The Corner

Re: Krauthammer

What struck me about the speech was not Krauthammer’s dismissive attitude toward alliances but rather his typology. His four approaches to foreign policy — isolationism, liberal idealism, realism, and democratic globalism — were conventional enough, but I thought his description of foreign-policy realism was a straw man. He described it as all means and no ends, devoid entirely of moral content — the parody of realism peddled by Wilsonians. But for an explication of the role of morality in realism, you might profitably read Dimitri Simes’ piece in the current National Interest [] — “Realism: It’s High-minded … and It Works,” which makes the perfectly sensible case for a “morality of results” rather than a “morality of intentions.” In other words, the “new” approach annointed by Krauthammer, “democratic realism,” already exists — it’s called just plain “realism.” He described it as, I’m paraphrasing here, “being the well-wisher of liberty everywhere but the defender of it only where it matters” (i.e., currently, in the Middle East). For anyone tethered to reality, this is obviously true — the question is, where does it “matter” and how best to successfully promote liberty.


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