Morgenthau's "Realpolitik" and the war in Yugoslavia

Bernard Baruch coined the Cold War in 1947, the same year that Hans Morgenthau published his classic Politics Among Nations, which defines foreign affairs, national interest, national security, deterrence, balance of power and other key notions of international relations that deeply influenced American thinking.

Morgenthau observed that nations have interests which are furthered through the use of power to accumulate more power (military, economic and political alliances) to further new interests (regionalization, globalization). The world system constantly faces the threat of an imbalance of power, with some nations trying to maintain the status quo, and others trying to alter it. Morgenthau defined national policies that aim at changing the status quo as imperialistic - a meaning very different from Lenin's. Morgenthau wrote: "The balance of power and policies aiming at its preservation are not only inevitable, but are an essential stabilizing factor in a society of sovereign nations.''

Extending Machiavellian principles on politics to international relations, Morgenthau rejected that foreign policy could ever be based solely on moral principles or idealism. Realpolitik is the game in international relations. While this notion is well accepted in the US foreign policy establishment, the American public still requires American policy to be based on the enhancement of American values before they give it their full support. This is particularly true when issues of war and the risks of American lives are involved.

From Acheson to Dulles to Kissinger to now Albright, Morgenthau's realpolitik has generated a fairly consistent foreign policy to support US national interests, while it survived several changes in the identity of the enemies of American values by alternatively demonizing and resurrecting them.

Morgenthau saw clearly that mass communication is an essential element of foreign policy for a democracy or even a totalitarian state. He wrote: "One might almost be tempted to say that there are no longer any purely domestic affairs, for whatever a nation does or does not do is held for or against it as a reflection of its political philosophy, system of government, and way of life.'' "The statesman must take the long view, proceeding slowly and by detours, paying with small losses for great advantage. ... The popular mind wants quick results; it will sacrifice tomorrow's real benefit for today's apparent advantage.'' ``A government may have a correct understanding of the requirements of foreign policy and of the domestic politics to support them, but if it fails in marshaling public opinion behind these policies, its labors will be in vain.''

Despite the advocacy for realpolitik, it can be argued that Morgenthau's theory of international politics is fundamentally concerned with a normative morality, and that his moral theory is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Morgenthau adopts an Augus