Tag: <span>Stanley Hoffmann</span>

Kenneth Waltz Portraits of World Citizens.

Kenneth Waltz: The Passing of the Second Generation of…

The death of Professor Kenneth Waltz; on 12 May 2013 in New York City; at the age of 88; marks the start of the passing of the second generation of the realist school in the study of international relations. The first generation was a trio marked by the politics of Europe; between the two world wars: E.H. Carr (1), Frederick L. Schuman (2) and Hans Morgenthau (3).  The second generation, also a trio; is marked by the start of the Cold War and a bi-polar balance-of-power: Kenneth Waltz (4), Henry Kissinger (5), and Stanley Hoffmann (6).


Kenneth Waltz was often referred to as a “neorealist” to distinguish him from the writers of the first generation; especially from Hans Morgenthau;  but the difference was more a question of age and formative experience than a real difference of approach; although Waltz was critical of Morgenthau’s ‘Germanic’ emphasis; on “the will to power”;  which motivates everyone; but especially those in control of state policy.


Title: U.S. to sell gold to China in return for silver Washington D.C. July 9. At a conference in the Treasury Department today between Secretary Morgenthau, Finance Minister of China, Dr. H.H. Kung, and the Chinese Ambassador Dr. C.T. Wang, The United States arranged to sell gold to China in return for silver. Under the agreement the gold will remain in this country for use in the stabilization of China’s exchange. In the photograph, left to right” Dr. Kung, Secretary Morgenthau, and Chinese Ambassador Wang. By Harris & Ewing, photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Structural Realist.

Waltz called himself a “structural realist” — a better term for his emphasis on the behaviour of states as determined by the structures of the world society; rather than by domestic motivations or the personality of state leaders. Waltz attacks “reductionist theories”; which explain the foreign policy behaviour of states exclusively in terms of causes at the national level of analysis; for example, Lenin’s theory of imperialism; because it explains expansionist behaviour in terms of the accumulation dynamics of national capitalism.

Because structures change slowly and impose limits to choice; international relations are characterized by continuity.  As he notes in the introduction to his Man, The State, and War; “Social scientists, realizing from their studies how firmly the present is tied to the past and how intimately the parts of a system depend upon each other, are inclined to be conservative in estimating the possibilities of achieving a radically better world.”  By “social scientists”; he was referring particularly to himself.  He was critical of those who were arguing that international relations were undergoing a radical transformation; because of the growing interdependence of the international economy; or the fear of a nuclear war.  He maintained that states operate under severe constraints created by the position of a small number of “Great Powers”; and thus a balance-of-power system.

Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State and national security advisor for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, discusses the Vietnam War with LBJ Presidential Library director Mark Updegrove on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Kissinger, who played a leading role in U.S. diplomatic and military policy during the Vietnam War, was the keynote evening speaker on the first day of the LBJ Presidential Library’s three-day Vietnam War Summit. LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin 04/26/2016. By LBJ Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Henry Kissinger and Stanley Hoffmann.

Unlike his second generation colleagues; Henry Kissinger; who became an active political actor and Stanley Hoffmann; who wrote extensively on current political events; Waltz was nearly exclusively concerned with working on the theoretical implications of the distribution of power and of the resulting balance-of-power. Waltz was critical of those who saw Soviet policy as motivated by Communist ideology or by the personality of its leaders. Kenneth Waltz stressed that the requirements of state action are imposed by the circumstances in which all states exist.

“A theory of international politics can leave aside variations in the composition of states and in the resources and technology they command because the logic of anarchy does not vary with its content.”

Nevertheless, Kenneth Waltz held that world institutions and institutionalized methods of altering and adjusting interests are important.  He placed an emphasis on the skills of diplomats, their ability to analyse situations and to propose adjustments.

For those like myself whose emphasis is on the emerging world society and a world citizen ideology Waltz’s approach is a constant reminder of the importance of structures which determine processes, world politics as a “self-sustaining system.”  I think that we are moving beyond the realpolitik  so often linked to a balance-of-power approach. I believe that he underestimated the role of ideas and ideology in world politics and thus largely failed to see the importance of the growth of a cosmopolitan spirit as expressed by world citizens.  Nevertheless Waltz was an important voice during the Cold War years in which US policy makers too often became the ideological mirrors of the Soviets, stressing the need to expand “democracy” and “the free world” as opposed to the Soviet’s ‘socialism’.



