Kevin Doremus

November 7, 2019

When the Foreign Policy Liberals Critique Realism

Liberals try over and over again to associate Trump with realists. As Patrick Porter has pointed out, liberals focus more on what Trump says than what his administration does. "Under Trump, the US has poured more money and troops into existing actual alliances and perpetuated failing wars." The idea of Trump being a realist or that Trump's policy is realist, fails on observation of his actions.

Liberals then claim realists present "a false choice between endless wars and total withdrawal." The authors of that article (Peter Feaver and Will Inboden) attempt to argue that total withdrawal would be messy or just as messy as the status quo. In their minds, "there are no better alternatives so we should stick to the current path." They assume that realists believe that withdrawal would immediately bring peace to a region that has been in chaos for decades.

Internationalists/globalists argue that interventionism is only to manage the problem not solve them. Which is fine, but why do liberals then push policies that are supposed to bring peace, stability, and freedom. Liberals see problems everywhere that need to be managed. The result is for the US to attempt to manage every single global issue.

The author concludes by asking: "What will you do after the enemy responds to your move—or after your allies respond to your move, for that matter? Once the enemy has taken advantage of your retreat, and once the allies have hedged against the lost trust in U.S. security commitments, how will you mitigate the second- and third-order consequences for U.S. national interests?"

Firstly, US national interests should be narrow and not focused on global issues but only ones that pertain to the US. Withdrawing from the Middle East does, of course, leads to the changing of the balance of power. However, power change is not just happening regionally but globally. The US power position is declining due to the resurgence of Russia and China. There is nothing that can be done about that. Advisors need to adapt for modern times not live in the past of the "good ole days."

Secondly, we need to know who our allies are. At the moment the US flip-flops on whom it allies with. There is no consistency at all in the current policy. Also, we need to know if a potential ally is even worth forming an alliance with. If the prospective partner is weak, there a high chance they would just free ride off of the US.

Lastly, the adaption process would mean that the US would have to cooperate with regional and great powers when interests are shared. (That means cooperating with Russia and China.)

Liberals would not tolerate these answers and claim that realists are rejecting the humanistic struggle for spreading liberty and freedom around the world.

About the author

Kevin is an Instructor of International Relations and Russian Foreign Policy at LCC International University. His primary research interests are the geopolitical orientations of Central Europe and the application of Libertarian thought in international relations theory.

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