Political Realism and the Ethics of Vulnerability:

The Need for a New Understanding of Security after September 11

* A special thanks goes to Sturla Stålsett for important advice throughout the process, especially in relation to the introduction and the section on liberation theology.

Introduction

The principles of political realism are strongly dominant in current international relations. This tendency started before September 11, but the terrorist attacks and the US response certainly have strengthened it. Yet, this political strategy, particularly in its present version, has at least three basic flaws.

One deals with an inherent contradiction in the theory itself: It oscillates between the descriptive and the prescriptive, at the same time as it explicitly excludes the validity of ethics in the field of foreign policy. It presents itself as ‘a-ethical’, as beyond ethics, and yet, it claims normative appeal.1One could argue that normativity not necessarily implies ethics, e.g. in relation to the exercise of a craft. The argument of this article, however, tries to establish that statesmanship can not be reduced to craftsmanship.

The second flaw is particularly related to the present situation. Whereas the classic theory as represented for example by Hans Morgenthau rules out the possibility or desirability of one state gaining hegemonic power, this is exactly what is happening today. The increasing unilateralism of the US is in fact in direct contradiction with one of the basic principles of political realism.

The third and most important objection however, is simply that political realism in the current situation cannot provide what its adherents often claim in its name: It cannot provide security and international stability. The theory was developed in an undemocratic environment where power was reserved for the few, and it is as such not fit to meet the present challenges. A situation characterized by globalization, democratization and a new sense of a shared vulnerability demands a novel theoretical framework for world politics.

In this situation, there is a clear need for reformulating our understanding of security. I shall suggest that what may be called an ‘ethics of vulnerability’ may provide a fruitful basis for working out an alternative to political realism in this respect. Our concept of security must take into account the many-sided phenomenon of human vulnerability. In stead of seeing vulnerability as the opposite to security, security policy today must take due account of the ways in which vulnerability in fact contributes to sound, ethical, human behavior, thus constituting the very essence of security. Vulnerability is an anthropological and ethical precondition. Security is definitely about providing protection to the population, but this is not done by seeking inpenetrability but rather by protecting and securing that human and state interaction can build on a mutual recognition of vulnerability.

What are the implications of seeing the current political situation in the light of the differences of these opposing approaches? Is political realism incompatible with an ethics of vulnerability, or do the two approaches contain basic elements that fruitfully can strengthen one another? These are the questions that the last part of the article tries to answer.2The article is written with a clear consciousness of its provisional and preliminary character. The presentation of political realism would profit by a wider frame. It is also a risky task, so violently, to cross the line separating politics from ideology, ethics and religion. The general and foundational approach of this article can not take the complexity in the current situation in international politics sufficiently into consideration. It will not be able to provide ready-made solutions to the concrete dilemmas facing decision-makers in this situation. These decision-makers, however, are trained and developed in a context where they have to approach overarching dilemmas that are also ethical, intellectual and academic in character. This article hopes to take some small steps towards balancing the predominant position political realism has taken in these milieus.

Political Realism

The Present Predominance of Political Realism Post September 11

Rather than introducing a complete new situation in security policy, September 11 means the consummation of a development that started at least as early as the fall of the Iron Curtain. The dominant events on the international scene today are to a great extent results of this consummation. The victimization of the US brought about by the terrorist attacks was what the US government needed to play with confidence its role as the only superpower left on the world stage.3This confidence, supported by the lack of interference from the International Society, has in its turn been imported by other local and regional actors, visually in The Philippines, Caucasus and last, but surely not least, in the Middle East.

Through the 1990s we saw both USA and the international community at large searching for answers on how to adjust to this new situation. During this decade one could say that a sort of political idealism was still balancing the dominant political realism. The idea of collective security, besides the predominant idea of state security, was still making up a part of the basic ideology of US foreign and security policy. The US profiled itself as a partner of peace4The present co-ordination of Russian and Western (NATO) security policy (as it was brought a step further through the signing of the new treaty the Summit Meeting of NATO and Russia in Rome May 28, 2002) can be seen as a continuation and strengthening of collective security in US foreign policy. A more probable interpretation, however, is seeing this as a sign of the impaired position of NATO as an appropriate tool in US military and security policy. The growing unilateralism of the US means that future military and security operations to an increasing extent will be lead by USA alone, leaving NATO as a political and non-military tool to take care of stability in Europe. For this interpretation, see Jolyon Howorth «CESDP After 11 September: From Short-term Confusion to Long-Term Cohesion» in EUSA Review 15:1, (2002), pages 1, 3-4. and emphasized the role and authority of the Security Council. If sufficient support was not to be found in the Security Council, the US and NATO acted as though they were carrying the responsibility for restoring international peace and security that the UN system was not able to carry.

This belongs to the pre-September 11 era. Today the situation has changed considerably. The US is still bound by multi- and bilateral agreements, seeks to build international cooperation and coalitions, and is a member of international organizations. The present US administration, however, seems to regard this either as unavoidable ‘friction’, or as necessary tools to reach the goals of the US foreign and security policy. We see a shift from building on the main parts of chapter VII of the UN Charter, thus underlining the importance and role of the international community, to a US policy leaning heavily on the last article of the chapter (art. 51, on the right to self-defense). This article is the only one legitimizing use of force without the approval of the Security Council. This use of the concept of self-defense in order to legitimize continued acts of war against terrorism is not tenable, though, according to any serious interpretation of article 51.5The previous articles strongly proscribes aggressive warfare and underlines the superior role of the Security Counsil. Art. 51 is meant to balance this, certainly not to remove it. Art 51 reads: «Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.»

In sum, we see a post-September 11 situation determined by an acceleration and consummation of a development where political realism is allowed to state the terms more or less alone. This development has deep roots in US political theory and practice. The (self6The use of the term ‘self-victimization’ does in no way imply that the terrorist attacks were brought about or allowed to happen by the US or by any forces within the US. The term does, however, mean that the present US Administration makes a calculated use of, far beyond appropriate limits, the combination of being both a victim and the most powerful state in the world.-) victimization brought about by the terrorist attacks prepared the soil for realism, gave vigorous growth and made it blossom; thus shaping the form, not only of US foreign and security policy, but also of current world politics as a whole.

But if the aim is security and international stability, political realism will not work. It has basic flaws. In order to point out these flaws, I shall now roughly outline the basic principles of political realism.

Morgenthau’s six principles

Political realism holds that might is right. It takes as its basic assumption that power is, or ought to be, the primary end of political action. The theory has a long history, from Thucydides, through Machiavelli and Hobbes, to American scholars in the last century such as Reinhold Niebuhr and Hans J. Morgenthau.

