Accession Number:

ADA549024

Title:

The Past as Prologue: Realist Thought and the Future of American Security Policy

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:

AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2011-01-01

Pagination or Media Count:

20.0

Abstract:

This article critically examines realism and its relationship to national security policy. Rather than focus on individual realist authors, their ideas are synthesized here into a general interpretation of the field and integrated with the strong, symbiotic relationship between realist thought and national security policy. This article outlines the realist argument and focuses on four premises -- states, anarchy, interests, and power -- and illustrates the key differences between realism and other perspectives. The third section evaluates the usefulness of realism in terms of framing enduring security issues, and the final section discusses the future of realist thought with respect to framing emerging security issues. Accepting the tenets of realism is an act of humility -- a rare commodity in international affairs but a useful one nonetheless. American policymakers will eventually come to it, even if they do so reluctantly. Is realism in our future The answer is yes. Advances in technology, health care, and communications are shaping the world we live in. Yet beneath it all, international politics has not changed significantly since Thucydides. In spite of economic interdependence, global transportation, and the information revolution, we live in a world where states must look out for themselves. As long as that holds true, statesmen are well advised to frame policy responses in terms of interests no other tradition does that better than realism. In so doing, they ought to remember a foreign policy based on a realist assessment is neither moral nor immoral but merely a reasoned response to the world about us.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE