Paul van Hooft & Annette Freyberg-Inan write book chapter for a new book on the return of realism to Europe

July 22nd 2020 - 13:05

In this book chapter in the new book 'Fear and Uncertainty in Europe', HCSS senior strategic analyst Paul van Hooft and Annette Freyberg-Inan (University of Amsterdam) argue that realism is a powerful theory that explains broad, long-term patterns of state behavior and systemic outcomes in Europe. 


Since the end of the Cold War, realism has received little serious attention within the European International Relations literature and has been dismissed as insufficient to explain the most important developments and events in Europe and the world. We argue that this treatment has been unfair. In fact, we consider realism a powerful theory that explains broad, long-term patterns of state behavior, as well as systemic outcomes. The key contribution of realism is its understanding of the constraining and enabling role of the international distribution of power, which represents a decisive initial sorting stage for the choices that states can make. However, in line with neoclassical realist authors, we argue that to explain and predict state behaviour more precisely, the domestic distribution of power, ideas, interests, and institutions need to be taken into account. In any case, power disciplines states and other actors when their leaders fail to adequately recognise their place in the international system. Unlike rival theories, the attention of realists to the impact of the disproportionate power of the United States on the international system allows them to explain a series of developments: the end of the Cold War; the transformation of the global order; the lack of major power conflict; and the re-emergence of inter-state competition in Europe and globally. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of considerations of power for policymaking within Europe.

Read the entire book chapter here.

Paul Van Hooft and Annette Freyberg-Inan, “Europe May Be Done with Power, but Power Is Not Done with Europe: Europe During an Era of American Unipolarity and of Relative Decline,” in Fear and Uncertainty in Europe (Springer, 2019), 53–81.

Paul van Hooft is a Senior Strategic Analyst at HCSS and the Co-Chair of The Initiative on the Future of Transatlantic Relations. He was a postdoctoral fellow from 2018 to 2020 at the Security Studies Program (SSP) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), including as a 2018-2019 Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow. His work focuses on: the origins and logic of American grand strategy; European grand strategy and security; nuclear strategy; Indo-Pacific security, transatlantic relations; alliances; and extended deterrence. Paul attained his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Amsterdam (UVA) and was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) from 2016 to 2018. Paul received the 2016 prize from the Dutch and Flemish political science associations for his dissertation on the impact of experiences with war on postwar grand strategy.