Rand Paul's Case for Realism

You can read Senator Paul's remarks on the case for "conservative" realism, here
After the tragedies of Iraq and Libya, Americans are right to expect more from their country when we go to war. 
America shouldn't fight wars where the best outcome is stalemate.  America shouldn't fight wars when there is no plan for victory. 
America shouldn't fight wars that aren’t authorized by the American people, by Congress.
America should and will fight wars when the consequences….intended and unintended….are worth the sacrifice. 
The war on terror is not over, and America cannot disengage from the world.
However, I take exception to the coinage conservatism, without disagreeing with Paul's premise. 

Realism (with a capital R) is neither conservative nor liberal. It is a thing of its own, a theory not motivated by ideology. Rather it is rooted in human nature and behavior. 

For example Hans Morgenthau lists the six governing principles of Realism. 

I've included the points with my own narrative and understanding of Realism. 

1) Politics functions according to objective laws rooted in human nature.
 Realism adopts the position in order to understand which law governs society and nations. The presupposition is that politics is rooted in human nature. These laws (unchanging human nature) are settled, and any deviation from them will lead to error. Since societies and nations are made up of people and leaders govern them, there is human nature to consider. Since human nature can be observed, then certain objective laws can be established through observation. Judgments, therefore, can be made through reason, experience, and observation.

 2) Interest is defined in terms of power
 Political decisions and actions are directed toward power. Interests, then, is defined in terms of self-interests which can only be interpreted as political and not moral. The reasoning behind these actions is to be measured only from the capacity and will of the group to carry out its goals.

 3) Interest defined as power is universally true.
Though there may be differences from one group to the next based on capacity or culture, all states have a stake in power, only the degree to which varies. Power can be achieved through balancing from weaker powers, or from a hegemonic power that control its weaker neighbors. In other words, power-relationships exist everywhere to some degree or another, whereas morality varies.

4) There is a natural tension between politics and morality.
Since self-interests and survival are paramount, political power supersedes morality. There will come a time when a state must behave in ways that may be repugnant to individual morality. However, if the state does not act in such away when power is at stake, there would be no individuals with freedom in existence to disagree.

5) Morality is not universal.
There is no time and place where moral agreement exists universally. Cultures and norms vary from place to place, so there is no particular idea of morality. The only option left is the social-reality, which is based on human nature, or political-reality. 

6) Politics is autonomous.
When it comes to political behavior among nations, amoral decisions are made. Since all states are accumulating or pursuing power motivated by self-interests, the social reality defines the political reality. That latter point does not rule out standards and norms altogether but neither does it suggest the two stand alone. They only are factors of political reality that the states create.



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