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The United States, Moral Norms, and Governing Ideas in World Politics: A Review Essay

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2012

Abstract

Nolan reviews three works describing the influence of ethics on modern international relations, namely Code of Peace: Ethics and Security in the World of the Warlord States (Dorothy V. Jones); The Age of Rights (Louis Henkin); and Morality and American Foreign Policy: The Role of Ethics in International Affairs (Robert W. McElroy). All present timely academic and historical arguments for existing opportunities to bring ethics into world politics. Jones and Henkin concern themselves most with moral principles involved in establishing international law and organizations, while McElroy discusses the same issues from the unique perspective of U.S. foreign policy. Nolan gives full recognition to the traditional role of democratic states, particularly the United States., in shaping the moral norms of the international system in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through ethics that are Western in origin but certainly not in their inherent content.

Type
Review Essay
Copyright
Copyright © Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs 1993

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References

1 See Link, Arthur S., ed., Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982)Google Scholar; on the extraordinary post—World War II period, see the important new history by Leffler, Melvyn P., A Preponderance of Power (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992)Google Scholar; and compare the essays in Hodge, Carl C. and Nolan, Cathal J., eds., Shepherd of Democracy? America and Germany in the Twentieth Century (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1992)Google Scholar.

2 Hence, it is noteworthy that similar minorities provisions were not placed in the treaty with Germany, despite East European protestations about a double standardGoogle Scholar.

3 On the complex question of the Minorities Treaties and the new Poland, see Brecher, Frank W., Reluctant Ally (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1991), 2541Google Scholar. On the earlier dispute with Russia, see Cohen, Naomi, “Abrogation of the Russo—American Treaty of 1832,” Jewish Social Studies (January 1963), 341Google Scholar; and Nolan, Cathal J., “The United States and Tsarist Anti—Semitism, 1865–1914,” Diplomacy and Statecraft 3 (November 1992), 438–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 For supporting documentation on these points see Nolan, Cathal J., Principled Diplomacy: Security and Rights in U.S. Foreign Policy (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1993), 181206Google Scholar.

5 For example, see Smith, Michael Joseph, Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986)Google Scholar, and , “American Realism and the New Global Realities: A Review Essay,” Ethics & International Affairs 6 (1992), 179–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Russell, Greg, Hans J. Morgenthau and the Ethics of American Statecraft (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990)Google Scholar; and Rosenthal, Joel H., Righteous Realists: Political Realism, Responsible Power, and American Culture in the Nuclear Age (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991)Google Scholar.

6 Another source of bitter reaction was the harshness of criticisms made of more naive moral and legal thinking about international politics by Morgenthau, E.H. Carr, and other leading realists themselves. For instance, see Morgenthau's, Scientific Manvs. Power Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946),Google Scholar and Carr's, The Twenty Years' Crisis 1919–1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations, (London: Macmillan Press, 1939)Google Scholar.

7 Additional support for this statement can be found throughout the various essays in Nichols, Bruce and Loescher, Gil, eds., The Moral Nation: Humanitarianism and US. Foreign Policy Today (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989)Google Scholar.

8 On the 1891 famine, see Halliday, E.M., “Bread Upon the Waters,” in Jenson, Oliver, ed., America and Russia (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), 123–38Google Scholar, and Queen, George, “American Relief in the Russian Famine of 1891–1892,” Russian Review (April 1955), 140–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On the weak Western response to the Ukraine famine and attendant atrocities, deliberately engineered by Stalin in order to force collectivization and crush Ukrainian nationalism, see Conquest, Robert, Harvest of Sorrow (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1986), 308–21Google Scholar.

9 A harshly critical study, perhaps not as judicious as it might be, is Sherry, Michael S., The Rise of American Air Power, rev. ed. (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 1987)Google Scholar.

10 A balanced study is Sherwin, Martin J., A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance (1975; New York: Vintage Books, 1987)Google Scholar; and see Samuel Walker, J., “The Decision to Use the Bomb,” Diplomatic History 14 (Winter 1990), 97114CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 Among the many fine works on just war theory and the laws of war see Johnson, James Turner, Just War Tradition and the Restraint of War: A Moral and Historical Inquiry (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981)Google Scholar; Walzer, Michael, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations (New York: Basic Books, 1977)Google Scholar; and Best, Geoffrey, Humanity in Warfare: The Modern History of International Law of Armed Conflicts (London: George Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980Google Scholar).

12 See Fukuyama, Francis, “The End of History?National Interest (Summer 1989), 318Google Scholar and The End of History and the Last Man (New York: The Free Press, 1992)Google Scholar. Cf. Huntington, Samuel P., “No Exit: The Errors of Endism, National Interest (Summer 1989), 311Google Scholar; and the more subtle and compelling thesis in Joseph Nye, Bound to Lead (Basic Books, 1990).

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