Ethics and International Affairs by J. E. Hare, Carey B. Joynt

By J. E. Hare, Carey B. Joynt

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43 Both these criticisms are unfair. Niebuhr takes Aristotle as the father of "rational morality", and Aristotle was aware that we need to "lean against" our prevailing weaknesses. Rational morality can justify self-sacrifice as a counter-weight to a prevailing egoism, and thus as leading to impartiality in the long run. If we prescribe selfsacrifice, we are more likely to achieve the right balance between the interests of self and others (the mean). A utilitarian can also provide a place in his system for supererogatory action.

But if the diplomats themselves are to be released from moral constraints, then their only function can be to make the struggle for power by their own nation more efficient. In fact, it is probable that Morgenthau realizes that his prescription is paradoxical. For he tries to reduce the paradox by introducing his own values in his advice to modern American diplomats. 58 Thus he condemns those who consider international politics exclusively as a technique, without ethical significance, for the purpose of maintaining and gaining power, and who can accordingly, like the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War, use the elimination of populations as a legitimate strategy.

Kennan could say that moral principles when imported into international relations are either too abstract or too inflexible. The principle that democracy should be supported is a good example where both kinds of criticism have been made of its use, and we can take it as a paradigm case. Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin all saw themselves, and were seen, as champions of democracy in the Second World War. Autocratic regimes from Augustus to Hitler have found for themselves names including the words "socialist", "democratic", "people's" and "republic ".

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