An International Relations Theory
Anarchy refers to the structure of the international system
Anarchy creates incentive for distrust and self-help
All states possess some military capability
Thus, by virtue of existing, a state in the international system poses a threat to other states via its military.
Because of this, fear is a characteristic of life in the international system. States do and should fear the capabilities of other states, according to realists.
A state can never be sure that another state will not use its military offensively.
Does not necessarily mean all states are aggressive - the point is, it’s impossible to know.
Essentially, assumption 2 is all states have aggressive capacity, and assumption 3 pertains to the unknowability of aggressive intention.
Result: States should prepare for the worst.
The emphasis here is that - before ANYTHING else - states are concerned about survival.
Joseph Stalin: “We can and must build socialism. But in order to do so we first of all ahve to exist.”
Emphasis here is that states are aware of both the implications of their own actions and (more to the point) the implications of other states’ actions and preferences.
Example: If a state builds up its military, other states may grow nervous due to the implications for their own security.