Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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Through the Realist Lens: Conversation with John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago; April 8, 2002 by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is John J. Mearsheimer, who is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is the author of numerous books, including Conventional Deterrence, Liddell Hart and the Weight of History, and The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.

  1. Background ... influence of parents ... The Best and the Brightest ... choosing West Point ... impact of military education and service ... impact of Vietnam War protests ... lessons of military experience
  2. Being a Realist ... born not made ... creativity ... knowledge of history ... perspectives of a Realist ... types of Realists ... importance of being a regional hegemon ... unique role of United States
  3. The Post - Cold War World ... nation state not dead ... cooperation not replacing conflict ... three post - Cold War wars
  4. The United States and Realism ... exceptionalism and optimism ... foreign policy in a democracy ... clash of idealism and Realism ... need for skeptical eye on U.S. foreign policy debate ... responsibility of U.S. political scientists
  5. The Problem of Terrorism ... heightened awareness of terrorism ... Realism doesn't address terrorism ... vital importance of diplomacy
  6. Realist View of China ... China will seek regional hegemony ... possible U.S. responses ... areas of potential conflict
  7. Lessons Learned ... Realism's amorality and human rights ... importance of state power ... advice: read widely ... life's unpredictability ... study history and current events ... keep learning

Archival photos are courtesy of of John Mearsheimer. See also John Mearsheimer's bio at the University of Chicago website.

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