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The Theory of International Relations: Hans J.

Morgenthau and His Critics


Author(s): Ghazi A. R. Algosaibi
Source: Background, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Feb., 1965), pp. 221-256
Published by: Wiley on behalf of The International Studies Association
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THE

THEORY

HANS
Ghazi

J.
A.

OF

RELATIONS:

INTERNATIONAL

MORGENTHAU

AND

HIS

CRITICS

R. Algosaibi

School of InternationalRelations
The Universityof SouthernCalifornia

in the last
The study of international
has experienced
relations
'theor?
decade a burst of activity "which is unambiguously
labelled
"
etical'
one
is
This
concern
with
theory
aspect
(Fox, 1959, p. 33).
of the soul-searching
in the field have
in which
scholars
process
for the last twenty years. It is a sign that the field is
been engaged
of the mood of
a
new
It is a clear reflection
sophistication.
acquiring
who feel the crying need "for more theory,
international
relationists
more model-building,
more quantification,
more integrated
study
on
of
all
the
the
sciences
of
resources
life, man, and society"
drawing
1958, p. 329).
(Boulding,
It seems that this concern with theory is here to stay. Indeed,
of future
the present
trends are to be taken as an indication
will increase
and grow in
theory-oriented
writings
developments,

if

importance.
It is a logical
efforts

theoretical

about theory

in the
task for students
in the light of the insights

field
that

to examine
past
recent theorizing

has provided.

We have been theorizing all the time. The need is for us to gain
greater theoretical self-awareness so that we can subject our theories
to a more sustained and penetrating critical analysis (Fox, 1959,
p. xii).

Morgenthau's

Concept

of

International

Relations

Theory

of American
is among the most influential
Hans J. Morgenthau
His theory "has
relations.
scholars in the field of international
the center of the scene in this country during the last ten
occupied
One writer goes so far as to
1961, p. 423).
years . . ." (Hoffman,
of international
assert that "in recent years much of the literature
or not, between
is a dialogue,
and
'Morgenthau
explicit
politics
his critics* . . ." (Thompson,

1959a,

p. 222).

Few

efforts

have

been
221

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made to bring together


and his critics in one place,
Morgenthau
however.
The present study is conceived
as an effort to fill this gap.
The paper does not concern
with all of Morgenthau's
itself
but is focused
rela?
writings,
only upon his theory of international
commentaries
tions. Three limitations
follow.
First, Morengthau's
on world affairs and his critiques
of American
foreign
policy are
not considered.
as
Second,
Morgenthau's
specific arguments?such
those concerning
and the balance of power?
aid, alliances,
foreign
remain outside the scope. Third, Morgenthau's
theoretical
discussions
of matters beyond the field of international
relations?for
example,
his theory of ethics and his views of science?are
treated only insofar as they bear upon his theory of international
relations.
Of

Man vs. Power


only two, Scientific
have
to be of vital
Nations,
Among
proved
to
the
The
which
second
first appeared
book,
study.
importance
in three editions.
in 1948, has been published
its theoreti?
However,
remained
almost the same. To facilitate
cal positions
for
references
in
the latest, was the one employed
the reader, the third edition,
the study.

Politics

Morgenthau's
and Politics

books

to Morgenthau's
and articles,
essays
respect
of
reference
caused
the writer
facilitating
purpose
of
collections
articles,
Morgenthau's
published
previously
The Decline
cals. Of these collections,
of Democratic
the most valuable.
With

Morgenthau's
upon two general

of
concept
assumptions:

international

relations

the same
to employ
in periodiPolitics

theory

is

is based

. . . first, that for theoretical purposes international relations is


identical with international politics; second, that a theory of inter?
national politics is but a specific instance of a general theory of
politics (Morgenthau, 1959, p. 15).
to Morgenthau,
A theory of international
relations,
according
of
As
a
social phenom?
is a theory of international
totality
politics.
no
like
domestic
international
relations,
relations,
ena,
requires
to
it.
theoretical
less than a general
system
Any
sociological
explain
effort, short of a general
system, is bound to focus upon a specific
of international
Theories
relations.
relations
element of international
of theoreticians.
interests
as the intellectual
could be as numerous
that in a particular
adds, however,
Morgenthau
period of history,
one
222

perspective

is likely

to assume

primary

importance.
Background,

Vol 8, No. 4

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Today most institutions and students have turned to the study of


international relations because of their interest in world politics.
The primacy of politics over all other interests, in fact as well as
in thought, in so far as the relations among nations and areas are
concerned, needs only to be mentioned to be recognized (Morgen?
thau, 1962c, p. 125).
Consequently,
perspectives
international

international
politics
and becomes
the focus
relations.

takes
of any

precedence
theoretical

over

other
to

approach

The second
that
from Morgenthau's
belief
stems
assumption
for power, is the same in both international
politics, being a struggle
and domestic
The issues that confront
a general
political
spheres.
a theory of international
theory also confront
politics:
. . . the nature of a theory of international relations and the intel?
lectual and political functions a theory of international relations
performs and ought to perform are not in essence different from
the nature of general political theory and the functions which such
theories have performed since the beginning of history (Morgen?
thau, 1962d, p. 77).
the environment
However,
takes place is different
from

within
which
the environment

international
of domestic

politics
politics.

What sets international society apart from other societies is the


fact that its strength?political,
concentrated in its
moral, social?is
members, its own weakness being the reflection of that strength
(Morgenthau, 1959, p. 23).
A

of

international
for the
relations,
then, must account
of
In
the
its
matter.
subject
peculiarities
general principles
applying
of politics
to the international
them to fit
scene, it must modify
the distinctive
of
international
quality
politics.
theory

that a theory
Morgenthau
suggests
a
needs
central
international,
concept.

of

politics,

domestic

or

For a general theory of politics, the concept of interest defined


as power serves as the central focus, while a theory of international
politics must be focused on the concept of the national interest
(Morgenthau, 1962f, p. 79).
makes it clear that introducing
However,
Morgenthau
power as
a central concept
does not mean that only power relations
control
action. Power serves as a criterion that distinguishes
political
politics
223

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from other spheres.


outline
of politics,
1959, p. 17).

it "provides
a kind of rational
Furthermore,
a map of the political
scene"
(Morgenthau,

to Morgenthau,
must serve as
according
".
.
It
.
must
order
and
standing.
bring
meaning
. . ." (Morgenthau,
unconnected
material
1962d,
mary task is "to reduce the facts of experiences
of general
instances
. . ." (Morgenthau,
propositions
Theory,

a tool of under?
into a mass of
p. 72).
to mere
1959,

Its pri?
specific
p. 20).

theory can also be


serving as a guide to understanding,
for action."
a map of the political
scene that
It presents
the shortest and safest road to a given objective
(Morgen?
in
as an "ideal for action,"
thau, 1959, p. 18). Theory,
operates
the following
way:
While
an "ideal
can show

. . . we can say that the situations in Laos, Cuba, and Berlin pro?
vide American foreign policy with a limited number of rational
choices. . . . What a theory of international relations can state is
the likely consequences of choosing one alternative as over against
another and the conditions under which one alternative is more
likely to occur and be successful than the other (Morgenthau,
1962d, pp. 69-70).
func?
In addition,
four different
discusses
Morgenthau
practical
that a theory of international
relations
can perform.
First,
of the
for the decisions
theory can provide a theoretical
justification
of
can develop
a coherent
Second,
system
theory
policy-makers.
of
whose
the
standards
actual
conduct
by
foreign
thought
policy
of intellec?
the function
may be judged. Third, theory can perform
of the sound prin?
tual conscience
which reminds the policy-makers
of
failure
to comply with
and
their
out
foreign policy
points
ciples
for
a new inter?
them.1 Fourth,
can
the
theory
ground
"prepare
tions

national

order

. . ." (Morgenthau,

1962d,

p. 75).

as a
warns
theory
against
Morgenthau
employing
political
for
action"
1962h, p. 1). Theory
"blueprint
political
(Morgenthau,
elements
whose contingent
is limited by the very nature of politics
of theoretical
obviate the possibility
understanding.
The most formidable

difficulty facing a theoretical

inquiry into the

1To illustrate these three functions, Morgenthau (1962d, pp. 73-75) refers to his
personal experience as a theoretician of international relations with the administratrons of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy.
224

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nature and ways of international politics is the ambiguity of the


material with which the observer has to deal. The events he must
try to understand are on the one hand, unique occurrences. . . .
On the other hand, they are similar, for they are the manifestations
of sociai forces. . . . But where is the line to be drawn between
the similar and the unique? (Morgenthau,
1960a, p. 18).
Morgenthau
be satisfied
tobecorrect"

answers that here "we can only play by ear and must
with a series of hunches which may or may not turn out
1959, p. 20).
(Morgenthau,

this line of thought,


attacks theoretical
Following
Morgenthau
endeavors
"to reduce international
to a system of abstract
relations
with a predictive
function"
1962d,
p.
propositions
(Morgenthau,
"world
affairs
cannot
lead
to
reliable
Theory
predictions;
65).
have surprises
in store for whoever
tries to read the future from
his knowledge
of the past and from the signs of the present"
(Morgenthau,

1960a,

p. 21).

relations theory is modeled


Morgenthau's
concept of international
Mor?
discussions,
entirely after his own theory. In all his theoretical
never loses sight of his theory. Thus, he states that inter?
genthau
focus for the study of
national
should
be the theoretical
politics
international
relations and that national interest should be the central
of international
relations
theory, in
theory. Morgenthau's
concept
which
other words,
the standard
any theoretical
provides
against
different
should
theoretical
be judged.
Thus,
approaches
inquiry
fashionfrom Morgenthau's
which he calls "the presently
approach,
about international
relations,"
(Morgenthau,
theorizing
for theoretical
to "fail both as guides
p. 65) are doomed
for action"
and as precepts
1962d,
standing
(Morgenthau,
able

1962d,
under p. 66).

