Realism is essentially an acceptance that relations between nations are anarchistic in nature, but that conflict situations can be mitigated by an appropriate distribution of power. Specifically, there are three primary components to political realism: (1) nations are the primary units of action in global politics; (2) nations seek power, either as an end in itself or as a means to some other end; and (3) in seeking power, nations behave more or less in a rational manner (Keohane, 1986, p. 7).
Realist thought provides an easily understood model for international relations. The leaders of nation-states begin with the premise that other nation-states are interested in maximizing their own power, obviously at a cost to others. In order to protect the security of one's own nation, a prudent leadership will assess the threat posed by the distribution of power across the globe. Individual nations are identified for their power base, either alone or in coalition with other nations. The likelihood that other nations may encroach upon the security of others is determined not through what political leaders say, but rather on the assumption that nations will act rationally to maximize their power. Encroachments are then deterred by amassing sufficient power, either alone or in coalitions, to offset the power available to a potential adversary. Thus, peace and security are maintained through a balance of power. Throughout the last 25 years, realism has either dominated or heavily