Realism versus interventionism


Robert Kaplan to the rescue?
by Stephen Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2012-03-16

[Most of this is merely about Robert Kaplan,
but in the following paragraph Walt widens his focus:]

I’ve complained in the past about
the remarkable dearth of realist commentators
at major media outlets such as
the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and the like.
Liberals, idealists, neoconservatives, and former editors
all enjoy privileged positions at these august institutions,
but none of these organizations
has managed to find a card-carrying realist
to provide an alternative view on a regular basis.
This omission is especially striking
given that realism is a well-established intellectual tradition
and used to have a respected place in our foreign policy discourse.
It’s not perfect, of course,
but its track record is clearly superior to
the liberal and neoconservative commentary
that one can read almost daily
in the commanding heights of American journalism.
Fareed Zakaria’s CNN show GPS is a partial exception, perhaps,
but when you consider that this humble blog
might be the most prominent realist commentary
in contemporary public discourse,
you get a good sense of marginal realism has become.

What if realists were in charge of U.S. foreign policy?
by Stephen Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2012-04-30

Since the end of the Cold War,
U.S. foreign policy has been largely run by a coalition of neoconservatives and liberal internationalists.
Both groups favor a highly activist foreign policy
intended to
spread democracy, defend human rights, prevent proliferation,
and maintain American dominance, by force if necessary.
Both groups are intensely hostile to so-called “rogue states,”
comfortable using American power to coerce or overthrow weaker powers,
and convinced that America’s power and political virtues
entitle it to lead the world.
The main difference between the two groups is that
neoconservatives are hostile to international institutions
like the United Nations
(which they see as a constraint on America’s freedom of action),
liberal interventionists believe these institutions
can be an important adjunct to American power.
Thus, liberal interventionists are just “kinder, gentler neocons,”
while neocons just “liberal interventionists on steroids.”

The liberal/neoconservative alliance is responsible for
most of America’s major military interventions of the past two decades,
as well as other key initiatives like NATO expansion.
By contrast, realists have been largely absent from
the halls of power or the commanding heights of punditry.
That situation got me wondering:
What would U.S. foreign policy have been like
had realists been running the show for the past two decades?
It’s obviously impossible to know for sure,
but here’s my Top Ten List of What Would Have Happened if Realists Had Been in Charge.

[Here are just the topic headlines for his list.
The original post expands on each of these.]

#1. No war in Iraq.
#2: No "Global War on Terror."
#3. Staying out of the nation-building business.
#4. A restrained strategy of "Offshore Balancing."
#5. No NATO expansion.
#6: No Balkan adventures.
#7. A normal relationship with Israel.
#8: A more sensible approach to nuclear weapons.
#9. No Libyan intervention.
#10. A growing focus on China.

Where are the foreign policy realists?
by J. Michael Barrett
Washington Examiner, 2012-05-10

President Obama proclaimed recently that
“preventing mass atrocities and genocide is
a core national security interest and
a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.”

prominent conservative voices not only echoed these sentiments,
but actually clamored for more direct interventions in foreign conflicts.

They do so without due regard for
practical, legal or economic limits
on such action.
To define humanitarian intervention as a “core national security interest”
is nothing short of imperial overreach.
It constitutes a radical realignment
of centuries of strategic and military thought
about the proper use of force.

Nations have long recognized the need to fight to defend certain interests.
Security fears, economic interests, and threats to identity and honor
were recognized as universal drivers of human conflict
at least as far back as the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century B.C.
But to violate another state’s sovereignty
and send our troops to impose our values,
even with the “permission” of the United Nations and the global community,
is a far cry from anything we’ve seen before as standing U.S. doctrine.


We have heard plenty of bellicose rhetoric
from the outspoken interventionists of the neoconservative Right.
But where are the foreign policy realists --
the ones who know that although we must not isolate ourselves
we also must not overreach our legitimate bounds
to serve as the judge, jury and executioner in localized conflicts?
If conservatives feel the government is so inept at dealing with domestic problems,
how much can they trust its heavy hand abroad?

Realism is not isolationism.
It just means picking battles based on clear national security priorities.
We are not the world’s policeman,
and there are problems aplenty here at home.
This is not a good time to stretch the mission of those in uniform --
who have sworn to defend us from our enemies --
into a new role as the world?s nanny.
That’s not conservative -- it’s just reckless.

