Realism, Neoliberalism, and Cooperation


Jervis emphasizes on how realists differ from neoliberals on what should be changed to increase cooperation in any situation. The writer stresses that neoliberals are more optimistic in comparison to realists since they are of the idea that change in preference over strategies is often enough to produce mutual benefit.  A large proportion of this change emanates from sufficient information concerning the situation (Jervis 55). For instance what the other party is doing or is planning to do in future and with what motive.

On the contrary, realists see less significance in increasing cooperation. According to this school of thought, additional information cannot lead to conflict-reducing changes in preference over strategies. If all states want to dominate change in preference over results might not be attainable. Realists believe that it is possible for increment in cost of war to minimize violent conflict but it is hard for cooperation to be maximized by changing beliefs and availing more information about each other.

Optimistic realists such as Glaser and Jervis fundamentally differ for regime theorists such as Keohane. According to Keohane at times, realism applies pessimism that order can be created through hegemony (Keohane).  From his perspective, realism presents a negative impact on the prospects for international cooperation. 

On the other hand, Glaser is of the notion that opponents can easily be assured their security goal through cooperation policies and not by competing (Glaser 125). Optimistic realists believe that under certain situations cooperation is like coordinating policies meant to avoid arms races while competing is building up negative energy that is likely to generate arm races. Peaceful cooperation is preferred by adversaries since it makes it possible for them to moderate what triggered the war and avoid competition that might intensify more reasons for conflicting. Optimistic realists are open-minded, and other their school of thought does not appreciate the cooperation that much they put it into consideration at times.

Works Cited

Glaser, Charles L. “Realists as optimists: Cooperation as self‐help.” Security Studies, vol. 5, no. 3, 1996, pp. 122-163.

Jervis, Robert. “Realism, Neoliberalism, and Cooperation: Understanding the Debate.” International Security, vol. 24, no. 1, 1999, pp. 42-63.

Keohane, Robert O. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton UP, 2005,

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