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John Mearsheimer: Is China the real winner of the Ukraine War?

Hosted by Gita Wirjawan, an Indonesian educator, entrepreneur, and current visiting scholar at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) at Stanford University, John J. Mearsheimer claims in this conversation that “the situation we face today in the world is much more dangerous than it was during the Cold War”. Realist John Mearsheimer explains the cause and consequences of the Ukraine War which he concludes as “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics”.

John Mearsheimer is a prominent political scientist and international relations scholar. He is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, where he has taught as of 1982. He is known for his work on international security and international relations theory. He is not an easy person to understand and I once wrote “John Mearsheimer continues to be a puzzlement to me“. However, as I learn more about him, I began to appreciate his theory of “offensive realism.” Offensive realism is a variant of the broader realist school of international relations theory, which postulates that states are primarily concerned with maximizing their power and security in a world where there is no overarching global authority.

In Mearsheimer’s version of realism, he argues that states are not just content with maximizing their security, but also seek to maximize their relative power over other states. He believes that states operate in an anarchic system where there is no higher authority to prevent them from pursuing their interests. Mearsheimer claims that states are inherently aggressive and that this tendency towards aggression is unlikely to change, leading to more aggressive behaviors and the pursuit of expansionary policies.

In this video, he uses this theory to explain the present world situation and why we are where we are. What I have learned is that Mearsheimer does not necessarily condone the aggressive behaviors, he merely observes and explains them with his theory of “offensive realism”.

I would only add that because of cultural differences, the Chinese and the US tend to exert their power and influence in different manners!

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