In the beginning of his major work – Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace7Fifth Edition, Revised (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978) pages 4-15.  Hans J. Morgenthau outlines six principles of political realism. These are:8These principles were added to the second edition following criticism for the lack of room for morality in the original. As we shall see, the morality added in these principles does not go beyond rationality, prudence (defined as applied rationality) and the assumption that political realism constitutes the best possible approach to international politics. This vague use of the concept of ‘morality’, finding no support in anything but the assumed superiority of the theory itself and having no other function than making the theory acceptable, has continued in newer versions of the theory. Robert J. Myers for example claims that «All international relations problems can be fruitfully studied in this framework» of the triad «interest, power and moral purpose.» One searches in vain, though, for what this could mean. See Robert J. Myers, U.S. Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century, (Baton Rogue, Louisiana State University Press, 1999), page xi.

  1. Politics is governed by objective laws that have their roots in a stable human nature.This principle underlines the rational and conservative elements in the theory. History shows that human nature is stable, i.e. following constant laws. This means
  • that traditional political theories that reflect these laws are more to be trusted than novel theories.
  • that the acts and reactions of human beings can be treated as stable objects of political theory.
  1. The concept of interest is defined in terms of power.This principle fills the notion of the stability of human nature with content. A statesman, i.e. a leading representative of a social group, will/ should seek, and always has/ should have sought, in confrontation with other social groups on the same level, to serve the interests of the group by maximizing its power. This second principle also serves as basis for a rigid separation of politics from other spheres, such as economics, ethics and religion. The principle also excludes the motives of the decision-makers as interesting for political theory.

Together, these two principles contain the basic elements of Morgenthau’s political realism, both its theoretical and normative elements. Morgenthau makes it quite clear that the normative element equals the rational element in the theory. This means that we can find irrational elements in politics as it actually is. We can even find a counter theory of irrational politics. These elements can and should be judged and, if possible, corrected by the entirely rational theory of political realism.

The following four principles mainly expand on the two first, but they also contain some new elements.

  1. Although the key concept of interest defined as power is an objective and universal category, the meaning of the concept will vary in time.The actual interests of the social group and the kinds of power it has access to are contingent upon the historical situation. In contemporary foreign policy, for example, the nation state is the ultimate point of reference. This can change, but, and this is a central feature of political realism, this change can/ must only be brought about by nation states seeking their own interests in terms of power. Giving authority to supranational agencies on other premises than that these agencies protect the interests of the state handing over its authority, is in this view, political folly.
  2. There is a clear-cut difference between the morality of the state and the individual.While the morality of the individual can include even self-sacrifice, the morality of the statesman as statesman can only include prudence, understood as weighing the consequences of alternative political actions.
  3. Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe.God can never be proved to be on one side of a conflict. But, and this is a decisive point, though the statesman can not overview the totality of the situation, the theory of political realism can. «It is exactly the concept of interest defined as power that saves us from both moral excess and that political folly».
  4. There is a profound and real difference between political realism and other schools of thought.This difference consists to a great degree in that the political realist maintains the autonomy of the political sphere. When it comes to deciding which political action to pursue, the statesman must not be tempted to take into account interpretations from other spheres, such as law, ethics or religion. This, according to Morgenthau, is a hard lesson to learn for the statesman.

On this background the introduction of the six principles ends with a remarkable sentence. We will have to comment on it later:

Thus it is inevitable that a theory which tries to understand international politics as it actually is and as it ought to be in view of its intrinsic nature, rather than as people would like to see it, must overcome a psychological resistance that most other branches of learning need not face.9Morgenthau, page 15, (my italics).

In addition to the these six principles we have to comment on a seventh that is not stated on its own, but that runs through the other six. This is the Balance of Power. Balance-of-power theory describes political laws that are intrinsic to the reality that political realism takes as its point of departure and constant reference. There are many variants of this theory. All agree essentially, however, that states tend to oppose threatening powers in the international system. This balancing behavior is conducive to international stability as aspiring revisionist states will be prevented or deterred from achieving or pursuing their expansionist goals, or because states will be socialized to the system’s balancing dynamics.10Paul A.Papayoanou, «Interdependence, Institutions, and the Balance of Power: Britain, Germany, and World War I», in International Security, 20:4, (1996)

Descriptive or Prescriptive? Normativity without Ethics?

Having thus presented political realism through Morgenthau’s six (seven) principles, it is possible to point out why it cannot work to ensure legitimate security and peaceful international relations. In other words, I shall seek to expose its basic shortcomings. Firstly, I shall look at the relation between what Morgenthau calls the ‘theoretical’ and ‘normative’ elements of political realism.

Formally, it would be possible to distinguish between a descriptive and a prescriptive political realism. A purely descriptive realism would mean an objective account of political events and situations, saying nothing about right or wrong in the actions and decisions described. A prescriptive realism, on the other hand, would mean applying values and norms from philosophical or religious ethics to guide the statesman (or -woman) in the decision-making process. Practically, this distinction is impossible when it comes to political realism. What we see is a fervent oscillation between its ‘theoretical’ and ‘normative’ elements. The passage from ‘is’ to ‘ought’, which is not accounted for in any way, is not the exception, but the rule. Its real normative power lies in this oscillation. This double bind of the theory is not unique to it. Any scientist asserting objectivity for his or her research will be tempted, following his or her own values and norms, to present something on how the results of the research should be used. What is peculiar to political realism, though, is that it doesn’t find its prescriptive element in an external ethics that is implied rather than stated. It finds it in the description itself! In other words, things should be, because they are.

Hence the remarkableness of the sentence quoted above. Political realism is a theory that understands international politics not only as it is in its intrinsic nature, but in the same movement, as it ought to be. Adopting the hallmark of logical positivism, that there are only two sources of knowledge: logical reasoning and empirical experience, political realism goes far beyond what logical positivism would allow. Political realism sees itself not only as able to deduce universal laws, but also to prescribe political action. The peculiar feature of the theory is that this normative element is based on nothing else than the rational account of experience. To continually commit the naturalistic fallacy is a central feature of political realism.11In my reading, the realism of Reinhold Niebuhr is less hard-core, and therefore, in my judgment, less self-contradictory than that of Morgenthau. Niebuhr, due to his marxist influence, states clearly the fundamental values of his theory. See for example Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society, (New York, 1969), page 258-9: «If this equality and justice cannot be achieved without the assertion of interest against interest, and without the restraint upon the self-assertion of those who infringe upon the rights of their neighbors, then society is compelled to sanction self-assertion and restraint. It may even (…) be forced to sanction social conflict and violence.» (My italics).

In the next movement this normative element is opposed to another normative element: how the people would like to see it. ‘The people’, one would suspect, being those who have not gone through the psychological ordeal of having to exclude ideology, ethics and idealism from their judgment. This undemocratic exclusion of the people and common sense is not accidental, but a central part of Morgenthau’s political realism. He says:

Especially where foreign policy is conducted under the conditions of democratic control, the need to marshal popular emotions to the support of foreign policy cannot fail to impair the rationality of foreign policy itself. Yet a theory of foreign policy which aims at rationality must for the time being, as it were, abstract from these irrational elements and seek to paint a picture of foreign policy which presents the rational essence to be found in experience.12Morgenthau, page 6.