  1.  E.H. Carr’s most influential work is The Twenty Years’ Crisis (1939).  For a good biography of Carr, his approach and also his later work on the history of the Soviet Union, see Charles Jones E.H. Carr and International Relations (1998).
  2.  Frederick L. Schuman International Politics, first published in 1933, with many later editions, constantly revised to take in current events, especially the start of World War II. For his analysis of the world citizen/world federalist movement see his The Commonwealth of Man.
  3. Hans J. Morgenthau Politics Among Nations, first published in 1948 also was revised to highlight events but the basic analysis remained the same. For a good biography with an emphasis on his early years in Germany and Switzerland before World War II, see Christoph Frei Hans J. Morgenthau: An Intellectual Biography (2001).
  4. Kenneth Waltz’s two major theoretical works, written 20 years apart are Man, The State and War (1959) and Theory of International Politics (1979).
  5. Henry Kissinger’s theoretical writings are overshadowed by his political activities which he sets out in White House Years (1979) and Years of Upheaval (1982).  For a combination of theory and analysis of then current world events, it would be worth reading the editorials in the 1950s that he wrote in Confluence published by Harvard University.  It was as editor of Confluence that we exchanged correspondence. I have always thought that he was a first-rate editor.
  6. Stanley Hoffmann’s most theoretical work is The State of War (1965). For his combination of theory and analysis of current policies see Gulliver’s Trouble or The Setting of American Foreign Policy (1968) and Dead Ends: American Foreign Policy in the New Cold War (1983).


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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U.N General Assembly Appeals-Français

Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies: peut-elle fournir le leadership…

L’image sélectionnée by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

27 Sep 2019 –Le spécialiste des relations internationales Stanley Hoffmann a un jour plaisanté:

Les objectifs sont faciles à décrire. Ce qui compte le plus, c’est une stratégie pour les atteindre. 

L’Organisation des Nations Unies à travers ses débats annuels à l’Assemblée générale ; ses conférences mondiales particulières telles que celles consacrées à l’environnement, à la population, à l’alimentation, aux femmes, à l’urbanisation, et au sein des Agences spécialisées ont défini les objectifs d’une politique publique mondiale dans l’intérêt de toute l’humanité. Il y a trois phases importantes dans cette politique publique mondiale : la formulation, la mise en œuvre et l’évaluation.

Sommet Action Climat.

Ainsi; En septembre, l’AGNU a commencé par un « Sommet sur l’action climatique » pour évaluer les efforts gouvernementaux pour relever les défis du changement climatique. Les chefs de gouvernement exposent ce qu’ils ont fait ou prévoient de faire au niveau national ; mais ils parlaient relativement peu de ce qu’ils pouvaient faire ensemble.

Le Sommet Action Climat a été suivi des déclarations politiques des gouvernements nationaux : Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump, Recep Tajyip Erdogan, Emmanuel Macron, Hassan Rouhani, Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson, Narendra Modi et Abdel Fatth el-Sisi. Tous, sauf al Sisi, sont arrivés au pouvoir national par le biais d’élections et non de coups d’État militaires. Ainsi d’une certaine manière; ils représentent le degré de prise de conscience des enjeux mondiaux et des priorités de leurs électeurs.

La question posée il y a de nombreuses années par le citoyen du monde Norman Cousins.

UN General Assembly

Le président Trump s’adresse aux journalistes à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU. By U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Qui Parle Pour L’homme”?.

Pour relever les grands défis des enjeux mondiaux ; un leadership fort est nécessaire. Pourtant, les voies du leadership au niveau mondial sont difficiles à tracer. Le leadership au niveau national est généralement clairement structuré en pyramide ; avec le bureau du président au sommet; avec les ministres du Cabinet ; les rangs supérieurs de l’armée juste en dessous.

Il peut exister un vaste réseau informel de conseillers influents ; les chefs d’entreprise, la presse – tous avec des rôles de leadership ; mais la structure formelle de gouvernance est hiérarchique et clairement définie. Les gens s’attendent généralement à ce que le premier ministre ou le président dirige. En réalité; il est jugé selon qu’il assure ou non un tel leadership.