Prediction
concept.
plays an insignificant
part in Morgenthau's
seems inconsistent.
stand on prediction
Furthermore,
Morgenthau's
in
he warns against reading the future, he does not hesitate
While
the
Two examples,
taken at random,
clarify
offering
predictions.
conditions
"may end
point. He says that war under contemporary
or in both" (Morgen?
in world domination
or in world destruction
At another point, he predicts that "the devel?
thau, 1960a, p. 363).
future will
opment of the world balance of power in the immediate
nations will take"
largely depend upon the course . . . uncommitted
Are such statements
reliable
1960a,
pre?
(Morgenthau,
p. 352).
from theory or are they intuitions?
dictions stemming
Morgenthau's
lends to the latter
that theory will not support predictions
assertion
225

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If they
conclusion?that
such statements
are "series of hunches."
between
are, there is, indeed, not much difference
arising
judgments
derived from
and judgments
from a theory of international
relations
stand on prediction,
sense. In short, Morgenthau's
simple, common
evaluated
to
a weak point in his
and
be
by practice
precept appears
characterization
of international
relations theory.

Morgenthau's

Theory

of

International

Relations

"A political
frame?
in nothing
but an empirical
science inclosed
in
"is
a
contradiction
work," writes Morgenthau
(1962g,
p. 31),
the
terms and a monstrosity."
observer
Indeed,
every
approaches
scene with certain preconceived
ideas, a certain philosophy
political
To understand
and interpreted.
which
facts are viewed
through
understand
the
one
must
then,
theory,
philosophical
Morgenthau's
to
It is very difficult
from which
framework
the theory springs.
and
his
differentiate
between
philosophy
Morgenthau's
political
of the
a clue may be found in Brecht's definitions
theory. However,
.
.
.
to
tries
words "theory" and "philosophy."
"Every theory
explain
not something,
but everytries to explain,
something.
Philosophy
. . ." (Brecht,

thing

1959,

p. 15).

is his political
claims
that realism
Morgenthau
philosophy.
word. No thinker would
is not a self-explanatory
Realism, however,
as being unrealistic.
of his philosophy
or theories
conceive
Wright
far
as
so
to
say,
(1952, p. 120) goes
. . . "realism" and "idealism" have functioned as propaganda terms
. . . The terms do not, in other words, throw light on the policies,
or theories which they are used to
institutions,
personalities,
qualify. . . .
of realism,
aware of the ambiguity
Undoubtedly
Morgenthau
has tried to clarify what he means by the term. In the first chapter
he writes that his theory has earned the
of Politics Among
Nations,
name of realism by virtue of its "concern with human nature as it
as they actually
take
is, and with the historic
actually
processes
six
He
discuss
further
to
1960a, p. 4).
goes
place"
(Morgenthau,
Since
are
the
of
realism.
these
fundamental
principles
principles
essence of Morgenthau's
they will be presented
philosophy,
political
in the following
(l)
226

Realism

discussion.
maintains

that politics

is governed

by objective

Background,

laws

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that stern from human nature. The laws "by which man moves in
"there
the social world"
are eternal;
1946, p. 220)
(Morgenthau,
laws
of
no
other
eternal
aside
from
the
laws
are,
mathematics,
of
The
existence
ob?
besides
these"
1946, p. 220).
(Morgenthau,
a
laws
of
leads
to
two
conclusions.
First,
theory of
jective
politics
virtue in
is
a
is
not
Second,
necessarily
"novelty
politics
possible.
a
nor
old
defect"
is
1960a,
theory,
p. 4).
age
political
(Morgenthau,
in the concept
Realism
finds its main guide
(2)
in terms of power
defined
1960a, p. 5).
(Morgenthau,
that political
actors act and think in terms of interest
power. This concern with interest and power leads realism
the preoccupation
with both the motives and ideological
of political actors.

of interest
It assumes
as
defined
to eschew
preferences

meaning
(3) Realism does not claim an absolute and permanent
for its concept of power
1960a, p. 8). Environment
(Morgenthau,
role in shaping
the interests
that determine
plays an important
be
to the
The
must
action.
adapted
political
emphasis
upon power
circumstances.
Thus,
changing
the times tend to depreciate the element of power, it
[political science] must stress its importance. When the times
incline toward a monistic conception of power in the general
scheme of things, it must show its limitations. When the times
conceive of power primarily in military terms, it must call attention
to the variety of factors which go into the power equation. . . .
(Morgenthau, 1962a, p. 47).
When

how?
He believes,
to morality.
(4) The realist is not indifferent
at
but
best
moral principles
cannot be realized,
ever, that universal
the
tension between
He is aware of the ever-present
approximated.
of
of
successful
morality and the requirements
political
requirements
action.
of a par?
Realism
"refuses to identify
the moral aspirations
the universe"
nation
with
the moral
laws
that govern
of all nations as political
1962c, p. 11). It conceives
(Morgenthau,
in terms of power.
defined
their interests,
actors pursuing
(5)
ticular

The
a distinctive
intellectual
constitutes
approach.
(6) Realism
moralistic
and
in
is
with the legalistic
sharp contrast
approach
of politics
vis-a-vis
Realism
advocates
the autonomy
approaches.
the
human
action. While it recognizes
that
other spheres of
"political
it is
man" is a myth, it holds that in order to understand
politics
227

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to free the study


to other spheres.
appropriate
necessary

of

politics

from

standards

of

thought

in human nature
belief that political laws originate
Morgenthau's
and that this nature is susceptible
to theoretical
inquiry constitutes
the central
The social world,
theme
of his political
philosophy.
of
to
is
a projection
"but
according
Morgenthau
(1962c,
p. 7)
human nature onto the collective
is
of
world
one
..."
This
plane
unceasing struggle between good and evil, reason and passion, life
and death, health and sickness, peace and war?a struggle which
so often ends with the victory of the forces hostile to man (Mor?
genthau, 1946, p. 206).
them"
of opposing
and of conflict among
interests
In
a
such
In
it
is
an
world.
evil
1960a, p. 4).
short,
(Morgenthau,
we
we
our
"whenever
act
to
with
reference
fellow
men,
world,
Guilt is so ubiquitous
must sin . . ." (Morgenthau,
1946, p. 201).
and
the actor and the bystander,
the oppressor
that it covers "...
. . ." (Morgenthau,
the murderer
and his victim
the oppressed,
It is "a world

1946,

p. 202).

Conflict and evil can be traced to human nature, and particularly


to two human traits: selfishness
and the lust for power. Selfishness
and struggle
leads to competition
because "what the one wants for
or wants,
the other already possesses
too" (Morgenthau,
himself,
irrational:
is not completely
1946, p. 192).
Selfishness,
however,
...
the typical goals of selfishness, such as food, shelter, security,
and the means by which they are obtained, such as money, jobs,
marriage, and the like, have an objective relation to the vital needs
of the individual;
their attainment offers the best chances for
survival under the particular natural and social conditions under
which the individual lives (Morgenthau,
1946, p. 193).
Selfishness,
be satisfied.
man against

in other words,
can
is not without
limits. Its demands
of
war
alone
the
It cannot,
therefore,
every
explain
every man.

in the other, and more im?


is to be found
explanation
The
for power.
man's
desire
of
and
evil:
root
conflict
portant,
is of the very
fact which
is an "all-permeating
lust for power
Unlike
essence of human existence"
1962b, p. 312).
(Morgenthau,
and
concessions.
it
has
no
limits
be
cannot
selfishness,
by
appeased
man in tends to act with regard to other
"whenever
It is present
This

