The Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy is a group of scholars, policy makers and concerned citizens united by our opposition to an American empire. The Coalition is dedicated to promoting an alternative vision for American national security strategy that is consistent with American traditions and values.
Here are the lead paragraphs from their Statement of Principles:
Against the backdrop of an ever-bloodier conflict in Iraq, American foreign policy is moving in a dangerous direction toward empire.Of particular interest to me is the Coalition's call for debate as a means for people to resist the move toward empire:
Worrisome imperial trends are apparent in the Bush administration's National Security Strategy. That document pledges to maintain America's military dominance in the world, and it does so in a way that encourages other nations to form countervailing coalitions and alliances. We can expect, and are seeing now, multiple balances of power forming against us. People resent and resist domination, no matter how benign.
The need for a change in direction is particularly urgent because imperial policies can quickly gain momentum, with new interventions begetting new dangers and, thus, the demand for further actions. If current trends are allowed to continue, we may well end up with an empire that most Americans-especially those whose sons and daughters are, or will be, sent into harm's way-don't really favor. The issue must be the subject of a broad public debate. The time for debate is now.As I've noted before, many international relations (IR) theorists think that public debate about foreign policy doesn't matter much, as states will simply pursue power/interest/security.
The American people have not embraced the idea of an American empire, and they are unlikely to do so. Since rebelling against the British Empire, Americans have resisted the imperial impulse, guided by the Founders' frequent warnings that republic and empire are incompatible. Empire is problematic because it subverts the freedoms and liberties of citizens at home while simultaneously thwarting the will of people abroad. An imperial strategy threatens to entangle America in an assortment of unnecessary and unrewarding wars.
In any case, the list of signatories is fairly impressive and includes a lot of IR scholars:
Robert J. Art, Brandeis University
Andrew Bacevich, Boston University
Richard K. Betts, Columbia University
Seyom Brown, Brandeis University
Michael Desch, The University of Kentucky
Eugene Gholz, University of Kentucky
David Hendrickson, Colorado College
Robert Jervis, Columbia University
Charles Kupchan, Georgetown University
James Kurth, Swarthmore College
John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago
Daniel Nelson, University of New Haven
Robert Paarlberg, Wellesley College
Barry R. Posen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jack L. Snyder, Columbia University
Robert W. Tucker, Johns Hopkins University
Stephen Van Evera, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stephen Walt, Harvard University
Kenneth N. Waltz, Columbia University
Disclosure: I have been on panels or worked with many of the people on that list.
The list also includes Doug Bandow (former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan), Ted Galen Carpenter and several other people from the Cato Institute, former US Senators Mike Gravel (Alaska) and Gary Hart (Colorado), Theresa Hitchens (Center for Defense Information, or CDI), and journalists from both The American Prospect, and The American Conservative.
Again: People from CDI and Cato? Progressive and Conservative? Republicans and Democrats? In IR terms, idealists and realists?
Ultimately, the group plans to host conferences and policy forums, publish articles, and appear in the media to advance their viewpoint.
I hope they find an eager audience.
How do I join?