Au niveau mondial ; il n’y a pas de gouvernement mondial en tant que tel, et un leader fort au niveau national peut jouer peu de rôle au niveau mondial. Ce que la Commission sur la gouvernance mondiale a écrit en 1994 reste vrai aujourd’hui:

À l’heure actuelle; la prudence politique, les préoccupations nationales, les problèmes à court terme et une certaine lassitude face aux causes internationales se sont conjugués pour produire un manque de leadership sur les grands enjeux internationaux. L’ampleur même des problèmes mondiaux tels que la pauvreté ; la population ou le consumérisme semble avoir intimidé les dirigeants internationaux potentiels. Et pourtant sans courage; leadership à long terme à tous les niveaux – international et national – il est impossible de créer et de maintenir des circonscriptions suffisamment puissantes et fiables pour avoir un impact sur les problèmes qui détermineront; D’une façon ou d’une autre; l’avenir de la race humaine sur cette planète.”  (1)

L’ONU est la seule Organisation Universelle au Niveau Mondial…

Ainsi; il faut un leadership et une direction constants au niveau mondial. Il faut entretenir et reconstruire l’enthousiasme ; pour réinitialiser le cap lorsque les politiques ne fonctionnent pas comme prévu ; garder un élan et un enthousiasme. L’ONU est la seule organisation universelle au niveau mondial; et c’est donc de l’intérieur des Nations Unies que doit venir le leadership au niveau mondial. Les dirigeants au sein du système des Nations Unies doivent être en mesure d’aller au-delà des gouvernements membres – parfois au-delà de la tête des titulaires de postes gouvernementaux actuels – pour atteindre les peuples du monde.

Il existe deux postes d’autorité dans la structure pyramidale mal définie de l’ONU. L’un est le Secrétaire général; l’autre est le président de l’Assemblée générale ; qui est élu pour un an à la fois. Le Président de l’actuel ; La 74e session est Tijjani Muhammed-Bande du Nigéria. Il y a eu des moments où le chef de l’une des agences spécialisées de l’ONU ou des institutions financières ou des programmes de l’ONU a assuré le leadership ; mais généralement sur un ou deux sujets seulement.

United Nations

Drapeau des Nations Unies (Pantone). By We moved to 8.12, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Le Secrétaire général pour le leadership.

Notamment sur la résolution des conflits armés ; les gens se tournent vers le Secrétaire général pour faire preuve de leadership. Dans certains cas; le Secrétaire général a pu jouer un rôle central. En tant que serviteur du Conseil de sécurité ; le Secrétaire général a su jouer un rôle mobilisateur en temps de conflit; et crise politique dans les cas où le Conseil de sécurité a été unifié derrière une décision. Étant donné que le président du Conseil de sécurité est un diplomate national et ne sert à tour de rôle que pendant un mois ; il ne peut pas jouer un véritable rôle mobilisateur ni être perçu comme un leader mondial.

Certains espèrent que le président de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies ; qui est en poste pendant une année complète ; pourrait jouer un rôle de chef de file. Jusqu’à présent, ces espoirs ne se sont pas concrétisés dans la pratique. Il serait difficile de trouver beaucoup de monde ; qui peut nommer les cinq derniers présidents de l’Assemblée générale ; ou de citer une grande partie de ce qu’ils ont fait autre que de présider des réunions.

Aujourd’hui; avec de vrais défis à l’humanité; avec un secrétaire général réformateur, qui pendant une décennie a été confronté aux problèmes des réfugiés ; nous pouvons voir quelques-unes des marques d’un leadership mondial fort.


  1. The Commission on Global Governance. Our Global Neighbourhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

René Wadlow est membre du réseau TRANSCEND pour l’environnement de développement de la paix. Il est président de l’Association des citoyens du monde, une organisation internationale de paix dotée d’un statut consultatif auprès de l’ECOSOC ; l’organe des Nations Unies facilitant la coopération internationale et la résolution de problèmes économiques et sociaux, et rédacteur en chef de Transnational Perspectives.

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World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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U.N General Assembly Role of Non-Governemental-Organizations.