228

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men" (Morgenthau,
The desire for power "besides
1946, p. 194).
and beyond any particular
of purpose,
selfishness
or other evilness
of evil in human
constitutes
the ubiquity
action"
(Morgenthau,
1946, p. 194).
In Scientific
the
Man vs. Power Politics,
discusses
Morgenthau
desire for power as an irrational
In a later work,
human impulse.
however,
says that it is man's effort to escape his loneMorgenthau
liness "which gives the impetus
to both the lust for power and the
for love . . ." (Morgenthau,
1962j, p. 8). Yet Morgenthau
longing
does not label love as evil. Neither
does he explain why the desire
for power with its "innocent"
and "rational"
of overcomobjective
irrational
should
as completely
be regarded
ing man's loneliness,
and evil.
In his belief in the desire for power as an all-important
human
"I
is a true follower
who stated:
of Hobbes
Morgenthau
impulse,
and restof all mankind
inclination
a perpetuall
put for a generall
of Power
less desire
after power,
that ceaseth
only in Death"
selfishness
between
1947, p. 49). Even in his distinction
(Hobbes,
and the lust for power, Morgenthau
ideas. Striving
reflects Hobbes'
for power, according
to Hobbes, may be rational as well as irrational
that "only the
1952, p. 10). Hobbes
however,
believed,
(Strauss,
irrational
than
striving after power, which is found more frequently
the rational
is
. . .
to be taken as natural human appetite
striving,
of the irrational
1952, p. 10). Morgenthau's
(Strauss,
description
drive for power is identical
that
with that of Hobbes.
His statement
the individual's
lust for power "would
if
the
last
be satisfied
only
man became an object of his domination
..."
1946,
(Morgenthau,
recalls Hobbes'
"have all the
statement
that men would
p. 193)
world, if they could, to fear and obey them" f Strauss, 1952, p. 10).
In politics,
the desire for power
"is not merely blended
with
aims of a different
dominant
of the
kind but is the very essence
the very life-blood
of the action
. . ." (Morgenthau,
intention,
It
is a struggle
for
1946, p. 195).
follows,
then, that "politics
and
over
whatever
its
its
is
aim
ultimate
men,
may be, power
power
.
."
.
immediate
1946, p. 195).
goal
(Morgenthau,
writes Morengthau
"Power,"
any?
(1960a,
p. 9), "may comprise
that
and maintains
the control of man over man."
establishes
thing
to this definition,
"covers all social relationships
According
power
which
serve that end, from physical
violence
to the most subtle
229

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ties . . ." (Morgenthau,


psychological
is
more
however,
narrowly defined.
Political power is a psychological
exercise it and those over whom it is
control over certain actions of the
which the former exert over the
1960a, p. 29).

1960a,

p. 9).

Political

power,

relation between those who


exercised. It gives the former
latter through the influence
latter's mind (Morgenthau,

Political
from the actual exer?
then, must be distinguished
power,
cise of violence.
its signifies
an actuality,
"When
violence
becomes
the abdication
or pseudoof political
in
of
favor
military
power
1960a, pp. 28-29).
military power" (Morgenthau,
Since power is the immediate
aim of political
action, it is always
an end in itself. Nonetheless,
be
a
means
to other ends.
can
power
As Morgenthau
it,
puts
the end-means relation is ambiguous and relative . . . in that whatever we call "means" in view of the end of a chain of actions is
itself an end if we consider it as the final point of a chain of
actions. . . . Actually ...
the totality of human actions presents
itself as a hierarchy of actions each of which is the end of the
1946,
(Morgenthau,
preceding and a means for the following
p. 184).
The difference
domestic
and international
between
poli?
politics
tics is derived
from the difference
in the context of each. National
societies show a great degree of sociai cohesion.
Cultural uniformity,
unification, external pressure,
technological
and, above all, a hierarchic political organization combine to make
the national society an integrated whole set apart from other
national societies. In consequence, the domestic political order is,
for instance, more stable and less subject to violent change than
is the international order (Morgenthau,
1960a, p. 38).
The factor that accounts for instability
in international
relations
the existence
and for stability within states is the state itself. Without
of the state, the struggle
for power will be on the loose. The state,
the preservation
of peace and order.
in
itself
assure
cannot
however,
of
As the compulsory
the
the
state is dependent
society,
organization
on the society by which it was created. Thus, the reason for internal
of a society whose
to be found in the existence
stability is ultimately
whose
are
conflicts
neutralized
loyalties,
by overriding
intergroup
of
and
of
the
sociai
justice,
expectation
change
provide
processes
230

Baekground,

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whose

unorganized
formity on different
Thus,
can keep

forces

of

compulsion

are

able

to impose

con?

groups.

on the domestic
plane, the state, with
the struggle
for power within peaceful

the aid of society,


bounds:

Society has established a network of rules of conduct and


individual power drives.
tutional devices for controlling
rules and devices either divert individual power drives into
nels where they cannot endanger society, or else they weaken
or suppress them altogether (Morgenthau,
1960a, p. 102).

insti?
These
chan?
them

On the other hand, there is no centralized


above the
authority
state on the international
scene; the drive for power is given a free
rein. The state which delimits
of individual
manifestations
power
onto the
drives
within
its borders
these
manifestations
projects
in the projection
international
scene. People participate
process be?
for the frustration
of their power drives within
cause it compensates
to
the state. Thus, power drives are not suppressed
but extended
the international
the individual's
scene where
lust for power has
"not only in imagination
the world as its object"
but in actuality
(Morgenthau,

1946,

p. 198).

to Morgenthau,
action seeks to keep
every political
According
to
increase
or
demonstrate
to
power,
power,
power. To these three
on
the
international
three
patterns,
plane:
correspond
policies
status quo, imperialism,
and prestige.
The policy of status quo tends
of
toward
the distribution
rather than changing
keeping
power
in
of
more
The
seeks
its
favor.
to
acquire
power
policy
imperialism
The policy of prestige
existing
power by reversing
power relations.
of maintaining
or in?
seeks to demonstrate
power, for the purpose
creasing

it.

molds
which
maintains
that the dynamic
force
Morgenthau
is to be found in the states* drive for power
international
relations
which manifests
itself in one of the three basic policies.
The clash of these policies?A
trying to maintain the status quo,
to an unending
B trying to change it at the expense of A?leads
struggle for power which characterizes all international relations
(Morgenthau, 1962i, p. 168).
believes
that interest is the essence of all politics.
Morgenthau
On the international
scene it is therefore
only natural that each state
in terms of power>
its national
interest.
follow
Defined
should
231

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national
policy

interest should be the sole guide to foreign policy. A foreign


failure.
on any other standard will inevitably
encounter

based

has
of national
interest
that the concept
argues
Morgenthau
in
sense
"one that is logically
and
that
elements:
required
by circumstances"
necessary, and one that is variable and determined
and
The
survival
1952,
security of a nation
(Morgenthau,
p. 972).
The
constitute
the irreducible
minimum
of the necessary
element.
a
in
element
of
national
can
the
interest
determined
be
necessary
for it "encompasses
of the nation's
concrete
the integrity
situation,
of its political
and of its culture"
institutions,
territory,
(Morgen?
interest
of the national
The
element
variable
1952,
thau,
p. 973).
"all the
to precise
determination
because
is much less susceptible
two

sectional
interests,
opinion,
personalities,
public
moral
and
and
folkways"
political
politics,
(Morgenthau,
partisan
1952, p. 973) are brought to bear upon its determination.

cross

currents

of

is not
of national
interest
holds that the concept
Morgenthau
To understand
this position,
one must
of "moral dignity."
devoid
that
ideas on ethics.
examine
believes
Morgenthau
Morgenthau's
there is no escape from evil and sin. The best that man can do,
is to choose "among
several possible
since evil cannot be escaped,
actions the one that is the least evil" (Morgenthau,
1946, p. 202).
On the international
scene, a nation's moral duty to choose the
is no
There
its national
interest.
lesser evil compels
it to follow
realize
and
which
order
can
international
society
preserve
integrated
a moral
In this situation,
becomes
moral values.
self-preservation
duty.
In the absence of an integrated international society, the attainment
of a modicum of order and the realization of a minimum of moral
values are predicated upon the existence of national communities
capable of preserving order and realizing moral values within the
limits of their power (Morgenthau, 1.951, p. 38).
Thus,
What appears in the abstract to be a principle contrary to morality,
Morgenthau designates as moral, and he assigns it a higher value
than such universal principles as liberty or economic well-being
for all nations (Magill, 1962, p. 7).
followed
and clashing
of unending
struggle
policies
is
fate
own
what
of
the
their
interests,
peace?
pursuing

In a world
by states
232

Background,

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that peace can be preserved


maintains
by two devices.
Morgenthau
One is the balance of power. The other is the normative
limitation
of international
world
and
law, international
morality,
public opin?
ion (Morgenthau,
1960a, p. 23).
for power,
The struggle
as carried out in the clashing
policies
of imperialism
of power
and the status quo, leads to the balance
through which nations try to defend themselves
against each other.
of power is not an adequate
device to prethe balance
However,
of a
serve peace. Its uncertainty,
the
by
aggravated
disappearance
moral
leaves
the
of
balance
consensus,
power open to
restraining
question

as a peace-maintaining

device.

