Moral Spaces: Rethinking Ethics and World Politics

Moral Spaces: Rethinking Ethics and World Politics

Moral Spaces: Rethinking Ethics and World Politics

Moral Spaces: Rethinking Ethics and World Politics

Excerpt

The interests of the national society for which government has to
concern itself are basically those of its military security, the integrity
of its political life, and the well-being of its people. These needs have
no moral quality.

Space, Subjectivity, and Ethics

Written before the “official” end of the Cold War, George Kennan's authoritative declaration encapsulates concisely the realist tradition's view that moral concerns are largely inappropriate to international affairs. What enabled Kennan and others to claim the divorce of national interests and state security from morality is a spatial imaginary in which the virtues of sovereignty are unproblematically affirmed.

However, this affirmation of sovereignty is itself insinuated with moral considerations, for it is a stance that is enabled by faith in the notion of raison d'état, an acceptance of the priority accorded the security of the state. Far from being a principle that keeps morality at bay, reason of state constitutes the realist problematic as a moral argument in which the claim is that “the reasons for overriding the constraints of ordinary morality in emergency situations are themselves moral.”

Kennan's problematization of the issue thus requires one to overlook the way in which “the national” is itself a “moral” construction. Eliding the ethical investments of “amoral” formulations is something that, because of the recent march of “normative theory” in international relations, is superficially at least increasingly difficult to sustain. Indeed, the . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.