Wednesday, January 16, 2008

'A realism-free zone'

Here's a nice look from upcampus that effectively toasts the NYT and its new op-ed face, Bill Kristol, without ever having to point out that ... well, that Kristol is shallow, tedious, and sublimely unoriginal and uninteresting. You don't have to have a few bottles of Stephen Walt-brand realism in your cellar* -- for that matter, you don't even have to be a realist -- to enjoy this take on diversity of opinion in the mainstream press. Take it away, Professor Walt:

What's missing in America's mainstream media is the voice of realism. As the label implies, realists think foreign policy should be based on the world as it really is, rather than what we might like it to be. Realists see international politics as an inherently competitive realm where states constantly compete for advantage and where security is often precarious. But realists understand that being overly alarmist and aggressive can get states into just as much trouble as being excessively trusting or complacent. So realists keep a keen eye on the balance of power, but they oppose squandering blood or treasure on needless military buildups, ideological crusades, or foolish foreign wars. Realists cherish America's commitment to democracy and individual liberty, but they know that ideals alone are no basis for conducting foreign policy. They also understand that endless overseas adventures will inevitably provoke a hostile backlash abroad and eventually force us to compromise our freedoms here at home.

Such views are hardly heretical, but there is not a single major columnist, TV commentator or radio pundit who consistently presents a realist perspective on world politics and American foreign policy. In America today, the mainstream media is a realism-free zone.

* Some of us prefer a broader conception of what "security studies" can cover, for one.


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