study of World Politics in 1977. He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 1979–1980. He then was a research associate with the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
Waltz taught at Peking University for two months in 1982 and later taught at Fudan University as well. He lectured at a number of institutions in the US, including the United States Air Force Academy, the National War College, the Army War College, and the Naval War College. Similarly, he lectured at many other institutions around the world, including the London School of Economics, the Australian National University, and the University of Bologna.
Waltz retired from his position at Berkeley and returned to Columbia University in 1997. There, he became an adjunct professor as well as a senior research scholar at the Institute of War and Peace Studies.
Waltz served as Secretary of the American Political Science Association in 1966 to 1967 and then as its president in 1987 to 1988. He was President of the New England Section of the International Studies Association in 1966 to 1967. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served stints on the boards of editors of several scholarly journals[which?].
Waltz's initial contribution to the field of international relations was his 1959 book, Man, the State, and War, which was based upon his dissertation, which classified theories of the causes of war into three categories, or levels of analysis. Waltz refers to these levels of analysis as "images," and uses the writings of one or more classic political philosophers to outline the major points of each image. Each image is given two chapters: the first mainly uses the classical philosopher's writings to describe what that image says about the cause of war; the second usually consists of Waltz analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of that image. Waltz's wife was essential in contributing the research that became the basis for Man, the State, and War.
The first image argues that wars are often caused by the nature of particular statesmen and political leaders such as state leaders, like Napoleon, or by human nature more generally. That is basically consistent with Classical Realism, which dominated the International Relations discipline at the time of Man, the State, and War, but Waltz would contest it more fully in his next book, Theory of International Politics.
Theories of war that fall under the rubric of Waltz's second image contend that wars are caused by the domestic makeup of states. A prime example that Waltz refers to is Lenin's theory of imperialism, which posits that the main cause of war is rooted in the need for capitalist states to continue opening up new markets in order to perpetuate their economic system at home. A more familiar example in the Western world today is the notion that non-democratic states, because of their internal composition, start wars.
Waltz next assesses the first two images as being less influential in general than the third image, yet ultimately necessary in understanding the causes of war. The third image posits that the cause of war is found at the systemic level; the anarchic structure of the international system is the root cause of war. In this context, "anarchy" is not defined as a condition of chaos or disorder but rather one in which there is no sovereign body that governs the interactions between autonomous nation-states. Put differently, unlike in domestic society where citizens can theoretically rely on law enforcement agencies to protect their persons and property, if a state is invaded and calls "9-1-1" it cannot be sure anyone will answer. Similarly, whereas when two citizens have a dispute they can appeal to the courts to render a verdict and, more importantly, the law enforcement agencies to enforce the court's ruling, there is no body above nation-states that is capable of: establishing rules or laws for all the states, deciding how these apply in specific cases, and compelling the states to honor the court's ruling. As a result, if an issue at stake is important enough to a state, it can achieve a satisfactory outcome only by using its power to impose its will on another state(s). The realization that, at any point in time any state can resort to armed force, forces each state always be prepared for that contingency. These themes are fleshed out more fully in Theory of International Politics which, as the title suggests, lays out a theory for international politics as a whole rather than the narrower focus on what causes war.
Main article: Neorealism (international relations)
|International relations theory|
Waltz's key contribution to the realm of political science is in the creation of neorealism (or structural realism, as he calls it), a theory of International Relations which posits that the interaction of sovereign states can be explained by the pressures exerted on them by the anarchic structure of the international system, which limits and constrains their choices. Neorealism thus aims to explain recurring patterns in international relations, such as why relations between Sparta and Athens resembled those between the US and the Soviet Union in some important ways.
Waltz emphasizes repeatedly in this book and elsewhere that he is not creating a theory of foreign policy, which aims to explain the behavior or actions of a particular state at a specific time or throughout a period. For Waltz, neorealism is divided into two branches, defensive and offensive neorealism. Although both branches agree that the structure of the system is what causes states to compete for power, Defensive realism posits that most states seek a status quo and limit themselves to concentrate on maintaining the balance of power. Revisionist states are said to be the only states that seek to alter the balance. Offensive neorealism, in contrast to Waltz, asserts that nations seek local hegemony over neighboring states to assert authority in local relations with rival states.
Waltz argues that contemporary geopolitics exists in a state of international affairs comparable to that of perpetual international anarchy. Waltz distinguishes the anarchy of the international environment from the order of the domestic one. In the domestic realm, all actors may appeal to, and be compelled by, a central authority, 'the state' or 'the government', but in the international realm, no such source of order exists. The anarchy of international politics (its lack of a central enforcer) means that states must act in a way that ensures their security above all, or else risk falling behind. He wrote that is a fundamental fact of political life faced by democracies and dictatorships alike: except in rare cases, they cannot count on the good will of others to help them, so they must always be ready to fend for themselves. Waltz's usage of the term anarchy led to a fundamental discursive transformation in international relations, as IR scholars wrestled with Waltz's ideas. A 2015 study by Jack Donnelly found that the term "anarchy" occurred on average 6.9 times in IR books prior to 1979 but 35.5 times in IR books after 1979.
Like most neorealists, Waltz accepts that globalization is posing new challenges to states, but he does not believe states are being replaced because no other non-state actor can equal the capabilities of the state. Waltz has suggested that globalization is a fad of the 1990s and, if anything, the role of the state has expanded its functions in response to global transformations.
Neorealism was Waltz's response to what he saw as the deficiencies of classical realism. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, neorealism and realism have a number of fundamental differences. The main distinction between the two theories is that classical realism puts human nature, or the urge to dominate, at the center of its explanation for war, while neorealism stakes a reduced claim on human nature and argues instead that the pressures of anarchy tend to shape outcomes more directly than the human nature of statesmen and diplomats or domestic governmental preferences.
Waltz's theory, as he explicitly makes clear in Theory of International Politics, is not a theory of foreign policy and does not attempt to predict specific state actions, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union. The theory explains only general principles of behavior that govern relations between states in an anarchic international system, rather than specific actions. The recurring principles of behavior include balancing of power (the theory was refined by Stephen Walt, modifying the "balance of power" concept to "balance of threat"), entering into individually competitive arms races, and exercising restraint in proportion to relative power. In Theory of International Politics (1979:6) Waltz suggests that explanation rather than prediction is expected from a good social science theory, since social scientists cannot run controlled experiments that give the natural sciences so much predictive power.
As a teacher, Waltz trained numerous prominent IR scholars, including Stephen Walt, Barry Posen, Stephen Van Evera, Bob Powell, Avery Goldstein, Christopher Layne, Benny Miller, Karen Adams, Shibley Telhami, James Fearon, William Rose, Robert Gallucci, and Andrew Hanami. He influenced Robert Jervis and Robert Art.
Waltz received the Heinz Eulau Award in 1991 for Best Article in the American Political Science Review during 1990 for "Nuclear Myths and Political Realities". He received the James Madison Award for "distinguished scholarly contributions to political science" from the American Political Science Association in 1999. The International Studies Association in 2010 named him their International Security Studies Section Distinguished Scholar.
In 2008, a conference in Waltz's honor was conducted by Aberystwyth University, titled "The King of Thought: Theory, the Subject and Waltz". It celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of Man, the State, and War and the 30th anniversary of Theory of International Politics.
The Kenneth N. Waltz Dissertation Award is a yearly award given by the American Political Science Association to the best defended dissertation on the study of international security and arms control. Students from around the country are allowed to submit their paper to the committee, which has four members. The committee accepts any style, whether its historical, quantitative, theoretical, policy analysis, etc.
Issues and theory