One line definitions of foreign policy realism, liberal internationalism or idealism, neoconservatism, and paleoconservate isolationism
For what I suspect are the many undergraduates who consult this blog hoping for a quick fix for a term paper or what-not, here, courtesy of the Faces From the Front Blog, is a useful one-line summary of the leading international relations conceptual positions in today's foreign policy discussions in the US. They are foreign policy realism, liberal internationalism or international liberalism or foreign policy idealism, neoconservatism, and paleoconservative isolationism. Note that terms like "realism" and "idealism" have completely different meanings across different disciplines such as philosophy, political science, international relations, etc.
Faces From the Front Blog:
The three or four schools of thought in foreign policy are Realism, International Liberalism, NeoConservatism and PaleoConservative Isolationism.
Foreign Policy Realism, with its devotion to the status quo and use of force only in rare circumstances to maintain order (kicking Saddam out of Kuwait) was a Washington mainstay for decades and still has solid adherents. Realist foreign policy seeks balance and avoids things that may change the position of the international order and harm the United State's interests. Realism also recognizes the use of force and threat of force, military or otherwise, to achieve the nations interests. The foundational philosophy of Realism is that the world is mostly hobbesian with a few Lockes in the mix and that the Lockes just have to deal with the nasty brutes and make the best of it.
Liberalism is focused multilaterally, with an emphasis on the U.N., international governing bodies and consensus to promote international social justice. International Liberalism avoids confrontation, and the promotion of national interest unless it is attached to a moral or humanitarian issue.
Wikipedia's explanation [of foreign policy idealism] is, "the school of thought personified in American diplomatic history by Woodrow Wilson. Idealism (also known as Liberalism) in the Wilsonian context holds that a state should make its internal political philosophy the goal of its foreign policy." The foundational philosophy of International Liberalism is that people are naturally Lockeian and the nasty and brutish hobbesians can be brought around.
NeoConservativism, is a blend of the two. Necons hold that the United States should make its internal political philosophy--liberty, democracy, capitalism--the goal of its foreign policy and that fostering such is in its national interest. But, they are willing to act unilaterally--a prime tenent of realism--to advance the national interest. The foundational philosophy of NeoConservatism is the world may be hobbesian, and there are definately many nasty and brutish types, but people yearn for Locke. If the nasty brutes are eliminated, Locke will follow.
PaleoConservative Isolationism looks at the world as a few tourist destinations in the few civilized countries and that the lower 48 should be turned into a fortress to keep out the nasty brutish types. PaleoConservatisms foundational philosophy is that everything is nasty and brutish, it will not change, and we don't need to bother with it.
Interestingly, this post is in the middle of a discussion of the foreign policy in George Clooney movies, especially Syriana and Three Kings. Both of them, for my taste anyway, are banal and terminally boring. Still, the blog discussion is worth reading. HT Instapundit.