In search of realism

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Will

Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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13 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Some questions:

    Is it the responsibily of the United States to right all of the wrongs in the world?

    (I presume that the answer to the above question is something to the effect of “no, that’s a strawman, why can’t you be serious, etc…” so I will move on to my follow up question)

    Why is this particular problem one that the United States is responsible for resolving? I assume that we agree that there is a set of problems that the United States is responsible for and a set of problems that the United States is not responsible for and the latter set is not empty…

    So why is *THIS* problem in the former set and not the latter?

    It is not obvious to me why our intervention is required, let alone warranted, let alone wanted.

    Moreover, it is not obvious to me that our intervention will have anything but negative (though, granted, unintended) real consequences… indeed, the whole “if we help, everything will be cool” reminds me of the whole “liberators, flowers thrown at our feet” thing and it’s not obvious to me why it shouldn’t.

    Please explain to me why I am being obtuse.Report

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain
    Ignored
    says:

    Jaybird – did you read Will’s post or not? He’s advocating non-intervention. He’s advocating the “realist” position that it is not our problem, but also that we can certainly at the same time sympathize with the protesters’ courage and moxie.

    Will, great post. I think one goal for me at least is to try to restore the realist foreign policy view and reduce whatever odd stigma is attached to that term.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain
      Ignored
      says:

      Pardon, I should have said “questions I’d have for the non-neocon idealists”.

      I was agreeing with Will.

      Looking back, I see that that wasn’t anywhere *NEAR* obvious.

      My bad.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain
      Ignored
      says:

      “I think one goal for me at least is to try to restore the realist foreign policy view and reduce whatever odd stigma is attached to that term.”

      The odd stigma attached is due to two things, primarily.

      1) Henry Kissinger.
      2) The tendency of realism to prefer stability over anything else. (E.g., the failure to give support to the attempted coup that followed Desert Storm I was a very realist failure.)Report

      • Avatar ChrisWWW in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Jaybird,
        Not supporting the coup wasn’t a stain on “realism.” The stain was calling for the coup then not supporting it.

        Had the coup succeeded in the early 1990s, Iraq may have destabilized the entire region and set off the kind of ethnic cleansing we’ve seen since our invasion. A realist would have stuck with the devil we knew.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to ChrisWWW
          Ignored
          says:

          “Had the coup succeeded in the early 1990s, Iraq may have destabilized the entire region and set off the kind of ethnic cleansing we’ve seen since our invasion. A realist would have stuck with the devil we knew.”

          This is a far more eloquent example of why there is a stigma attached to realism than the ones I provided.Report

          • Avatar ChrisWWW in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Thanks… I always wanted to be eloquent…Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to ChrisWWW
              Ignored
              says:

              For the record, I am pretty sure that we don’t disagree when it comes to issues of international intervention.

              I’m just talking about the stigma that realism has and why.

              The realist position, ideally, is that we would never have called for a coup and that Saddam would never have had to squash it and that we would have continued to have equilibrium in the Middle East… because that’s the best we could hope for, realistically.

              I can totally see how someone might say “dude, that’s morally appalling. It’s disgusting.”

              At that point, we have to ask the questions asked in my first comment.Report

  3. Avatar Jason Arvak
    Ignored
    says:

    I think you may be describing the difference between offensive realism and defensive realism.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Drew
    Ignored
    says:

    Slightly confused here. With this:

    Its current usage, however, implies an amoral perspective that is only concerned with maximizing American interests.

    Do you mean that is what you believe the IR school itself holds, or that that its how it is portrayed/perceived by most people?

    Because if it’s the first, I think you are clearly not giving a reasonably detailed description of what the system of analysis you are characterizing holds. Because I think better of your argumentation approach than that, my sense is you mean the second. If that is the case, then I’d just like to point out that to this group:

    Non-interventionists and other skeptics of an expansive American role abroad [who] have, in my view, been unfairly tarred with this brush.

    …you could add actual IR realist-school thinkers, analysts, and observers themselves.Report

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