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Reconstructing Realpolitik assesses what there is of value in the realpolitik approach to understanding world politics, what must be amended or discarded, and what might be needed to replace the classic model. Calling realpolitik, or realism, a "cluster of models, assumptions, hunches, hypotheses, and parameter estimates" united only by their common focus on power, the editors challenged their contributors to test elements of the realpolitik model with empirical evidence and to suggest how the model might be revised to make it square with the evidence. The result is a wealth of original, rigorously tested, data-based findings that advance our understanding of this basic paradigm.
The coverage is unusually comprehensive: chapters address the onset, escalation, and expansion phases of conflict; different conflict phenomena, such as economic sanctions, interventions, crisis bargaining, and decolonization besides the more traditional concerns of military disputes, are examined; and the cases represent a variety of different spatial and temporal domains. In the end, Reconstructing Realpolitik shows that realpolitik factors and insights help to explain and predict a variety of international conflict phenomena while at the same time often producing incorrect or exaggerated results. While realism remains a valuable proposition, it is clear that it fails to encompass several key factors that influence state behavior.
Contributors include Robert Baumann, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Gary Goertz, Anthanasios Hristoulas, Paul Huth, Patrick James, Daniel Jones, Charles Kegley, David Lalman, Russell Leng, Frederic Perason, Jeffrey Pickering, Brian Pollins, and Gregory Raymond.