George Shultz Showed U.S. Foreign Policy Is Strongest When We Combine Realism and Human Rights

Realism in foreign policy reflects a messy, dangerous world where too little can be distilled into clear-cut moral absolutes, and thus national interest takes precedence over universal values. Nevertheless, a world ravaged by war, migration, refugee flows, and a demand for dignity across ethnic, religious, and racial lines requires a morally sustainable foreign policy rooted in idealism. Yet realism and idealism can work together. The American diplomatic tradition at its best has employed humanitarianism as a complement to power politics; not as an opponent of it. This all has profound consequences for our great power competition with China and Russia today, and for how the Biden Administration will deal with it.

Some of the darkest days of the Cold War—governed by realpolitik calculations of power—were also suffused with human rights concerns at the highest official levels. It was what defined the American brand and distinguished it from that of the Soviets. The State Department’s Refugee Bureau had its beginnings under President Jimmy Carter, when Communist takeovers in Vietnam and Cambodia led to a humanitarian cataclysm, as millions streamed out of those countries into Thailand. President Ronald Reagan picked up Carter’s torch, with Reagan’s secretary of state, the late George Shultz, who died on Feb. 7, seamlessly combining hard-headed realism with humanitarianism, especially throughout Africa. I know I was there as a reporter for The Atlantic.

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Πηγή: time.com

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