TNI: You have called for American foreign policy to be guided by "a principled realism."
CH: Foreign policy is no different than any policy that deals with real life as it is. Rarely do you have easy choices to make or easy decisions to make--they are always imperfect and they are not always obvious. Foreign policy requires both a certain amount of vision and of realism.
Principle has to be the anchor, there's no question about that. This country has stood for and believed in certain things since the founding of our Republic. At the same time, we must be realistic in appreciating that fact that we cannot impose our values, our standards, our way of life, our government on other nations of the world just simply because we think that our system is better or somehow we are more virtuous. That may be the case, but the reality is that it won't work--and it never has worked.
So we have to be wise in how we work our way in choosing our foreign policy options. We want to have influence. We want to influence outcomes in countries where there are dictators, where people are without opportunities and freedom, where there is despair. We want to help change that. But we start with the fact that there is a centerpiece of reality in how you do that. Every country is different, every country has a different history, a different culture, a different background, and all of that has to be factored in. If you do not begin with this assessment, you're going to end up with a very wobbly and sometimes dangerous policy that will cost the nation and make the world more unstable.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
"Principles and Interests"
Check out an interesting and in depth interview between The National Interest and Chuck Hagel entitled "Principles and Interests." The following is an excerpt from it.