This September, Professors John Mearsheimer and Sebastian Rosato released their controversial new book, “How States Think: The Rationality of Foreign Policy.” Mearsheimer, a longtime Professor at the University of Chicago, ranks among the most well-known advocates for the realist school of international relations. Put simply, realism argues that states act in their own interest. Rosato, a Professor at Notre Dame and fellow traveler, joins as his co-author.  Among other assertions, Mearsheimer and Rosato argue that our tendency to view one nation’s adversaries as irrational or amoral clouds that nation’s ability to clearly assess others’ actions and determine an appropriate response.  As one notable example, “How States Think” takes Vladmir Putin’s war against Ukraine as a case study in our human tendency to dismiss other states’ actions as irrational when perhaps what we mean is that we find them morally abhorrent. To be clear, Mearsheimer and Rosato don’t endorse Putin or his war, but they encourage us to reconsider our perception of his behavior and look deeper to see whether an underlying rationale may exist.  The two scholars bring decades of experience to the project: Mearsheimer is a West Point grad and Air Force veteran who has authored a number of seminal political science and more popular books. He serves as the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor Political Science at the University of Chicago, and has taught at the university since 1982. Rosato currently serves as the Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, and has authored several books.  Listen along as Mearsheimer and Rosato join host Eric Jaffe to discuss the unique writing dynamic that shaped their remarkable collaborative work, their approach to rationality and what they think policymakers could learn from it.  

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