Realistic Realism?

American Political
Realism, Clausewitz and Raymond Aron on
the Problem of Means and Ends in
International Politics


This article focuses on the relationship between means and ends in international
politics, which is one of the core issues that has been reflected upon in international
relations. Political realism, usually regarded as the dominant paradigm in international
relations, provides a very specific understanding of this relationship: power and
survival are considered as the unique, given and fixed ends of political action on the
international scene. Consequently, a theory of international relations only concentrates
on how states can make the most efficient use of the varied means the states dispose of
in order to achieve these ends. However, this article argues that this dominant
conception of international politics is surprisingly narrow. By focusing on other
prominent thinkers traditionally labelled as ‘realists’, like Clausewitz and Aron, the
article stresses the complexity of the relationship of means and ends and the place of
power within a realist theory of international relations.

Political realism has traditionally been regarded as the dominant paradigm of
international relations. Not surprisingly, most criticisms voiced in the field
are directed against this school of thought. One of the most justified of these
stresses the uncertainty of the status of its central concept – power – within
realist theories, and the neglect of values. For the most prominent realists,
Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz, power and survival are the core ideas
used in their account of international relations. Even though differences are to
be found between the two scholars, both agree on the role played by power
and survival in their theory: these two concepts are presented as the rational
goal of international politics. Survival being the end, the struggle for power is
the essence of state relations. A theory of international relations therefore
aims at stressing the most effective use that can be made, by states, of means
or capabilities at their disposal in order to achieve this end.
This article argues that realism is too often only conceived as an Anglo-
American school of thought. Morgenthau and Waltz are certainly the most
quoted scholars in the tradition, but this obscures the fact that realism, defined
as a specific approach to international relations, also includes other, non-
American thinkers, who, while being part of that school, nevertheless have a

The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol.27, No.3, September 2004, pp.428 – 453
ISSN 0140-2390 print/1743-937X online
DOI: 10.1080/1362369042000282976 # 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd.


different understanding of some of the main issues in international relations.
As Stanley Hoffmann rightly stressed, international relations has always been
an American social science.1 This domination by Anglo-Saxon scholars
accounts for a very narrow understanding of the term ‘realism’ itself. A
reappraisal of the works of some realists who are rarely considered in the
international relations literature would certainly highlight the richness of
realism and the subtlety of its insights.
Carl von Clausewitz, while often regarded as a realist thinker, nonetheless
holds specific views on the relationship between means and ends in the
military realm. These views are strikingly similar to Raymond Aron’s, even
though the latter broadened the scope of the analysis by focusing explicitly on
international relations as an academic discipline. Aron is usually regarded as
a mainstream realist who simply reformulated some key realist principles for
a French audience, which may be one of the reasons why his works are rarely
investigated in depth.2 Brian Paul Frost justly refers to him as a ‘neglected
theorist’ in that sense.3 However, as this article demonstrates, he precisely
focused on the shortcomings and weaknesses of Anglo-American realism,
most notably regarding the relationship between means and ends, and
provided a different definition of what international politics is about. He
challenged some of the most basic realist premises, and offered a theoretical
framework to analyse international relations that could ultimately be regarded
as more realistic than the one proposed by both Morgenthau and Waltz.
Realism as a school of thought in international relations should certainly be
conceived in broader terms, as this would allow realism to provide a more
subtle view of international relations, which would in turn counter some
prominent criticisms. This article focuses on the relationship between means
and ends in order to highlight the necessity to rediscover the works of these
two – among many others – realists, and to show how they can affect the
potential reformulation of some of the most well-known realist principles in
international relations.
The article will first examine the main realist tenets about ‘international
politics’ and will concentrate on the definition of this expression and its
subsequent implications. It will then contrast this view with Clausewitz’s
ideas on means and ends in politics. It will lastly emphasise Aron’s
conclusions on international politics. The article will conclude that the ideas
these two thinkers advocate should be regarded as a necessary complement to
any strict, Anglo-American realist analysis of international relations.

The Anglo-American Realist Assumptions
Political realism is mostly conceived of as a predominantly Anglo-
American school of thought, whose main proponents, Morgenthau and

They are only a posteriori rationalisations of human acts. The strict Hobbesian account of international relations explains why survival is in any case the chief and only concern of states on the international scene: as no supreme authority can regulate their mutual relations. while the chief driving force that explains them is what he calls the ‘animus dominandi’. Waltz taking then as exemplifying the two broad tendencies of realism in international relations. selfishness is truly a .6 Ideology is understood as being a necessary but instrumental justification of human acts. far from being the ultimate decision-maker. It must be carried in order to move. This almost obsessive concern with power can. the lust for power. be questioned. states can and will use force whenever they decide that their national interest is at stake. justifications that are invariably provided ex post. Herein lies Morgenthau’s definition of ideology: it is nothing but a ‘process of rationalisation’ of irrational. selfish motives lurking behind any human decision in the sphere of politics. as it stems from a very narrow understanding of international politics in the first place. as he is the main actor at both the domestic and international level. and moves whenever these passions and interests want to go: ‘Reason is like a light which by its own inner force can move nowhere. regardless of what the inner logic of abstract reason would require’. defining characteristic of relations among states. For Morgenthau.4 Reason. as it contains the concept of balance of power. international politics is identical. share some basic assumptions about the nature of international relations. Morgenthau’s starting point is man. or that human nature is necessarily driven by the lust for power for Morgenthau. The basic selfishness of human beings and consequently of states is necessary as it first enables them to survive. however. and is characterised by the struggle for power. is actually used by ‘passions and interest’. the manifestation of an irreducible and nonetheless necessary selfishness in the realm of politics.430 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES Waltz. so dear to realists when it comes to explain patterns of international relations.5 Reason therefore intervenes ex post to provide men with justifications which give human actions the appearance of rationality or morality. in its essence. In this sense. His views on what drives human decisions in the political sphere are clear: moral claims made to explain certain actions are always to be regarded as hypocritical. One of them is that the struggle for power is the main. It is carried by the irrational forces of interest and emotion to where those forces want it to move. with domestic politics. This article focuses on Morgenthau and to a lesser extent. namely ‘classical’ and ‘structural’ or ‘neo’ realism. stemming from the initial premise that they take place in a world of anarchy for Waltz. which would otherwise appear for what they truly are. The loss or acquisition of power is central in this analysis.

modified only by the different conditions under which this struggle takes place in the domestic and international spheres’. it logically follows that ‘the essence of international politics is identical with its domestic counterpart. takes decisions.12 The implication of this is paramount as. but with power itself. once survival is achieved. pacification is possible in domestic politics. that is. However. Indeed. this desire for power is limitless. the will to dominate others. characteristic of ‘all politics’. Morgenthau draws a strict Hobbesian analogy between the domestic and the international realms. within a state. politics is the exact contrary of Kantian ethics as Coffey stressed.13 Waltz precisely tried to remedy this problem by finding a distinctive feature of the international realm. Aron was aware of this weakness: power is characteristic ‘of all societies rather than of all politics’. for it is not concerned with survival. he draws a radical . basic idea of domination or control of men over men.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 431 necessary law of behaviour as it ensures self-preservation.11 So certain is Morgenthau of the veracity of his account of human nature in politics that he considers this parallel as the ‘decisive’ argument against sceptics who could put his definition of international politics as a struggle for power into doubt.8 Hence Morgenthau’s conclusion that international politics is necessarily evil. the strict distinction between the domestic and the international realm. Unlike Morgenthau. His views on human nature help understand why he naturally refers to the domestic sphere as exemplifying his assumptions: man being primarily driven by the lust for power. as this analogy can precisely be regarded as demonstrating the fragility of this basic realist assumption. and man being the primary actor who. Morgenthau is unable to provide a distinctive feature of international relations that would render theory both legitimate and desirable.10 This narrow understanding of international politics as being uniquely a ruthless struggle for power requires further explanation. man always regards his fellow human beings as means rather than ends. and Morgenthau never successfully explains why it is not at the international level. the lust for power becomes the main driving force of human action. To support the definition of international politics as being uniquely power politics. theoretically speaking. as it is primarily concerned with power. Hence Aron’s puzzled remark: ‘Everything looks as if Morgenthau wanted to convince his reader that international politics is power politics by using the exact contrary argument to the one used by all thinkers for centuries’.7 This in turn implies that in politics. Both domestic and international politics are a struggle for power. This is certainly surprising. that is.9 The various definitions provided by Morgenthau of the concept of power all stress the same. In this sense. Contrary to selfishness. a finite goal.

