Bob Kaufman calls it "moral democratic realism," and is apparently seeking to salvage some kind of legacy for it. George Weigel approves.
Moral democratic realism offers a ..compelling framework for American grand strategy...because it takes due measure of the centrality of power and the constraints the dynamics of international politics impose, without depreciating the significance of ideals, ideology, and regime type. It grounds American foreign policy in Judeo-Christian conceptions of man, morality, and prudence that innoculate us against two dangerous fallacies: a utopianism that exaggerates the potential for cooperation without power; and an unrealistic realism that underestimates the potential for achieving decency and provisional justice even in international relations. It rests on a conception of self-interest, well understood, and respect for the decent opinions of mankind, without making international institutions or the fickle mistress of often-indecent international public opinion the polestar for American action...Weigel compares this approach to the old "Catholic International Relations" theory of America and Commonweal. He seems to find in it some kind of appealing middle ground:
Kaufman rightly rejects alternative grand strategies on prudential grounds. Isolationism of the Pat Buchanan sort ignores the lessons of history and, to our eventual endangerment, abandons any American commitment to helping build order out of chaos in the world. Neo-realism (think Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, and most of the permanent State Department bureaucracy) imagines that messes like the Middle East can be managed by manipulating "our thugs;" yet this is precisely the approach that helped create conditions for the possibility of 9/11. Jimmy Carteresque multilateralism is hopelessly unrealistic, and thus dangerous.We are presented with the argument that this Bush-derived theory of IR means detatching American policy from thuggery: risum teneatis, as images of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition and all the rest come to mind, and the words of their neoconservative defenders echo in our memories. And we are meant to believe, after the utter debacle of unilateralism in Iraq, that it's the traditional multilateral approach (the approach that won the cold war) which is somehow "hopelessly unrealistic"? One wonders whether distinguished academics like Kaufman and Weigel have paused at any point during the past six years to peer out from their ivory towers onto the landscape of the real world. Perhaps they have been too busy doodling in their notebooks, coming up with grand-sounding phrases like "moral democratic realism," which, in case no one else has already made the joke, I would suggest sounds neither moral, nor realistic (the "democratic" aspect of it is probably neither here nor there).