Automotive Holiday Deals Books Holiday Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Prime Music Sweepstakes egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Get Ready for the Winter Gifts for Her Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $30 Off Fire HD 6 Kindle Cyber Monday Deals Holiday Music in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now HTL

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy Used
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This item is gently used in good or better condition. If it is a textbook it may not have supplements. It may have some moderate wear and possibly include previous ownerâ€TMs name, some markings and/or is a former library book. We ship within 1 business day and offer no hassle returns. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World Hardcover – September 26, 2006

17 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$2.34 $0.01

Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more | Shop now

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lieven and Hulsman, partisan think-tank researchers from opposing ends of the political spectrum, unite to provide an alternative to current U.S. foreign policy, based on "the core teachings of ethical realism-prudence, patriotism, responsibility, study, humility, and 'a decent respect' to views and interests of other nations." This "new strategic vision" presents a foundation for "a consensual and stable international order" along the lines of old-fashioned American neighborliness. Their arguments are rooted in lessons from the founders of ethical realism, Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Morgenthau and George Kennan; the Christian intellectual tradition of Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine; and successful international policy implemented by leaders like Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. The authors emphasize the need to qualify national interests against universal ethics, and for statesman who "act in ways that will serve the good as far as possible, and to observe certain strict limits as to what they are prepared to do on behalf of their states. "Though they make some sweeping statements that beg critical examination, and their heavy-handed criticism of the Bush Administration's foreign policy-calling the war in Iraq a failure "not just of strategy ...but of the whole American way of looking at the world"-can be alienating, this refreshing, ambitious work proposes some practical and much-needed solutions for America's compromised reputation abroad.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“One does not need to agree with all recommendations included in Ethical Realism to fully share the authors’ appeal for honestly and pragmatically defining U.S. foreign policy priorities. The book makes a powerful case that the United States needs a foreign policy based on hard facts and what we can achieve with our available resources, in order not to retreat from a U.S. world role, but, on the contrary, ‘to live up to its glorious national promise.’”
General Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser

“A profoundly necessary alternative to the arrogance of preemptive warfare. In an age of ideological polarization, an international policy of ethical realism put forward by authors with roots in both progressive idealism and conservative realism has been desperately needed. Ethical Realism is characterized by prudence, humility, understanding, responsibility, and genuine patriotism, and is deeply rooted in the best of America’s history.”
Senator Gary Hart

“A superb and courageous analysis of U.S. foreign policy challenges and options. The authors’ call for a ‘revolutionary shift in U.S. structures and priorities’ is on target for the United States to be able to exercise effective global leadership. The study demonstrates why messianic pretensions shared by some on the right and the left alike are neither realistic nor ethical and only endanger America without promoting true national interests.”
Dmitri K. Simes, president of The Nixon Center and publisher of The National Interest

Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375424458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375424458
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,446,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Doug Bandow on October 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
George W. Bush has made a hash of American foreign policy, but alternative visions seem in short supply. Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman offer a glimmer of hope, proposing a philosophy of "ethical realism."

They suggest several sensible preconditions for a successful foreign policy, preconditions completely lacking in the administration's philosophy of neoconservative imperialism. One is prudence, which was sadly absent at almost every stage of the Iraq disaster.

Another requirement is "national humility, and the tolerance and patience that stem from it." We haven't seen much of that over the last five years. The authors also cite the willingness to study and learn.

Moreover, write Lieven and Hulsman, "neither in statecraft nor in common sense can good intentions be a valid excuse if--as in the decision to go to war in Iraq--they are accompanied by gross recklessness, carelessness, and indifference to the range of possible consequences." Finally, the authors suggest patriotism, in contrast to mindless, destructive nationalism.

These principles are good starting point for any foreign policy. Ethical Realism is a refreshing read, an inciteful analysis that simultaneously critiques the mess that passes for American foreign policy today and offers a solid alternative. Anyone hoping for a real foreign policy debate should buy this book.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Heather E. Price on December 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Messrs. Hulsman and Lieven have delivered a learned and principled gem for readers seeking an alternative to the reigning U.S. foreign policy of throwing hundreds of lives and billions of dollars down a wishing well vaguely dedicated to democracy. Ethical Realism is a lantern out of the morass, a book that offers a readable, sensible and practical vision to combat the international ills of today and shape tomorrow's solutions.

The authors present a foreign policy prescription grounded in history and ethics rather than ego or vendetta. The book's strength comes from its completeness, giving lessons from the past with applications for the future and a commonsense theory accompanied by realistic action. Clear writing highlights their clear thinking and the straightforward style is a refreshing change from numerous policy tomes that cloak threadbare ideas in overdressed prose.

Hulsman and Lieven themselves differ in their political affiliations and open the book by tracing the history of the Truman-Eisenhower moment when opposing parties shared a foreign policy that led to the containment of the Soviet Union and ultimately, the defeat of Communism and America's rise to the world's dominant power. The authors cogently discuss the pitfalls of the preventive war, the likes of which have led to an American death toll in Iraq rivaling that of 9/11 while the ostensible raison de guerre, Osama bin Laden, is watching Love Boat reruns in Balukastan. They also explore the so-called thinking - from neoconservatives on the right and liberal hawks on the left - that paved the way into Iraq without mapping a way out. The authors' bipartisan voice and broad-reaching scholarship will appeal to Democrats, Republicans, and those fed up with both parties.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Avid reader on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book after seeing the authors in a panel discussion on CSPAN. I was impressed with their insights and spirited defense of their point of view, and the book adds depth and detail to their thesis. It's unusual for two people from opposite poles of the political spectrum to come together on policy - but they do here, and we can learn a lot from them. This book should provoke a much-needed debate on recent U.S. foreign policy failures - and how we can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Sigona & on July 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very impressed with this book. It took a liberal and conservative expert and found those concepts they could agree on. They present a review of the foreign policies that succeded and those that failed since WWII. They then present a view of how we should proceed in the future and concepts we should keep in mind as we try to determine how to react to events that occur. Although I did not agree with everything they said, I found their reasoning sound and it gave me a lot to think about. I would reccomend this book to anyone who is interested in foreign policy, especially the candidated for president.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Bono on April 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an important book for a clear historical overview of the driving strategic philosophy which drove American Presidents from Truman and Eisenhower to Reagan and Bush I. That the "containment policy", so adroitly developed by George Kennan, and sustained and augmented by Truman and Eisenhower, was a success, is quite an understatement.

The authors well note that, the tremendous patience and wisdom which drove it, was not perfectly executed, and there were missteps, but that, by and large, variants of this policy, were quite successful in confronting aggressive Communism without the resort to thermonuclear war. The authors, themselves from opposite political camps, note that that to achieve success, presidents were often required to defeat political extremists, both from the left, and from the right...even, and I might add, especially, from their own parties......for almost 50 years.

There is an interesting chapter on Prudence, with reference to Augustine. Prudence, that first of the Cardinal Virtues of practical and perfectable right decision making, is correctly understood by these authors, as the central dictum of the "wisdom of the west", drawn as it is, from the first philosophical sources of the Greek, Roman and the Judeo-Christian traditions.

The prudent nation, and that nation's statesmen, they assert, know how the world is objectively, not how they might wish to it be, and not out of the blinkers of an ideology, but out of a nitty-gritty, clear eyed, and perfectably objective understanding of reality. This is the prudence of a George Kennan, Truman, and Eisenhower in the contemplation of Stalin.

Out of this five fingered grasp, as enlightened by a clear awareness of our spiritual values, they contend, comes policy rooted in ethical realism.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?