the exact role and place of power and survival remains problematic. Not only is it a primary goal. especially as he readily admits that human beings. In Waltz’s terms: ‘Agents and agencies act.18 By doing so. are also keen to pursue other types of goals: ‘Man is a political animal by nature. the weakness of the . as they are units acting within a system. Structures affect behaviour within the system but do so indirectly’. he saved the rationality of his account of international politics. power is its immediate goal’.432 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES distinction between the domestic and the international spheres that lies in the structures of the two realms: anarchy becomes the central. but also because the shaping and shoving of structures may be successfully resisted’. that of structure. states are regarded as units. and as such. they are influenced by the very nature of the system they live in – hierarchy or anarchy. are influenced by the structure of the system. It is noticeable that this very much resembles Morgenthau’s phrasing when he mentions ‘different conditions’ of actions at the domestic and international levels. Waltz put it this way: ‘Structures shape and shove. not only because unit-level and structural causes interact. They do not determine behaviors and outcomes. it is also often presented as the unique one. Morgenthau then becomes less clear about its implications. Herein lies one of the most strikingly unrealistic aspect of realism. as he retained the idea of a given. Both Morgenthau and Waltz regard power and survival as the essence of international politics. rational end for political action. In sum.16 Having distinguished between the different ‘structures’ of the two realms. he recalls his definition of international politics as being necessarily and uniquely preoccupied by power. rather sweep- ingly. and whatever its ultimate aim may be. However.15 States. but it cannot be said that this very structure obliges states to act in a certain way. But the actions of agents and agencies are affected by the system structure. In itself a structure does not directly lead to one outcome rather than another. he is a moralist because he is a man’. by stating. It would have seemed logical that they devote a great deal of attention to their status within their theory. systems as a whole do not. Waltz simply turned this rather vague and scientifically unsatisfactory expression into a highly scientific concept. he is a scientist by chance or choice. the elements for which states permanently strive. On the one hand. defining feature of the international structure. even though they are driven by the lust for power. that ‘politics is a struggle for power over men. Morgenthau was aware of the problems raised by this indeterminacy of the place power has in international politics.17 Having stated this specificity. For Morgenthau. power is the primary goal of politics. The fuzziness realists display when it comes to this issue is all the more puzzling because power and survival have a central place in their theory.14 In the international system.

Like Morgenthau. Furthermore. simply warning that ‘the survival motive is taken as the ground for action in a world where the security of states is not assured. as the irreducible opposition between Christian ethics and the evil nature of politics is hard to face. and can be regarded as a means in order to achieve other ends. Like Morgenthau. which remains power. Morgenthau’s forceful warnings concerning the danger of using moral claims in international politics have been stressed. even for the shrewdest politicians: ‘No politician can accept the truth of this incompat- ibility for it is exactly in the appearance of being moral while seeking power that he finds both peace of mind and an element of power itself’. What remains constant is the type of account he provides of international relations: there is one rational goal to achieve. the scheme remains the same: states have a given end – survival and the maximisation or management of power – and international relations is about finding the best ways of adapting means or capacities to this end. however.22 The use of moral claims flatters the leader’s self esteem. Waltz adopts the same attitude: he retains the idea that there is one end in international politics – survival – and that power is a means to this end. especially in democratic countries. however. Waltz implicitly recognises that survival can be considered as a means to an end. Morgenthau also recalls his definition of ideas and moral claims as instruments aimed at providing decision-makers with ‘moral comfort’. Human nature being what it is. he does not advocate against the use of morality as such. however. because of the role and importance of public opinion: ‘The simple philosophy of the moral crusade is useful and even indispensable for the domestic task of marshalling public opinion behind a given policy’. and he is also likely to be appreciated by his electorate. and states possess different means in order to do so. he nevertheless ends up admitting that ‘the assumption allows for the fact that no states always act exclusively to ensure its survival’. go further than this assertion.19 He does not. Morgenthau concedes that the appeal to higher values is likely to be used. Morgenthau implicitly admits that power is not always the ultimate end.24 . as well at maximising the success of power politics.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 433 argument is particularly clear in this assertion: by discerning between ‘long term’ and ‘immediate’ aims.23 However. Waltz understood the limits of such a scheme: while stating that survival is the only goal of international politics. he sticks to the idea of a rational end for international politics.20 Again. rather than a realistic description of the impulse that lies behind every act of states’. He emphasises that these claims are necessary. and achieve his ultimate end.21 For Morgenthau and Waltz then. to justify the classical realist definition of international politics as being a struggle for power. but only against the actual place of these moral claims in international politics.

. Agreement is possible about matters of national interest. power remains the unique end of international politics.25 These claims perform the same role for a country as for an individual: they rationalise the pretence to power by making it seemingly moral. be it technological. the struggle for power shapes every other struggle. What Morgenthau forcefully opposes is the false belief that ideologies do have a force of their own. the biggest mistake of US politicians is to forget the instrumental nature of ideologies. they should be wise enough to recognise their true nature and purpose: rationalisation and instruments of the struggle for power: To conceive of the psychological task of democracy in the struggle with bolshevism primarily in terms of the technological problem of piercing the iron curtain and communicating the eternal verities of democracy to all the world is in a large measure to miss the point.434 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES Being ‘realistic’ then. while in his view. Indeed. of the political and military policies it seeks to support [.] The call for victory in the struggle for the minds of men. which is about power: ‘The true nature of the policy is concealed by ideological justifications and rationalizations’. as it is likely to obstruct the normal processes. hence justifying it. and to regard them not for what they are – claims for power – but as something that exists independently of the struggle for power. then. he also clearly advocates it. .28 For Morgenthau. that is.29 This ideological approach to international politics is especially dangerous in his view. his chief concern was that these moral claims seemed to be taken at face value by US politicians during the Cold War. Morgenthau not only accepts the instrumental use of morality. must be conceived primarily as a call for political and military policies that have the makings of victory.26 In this sense. It is in this sense that ‘the invocation of moral principles for the support of national policies is of necessity a pretense’. . as moral claims are just a translation of the real struggle that actually takes place. that frequently. to be effective. This parallel between the individual and the state is explicitly made by Morgenthau when he restates the domestic analogy to explain further the nature of ideologies: ‘it is a characteristic aspect of all politics. Political warfare is but the reflection. its basic manifestations do not appear as what they actually are – manifestation of a struggle for power’.27 In Morgenthau’s conception of international politics. for Morgenthau. and ideologies are truly power politics by other means. domestic as well as international. that channel the will for power and that prevent it from materialising into military confrontations. as the national interest does not. ideological or economic. notably diplomacy. in the realm of ideas. distinct from the struggle for power.

