chapter  2
41 Pages

Classical realism: The twentieth century

Classical realism emerged as a distinct approach to the study of international relations during the interwar years, and for a time after the Second World War was the dominant perspective in the United States. It was viewed as a counterweight to liberalism (sometimes referred to as utopianism or idealism) in academic and policy-making circles. Classical realists, including E.H. Carr, Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Morgenthau, and George Kennan, adopted positions that contradicted their liberal counterparts. While liberals allowed for human perfectibility, classical realists warned of an innate human lust for power and domination. While liberals encouraged the achievement of common goals, classical realists viewed pursuing a selfi sh national interest as the only prudent and rational policy. While liberals preached the possibility of human progress through education and internationalism, classical realists focused on the unchanging and confl ictual nature of international relations.