Some of the items on Walt’s top ten list include:
#1: No War in Iraq
#3: Staying out of the nation-building business
#6: No Balkan adventures
#7: A normal relationship with Israel
#8: A more sensible approach to nuclear weapons
#10: A growing focus on China
Walt is certainly a master at articulating the realist critiques of recent American foreign policy and suggesting how realists would have “done better” if at the helm. For a similar (and more entertaining) argument for the superiority of realism that uses characters from the Godfather as representatives of realism (Michael Corleone), liberal institutionalism (Tom Hagen), and neoconservatism (Sonny Corleone), see the short book entitled The Godfather Doctrine.
But is Walt’s depiction unduly rosy and aided by the benefit of hindsight? To hear Walt tell it, most of America’s (and many of the world’s) problems could be solved by enlightened realist policies. His top ten list doesn’t grapple with the uncertainty or the complexity of the tradeoffs that confront policymakers on a host of issues, and he only briefly acknowledges that staying out of Bosnia, Kosovo, and Libya may have had some humanitarian downsides (e.g., genocide in the case of Bosnia).
What do you think? Does Walt’s list make a compelling case for the superiority of the realist approach to world politics? (He explains each point on his top ten list). Or does his commitment to the realist perspective create “blinders” to the weaknesses or ambiguities of implementing a realist foreign policy?