31 This does not preclude the use of moral claims directed to public opinion before. A democratic state can and must deal with authoritarian states. fought by different countries in a given historical period. but want ‘to persuade the world. the ‘crusaders’ do not try to ‘persuade each other that they could find common grounds for agreement’. means to an end. As Morgenthau states: The difference between liberal and non liberal aims in the international field does not lie in the fact that the former are ideological whereas the latter are not. structurally imposed by the international system and by the limited resources at their disposal. justification of power politics. instrumental nature. and especially their own nations that they are right and the other side is wrong and that they are and will always remain staunch defenders of the right’. If ideology comes into play in the diplomatic process. This appears highly desirable for Morgenthau especially as he notes the irremediable tendency of democratic leaders to yield to public opinion preferences.32 Therefore. that is. for Morgenthau. political realism does not differentiate between ideologies because of the definition given of this concept.30 The only sensible way to proceed would then be to come back to a diplomacy akin to the one practised in the nineteenth century.33 In sum. during and after diplomatic talks. as a common agreement about what their respective national interest requires is by definition always possible and desirable to maintain a balance of power. in a given country. since men will support only political aims which they are persuaded are justified before reason and morality. Their . democratic or non-democratic govern- ments have to face exactly the same constraints. The logical conclusion that could be drawn is that Nazism and liberalism are the same type of manifestation of the struggle for power. when they deal with each other in secrecy. should feel free from this sort of disguise. that is. but decision-makers. to disguise a lust for power and to legitimate the political decisions presented to the public as steps to implement these ideologies. The ideological character is common to both. Furthermore.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 435 involve ideologies: it is rationally definable. uniquely preoccupied with the national interest defined in terms of power. The content of ideologies is never investigated as it is regarded as irrelevant: what matters is only their common. ideological claims about what is right are irrelevant because of their instrumental nature. They all perform the same function.34 The dismissal of the importance of ideologies in international politics is linked with the realist neglect of political regimes: the type of regime statesmen deal with does not matter.

regardless of the different motives. . that is. its power or potential gain of power within the system: ‘we do . What matters is only the capabilities of each state. being defined as units. preferences and intellectual and moral qualities of successive statesmen. and not by the ends they pursue: ‘States perform or try to perform tasks. as it: . but also unnecessary from the point of view of the theoretical enterprise: as the focus is only on structures. This rational core of the national interest is paramount for Morgenthau’s theory. Waltz regards political regimes and ideologies as entirely irrelevant variables to the study of the international system: ‘Definitions of structure must leave aside or abstract from the characteristics of units. of the contempor- ary statesmen of Russia and China. Kautilya and Henry VIII. . This allows Morgenthau to assert the universality of his assumptions: It is the assumption of universality of the national interest in time and space which enables us to understand the foreign policies of Demosthenes and Caesar. states. rational continuum. these variable requirements do not challenge the continuity of the rational ones.35 The distinction Morgenthau draws between rational and ‘historical’ features of the national interest merely acknowledges his awareness of the specific requirements of each historical period. within a particular structure that imposes similar constraints on all units. their thinking was predetermined when they were faced with protecting the rational core of the national interest. However. the ends they aspire to are similar’.38 What happens within states is regarded as not only irrelevant in an account of international politics.36 Like Morgenthau. rationally definable. are only differentiated by means at their disposal (capabilities in Waltz’s words).creates that astounding continuity in foreign policy which makes American.37 As Linklater explains. their behavior and their interactions’. are constant.39 The end being given. Furthermore.436 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES attitude concerning the national interest. by and large consistent within itself. most of which are common to all of them. which. British or Russian foreign policy appear as an intelligible. there is no need for a theory of the state as such. Regardless of all the differences in personality and environment. by their very nature. will therefore be similar: ideologies or values do not affect this definition. then what remains to be studied is merely the means that are used by states to achieve it. ‘Waltz argues that systemic theory can ignore the domestic nature of the units because while they are able to influence the system they are powerless to change it’.

as well as the shortcomings stemming from it. which is uniquely concerned about the national interest defined rationally in terms of power: a democracy or a dictatorship will therefore have the same kind of foreign policy. this stems from the rationality of the unique end. In addition to being deterministic. Again. as it is determined by given. authoritarian or democratic. as he affirms the existence of supreme moral values that would ultimately transcend . In other words. what use of the theory? To abstract from all attributes of states (other than capabilities) leaves a theory no predictive or explanatory power’. they are permanently ignored in their account of international relations. It has been stressed that for classical realists. We abstract from every attribute of states except their capabilities’. however. the struggle for power. Neither ideologies nor the type of regime have any sort of impact upon the foreign policy decision-making of states. if it is to serve as a general theory of international relations. states do react differently to the same threat. one may ask whether the foreign policy of Hitler and that of Bismarck were truly of the same kind. neo-realism is furthermore unable to explain ‘particularities’. instrumental nature.44 Here the strangely apolitical nature of political realism is most visible. This should not be the case if states were simply units striving for power. is hard to endorse.45 It can be argued that Morgenthau understood this.41 Consequently. Intuitively. structural constraints. But neither biological realism nor structural realism in their leading formulations provide one’. and with the same capabilities.43 This leads Donelly to conclude that: ‘Realism. Similarly. ideological or pragmatic. for example. is therefore extremely deterministic. political regimes are not to be considered in an analysis of international politics. and from the subsequent adaptation of means within a particular configuration. desperately needs a substantive plausible and theoretically fruitful account of human nature or state motivation. under the same constraints. Donelly perfectly points out this inherent weakness of neo-realism: ‘without knowing how states are expected to respond to the pressures they face. Similarly. as Waltz himself readily admits. the content of ideologies does not matter: only their common. The case of Nazi Germany is possibly the best example of the weakness of realist assumptions. or to a given situation. the reaction of a state should be constant. as expressed by Morgenthau and Waltz.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 437 not ask whether states are revolutionary or legitimate.40 Political realism. survival. In this economic analogy. and only differentiated by their respective capabilities. what is meant by particularity is nothing less than the reactions each state may have when faced with a specific type of constraint. the equation of Nazism and liberalism as just but two examples of the same phenomenon.42 However.

However. which exemplify the basic fact that politics can often be ‘an exercise in human irrationality’. Then it might be the case that some states may regard genocide as an option.438 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES relativism. is unable to explain these situations. neither Morgenthau nor Waltz put their assumptions into question. Indeed. It is the contention of this article that the best criticism of political realism can be found within the school of thought itself. and they also decide what they think to be appropriate actions to protect it and to increase their power.50 War is therefore regarded as a necessary and legitimate feature of interstate relations.46 What Morgenthau had in mind is the Holocaust.49 This weakness of realism has been repeatedly pointed out by scholars. However. It is noticeable that despite historical facts that would tend to contradict realist tenets. this idea goes against his assertion that the national interest is always rationally defined in terms of power. International politics is therefore about using means in order to achieve this end. The narrow definition of international politics as being uniquely about a struggle for power can ultimately be labelled unrealistic. unlike . it is not surprising that Anglo-American realists consider this statement as a perfect formulation of their own assumptions about international politics being power politics. mainly because of his famous dictum that ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means’. that of the given end of states’ actions. Political realism therefore ends up in a strangely apolitical account of international relations. these elements are political ones par excellence. if the national interest is defined in racial terms. and in most cases. clinging to the concept of rationality at the core of its account of international relations.48 The lack of concern displayed by realists for ideologies and regimes fosters criticisms about the ‘immoral’ character of realism. Clausewitz’s Ideas on Means and Ends Clausewitz is often referred to as a realist. which in turn could not be regarded as a proper guide for action in politics because of the neglect of these features. The narrow definition they adopt of international politics gives power and survival a central place. However. and would ‘not permit certain policies to be considered at all from the point of view of expediency’. This is precisely what happened in Nazi Germany. this is a grave misunderstanding of Clausewitz’s views on politics. broadly understood in historical terms as including Clausewitz. in the sense that it cannot account for some crucial elements of these relations. and also Aron. alternative approaches to realism are proposed. Therefore. most notably values and ideologies.47 Realism. States decide what their national interest consists of.

53 This may also be explained by Clausewitz’s awareness of the limits of theoretical formulations that are posed by the very object of the study: human phenomena. The relation between means and ends is central in Clausewitz’s analysis of the nature of war. Clausewitz argues that this type of theory is bound to failure in the sense that it can never coincide with the reality it attempts to describe. that. which is never clearly defined by Clausewitz as being intrinsically rational. nor with the political end itself. when he deals with politics and war. Military victory is itself a means to achieve the political end. it also deals with rationality. It also prevents his theory from being contradicted by reality itself. It is not concerned with the essence of war. in a Weberian terminology. for him. the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it in magnitude and also in duration’. war is constantly influenced by the political end. the adaptation of means to given military ends in the case of tactics and strategy.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 439 Morgenthau or Waltz.52 It is this understanding of the relation between means and ends in terms of Zweckrationalitat that allows Clausewitz to define war as an instrument to achieve political ends. or the adaptation of means to a given end. do not allow what he calls a ‘positive doctrine. as it acknowledges its unpredictable elements. politics decides what it wants to achieve by war. Consequently. In other words.56 Clausewitz therefore ‘elevates moral forces at the level of theoretical parameters’. which the scientist cannot disregard: they are inherent to war itself. a phenomenon that includes passion and emotion. ‘war is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object.57 This is dictated by realism – defined as an understanding of the phenomenon studied that actually corresponds to what it is. This is not to say that war is entirely rational: war is. that is. a manual for action’.54 On the contrary. but because it seeks something other than military victory. This political end was not really investigated in depths by Clausewitz because his chief concern was with the instrument. Politics is . politics decides for war not because of its military capacities to wage it victoriously.51 Clausewitz’s dictum explicitly defines war as an instrument politics can use in order to achieve its ends. However. Rationality. Aron justly stresses that Clausewitz actually reasons in terms of Zweckrationalitat. Clausewitz was acutely aware of the diversity of political ends. by its very nature. is retained because of the nature of war itself as an instrument of politics. Above all. war. In this sense then. This relation between means and ends therefore postulates that ends direct means.55 It is so as war includes crucial elements like courage and genius. violence. This inclusion of moral elements in turn prevents any kind of prediction concerning the outcome of the war. and never attempted to subsume them under a unique concept or direction.

On the contrary. This diversity is precisely what explains the different characters war may take. the fact that Clausewitz retains violence as the essence of war implies he could not argue that war was a permanent feature of international politics: ‘politics may aim at the same ends in peace as in war. It certainly does not presuppose that power is the ultimate political objective pursued by states in history. The more grandiose the political ends. which by definition remains particular. As a result. or violence. for Clausewitz. but cannot be reduced to ‘the will for power’. even though its instrumental nature remains constant. That is to say that the primary goal of politics can be said to be peace. not the goal pursued.60 Clausewitz therefore does not assert that politics has only one. survival or the acquisition of power. violence’. understood as the absence of violence. is ‘an analytical investigation leading to a close acquaintance with the subject. once war is over. Aron emphasises that political ends are diverse. not power or survival.] it leads to thorough familiarity with it’. . is by definition a different stage in international relations. specific to his own genius. their theories are contradicted by their very object of study.61 Peace. Furthermore. politics returns to the other means it has at its disposal to deal with other states. as war is only characterised by the specificity of its means. it cannot be the continuation of war by other means. Clausewitz stresses that political ends vary over time. ‘politics determines the end. As Aron remarks. Morgenthau and Waltz did exactly the contrary: they refused to deal with immaterial features. and keep it within certain bounds. Furthermore. What is rational is this choice. That means that international politics is not equated with war alone. that is not reduced to power and which would consist much more of a . like ideologies or political regimes.59 Its only purpose is to educate his judgement. Asserting that war is the continuation of politics by other means says nothing about what the political ends are. even in times of peace – peace being defined as ‘war by other means’.440 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES rational insofar as it decides to use a means – war – to achieve its ends. applied to experience [. War does not continue when war falls silent’. according to Clausewitz. In his commentaries of Clausewitz. that is. . primary. as it is inherently composed of these ‘irrational’ elements they explicitly leave aside in their analysis. On the contrary.58 It is in this sense that Clausewitz argues that theory must not accompany the military chief on the battlefield. What is possible then. the closer war gets to its absolute nature. conflict does not continue after war. As Aron noted.62 This goes against a realist assumption that states are in a permanent conflict or competition for power and survival. In other words. goal. and politics is at the same time the force that will prevent the escalation of the war. war is an instrument among others that politics decides or decides not to use. ‘it is not true that inter state relations as such or that the essential inter state relation implies a struggle to death.

Aron’s primary concern in his study of international relations is to ‘grasp what constitutes its originality’. possibly the best example of the realist assumption about survival as the unique. and this he presents as ‘realistic’ as these are inherent to war itself. each free to express its self’. Clausewitz can effectively be regarded as a realist because of his conception of war as a legitimate instrument in the hands of politics. Aron devoted a great deal of time to the study of Clausewitz.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 441 peaceful coexistence of nations. the tendency to equilibrium in Europe. and his own account of international politics echoes that of the Prussian thinker. all these exclude the reduction of the state’s will to a will for power’. Raymond Aron’s Theory of International Relations Aron’s theory of international relations. what is not is his prescience that politics was concerned with much more than mere survival or acquisition of power. he first aims at defining .67 In sum.63 As he remarks. it is only to ‘compare the power of the belligerents’.64 It could be argued that Clausewitz remained a man of his time. those of humanity. but he strikingly differs from Morgenthau and Waltz in two ways. Second.66 That is to say that power is clearly understood as a capacity or a means used by politics in order to achieve specific ends it alone defines. and the central assertion of the plurality of political ends. First.65 If it is obvious that Clausewitz’s understanding of international relations is historically dated. the underlying assumption is that the very existence of states is never threatened in times of war. Aron remarks that. although rarely investigated in depth by international relations scholars. On the contrary. It can be argued that he translated the most important of Clausewitz’s findings on the phenomenon of war into his theory of international relations. and when he does. nevertheless provides a complementary approach to Anglo-American realism by the stress he puts on the importance of ideologies and values. significantly. power or survival. for Clausewitz. the common interest of the system of states.68 Like Clausewitz. and that deals with a wide range of considerations: ‘the interests of the internal administration. and that he could not foresee the Cold War and its concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). On the contrary. he puts the stress on the diversity of political goals that shape wars in history. he explicitly includes moral features in his analysis of war. international relations are not characterised by a struggle for survival. or at least ultimate end of politics. he does not assume that international politics has a unique end. each of them independent. Clausewitz does not use the word power extensively.

These rules may have changed over time. the aspiration to values. which distinguishes them from all social relations: they take place under the shadow of war.73 It certainly does not imply that power is always the ultimate or even immediate aim states strive for. As Aron remarks. What it does assert is the necessity. security understood as mere survival is not regarded as the highest of all ends: men are willing to die in specific circumstances. for the decision-makers. . Aron’s understanding of this expression differs from that of Morgenthau or Waltz – that is. the state of nature.71 On this. The key point is that if states do live in a state of nature. a state of war of all against all. and sometimes necessary means states can use. There would be no theory of International Relations if they had left it’.70 However. Only the risk of war is. This falls far from affirming that international politics is of necessity power politics. Indeed.442 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES the essence of the phenomenon he deals with. the respect of ideas.72 This is a reminder of the essence of international relations that always implies the risk of war. especially in the case of a major threat to their own security: ‘Never [. they imply by essence the alternative between peace and war’. It does not assume that there is one driving force explaining the conduct of states. Aron does not regard these common rules to be binding for states. It leads Aron to recall the Hobbesian state of nature to describe the international realm: ‘states have not left. Aron is close to the proponents of the English school and their notion of ‘international society’. However. what Clausewitz would call a positive doctrine. . It simply posits the ‘necessity of calculations’ for statesmen stemming from the risk of war. explicit or implicit. it does not follow that war is the permanent feature of their relations. Most importantly. nevertheless acknowledge the existence of rules. Rarely have the communities behaved as if they were not obliged to anything towards one another’.] did values or common interests command the conduct of actors in great circumstances’. that restrain their conduct. His answer is that ‘inter states relations present an original feature. but the fact that they have always been an integral part of international relations cannot be disregarded: realism omits the basic fact that ‘even in relations among states. Stating that international relations take place in the shadow of war says nothing about the ends politics may have. they do not attach a supreme value to survival: .69 The shadow of war stems from the fact that the use of force by states is recognised as both legal and legitimate. he stresses that throughout history. This is what constitutes the very specificity of international relations compared to other social relations: force is an acceptable. the concern for obligations have been manifested. to be constantly aware of the risk of war. states. in their mutual relations. at the individual level. despite engaging regularly in war. it does not even assume that survival is the permanent or supreme concern for states.

76 There is therefore an inescapable plurality of political ends on the international scene. glory. and leads to forget the political objective’. contra Waltz who asserts that states are constrained by their capabilities. .77 However. peace. as Clausewitz forcefully argues. but because he wants to implement an idea. Furthermore. states do not necessarily regard survival as their ultimate aim. As Aron states: . The chief question that needs to be asked is: power for what? This is the question Aron tries to address. It may be true that in specific circumstances. Furthermore. he wants power because the political action implies by essence. . the objectives pursued by states in their mutual relations cannot realistically be described as being power or survival only. an element of power. it is also. This use cannot be strictly accounted for by theory. and perhaps above all. because politics is not only about power. What is a life that does not serve a higher purpose?’. But the great political actor does not want power for itself. but in order to reach another goal. Aside from this then. but rather the use politics wants to make of this power. The very adjective ‘political’ – as opposed to military – indicates that power cannot be a sufficient criterion to account for all of them. The realist account of the relation between means and ends in international relations is therefore flawed in this respect. Aron mentions what he calls the ‘rationality of honour’. ultimate end of international politics. a community does not want power for itself. and regarded by him as absolute. or for pride. as there is no goal that can be regarded as supreme. it is obvious that states did pursue diverse political ends as Clausewitz emphasised.75 The same is true at the international level: just as human beings do not regard security as a primary goal. Survival cannot be taken as the unique. a scheme in which the value attached to the end pursued is defined by the actor. which in turn determine their actions on the international scene. not even survival.the political actor is always ambitious. in order to influence the fate of humanity. This is likely to happen when ‘military victory becomes the end in itself. about ideas. political end. as an inter human relation. and the role of politics is precisely to prevent military concerns to overcome the ultimate. even though this may seem irrational to an observer: compared to this end. life itself does not matter. Similarly. the stress realists put on the struggle for power as the unique end of international politics is also misleading.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 443 ‘survival is not a primary objective or a criterion of choice. Historically. power can be the ultimate end pursued. .74 To exemplify his point. What matters is not so much the acquisition or loss of power. this is the exception rather than the rule.

Even if power was.80 Indeed.78 A small or weak state can still decide to have grandiose political aims. but to know this is of little value if one does not know the use politics wants to make of this power: ‘a goal is nothing but a step towards an ulterior objective. the explanation of international politics in terms of the national interest is useless as long as this concept is not properly defined. but to what it is with the passions. by stressing that: . This cannot be explained by its specific capabilities or by its place in the international system only. which dictates the diplomatic – strategic conduct adapted not to a retouched portrait of what international politics would be if statesmen were wise in their egotism.444 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES Aron stressed that there is no necessary relationship between political objectives and states’ power. in the sense of a German domination of Europe. the unique goal. defined in racial terms. about the idea it wants to implement: ‘the national interest ceases to be definable. .81 Consequently. values and passions prevents the scholar from relying on an idealistic rationality in order to explain states’ behaviour.79 Morgenthau’s statement regarding the ‘astounding continuity’ that can be found in the foreign policy of states with the concept of national interest defined in terms of power is another example of the ultimate failure of realism to grasp the equivocal nature of ends in international politics. follies. As Aron remarks: ‘Not understanding the originality of Hitlerian Germany compared to Wilhemian Germany. is it realism. the Third Reich. This could ultimately lead one to assert that Germany’s foreign policy has been constant from Bismarck to Hitler. No one can under- stand the diplomacy – strategy of a state if one does not know its regime. It is the true realism.82 The focus on ideas. The political aim was not power as such. a study of its specific ideology is required. but power to implement an idea. as it alone can provide indication about the use it wants to make of its power. the one which takes the whole reality into account. for the majority of states. The best example may be Nazi Germany in the 1930s. . or misunderstanding of reality?’. there would still be the need to precise the sort of power the ambitious strives for’. ideas and violences of the century. but which nevertheless implemented a policy aimed at achieving this status. if one abstracts from ideological preferences’. Power was possibly the ‘immediate aim’. in politics. To understand what the national interest of a state consists of. Aron takes the reverse view from that of Morgenthau and Waltz.the true realism today consists in acknowledging the action of ideologies upon the strategic diplomatic conduct. if one has not studied the philosophy of those who govern it. and in turn . which was not a great power.

The necessity of taking ideology into account in an analysis of international relations stems from the definition Aron gives of this concept. far from being uniquely about power. by the effect of the inevitable shock between regimes claiming opposed principles. What determines this evolution are precisely ‘historical ideas that preside over the organisation and government of communities’.85 Ideologies matter first because they have a direct impact on actors. is also concerned with ideas and strives for implementing them and for the wider possible recognition of their legitimacy.83 This enables him to elaborate the concept of secular religions. however. ideology becomes a real force in international relations’.86 The ‘eternal objectives’ of foreign policy include security.87 The last indicates that international politics.88 Aron insists that the knowledge of ideologies is crucial in explaining the decisions of states. and influence the way they think about the world. They cannot be equated with the struggle for power. Aside from these eternal elements.84 The reason why ideology matters so much for Aron stems from his conception of what a theory of international relations should ultimately aim at: ‘To think about politics is to think about the actors. Brushing aside the simplistic equation of ideology with whichever justification is provided by the actors. and can prevent the statesman from not grasping the specificity of the USSR. as politics remains a human activity. This Weltanschauung is as important as the structural constraints statesmen are faced with. Ideologies understood in this sense are total representations specific to each society that substitute themselves for religion.89 This awareness should in turn reduce the possibilities of misjudgements without.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 445 ensure that his understanding of international politics includes constitutive features of this specific realm. their goals. therefore to analyse their decisions. regarded by militants as the supreme truth’. but Aron generalises them into a trilogy that deals with ‘space. their mental universe’. which Aron acknowl- edges when he mentions ‘fundamental imperatives [that] survive the alternance of regimes’. ruling them out absolutely. and whose main functions are to provide guidance and hope to a community. In other words. Aron focuses on a narrower understanding: ‘an interpretation more or less systematic of society and history. about their relations with other states. men. ideologies are expressions of universalist claims from particular entities.90 . in reference to Nazism and Marxism. for example. but remain nevertheless distinct in the sense that they are more than that: ‘through the intermediary of the psychology of those responsible and of the masses. compared with tsarist Russia. their means. and to promote its specific values. statesmen have historical objectives that vary over time. souls’. They may be part of it. and by extension.

remains the ultimate judge when it comes to decide. Men have never thought of politics as being exclusively defined by the struggle for power’. It closely follows Clausewitz’s idea that the very object investigated by the scientist poses limits about what it is possible to do in the theoretical realm. which he defines as an attitude that: Tries no only to consider each case in its concrete particularities. and what he calls the ‘true realism’. for the best regime. This in turn would allow him to make a truly political judgement on the specific situation he faces. and not only with the struggle for power.446 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES By being aware of the diversity of political ends that can be pursued. and his choice is complex. the judgement of wisdom is never incontestable and it does fully satisfy neither the moralists. The actor. a much broader understanding of the nature of relations among states. but in immorality. that is. not to forget neither the power relations nor the wills of peoples. which he regards as the most murderous conflicts. nor the vulgar disciples of Machiavelli.91 This true realism is also concerned with ‘people and morality’.96 Trying to overcome the Weberian opposition between ethics of conviction and ethics of responsibility. however. that is. he argues for the necessity to judge the ideologies of states. be he a commander-in-chief or a statesman. to end up not so much in amorality. To state that he is or should be uniquely preoccupied with the latter is to deny politics what makes its very grandeur. following Reinhold- Niebhur.95 However. however imperfectly. then. which may be regarded as a weakness by Anglo-American realists as it does not allow for generalisation. to stand for ideas. that it must lead to military action in order to enforce one’s idea of the just or the good. politics. that is. Because it is complex. Aron advocates what he calls ‘the morality of wisdom’. who states that right and wrong are not discernible on the international scene. Aron argues that a moral judgement is required in order to truly understand it. including a knowledge of the competing ideologies.94 This does not mean. but also not to misjudge any of the arguments of principles and opportunity. Aron stresses the danger of moral crusades. national and international. by holding a utilitarian view of human activity in terms of choosing . the statesman will aim at understanding each of them in relation to the military capabilities of states. This is where Aron distinguishes between a ‘false realism’ uniquely concerned with balance of power and military capabilities. as it includes concerns for security and ideals. Aron is concerned to prevent realism from being ‘too prudent’. is defined above all by the ‘search for the legitimate power.99 Anglo-American realism.98 As Aron repeatedly stresses. Like Morgenthau.93 Unlike Weber.97 The morality of wisdom is by definition casuistic.92 Against Morgenthau.

as utility is for economics. To state that the eternal laws of international relations demonstrate the primacy of the struggle for power is misleading and idealistic: it depicts an international system stripped of some of its most important features and disregards the paramount question that should ultimately be asked about the use that is made of power.102 Power cannot be legitimately regarded as the unique criterion to account for international relations. Aron once again sides with Clausewitz: just as On War should not be taken by the commander-in-chief on the battlefield.101 This impossibility stems from the very object of study. This impossibility should not be regarded as a failure by the scholar. fails to grasp the essential political element in international relations: ‘The determination of values is indispensable to the comprehension of human conduct. What then remains possible for an international relations scholar? On this. This ‘guide’ can be regarded as a necessary complement to a strong. The ultimate objectives pursued are necessarily plural. Acknowledging the limits imposed on him by his object of study is necessary for the scientist: it is the condition required to achieve a real scientific character. power is more often conceived as a means rather than an end by politics. more or less important depending of the civilisations. that is always limited by a conception of the good life’. as politics is by essence a human activity. which cannot be encapsulated within a single theory. The conclusion is logical: ‘if the diplomatic conduct is never determined by the sole relation between forces. human relations. then there is no general theory of international relations comparable to the general theory of economic’. Aron proposes a theoretical framework that aims at providing the statesman with a sound understanding of the issues he faces. As Aron stresses: ‘the science of diplomatic action affirms itself as scientific by recognising its own limits. The rational calculation of speculators characterises an activity. a positive doctrine for action that would single out the best means to achieve one end is not what is required in this case.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 447 the best means to achieve a given end or to maximise a particular resource (power). but should rather be used as a guide to becoming familiar with the subject and to help him judge the phenomena he deals with. ‘realist’ . As recalled by Clausewitz. The scholar should not simplify international relations to the point where they become unintelligible from a political point of view.100 In sum. The plurality of political ends demonstrates the infinite and inexhaustible richness of human reality. even less so when this theory ultimately relies on mono- causal explanations and leaves aside crucial features of the phenomena it pretends to study. if power is not the end of diplomacy. because it is never strictly utilitarian. One does not speak of a strategy of peace because there is no science of war and peace that is operational in the sense of a mastery of the relations among states’.

. a study of ideologies is necessarily required. however.104 Here. This does not provides statesmen with ‘eternal’ rules of states’ conduct.448 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES analysis. as well as the particular ‘idea’ they want to promote. realist ones: ‘What is the diplomatic field? What is the configuration of relations of power within this field? What is the technique of war to which governments refer more or less explicitly in order to estimate the significance of positions of relations?’. It includes classical realist concerns about power and conflict. Aron proposes six questions that should preside over the analysis of any particular ‘diplomatic constellation’. In conclusion. In other words. Morgenthau and Waltz provide similar accounts of the relation between means and ends in international relations. and as such can provide a more realistic account of international relations. but it also considers the ideological side of relations among states within a particular system. more often than not. their specific historical perception. as well as on the interaction between domestic and international politics. they retain the idea of a univocal goal for action in international politics. as well as an awareness of the particularities of the historical international system in which they act (knowledge of ideologies of other states. This ‘ideological prism’ influences their decisions at the international level. but with a sound general understanding of international relations as a specific realm of action with its own characteristics (permanent risk of war and legitimacy of the use of force). survival often equated with power. the emphasis is on the importance of ideologies and perceptions of decision-makers: Aron focuses on the understanding they have of their relations with other states. hence better understanding of their perception of international relations). Aron then adds three other questions he defined as ‘ideological – political’: ‘To what extent do the states involved mutually recognise each other so that frontiers only. as it indicates the use that is likely to be made by each state of its power. war. and not the very existence of these states. and the univocal relation posited between means and ends singularly impoverishes the understanding of international relations. contradicted by the facts themselves: politics is. it has been argued that political realism is too often conceived as a uniquely Anglo-American school of thought. it recognises the power and influence of ideas in international politics. What matters is the meaning given by the actors to their relations or. characterised by irrationality. This simplistic definition of international politics is. to relations among states?’. The first three are classical. constitute the stake of conflict? What is the relation between the game of internal politics and the statesmen’s decisions? What meaning do they give to peace. Rationality being the key notion. in Aron’s words. They recall Aron’s assertion about the essence of international relations.103 These echo the realist preoccupations with the balance of power as well as the stress on security. the risk of war. In order to understand it.

AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 449 The realist argument about the uniqueness of ends in international relations prevents from thinking politically. Ibid. IL: Chicago University Press 1946) p. Daedalus. most notably ideologies and regimes. International Affairs 38/1 (1963). are actually mitigated by it. ‘An American Social Science: International Relations’. See also Alfred Grosser. Rosenau (eds). Daniel Mahoney. Political goals are much broader than a struggle for power. as it disregards some crucial political features. This is not to argue that Aron’s ideas in international relations are never investigated at all of course. Knud Erik Jorgensen. Millenium 16 /(2) (Summer 1987). The plurality of political ends stems from the different ideologies and regimes of states. Consequently. p. ‘The Three Worlds of Raymond Aron’. ‘L’e´tude des relations internationales: spe´cialite´ ame´ricaine?’. Raymond Aron. 3. volume II: The Sociologist in Society 1955–1983 (London: Sage 1986). NOTES 1.155. He departs from core realist assumptions about the nature of international politics. The Liberal Political Science of Raymond Aron: a Critical Introduction (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield 1992).] concerns itself not with the individual’s survival but with his position among his fellows once his survival has been secure. Review of International Studies 23/2 (April 1997). although he did not directly reflect upon international relations as such. 7. his will to power has none. Robert Colquhoun.192. Oran R. nor political.’ . Hans Morgenthau. Stanley Hoffmann. Young. . Frost (note 2). Contending Approaches to International Politics (Princeton. . 6. See notably Brian Anderson. Raymond Aron.155.14: ‘The desire for power [. 4. Ekkehart Krippendorf. p. Stanley Hoffmann. Clausewitz. Aron operates a synthesis of Clausewitz’s main ideas at the theoretical level in his own works on international relations. Violence and conflicts. NJ: Princeton University Press 1969). ‘The Dominance of American Approaches in International Relations’. This. Ibid. Ibid. CVI (Summer 1977). influences their decisions on the international scene. ‘Aron and the Whale – A Jonah in Theory’ in Klaus Knorr and James N. Revue Franc¸aise de Science Politique III (1956). nevertheless provides a more subtle understanding of means and ends in politics: the diversity of the former prevents highly formalised theories. His claim that a general theory of international relations remains impossible due to the equivocal nature of political ends is a useful reminder of the complexities of international politics that cannot be subsumed under a mono-causal explanation. Raymond Aron. Politique Etrange`re 4 (Winter 1983). volume I: The Philosopher in History (London: Sage 1986). ‘Raymond Aron et la the´orie des relations internationales’. the Recovery of the Political (NY. 5. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield 1997). David Thompson. To think of international politics uniquely in terms of survival and struggle for power as political realism does is neither realistic. European Journal of International Relations 6/1 (March 2000). p. far from being constitutive of international politics. 2. Scientific Man Versus Power Politics (Chicago. Brian Paul Frost. ‘Resurrecting a Neglected Theorist: Philosophical Foundations of Raymond Aron’s Theory of International Relations’. ‘Continental International Relations Theory: The Best Kept Secret’. the selfishness of man has limits. in turn.

