Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Agenda Podcast

Appeared on the Agenda (TV Ontario) with Steve Paikin yesterday to discuss whether realism is making a comeback or not in U.S. foreign policy--a panel discussion with Janice Stein (University of Toronto), Tom Donnelly (AEI) and Samantha Powers (Kennedy School).

My take: a readjustment may be in the works but being more pragmatic is not necessarily becoming a realist.

Here's the podcast.

If anything was missing from the discussion about these schools of thought, it was a discussion about theory. Kenneth Waltz has noted that "realist theory" has no general paradigm. The different variants of realism, such as offensive and defensive realism have similar though different evaluations of historical events and different prescriptions for foreign policy. He also noted that theories are primarily useful for explaining past events not predicting the future or dictating what policy should be. If a particular theory has explanatory power, then its usefulness to foreign policy thinkers will be to tell us what the likely consequences of our actions would be.
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