The Rebirth of Realism and the Lessons of History: The British Example (1)(1)

January 22, 2003

The Rebirth of Realism and the Lessons of History: The British Example (1)(1)

Realists look to history and the structural nature of the world as their blueprint for conducting foreign policy.


4) Given the uni-multipolar structure of the world, it follows that behaving "multilaterally where possible, unilaterally where necessary" should be the standard modus operandi in foreign policy. Coalitions, when they are entered into, should be of the willing, and limited to specific, tangible foreign policy goals.

5) Given unchallenged economic dominance, policies furthering the opening of the international commons (free trade, open sea lanes, suppression of piracy/terrorism) benefit the ordering power both directly and by providing benefits for other countries, who are then more likely to support the ordering power's leading global position.


6) A dominant cultural position should be taken advantage of by the ordering power, directly co-opting elites throughout the world by exposure to the power's cultural norms, as well as setting the normative standards for the global discourse. Public diplomacy should enhance this vital asset.

  1. The first essay in this series, "The Rebirth of Realism: The Kantian Trap--Utopianism in International Affairs", can be read at 

(2) Harvey Sicherman, "Disraeli's Secret," The National Interest, no.67, (Spring 2002), p.57.


The authors are all affiliated with The Heritage Foundation ( Dr. Hulsman is a Research Fellow In European Affairs at Heritage's Davis Institute.