Political Realism and the Crisis of World Politics: An American Approach to Foreign Policy

Political Realism and the Crisis of World Politics: An American Approach to Foreign Policy

Political Realism and the Crisis of World Politics: An American Approach to Foreign Policy

Political Realism and the Crisis of World Politics: An American Approach to Foreign Policy

Excerpt

This little volume has its origins and growth in the author's experiences over a decade of study, teaching, and writing. During this period, an important trend of thinking on foreign policy has emerged within the United States. It is an approach which expresses deep and grave misgivings concerning the main currents of popular and public writing and thinking on international relations. It represents a reaction against a viewpoint dominated by legalistic and moralistic points of emphasis. It carries its own religious and moral commitments but places these commitments in the context of the harsh realities and difficult choices of international politics. Few public figures or aspiring political leaders have openly espoused the new approach, particularly during the years of their public service. Nevertheless, many of them, perhaps more than they know, have been influenced by insights embedded in the new tradition. For the most part, political realism has engendered controversy and debate rather than widespread consensus or agreement. Its spokesmen have sometimes felt constrained to qualify their loyalty even to the beliefs of others writing and thinking within the same tradition. It is not a mark of popularity to carry the name political realist. A full understanding of the underlying philosophy of this approach is needed, however, if American statesmen and scholars are to advance public understanding and awareness of the realities of international life and close the gap between what leaders feel and do and what the people imagine they do. Therefore the central aim I have had in mind is a careful explication, first, of the origins of political realism as an approach to American foreign policy, and, secondly, of its implications for the major unsolved fundamental problems of America's relations with the rest of the world.

The immediate stimulus for the writing of the book was the invitation to deliver the Riverside Memorial Lectures in . . .

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