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US Foreign Policy: Realists and Idealists

WAISer realists and idealists disagree so strongly that I have had to delete unWAIS remarks from the long messages of which I post the essential sections. John Wonder is a realist. He says: "Do you think any elements of the liberal media in the U.S. or elsewhere would pay any attention to realists like Cameron Sawyer? They are sold on their Weltanschauung and would never abandon it, regardless of the real world. We are really in an Alice-in-Wonderland mode where the Red Queen can say "A word means what I say it means".

This is an old story. Many well known people, including Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells, as well as a number of prominent journalists, went to the Soviet Union and on their return most proclaimed "I have seen the future and it works!". At home, angry Americans who had never been to the Soviet Union denounced these reports out of hand. One must conclude that in most cases both sides were expressing their wishes rather than reality.

There was an excellent example of this yesterday in Washington at a meeting sponsored mainly by the Catholic organization Pax Christi. dealing with "Terrorism, Security and Budget Priorities" The four speakers represented different traditions. A black Muslim, Brahim Ramsey of the Muslim Peace Fellowship, surprised me. I thought all black Muslims ranted crazily, but he spoke calmly and reasonably, with a good command of facts. The others were equally good: Sister Kathleen Pruitt, president of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious, Rabbi Haim Dor Belick of the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, and Bishop C. Joseph Springue of the Chicago Area United Methodist Church. It was a splendid example of the ecumenical spirit.

There were two main themes. The first was social justice, a key element of Catholic policy. Each recited the sufferings of the poor in their area and accused the Us government of cutting down services for them while spending billions on the industrial-military complex. The other theme was the concept of "just war"; there have obviously been heated debates, especially among Catholics, as to whether the US operation in Afghanistan qualifies as a just war. The consensus was that it does not.

However admirable the whole group was, the discussion left me with an uneasy feeling. The attacks of 9/11 were condemned, but the stress was on the lack of proportionality of the US response (that being one of the five points in the just war theory). If the ecumenical spirit of this meeting spread across the world, humanity's wars would be largely solved, but if this epiphany of the Holy Ghost does not appear, such peace does not stand a ghost of a chance. These idealists seemed to be living in a dream world; a beautiful dream, but a dream.

Ronald Hilton - 3/17/02