Political realism, in Morgenthau’s version, is thus conservative, undemocratic and irrational, all this to construe prudence and rationality as its normative appeal.

Balance of Power – Social Darwinism and Philosophical Dialectics in Political Realism

Although this describes the self-understanding of political realism, all is not said when it comes to finding the sources of its normative appeal. The might-is-right principle, for example, or stated more soberly, the principle of interest defined in terms of power, has common traits with social Darwinism. It implies that in the same way as nature develops and moves forward to higher forms of life through an unregulated struggle of all against all, political actors should be permitted unimpeded to seek the maximization of their own power. Only in this way the lasting actors, fit to play their role on the world scene, will survive. Those not fit will disappear.

There is some kind of regulation though, and it is here that we find the influence from philosophical dialectics.13Most political realists will not admit to this influence. Any kind of historicism, i.e. Hegelianism, Marxism or the theory of Progress, will in its belief in a better future run counter to the basic principle of political realism of the stability of human nature. A kind of quasi-historicism is all the same inevitable for political realism. The exposition and argument itself of the theory rests in a hope for a better world. This ‘best of all possible worlds’ will appear when the play of interests defined in terms of power is allowed to go on unimpeded by supranational organisations and idealism, only regulated by the balance-of-power principle. See Myers, pages 71-82. This regulation is taken care of by the balance-of-power principle. Although reality is anarchical, political realism, as a theory, is not. It is dependent on a certain dialectics. The opposing forces of reality are lifted up (aufheben) in the rationality of political realism. As long as no exterior factors are allowed to intervene, the play of interests defined as power will regulate itself in the best possible way.

This is important in two senses, as we shall look more closely at later: Firstly, the power-of-balance principle makes it clear that political realism constitutes itself as a system covering the whole of political reality. The statesman himself, having the interests of his particular state in view, can not have a complete overview over the situation. This means that the situation as such, if there is anything as ‘as such’, is anarchic. According to this theory there should not be any supranational agency regulating the play of wills, forces and powers against each other. On the other hand, however, the balance-of-power principle sees to it that this self-persevering play of forces is self-regulating. It is this ontological and dialectical law that makes the passage from the descriptive to the prescriptive possible. Without being able to say that it is ‘good’ or ‘the best possible’ that all should act out of self-interest defined as power, the theory would loose its normative appeal.

Secondly, it is important because the theory allows counter-forces to exist when one actor is approaching a hegemonic position. It will go a long way to explain, some would even say prescribe, asymmetric strategies to weigh up for the unbalance resulting from this near-hegemonic situation. The power-of-balance principle will allow that insignificant actors on the stage are swallowed up and eliminated. It will not, however, allow that essential actors representing huge populations and economic interests, as let us say the Arab world, are held down in impotency over time. The principle imposes self-restriction on superpowers approaching a hegemonic position, part of the reason being that this position could be compared to the position of a supranational agency.

Towards an ‘Ethics of Vulnerability’

If the goal is peace and security in international relationship, political realism will not work. The current volatile world situation does in my view demonstrate this quite clearly (for example the Middle East). And further destabilization must be expected, as states take the ‘war on terrorism’ as excuse to violently pursue national interests (Russia, China?). The internal flaws of the theory that I have just pointed out partly explain this failure of political realism. How, then, should we go about in order to work out an alternative?

I suggest we should take a basic human phenomenon as our point of departure, namely, vulnerability. In political realism vulnerability is seen as purely negative. The security of the State and its citizens is the main goal of politics and it consists simply in reducing vulnerability.

What we suggest to label an ‘Ethics of Vulnerability’ sees vulnerability as indelible, fundamental and human. The role and responsibility of both the state and the individual is not to remove vulnerability, which would be to remove a basic human element from society, but to provide structures that protect vulnerable humans from the misuse of their indelible and fundamental vulnerability. Vulnerability is nothing else than the openness to the other that preconditions both the individual and the community as human.

‘Vulnerability and Security’

The basic document for what in this article is called an ‘Ethics of Vulnerability’ is a study, called Sårbarhet og sikkerhet, that was published in December 2000 by the Commission on International Relations in Church of Norway. This publication came as a result of a long process. Church of Norway had been challenged from both its national and international partners to reflect upon key issues in current international politics from an ethical and theological perspective. In the forefront were the urgent ethical dilemmas related to the so-called ‘Humanitarian Interventions’. The Commission appointed a working group, which opted for a broad approach by not treating the issues separately, but rather seeking to reframe the fundamentals of security policy, by suggesting a new point of departure.

Through this process it became clear that the dominant security concept of modern society was in conflict with basic traits of contemporary ethics and some important developments in recent ethics and theology . The original narrow scope, to treat of particular challenges in international politics, had to be broadened and deepened to include a treatment of an alternative security concept based on a more nuanced understanding of vulnerability than that of the dominant political theories. This new concept was then applied to concrete challenges, such as human, economical and environmental security, ‘Humanitarian Interventions’, the role of technology, common global goods (water used as an example) and the peacemaking role of religions.

The security concept introduced in Sårbarhet og sikkerhet has been met with considerable interest in different areas of Church and society, both in Norway and internationally. The Norwegian Church Aid funded an English translation, and this was published in February 2002 as Vulnerability and Security, which also included a reflection on the ‘war’ on terrorism.14The full text of the English version can be found at http://www.kirken.no/engelsk/VULNERABIL.doc

Influences – Levinas and Liberation Theology

The approach that Vulnerability and Security seeks to outline has been seriously influenced by at least two sources. The first is the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. The second is Latin American liberation theology.15The influence from Levinas on liberation theology is notable in the works of Gustavo Gutiérrez and, in particular, Enrique Dussel, see his Ethics and the Theology of Liberation, (New York: Orbis Books, 1978), page 9. There is no room for an extended exposition of this influence here, but a few words will help to clarify the concepts.

For Emmanuel Levinas ethics is first philosophy. This is in clear opposition to what Western philosophy has maintained through its entire history, from the Greeks till today. Classical philosophy always starts with general truths about reality as they are exposed in metaphysics or ontology. Ethics will then be deduced from this ontology as one branch besides other branches, together ideally encompassing the whole of reality. This would make out a complete philosophical and scientific system – a totality.

The problem of this totalitarian approach is that it systematically disregards a basic feature of human reality – the otherness of the other. It is inherent to an ontological system to reduce everything that is other to the same – to include all that is outside inside its own totality, the precondition being that this is both desirable and possible. According to Levinas, it is possible, and to a certain extent desirable, to determine the other as being an object among objects in the world. This can be done through the overarching principles of a system, or through its branches, such as biology, sociology or politics. This way, however, the other as other is missed. We are then dealing with an object inside the system.