J. Michael Barrett, the CEO of Diligent Innovations,
is a former Navy offficer and director of strategy
for the White House Homeland Security Council.


For America, perhaps now is the time for neutrality
By Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2014-04-03

Among the most striking aspects
of the current debate over U.S. foreign policy is
the almost complete lack of perception among Americans about
their country’s actual economic and military capabilities
and its international influence.
Whether it is Ukraine and Russia,
the intensifying Islamist offensive on several continents,
or the blatantly Potemkin Middle East peace talks,
U.S. political leaders, academics, pundits, and most of the media
speak as if
today’s America is the America of 1945, 1984, or 1991,
times when the United States was
a nation of almost unlimited military and economic power
and telling international influence.

Today, we are barely a shadow of that powerful nation.
Indeed, while Washington under either party speaks as if
it is the world’s voice of power and all-knowing authority,
we are really the very picture of an overused, late-middle age Madam
who eagerly displays her sagging wares
but doesn’t seem to realize that
she has lost her looks, allure, and persuasiveness,
and is much more laughed at than lusted over.
[A less graphic image
used to describe the very similar situation faced by late Victorian Britain
was "The Weary Titan".]

When an American president speaks on foreign policy,
the world and Americans hear meaningless bravado,
absurd prating about freedom and other universal values —
quite obviously the only universal value is power —
and an endless, self-righteous hectoring
that orders all peoples in all countries
to abandon their heathen ways
and improve themselves according to Washington’s dictates.

And what sort of power is available
to back-up the words of recent American presidents?
Well, today, there is not much power to crow about....


Maliki and the Futility of Regime Change
New York Times Editorial, 2014-08-14

The saga of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, currently approaching its denouement in Iraq, is a recurring theme in American foreign policy. Eight years ago, the United States worked to install Mr. Maliki as prime minister of Iraq in place of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who was said to favor fellow Shiites over Sunnis or Kurds in the government. Today, Mr. Maliki is blamed for the same thing, and the resulting disunity is believed to be partly responsible for the ease with which jihadists are romping through Iraq.

Under heavy pressure from the United States and members of his own party, the stubborn Mr. Maliki has agreed to step aside in favor of another Shiite politician, Haider al-Abadi, who earlier this week received President Obama’s blessing. Mr. Abadi may have better luck against the brutal forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, especially since Mr. Maliki’s departure could open the spigot to American military assistance.

Or he may not.

America’s track record in the business of selecting or changing leaders in global hot spots where the United States finds itself involved is rather poor. Operations such as the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran or the Diem family in South Vietnam, or the botched Bay of Pigs raid to oust Fidel Castro, or the various clandestine operations in Latin America, have often generated problems greater than the ones they were meant to solve. In Afghanistan, the one country where American soldiers are still dying today, indecisive presidential elections in the spring have served to exacerbate ethnic divides, opening the way for the Taliban to make a comeback.

In his study of American attempts at “regime change” around the world, Stephen Kinzer, a former Times reporter, noted that “most American-sponsored ‘regime change’ operations have, in the end, weakened rather than strengthened American security.” Even eliminating the bad guys can lead to blowback: An article in The Times this week by Tim Arango and Eric Schmitt detailed how the rise of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, was shaped “by the United States’ involvement in Iraq” — including the “targeted killing” of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose branch of Al Qaeda evolved under Mr. Baghdadi’s leadership into the even crueler ISIS.

This history is not necessarily an indictment of American foreign policy, nor is it an argument for the United States to abandon its involvement in the world. Though some United States operations abroad, like the Iran-contra affair or the invasion of Iraq in 2003, have been of dubious legality or morality, many others reflect an abiding American faith in participatory democracy and open governance. These are universal values, and the United States and other Western liberal democracies simply cannot cease trying to advance them, as they are doing now in Ukraine, no matter how many setbacks they encounter.

But the history of flubbed regime change does argue that there is no quick fix. Countries like Iraq or Afghanistan are a complex fabric of tribal loyalties and enmities, and the construction of durable national institutions requires time, study and commitment, not just flipping leaders. Mr. Maliki has become a problem, and he has to go. But there should be no illusion that Mr. Abadi, or his successor, will quickly end Iraq’s crises. President Obama is right to be very cautious about plunging into foreign adventures, but he should be equally clear that there is often no choice, and that the most tempting action is hardly ever the best.


