Pragmatism in the East Asian policy of the United States.
Thompson, Richard D.
Buss, Claude A.
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There is an ongoing debate between political theorists as to whether "realism" or "idealism" should guide the formulation and implementation of America's foreign policy. In general, policymakers have been characterized by one or the other of these labels based upon a loose conception of their overall policy objectives. Such generalities, however, give inadequate weight to the fact that a policy maker's most solemn commitment is to pursue the national interest, regardless of any other personal inclination. It is the hypothesis of this paper that the foreign policy process is a pragmatic one, based on practical assessments of the best and most likely methods of achieving national objectives, rather than the adherence to an underlying commitment to realism or idealism. This paper demonstrates this fact in a survey of significant instances in the history of America's relations with Asia where presidents and other senior officials were compelled to make pragmatic foreign policy decisions despite reputations or personal inclinations toward either realism or idealism.
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