Diplomatic Realism: William R. Castle, Jr., and American Foreign Policy, 1919-1953
Diplomatic realism demands that diplomats deal with a flawed world the way it is. Mankind has consistently evinced the capacity both to compete for resources and to cooperate with others having similar self-interests. For W.R. Castle the wise statesman was the one who could manage and constructively channel both tendencies. Castle believed that misdirected and self-righteous moral fervor could destabilize the delicate international order. Idealists, pursuing abstractions, usually ignored the historical fact that moral choices must be made in the context of political action with all of the usual trade-offs. For the diplomatic realist, hard choices are a blend of moral considerations and political necessity, with moral and diplomatic imperatives often in conflict. Whereas the moralist often demands that a position be held without exception, the diplomatic realist must note exceptions and consider the political consequences of any action. Idealists could unsettle imperfect, fragile domestic and international arrangements by trying to rise above the rules of the political order. Moreover, nations claiming special access to moral truths could be profoundly unsettling to the balance of power and interests that maintained the peace. In fact, national self-righteousness would prevent dialogue, compromise, and patient negotiation with antagonistic nations. According to Castle, the circumspect diplomat must recognize the virtue in other nations' positions and objectively see himself, the antagonist, and how the antagonist sees him. He must destinguish between America's interests and his personal moral sympathies and seek primarily to advance the nation's interest.
Diplomatic Realism: William R. Castle, Jr., and American Foreign Policy, 1919-1953 explores the origins and the strengths and weakness of a diplomat's intellectual position. It examines how Castle's positions influenced U.S. foreign policy in some significant ways over several key decades in America's emergence as a world power.
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