until it has reached a point


International
has declined
morality
to preserve
where it cannot
exert any substantial
pressure
peace.
was conof the international
aristocratic
The destruction
society
of nationalism
over internationalism.
with the triumph
comitant
Nations no longer oppose each other . . . within a framework of
shared beliefs and common values. . . . They oppose each other now
as the standard-bearers of ethical systems, each of them of national
origin and each of them claiming and aspiring to provide a supra?
national framework of moral standards which all the other nations
1960a, p. 256).
(Morgenthau,
ought to accept . . .
in the sense of a force transcending
World
public
opinion,
in spontaneous
national
and asserting
reactions
itself
boundaries
exist.
has
the
does
not
"Modern
not
recorded
world,
history
through
deterred
from
an instance of a government
been
some
foreign
having
of a supranational
reaction
public opin?
policy by the spontaneous
An effective
world
ion."
1960a,
public
p. 261).
(Morgenthau,
a
and
common
a
..."
society
morality
(Mor?
"presupposes
opinion
neither of which exists today.
1960a, p. 270)
genthau,
in its legislative
law is beset by decentralization
International
as well as in its enforcement.
In other words,
and judicial functions
on the international
there is no central authority
plane, comparable
or
to the state on the domestic
plane, that can create, or interpret,
a
international
law
can
law.
the
but
impose
Consequently,
impose
for
the
restraint
struggle
power.
negligible
upon
and nonnormative
to
devices
both normative
With
inadequate
of peace, what is the value of other attempts,
the maintenance
classifies
these
at keeping
actual and proposed,
peace? Morgenthau
233

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attempts in three categories:


peace through limitation,
and peace through accommodation.
transformation,

peace

through

The

first category
collective
includes
disarmament,
security,
and international
settlement,
government.
change,
peaceful
on disarmament
stems from the belief that
Morgenthau's
position
"men do not fight because they have arms. They have arms because
He
to fight" (Morgenthau,
1960a, p. 408).
they deem it necessary

judicial

that a "mutually
concludes,
therefore,
contest
is a precondition
for
power
1960a, p. 411).

of the
settlement
satisfactory
disarmament"
(Morgenthau,

Collective
the existence
security cannot be made to work without
of three factors: an overwhelming
aggresstrength against potential
in the
of security shared by the participants
sors, a single concept
collective
a
on
of
to
and
the
the
desire
system,
part
participants
subordinate

their

interest

to the common

good.

That

is to say,

Only on the assumption that the struggle for power as the moving
force of international politics might subside or be superseded by
a higher principle can collective security have a chance for success
(Morgenthau, 1960a, p. 414).
says that nothing in the reality of international
Morgenthau
warrants
this assumption
1960a, p. 414).
(Morgenthau,

relations

cannot end war, because "the disputes which


Judicial settlement
are most likely to lead to war cannot be settled by judicial methods"
Those disputes are not legal; they are
1960a, p. 434).
(Morgenthau,
of the status quo vs. its
Their issue is "the maintenance
political.
This issue cannot
overthrow"
be
1960a,
p. 434).
(Morgenthau,
of
to the defense
settled by any court because courts are committed
the status quo.
war by devising
of peaceful
at forestalling
schemes
Attempts
is possible
far.
Peaceful
cannot
to
go very
change
change
aspire
of three factors:
within the state because of the existence
(1) the ability of public opinion to express itself freely, (2) the
ability of sociai and political institutions to absorb the pressure
of public opinion, and (3) the ability of the state to protect the
new status quo against violent change
1960a,
(Morgenthau,
p. 435).
With

peaceful
234

factors absent from the international


change are not likely to succeed.

those

scene,

Baekground,

schemes

of

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International
to the
does not provide
the answer
government
of
For
to
international
be
problem
operative,
peace.
government
should characterize
the relations
harmony
among the great powers
which
are responsible
for directing
it. Yet historical
experiences
show that this harmony
is hard to achieve.
All attempts
at inter?
The
national government
have failed in maintaining
present
peace.
United
cannot
to do what
its forerunners
Nations
be expected
could

not.
Like the conflict between Great Britain and Russia within the
Holy Alliance, like the conflict between Great Britain and France
within the League of Nations, so the conflict between the United
States and the Soviet Union within the United Nations resolves
itself into diametrically opposed standards of judgment and action,
which virtually incapacitate the international organization to act
at all in political matters (Morgenthau,
1960a, pp. 497-498).

Peace through
transformation
includes
schemes of a world state
a world community.
and attempts
at creating
and desir?
Necessary
able as it may be, a world state is unattainable.
There is no shirking the conclusion that international peace cannot
be permanent without a world state, and that a world state cannot
be established under the present moral, social, and political condi?
tions of the world (Morgenthau, 1960a, p. 513).
A world state must be based on a world community
which at
in
The
as
does
exist.
cultural
not
embodied
present
approach,
of
world
com?
to
the
establishment
a
does not contribute
UNESCO,
is a moral and political
of world community
"the problem
munity;
one"
an
intellectual
esthetic
not
and
and
1960a,
(Morgenthau,
economic
and technical
The functional
approach?i.e.,
p. 520).
to people
the world?cannot
assistance
help in estab?
throughout
assistance
and
technical
either.
Economic
world
community
lishing
"
of
international
leave
the
at
to
.
.
is
best
.
likely
peace
problem
where it found it . . ." (Morgenthau,
1960a, p. 536).
or impracticable,
With all these schemes rejected as inadequate
the only hope rests with peace through
accommodation;
i.e., diplo?
"can make peace more secure than it is today ..."
macy. Diplomacy
Furthermore,
1960a,
by mitidiplomacy,
p. 569).
(Morgenthau,
of a
the
to
contributes
and
conflicts,
growth
minimizing
gating
which
world
state
whose
foundations
a
world
community
upon
would

ensure

1960a,

p. 569).

permanent

peace

could

be

erected

(Morgenthau,

235

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cannot perform
its vital role without
however,
Diplomacy,
nine
four
of
the
first
are fundamental,
which
rules,
ing by
of compromise:
the remaining
five are prerequisites
1.

Diplomacy

2.

must be defined
Foreign
policy objectives
of national
interest and must be defended
quate

should

be divested

of the crusading

abidwhile

spirit.

in terms
ade-

with

power.

3.

look at the political


should
Diplomacy
the point of view of other nations.

4.

should
to
be willing
Nations
issues that are not vital to them.

5.

A nation
should
of worthless
give up the shadow
in
favor
of the substance
of real advantage.
rights

6.

A nation should never put itself in a position


from
it cannot
retreat
which
face
and
without
losing
cannot advance without great risks.

7.

A nation should
sions for it.

8.

The

armed forces must be the instruments


policy and not its master.

of foreign

9.

The

of

not allow

should
be
government
and
its
not
servant.2
opinion

on

compromise

a weak

the

from

scene

ally to make

leader

all

deci?

public

rules are meaningless


of rare
without
the existence
statesmen.
has
a
somewhat
beings:
Morgenthau
mystical
of great statesmen
who possess
belief in the intuition
knowledge
man moves
of "the eternal
in the sociai world"
laws by which

Yet
human

these

scientific
1946, p. 220).
Unfortunately,
knowledge
(Morgenthau,
of a different
is not enough;
there must be "insights
and higher
kind" (Morgenthau,
1946, p. 212). The fate of peace and humanity
in the last analysis, upon "the insight and the wisdom
is dependent,
man elevates
his experiences
into the
by which more-than-scientific
nature"
laws of human
universal
1946, p. 220).
(Morgenthau,
to escape the conclusion
analysis,
peace
permanent

It is hard
genthauian

that, according
can never be

to the Moron

achieved

2For a detailed discussion of the nine rules see Morgenthau, 1960a, pp. 561-67.
236

Background,

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this

earth, or it can be achieved


only through
alone, can bless the world with wise, intuitive,

of Morgenthau's

Critique

divine grace which,


and great statesmen.

Theory

This section attempts


a critique of Morgenthau's
theory.
the theory, the section discusses
the various points
criticizing
critics.
by Morgenthau's

While
raised

makes it clear that his theory is based on his con?


Morgenthau
of
human
is beset by many diffi?
nature. This conception
ception
nature is
culties.
Besides
the obvious
that, since human
objection
for
all
human
Mor?
it
actions,
really explains
nothing,
responsible
of
human
is
Science
nature
unscientific.
"consists
genthau's
concept
of theories or hypotheses
whose truth or reality has to be established
or
critical
1959, p. 67). Mor?
by
testing"
experiment
(Wasserman,
on
is
not
such
but on absolute
based
theory
genthau's
hypotheses
laws (Wasserman,
essentialist
and unverifiable
1959, p. 67).
The purpose of a theory is the deduction
of meaningful
generali?
Such generalizations
result from the careful
zations.
investigation
of the facts. Morgenthau
reverses the order; he starts with certain
he
holds
which
to be timeless and immune to change.
generalizations
of fulfilling
its
His theory seems to fall in the awkward
position
purpose

merely

with its promise.

if Morgenthau
have little objection
stated
indeed,
is the conclusion
seek
that all men, and states,
is
when the proposition
different
matter, however,
to be demonstrated.
a conclusion
but as a statement
of his assumptions.
These assumptions
the prisoner
in
line
and
conclusions
to
with his advance
be
analysis

One could
his theory
It is a
power.
offered not as
is
Morgenthau
that

force

the

For if one starts with the conviction


that all men seek
judgments.
of unendas
will
international
one
see
relations
battlefields
power,
of
will
for as
of
Periods
accounted
be
clashes
peace
ing
power.
from the rule.
deviations
active in inter?
states (1960a,
p. 38) that "nations
involved
are continuously
for, actively
preparing
in the form of war." This
from organized
violence
with Morgenthau's
direct agreement
assumptions.
Yet it is hardly more
to be rejected as incorrect.
It is too general
that "Every person has been sick in
than the statement
meaningful

Morgenthau
national
politics
in, or recovering
is in
statement

237

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is presently
sick, or will be sick at one time in the future."
is
that
it
becomes
very difficult at times to know whether
point
in
is
to
describe
reality or is simply
looking
Morgenthau
trying
for
of
his
ideas.
an
illustration
reality
preconceived
the past,

The

can have is their claim


Morgenthau's
assumptions
his
of
men.
To support
"more-than-scientific"
"insights"
from
resorts
to
mainly
Morgenthau
quotations,
philassumptions,
he quotes
The trouble
is that the philosophers
cannot
osophers.
The

to

validity

be

have

an exclusive

claim

to insights.

