May 12, 2005

REAL MEN AREN'T REALISTIC:

A man who has mattered (George Will, May 12, 2005, Townhall)

``I can't tell you,'' Paul Wolfowitz says with justifiable asperity, ``how much I resent being called a Wilsonian.'' As he retires as deputy secretary of defense and becomes head of the World Bank, the man most responsible for the doctrinal justification of the Iraq War, and who has been characterized as representing Woodrow Wilson's utopian, rather than the realist, strain in American foreign policy, begs to differ. The question, he says, is who has been realistic for almost four decades.

Doesn't he know that "Realist" is an epithet?


MORE:
Geez, even the Realist-in-chief gets it, Realists vs. idealists (Henry A. Kissinger, MAY 12, 2005, Internaqtional Herald Tribune)

Extraordinary advances of democracy have occurred in recent months: elections in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine and Palestine; local elections in Saudi Arabia; Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon; the opening up of the presidential election in Egypt, and upheavals against entrenched authoritarians in Kyrgyzstan.

Rarely have conditions seemed so fluid and the environment so malleable. This welcome trend was partly triggered by President George W. Bush's Middle East policy and accelerated by his second inaugural address, which elevated the progress of freedom in the world to the defining objective of American foreign policy.

Pundits have interpreted these events as a victory of "idealists" over "realists" in the debate over the conduct of American foreign policy.

In fact, the United States is probably the only country in which the term "realist" can be used as a pejorative epithet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 12, 2005 12:01 AM
Comments

You guys are consistently too hard on Kissinger. He got this even before 9/11. Essentially, our sincere interest in spreading liberty becomes a lever to be used in geopolitics in conjunction with military and economic might. Betcha its the tool the Mullahs in Iran are most scared of. Kissinger's brand of realism meant using whatever levers are available to pursue the national interest. Over the years, I think you can see him admit he underappreciated the role of liberty as a source of national power due to his concern about the nuclear stalemate with the Soviets. He basically says this in his book "Diplomacy" when discussing the Reagan era.

In summary, I do not think Kissinger is as guilty of the moral relativism of the other 'realists' we like to deride and he plays to win, unlike those for whom 'realism' is an excuse for timidity and snuggling up to Jacques and Kofi.

Posted by: JAB at May 12, 2005 9:22 AM

Kissinger is just so embarassing as an apologist for the worst excesses of the PRC and was instrumental in Nixonian detente strategy with the Soviets, to which pretty much every conservative in America was in opposition, that it is really, really, really, REALLY hard to give him credit for anything.

If he spoke English like most foreign-born people who've lived here 60+ years, no one would take him seriously.

Posted by: bart at May 12, 2005 10:58 AM

What's remarkable about Kissinger is how many people all over the political spectrum hate his guts. Plenty of liberals don't like him, plenty of moderates don't like him, and plenty of conservatives don't like him.

I remember a conservative once saying she wouldn't trust him to take out her garbage, much less run foreign policy. Realpolitik is largely a homegrown European ideology and its cold calculations of the nation's narrow interests give most Americans the willies.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 12, 2005 3:15 PM

Realpolitik is not an 'ideology.'

My point on Kissinger is that his views have evolved since the detente/China option days.

Now, some lefties are adopting the language of be 'realpolitik' (a valid approach to the world if unpopular at brojudd.com) because it sounds more serious than the timidity, self hatred and niavete that informs their worldview.

As I stated, the difference is that Kissinger plays to win. The 'reality based community' talks the talk but really does not think we're worthy of victory.

On the details, I do not believe that Kissinger was so much of an apologist for the ChiComs as willing to accept them for what they are in order to open a diplomatic front for pressuring the Soviets. He did kiss their asses a bit in the meetings though.

There were other odious regimes with which we did business back then, because, as stated in other posts on Yalta we blew the chance to win the Cold War before it started and the nuclear duopoly limited our options.

Posted by: JAB at May 12, 2005 7:22 PM

JAB,

His main source of income is as an apologist for the ChiComs. It is tough to get more craven than the piece he wrote for the NY Post after the spyplane incident.

Posted by: bart at May 13, 2005 8:34 AM

I'll take your word for it. I do not recall the piece and have only read a couple of his books and all of his post 9/11 op eds. Did not know his firm served the chicoms. I presume he plays to win for them too. They are too smart to hire Albright or Christoper I guess.

Posted by: JAB at May 13, 2005 10:30 PM
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