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Jason Holliston
Thursday, December 02, 2004  
The Return of Realist Foreign Policy?

I sure hope not. Michael Young over at Reason Online looks at the potential re-introduction of realist foreign policy, citing new found vigor among the Old Guard because of the problems in Iraq. Are the neoconservatives being beaten back? What does this all mean? Young does a good job at dispersing the "neoconservatives are modern Nazi idiocy:

This ecumenical legacy took a sound beating after 9/11. (I readily admit to being a late convert away from the realist canon, though a convinced one.) The culprits were the neoconservatives. Yet there is sometimes an erroneous assumption that the neocons represent something fundamentally new in American foreign affairs, that they are the offspring of post-Cold War American supremacy (for a tour through the neocon maturation process, James Mann's Rise of the Vulcans is indispensable). In fact, neocon ideas predate the end of the Cold War, and the movement hardly represents an alternative to the realist-Wilsonian admixture, only a radically different dosage of the two components: like realists, the neocons refuse to shudder when contemplating force; like Wilsonians, they can embrace grand projects that supposedly advance the greater good, even if that means ignoring state sovereignty.

Do we want to go back to the days of H.W. Bush's presidency, where state sovereignty is all-powerful? It sounds nice to lots of people, I'm sure. Recognize this, however: this is the foreign policy that said that it doesn't matter what an individual government does to its people inside its borders, as long as it doesn't spill out outside those borders. Take away any inherent human rights, kill and torture who you see fit, and it doesn't matter. You have state sovereignty! This was H.W. Bush's "New World Order" that he talked about. Does this sound good to you?

Young also touches upon one of the main complaints I have with libertarianism's response to 9/11:

...while our own libertarian brotherhood, always uneasy with overseas ventures, had to wrestle with criticism that it supported liberty at home, but couldn't be bothered to do so overseas.

That's about right. They'll fight and die for freedom, but only within the current United States territorial borders. Of course.

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