Power Politics: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations and Post-War Planning

Power Politics: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations and Post-War Planning

Power Politics: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations and Post-War Planning

Power Politics: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations and Post-War Planning

Excerpt

Even in the midst of a totalitarian and world war, it might appear an exaggeration to conceive international relations in terms of power politics. Yet, though no Statesmen more ruthlessly apply these principles to inter-State affairs than the dictators, the other members of the international society have to model their behaviour on the same patterns, if only because they cannot avoid contact with the wholesale addicts to the rule of force. There are certainly differences in degree between the policies which States are free to adopt within such a system, but it can serve no good purpose to disguise or minimize the strength of the ultimate driving forces behind the present international society. As Hitler clearly realizes, 'my great political opportunity lies in my deliberate use of power at a time when there are still illusions abroad as to the forces that mould history'. What he and his fellow dictators have done is to accentuate the struggle and to bring it to a head by throwing overboard even that minimum of decency, Christian traditions and legal conventions that checked in the past the unlimited play of ruse and force between the Leviathans.

Hitler's mistake does not so much lie in his reading of the past and present, but in his perverse assumption that international relations must be subject to the rule of force and cannot be organized in a community spirit and founded on the rule of law.

Nothing could, however, be more dangerous to the achievement of this object, the main constructive task which lies ahead, than the belief that half-way houses like the League of Nations or limited plans for economic co-operation are adequate to bring about this vital transformation. For this reason the lessons to be derived from the failure of the League experiment have to be learnt in full if similar mistakes and subterfuges are not to be repeated in experiments for post-war reconstruction. As the same illusions -- and a good many new ones -- have also found their way into the host of peace plans which have been showered on a bewildered and gradually wearying . . .

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