Realism and Liberalism: Review

International regulation exists from the beginning of human civilization, as tribes had to divide their territories and agree on peace. These days, foreign affairs present a matter of extreme significance. Each country has its interests and intentions, which are highly likely to interfere with each other. Such a conflict may appear to be the cause of a war, leading to a world disaster. For this reason, international regulation is the aspect, which is drawn the attention of specialists. International relations theory is a discipline, which aim is to analyze the cooperation between countries from the theoretical perspective. Currently, the most widespread schools of international relations are realism and liberalism. This way, the purpose of this paper is to compare these approaches and outline their similarities and differences.


The significance of exploring both approaches to global politics should not be underestimated. For instance, realism, focusing on national security, stimulated the development of military forces in the countries, which appears to be an integral part of the protection of boundaries. This theory includes reforming the military capacity to be ready to repel an unexpected attack at any time. Realism contributes to becoming prepared for any disasters and threats, which is extremely important nowadays when the likelihood of starting the next World War is apparent in case of any incaution in global politics.

Interestingly, liberalism may be a sufficient addition to a realistic perspective, as it covers a broader range of aspects, such as cultural cooperation between states. Moreover, it supplies some soft power methods, which are beneficial for conducting a successful strategy in international relations. Each interference of interests cannot be solved by applying only military methods, and this approach supplies effective nonviolent measures. This way, the combination of both theories may contribute to succeeding in the world stage.


The main difference between approaches regards the participants of international relations. According to realism, states, which imply rationale indiscrete political organisms, are the major partakers. Only states have the legitimized law for declaring and pursuing wars, concluding international agreements, and other procedures. The direction of policy between countries is determined by powerful states, which are capable of supporting and violating stability. They do what they can, while less powerful ones have to obey these circumstances; that is why great states may sacrifice the interests of less influential countries. Liberalism is opposite to this perspective and concedes pluralism in actions on the world stage. In addition, this theory claims state preferences play the leading role in determining international relations participants’ behavior.

Furthermore, realism marks the anarchical nature of world cooperation. Each participant intends to defend its own goals, that is why the primary incentive for counties on the global stage are their national interests. The supreme power in international relations does not exist, so counties have to stick to the principle of helping only themselves. By contrast, one of the liberalism’s focal points involves the statement that international relations are outside the framework of national security and include cooperation via commercial organizations and private actors. Therefore, this theory does not support the idea of anarchy and insists on a more complicated organization in the system of global affairs.

Another difference addresses the goals of world cooperation, and realists intend to secure the state from rivals and have a possibility to achieve their own interests on the world stage. Such a determination implies the building of military forces for the realization of the aims. The main orient for liberalists is cultural development and cooperation, liberal education, matching the internal and external policy. These intentions predominantly include peaceful measures, such as a combination of hard and soft powers, for benefiting the international society.


Nevertheless, it is possible to find some approximate similarities between both approaches. Despite the fact that realism accepts wars as a method of solution to a conflict, it considers this measure a last-ditch means. Although liberalism is more opposed to military collisions, both the theories mark the inadmissibility of wars, especially caused by minor occasions, and the necessity to maintain universal peace. However, it is worthy of note that realists are more likely to appeal to military forces in case of thetas for their national security. In addition, liberalism also recognizes the significance of protecting the countries’ borders and particular interests, but it is not the focal point of its adherers. Focusing on cultural, commercial, and other forms of cooperation between countries, it does not underestimate national security too. Comparing two theories, it is evident that realism implies concentration on this issue to a larger extent.


Today, international relations obtain more significance from year to year. Both realism and liberalism provide strategies for conducting successful global politics, however, they include different perspectives. Although both approaches imply considerable differences, the combination of their methods would be extremely beneficial not only for protecting countries’ borders, but also for the development of cooperation between states. Peaceful and military measures guarantee the highest results in the world stage in case they are applied together and rationally.

Cite this paper

Select style


DemoEssays. (2023, January 4). Realism and Liberalism: Review. Retrieved from


DemoEssays. (2023, January 4). Realism and Liberalism: Review.

Work Cited

"Realism and Liberalism: Review." DemoEssays, 4 Jan. 2023,


DemoEssays. (2023) 'Realism and Liberalism: Review'. 4 January.


DemoEssays. 2023. "Realism and Liberalism: Review." January 4, 2023.

1. DemoEssays. "Realism and Liberalism: Review." January 4, 2023.


DemoEssays. "Realism and Liberalism: Review." January 4, 2023.