The main differences between offensive and defensive realism are based on variations on how they see power and how much power is enough. Defensive realism sees power as a means of attaining stability or security, while offensive realism sees power as both means and ends for political stability. Defensive realism says that states only engage in war to defend the security and stability of their power, while offensive realism asserts that states want more power per se because a state ultimately desires to be the hegemon in the system. Furthermore, offensive realism advocates offensive strategies, instead of restraint that defensive realism recommends, because only the strongest state can be secure. In addition, defensive realism asserts that, though the international system offers incentives for increasing power, strong nations should not pursue hegemony. Instead, Kenneth Waltz stressed that states should only strive for an “appropriate amount of power.” States can also do balancing of power to preserve security, such as increasing military resources in reaction to another state that does the same. Despite balancing actions, defensive realism insists that states should only desire sufficient power for its security and stability. Offensive realism argues that balancing power is not efficient in gaining or preserving power; states should start or engage in wars to balance power proactively. John Mearsheimer further asserted that states could aspire for regional hegemony and not global hegemony.
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