The genuine and (pre-) original meeting with the other both continually preconditions the system and shatters it. This meeting is called ‘pre-original’ because it is foundational in a wholly other way than an origin, ‘arche’ or beginning of a traditional political or scientific system. It is pre-conscious, pre-ontological and pre-voluntary. Being-for-the-other is the primary signification. I am chosen before being able to choose. Levinas says:

The signifyingness of sensibility, the one-for-the-other itself – is the pre-original signifyingness of sensibility that gives sense, because it gives. Not because, as preoriginal, it would be more original than the origin, but because the diachrony of sensibility, which cannot be assembled in a representational present, refers to an irrecuperable pre-ontological past.16Emmanuel Levinas Otherwise than Being – or Beyond Essence, (translated by Alphonso Lingis, Pittsburgh, Dunquesne University Press, 1998), page 78.

In this meeting, facing the other, I am decided upon, determined and called to responsibility. In this call I am summoned to the human. I become a re-sponsible subject by being subjected to the demand of the other. I am demanded by the vulnerability of the other – him or her being fragile, threatened, weak or poor. And, this demand concerns me in me own vulnerability – in my sensibility.

It is as though the sensibility were precisely what all protection and all absence of protection already presuppose: vulnerability itself.17Ibid., page 75.

My basic responsibility is pre-conscious and is more ‘me’ or ‘mine’ than any self-determining and free Ego or will. The Ego emerges in the accusative – accused by the other. The fundamental and founding ethical relation is asymmetric. The other asother can never be determined by me and have a place in the system. Ethics is first philosophy.

In the Ethics of Vulnerability the ethical relation is asymmetric in yet another respect, and it is here that the influence from liberation theology can be seen. Put in short terms, in the words and deeds of Jesus a preference for the poor was clearly visible. His death on the cross means identification with, solidarity with the ‘crucified ones’ of our own time.18Cf. Jon Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator. A Historical-Theological Reading of Jesus of Nazareth, (Maryknoll, New York, Orbis Books, 1993), and Sturla J. Stålsett, The crucified and the Crucified. A Study in the Liberation Christology of Jon Sobrino, (Doctoral thesis, University of Oslo, 1997), to be published by Peter Lang Verlag later this year. Consequently, liberation theology makes an ‘option for the poor’; it seeks to do theology from the perspective of the victims. The ultimate reason for this fundamental option is theological: It is firmly held that the God of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures is revealed above all as the God of the poor, the God of victims. The climax of this self-revelation is the exposure of God’s own vulnerability, as can be seen in Jesus death on the cross.

Essential to both Levinas and liberation theology then, is a focus on (strength in) weakness, receptivity, vulnerability. Vulnerability is certainly not evenly distributed. Quite contrary to any ideology built on Darwinism or liberalism, an ethics of vulnerability must maintain that the basic law of any community calling itself human is not the rights and survival of the strongest and fittest, but the dignity and value of the weakest and most vulnerable.19See Vulnerability and Security, page 14: «Christ’s proclamation of the kingdom of God challenges the prevailing power structure: social and religious outcasts are given prioritary access to the salvific community, salvation is offered to sinners and the impure, while children, the sick and the poor are held up as examples for believers and as special recipients of God’s care and love. The crucifixion can be read as a revelation that God identifies with those who are at the mercy of atrocities; God enters the world of sin and wickedness, takes the suffering upon Godself and sides with the victims. The act of atonement is based on this exposure of God’s own vulnerability. Belief in the resurrection implies the hope that victims will be raised up again.»

Beside these two influences, from the philosophy of Levinas and liberation theology, the ethics of vulnerability has been influenced by the idea of a wider security concept, which is a concept claiming security status for more than state and military security. The theory also sees itself as a part in establishing ‘human security’ as a concept balancing state security on the political strategic level.20See for example: Fen Osler Hampson (editor) Madness in the Multitude – Human Security and World Disorder, (Oxford University Press, 2001). This book treats both an expanded security concept and the concept of ‘human security’.

Basic features

An Ethics of Vulnerability, along these lines, would have the following basic features:

  1. Vulnerability is a fundamental and indelible character of the human. Vulnerability isessentially  This means that it is inhuman to be invulnerable, to hide behind impenetrable shields or reduce the other to just being an object in an all-encompassing and totalistic theory.
  2. The right to protection arises from human vulnerability:

A human being is a vulnerable creature. It has a need for and right to protection against threats to its life and liberty. This is the legitimate basic assumption of security policy.21Vulnerability and Security, page 14.

  The right to self-defense is derived from this primary duty to protect the other.

  1. The ethics of vulnerability is not to be confused with political idealism – or, rather, the parody of it that political realism opposes itself to.The weak in us, among us and before us has the right to be protected, sometimes with force. This right belongs to every vulnerable human being and has its (pre-) origin in my responsibility for the concrete other. This also conditions the development and use of the means of protection.
  2. The essentiality of vulnerability means that efforts to remove vulnerability risk reducing the human at the same time. Political strategies that have as their only goal to remove vulnerability are supported by ideologies that have distanced themselves from the basic conditions of human reality. They stand at the risk of reaching the opposite of their intentions: rather than reducing vulnerability, they risk making human interaction colder, harder and more violent.
  3. The ethics of vulnerability also addresses a decisive development in our Western situation. Up to a certain point the technological and scientific development was driven by the hope for a better life. The predictability of disaster and disease was radically improved, as was the ability to plan and control. This development now seems to have crossed a limit. It is no longer driven by the hope for a better, but by the dream of invulnerability. This can be seen by the fact that concepts describing basic features of the human are seen as one-sidedly negative. Vulnerability is only one of several examples. Others include human finitude, dependency and unpredictability. When these basic and indelible features of human life are defined in the negative, we have passed the limit from the hope of a better life to the dream of invulnerability. This can be seen in the technological development in general and in the development of arms technology in particular
  4. The positive contribution of an ethics of vulnerability is that the indelibility of these basic features – vulnerability, finitude, dependency and unpredictability – is not a lamentable fact, but the basic precondition of a good and meaningful life – of joy, proximity and community. They implicate openness to the surroundings, to nature, to fellow human beings, and some would say, to God.
  5. Being essentially human, vulnerability is something weshare. Therefore, the ethics of vulnerability, as a fundamental ethics, gives support to ‘human security’ and ‘collective security’ as necessary balancing concepts to ‘state security’ on the strategic political level. This also means a widening and deepening of the security concept. This should not lead to a militarization of security in new and wider spheres of society, but to the strengthening of the recognition of the responsibility for the protections of concrete and vulnerable human beings and groups.
  6. The ethics of vulnerability means a preference for the poor and the wounded. Vulnerability is not evenly distributed. The normative element, i.e. the ethical legitimacy, of every political theory ultimately stems from the vocation going out from the vulnerability of concrete human beings. Politics gets its legitimacy from the responsibility for the survival of the unfit.22The scope of this article doesn’t give room for a thorough account of the passage from ethics to politics. I will have to leave this to a later work. I will touch upon it, though, in the last part of this article, «The Centrality of Europe».

