moral diplomacy vs. realpolitik

I B History of the Americas
M r. Clarke
³The position of Prussia in Germany will not be determined by its
liberalism but by its power. [«] Not through speeches and majority
decisions will the great questions of the day be decided« but through iron
and blood.´
-Otto von Bismarck, Address to the Prussian Parliament
September 22, 1862
We shall be the more American if we but remain true to the principles in
which we have been bred.
±President Woodrow Wilson, Second I naugural Address,
M arch 5, 1917
Two competing theories, both of which trace their origins to the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, have often vied for influence in United States foreign policy.
On the one hand, Americans like to think that their nation has consistently promoted
freedom, democracy, and human rights in world affairs. President Woodrow Wilson
used the term ³PRUDOGLSORPDF\´ to refer to a foreign policy dedicated to supporting
these ideals. On the other hand, few Americans support sending large quantities of troops
and/or money abroad when doing so does not clearly serve the geopolitical interest of the
United States. The term realpolitik or, alternatively, ³SROLWLFDOUHDOLVP´ refers to a foreign
policy that pragmatically revolves around a nation¶VLQWHUHVWV without regard to
moralistic, ethical, and ideological considerations. While the term was coined in 1853 by
Ludwig von Rochau, its application is most often associated with the nineteenth-century
diplomacy of Germany¶V2WWRYRQ%LVPDUFNWhile we can think of many instances in
which U.S. interests have coincided with ethical considerations, the real test comes when
there is a divergence between what is morally right and what is good for the country.
1. Has U.S. foreign policy been guided more by moral diplomacy or by realpolitik?
2. What principles should guide American foreign policy?