Magazine
Latest Issue

Power and morals

Realists argue that foreign policy is necessarily amoral. Liberals contend that there is no distinction between the moral standards that apply in domestic policy and those in international politics. Both views are flawed. Morality does count in foreign policy, but it is usually the morality of the lesser evil

By Owen Harries   April 2005

The connection between foreign policy and morality is surprisingly poorly examined. It is not wanting in words or assertions. On the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion we will read and hear millions of them on the moral authority of the UN, intervention in the affairs of sovereign states, democratic governments deceiving their citizens—and many other questions with a moral content.

But there has been little attempt to spell out general and coherent positions on these questions, to relate particular circumstances to general principles, or to acknowledge and confront the difficulty of discussing moral issues in the peculiar conditions and…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect