A Summary On Political Realism

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Reaction Paper 1
Morgenthau pp. 3-16
Morgenthau’s first principle of Political Realism addresses that the fundamentals of politics have been created by human nature. In my eyes, this means that the fundamentals of politics must be fallible, as humanity is so subject to imperfection. This theme of human fallibility and the results of such within international relations and international policy is continuous throughout this particular excerpt. In modern times novelty, individuality, and uniqueness are found to be desirable and honorable. Morgenthau comments that this, however, is not necessarily the case when it comes to political theory. New ideas and philosophies are not automatically superior to aged theory and traditional concepts just because they are newly devised. As people do not particularly change over time, it stands to reason that the laws governing these people and theories regarding them should not change either. One must take into account the past and how previous policies have fared, otherwise the exact same mistakes would be continually made. The first principle of Political Realism commented on the rationality of man’s behavior. The second principle of Political Realism follows this by addressing the interest and motivation of man. Morgenthau defines interest in politics as power, stating, “We assume that statesmen think and act in terms of interest defined as power and the evidence of history bears that assumption out.” (Morgenthau, 5) Striving to acquire power seems to be generally viewed as greedy and not necessarily a virtuous aspiration, but power does not have to mean cruel domination over others. One can be powerful and still a good person. Whether power is sought with good intentions or not, it seems to me a rational motivator. In politics power is the prime theme, even though many politicians have good intentions and possess some form of morality. Unfortunately, all of the good intentions in the world cannot produce stellar foreign policy, as just because one has moral qualities does not mean one has any political qualities. Politicians are human and their emotions, personal convictions, and personality all have a play in the rationality of the policies they develop. Because of
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