I like this write up about Michael F. Duggan and his website, Realism and Policy. Its purpose is to provide a modest outlet to promulgate a perspective of moderate realism:
Michael F. Duggan holds a doctorate from Georgetown University with a major in American History, a minor in Modern Europe, and a collateral concentration in Western Philosophy. He has taught in the Department of Graduate Liberal Studies at Georgetown, and in New York University’s Washington, D.C. Program and has guest lectured at American University and at Howard University Law School. He was the Supreme Court Fellow for 2011-2012, and cofounded the Liberal Studies Philosophy Roundtable (2007-2013), a discussion group focusing on ethical questions.
About Realism and Policy
This blog is a clearinghouse for articles and essays I have written on a variety of topics. Its purpose is to provide a modest outlet to promulgate a perspective of moderate realism. As the domain name states, the single thread running through these pieces is a perspective of realism, whether it be in foreign affairs, the rule of law abroad, the philosophy of adjudication, or legal history as well as epistemology, journalism, and historiographical methodology. Above all, it is an online journal, and many of the essays that are put up are done so journal-like with minimal editing.
Some of the articles here deal with foreign affairs, and my foreign policy outlook is straightforward and based on two premises. The first is that moderate realism toward an end of perceived national interests—enlightened self-interest—produces better practical and “moral” results than policy specifically tailored around moral, ideological, or other theoretical considerations. The rebuilding of Japan, the Marshall Plan, and Containment as a grand strategy during the Cold War were first and foremost realistic policy measures; the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the rise of neoliberalism, neoconservatism, U.S. military hegemony as the bulldog of globalization, and our catastrophic efforts at nation building in the Middle East are or were manifestations of ideological considerations and/or theory.
My second premise, a corollary to the first, is that a critical reading of history provides a better basis for policy judgments and decisions than morality, ideology, or theory.
The solution, in my opinion, of moderate, liberal-minded realism as a foreign policy perspective (like so many once vigorous species) is in our time endangered but not quite extinct and there are a number of outstanding policy scholars and historians of a realist orientation including Andrew Bacevich, John J. Mearsheimer, and Stephen M. Walt. The most recent cohort of realist policymakers (James Baker, George H. W. Bush, and Brent Scowcroft), are now mostly gone, as is Russia expert, Stephen F. Cohen. Where such realism was once at the robust forefront of policy and included legendary public servants like George Kennan, George Marshall, and others of the first generation of Cold War policymakers sometimes called the Wise Men, it is now scattered thinly throughout the halls of the Academy, far from the halls of power. As such it is little more than a small chorus of highly articulate voices in the wilderness.
My own outlook owes much to the great American policy planner, grand strategist, historian, and writer, George F. Kennan. In his published Diaries, Kennan notes that his primary attribute as a policy planner and strategist was that he saw things a little more clearly and a little earlier than others.