One

can

easily, then, oppose


who
from thinkers
by offering
quotations
is an occasional
for power
phenomenon
human
than an essential
trait.
rather
created
by circumstances
if
as
it were a
discusses
the lust for power, however,
Morgenthau
He admits, for example,
that
self-evident
fact, beyond questioning.
seem
have shown
that certain
primitive
peoples
"anthropologists
to be free from the desire for power . . ." (Morgenthau,
1960a,
as if this fact were in support of, rather
p. 33). Yet he proceeds
Morgenthau's
that
assert

than contrary

position
the desire

to, his assumptions.

of human
diffi?
nature leads to further
Morgenthau's
concept
from
If human
the laws derived
nature does not change,
culties.
it are beyond change, as well. They are offered as truths applicable
do not always
Yet events
at all times under all circumstances.
remarks
to these laws. Waltz
conform
(1959b,
p. 531) that there
in
of determinism
and indeterminism
is an uneasy
juxtaposition
of
natural
is
the
Determinism
outgrowth
theory.
Morgenthau's
since
nature concept
the human
trary to his nature. Indeterminism,
for events which the determinist

of course,
act con?
cannot
is introduced
to account
however,
laws cannot explain.
Thus,
man,

Professor Morgenthau's determinist theory of power does not lead


to continuous war only because indeterminist elements are incorporated into it in order to make the formation of a balance of
power possible (Wasserman, 1959, p. 60).
is derived
from, and closely conMorgenthau's
power concept
the service that
nected with, his concept of human nature. Indeed,
the human nature concept renders to the theory is that it introduces
the concept of power. Morgenthau,
by virtue of his human nature
for
to
take
is
enabled
granted.
power
concept,
Once the struggle, urge, or drive for power is postulated as the
basic motive for state action, it remains only to illustrate it, to
discuss its forms and sources, and to inject it as the crucial variable
in all relationships (Snyder, 1961, p. 40).
238

Background,

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This is the
moved
from

is
first difficulty
Power
with the concept
of power.
the realm of assumptions
about human nature and is
as the moving
relations.
force of international
Thus, the
postulated
is
central
framework
which
the
whole
theoretical
concept
upon
constructed
is one which is not to be subjected
to testing or verification.
from the human nature concept, power becomes a timeDerived
less concept, beyond change. No distinction
"inheris made between
ent or instinctive
of
the
and
situational
the
drive,'
aspects
'power
or accidental
The result is
ones . . ." (Hoffmann,
1961, p. 423).
a static

which
treats
concept
of separate
essences"

universe

international
(Hoffmann,

relations
1961,

as

"a frozen

p. 423).

There

are difficulties
of power.
is
Power
with the definition
so broadly
from other
that it fails to distinguish
politics
of power,
Given
it is
definition
Morgenthau's
types of action.
difficult to imagine
whatever
that does not involve
any relationship
in families
and businesses,
too, for
power. "Power can be exercized
defined

Yet, "there must be some reason why family affairs are


example."
not regarded
as political"
1957. p. 13).
Morgenthau's
(Kaplan,
power concept would not take notice of when an activity involving
does not provide a criterion
and, therefore,
power becomes political
of the political
in the direction
indicated
by Kaplan.
The

relation

influence

remains

of

the concept

of

power

to those

of control

and

unclear.

do not know whether power refers to a symmetrical or


asymmetrical relationship or both, whether control implies no
freedom of choice for the party who is controlled, and whether
control is limited just to some properry or characteristic or be?
havior of the controller, or whether influence covers any change
in the behavior of the influenced regardless of the source of change
or the psychological mechanisms involved (Snyder, 1961, p. 40).
We

in the definition
is that power is
result of the imprecision
to mean different things at different times. Morgenthau
defines
Yet when he says that "power,
relation.
power as a psychological
is the value
however
limited
and qualified,
which
international
as
the
1946,
politics
recognizes
(Morgenthau,
supreme"
p. 101),
reference is to power as a capacity. When he discusses national power
a total sum of different
he refers to power as a quantity,
elements.
as a precise analytical
tool and be?
Thus, power loses its strength
The

used

comes

an ambiguous

term which

is accommodated

to many evidences.
239

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of other vari?
Furthermore,
power "is a most complex
product
ables which should be allowed
to see the light of theory instead of
in the shadow
hidden
of power"
1961,
remaining
(Hoffmann,
In
does
not
discuss
these
variables.
Scientific
p. 423).
Morgenthau
irrational
Man vs. Power Politics, he describes power as an inherited
human drive. In another work, he says that power, like love, is the
of man's loneliness.3
are
Yet both of these explanations
product
ele?
the
about
the
different
oversimplifications;
complex
question
ments

that go into power

remains

unanswered.

admits that power


are not the only ele?
relations
Morgenthau
in a political
ments involved
action. Yet he is concerned
only with
with the
He
far
relations.
as
to
concern
so
eschew
power
goes
result
The
motives
and the ideological
of
statesmen.
preferences
Mor?
is what Hoffmann
monism."
calls
a
(1961,
p. 423)
"power
on
excessive
virtue
of
its
genthau's
theory,
by
power,
emphasis
it is
a single-factor
becomes
theories,
theory. Like all single-cause
all
the
for
the
can
account
no
cause
fact
that
by
challenged
single
phenomena

under

investigation.

in
interest
to define
national
theory
Morgenthau's
proceeds
terms of power
and to designate
it as the sole guide for foreign
to
This writer finds it still impossible,
after many efforts,
policy.
in
terms
in
interest
is
what
really
signified
"defining
comprehend
"a broad
of power."
the intent has been only to provide
Perhaps
or
of
intellectual
a
way
foreign
category
policy"
approaching
who
to find many
1960,
Anyone
expects
(Thompson,
p. 37).
of the national
answers regarding
and realization
the determination
in Morgenthau's
is bound
to be disappointed.
interest
discussion
"the focal point in the debate over Morgenthau's
Indeed,
theory
interest"
on his concept
of the national
has centered
(Thompson,
1960,

p. 37).

criticism is that Morgenthau's


most repeated
concept of the
interests
National
interest is ambiguous.
may be quite unwho
and psychologists
stable and subject to change.
Philosophers
have agreed
"interest"
that it is an
the concept,
have analyzed
one; interest does not become clear, certain, and obvious
ambiguous
rather than individuals
one deals with collectivities
because
simply
The
interest
national
1960,
concept can be of little
p. 86).
(Aron,
survival
is
when
an
in
unstable
always at stake and the
period
help
The

national

3See above p. 229.


240

Background,

Vol 8, No. 4

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most divergent
for
courses of action can be suggested
as choices
survival
rather
than
1961, p. 423).
asserting
Finally,
(Hoffman,
the supremacy
is
of the national
the important
interest,
question
"the evaluative
and
one of deciding
are legitimate
which interests
will best serve them"
the pragmatic
one of deciding
what policies
1959a,

(Waltz,

p. 38).

