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Estimada suscritora, estimado suscritor: en el número 269 de la Carta Semanal de doctorpolítico, enviado recientemente a su dirección, se dejó de mencionar sobre el tema de la Realpolitik, política “realista”, o política de poder, algunas cosas dichas en tiempos relativamente recientes por algunos científicos políticos actualmente practicantes. (Aunque hubo en él referencias a impresiones científicas de la psicología, la zoología y la teoría de juegos de estrategia). Lo que sigue es una ampliación, seguramente técnica en exceso, de la discusión contenida en el número mencionado.
Esta pesadez, incluida sólo por el prurito de ser exhaustivo, no debe empañar el augurio que le hago llegar de un feliz 2008 para usted y los suyos.

Con un cordial saludo

Luis Enrique Alcalá
………………………….
Hallazgos recientes de la ciencia política sobre el paradigma “realista”
La más articulada y metódica de las exposiciones sobre el tema se encuentra, sin duda, en la obra de John A. Vasquez, The Power of Power Politics: From Classical Realism to Neotraditionalism (Cambridge University Press, 1998). Vasquez muestra cómo el valor predictivo y explicativo de los presupuestos de la política “realista” ha entrado, hace mucho, en una fase de rendimientos decrecientes. En Power Politics and Contentious Issues: Realism, Issue Salience, and Conflict Management (2005), Paul R. Hensel describe el hallazgo del siguiente modo: “…Vasquez (1993: 124) argumenta que ‘el paradigma realista no ha considerado la substancia de la política mundial, los problemas contenciosos, como importantes o centrales a la comprensión’, y aboga por un desplazamiento del foco de ‘tratar la política mundial como una lucha por el poder’ a ‘tratarla como el señalamiento y resolución de problemas’. Mansbach y Vasquez (1981) y Vasquez (1998) aducen que la observación de diferencias sistemáticas en el comportamiento internacional a través de diversas áreas problemáticas—particularmente diferencias en el manejo de asuntos territoriales y otros—desafía al realismo”. El propio Hensel aporta, en la última conclusión de su trabajo, el siguiente dictamen: “…si se quiere que las instituciones o los mecanismos legales jueguen un papel significativo en la solución de problemas de alto perfil, su impacto debe sentirse por sobre y más allá de los factores relacionados con el poder que proponen los realistas”.
En The Evolution of International Politics, 1800-2000: A Network Analysis (2003), Z. Maoz, R. D. Kuperman, L. Terris e I. Talmud, de las universidades de Haifa y Tel-Aviv, hacen inventario de las debilidades del paradigma “realista”. Se cita ahora de su trabajo sin traducción:
“There are different types of systemic theories of international politics, but by far the most influential one is structural realism in its various incarnations (Glazer, 2003). This theory finds its most eloquent exposition in Waltzís (1979) classic. At the risk of oversimplification, we note that the key characteristics of this theory are fourfold:
1. It assumes that states are the principal actors in international politics.
2. It assumes that the key characteristic of international politics is the state of anarchy, that is, the absence of a central authority that is capable to enforce rules on the units.
3. It assumes that the principal motivation of units under anarchy is survival. States want to maximize the chances of surviving in an anarchic world.
4. Thus, the principal mechanism that can help state maximize their chances of surviving is the balancing rule: states wish to balance other states.
On the basis of these fairly simple principles, the theory tells us about how, why, and when war and peace are expected in world politics (Waltz, 1964, 1979); who aligns with whom and why (Walt, 1987; Christensen and Snyder, 1990); what would be the relations between major powers and minor powers (Miller, 1994), and so forth.
Yet, it is unclear when states are expected to balance, and what it is that they attempt to put on the balancing scale. Some versions posit that states attempt to balance power (Waltz, 1979). Others argue that states wish to balance threats (Walt, 1987). Some claim that states wish to maximize survival not by balancing but by seeking dominance (Mearsheimer, 2000), other argue that states seek security by trying to deter through balancing processes (Walt, 1987; Glaser, 1994-95). Theorists also differ considerably on the question of what is the relationship between balances and war. Some (e.g., Watlz, 1979; Mearsheimer, 1991) claim that balance creates mutual deterrence and hence reduces the likelihood of war. Others (e.g., Organski and Kugler, 1980; Kugler and Lemke, 2000; Geller and Singer, 1998: 192-193) claim that power parity (i.e., roughly equal balance) increases the likelihood of war.
There are quite a few problems with this approach, however, as elegant as it may appear at first blush. First, on a theoretical level it is reductionist, because it reduces its definition of the key independent variableóthe structure of the international systemto a very narrow concept of the distribution of power between a few major powers. How a state becomes a member of this club of major powers is ambiguous in most studiesó even those that employ highly rigorous measurement criteria. As we argue below, structure is a more complex concept, one that cannot be defined strictly in terms of a single attribute of actors. Second, structural realism is reductionist because it conceives power in strictly material—mostly military—terms. As has been argued over and over (and demonstrated by the collapse of the second ìmost powerfulî poweróthe Soviet Union) material power does not count for much if it is not backed by economic capability and by social and political stability (Keohane and Nye, 1977; Kennedy, 1987).
Third, structural realism is predicated on a “top down” or “outside in” logic. This logic is both empirically problematic and logically flawed (Maoz, 1990: 547-564; Bueno de Mesquita, 2003). It generates seemingly contradictory propositions (e.g., regarding the relationship between polarity and war, or between alliances and war). It is vague on many issues that are not related to power and structure; it does not account for system transformation and is limited in scope (Maoz, 1996: 4-12).
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, structural realism does not have a great deal of empirical support. It does not appear to be working because it leads to flawed empirical generalizations (Vasquez, 1998), because it generates seemingly contradictory propositions (Vasquez, 1997), and because the discrepancy between the original proposition of this approach and empirical reality leads adherents of structural realism to “changes” that are not in line with the basic ideas of the approach. So that not only does structural realism lend itself to contradictory propositions, but it also loses its parsimonious qualities (Vasquez, 1997)”.

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