It stands to reason that not all foreign policies have always followed so rational, objective, and unemotional a course. The contingent elements of personality, prejudice, and subjective preference, and of all the weaknesses of intellect and will which flesh is heir to, are bound to deflect foreign policies from their rational course. Especially where foreign policy is conducted under the conditions of democratic control, the need to marshal popular emotions to the support of foreign policy cannot fail to impair the rationality of foreign policy itself. Yet a theory of foreign policy which aims at rationality must for the time being, as it were, abstract from these irrational elements and seek to paint a picture of foreign policy which presents the rational essence to be found in experience, without the contingent deviations from rationality which are also found in experience.
In conclusion, this essay has outlined how both realism and constructivism approach the concept of anarchy in international politics. Both theoretical approaches accept that the structure of the international system is anarchical, however there is debate as to whether or not the effects of anarchy, such as self-help, can be overcome without fundamentally changing the structure of international politics. Realists, such as Waltz, argue that anarchy and its resulting security dilemma cannot be overcome unless a ‘world government’ is created, a situation that realists cannot envision occurring, as states will never feel secure enough to do so. This is a highly pessimistic view, which suggests we are to continually expect conflict with periods of peace being explained by the balance of power. On the other hand, constructivists dispute this approach, arguing instead that anarchy itself does not explain the behaviour of states but that we need to recognise the importance of identity, interests and inter-subjective understandings of these factors when seeking to explain international politics. I felt that as constructivism could better account for both conflict and cooperation in the international system that its explanation of anarchy was more persuasive. With more time I resources I would have been able to articulate this view more fully, however, the primary purpose of this essay was to offer a comparison of the realist and constructivist approaches to anarchy and as such the focus was on defining and discussing their respective viewpoints.