NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR’S ESSAY ASKS “WHAT IS IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST?”

October 27, 2008

HARRISONBURG—An essay by Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, headlines a just-published special presidential election issue of the international affairs journal American Foreign Policy Interests. The symposium, entitled “In the National Interest,” highlights the plethora of major foreign policy issues which the incoming administration will face.

Other contributors to the symposium include Dr. George D. Schwab, president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP); former U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations Thomas Pickering and Nancy Soderberg; former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert E. Hunter; Dr. Bernard E. Brown, professor emeritus of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY); Iranian journalist Amir Taheri; Dr. Donald S. Zagoria, professor of government at the CUNY Graduate Center and research fellow at Columbia University’s Research Institute on International Change; Dr. Michael Rywkin, president emeritus of the Association for the Study of Nationalities; Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs; Dr. Benjamin Rivlin, director of the Ralph Bunche Institute on the United Nations; Dr. George E. Gruen, professor emeritus of international relation at Columbia University; and Viola Herms Drath, director of the NCAFP’s project on Cyprus.

In his contribution, Dr. Pham turns to the realist political thinker Hans J. Morgenthau, who transformed the study of international relations, for illumination in defining the complexities of the “national interest,” including his three precepts underlying the Founding Fathers’ conception of American interests in foreign affairs and his nine rules governing the art of diplomacy. Applying these principles to contemporary challenges, Dr. Pham concludes:

The essence of Morgenthau’s wisdom is the acknowledgment that if the United States pays heed to the principles of its founders, is candid about its real capabilities, restrains its unreasonable expectation that every problem has a ready solution achievable in all-too-short time frames, and prioritizes action in favor of the most critical objectives of its foreign policy, most challenges that it will encounter on the global stage can be managed to the benefit of America’s true national interests.

American Foreign Policy Interests is a bimonthly journal published by Taylor & Francis for the NCAFP, a New York-based organization founded in 1974 by the late Dr. Morgenthau and dedicated to identifying, articulating, and helping to advance the national interests of the United States from a nonpartisan perspective within the framework of political realism. Dr. Pham was elected a member of the National Committee’s Board of Advisors in January 2006.

For the text of the article, “What is in the National Interest? Hans Morgenthau’s Realist Vision and American Foreign Policy,” click here.