Whereas Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger are usually remembered as having viewed foreign policy primarily as a tool for the use in the pursuit f power and national interests.
Realism in its most concentrated form argues that the head f state should solely be interested in achieving things which will further national interests, with complete disregard for things like human rights if they don't directly contribute to this achievement. A common explanation for the realist way f thinking is concisely put when it is stated that, 'leaders must deal with the world the way it is, not as they would wish it to be. The key assumptions f realism say that; states are the main components f the international system and that these states are motivated and ought to be motivated by their own interests and the search for power. It is also assumed that; the balance f power is imperative to international stability and that relations between states should be trying to obtain this international balance f power, not to change other states policies. (Ikenberry 2006) During the presidential debate f 11th f October 2000, when George W. Bush was asked to speak about what the guiding principle for his foreign policy would be, he took a classic realist line:
"The first question is what's in the best interest f the United States What's in the best interest f our people When it comes to foreign policy that will be my guiding question. Is it in our nation's interests"
A true realist will oppose giving 'moral' concerns priority over foreign policy objectives. They object to what is often seen by other states as unwanted 'medalling' in idealist approaches to foreign policy, as there are both practical and political difficulties when intervening in the domestic affairs f other states. Interference in the internal affairs f another state is seen as an infringement f its sovereignty. This sort f behaviour would only make the USA unpopular in the wider world and this does not serve American interests, in fact it would obstruct its ability to pursue them. In realist terms humanitarianism is an often-unaffordable luxury, as is the ability to only align themselves with states f common moral and political beliefs. However the practice f power politics cannot often oblige. The USA has in the past been willing to support extreme right-wing regimes, even when they are known to be violators f human rights, so long as the regime was pro-America, or at least anti- communist, (the 'lesser f two evils' strategy). It can be summarised in one sentence; the world must be taken as it is found and statesmen should stay faithful to moral principles where possible but must always be willing to bend these principles when necessary to protect the interests f the state. Modern day realism tends to reject the multilateral approach to action, as favoured by the Clinton administration. It is unclear, however, if this change in favour f American unilateralism will be a lasting one. (Mead 2007)
Pure idealism argues that one should take the moral route under all circumstances, regardless f the effect it has on the states national interests. Idealism is motivated by the key assumptions that; the state is only one f the
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