Implications

This far I have presented the principles and shortcomings, both inherent and in relation to the present political situation, of the predominant political realism. This presentation has served as a background to present the ethics of vulnerability as an alternative approach. This way the differences of the two approaches has been brought out. The most significant ones can be outlined as follows:

Where political realism starts from the interest and power of the mighty, the ethics of vulnerability starts with the rights of the powerless and vulnerable.

Where political realism stresses the importance of independence, self-determination and sovereignty, the ethics of vulnerability underlines dependence, inter-dependence and the demand of the other upon me as inevitable aspects of the human.

When political realism calls for a radical separation both between the political and other spheres, such as ethics, religion and ideology, and between the morality of the statesman as a statesman and as an ordinary citizen, the ethics of vulnerability claims that ethics, as first philosophy, is fundametal and unavoidable.

Political realism seeks to eliminate vulnerability. The ethics of vulnerability promotes the protection of vulnerability.

Political realism is only prepared to give authority and power away through supporting supranational agencies and entering into multilateral agreements to the degree that these agencies and agreements serve and continue to serve the national interests of the states. The ethics of vulnerability finds its basic and pre-original moment in my giving all authority and power to the vulnerable other. The authority and power over which I dispose is derived from this pre-original situation, from my responsibility for the other. I have no power in my own right.

This presentation of opposing points, however, is not the last word. We will have to say something on the consequences and implications of these opposing approaches. The final word, though, will question this opposition itself. Is the passage from ethics to politics possible? Is politics possible at all without at least some of the principles of political realism, for example rationality, prudence and the position of the State?

These questions will be treated under the heading «The Centrality of Europe». Before that I will address US unilateralism and the relation of political realism to the question of responsibility.

US Unilateralism, Realism and Vulnerability

The unilateralism of the United States can be seen as constituting a threat to international peace and security in the current political situation. This is not mainly due to the concrete results of the operations of US military forces abroad. The main reason is that an already fragile international rule of law is undermined and that the US no longer is able to exert coherent moral leadership. The ‘war on terrorism’ means stretching the concept of self-defense beyond its legal limits, and in that way continuing the development increasingly feared by many in the 1990s, where the role of supranational agencies, agreements and values is impaired. This means:

that the US has a weakened credibility if it should try to use its power to restrain other governments finally finding the legitimacy to fight their own «terrorists»; thus escalating local and regional conflicts.

that US unilateralism reveals the impotency of other central actors on the world scene, leaving these to choose between bandwagoning and balancing, none of which adds anything to world peace and security.23See Christopher Coker, «September 11th and its implications for EU and NATO» in The Norwegian Atlantic Committee, Security Policy Library 1-2002, page 8.

This interpretation and worry does not correspond to the self-understanding of the US President, administration or public. For them ‘America’ now has obtained the position as the world leader in the fight against evil. The best solution for the United States is the best solution for the world at large. ‘America’ is now putting all ‘well-intended’ talk and ‘idealism’ aside, taking up the fight and compelling all good forces to join.

The legitimacy of the ‘war’ is found in the victimization brought about by the terrorist attacks. As the initial phase of the ‘war’ is over, the number of civilian deaths in the War against Terrorism has surpassed the death toll of the terrorist attacks24See the report of Professor Marc W. Herold, University of New Hampshire, at http://www.cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm and the support in the international community and rule of law is weakening, this original legitimacy is now definitely impaired25It is here not mainly a question of counting but of proportionality.. It is upheld, though, by a well-staged rhetoric of self-victimization. The original rage and cry for retribution and revenge is replaced by aggressive precaution. The fight has just begun. There are supposedly tens of thousands of terrorists out there, supported by ‘rogue states’ constituting an ‘axis of evil. ‘America’ will not sit back and wait.26The following quotation from President Bush’s State of the Union address January 29th 2002 should serve as sufficient reference for the above renderings: «States like these (North Korea, Iraq and Iran), and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic. We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation’s security. We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’ most destructive weapons. Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch – yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch. We can’t stop short. If we stop now – leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked – our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom’s fight.» See http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html.

There is no doubt that this staging of the situation works for the majority of the domestic public. That does not prevent, however, that it is built upon grave inconsistencies:

Firstly, presuming that I am right in finding the ideological framework of current US foreign and security policy in political realism, this staging is inconsistent with political realism itself. The balance-of-power principle will describe, predict and prescribe how the US near-hegemonic unilateralism will have to be limited. This is a basic rule of the power-of-balance principle:

All states act to oppose any coalition or single state which tends to assume a position of predominance within the system.27See Morton A. Kaplan, System and Process in International Politics, (New York, 1957).

The decision to take on the role as the sole superpower to fight evil in the form of terrorism, leaving self-restraint aside, will not bring about a stable and peaceful political situation. It will lead to an escalation of violence, as both the social groups supporting terrorism, including states, and the actors on the world scene exposed in their impotence will have to counter-balance the US political and military power.

The other inconsistency or paradox of the current situation is the combination of victimization of self and superiority of strength (financial, military, and political). This is not only evident in the speeches of President Bush.

The most revealing example of this paradoxical situation is President Bush’s use of the September 11 tragedy to accelerate the process of establishing the missile shield around the United States. The relation between the terrorist attacks and USA’s inability to protect itself against long distance missiles is far from clear, but the connection seems to work for the US public. The reason being that the US President and public share in the same dream of rebuilding the invulnerability that was lost when the Soviet Union acquired long distance missiles after WW II. The terrorist attacks function as a suitable pretext to this reach this end.

According to the ethics of vulnerability the goal of invulnerability is unethical. Being a part of a human and global fellowship means being vulnerable and sharing vulnerability. Striving for invulnerability will never «root out»28See Remarks by President Bush at the California Business Association Breakfast, Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, California, October 17, 2001: «This broad-based and sustained effort will continue until terrorism is rooted out.» http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/10/20011017-15.html terrorism, but rather contribute to dehumanizing the relations of the global community and escalating the use of violence. The basic human fact of a shared vulnerability means that security too – both ‘state’ and ‘human’ – is something we share. Security is never ‘mine’ or ‘ours’ alone.

Unilateralism is always a construct. Interdependence is a basic and founding fact of human reality, reaching deeper than calculable economic and political interdependence. The validity of the balance-of-power principle ultimately rests in the asymmetric and pre-original meeting with the other. The only unilateralism possible is the ‘unilateralism of the other’, where I am decided upon and conditioned in my humanity. This does not mean that sovereignty, independence, prudence or rationality is put out of play. These concepts point to important virtues for all responsible humans and for the statesman in particular.29See the final section, below. Ultimately, however, this responsibility and these virtues are derived from the pre-original responsibility aroused in me by the vulnerable other. The knowledge and acknowledgment of this shared vulnerability and continuous derivation of any self-determining subject, is a fundamental precondition for any effort to build peace.