What Would a Realist World Have Looked Like?
From Iraq and WMDs to Israel and Palestine to Syria and Russia,
how the United States could’ve avoided some of its biggest mistakes.
by Stephen M. Walt
Foreign Policy, 2016-01-08

Here’s a puzzle for all you students of U.S. foreign policy: Why is a distinguished and well-known approach to foreign policy confined to the margins of public discourse, especially in the pages of our leading newspapers, when its recent track record is arguably superior to the main alternatives?

I refer, of course, to realism. I’m not suggesting that realism and realists are completely marginalized these days — after all, you’re reading a realist right now — but the public visibility and policy influence of the realist perspective is disproportionately small when compared either to liberal internationalism (among Democrats) or neoconservatism (in the GOP).

This situation is surprising insofar as realism is a well-established tradition in the study of foreign affairs, and realists like George Kennan, Hans Morgenthau, Reinhold Niebuhr, Walter Lippmann, and others said many smart things about U.S. foreign policy in the past. Realism also remains a foundational perspective in the academic study of international affairs and with good reason. At a minimum, you’d think this sophisticated body of thought would have a prominent place in debates on foreign policy and that card-carrying realists would be a visible force inside the Beltway and in the world of punditry.

Furthermore, realism’s predictions over the past 25 years are clearly better than the claims of liberals and neoconservatives, which have dominated U.S. foreign policymaking since the Cold War ended. Yet time and time again, presidents have pursued the liberal/neoconservative agenda and ignored the counsels of realism. Similarly, major media outlets have shown little inclination to give realists a prominent platform from which to disseminate their views.

The results, alas, speak for themselves. When the Cold War ended, the United States was on good terms with all of the world’s major powers, al Qaeda was a minor nuisance, a genuine peace process was underway in the Middle East, and America was enjoying its “unipolar moment.” Power politics was supposedly becoming a thing of the past, and humankind was going to get busy getting rich in a globalized world where concerns about prosperity, democracy, and human rights would increasingly dominate the international political agenda. Liberal values were destined to spread to every corner of the globe, and if that process didn’t move fast enough, American power would help push it along.

Fast forward to today. Relations with Russia and China are increasingly confrontational; democracy is in retreat in Eastern Europe and Turkey; and the entire Middle East is going from bad to worse. The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting in Afghanistan for 14 years, and the Taliban are holding their own and may even be winning. Two decades of U.S. mediation have left the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” in tatters. Even the European Union — perhaps the clearest embodiment of liberal ideals on the planet — is facing unprecedented strains for which there is no easy remedy.

All of which raises the following counterfactual: Would the United States and the world be better off today if the last three presidents had followed the dictates of realism, instead of letting liberals and neocons run the show? The answer is yes.

To remind you: Realism sees power as the centerpiece of political life and sees states as primarily concerned with ensuring their own security in a world where there’s no world government to protect them from others. Realists believe military power is essential to preserving a state’s independence and autonomy, but they recognize it is a crude instrument that often produces unintended consequences. Realists believe nationalism and other local identities are powerful and enduring; states are mostly selfish; altruism is rare; trust is hard to come by; and norms and institutions have a limited impact on what powerful states do. In short, realists have a generally pessimistic view of international affairs and are wary of efforts to remake the world according to some ideological blueprint, no matter how appealing it might be in the abstract.

First, and most obviously, had Bush listened to Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, or some other notable realists, he would not have invaded Iraq in 2003. Bush would have focused solely on eliminating al Qaeda, instead of getting bogged down in Iraq. Thousands of U.S. soldiers would not have been killed or wounded, and several hundred thousand dead Iraqis would still be alive. Iran’s regional influence would be substantially smaller, and the Islamic State would not exist. Thus, rejecting sound realist advice has cost the U.S. taxpayer several trillion dollars, along with the obvious human price and the resulting geopolitical chaos.

Second, had American leaders embraced the wisdom of realism, the United States would not have pushed NATO expansion in the 1990s or would have limited it to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Realists understood that great powers are especially sensitive to configurations of power on or near their borders, and thus experts such as George Kennan warned that NATO expansion would inevitably poison relations with Russia. Expanding NATO didn’t strengthen the alliance; it just committed the United States to defend a group of weak and hard-to-defend protectorates that were far from the United States but right next door to Russia. Ladies and gentlemen: This is a textbook combination of both hubris and bad geopolitics.