These criticisms
are not without
but they may miss the
validity,
has never claimed
that his concept cleared away
point. Morgenthau
in defining
all the ambiguities
and difficulties
involved
the national
He acknowledges
interest.
the limitation
of his concept.
The concept of the national interest is similar in two respects to
the "great generalities" of the Constitution, such as the general
welfare and due process. It contains a residual meaning which is
inherent in the concept itself, but beyond these minimum require?
ments its content can run the whole gamut of meanings which are
1952, p. 972).
logically compatible with it (Morgenthau,
One

may

p. 447);

be inclined
to agree with Whitaker's
but wish, at the same time, for a clearer

statement

(1961,

expression:

If he (Morgenthau)
has posed, rather than solved, the problem
of defining the national interest, it is more appropriate for the
academician to work on the solution than to complain of the
legitimate question.
of ambiguity,
there is a moral argument
against
The
is that Morgen?
essence of the argument
Morgenthau's
concept.
of the "moral dignity"
of
his assertion
thau's position,
particularly
be
the national
is
immoral.
Tucker
interest,
may
(1952,
p. 221)
on the moral argument:
cited as a representative
spokesman
Beside

the charge

. . . Professor Morgenthau's concept of moral obligation amounts


to
to the statement that men ought (i.e., are morally obliged)
behave as they actually do behave. Hence there is no possibility
of conflict between man's interest, or his actual behavior, and
his moral obligation.
(So considered, the whole idea of moral
obligation becames meaningless . . .)
Tucker

(1952,

p. 223)

further

states:

It must be understood that once we deny the binding character of


international moral obligations and assert the moral supremacy
of the national interest, no action on the part of the state can
the viewpoint, of course, of the particular
be considered?from
be immoral. Thus the logical conse?
state's national interest?to
quence of asserting the moral supremacy of the national interest
is to assert the moral inferiority of all other national interests.
241

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This argument
of Morgenthau's
is based on a misunderstanding
views on both ethics and the moral dignity of the national
interest.
Some writers have argued the point that, despite its apparent amoralis based on moral foundations
ity, Morgenthau's
(Thomp?
position
son, 1960, p. 146; Fox, 1949b, p. 215). Two writers, Magill
(1962,
have studied in some detail Mor?
p. 7) and Good (1960,
p. 640),
of morality
and its application
to the national
genthau's
concept
is anything
interest and have concluded
that Morgenthau's
position
but immoral.
as indifferent
to moral
has often
been described
Morgenthau
It
that
is
true
values. This, indeed, is an unjustified
Morgen?
charge.
Thus
thau's pessimistic
views of man color his concept of morality.
content
must
be
"man
to
be
but
he states that
cannot hope
good
But to diswith being not too evil" (Morgenthau,
1946, p. 192).
is
one
of
morality
thing, to charge
agree with Morgenthau's
concept
is immoral
is another. Morgenthau
that his position
p. 169)
(1946,
a moralist
"he
is
because he is a man." The
believes
that
fman]
of political
success
the requirements
tension
unavoidable
between
is
is
a
theme
that
of
and the requirements
morality
again
repeated
One may go so far
and again throughout
writings.
Morgenthau's
with the
as to assert that no other writer on international
relations,
moral
to
the
so
attention
of
devoted
much
has
Niebuhr,
exception
problem.
idea of the "moral dignity" of the national interest
Morgenthau's
The ultimate good, as represented
is neither immoral nor ambiguous.
in this world.
cannot
moral
be realized
universal
by
principles,
either to try, in vain, to
are faced with two alternatives:
Nations
an endeavor
which could lead to
follow
abstract moral principles,
to the
or to limit themselves
war and endanger
their very existence,
the
second
alternative
holds
that
defense of themselves.
Morgenthau
is to be preferred,

morally

and politically.

The only relevant question is, however, what the practical alter?
native is to . . . imperfections of an international society that is
based upon the national interests of its component parts. The attainable alternative is not a higher morality realized through the appli?
but moral deterioration
cation of universal moral principles,
through either political failure or the fanaticism of political
crusades (Morgenthau, 1951, p. 30).
in
'national
interest'
Furthermore,
incorporates
"Morgenthau's
that by its nature must transcend
its design a notion of responsibility
takes pain to
1960, p. 640).
Morgenthau
(Good,
pure self-interest"
242

Background,

Vol 8, No. 4

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invest

the national
interest concept
He argues
with moral content.
that a nation should look at the political
scene from the point of
view of other nations.
in his concept,
is a live-and-let-live
Implicit
to
Tucker's
the
of the na?
Contrary
philosophy.
charge,
supremacy
tional
interest
a
and
that
nation
consider
should
try to
implies
other
nations'
interests.4
respect
It might be illuminating
at this point to digress briefly to look
of
the
at an alternative
national
interest offered by two of
concept
and
assert that
Cook
critics.
Moos
Morgenthau's
p. 129)
(1954,
of
the
national
is
interest
Morgenthau's
dangerous:
concept
If we desire to avoid statism at home and to seek and ensue our
purposes both there and abroad, we must reject the concept of
national interest as the national power of an organismic . . .
state engaged in a struggle for success through triumph by means
of power politics.
Cook and Moos offer another
interest.
of the national
version
of
the
the
that
the
United
While
States,
they
say
discussing
policy
United States' interest is to pursue and further the principles
upon
which this country rests.
on which the United States,
The proposition
that the principles
or for that matter any country,
rests are of universal
applicability
of uni?
Even were these principles
is both puzzling
and irritating.
should
there is no reason why other countries
versal applicability,
Cook and
to them. To make things worse,
to adhere
be willing
outcome:
Moos pursue their idea to its inevitable
That commitment [to freedom] compels us to combat all types
of totalitarian tyranny, by ideological warfare when possible, by
force when necessary. It requires a refusal to ally ourselves with
such regimes . . . and, under certain conditions, even an inter?
vention in their own lands to prevent oppression by them and to
aid in their overthrow . . .5
version
There is no doubt, in this student's
mind, that the crusading
interest
is not only less expedient
of the national
than, but also
interest.
to, Morgenthau's
morally inferior
concept of the national
that have been advanced
the criticisms
against Morgen?
Among
variables
thau's theory is that it leaves out important
and, therefore,
4In our opinion, Tucker's clear objections have not been met here or elsewhere. After
many years, the problem still maintains its importance. Ed.
5Italics added; Cook and Moos, 1954, p. 130.
243

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does

not

scene.
an adequate
of the international
explanation
discuss
to
for
criticizes
failing
Sprout (1949,
p. 407)
Morgenthau
the objectives
of national
p. 123) notes the
policy. Wright
(1952,
absence of values and their effect on policy in Morgenthau's
theory.
an international
lawyer's
McDougal
p. 378)6,
(1955,
representing
point of view, objects to Morgenthau's
concept of law as "a static
of
the relation
rules."
the
Furthermore,
body
theory neglects
rigid
It
also fails
between
and
1960,
ideologies
policies
p. 88).
(Aron,
to examine
and social structure on
the effects of a state's political
its foreign

offer

policy

(Sprout,

1949,

p. 409).

in the theory
The list of things that should have been included
or another.
could go on. Every critic can point out one omission
This is a type of criticism that appears in almost all the reviews of
The factors that should
have been included
works.
Morgenthau's
and theor?
to his own predilection
vary with every critic according
how to do his work is one
To tell a theoretician
etical orientation.
about
and less fruitful
of the less challenging
aspects of theorizing
"for
not
unfair to chide authors
doing things
theory. It is manifestly
of doing"
1961, p. 38). In the case
they had no intention
(Snyder,
in
for the omissions
there is a valid explanation
of Morgenthau,
his theory:
Morgenthau is more concerned with interstate relationships and
with the mechanisms,
tried and proposed, for regulating such
relationships, than he is with the basic conditions and forces out
of which interstate relationships and consequent regulatory prob?
lems arise (Sprout, 1949, p. 406).
to the
with regard
more relevant
has been raised
point
a
labeled
How
can
be
of Morgenthau's
theory
theory.
"reality"
and with reality?
both with itself
"realist"
if it is inconsistent
Tucker (1952, p. 216) remarks:
A

On the one hand, we are given laws which supposedly determine


ihe actual behavior of states. On the other hand, there is a most
persistent . . . exhortation by the author that American foreign
policy ought to follow these laws, apparently for the reason that
it has not always done so in the past.
Waltz

(1959b,

p. 531)

makes

a similar

remark:

At times Professor Morgenthau's


writing is purely descriptive,
intended to make comprehensible what does happen. At other times
6For a detailed criticism of Morgenthau's concept of law, see McDougal's article
"Law and Power," The American Journal of International Law, 49 (January 1952),
pp. 102-114.
244

Background,

Vol. 8, No. 4

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his writing becames persuasive, intended to convince the leaders


of states that they ought to act in certain ways and not in others.
concenWasserman
p. 57), whose critique of Morgenthau
(1959,
trates on the theme of inconsistency,
makes the same point:
Professor

Morgenthau claims that his theory is based upon what


actually happens yet he complains that what actually happens does
not conform to his theory. While he maintains that all international.
politics are of necessity power politics his reason for writing is to
combat the prevalence of misguided "legalism" and "moralism"
not only in the theory, but also in the practice of international
politics.
can be traced to two main sources.
inconsistency
Morgenthau's
of empirical
elements
and normative
First, there is a juxtaposition
in the theory. Second, there is a conflict between Morgenthau's
pessimistic
views
and his implication
that man can, in?
deterministic
deed, influence his own fate.
The realist
under close examination,
to be as
theory proves,
normative
and value-oriented
as theories which do not claim "real?
ism." Indeed, Morgenthau's
are norms. Thus, when he
assumptions
"we
that
assume
that
statesmen
think
and act in terms of interest
says
defined as power . . ." (Morgenthau,
1960a, p. 5), he is presenting
not only an observable
fact but also a norm to be attained.
It could
for experience
not be otherwise
is that not all statesmen
have thought
in these terms. Morgenthau's
of a completely
rational
for?
concept
is
norm.
of
of
another
His
schemes
the
balance
eign policy
power
of norms.
are other examples
is aware of the gap which separates
however,
Morgenthau,
from
He
theory
reality.
argues that, in view of the rationality
the theory, this is inevi table:

his
of

Hence, it is no argument against the theory here presented that


actual foreign policy does not or cannot live up to it. . . . Far from
being invalidated by the fact that, for instance, a perfect balance
of power policy will scarcely be found in reality, it assumes that
reality, being deficient in this respect, must be understood and
evaluated as an approximation to an ideal system of balance of
power (Morgenthau, 1960a, p. 8).
does not only presume
to describe reality,
Actually,
Morgenthau
to
also
alter
it.
but
The laws to which
Tucker
refers,
then, are
offered
not only as rules to which
to some
realities
do conform
as norms to which
realities
extent,
but, in addition,
approximate
245

