“The discussion of ethics or morality in our relations with other states is a prolific cause of confusion,” former Secretary of State Dean Acheson once asserted. The distinguished contributors to this volume—Alberto R. Coll, James Finn, Richard D. Land, Luis E. Lugo, George Weigel, and Nicholas Wolterstorff—do not deny such confusion. But they argue that moral issues are simply unavoidable in the making of foreign-policy choices. The often-heated “morality and foreign policy” debate can best illuminate the quandaries faced by policy-makers through a recovery of the classic tradition of “prudence.” This tradition encourages statecraft that is, in Coll’s words, neither “politically impractical nor morally bankrupt.”
Realpolitik is not an escape from morality; it is, rather, a deficient notion of morality. But realism need not lead to cynicism, nor idealism to fatal illusions. Charting the course for a foreign policy that evades those shoals, and serves the interests of both the nation and humanity, is the business of this provocative and timely book.