A better alternative was the original “Partnership for Peace,” which sought to build constructive security ties with former Warsaw Pact members, including Russia. Unfortunately, this sensible approach was abandoned in the idealistic rush to expand NATO, a decision reflecting liberal hopes that the security guarantees entailed by membership would never have to be honored.

Realists also understood that trying to bring Georgia or Ukraine into “the West” was likely to prompt a harsh reaction from Moscow and that Russia had the capacity to derail these efforts if it wished. Ukraine would still be a mess if realists had been in charge of U.S. foreign policy, but Crimea would still be part of Ukraine and the fighting that has taken place in eastern Ukraine since 2014 would probably not have occurred. Had Clinton, Bush, and Obama listened to realists, in short, relations with Russia would be significantly better and Eastern Europe would probably be more secure.

Third, a president following the realist playbook would not have embraced the strategy of “dual containment” in the Persian Gulf. Instead of pledging to contain Iran and Iraq simultaneously, a realist would have taken advantage of their mutual rivalry and used each to balance the other. Dual containment committed the United States to opposing two countries that were bitter rivals, and it forced Washington to keep large ground and air forces in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. This long-term military presence became one of Osama bin Laden’s major grievances and thus helped put the United States on the road to the 9/11 attacks. A realist approach to Persian Gulf politics would have made that attack less likely, though of course not impossible.

Fourth, realists also warned that trying to “nation-build” in Afghanistan was a fool’s errand — especially after the invasion of Iraq allowed the Taliban to regroup — and correctly predicted that Obama’s 2009 “surge” was not going to work. Had Obama listened to the realists, the United States would have cut its losses in Afghanistan a long time ago and the outcome would be no different than what we are going to get anyway. Countless lives and vast sums of money would have been saved, and the United States would be in a stronger strategic position today.

Fifth, for realists, the nuclear deal with Iran shows what the United States can accomplish when it engages in tough-minded but flexible diplomacy. But Washington might have gotten an even better deal had Bush or Obama listened to the realists and conducted serious diplomacy back when Iran’s nuclear infrastructure was much smaller. Realists repeatedly warned that Iran would never agree to give up its entire enrichment capacity and that threatening Tehran with military force would only increase its desire for a latent weapons capability. Had the United States shown more flexibility earlier — as realists advised — it might have halted Iran’s nuclear development at a much lower level. More adroit U.S. diplomacy might even have forestalled the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 and moved the two countries toward a more constructive relationship. Perhaps not, but the United States could hardly have done worse.

Sixth, realists of various stripes have been critical of America’s “special relationship” with Israel and warned that it was harmful to both countries. Contrary to the smears directed at them by some of Israel’s more ardent defenders, this position did not stem from any intrinsic hostility to Israel’s existence or to the idea that the United States and Israel should cooperate when their interests align. Rather, it stemmed from the belief that unconditional U.S. support for Israel was undermining America’s image in the world, making the terrorism problem worse, and allowing Tel Aviv to continue its self-destructive effort to create a “greater Israel” at the expense of the Palestinians. Realists also argued that achieving a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians required that the United States pressure both sides instead of acting as “Israel’s lawyer.” At this point, can anyone seriously question the accuracy of this view, given the repeated failures of alternative approaches?

Finally, had Obama listened to his more realistic advisors (e.g., Robert Gates), he would not have helped topple Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya, creating yet another failed state in the process. Qaddafi was a despicable ruler, to be sure, but advocates of humanitarian intervention both exaggerated the risk of “genocide” and underestimated the disorder and violence that would follow the collapse of Qaddafi’s thugocracy.

A realist would also have warned Obama not to say “Assad must go” or to draw a “red line” about the use of chemical weapons. Not because Bashar al-Assad should be defended or because chemical weapons are legitimate instruments of war, but because U.S. vital interests were not involved and it was clear from the beginning that Assad and his associates had little choice but to try to cling to power by any means necessary. For realists, the overriding task was to end the civil war quickly and with as little loss of life as possible, even if that required doing business with a brutal tyrant. Had Obama listened to realists a few years ago, the Syrian civil war might — repeat, might — have been shut down before so many lives were lost and the country was irretrievably broken.