The American dream of invulnerability amplified the sense of shock and anger after the terrorist attacks. Because the global community partly shares in this dream, it also goes a long way to explain the strong empathy and support from the global community, especially from the Western powers. When these spontaneous reactions had subsided, however, the decisions has to be made on what long-term strategy this new sense of vulnerability should lead to.

After three days of talks with religious leaders on the situation after September 11, Dr. Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, said in his concluding remarks:

Of course, the sudden realization of vulnerability has brought home to the United States as the leading force in the process of globalization an experience to which the majority of peoples throughout the world have been exposed increasingly over these past two decades. Globalization has (…) produced a climate of vulnerability. (…) There has been a genuine manifestation of solidarity and sympathy with the people of the United States in this situation of vulnerability, which had so far been unimaginable. Will the people of the United States now be prepared in turn to share in the condition of vulnerability and victimhood which has been the dominant experience of people in other parts of the world?30The talks were held in Geneva 29 November – 2 December 2001. The Concluding Remarks of the General Secretary can be found at http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/symbolic.html

Avoiding Responsibility – towards a new Paganism?

Separating political decisions from both your own daily morals and from ethics can increase your efficiency and make the task given more manageable in the short term. In the long run, however, this is a part of a development toward the technologization and the de-humanizing of the human.

This escape from accepting vulnerability is therefore at the same time a withdrawal from ethical responsibility. The paradox of political realism and theories influenced by it, is that what makes up its normative appeal – it is rational, scientific, neutral and operative – is at the same time its renunciation of genuine ethicalresponsibility. This will go a long way to explain the oscillation between description and prescription in political realism. Taking residue from responsibility in defining the decision as scientific, rational, objective and a-ethical and at the same time using this as its normative appeal to force its patients to accept the remedies it prescribes.

Political realism shares this strategy with the dominating traditions of philosophy of the West. This applies especially to the consummation of this tradition in the post-Cartesian philosophical systems, characterized as they are by a search for self-perseverance and immanence. These efforts to exclude transcendence can be seen as decisive steps toward science and objectivity. They can just as well be viewed as strategies to avoid responsibility.

Philosophers may believe that they have left their own particular perspectives and interests behind them. Viewed less sympathetically, however, this smacks of vanity and the appeal to universality could easily be construed as a kind of escamotage or conjuring away of responsibility.31Fabio Ciaramelli, «Levinas’s Ethical Discourse between Individuation and Universality» in Re-Reading Levinas(edited by Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley), (Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1991), page 85.

Being well aware of the dangers of going back to pre-Westphalia conditions, the ethics of vulnerability, following Levinas, nevertheless introduce a certain religiosity into political thinking: a respect for the order of non-order opposing the ontological and totalitarian order of the world. The reversal of the order of the world is not to revert to another order or disorder. It means the openness to the order or command, aimed at me, of the vulnerable other; thus an openness to the pre-original and anarchical moment both constituting and continually disturbing the ontological and totalitarian systems of the world.

For these systems of self-perseverance and immanence, including political realism and the balance-of-power principle, the ultimate reference of being is defined as interest. In the beginning of his main mature work, Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, Levinas states:

Esse is interesse; essence is interest. (…) Being’s interest takes dramatic form in egoisms struggling with one another, each against all, in the multiplicity of allergic egoisms which are at war with one another and are thus together. War is the deed or drama of the essence’s interest. (…) Essence thus is the extreme synchronism of war. Determination is formed, and is already undone, by the clash. It takes form and breaks up in a swarming. Here is extreme contemporaneousness or immanence.32See Otherwise than being, page 4.

The denial of transcendence, the escape from responsibility and the goal of self-perseverance is constitutive for the world order as seen from the West. Taken to its limits, this illusion of immanence is idolatrous. According to Levinas, the law – Thou shalt not kill – is not immanent to reality. It is written in the face of the other and comes from outside. It is the concretization of Divine Law, of the Torah. Speaking of the celestial origin of the Torah, Levinas says:

The Torah is transcendent and from heaven by its demands that clash, in the final analyses with the pure ontology of the world. The Torah demands, in opposition to the natural perseverance of each being in his or her being (a fundamental ontological law), care for the stranger, the widow and the orphan, a preoccupation with the other person. A reversal of the order of things!33Emmanuel Levinas, «Contempt for the Torah as Idolatry» in In the Time of the Nations (Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1994), page 61.

And later in the same essay:

Idolatry is real reality, natural reality.34Ibid., page 68.

A totalitarian system where self-perseverance and immanence are the regulating principles, of the individual, the social group and of the system as a totality, is the fundamental untruth, the original sin, the Dar al-Harb of our world.

The Centrality of Europe (Conclusion)

The widening gap between Europe and the United States is usually described in terms of the seemingly insurmountable differences in military capacity and technological competence. The increase in US defense spending after September 11will only widen the already yawning gap.35See Howorth, pages 1, 3-4. The long-term effect of the terrorist attacks might lead to a strengthening of the common European security and defense policy (CESDP). The reason for this is that the US will have an interest in transforming NATO to a political tool to build collective European security. Thus the space will be freed for a significant military actor in Europe. The present development will, all the same, mean that the CESDP in the foreseeable future will have to give up its pretensions to become a military factor that in any meaningful way can be compared to the US.36Ibid.

The question is, however, if the gap between Europe and the US in any way is exhausted, or even best described, in terms of the differences in the levels of military capacity and technology. Is not this growing distance rather cultural and ethical in nature? This article will conclude by showing that the ethics of vulnerability, especially as it is influenced by Levinas, provides an alternative to the predominating political realism. This alternative is adjacent to a perplexed Europe, searching in its own heritage for a way out of its present impotency.

Although the September 11 attacks brought US unilateralism out in the open, it is far from new. As is well known, there is a long list of issues where the US has chosen to break, withdraw from, not support or ratify multi- and bilateral agreements. The examples are many: the banning of anti-personnel landmines, the Kyoto Agreement, the ABM Agreement, import duty on steel, the International Criminal Court, controlling small arms trade and so on. The clean-cut political realism of the Bush administration is, as we have seen, the consummation of a long development in US foreign and security politics.

When Reason in this way is brought exclusively to serve and decide being defined as self-interest and self-perseverance, this consummation also marks a fulfillment of a development that in its origin is Greek, and thus European. In this way the vocation and centrality of Europe is challenged. Some commentators see a bewildered Europe left with two choices. «Either they can bandwagon or balance.»37See Coker, page 8. Both ways, according to this view, Europe is forced to play a game were the rules are laid down by US realism, and neither of the alternatives are leaving Europe with much honor.

