Realism vs. Neorealism regarding the Syrian War

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Realism is the school of thought that fosters dealing with real world situations just the way they are without associating any opportunistic and unrealistic expectations with them. It is the opposite of idealism and is apathetic towards circumstances and any potential sufferings and victims they produce. In politics realism is applied by the notion that all nations work in their own self-interest and disregard other nations’ needs. Realism is further subdivided into classical and neo-realism. Classical realism adheres to conventional realistic beliefs that power is sought through selfish means and meant to be retained that way. Neo-realism takes this conventional thought but applies it to the modern day political scenario. Neo-realism believes that any conflicts in the international arena arise from the failure of a universal governance or authoritative system to control nations from selfishly pursuing their self-interest by any possible means. It holds all nations, especially the powerful ones, responsible for any and all global conflict or regional aberrance as according to neo-realist nations that are more selfish in pursuing their self-interests go to any extent to achieve them, causing all sorts of mess to other nations if it interferes with their goals of supremacy (Keohane, 1986).

Neo-realists consider the fact that all countries need energy, food, military protection, and infrastructure on an equal basis but some view these needs differently than others. The difference in these national resources drives nations to become power hungry and push other nations in the attempt to gain more resources. Therefore, a balance needs to be achieved for all nations to live in harmony. In the context of the Syrian War, realism applies more than neo-realism because the region has been entirely destabilized as a result of power hungry Syrian government that did not even consider the needs of its own people. The government took military action against its own citizens thus causing an inevitable civil war that started in 2011 and still ongoing after four years. Although Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a recent interview that western propaganda and the creation of the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria, commonly known as ISIS, caused the Syrian war to erupt in the first place, Syrians themselves blame him alone for getting help from Iran and Russia to destabilize the entire region to help his western allies gain control of it. Russia has always demonstrated an imperialist approach to making allies so this does not sound too unfamiliar. However, who really is at fault is a relatively subjective matter at this point. The war has already destroyed entire cities and forced millions of people to flock out in refugee groups seeking protection and homes in other countries.

Given the magnitude of the results of the Syrian war, it is hard to provide recommendations for a long term stability for the region. The refugee crisis is the biggest in global history, as is being reported by media and historians. So many people have been massacred as a result of the war and the rest migrated that it is not even possible to accurately keep a count of the number of casualties and refugees. Refugees are now straining neighboring countries with their migration as their new homes or countries they are migrating to are burdened with providing them with accommodation, food, and basic life facilities. Although most of the neighboring countries have been very helpful but they still face the harsh reality of having an increased load of population to cater for. On the global level thus, it is recommended that organizations like the World Health Organization, and United Nations itself step into the situation and take steps to put secure camps for these refugees and assume total responsibility for these dislocated people. It is also recommended that power hungry nations stop destroying cities for their imperialist motives although this seems a very utopian achievement at this point. The Syrian government should stop taking military action against its own people and stop western intervention from causing widespread turmoil at any costs.


Keohance, R.O. (1986). Neorealism and its critics. New York: Columbia University Press.