From the realist perspective, ethnic conflicts pose the greatest threat to the world today. According to the textbook, “Realists emphasize the struggle for power among states, not because they are blind to the growing influence of international institutions or nonstate actors such as terrorists, but because states remain the most powerful actors in contemporary world affairs” (Nau, 2017). While terrorist groups can be small and splintered, ethnic groups are hard to wedge into for outsiders. Again, as the text states, “As realists see it, ethnic identities do not change or merge even though they may share some interests in common. They offer people meaningful associations that make them feel good about their group and provide for their safety and welfare” (Nau, 2017) As individual humans we long to belong. We join clubs and groups. We hang out with those who are like us. We often identify ourselves as some group we belong to. This is especially true of ethnic identity. I was born and raised in the United States and have never traveled to Ireland. However, I have a great deal of Irish pride simply based on my heredity. This pride and identity appears to be even stronger among people of color in the US. You can see this ethnic influence playout domestically in some recent issues within the United States. The rise of neo-Nazi groups and other groups such as Black Lives Matter have caused conflict within the country. Some European countries have seen a rise in white nationalism in response to refugees from majority Muslim countries. It is easier for people to blame their problems on others, and it is made even easier if those other people do not look, act, pray, or live like we do.
Nau, H. R. (2017). Perspectives on international relations: Power, institutions, and ideas (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.