Matthew SpecterJun 16, 2022
The Atlantic Realists
Empire and International Political Thought Between Germany and the United States
Stanford University Press 2022
In The Atlantic Realists: Empire and International Political Thought Between Germany and the United States (Stanford UP, 2022), intellectual historian Matthew Specter offers a boldly revisionist interpretation of "realism," a prevalent stance in post-WWII US foreign policy and public discourse and the dominant international relations theory during the Cold War. Challenging the common view of realism as a set of universally binding truths about international affairs, Specter argues that its major features emerged from a century-long dialogue between American and German intellectuals beginning in the late nineteenth century. Specter uncovers an "Atlantic realist" tradition of reflection on the prerogatives of empire and the nature of power politics conditioned by fin de siècle imperial competition, two world wars, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. Focusing on key figures in the evolution of realist thought, including Carl Schmitt, Hans Morgenthau, and Wilhelm Grewe, this book traces the development of the realist worldview over a century, dismantling myths about the national interest, Realpolitik, and the "art" of statesmanship.
Sean T. Byrnes is a writer, teacher, and historian who lives in middle Tennessee. He is the author of Disunited Nations: US Foreign Policy, Anti-Americanism, and the Rise of the New Right, from LSU Press. Tweet at him @ByrnesSean.