In short, had realists been at the helm of U.S. foreign policy over the past 20 years, it is likely that a number of costly debacles would have been avoided and some important achievements would have been realized. One might question some of these claims, but on the whole realists have a much better track record than those who keep insisting the United States has the right, responsibility, and wisdom to manage virtually every important global issue, and who have repeatedly urged Washington to take actions that now look foolish.

So here’s the puzzle: Realist advice has performed better than its main rivals over the past two-and-a-half decades, yet realists are largely absent from prominent mainstream publications.

Consider the regular op-ed columnists at the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. These three newspapers are arguably the most important print publications in the United States, and their coverage and commentary set the tone for many other publications. Columnists at each paper are also widely sought out for lectures and other media appearances and routinely hobnob with influential figures in the policy worlds. All three publications are essentially realism-free zones, and the Post and the Journal are, if anything, openly hostile to a realist view of international politics and U.S. foreign policy.

At the New York Times, the list of columnists regularly writing on foreign affairs includes one neoconservative (David Brooks) and several well-known liberal internationalists (Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, and Roger Cohen). Ross Douthat is a more traditional conservative, but he rarely writes on foreign affairs and is certainly not a realist. Despite certain differences among them, all of these writers are eloquent defenders of U.S. interventionism all around the globe for all sorts of reasons. The Washington Post employs four hard-line neoconservatives—editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, Charles Krauthammer, Robert Kagan, and Jackson Diehl–and used to feature William Kristol as well. Its regular columnists also include former Bush administration speechwriters Marc Thiessen and Michael Gerson and far-right blogger Jennifer Rubin, along with the more centrist David Ignatius and the increasingly bellicose Richard Cohen. Needless to say, none of these writers is a realist and all of them strongly support an activist U.S. foreign policy. As James Carden and Jacob Heilbrunn observed in The National Interest last year, Hiatt has in effect “turned the paper into a megaphone for unrepentant warrior intellectuals,” and now leads “the most reckless editorial page in America.”

To be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving these writers a prominent platform, and many of the people I just mentioned are worth reading. What is bizarre is the absence of anyone presenting a more straightforward realist view of contemporary world politics. On rare occasions, all three papers will publish a guest op-ed reflecting a more realist perspective, but there’s nobody on the regular payroll who comes close to advocating for a realist approach. You can find a few realists at specialized publications like this one (or at the National Interest), but not at the commanding heights of American journalism, let alone big broadcast outlets like Fox, CNN, or even MSNBC.

Why are these three elite outlets so allergic to realist views, given that realists have been (mostly) right about some very important issues, and the columnists they publish have often been wrong? I don’t really know, but I suspect it is because contemporary foreign-policy punditry is mostly about indulging hopes and promoting ideals, rather than providing hardheaded thinking about which policies are most likely to make the United States more prosperous and more secure. And because the United States is already so strong and safe, it can afford to pursue unrealistic goals again and again and let the unfortunate victims of our good intentions suffer the consequences.

So here’s my challenge to Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, the Sulzberger family, and anyone else who runs a major media operation: Why not hire a realist? If you’re looking for some suggestions, how about Paul Pillar, Chas Freeman Jr., Robert Blackwill, Steve Clemons, Michael Desch, Steve Chapman, John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, Andrew Bacevich, or Daniel Larison? Give one of them a weekly column, and then you could genuinely claim to be offering your readers a reasonably comprehensive and balanced range of opinion on international affairs. I mean: What are you folks so afraid of?

Do the greatest op-ed pages in America discriminate against foreign policy realists?
Why aren't there more realpolitik op-ed columnists?
By Daniel W. Drezner
Washington Post, 2016-01-16

[The original article contains a number of embedded links,
which are here omitted.]

Last week Stephen Walt wrote a provocative essay in Foreign Policy that made three important arguments:
  1. If only the United States had listened to realists since the end of the Cold War on big issues (NATO expansion, nation-building in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, ousting Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi), American foreign policy and world politics would be in much better shape.
  2. Despite realism’s superior track record to liberal internationalism and neoconservatism, realists get the short end of the stick on the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. According to Walt, “all three publications are essentially realism-free zones, and the Post and the Journal are, if anything, openly hostile to a realist view of international politics and U.S. foreign policy.”
  3. Realists are not hired at these places because they’re the Debbie Downers of international politics. In Walt’s words:

    “Why are these three elite outlets so allergic to realist views, given that realists have been (mostly) right about some very important issues, and the columnists they publish have often been wrong? I don’t really know, but I suspect it is because contemporary foreign-policy punditry is mostly about indulging hopes and promoting ideals, rather than providing hardheaded thinking about which policies are most likely to make the United States more prosperous and more secure. And because the United States is already so strong and safe, it can afford to pursue unrealistic goals again and again and let the unfortunate victims of our good intentions suffer the consequences.”
As a longtime observer of realists, realist attitudes in the United States, and the “strong, cultivated sense of victimhood” of academic realists, the hard-working staff at Spoiler Alerts feels obliged to make a few comments on this argument.

