- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Since September 11, foreign policy realists have been virtually shut out of decision making. If they were lukewarm about going into Afghanistan, they were outright opposed to going into Iraq. And with things not going as well as we hoped for in either place, realists are trying to get back into the game of foreign policy decision making.

Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman - realists with a new book, “Ethical Realism: A Vision for America’s Role in the World” - take to the opinion pages of the Los Angeles Times today to discuss North Korea:

There is one region that the U.S. can and should bow out of now: Korea. North Korea’s bomb test is obviously a very serious problem for the U.S., given its heavy military presence in South Korea. However, we should ask why, more than 50 years after the Korean War and 15 years after the end of the Cold War, the United States still has about 37,500 troops on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea must be treated as a regional problem to be managed by a regional concert of powers, with China in the lead. The U.S. role in all this should be sympathetic — and distant.

I’m sympathetic to realism, but I have no illusions about why realism has had little role in foreign policy in recent years. Realists speak of the “national interest” but isn’t limiting the number of nuclear countries part of our “national interest?” Putting the onus on China in this case only increases the likelihood that North Korea will continue production of nuclear material unabated. How can the United States stand by and watch it happen?

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