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Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critique of the liberal institutionalism – J.M. Grieco

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  1. Introduction
  2. About J .M. Grieco
  3. Liberal institutionalists
  4. Anarchy and the limits of cooperation
  5. Realist critique of the liberal institutionalism
  6. Conclusion

The text we have was written by J.M. Grieco in order to compare two main theories in international politics: realism and liberal institutionalism. His main argument is that realism is the best theory and all along the text, he tries to demonstrate it.

First of all, the author quickly summarizes the history of international relations' theories. He explains that Realism (no willingness of states to cooperate) has been the dominant theory for a long time but it has been challenged by liberal institutionalism which was developed in 3 stages: the functionalist theory, then neofunctionalist regional integration theory and finally, interdependence theory. However, all these theories were not enough relevant to overtake realism and a new liberal institutionalist approach was necessary to challenge the dominant one. The author states that this new theory took into consideration a certain number of realists assumption but was more optimistic. He then argues that such theory was based on erroneous assumptions.

The first part of his argumentation is a comparison between realism and liberal institutionalism to show that this challenging theory was invalidated by events in the 1970's. Liberal institutionalists used to refute the 5 main assumptions of realists. Their view was much more pessimistic because they considered that States were able to cooperate to achieve their goals, but it did not necessarily mean they were losing their sovereignty.

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