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should
theory,
able.

conform.
many of

discovers
basis of the
the normative
understandinconsistencies
become
Morgenthau's
Once

one

The other source of inconsistency


is to be found in Morgenthau's
if
to stick to his pessimistic
views.
deterministic
Indeed,
were true to his lack of faith in man, he would treat
Morgenthau
his own theory as an exercise in futility.

inability

In Morgenthau's
"man finds himself
to the
scheme
pinioned
rock not so much because he has willed evil, but because this seems
to be his fate" (Good,
of human will is
1960, p. 88). The element
live
with
Man
is
"unresolvable
to
absent.
destined
conspicuously
in the
are inherent
which
and conflicts
discord,
contradictions,
nature of things and which human
reason is powerless
to solve"
(Morgenthau,

1946, p. 206).

in its
The age of science, according
is mistaken
to Morgenthau,
The
a better future.
belief
that humanity
is progressing
toward
of
and
life.
science
sense
of
the
history
age
tragic
forgets
There is no progress toward the good, noticeable from year to
year, but undecided conflict which sees today good, tomorrow
evil, prevail; and only at the end of time, immeasurably removed
from the here and now of our earthly life, the ultimate triumph
of the forces of goodness and light will be assured (Morgenthau,
1946, pp. 205-206).
to social problems
Man's efforts to apply scientific
knowledge
are doomed
to failure; past and contemporary
history "offer abundant proof of the irrelevance,
for success or failure of social action,
offer" (Morgenthau,
of the kind of knowledge
the social sciences
1946, p. 211). On the contrary, the reliance upon factual knowledge
of the art of politics"
"has actually
to the decadence
contributed
(Morgenthau,

1946,

p. 213).

tries to escape
in Politics Among Nations
However,
Morgenthau,
Man vs.
in Scientific
from the prospect
of doom he put forward
He realizes
that on the domestic
Power Politics.
plane "organized
scale
of political
action on an extensive
as an instrument
violence
On
a rare exception"
has become
1960a,
p. 38).
(Morgenthau,
have
used
"when
nations
he
that
the international
says
plane,
of preventing
for the purpose
war, they have often sucdiplomacy
ceeded"
Furthermore,
1960a, p. 568).
Morgenthau's
(Morgenthau,
of status quo nations which seek just
of the category
introduction
246

Background,

Vol. 8, No. 4

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to maintain
their power constitutes
a departure
from, the original

not

an important
to, if
qualification
seek
all
states
that
assumption

power.
in two
most clearly
reveals
itself
inconsistency
Morgenthau's
his most vital
thus
and
diplomacy
statesmanship,
concepts:
in
these concepts
his
the most vulnerable
theory.
rendering
points
"the
is, in the words of Morgenthau
Diplomacy
(1960a,
p. 569),
which
of
nations
a
best means of preserving
society
sovereign
peace
has to offer."
of
for the revival
However,
Morgenthau's
hopes
are highly unrealistic;
here perhaps
is the one point in
diplomacy
the theory when the normative
element
becomes
blind
completely
to the empirical one.
of

have noted,
own analysis
writers
of
Morgenthau's
international
realities
of
a
remakes
his
discussion
contemporary
an exercise
in wishful
vived
diplomacy
thinking
(Wasserman,
1959, pp. 57-58; Waltz,
1959b,
1949, p. 1025).
p. 531; Pettee,
of Morgenthau's
rules for diplomacy
can be applied
in a
None
world
characterized
inflexible
and
by
by the
bipolarity
inspired
moral force of nationalistic
a world that Morgenthau
universalism,
himself has described in the following
words:
As

many

The moral code of one nation flings the challenge of its universal
claim into the face of another, which reciprocates in kind. Com?
promise, the virtue of the old diplomacy, becomes the treason of
the new. . . . Thus the stage is set for a contest among nations
whose stakes are no longer their relative positions within a political
and moral system accepted by all, but the ability to impose upon
the other contestants a new universal political and moral system
recreated in the image of the victorious nation's political and moral
convictions (Morgenthau, 1960a, p. 256).
is another vital, and equally vulnerable,
Statesmanship
concept.
One is confronted
with a circle. The struggle
for power will continue to characterize
in
relations
often exploding
nations,
among
is the only hope for mitigating
con?
the form of war. Diplomacy
of
the foundations
flicts, making
peace more secure, and building
a world state which could ensure permanent
Yet
peace.
diplomacy
cannot be made to work without
statesmen.
Here is the greatest
of the theory. What is a statesman?
To say that he is a
weakness
moral
and
intellectual
"extraordinary
qualities"
person possessing
How
does not solve the problem.
1960a,
p. 569)
(Morgenthau,
a statesman
between
and a Hitler? There
can one tell the difference
How can humanity
statesis a more important
produce
question.
247

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men? Morgenthau
rules out education
and does not suggest
any
alternative.
the
remains
a haphazard
Preserving
process.
peace, then,
there are enough statesmen
there will be peace. Humanity
Whenever
cannot do more than wait, and perhaps
pray, for statesmen.
The foregoing
leads to the conclusion
that Morgen?
analysis
thau's theory has two elements:
and
mystical or religious.
empirical,
The empirical
of con?
element
is evident
in Morgenthau's
analysis
international
of
world
relations.
his
discussion
Thus,
temporary
in
the
mid-twentieth
1960a,
politics
century (Morgenthau,
pp. 335is
nature
marred
neither
human
by any unconvincing
explana386)
The mystical element usually
tions nor by a vague trust in statesmen.
in Morgenthau's
reveals itself, however,
references
to the concept
of statesmanship.
If humanity
cannot,
education,
through
produce
there remains
but God's will to do the job. Although
statesmen,
does not admit it, this position
is not dissimilar
to the
Morgenthau
man
cannot
save
himself
the
that
without
religious
position
help of
in his
is undoubtedly
aware of the two elements
God. Morgenthau
theory. Thus, in more than one place, he asserts that religion,
phil?
osophy, and even art, no less than science, can prove reliable sources
of knowledge
1960b, p. 8; 1946, p. 123).
(Morgenthau,
How

a theory
clusions yet be so
This is
question.
"we
are
say that
one" and that "a

can be so weak in both its assumptions


and con?
in
a
discussions
is
its empirical
convincing
puzzling
what led one of Morgenthau's
critics to
perhaps
for
offered not so much a theory as the materials

of the complex
interrelations
of
careful statement
is
still
variables
1959b, p. 529, 530).
wanting"
(Waltz,
important
writer says, with an authoritative
Another
tone, that Morgenthau's
work
and that his most decisive
theory is in process of unfolding
remains before him (Thompson,
1959b, p. 133).

of this student that there is a clear difference


opinion
Politics
Man
vs. Power
and Politics
between
Scientific
Among
is placed on
In the first of the two books, heavy emphasis
Nations.
reference
is still
human nature and the role of statesmen.
Although
in Politics Among Nations,
made to human nature and statesmanship
If this observation
has
and with much less emphasis.
it is sporadic
that
tried
to
means
shift
it
Morgenthau
gradually
any significance,
stand. If, indeed,
and philosophical
the
from his previous
mystical
in the future, it
is to follow
work of Morgenthau
most important
less pre~
could well be predominantly
and, consequently,
empirical
than his present works.
tentious and less vulnerable
It is the

246

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Vol 8, No. 4

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Morgenthau's

Contribution

to the study of
his critics have
or
either praising
one is told that
writers on world
he
and
is "our most
that
1959b,
politics"
p. 134)
(Thompson,
on
theoretician"
the
other hand,
1961,
prominent
p. 81);
(Singer,
influ?
remains
one is warned
that so long as Morgenthau's
theory
in the scientific
ential "there is unlikely
to be progress
study of
relations"
international
1959,
p. 70).
(Wasserman,
To try to assess Morgenthau's
contribution
international
most of
relations
is a task which
avoided.
Rather, these critics resort to statements
on the one hand,
Thus,
criticizing
Morgenthau.
of
our contemporary
is
"the
Morgenthau
greatest

The assessment
is difficult for more than one reason. The mere
writer over whose works
is a contemporary
fact that Morgenthau
an
a great deal of controversy
has raged cannot help but introduce
of his contribution.
emotional
tone to the discussion
Furthermore,
has been growing
relations
so rapidly
the study of international
that it becomes exceedingly
difficult to measure the impact of any one
of the worth of all the
individual.
With so few adequate
appraisals
in
works
international
the assessment
theoretical
relations,
present
different
is
bound
to be unand
theories
between,
of,
comparison
certain

and tentative.

