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Morgenthau Reconsidered: The Origin and Meaning of Morality in Political Realism

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Hans J. Morgenthau, the founder and great thinker of Political Realism in the Discipline of IR, was also one of the most prominent critics of U.S. Foreign Policy. His critique was based upon diverse arguments, including moral objections against the Vietnam War. My thesis is that there is a normative bias of Morgenthau’s Political Realism as a theory of Foreign Policy. This normative reading allows for a realist critique of the contemporary neoconservative agenda in U.S. Foreign Policy, aiming for an ideological Wilsonian approach of democracy promotion and nation-building in the Middle East but missing the moral principles of sovereignty, national self-determination, and humanitarian law of war. Although Morgenthau’s realist successors like Mearsheimer and Walt argue against U.S. Foreign Policy after 11/9 and against the Iraq War and refer to his examination of the Vietnam War, they forget the normative dimension of his critique. My further argument is that the normative dimension of a realist perspective offers an understanding not only of the strategic but also of the ethical shortfalls of the so-called Bush Doctrine or Crusade for Freedom, putting prestige, legitimacy, and credibility of the United States in the world at stake. In this paper, I will present such a realist critique according to Morgenthau which takes the tension between power and morality into account. This approach I call ethical realism.

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morgenthau (255), moral (198), polit (186), polici (113), nation (110), intern (106), foreign (91), power (90), state (84), war (72), us (68), han (61), principl (54), interest (52), realism (52), realist (52), j (51), israel (50), vietnam (49), american (47), world (41),
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Name: ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES
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MLA Citation:

Reichwein, Alexander. "Morgenthau Reconsidered: The Origin and Meaning of Morality in Political Realism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES, Hilton San Francisco, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA, Mar 26, 2008 <Not Available>. 2016-06-08 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p253414_index.html>

APA Citation:

Reichwein, A. , 2008-03-26 "Morgenthau Reconsidered: The Origin and Meaning of Morality in Political Realism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES, Hilton San Francisco, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2016-06-08 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p253414_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Hans J. Morgenthau, the founder and great thinker of Political Realism in the Discipline of IR, was also one of the most prominent critics of U.S. Foreign Policy. His critique was based upon diverse arguments, including moral objections against the Vietnam War. My thesis is that there is a normative bias of Morgenthau’s Political Realism as a theory of Foreign Policy. This normative reading allows for a realist critique of the contemporary neoconservative agenda in U.S. Foreign Policy, aiming for an ideological Wilsonian approach of democracy promotion and nation-building in the Middle East but missing the moral principles of sovereignty, national self-determination, and humanitarian law of war. Although Morgenthau’s realist successors like Mearsheimer and Walt argue against U.S. Foreign Policy after 11/9 and against the Iraq War and refer to his examination of the Vietnam War, they forget the normative dimension of his critique. My further argument is that the normative dimension of a realist perspective offers an understanding not only of the strategic but also of the ethical shortfalls of the so-called Bush Doctrine or Crusade for Freedom, putting prestige, legitimacy, and credibility of the United States in the world at stake. In this paper, I will present such a realist critique according to Morgenthau which takes the tension between power and morality into account. This approach I call ethical realism.


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