International Relations and Self-Help Capability

The description of international relations by Kenneth Waltz is perfectly illustrated in Thucydides’ The Melian Dialog. Kenneth Waltz and Thucydides describe the nature of relations between different states or nations. How states interact is founded upon various perspectives which depend on the leadership approach it adopts. However, majorly, there are two main ways in which states relate to one another. One is through forming alliances, while the other is through conquering potential threats. The motives behind the two approaches are survival, establishment, or dominance. The countries may not achieve different aims without achieving the two first. This paper will discuss the approaches adopted by nations to establish self-help capability.

Nations do their utmost to ensure their survival at the very least and ultimate control of the world at the most. Although the Melos had done nothing to anger them, the Athenians claim they are justified in destroying them (Orwin, 2021). It is assumed that states are interested in building political power over their rivals. The Athenians beat the Melos to acquire control over them. States try to attain their aims by growing their economic and military might or forming alliances with other nations. Self-preservation is the primary goal of smaller countries.

Waltz does not suggest that violence is widespread in the global system. The threat of violence is always there, he claims (Waltz, 2014). According to Thucydides, because of Athens’ rise in strength, Sparta feared being utilized against them in the future. Therefore, nations are keen on fighting any advantage that another country may use against them. In this sense, Sparta aimed to ensure their survival. They strive to maintain their independence and protection from any potential attack.

Former US President Donald Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia in May 2017 is an example of a political speech that supports the themes in both Waltz’s theory and Thucydides’ theory. Trump sought an alliance with the United Arab Emirates in compacting terrorism and insecurity in their countries. He asked UAE leadership to support the US in the fight against radicalization globally. It can be viewed that Trump and the US administration felt that radicalization is a threat to the security of the United States. He added that Iran, which was the Saudi Arabian enemy at the time, was responsible for the instability in the region (Hill &Hurst, 2020). Through his actions and implications of his speech, Donald Trump, representing the US, sought an alliance with Saudi Arabia to engage in a bid to Conquer Iran. According to Waltz, nations seek alliances with weaker nations to establish dominance.

In April 2021, Russian President Putin warned other countries against breaching Russian border regulations. Giving his state of the nation address, President Putin said that while his government intended to keep good international relations, countries that crossed their red line would face their military. He said that his country’s power was both military and moral (Chifu, 2021). In essence, President Putin implied that his government has the military strength to protect itself against imminent threats. The nation of Russia preferred military dominance over the formation of alliances. The president suggested while they embraced peace, he would not hesitate to go to war with any country that breached their border. The theme of military strength is imminent in Putin’s speech.

Generally, nations use alliances and military developments to achieve their aims. Typically, the aims of a country include security, economic growth, and sovereignty. The United States uses military strength and alliances to achieve its political aims. On the other hand, Russia tends to adopt an approach of military strength and dominance to achieve its aims. Regardless of the approach, survival and dominance are the main aims of countries as far as international relations are concerned.


CHIFU, I. (2021). Multilateralism, democracy, concert of powers: Russia’s red lines. Bulletin of” Carol I” National Defence University (EN), (02), 19-26.

Hill, M., & Hurst, S. (2020). The Trump presidency: Continuity and change in US foreign policy.

Orwin, C. (2021). The Melian dialogue and the fate of Melos. In The Humanity of Thucydides (pp. 97-117). Princeton University Press.

Waltz, K. N. (2014). Anarchic orders and balances of power. Realism Reader, 113.

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DemoEssays. 2023. "International Relations and Self-Help Capability." January 1, 2023.

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DemoEssays. "International Relations and Self-Help Capability." January 1, 2023.