Idealism V. Realism in the American Foreign Policy Spectrum

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“Idealism vs. Realism” in the American Foreign Policy Spectrum By Glenn Rosado Introduction If one was to stumble upon two individuals conversing about a specific topic in foreign policy or international relations, one might hear, depending on the extent and detail of the conversation, Idealism and Realism come up on more than one occasion. This would probably lead the listener to believe that they may be applying certain idealistic and realistic principles to current political events, like say, the War on Terror for instance, or something a bit more specific--like U.S. - Iran relations. If applied appropriately, these two schools of thought serve as an indicator or out liner for key decisions that are made in Washington—past, present and future. Foreign policy and International Relations are hard enough to understand by themselves; having to discern specific actions according to different principles makes it even harder. It’s no wonder the republicans and democrats are always at each other’s throats, when discussing certain policies, both foreign and domestic; policies that may hinder the other’s chances over who gets to control Washington. Therefore, the driving research question of the paper is, “To what degree does Idealism and Realism play on key foreign policy decisions-- are these decisions good indicators of possible future implementation, and which of the two is preferred? “ In order to answer this question fully, one must first understand the origins of the two schools, only then can these two schools of thought be applied to past and present case studies; allowing oneself to better predict future implementation, like for example, US relations with Israel and Iran, or Russia’s involvement on the international stage. Idealism can be traced back to Immanuel Kant, but it was Woodrow Wilson who first implemented it, such that it is sometimes
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