“Is realism really, really what America wants as the cornerstone of its foreign policy?Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University, has an eloquent ode to realism in Foreign Policy magazine. He argues that, with realism as the bedrock of its approach to the world over the past quarter century, the United States would have fared far better. Realists, he reminds us, “have a generally pessimistic view of international affairs and are wary of efforts to remake the world according to some ideological blueprint.”Pessimism is a useful source of prudence in both international and personal affairs. Walt’s piece makes several reasonable points. But he omits the major European conflict of the period under consideration — the wars of Yugoslavia’s destruction, in which some 140,000 people were killed and millions displaced.”
Thank you Roger Cohen for an excellent piece. I see in the comments at the NYT, that the popular thing is to shred you for defending any interventions. However, recently returned from a trip to Sarajevo, you couldn’t have picked a better example of strong American intervention that ends genocide and restores civlity and some democracy.
Your critics also miss your subtle point that when Bassar Assad crossed the red line of using chemical weapons on his own people, it was early enough so that a strong intervention back then, besides being quietly recommended by the Joint Chiefs, Sec of State Hillary Clinton, and Nicholas Kristof, had chances that were never explored, before ISSIS had grown strong.
I invite you to write Part Two, what realistically can be done in Syria and Iraq now.