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Ethical Realism

3.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  66 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
America today faces a world more complicated than ever before, but our politicians have failed to envision a foreign policy that addresses our greatest threats. Ethical Realism shows how the United States can successfully combine genuine morality with tough and practical common sense. By outlining core principles and a set of concrete proposals for tackling the terrorist t ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published March 12th 2009 by Vintage (first published September 26th 2006)
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The American Conservative
'The authors resurrect and seek to revive an alternate philosophy—one radically different and yet seemingly close at hand—the kind of centrism embodied in the foreign-affairs leadership of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower and represented philosophically by such realists as diplomat George Kennan, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and scholar Hans Morgenthau. It is sad to recognize that this style of thinking about and acting in the world—one that guided the stunningly successful American reconstruc ...more
Daniel Simmons
An impassioned 2006 critique of the neoconservative worldview, this book advances a vision of foreign policy that straddles the divide between Kissinger-style realpolitik and Wilsonian idealism. A nice idea, but the thinking and the writing in this book were too woolly (for me, at least) to know how to actually apply the principles they identify, short of relying on "common sense" (in a world where your common sense and mine often have little in common). I empathized with these authors' frustrat ...more
Paul D.  Miller
Dec 05, 2014 Paul D. Miller rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ir
The United States is in need of a rethink of it foreign policy. This book is not it. The authors rely on sloppy argumentation. They knock down straw men on every page, viciously damning the wildest ideas that no one advocates. They should be embarrassed.

They damn efforts to foster democracy abroad, saying it it the United States' effort to achieve total global domination--which would be surprising to, say, the peoples of Eastern Europe. Worse, they cite Truman as an inspiration for their brand
Damir Marusic
A reaction to the neoconservative excess of the past near-decade, it's more an impassioned pamphlet for a sane foreign policy than a deeply thought-out book. The prescriptions feel good, but there's not much to recommend them apart from "you know in your heart they're right". The section on the Middle East, which offers a convoluted multi-step plan for success, seems particularly naïve—"of course, had we only been as smart as these two think-tankers, everything would be solved!"

That said, it's a
Nate Ackerly
Ethical Realism is very vague and doesn't have a good point, it touts a foreign policy that it doesn't explain and lacks serious objectivity.

That said it does address the growing Messaianism of american foreign policy and it points out a few faults in our current policy that are very interesting.
Nov 06, 2010 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rick by: Richard Snyder
Shelves: completed
Written in 2006 to argue against the US invading Iran. Yet holds some important foreign policy precepts that have been overlooked in the emotionalism following 9/11 and the heavy momentum of the military industrial complex's influence on foreign policy.
Feb 08, 2008 Dsanford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still reading - I think this is the right approach to foreign policy - applying our ideals consistantly and inexorably - but slowly and with our eyes open to unintended consequences
Kevin Bell
Apr 12, 2008 Kevin Bell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a brave book that made a number of good points. It's worth reading even though I wish that they had made more concrete proposals.
Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World by Anatol Lieven (2006)
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“The message from too many Democrats and Republicans alike remains that we should not let facts get in the way of our day-dreams. It's so much easier to fantasize about an alternative and ideal world, rather than making the hard and unpopular decisions that are necessary to deal with the complicated and frustrating one in which we live. It is so much easier to imagine that world as a blank slate on which America can draw as it wishes, rather than to recognize that limits on American power, and recalibrate strategy accordingly. If Americans fail to reexamine their fundamental attitudes toward that world, then the risk for the future is that failure in Iraq will make the United States more cautious, but not wiser.” 1 likes
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