Book Reflection: Ethical Realism

Category: By Christian
Two things are certain after reading Ethical Realism:

1. If I am ever elected President,
Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman will be two of my foreign policy advisers -and-,

2. I'm sending a copy of this book to President Bush and every Presidential Candidate for Christmas.

I've never read a foreign policy book before. I picked this one up after hearing the authors on the radio one day, because they seemed to have a fresh new way of looking at America's role in the world. I came to find out by reading the book that they are actually calling for a renewal of the Eisenhower/Truman paradigms on foreign policy, while at the same time calling on the voices of philosophers and theologians.

This book was borne out of a Democrat and a Republican getting together because they were so fed-up with how inept the Bush Administration's foreign policy is proving to be. What I appreciate about this book is that it is not content to criticize, but it makes a point to lay out a well thought out and nuanced alternative going forward. It addresses how the US should function in the Global community, and spends particular time discussing our relationships with: Iraq, Iran, China, Russia and (to a lesser extent) Pakistan and India. All in 200 pages, no less.

I'll admit, Realism pushed me. It really forced me to wrestle with a couple of things I hadn't considered before. The first is that I'm currently an ethical idealist. In my mind, I tend to set the ethical bar somewhere near Utopia. Doing so provides some interesting paradigms, but does little in terms of practical solutions. By setting realistic goals for America and supporting realistic policies, we can get a lot further than pushing an agenda that is not attainable.

Which brings me to my second area of growth: understanding and accepting that Capitalism is one of our best bets for establishing world peace. Now, the version of Capitalism outlined in Realism isn't the unabashed money gluttony that we currently practice. It's much too complicated to outline in a blog, but it's very interesting. For someone to whom Capitalism has been a dirty word, it is also reasonable to accept. It's a great discussion, and one that America needs to think seriously about having.

What really surprised me about this book was the Judeo-Christian paradigms that ran throughout. I didn't buy the book because it was a "Christian" book. I heard about it on NPR and bought it on Amazon. Quite frankly, had it been advertised as a Christian book I probably wouldn't have bought it. And in all honesty, it's not a Christian book. It's a book that quotes Reinhold Niebuhr a lot and focuses on how the US should be humble and just in its dealings. And it does a very good job of it, if I do say so myself.

I'm all for creative thinkers with new strategies. Our current strategy blows. Obama and Guilianni really scare me in that we are a long way away from November 2008, and they have already made comments that are pugnacious (at best) in terms of how they would interact with Pakistan and Iran. Honestly, those two seem like they are trying to start wars already.

So, pick up the book. You'll be a more informed voter and will have a better perspective on current events. What a deal.

Fair Dinkum


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