Raymond Aron.39. Politics Among Nations (note 10) p. See Robert M. 14.450 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES 8. There is power in the professional attachment to higher principles and there needs to be a governing purpose to power’. Peter Gellman also emphasises the contradictions to be found in Morgenthau’s theory. Morgenthau. 10.226.32: ‘Man’s control over the minds and actions other men [. Morgenthau. It must be stressed. Theory of International Politics (NY: McGraw-Hill 1979) p. . and where requirements of the national interest always take precedence over moral demands. Idealism and Realism in International Relations (note 9) p. p. 19.183. Waltz.60: ‘Morgenthau’s oft-quoted and sometimes blunt assertions that international politics is a continual struggle for power presupposes that the goal of each state is to maximise its power. 23. alongside the animus dominandi that is the driving force for action in the political sphere. where competing demands can never be accommodated. This awareness in turn explains Morgenthau’s definition of international politics as the realm of tragedy. Politics Among Nations (note 10) p. 2000). That influence derives from three sources: the expectations of benefits. p. the fear of disadvantages. . however. . 13. Political Realism in American Thought (London: Associated Press University 1977) p. power is always the immediate aim’. p. See. Theory of International Politics (note 15) p.184. 26.195. Quoted in Barry Buzan. quoted in Greg Russel. Knopf 1985) p. and stresses that ‘Morgenthau regarded the relationship between power and purpose as symbiotic.11: ‘A psychological relationship in which one man controls certain actions of another man through the influence he exerts over the latter’s will.13: ‘Political realism refuses to identify the moral inspiration of a particular nation with the moral law that governs the universe’ 24. Hans Morgenthau. like all politics. 16. p. pp. Morgenthau and the Ethics of American Statescraft (Baton Rouge. Social Research (Winter 1981) p. Idealism and Realism in International Relations (NY: Routledge.131: ‘A universal force inherent in human nature and necessarily seeking power over other men’ . Politics Among Nations (note 10) p. 31: ‘International Politics. p. for example.114–15. 17.358. that while Morgenthau defines politics as being necessarily evil. 9. Review of International Studies 14 (1988). the respect or love for men and institutions’.256.74. 27. Idealism and Realism in International Relations (note 9) pp.101. Morgenthau.358. Charles Jones and Richard Little.168. See also Morgenthau. Etudes Politiques (Paris: Gallimard 1972) p. Ibid. Morgenthau and the Legacy of Political Realism’. Review of International Studies 14 (1988) p. he is also acutely sensitive to the tension between political actions and moral demands. which can never be resolved. Ibid. Ibid p. quoted in Coffey (note 8) p. see also Peter Gellman. Hans J. 15.Crawford. Scientific Man Versus Power Politics (note 4) p. 18. This is precisely because Morgenthau was very aware of the importance of moral demands for man. 12. The Logic of Anarchy: Neorealism to Structural Realism (NY: Columbia University Press 1993) p. Ibid. Morgenthau. ‘Hans J Morgenthau and the Legacy of Political Realism’. Ibid. p. For a survey of the similarities to be found between Morgenthau and Waltz. either as an end in itself or as a means to an end’. The Restoration of American Politics (Chicago.252. Hans Morgenthau.] the mutual relations of control among the holders of public authority and between the latter and the people at large’.135. see Crawford. Politics Among Nations – The Struggle for Power and Peace (NY: Alfred A. is a struggle for power. John Coffey. Ibid.A. IL: University of Chicago Press 1962) p. Morgenthau. 28. 20.15. LA: Louisianna University Press 1990) p. Crawford. p. 21. Kenneth Waltz. 11. ‘Hans J. This ambiguity is also pointed out by Stanley Hoffmann. 25. Morgenthau.23.655. The Restoration of American Politics (note 10) p.92. Whatever the ultimate aims of international politics.101. see ‘Notes on the Limits of Realism’.92. 40–41. Ibid. 22.

Crawford points out the limits of empirical theory as defined by Waltz: ‘as a neutral and ‘scientific’ enterprise.217.97. Morgenthau did not investigate the consequences of this claim upon domestic politics. Thompson and R. in his article ‘Totalitarianism and Realism: Hans Morgenthau’s German Years’ in Benjamin Frankel (ed. Theory of International Politics (note 15) p.586. Social Research (Winter 1981) pp. On Morgenthau’s inconsistencies on this point. ‘Neo Realism in Theory and Practice’. .118: ‘Theory. Andrew Linklater.23.99. 42. 30. peacefulness.79.379: ‘I was taken aback at the time by the emotional approach to the Soviet Union on the part of all groups. The Logic of Anarchy (note 16) p.5. 35. Morgenthau. sometimes defining it as an ideological struggle’.96. quoted in Russel. and affirmed his ‘faith in a higher power’. Morgenthau. Ibid. The American Political Science Review XLVI/1 (March 1952) p. p.230.578. Realism in International Relations (Cambridge: CUP 2000) p. 40.. Ibid. 47. Ibid. 46. Even more strikingly. form of government. As Honig pointed out. See also Buzan et al. Waltz. bellicosity or whatever. Theory of International Politics (note 15) p.). Waltz. where Russel explains that Morgenthau believed in ‘a moral order which God directs. See also p. Jan Willem Honig. Idealism and Realism in International Relations (note 9) p.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 451 29. However.52.72. Roots of Realism (London: Frank Cass 1996). Jack Donelly. See also Robert Tucker. 31. 43. Politics Among Nations (note 10) p. as many noted.105. Morgenthau was ambiguous at time in his presentation of the Cold War. Martin Hollis and Steve Smith.48–9 34. as a general explanatory system. Hans Morgenthau. while other realist thinkers draw the conclusion that ‘the inevitability of total war necessitated the construction of a total state’ (p. Scientific Man Versus Power Politics (note 4) p. Myers (eds). Morgenthau did not really address the issue. . Morgenthau therefore urges students and practitioners not to be blinded by words – See Crawford. The answer is: Power is estimated by comparing the capabilities of a number of units’. Politics Among Nations (note 10) p.99. 33. 37.774–5. where Waltz states why he dismisses ideologies and regimes as irrelevant for a theory of international politics: ‘One may wonder why only capability is included in the third part of the definition. Ibid. International Relations Theory Today (Cambridge: Polity Press 1995) p. Theory of International Politics (note 15) p. in K. Idealism and Realism in International Relations (note 9) pp. Waltz.24: ‘[. comment on the morality of the policies and outcomes which he is trying to explain’. See also John M. in Ken Booth and Steve Smith (eds).] as Waltz’s primary purpose in establishing the unit-system boundary was to elaborate theory at the system level. See also p.306). quoted in Russel. empirical theory is not concerned with the morality of foreign policy. Explaining and Understanding International Relations (London: Clarendon Press 1991) p. ‘Professor Morgenthau’s Theory of Political Realism’. Morgenthau. and not such characteristics as ideology. cannot account for particularities’.98. The State and International Relations (Cambridge: CUP 2000) p. Morgenthau. Morgenthau. qua theorist. Hobson. 38. ‘Hans Morgenthau and the American National Interest in the Early Cold War’. Morgenthau and the Ethics of American Statescraft (note 28) p. p. 44.252. 32. he naturally paid little attention to unit factors once he had banished them beyond the realm of his structural definition’.65. Morgenthau and the Ethics of American Statecraft (note 28) p. 36. 45. see Michael Joseph Smith. I tried to warn against this kind of uncritical approach to the Soviet Union on ideological grounds’. Postcript Interview. stresses another problem with Morgenthau’s realism in relation with Nazi Germany: while advocating the preservation of the national interest defined in terms of power. the content of which we can guess’. and thus the theorist cannot. Truth and Tragedy – A Tribute to Hans Morgenthau (New Brunswick and London: Transaction Books 1984) p.209. 39. p. Honig shows that when it comes to assess the reason why the . 41.

