Conference Preview: What is Realist Foreign Policy?

February 20, 2019

Conference Preview: What is Realist Foreign Policy?

Conference poster

Realism is the oldest theory of international relations. On March 1-2, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies will host a conference on "What is Realist Foreign Policy?" organized by Professor of Political Science Randy Schweller.

From the sophists and Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes, to E.H. Carr, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Hans Morgenthau, to Kenneth Waltz, Robert Jervis, and John Mearsheimer, realism as an intellectual construct has dominated the study of international relations.

Given the primacy of the realist approach and its compelling explanations of state behavior and the dynamics of the international system, does realism consistently provide the most reliable guidance for statecraft? More fundamentally, what precisely is realist foreign policy? How do we know it when we see it? For instance, in his State of the Union address delivered this month, President Trump called himself a "principled realist." What does he mean?

The purpose of the conference is to assemble a "dream team" of realists to hammer out the elements we should expect to see in realist foreign policy. The ultimate goal is to develop a set of baseline expectations on a range of important issues (alliances, coercive diplomacy, economic statecraft, ethics/morality, deterrence, nuclear politics, etc.) for realist foreign policies that distinguish them from the liberal alternatives.

Robert Jervis, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor and Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, will be the keynote speaker. Read more and register

This conference is sponsored by the Program for the Study of Realist Foreign Policy at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, Ohio State University, and the Charles Koch Foundation.