chapter  1
12 Pages

Realism and US foreign policy


Neither realism nor US foreign policy is a one-dimensional enterprise the content or purpose of which can be easily captured in a single set of uncontroversial propositions. That being the case, the relation between the two is apt to manifest higher levels of complexity than one might expect at fi rst blush. Under the broad heading of ‘realism’, there exists a degree of diversity that is perhaps underappreciated when it comes to such important questions as the sustainability of a unipolar order, the optimal foreign policy course for a state in any given circumstances, or even the question of whether an individual state’s motives and decisions are truly susceptible to theoretical understanding. And as regards US foreign policy: fundamental disputes regarding its motivation, direction, and purpose are as old as the nation itself, and thick strands of literature in both history and political science have arisen apropos of the quest for a defi nitive interpretation (Quinn 2010 : 10-30). A deal of this scope for diversity in interpretation will be apparent from the array of differing analyses contained within this volume.