Does Barack Obama Believe in Realpolitik?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 11, 2012

Lots of Obamaphiles like to say that Barack Obama is a practitioner of realpolitik in the mold of George Herbert Walker Bush. Presumably, this is meant to make Republicans more comfortable with an Obamaesque foreign policy. But Paul Bonicelli studies the record and takes issue with this claim. Here’s why:

  • Practitioners of realpolitik don’t seek the approval of the United Nations as much as the Obama administration does.
  • Practitioners of realpolitik do more to try to shape the international system so that it conforms with the interests of the nation-state being led/represented by the practitioners in question.
  • Practitioners of realpolitik do more to secure economic and military strength in order to maximize nation-state power.
  • And finally, when practitioners of realpolitik have leverage overseas, they tend to use it instead of wasting it.

I would love to have an administration that pays more than lip service to the principles of realpolitik. But the Obama administration is not that administration. I don’t get why the president and his buddies don’t just call themselves Wilsonian internationalists? Whom do they think they are fooling, anyway?

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