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  • A realist walks into a bar

  • and orders a half-empty glass of vodka.

  • The term realism I think gets under people's skin.

  • It's hard to compete with a paradigm or perspective that's called realism.

  • So then you become an idealist, right?

  • The idealist would walk into the bar and order a half-full glass of vodka.

  • Realism is a theory essentially about power and security.

  • States relentlessly seek power and security because they exist in a self-help system.

  • You seek security, you seek prestige.

  • And, most of all, a realist would say you seek autonomy.

  • Because in a world where you can never trust anyone,

  • you don't want to be interdependent.

  • Liberals believe in interdependence, think that it leads to peace.

  • But realists tend to be very skeptical about interdependence,

  • because who wants to be mutually dependent

  • in a world that's very dangerous?

  • Essentially, today's friend could be tomorrow's enemy.

  • And to the extent that that's true,

  • you never know who's gonna be aligned against you down the road,

  • or who's making plans against you now.

  • So you can never have enough power.

  • Like, how much is enough power?

  • I don't know.

  • Who's gonna be lined up against me in ten years?

  • Realists don't believe in sort of utopian muddle-headed schemes

  • that would provide a perpetual peace in the world

  • based on some notion of a natural harmony of interests among states.

  • Instead, realists see the world in terms of tragedy and evil,

  • and essentially, the best you can hope for

  • is that people choose the lesser evil

  • and try to be as good as they can be in an evil world.

  • I guess the bottom line is that realists may not be angels,

  • but in the real world, angels often turn out to be brutes.

  • Because if you're moralizing, crusading,

  • saying we don't like your human rights policies

  • and we don't like your regime the way --

  • it's not democratic enough, it's not liberal enough,

  • well, then you're going to get involved everywhere.

  • And the problem with promoting democracy is it doesn't work, first of all,

  • and second of all, it almost always leads to a quagmire.

  • Again, there is no natural harmony of interests in the world.

  • Realists understand that, so you just have to live with diversity.

  • And I think liberals don't understand that.

  • Most of American wars have been --

  • and particularly since the end of the Cold War,

  • have been all about promoting democracy and human rights.

  • And liberals would actually say that the only just war is one that promotes human rights,

  • whereas a realist would say the only just war is one that promotes the national interest.

  • And if there are no threats in the environment, well, then you retrench.

  • So essentially, if I had to give one sort of view of how realism sees the world,

  • it would be sort of a Hobbesian war of all against all,

  • in a state of nature.

  • The state of nature meaning there is no 911,

  • there is no world government,

  • it's just everyone out for themselves.

  • Which doesn't mean that war always occurs;

  • it just means that the danger of war

  • is always lurking in the background of all international politics.

A realist walks into a bar


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Theory in Action: Realism

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    孫宜君   に公開 2019 年 11 月 26 日