The Daily DeX 07/18/2019: What If Democrats Got Real About Realism?

+“The Democratic Foreign Policy Reckoning” | The Week | Conor Lynch 

“In just a few sentences, Biden summarized an attitude towards foreign policy that has been traditionally known as “liberal internationalism,” one of the two dominant worldviews in American politics since the end of the Cold War. Liberal internationalism shares many of the same attitudes and commitments as the other leading post-Cold War ideology, neoconservatism. They are both committed to American hegemony and a unipolar world order, although the latter favors military intervention while the former typically prefers non-interventionist strategies like diplomacy and economic liberalization (i.e. free trade). Likewise, they both regard “American values” as universal, and therefore believe that the U.S. is not only entitled but obligated to promote these values around the world, sometimes by force. The former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, summed up the common attitude of liberal internationalists and neoconservatives when she famously referred to the United States as an “indispensable nation” in the late nineties.

Both worldviews assume that America is exceptional, and that the country has a unique destiny to lead (and police) the world. This mindset goes way back, and can be traced to the 18th-century Enlightenment tradition that influenced the country’s founders (which itself grew out of the messianic spirit of Christianity), but after the collapse of the Soviet Union the missionary zeal that shaped American foreign policy during the 20th century became all the more aggressive and arrogant on the global stage, with liberal internationalists like Joe Biden leading the charge.”

–>Neoconservatism is dead. Again. Neoconservative commentator Norman Podhoretz delivered its eulogy back in 1996. The end of Bush 43’s administration of war criminals put yet another stake through its heart. (Indeed, neoconservatism is a zombie, which means it will one day rise again to feast on our brains.) Liberal internationalism, less like a zombie and more like Star Trek’s Borg (but still as ashen white as either), has run out of things to transform into itself. And don’t believe anything coming out of the White House or Foggy Bottom—nationalism doesn’t scale beyond borders without making conflict inevitable. So, what if Democrats rejected exceptionalism and embraced realism, “the belief that world politics ultimately is always and necessarily a field of conflict among actors pursuing power.” To this, I’d add “because exceptionalism has gotten us nowhere but bogged down in perpetual warfare and hopped up on how special we are.” There are issues on the horizon (energy production, climate change, migrant flows, technological shifts, sluggish productivity) that will make realists of us all. Whereas neoconservatism and liberal internationalism have been aspirational, realism might have a chance of preserving a (big “L”) Liberal international order simply by injecting it with some good old fashioned rationality.

Read more:

+“Realism (International Relations)” | Wikipedia 

+“The World Wants You to Think Like a Realist” | Foreign Policy | Stephen M. Walt 

+“What Would a Realist World Have Looked Like?” | Foreign Policy | Stephen M. Walt

+“The Realist” | Politico | Fred Kaplan  


Where are your hammers for these nails?

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Image Source: Jan Vašek from Pixabay

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