Realism has generally been the dominant theory in IR,therefore it is logical to begin by outlining the key features of its approachto anarchy.
Notorious realists like Machiavelli and Morgenthau argue that humannature is fundamentally flawed and thus prone to conflict and leading to war (Weber,2005). However, neo-realists such as Waltz define anarchy as a condition ofpossibility for or permissive cause of war, by arguing that wars occur becausethere is nothing to prevent them (1959). Indeed, even Hobbes had stated thatthe fundamental cause of war is not historic rivalries, but the absence of aninternational government; in other words, the anarchy of sovereign states(Wight, 2002). Nonetheless, (neo)realists argue that in an anarchical society,the main goal of a state is to ensure its own survival by increasing its powerand putting its interests ahead of other states. The international system is a’self-help’ system where states are obliged to look after themselves, beconcerned with their own security and consequently creating a security dilemma(Brown & Ainley, 2009). Henceforth, Waltz’s myth that ‘international anarchy is the permissive cause of war’ is supportedby the fundamental assumptions that the world is composed of sovereign states,that there is no world government, and thus that international politics isanarchical.
Based on these assumptions, (neo)realists predict that sovereignnation-states in a system of international anarchy will behave conflictually,as conflict is assumed to be an ineradicable consequence of interaction betweeninternational actors (Jasinski, 2016). There is no way out of internationalanarchy, as the idea of a world government is unrealistic because states willnever be secure and trusting enough to give up their power (Weber, 2005). Moreover,realists claim that in a self-help system where all states possess inherentoffensive capabilities and the ability to destroy other states, theinternational system is under constant fear and threat of war.
Given this,occasional wars are inevitable because of the security dilemma (Jasinski, 2016).