I have argued that en ethics of vulerability, taking as its departure pre-conscious sensibility as openness to the vulnerability of the other, constitutes an alternative way to meet the challenges of present world politics. The questions remain, though. How can an ethics provide a basis for politics, especially when aspects such as ‘non-order’, ‘pre-originality’ and ‘transcendence’ has been underlined? And, why is this alternative especially adjacent to Europe?

In his article «Peace and Proximity»38In Alterity and Transcendence (Columbia University Press, 1999), pages 131-144. It was originally published as «Paix et proximité» in Les Cahiers de la nuit surveillée, No. 3, (Paris, Verdier, 1984) Levinas sets forth to answer these questions.

The Europe of our time is worn-out. Its conscience is torn between the glorious promises of its Greek heritage and the testimony of its own history. Awaiting peace on the basis Truth, with the State as guarantor of equality and justice, it can not recognize this in its history of

fratricidal struggles, political or bloody, of imperialism, scorn and exploitation of the human being, down to our own century of world wars, the genocides of the Holocaust and terrorism; unemployment and continual desperate poverty of the Third World; ruthless doctrines and cruelty of fascism and national socialism, right down to the supreme paradox of the defense of man and his rights perverted into Stalinism.39Ibid., page 132.

Hence the torn conscience and «the challenge to the centrality of Europe by Europe itself.» And Levinas continues: «But perhaps in that very challenge there is a testimony of a Europe that is not just Hellenic!»40Ibid., page 133. The torn or bad conscience does not only witness to an inconsistency between rational expectations and reality. It points to an experience older and more real than reality itself – the commandment Thou shalt not kill – written in the face of the other. This way the torn consciousness turns Europe to its biblical heritage.

Have we not heard, in the vocation of Europe, before the message of truth that it bears, the ‘Thou shalt not kill’ of the Decalogue and the Bible?41Ibid., page 135.

The face of the other, in its precariousness and defenselessness is for me both the temptation to kill and the call for peace, the ‘Thou shalt not kill.42Ibid., page 141.

Thus, through attention towards its own heritage, through its awakening to the vulnerability and defenselessness of the other, Europe is called to responsibility. This biblical heritage does not stand in opposition to the Greek heritage. It rather implies it.

Europe is not a simple confluence of two cultural currents. It is the concretization in which the wisdom of the theoretical and the biblical do better than converge. The relation with the other and the unique, which is peace, comes to require a reason that thematizes and synchronizes, that thinks the world and reflects on being; concepts necessary for the peace of men.43Ibid., page 142.

Taking the vulnerability of the other as the ultimate reference for security policy does not necessarily stand in opposition to the dominance of reason and rationality in the Western tradition, not even to a transformed political realism. The deficiency of present political realism consists in the oblivion of its pre-original and continual precondition – vulnerability itself.44Otherwise than Being page 75, (cited above).

Is the passage from ethics to politics possible? How can an ethics of vulnerability provide a basis for European or world politics? The answer can be found when we see that the philosophy of Levinas takes decisive political developments and events as its point of departure. Levinas sees the Holocaust, where most of his family was killed, as a result of the worst traits of Western thinking. References to Auschwitz, the Holocaust and the Shoa are countless in his work, and both his main philosophical works starts, as their point of departure, with a description of the Hobbesian war of all against all.45Ibid., page 4, (cited above), and Totality and Infinity (translated by Alphonso Lingis, Pittsburgh, Dunquesne University Press), pages 21ff.

Philosophically the passage from ethics to politics – from the limitless demand of the other to the limiting rationality in world order – is brought about by the entering of the third party. It is not rationality that originally limits the all-consuming responsibility for the other. The third party enters as another other, demanding my freedom, and thus awaking my sense of distribution – my rationality. Justice is the origin of rationality, society and world order, and not the other way around.

The third party is other than my neighbor, but also another neighbor, and also a neighbor of the other, and not simply his fellow. What then are the other and the third party for one another? What have they done to one another? Which passes before the other? (…) The third party introduces contradiction in the saying whose signification before the other until then went in one direction. It is of itself the limit of responsibility and the birth of the question: What do I have to do with justice?46Ibid., page 157. See also Alterity and Transcendence, page 142.

The co-presence of the other and the third party demands justice. Justice in its turn requires rationality, systems, weighing of consequences – politics. My pre-original meeting with the vulnerable other constitutes the center of gravity for politics as distribution of justice – for the comparison of the incomparable.

It is not unimportant to know – and this is perhaps the European experience of the twentieth century – whether the egalitarian and just State in which the European realizes himself – and that is to be instituted and preserved – proceeds from a war of all against all – or from the irreducible responsibility of one for the other, and whether it ignore the uniqueness of the face and of love. It is not unimportant to know this, so that war does not become the institution of a war with good conscience in the name of historical necessities. Consciousness is born as the presence of the third party in the proximity of the one to the other, and thus it is to the extent that it proceeds from it that it can become dis-interestedness. The foundation of consciousness is justice, and not vice-versa. Objectivity rests on justice.47Alterity and Transcendence, page 144.

The demand for justice, issuing from the sensibility towards the indelible vulnerability of the other. This is the main message of an ethics of vulnerability that hopes to constitute an alternative approach to the present challenges of world politics.

 

Fotnoter   [ + ]

