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The Emerging Structure of International Politics
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The Emerging Structure of International Politics
Kenneth N. Waltz

Kenneth N. Waltz is Ford Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He has written Man, The State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis (1959), Foreign Policy and Democratic Politics: The American and British Experience (1967, reissued 1992), Theory of International Politics (1979), and numerous essays. His "Nuclear Myths and Political Realities" won the Heinz Eulau award for best article in the American Political Science Review in 1990.

For their thoughtful comments, I should like to thank Karen Adams, David Arase, Jamais Cascio, James Fearon, Robert Gilpin, Robert Keohane, Sean Lynn-Jones, Robert Powell, and Steve Weber.


1. Kenneth N. Waltz, "The Stability of a Bipolar World," Daedalus, Vol. 93, No. 3 (Summer 1964).

2. Lawrence Eagleburger, quoted in Thomas Friedman, "U.S. Voicing Fears That Gorbachev Will Divide West," New York Times, September 16, 1989, pp. 1, 6; John J. Mearsheimer, "Back to the Future: Instability in Europe After the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Summer 1990), pp. 5-56.

3. Nicholas J. Spykman, America's Strategy in World Politics: The United States and the Balance of Power (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942), p. 461.

4. On the causes of multipolar-conventional war and of bipolar-nuclear peace, see esp. Waltz, "Stability," The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Be Better, Adelphi Paper No. 171 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies [IISS], 1981); and Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979). John Lewis Gaddis and Mearsheimer have offered similar explanations. See Gaddis, "The Long Peace," International Security, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Spring 1986), pp. 99-142. Since the reasoning is now familiar, I refrain from summarizing it here.

5. I made this mistake in "The Stability of a Bipolar World," but have since corrected the error.

6. Neorealist, or structural, theory is developed in Waltz, Theory of International Politics.

7. Melvin R. Laird, A House Divided: America's Strategy Gap (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1962), pp. 53, 78-79.

8. David Holloway, The Soviet Union and the Arms Race, second ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), p. 81.

9. Arthur Krock, Memoirs (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1968), appendix A, p. 480.

10. Barry Blechman and Stephen S. Kaplan, Force Without War: U.S. Armed Forces as a Political Instrument (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1978).

11. "Excerpts from Reagan's Speech on Aid for Nicaragua Rebels," New York Times, June 25, 1986, p. A12.

12. "Excerpts from Remarks by Vice President George Bush," Press Release, Austin, Texas, February 28, 1985.

13. Quoted in Robert W. Tucker, Intervention and the Reagan Doctrine (New York: Council on Religion and International Affairs, 1985), p. 5.

14. Quoted in Josef Joffe, "After Bipolarity: Eastern and Western Europe: Between Two Ages," in The Strategic Implications of Change in the Soviet Union, Adelphi Paper No. 247 (London: HSS, Winter 1989/90), p. 71.

15. The Economist apparently believes that Britain and France were great powers well into the 1950s, claiming that the Suez Crisis of 1956 "helped destroy Britain and France as great powers"; June 16, 1990, p. 101.

16. Michael R. Gordon, "Cheney Calls 50% Military Cut a Risk to Superpower Status," New York Times, March 17, 1990, p. 4.

17. "Succession in Moscow: First Hours in Power, Gorbachev in His Own Words," New York Times, March 12, 1985, p. A16.

18. Bernard Brodie, War and Politics (New York: Macmillan, 1973), p. 321.

19. Some Soviet commentators understand this. See, especially, Andrei Kokoshin, "The Future of NATO and the Warsaw Pact Strategy: Paper II," in The Strategic Implications of Change in the Soviet Union, Adelphi Paper No. 247 (London: IISS, Winter 1989/90), pp. 60-65.

20. For fuller treatment of this and other strategic questions, see Waltz, "Nuclear Myths and Political Realities," American Political Science Review, Vol. 84, No. 3 (September 1990).

21. Herbert Butterfield, "The Balance of Power," in Butterfield and Martin Wight, eds., Diplomatic Investigations (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966), p. 140. Fénélon may have been first, but the idea was in the air. See Daniel Defoe, A True Collection of the Writings of...