If I got the grand theme of "neo-realism" right (I and I might have not), every somewhat big country has just one primary concern: that some other country is going to become the hegemon. (The position statement appears to have change slightly, but inconsequentially over 20 years; in 2001 Germany was described as a possible hegemon, at least in Europe, while in 2018, it was now being ruled out, and so was Russia. Whereas China is described as the perennial candidate for supplanting the US as the world hegemon.)

In the latter talk, at one point Mearsheimer says that Russia too is or should be worried about China becoming a hegemon. But what I find interestingly absent (or at least not easy to find) in Mearsheimer's writings and speeches is any argument why the whole world is not uniting against the United States... which after all he admits is the present hegemon. He does mention that Iran is allying with China against the US. But, according to neo-realism, what is preventing a world-wide alliance against the United States hegemony? (Ideological disagreements would be an obvious answer, but ideology never seems to be mentioned by "neo-realists" as a force shaping alliances or competition, unless I've missed those lectures/writings.)

  • 1
    better the devil you know. the people in power now are in power now and might not be if things change too much
    – mgh42
    Jun 17, 2022 at 5:55
  • 3
    If everyone allies and overthrows the US, that just means there's going to be a new hegemon, and it's probably not going to be your country, so why would you support this?
    – Erik
    Jun 17, 2022 at 6:54
  • 2
    @Erik: Or, maybe there's no new hegemon. You're left with a power vacuum, and the Pax Americana comes to an abrupt and violent end. At least in the short term, nobody wants that.
    – Kevin
    Jun 17, 2022 at 7:57
  • 1
    @Erik it could be even worse, the new hegemon could be someone completely opposed to you, not just 'not you'.
    – Ryan_L
    Jun 18, 2022 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure about Mearsheimer but I know position of Galkovsky, who tries to explain same phenomenon.

What he talks about, from my memory:

Neither China or Russia qualify to be potential hegemon, since they are in many ways controlled by the West (such as the relatives of their leadership living and getting education in Canada, Switzerland, the US and the EU counries).

So it's really the UK (previous hegemon, which should be an unlikely transition) or the EU (not a real state yet, and all of member states won't qualify), leaving us without obvious answer.

The comment by Erik is on the spot - why take the terrible risk of opposing hegemon in the open when it would just lead to somebody else being hegemon.

So Galkovsky views the current state as such: there is really no reason for European countries to be loyal to the US. They have to be in fierce competition, but the level of military and economic integration means both parties have to pretend to like each other very much. Meanwhile, they are trying to sabotage each other in the background and use entities such as China and Russia to do so.

  • Could you please demarkate more clearly which words are being quoted and from what source? It seems like you're quoting Galkovsky from somewhere but it's not clear where your own words resume and there's no link or anything else to indicate the source.
    – Brian Z
    Jun 17, 2022 at 15:52
  • I'm quoting him from memory and I'm not sure I can find sources for these claims: since he's mostly a vlogger these days it is problematic. But they seem to answer your question so it's not important how precise am I quoting.
    – alamar
    Jun 17, 2022 at 16:00

Neo-realist cannot provide a reasonable answer because they are turning a blind eye on the obvious factors that created the situation. An alliance was beginning to form, but it didn't gather more than three states because all the other ones were already strictly controlled and then it was defeated in WWII.

Now a world-wide alliance against the United States hegemony is prevented by the United States themselves by ensuring that the "elected" governments stick to a US friendly agenda.

  • 3
    This may be a practical answer, but is it the one that "neo-realists" suggest?
    – Bobson
    Jun 17, 2022 at 15:43
  • 2
    The countries that do or could significantly challenge the US position at this time have not historically been "client states" of the US. Canada and Germany hardly belong on that list, though relations can be tense, at times. In fact, most of Western Europe benefited, and benefits, from the US contribution to NATO. Sure, it fits your worldview, but that hardly means it is a fact, the wiki article as whole does not really support your claim, and especially not that its the neorealist's explanation. -1 Jun 17, 2022 at 16:10
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Re:Germany are you aware of history post WWII? West Germany was literally a puppet government installed by the US (likewise for East Germany and the USSR); over the next generation they became more independent and de jure independent when the two halves merged again.
    – uberhaxed
    Jun 17, 2022 at 18:56
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – FluidCode
    Jun 17, 2022 at 20:12
  • 1
    Post-WW2 Germany was under everyone's control. And, if I may say, for excellent reasons, even if today's Germany has rather well outgrown its past. Making your point rather unclear ;-) Jun 17, 2022 at 22:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .