We were sad to learn of the death of Kenneth Waltz, who passed away last week at the age of 88. Waltz was a longtime professor at Columbia University, among other places, and was the author of Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis , which was his published dissertation but went on to reshape the field of International Relations. The book first published in 1959 continues to be one of our best-selling titles and is widely used in courses.
In an article in Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt, a former student of Waltz’s, wrote about how Waltz made IR theory vital for illuminating crucial policy decisions rather than it being relegated to academic irrelevancy. Walt provided an addendum focusing on the continuing importance of Waltz and his work:
I would add … the reminder of Waltz’s deep aversion to foolish military excesses. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was a realist rather than a pacifist. But like Hans Morgenthau, he was an early opponent of the Vietnam War and deeply skeptical of the paranoid threat-inflation that has informed so much of U.S. foreign and defense policy. Like many other realists, he also opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The field of international relations would be better off with more people like Ken, and the world would be better off if more great powers — especially the United States — paid more attention to his insights.