585.100.140. Paix et guerre entre les nations (note 69) p. and therefore deal with Moscow in a ‘realistic’ manner’.87. See also Robert Gilpin. 73. 70. Ibid. NJ: Princeton University Press 1976) p. 77. in Benjamin Frankel (ed). He focuses on the example of the Soviet Union and argues that ‘Morgenthau offers no criteria as to how one can evaluate Soviet goals. law or ethics becomes a kind of pure game that is played by nobody. 49. 51. 71. On War (note 50) p.101. p. Aron. Aron. 78.87–8. Ibid. is idealistic in the sense that it assumes ‘that political man can be abstracted from real man to provide a realistic view of international politics which reifies one part of human nature’ (p.119. 57. 66. Aron. regard power as essentially instrumental to and necessary for the achievements of other goals such as security and even liberal ideals’. . Ibid. 48.17. 75. 63. while acknowledging that power can become the primary goal of a Hitler or Stalin. p.719. divorced from economics. 55. pp. p. Lec¸ons sur l’histoire (Paris: Editions de Fallois 1989) p. Raymond Aron.99. Crawford stresses the unrealistic side of Morgenthau’s assumptions and their shortcomings which stem from his narrow definition of ideologies as merely a disguise of the struggle for power.83. Aron.137–8. On War (note 50) p.452 THE JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES Nazis were eventually defeated. Sur Clausewitz (note 51) p. p. as expressed by Morgenthau. 76. The Eighty Years Crisis (Cambridge: CUP 1998) p. 69. p. Aron. Ibid.258.6. ‘Realism and Utopianism Revisited’ in Timothy Dunne.400. ‘Notes on the Limits of Realism’ (note 19) p. Ibid. 50. p.54. 59. Sur Clausewitz (note 51) p. Sur Clausewitz (note 51) p.141. 1987) p. and therefore lose sight of the national interest. 64. Sur Clausewitz (Bruxelles: Editions Complexe. 62. Aron.157. that is. p. On War (note 50) pp. Paix et guerre entre les nations (Paris: Calmann-Levy 1962) p. Raymond Aron. 72. Realism: Restatements and Renewal (London: Frank Cass 1996) p. Morgenthau still relied on his pre-war. In other words.68.92.36. Michael Nicholson.197. p.596. Rayond Aron. 79. Morgenthau ‘expressed the belief that in the end. Paix et guerre entre les nations (note 69) p. Aron. where Gilpin argues along the same lines: ‘Morgenthau for example believed that human beings were driven by a lust of power. Clausewitz. for the simple reason that it would be a game without either cards or stakes’. other realists including myself.141.62–3.67. Ibid. Clausewitz. 65.66). 52. Clausewitz. Aron. Clausewitz.656.143. ‘No One Loves a Political Realist’.19.67. Ibid. Aron. Ibid. Tome 2 – L’age plane´taire (Paris: Gallimard 1976) p. Ibid.28.362. Paix et guerre entre les nations (note 69) p. Carl Van Clausewitz. p. 61. Clausewitz. he did not explain the defeat in classical realist terms. On War (note 50) p. 56. 67. Sur Clausewitz (note 51) p. Penser la guerre. 68. p. On War. A realist reply to this argument could be that political leaders can occasionally be blinded by passions. the power of morality overcomes all’ (p. Idealism and Realism in International Relations (note 9) pp. Aron. Ibid. edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton. Similarly. Ibid. Crawford’s concludes that Realism. ‘idealist’ ideas in some ways. 54.81. 58. Robert Cox and Ken Booth (eds). 60. L’opium des intellectuels (Paris: Calmann-Levy 1955) p. Aron. Hoffmann argues that ‘Politics. 53. Sur Clausewitz (note 51) p. 74.307). Etudes Politiques (note 12) p.141.

p. Etudes Politiques (note 12) p. p. a representation proclaiming salvation and prescribing freeing actions’ 84. 102. Aron. p. on the inescapable dilemma of political actions: ‘a democracy cannot and must not ignore the internal regime of states with whom it deals . 90. p.589.287. Aron. 82. and because of the desire of the main proponents to argue against idealism.197. De´mocratie et totalitarisme (Paris: Gallimard 1965) p.422 ‘It took us a long time to grasp the decisive fact – and some pseudo realists still refuse to see it – that the Soviet leaders perceive the world. Aron.592: ‘Ethical judgement is not separable from historical judgement upon the goals of the actors and the consequences of their successes or failures’. Me´moires (note 83) p. 91.82. Ibid. and p. 100.582.474. 85. Ibid. but it cannot and must not either lead a crusade to spread its own institutions’. Aron. 98. Raymond Aron. 103. Aron.102. Me´moires (note 83) p. p.587. Paix et guerre entre les nations (note 69) p. L’opium des intellectuels (note 79) p. Raymond Aron. Hence Aron’s description of Morgenthau as a crusader.424. See Aron. Paix et guerre entre les nations (note 69) p.423: ‘The interest of the USSR is confounded with the interest of the worldwide revolution’. p. Ibid.149. think about their action and history in conceptual frameworks that stem from a certain philosophy’. Ibid.AMERICAN POLITICAL REALISM 453 80. 101. Ibid. Paix et guerre entre les nations (note 69) p.604. Anglo-American realism in general. 96. p. Paix et guerre entre les nations (note 69) p. Etudes Politiques (note 12) p. for turning into an ideology because of the tendency to rely on a mono-causal type of explanation. 87. and classical.84.309. Aron. See also Me´moires – 50 ans de reflexion politiaue (Paris: Julliard 1993) p.301.547. Ibid. 93. Aron.471. 89. p. Paix et guerre entre les nations (note 69) p. 99. Etudes Politiques (note 12) p. p. 81. Aron.389. Ibid. Ibid. (Paris: Calmann-Levy 1969) p. Aron.411: ‘A global representation of society and its past.92. 95.79. 83. 104. L’opium des intellectuels (note 79) p. Ibid.53. Etudes Politiques (note 12) p.477. .461. 97. 92.300. 94. Les desillusions du progres – Essai sur la dialectique de la modernite´. Aron. Lec¸ons sur l’histoire (note 75) p.596. Aron criticises Morgenthau. See also Aron. Aron. Aron. Aron. Me´moires (note 83) p. 88. 86.