U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global…

Featured Image by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

27 Sep 2019 – The international relations specialist Stanley Hoffmann once quipped:

Goals are easy to describe. What matters more is a strategy for reaching them.” 

The United Nations through its annual debates in the General Assembly;  its special world conferences such as those devoted to the environment, population, food, women, urbanization, and within the Specialized Agencies have created goals for a world public policy in the interests of all humanity.  There are three important phases of this world public policy: formulation, implementation and evaluation.

Climate Action Summit.

Thus;  this September the UNGA began with a “Climate Action Summit” to evaluate governmental efforts to meet the challenges of climate change. Government leaders set out what they have done, or plan to do  at the national level; but they said relatively little on what they could do together.

The Climate Action Summit was followed by the policy statements of national governments: Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump, Recep Tajyip Erdogan, Emmanuel Macron, Hassan Rouhani, Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson, Narendra Modi and Abdel Fatth el-Sisi.    All except al Sisi came to national power through elections and not military coups.  Thus in some way;  they represent the degree of awareness of world issues and the priorities of their electors.

The question asked many years ago by the world citizen Norman Cousins.

UN General Assembly

President Trump Addresses Journalists at the UN General Assembly. By U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Who Speaks for Man”?

To meet the major challenges of world-wide issues;  strong leadership is necessary.  Yet the avenues for leadership at the world level are difficult to trace.  Leadership at the national level is usually clearly structured in a pyramid; with the office of President at the top;  with Cabinet Ministers; the higher ranks of the military just below. 

There may be a vast informal network of influential advisors; business leaders, the press – all with leadership roles; but the formal structure of governance is hierarchical and clearly defined.   People generally expect the Prime Minister or the President to lead.  In fact; he is judged on whether or not he provides such leadership.

At the world level; there is no world government as such, and a strong leader at the national level may play little role on the world level.  What the Commission on Global Governance wrote in 1994 remains true today:

At the moment;  political caution, national concerns, short-term problems, and a certain fatigue with international causes have combined to produce a dearth of leadership on major international issues.  The very magnitude of global problems such as poverty; population or consumerism seems to have daunted potential international leaders.  And yet without courageous; long-term leadership at every level – international and national – it is impossible to create and sustain constituencies powerful and reliable enough to make an impact on problems that will determine; one way or another;  the future of the human race on this planet.”  (1)

The United Nations is the only universal organization at the world level…

Thus;  there is a need for constant leadership and direction at the world level.  There is a need to maintain and rebuild enthusiasm;  to reset the course when policies do not work out as expected;  to keep up a momentum and an enthusiasm.  The United Nations is the only universal organization at the world level;  and thus it is from within the United Nations that leadership at the world level must come.  Leaders within the U.N. system must be able to reach beyond the member governments – at times over the heads of current government office holders – to the people of the world.

There are two positions of authority in the ill-defined pyramid structure of the United Nations.  One is the Secretary-General; the other is the President of the General Assembly;  who is elected for one year at a time.  The President of the current;  74th session is Tijjani Muhammed-Bande of Nigeria.  There have been times when the head of one of the Specialized Agencies of the U.N. or the financial institutions or U.N. programs have provided leadership;  but usually on only one or two subjects.

United Nations

Flag of the United Nations (Pantone). By We moved to 8.12, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Secretary-General for Leadership.

Especially on the resolution of armed conflicts;  people look to the Secretary-General for leadership.  In some cases;  the Secretary-General has been able to play a central role.  As the servant of the Security Council;  the Secretary-General has been able to play a mobilizing role in times of conflict;  and political crisis in those cases when the Security Council has been unified behind a decision.  Since the chairman of the Security Council is a national diplomat and serves on a rotating basis only for one month;  he cannot play a real mobilizing role nor is he perceived as a world leader.

Some hope that the President of the U.N. General Assembly; who is in post for a full year;  could play a leadership role.  So far such hopes have not been realized in practice. It would be difficult to find many people;  who can name the last five Presidents of the General Assembly;  or to cite much of what they have done other than presiding over meetings.

Today;  with real challenges to humanity;  with a reform-minded Secretary-General,  who for a decade faced refugee issues;  we may see some of the marks of strong world leadership.


1) The Commission on Global Governance. Our Global Neighbourhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC; the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.