I’m not going to debate Walt’s first point, because down that road lies counterfactual madness. I’d contest his second point a wee bit. At least one of the op-ed columnists Walt described as “certainly not a realist” has said he’s got a little more realpolitik in him than Walt claimed. And in his sentences on The Post, Walt emphasized the neoconservative contributors but elided more realist-oriented commentators, such as George F. Will and Fareed Zakaria. I hear those guys are pretty prominent columnists.

As to the third point, I don’t so much disagree with it as suggest that it’s a radically incomplete story. Walt is correct to observe that realism offers very little in the way of hope; in some ways it’s an even more severe paradigm than that. Perhaps one reason that realists aren’t on the op-ed pages is that realists, in their heart of hearts, don’t think that op-ed columnists matter all that much. The bible of academic realists is Kenneth Waltz’s “Theory of International Politics,” which argues that the international system imposes powerful structural constraints on state behavior. In that book, Waltz states explicitly that, “The texture of international politics remains highly constant, patterns recur, and events repeat themselves endlessly. The relations that prevail internationally seldom shift rapidly in type or in quality. They are marked instead by a dismaying persistence.” He adds, “Over the centuries states have changed in many ways, but the quality of international life has remained much the same.” For realists, little has changed in international relations since the days of Thucydides.

This belief in the persistence of structural regularities, taken to its logical extreme, creates an internal logical contradiction in the public writings of realists. If systemic forces are really that constraining, then realists should not care about whether they engage the public or not. Structuralists have to believe that columnists have no ability to influence calculations of the national interest. Nonetheless, many structural realists feel the need to enter the rhetorical fray in their public engagement. As Ido Oren noted a few years ago, “If there is indeed a ‘real’ world that exists independently of theories of international politics, why do leading realist theorists bother to intervene in political debates?” From the perspective of op-ed editors, columns positing that the distribution of power is important but nothing else matters get kinda dull after a point.

Let me suggest two additional reasons that help to explain the paucity of realists in the nation’s op-ed pages. The first is that the academy is producing fewer realists. A quick glance at the 2014 TRIP survey of international relations professors reveals that a lot of current scholars started out as realists but are not anymore. This primarily reflects a shift away from paradigmatic thinking among international relations scholars more generally. Whether that’s a good thing or not is a debate worth having, but it definitely constrains the pool of possible realist contributors.

The second and more troublesome reason is that those people who might hold realist worldviews might be more likely to hold other, more noxious political views.
It’s worth observing that, at this moment, the two leading candidates for the GOP nomination hold distinctly more realist attitudes about military intervention than the rest of the field (yes, I’m giving those views more intellectual coherence than they actually possess, but bear with me).
The problem for realists is that Sen. Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump also hold some opinions that academic realists might view as less than savory.

Indeed, this has been a problem for academic realists for the entire post-Cold War era.
One could posit that until 2015,
the two most prominent politicians to approximate a realist worldview —
Patrick Buchanan and Ron Paul —
also held political views that could be politely described as nativist and more accurately described as racist.
The problem for realists who want to proudly articulate their worldview is that
the political standard-bearers they would have to embrace have been just God-awful human beings.

[I suggest that Drezner's Jewish background has strongly influenced that statement.
I think Jews are far more likely than Christians to attack "nativism"
and criticize opposition to excessive immigration as "racist".

I would suggest further that the lack of "realists",
both in the media and the academy,
documented above,
is due precisely to the large influence of Jews in both those spheres.]

On reflection, this last point is actually an argument that supports Walt’s plea for the op-ed pages to hire a prominent realist columnist, but not for the reasons Walt articulates. The country could use a strong realist worldview that is not linked to the nativism of Donald Trump or the conspiracy theorizing of Paul.

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