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What is Realist Foreign Policy?
From Friday, March 01, 2019
To Saturday, March 02, 2019
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Randall Schweller

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Randall Schweller, Professor of Political Science

Conference Statement

Realism is the oldest theory of international relations. From the sophists and Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes, to E.H. Carr, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Hans Morgenthau, to Kenneth Waltz, Robert Jervis, and John Mearsheimer, realism as an intellectual construct has dominated the study of international relations. Given the primacy of the realist approach and its compelling explanations of state behavior and the dynamics of the international system, does realism consistently provide the most reliable guidance for statecraft? More fundamentally, what precisely is realist foreign policy? How do we know it when we see it? For instance, in his State of the Union address delivered this month, President Trump called himself a “principled realist.” What does he mean?

The purpose of the conference is to assemble a “dream team” of realists to hammer out the elements we should expect to see in realist foreign policy. The ultimate goal is to develop a set of baseline expectations on a range of important issues (alliances, coercive diplomacy, economic statecraft, ethics/morality, deterrence, nuclear politics, etc.) for realist foreign policies that distinguish them from the liberal alternatives.

David Blagden, University of Exeter
Michael Desch, University of Notre Dame
Colin Dueck, George Mason University
Kelly Greenhill, Tufts University and Harvard Kennedy School
Mohamed Helal, The Ohio State University
Richard Herrmann, The Ohio State University
Robert Jervis, Columbia University
Sean Kay, Ohio Wesleyan University
Jonathan Kirshner, Boston College
John Poreba, Charles Koch Foundation
Patrick Porter, University of Birmingham
Brian Rathbun, University of Southern California
William Ruger, Charles Koch Foundation
Randall Schweller, The Ohio State University
Joshua Shifrinson, Boston University


Friday, March 1, 2019

9 a.m. Welcome

9:15 p.m. Robert Jervis, Opening Remarks

10 a.m. Coffee Break

10:15 a.m. Richard Herrmann, "Realist Foreign Policy: Containing the Romance of Nationalistic Universalism"
Discussant: Colin Dueck

11:30 a.m. Lunch

12:30 p.m. Patrick Porter, "Desert Shield of the Republic? Realism and the Middle East"

1:45 p.m. Sean Kay, "21st Century Realism and the Transatlantic Security Relationship"

3 p.m. Coffee Break

3:15 p.m. Brian Rathbun, "Pulling Punches: Realism’s Requisite"

4:30 p.m. Michael Desch and William Ruger, "Conservatism, Realism, and Foreign Policy"

Saturday, March 2, 2019

9 a.m. Kelly Greenhill, "Perceiving Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing: Unintended Consequences of Coercive Humanitarian Interventions"

10:15 a.m. Coffee Break

10:30 a.m. Mohamed S. Helal, "The Norms of Anarchy"

11:45 a.m. Lunch

12:45 p.m. David W. Blagden, "Roleplay versus Realpolitik: Societal and Structural Pressures in States’ Strategic Postures"

2 p.m. Coffee Break

2:15 p.m. Joshua Shifrinson, "It’s a Trap! Realism, Polarity, and Entrapment Debates"

3:30 p.m. Coffee Break

3:45 p.m. Jonathan Kirshner, Takeaways from the Conference

5 p.m. Randall Schweller, Concluding Remarks

This conference is sponsored by the Program for the Study of Realist Foreign Policy at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, Ohio State University, and the Charles Koch Foundation. 


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