as the task of evaluation


Yet, difficult and uncertain
is, a study
of Morgenthau
could not be considered
without
at least
complete
his impact on the field. Morgenthau's
con?
some effort to measure
cannot
be made clear unless one looks at his theory in
tribution
efforts which preceded
view of the theoretical
it, and those which
a perspective,
it. To suggest
the study of international
followed
will be divided
into three schools of thought,
each reprerelations
the
school
which
an
historical
idealist
period:
(1)
senting roughly
of the twentieth
clominated
the field from the beginning
century
in the
the realist school which emerged
early 1940's,
(2)
dominant
until the mid-1960's,
and (3)
the
and remained
in
field
which
seeks
to
the
school
today.
prevail
systemic
to the
1940's

as a separate
field of study was created
relations
International
war and initiating
of
an era
with the visionary
eliminating
hope
nations.
It
seemed
of law and order in the relations
among
quite
of some intellectual
effort coupled
with
that the exertion
possible
the
of
even
could
evil
war.
zeal
Not
the
abolish
a missionary
great
of the First World War shattered the utopian hopes.
disillusionment
of war gave impetus to the reformOn the contrary, the experience
249

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under?
international
ing spirit. "To the prewar trinity of democracy,
and
were
national
arbitration
added
self-determination,
standing,
This
and collective
1949a,
disarmament,
security"
(Fox,
p. 70).
the
to
extended
to
itself
research
did
not
limit
but
reforming
spirit
of
international
relations.
teaching
In the universities, a number of student generations were taught
international relations as moral principles of world peace, the
potential splendors of the League, the wickedness of departure
from Wilsonian
doctrines, the evils of imperialism and dollar
and
the
efficacy of popular demands for a better world
diplomacy,
and for a change of heart (Cook and Moos, 1954, p. 95).
has so
The idealist
relations
stage in the study of international
discussion
here would be superoften been analyzed
that a detailed
will be directed
to one aspect only:
fluous. Attention,
therefore,
It is, indeed, difficult to detect a clear
theory in the idealist scheme.
in the works of the idealist period. One can?
framework
theoretical
The idealist
era was characterized
not speak of an idealist
model.
by a striking poverty in theory. This period even failed to emphasize
relations deals with a system characterized
the fact that international
was
of central
the real world
Thus,
by the absence
authority.
from an ideal world common?
in terms of its deviation
described
In
characterized
wealth
1949a, p. 77).
by permanent
peace (Fox,
short,

the

(Wolfers,

idealist
1951,

school

"has

been

anything

but

theory-minded"

p. 44).

is "the impact of thinking


which, in the
upon wishing
of
first visionthe
breakdown
its
follows
of
a
science,
development
end
of
marks
the
and
utopian
period"
ary projects,
specifically
of the realist school was a
The emergence
(Carr, 1961, p. 239).
in the
gradual process which started in the 1930's and culminated
the Second World War,
late 1940's. Following
Realism

the study of international politics replaced the study of inter?


...
national organization as the central point of reference in interna?
tional relations. An approach was made to recurrent world problems
not with a view to praise or condemn but to understand them
(Thompson, 1959a, p. 213).
of
for the introduction
all the credit
To give
Morgenthau
to
be unfair to the many authors who contributed
realism would
as
have
been
realism
the process. Yet, without
might
Morgenthau,
It is the contention
as was idealism.
orientation
lacking in theoretical
has been to give
first contribution
of this paper that Morgenthau's
to realism. The realist reaction was transformed
form and direction
250

Background,

Vol. 8, No. 4

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into a distinctive
It is no wonder,
school of thought.
by Morgenthau
of realism in international
there is a discussion
then, that whenever
is made inevitably
reference
to Morgenthau.
relations,
Obviously,
he was
is
not
Yet
it
seems
that
the
realist
author.
only
Morgenthau
the first to develop a realist model. It is a testimony
to Morgenthau's
in
of
relations
that
international
the study
contribution
outstanding
"realism"

and "Morgenthauism"

can be treated

almost

as synonyms.

of inter?
still goes on today whether
Debate
a macro-theory
national
relations
is possible.
Of course the final answer
depends
on one's definition
of theory and of what one requires in terms of
for all its shortand prediction.
Yet,
description,
explanation,
a general
or macro-theory
comings,
theory represents
Morgenthau's
of international
relations.
It is not to be forgotten
that Morgenthau
wrote a book which had a clear theoretical
focus. He demonstrated
Mor?
could be systematic.
that the study of international
relations
seeond contribution,
then, lies in the fact that he provided
genthau's
from idealism
the necessary
to the systemic
transition
study of
international
relations.
in the field
the dominant
school
Realism,
today, is no longer
of
weaknesses
of international
The
relations.
theory
Morgenthau's
have already
It is sufficient
to say here that the
been considered.
of
relations
international
study
outgrew
Morgenthau's
simply
The use of the word
is its successor.
school
The
theory.
systemic
an agree?
because
"school"
it implies
is very misleading,
however,
The
which
exists.
ment on fundamentals
hardly
stage in
present
relations
has three general characteristics.
international
relainternational
is a growing
dissatisfaction
among
there is a rising convicthe state of the field. Seeond,
of other disciplines
must be exconceptual
equipment
a
to make
is
clear
trend
there
and
most
Third,
important,

the study of
First, there
tionists with
tion that the
ploited.
the study

of international

relations

as scientific

as possible.

Today, workers in the field talk of quantifying data, of building


models, of testing hypotheses, of verifying constructs, of comparing
abstract and empirical formulations; they have, in short, acquired
a new language, the language of the scientific method (Rosenau,
1961, p. 7).
to justify
these broad trends, there is hardly anything
Beyond
the present stage. This stage
the use of the word school in describing
has not yet found its Morgenthau.
Thus, there are almost as many
251

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movement
theoretical
The systemic
focuses
as there are theorists.
of theory.
has not yet even managed
to agree on a definition
If we could say what theory is, we could probably give definition
to the conditions and trends of a science or study of international
relations, but we cannot. If we had one or several general theories
of international relations, we would know what we meant by special
and middle-range theorizing, but we do not (McClelland,
1960,
p. 304).
It is no wonder,
then, that international
over the nature of their discipline.

relationists

F. S. C. Northrop believes that international


science. Quincy Wright believes it can become
Thompson is convinced that it is not a science,
mann thinks it never can be (Whitaker, 1961,

are still

divided

relations is now a
a science. Kenneth
and Stanley Hoff?
p. 439).

are divided
over
if scholars
in international
relations
However,
with
of theory, they are united in their dissatisfaction
the definition
the state of their study. Lacking in the present trend is Morgenthau's
of the eternal laws of politics.
belief in the simple discovery
Presumably no social scientist is ever fully satisfied with the progress
of his discipline. Yet, few seem to be more self-conscious about
the state of their studies, to be searching more keenly for newer
and better foci, concepts, data, and methods than those who
specialize in the area of international relations. It is painfully
obvious to most of them that there is need for a clearer sense of
purpose, for greater clarity of concepts, and for progress toward
of more specific propositions,
the development
hypotheses, and
theories which will unify a field of inquiry whose boundaries are
1961, p. 8).
vague and whose content is diffuse (Sondermann,
of this growing
dissatisfaction
can, with reasonable
is no dominant
There
chaos.
be
termed
intellectual
justification,
on
each
side. Rather
and
critics
in
with
admirers
the
center
figure
there are different
decision-making,
Kaplan's
approaches?Snyder's
and Liska's
General
McClelland's
System approach,
system-analysis,
Each of these
some notable
to mention
examples.
equilibrium,
for the study
useful
focus
most
as
the
is
single
presented
approaches
relations.
of international
The

result

It should be clear from what has been said so far that Morgen?
thau is a stranger in the present stage of the study of international
of the
the language
is a far cry from
His language
relations.
his
since
no
reason
dissatisfied
has
to
He
ferment.
be
theory
systemic
252

Background,

Vol. 8, No. 4

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to present
all that is worthwhile
about inter?
knowing
purports
national
is
to
relations.
The inter-disciplinary
unlikely
approach
have an appeal to Morgenthau.
At

this

Has
itself:
point a very important
presents
question
of
relations
to
the
international
contribution
Morgenthau's
study
of an advanced
realist theory which
been limited to his formulation
an
the
idealist
transition
between
necessary
provided
period and a
one? In other words,
does Morgenthau's
theory already
to
How?
the
This
is very difficult to answer.
belong
past?
question
it
the
seems
that
there
are
three
First,
ever,
present
possibilities.
in producing
thus pushing
trend could succeed
scientific
theories,
atnonscientific
Second,
theory to the background.
Morgenthau's
could
at
which
far
have
so
been
synthesis,
vague outlines,
tempts
a revised
of incorporating
thus providing
the possibility
materialize,
of
of Morgenthau's
as
a
version
a
general
part
power
approach

systemic

theory.
prove
there
which

focus could
the present
trend toward
the systemic
In
of
results.
that
eventuality,
incapable
producing
impressive
is a possibility
of the emergence
of a neo-Morgenthauism
would
"rediscover"
revitalize
and, perhaps,
Morgenthau's
Third,

theory.

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