1. One could argue that normativity not necessarily implies ethics, e.g. in relation to the exercise of a craft. The argument of this article, however, tries to establish that statesmanship can not be reduced to craftsmanship.
2. The article is written with a clear consciousness of its provisional and preliminary character. The presentation of political realism would profit by a wider frame. It is also a risky task, so violently, to cross the line separating politics from ideology, ethics and religion. The general and foundational approach of this article can not take the complexity in the current situation in international politics sufficiently into consideration. It will not be able to provide ready-made solutions to the concrete dilemmas facing decision-makers in this situation. These decision-makers, however, are trained and developed in a context where they have to approach overarching dilemmas that are also ethical, intellectual and academic in character. This article hopes to take some small steps towards balancing the predominant position political realism has taken in these milieus.
3. This confidence, supported by the lack of interference from the International Society, has in its turn been imported by other local and regional actors, visually in The Philippines, Caucasus and last, but surely not least, in the Middle East.
4. The present co-ordination of Russian and Western (NATO) security policy (as it was brought a step further through the signing of the new treaty the Summit Meeting of NATO and Russia in Rome May 28, 2002) can be seen as a continuation and strengthening of collective security in US foreign policy. A more probable interpretation, however, is seeing this as a sign of the impaired position of NATO as an appropriate tool in US military and security policy. The growing unilateralism of the US means that future military and security operations to an increasing extent will be lead by USA alone, leaving NATO as a political and non-military tool to take care of stability in Europe. For this interpretation, see Jolyon Howorth «CESDP After 11 September: From Short-term Confusion to Long-Term Cohesion» in EUSA Review 15:1, (2002), pages 1, 3-4.
5. The previous articles strongly proscribes aggressive warfare and underlines the superior role of the Security Counsil. Art. 51 is meant to balance this, certainly not to remove it. Art 51 reads: «Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.»
6. The use of the term ‘self-victimization’ does in no way imply that the terrorist attacks were brought about or allowed to happen by the US or by any forces within the US. The term does, however, mean that the present US Administration makes a calculated use of, far beyond appropriate limits, the combination of being both a victim and the most powerful state in the world.
7. Fifth Edition, Revised (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978) pages 4-15.
8. These principles were added to the second edition following criticism for the lack of room for morality in the original. As we shall see, the morality added in these principles does not go beyond rationality, prudence (defined as applied rationality) and the assumption that political realism constitutes the best possible approach to international politics. This vague use of the concept of ‘morality’, finding no support in anything but the assumed superiority of the theory itself and having no other function than making the theory acceptable, has continued in newer versions of the theory. Robert J. Myers for example claims that «All international relations problems can be fruitfully studied in this framework» of the triad «interest, power and moral purpose.» One searches in vain, though, for what this could mean. See Robert J. Myers, U.S. Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century, (Baton Rogue, Louisiana State University Press, 1999), page xi.
9. Morgenthau, page 15, (my italics).
10. Paul A.Papayoanou, «Interdependence, Institutions, and the Balance of Power: Britain, Germany, and World War I», in International Security, 20:4, (1996)
11. In my reading, the realism of Reinhold Niebuhr is less hard-core, and therefore, in my judgment, less self-contradictory than that of Morgenthau. Niebuhr, due to his marxist influence, states clearly the fundamental values of his theory. See for example Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society, (New York, 1969), page 258-9: «If this equality and justice cannot be achieved without the assertion of interest against interest, and without the restraint upon the self-assertion of those who infringe upon the rights of their neighbors, then society is compelled to sanction self-assertion and restraint. It may even (…) be forced to sanction social conflict and violence.» (My italics).
12. Morgenthau, page 6.
13. Most political realists will not admit to this influence. Any kind of historicism, i.e. Hegelianism, Marxism or the theory of Progress, will in its belief in a better future run counter to the basic principle of political realism of the stability of human nature. A kind of quasi-historicism is all the same inevitable for political realism. The exposition and argument itself of the theory rests in a hope for a better world. This ‘best of all possible worlds’ will appear when the play of interests defined in terms of power is allowed to go on unimpeded by supranational organisations and idealism, only regulated by the balance-of-power principle. See Myers, pages 71-82.
14. The full text of the English version can be found at http://www.kirken.no/engelsk/VULNERABIL.doc
15. The influence from Levinas on liberation theology is notable in the works of Gustavo Gutiérrez and, in particular, Enrique Dussel, see his Ethics and the Theology of Liberation, (New York: Orbis Books, 1978), page 9.
16. Emmanuel Levinas Otherwise than Being – or Beyond Essence, (translated by Alphonso Lingis, Pittsburgh, Dunquesne University Press, 1998), page 78.
17. Ibid., page 75.
18. Cf. Jon Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator. A Historical-Theological Reading of Jesus of Nazareth, (Maryknoll, New York, Orbis Books, 1993), and Sturla J. Stålsett, The crucified and the Crucified. A Study in the Liberation Christology of Jon Sobrino, (Doctoral thesis, University of Oslo, 1997), to be published by Peter Lang Verlag later this year.
19. See Vulnerability and Security, page 14: «Christ’s proclamation of the kingdom of God challenges the prevailing power structure: social and religious outcasts are given prioritary access to the salvific community, salvation is offered to sinners and the impure, while children, the sick and the poor are held up as examples for believers and as special recipients of God’s care and love. The crucifixion can be read as a revelation that God identifies with those who are at the mercy of atrocities; God enters the world of sin and wickedness, takes the suffering upon Godself and sides with the victims. The act of atonement is based on this exposure of God’s own vulnerability. Belief in the resurrection implies the hope that victims will be raised up again.»
20. See for example: Fen Osler Hampson (editor) Madness in the Multitude – Human Security and World Disorder, (Oxford University Press, 2001). This book treats both an expanded security concept and the concept of ‘human security’.
21. Vulnerability and Security, page 14.
22. The scope of this article doesn’t give room for a thorough account of the passage from ethics to politics. I will have to leave this to a later work. I will touch upon it, though, in the last part of this article, «The Centrality of Europe».
23. See Christopher Coker, «September 11th and its implications for EU and NATO» in The Norwegian Atlantic Committee, Security Policy Library 1-2002, page 8.
24. See the report of Professor Marc W. Herold, University of New Hampshire, at http://www.cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm
25. It is here not mainly a question of counting but of proportionality.
26. The following quotation from President Bush’s State of the Union address January 29th 2002 should serve as sufficient reference for the above renderings: «States like these (North Korea, Iraq and Iran), and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic. We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation’s security. We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’ most destructive weapons. Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch – yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch. We can’t stop short. If we stop now – leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked – our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom’s fight.» See http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html.
27. See Morton A. Kaplan, System and Process in International Politics, (New York, 1957).
28. See Remarks by President Bush at the California Business Association Breakfast, Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, California, October 17, 2001: «This broad-based and sustained effort will continue until terrorism is rooted out.» http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/10/20011017-15.html
29. See the final section, below.
30. The talks were held in Geneva 29 November – 2 December 2001. The Concluding Remarks of the General Secretary can be found at http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/symbolic.html
31. Fabio Ciaramelli, «Levinas’s Ethical Discourse between Individuation and Universality» in Re-Reading Levinas(edited by Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley), (Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1991), page 85.
32. See Otherwise than being, page 4.
33. Emmanuel Levinas, «Contempt for the Torah as Idolatry» in In the Time of the Nations (Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1994), page 61.
34. Ibid., page 68.
35. See Howorth, pages 1, 3-4.
36. Ibid.
37. See Coker, page 8.
38. In Alterity and Transcendence (Columbia University Press, 1999), pages 131-144. It was originally published as «Paix et proximité» in Les Cahiers de la nuit surveillée, No. 3, (Paris, Verdier, 1984
39. Ibid., page 132.
40. Ibid., page 133.
41. Ibid., page 135.
42. Ibid., page 141.
43. Ibid., page 142.
44. Otherwise than Being page 75, (cited above).
45. Ibid., page 4, (cited above), and Totality and Infinity (translated by Alphonso Lingis, Pittsburgh, Dunquesne University Press), pages 21ff.
46. Ibid., page 157. See also Alterity and Transcendence, page 142.
47. Alterity and Transcendence, page 144.

Legg igjen en kommentar

Din e-postadresse vil ikke bli publisert.