Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, has written a study of idealism vs. realism in American foreign policy from the Cold War through the end of the Obama years. The book is also, more specifically and more pointedly, a summary of the current debate over the proper role of democracy-building in U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Realists in the vein of Talleyrand and Palmerston won’t like this book. Those 19th-century statesmen were not concerned with democracy. Their lodestar was the balance of power. To serve reason of state, they would sup with the devil, betray allies and break treaties. They lived by the ancient Roman precept Salus populi suprema lex—the good of the nation is the highest law.
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