All's Fair In Love And War
The Political Realist's Argument
Is war ever the right or wrong thing to do? Political Realists claim that war is just and permissible only when it is in the best interest of a state. Further, they argue morality has no place in determining the justifiability of war. In considering the legitimacy of war, I will first analyze one main argument in support of 'Political Realism', after which I will critique the argument, which I provided in support of political realism.
Political Realists clearly state that war is acceptable once it is in the state's best interest to do so, and once embroiled in a war, a nation must employ all methods to ensure that victory is the end result (Morgenthau 14). They believe that "war is an intractable part of an anarchical world system ("War"). And that it ought to be resorted to only if it makes sense in terms of national self-interest. While political realism is an intricate and highly developed doctrine, Political Realists assert that its core propositions center on a strong rejection of applying moral concepts to the conduct of international relations (Ibid).
Political realists denounce the idea of applying morality when discussing the justifiability of war for two main reasons. Firstly, political realists believe that only a superior and legitimate international authoritative body can impose a moral system upon all nations (Lauleta 2). Secondly, realists assert that there is no overriding international authority that enforces a common code of rules that apply to all nation states (Ibid) Therefore, by virtue of accepting these two main premises; realists contend that we should not use morality as a factor in considering the legitimacy of war.
In arguing the first premise, which claims that only a superior and legitimate authoritative body can impose a moral system upon all nations, realists strongly rely upon the fact that the world consists of a diverse and multicultural population. Realists posit that currently no universal moral code exists as people differ in their moral views both along and within national and cultural borders. Political Realists recognize that morality is notions of what is right or wrong. They also adhere to the definition that culture is a system of symbols that guides human behavior and interaction, which imposes beliefs (notions of what exists) and values (notions of what should be) upon a society. Together, beliefs and values form important components of morality. Therefore, they argue that culture determines the entire way of life of a particular society, including its morality. Furthermore, realists argue that each culture is different and as such each culture imposes different and distinct notions of right and wrong upon its people. For example, the American culture teaches a completely different value system as compared with the culture of Middle Eastern countries. Whereas liberation of women in the Western World is widely promoted, the...